O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith


Thoughts About Rob Bell, John Piper, and Justin Taylor

posted by Jason Boyett

I’m not sure what Rob Bell was doing on Saturday, but I wonder how long it took for him to realize that he had blown up the Internet. At least, the Christian twitterverse and blogosphere.

Bell, the pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids and the author of Velvet Elvis and Sex God, has a fascinating new book releasing in March — at least, the title is fascinating. It’s called Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.

From the publisher’s copy about the book:

In Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived,
Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith–the
afterlife–arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to
eternal suffering. With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and
his message is decidedly optimistic–eternal life doesn’t start when we
die; it starts right now. And ultimately, Love Wins.

Sound controversial? It is. It’s supposed to be. And we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but on Saturday influential blogger Justin Taylor (who’s also in the publishing business as vice president of editorial at Crossway) decided to judge the book based on its cover description. Citing that and a short video provided by the publisher, Taylor outed Bell as a universalist.

While he admitted that he hadn’t read the book yet (!), he felt OK making this statement about Bell:

It is unspeakably sad when those called to be ministers of the Word
distort the gospel and deceive the people of God with false doctrine.

And this one, too, in an explanatory follow-up statement:

If Bell is teaching that hell is empty and that you can reject Jesus and
still be saved, he is opposing the gospel and the biblical teaching of
Jesus Christ. You may think that’s judgmental to say that; I think it’s
being faithful. I would encourage a careful study of 1 Timothy to see
what Paul says about false teaching and teachers.

As of this morning, Taylor’s post has more than 20,000 Facebook recommendations and 1,000 comments. But that’s not all. Highly respected author and pastor John Piper read Taylor’s post and recommended it to his Twitter followers with a link and this simple line:

Farewell, Rob Bell.

Piper’s tweet got retweeted and passed along and pretty soon, #robbell was in Saturday’s top 10 trending topics, which is usually reserved for Middle East unrest, dead celebrities, and Justin Biebers.

{Audible sigh.}

Thoughts:

1. This is why people hate us. There is no meaner, more hateful person on Earth than a Christian who suspects you have gotten your theology wrong. Labeling that mean-ness as “being faithful” to the Gospel doesn’t make it less hateful. While Taylor’s post was fairly calm, the response to it by his readers was not. Bell got skewered in the comments, on twitter, and in other blog posts.

2. Really, John Piper? Your Reformed followers can be obnoxious at times, but I’ve always hoped you were above that. Sometimes you say things that make me roll my eyes. Most of the time, though, you’re way more gracious than your fans. But “farewell, Rob Bell”? What a disappointingly smug, arrogant tweet. It’s worth pointing out what Scot McKnight told Christianity Today about the matter: “The way to disagree with someone of Rob Bell’s influence is not a tweet
of dismissal but a private letter or a phone call. Flippancy should have
no part in judging a Christian leader’s theology, character or status.”

3. Unlike some, I’m not going to fault Taylor for pre-judging Bell’s book. I’ve ranted about books I haven’t read, too. In fact, publishers’ copy and marketing materials are designed exactly for that purpose: they are supposed to give you an idea of a book’s contents so that you’ll be intrigued and buy it.

4. I kind of wish Justin Taylor had gotten a copy of my latest book and called me names in a blog post.

5. But here’s where Taylor’s and Piper’s responses annoy and frustrate me: They are so absolutely certain that they are right. Because Rob Bell seems to be indicating that hell might not be a place of eternal suffering — or might not exist at all in the way traditional Christianity thinks of it — then they say he is flat-out wrong. Dangerously wrong. False-doctrine wrong. Opposing-the-Gospel wrong. But you know what? The Bible is really squishy on the subject of hell. The everlasting-torment hell of Dante and Jonathan Edwards doesn’t exist at all in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Jesus talks about hell a lot, but sometimes in ways that a reasonable person could interpret metaphorically (like when he calls it Gehenna, after a real-life burning trash heap outside Jerusalem). And for centuries, some Christians have tried to make the case that, when Paul says Christ died for all, he really meant it. Not some. All.

No, universalism isn’t an orthodox Christian position. Hell is. But are we not willing to admit that, maybe, over the years, we could have gotten something wrong? Is it so wrong to maybe hope that everyone gets saved? That hell doesn’t exist? Because I totally hope that to be the case.

The truth is this: In order to be an everyone-get-saved Universalist, as Taylor claims Bell to be, you have to elevate some biblical passages and ignore (or explain away) others. Because there are definitely some passages that seem to be about eternal punishment in hell.

But…

In order to be a predestination-style, God-saves-the-elect reformed Christian — like Taylor and Piper — you have to elevate some biblical passages and ignore (or explain away) others. Because there are definitely some passages that seem to contradict predestination.

But…

In order to be a free-will Arminian Christian, you have to elevate some biblical passages and ignore (or explain away) others. Because there are definitely some passages that seem to confirm predestination.

See where this is going?

In order to be an Evangelical Christian…

In order to be a Roman Catholic Christian…

In order to be a Pentecostal Christian, a cessationist, an End-Times date-setter, a female pastor, a pacifist Christian…

Reading and understanding the Bible involves lots and lots of interpretation. Not just in light of the world and culture around us, but in reference to other parts of the Bible. At best, there are things that are unclear and not easily harmonized from Genesis to Revelation. At worst, there are things that seem to be downright contradictory. That’s why I have doubts. That’s why theology can be so controversial.

And that’s also why theology is best done with humility and a recognition that certainty is very hard to come by. When we become so certain that our theology is ironclad and right, that’s when we become smug, arrogant, and dismissive of people who disagree with us. That’s when we do things like tweet that a thoughtful, hopeful, influential Christian like Rob Bell is dead to us.

Because that’s what “Farewell, Rob Bell” means, isn’t it? You’re dead to me. What I believe is right. If you oppose it, then I’m done with you.

At least that’s how I read it. Please tell me I’m wrong.



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Ray Hollenbach

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:06 am


Well said, Jason–especially the audible sigh. If Rob Bell is some kind of heretic, I suppose he’ll just have to take his seat somewhere near C.S. Lewis in Heretic Hall.



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Alan

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:07 am


Best comments I have seen on this situation. Nice work.



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Michelle

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:10 am


Well said :)



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Alise

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:10 am


I was totally out of the loop on Saturday and it wasn’t until I read Hemant Mehta’s blog on Sunday morning that I knew what all of the fuss was about.
I certainly would read “farewell X” as a full dismissal of that person.
I just don’t get how one can completely dismiss a fellow Christian because you think they have bad theology, yet claim to be loving. How does that work? And how on EARTH does that translate to someone outside of the Church other than to say, “As soon as you misstep, watch out.”
Screw that.



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Shaun McDonnell

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:11 am


Hate?
You are using the word ‘hate’ here often. From what I have been reading there is no ‘hate’ amongst these gentlemen and scholars.
I think using such words is an attempt to discredit another’s argument rather than debate it.
You’re wrong.
-Shaun



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Jared Wilson

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:11 am


I won’t comment on the Piper tweet, except to say that, contra McKnight, Piper is anything but flippant. In fact, you lay out a reasonable case for Piper’s being too serious. Piper can be accused of a lot of things, but flippancy isn’t really one of them, I don’t think.
That said, there’s a couple of things about Justin Taylor’s post, premature though it may be, that bear mentioning. First, he has read more than the publisher’s description; in his update he says he has read a few chapters from the book. So while he hasn’t read the whole thing, saying he’s judging the book based only on the publisher blurb is inaccurate.
Secondly, Taylor has said “I will be happy to be wrong” and will admit it with apology if he is. That’s something else many seem to be missing. In fact, I have seen several critics of Bell say “I hope I’m wrong” and “I will admit it with apology if I’m wrong on this,” but I haven’t seen any of Bell’s defenders saying so. (Not saying they aren’t. Just sayin’ I haven’t seen it (yet?).)
I wonder if it’s possible to call out false teaching in this age without being accused of obnoxiousness and meanness. Certainly many who do this do it poorly and gracelessly. And certainly many who oppose those think there’s no such thing as false teaching and we should just be cool with errbody (except those mean Calvinists).
What I would like to see is the Church’s ability both to oppose false teaching and to defend unfairly maligned brothers without suggesting either action is wrong in and of itself.
Thanks for the forum to respond, Jason.



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Amber

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:12 am


Hm. I didn’t read it like that at all. I can totally see how everyone interpreted it that way now, though. I sort of saw him shaking his head in sorrow, like a widow sprinkling the ashes of her dead husband over the ocean. “Farewell, Rob Bell,” didn’t seem a horrific statement of defiance but rather the only words a mournful man could utter.



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KatR

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:15 am


Looks like some Christians didn’t react well to Bell trying to take away their torture porn.



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Shaun McDonnell

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:17 am


And what about the simplicity of the content of John 3:16 and the simplicity of the gospel?
What does ANY of this have to do with Calvinism or Arminianism or Catholocism? This is about Universalism where it seems Rob Bell has taken the wide path and the easy road based on the description in his book.
-Shaun



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MainlineMom

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:20 am


While I agree with you pretty much entirely, I must say that I find Scot McKnight’s comments hilarious and disingenuous since I have witnessed him firsthand giving the same flippant, arrogant judgmental attitude in a theology debate with Kevin DeYoung.



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katdish

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:22 am


I don’t suppose anyone can prove or disprove the existence of hell with absolute certainty anymore than anyone can prove or disprove the existence of God with absolute certainty, but I’m so weary of these debates about predestination and the like. You’ve addressed this issue very well. Thank you.



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Kenny

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:24 am


Than you, Jason. I saw a post by a guy who in fact DID read the whole book, and I’m not sure Rob lands where they claim he lands, and if not, there is an apology in order. It’s not enough for Taylor to say “well, if I’m wrong, I’ll update this post after I read it”. The damage is already done. I too was shocked in particular at Piper’s tweet…unbelievable careless. For a guy who knows the Bible so well, how can you delight in the the presumed failings of another? And doesn’t he know that instructions on presumed false teachers are in 2 Timothy 2? “Farewell” is far from the “gentle instruction” mandated by scripture. Why oh why would you use social media as a platform from an article where the guy admits he hasn’t even read the book rather than talking to Bell yourself and finding out what he believes (like a Matthew 18 thing)? I feel like healthy rebuke should be in order for those in authority over Taylor. It’s almost like these gospel coalition guys (Driscoll, Piper, Harris) coordinated together and said to each other…Bell anti-christ campaign, lock and load, 1,2,3…tweet! Really shocked about the response from Piper in particular, because I love that guy, and thought he was better than that. Let me be clear: I am not a Rob Bell fanboy, but the Church looked unbelievably foolish on this one. It became a trending topic for all non-believers to see the lack of unity, pre-judgement, and carelessness of the Church. It grieves my spirit. The Church absolutely needs Truth, but not in the form of careless, unwarranted venom. Don’t people know how Rob Bell is? He’s masterful at writing/speaking in a way that seems controversial to people intrigued, but usually lands back with scripture.



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@LaureeAshcom

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:25 am


what i found crazy was that a web designer in england (who i happen to follow on twitter)was pelted with twitter abuse just because his name was rob bell… as opposed to the REAL rob bell….. sheesh…
christians set a great example of what not-love looks like.



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...adam

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:30 am


I absolutely agree. I think the big take away from all of this is your quote, “This is why people hate us.” It’s almost impossible for Christian discourse to talk openly about theology without it turning into finger pointing and name calling. And that’s what breaks my heart.
The other thing, if Justin did read a couple chapters from the book, why not include a direct quote? Why not say, “here, in chapter whatever, Rob says the life, death and ressurection of Jesus is one of the ways to heaven.” then we could call him a universalist.
But that would contradict a lot of Rob’s other readings. I understand people having red flags about what he says, but engage instead of throwing flaming arrows.
this whole conversation just makes me sad for the Church.



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heyscotie

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:31 am


You should jump on this opportunity to plug Pocket Guide to the Afterlife.
“Now with assumed controversy!”



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Susie Finkbeiner

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:33 am


Thank you, Jason.



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Kyle Reed

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:48 am


Well said



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Leeana Tankersley

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:49 am


I really appreciated this post, Jason. I heard Bell interviewed here in San Diego just two weeks ago, and the interviewer said, “Time Magazine calls you the ‘next Billy Graham’ and many other leaders in the Christian community call you a heretic. How do you deal with that?” His first response, which was clever, was simply: “never google your name.” But he went on to talk about the kind of persecution, misunderstanding, and rejection Jesus endured from the religious leaders of his day. Bell left it at that.
On one hand, I’ve heard Bell make *very* dismissive and critical comments of others, and it bothered me and made him sound really chippy, and I’m wanting to believe that’s not who he is.
On the other hand, I sat there watching that interview, and a deep sense of empathy came over me. A sad empathy . . . what a gifted man Bell is, and how terribly we treat each other sometimes. And we’re all guilty of it. Even Rob Bell. Even me. Often the more gifted a person, the more barbs we feel entitled to throw in their direction.
How crazy that just a handful of days after this interview, he would be facing all of this.
One question: has a “Rob Bell as Idol” culture been created that makes him more of a lightening rod than needed? Has he become THE Christian rock star (thanks to his “fans”) and that’s perpetuated this huge cycle of everyone missing the point . . . which, in my mind, is for each of us to work out our salvation?



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Michael Jones

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:49 am


Bravo!! … people who havent even read his book are claiming him a teacher of false doctrine…just by reading two sentences of a publishers note…This is becuase Rob Bell was already on thin ice with many other christians who hated his popularity…they believe he became famous by offering a watered down version of the gospel…this was there chance to say “i gothcha” “i knew you weren’t a real christian”



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Ted

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:51 am


Thanks Jason, a very thoughtful response to a surprisingly (at least to me) messy affair.



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Cameron Reeves

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:52 am


Farewell, Jason Boyett.



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Graham

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:55 am


Maybe I’m in the minority, but I didn’t find Taylor’s words hateful. Jumping the gun? Sure. Stern? Yep. But not hateful. Then again, I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with being absolutely certain about what you believe.



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JoelR

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:56 am


Well, Jason, you’ve out-thoughfulled me yet again. A whole post and you didn’t call anyone an ass, attack other’s image of God (I think I used the term “dick”) or strike a remarkably snarky tone. So far, this is best thing I’ve read on the subject.



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J. Francis

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:58 am


Wonder what Piper, Taylor and Co. would have to say about this statement from Symeon the New Theologian (949–1022AD) on the topic. Symeon is a theological giant in the eastern church.
“God is truth and light. God’s judgment is nothing else than our coming into contact with truth and light. In the day of the Great Judgment all men will appear naked before this penetrating light of truth. The ‘books’ will be opened. What are these ‘books’? They are our hearts. Our hearts will be opened by the penetrating light of God, and what is in these hearts will be revealed. If in those hearts there is love for God, those hearts will rejoice in seeing God’s light. If, on the contrary, there is hatred for God in those hearts, these men will suffer by receiving on their opened hearts this penetrating light of truth which they detested all their life.
So that which will differentiate between one man and another will not be a decision of God, a reward or a punishment from Him, but that which was in each one’s heart; what was there during all our life will be revealed in the Day of Judgment. If there is a reward and a punishment in this revelation – and there really is – it does not come from God but from the love or hate which reigns in our heart. Love has bliss in it, hatred has despair, bitterness, grief, affliction, wickedness, agitation, confusion, darkness, and all the other interior conditions which compose hell.”



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Liz

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:58 am


Thank you for this article. Seriously.
I think that more theologians and Christians should pay attention the beginning half of Bell’s title: “LOVE WINS.” Doctrine, theology, etc….those things don’t save people. God does. And He is love. The more focussed we become on HIS amazing love for us, the less we focus on ourselves and others… The more we can just LOVE.



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ChadJ (randomlychad)

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:59 am


I wonder how different the world would be if the world saw us, as Jesus said, actually loving one another? (“By this shall they know that you are My disciples…). What a different world that would be.



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Kenny

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:59 am


I also agree wholeheartedly with Jared Wilson when he says:
“What I would like to see is the Church’s ability both to oppose false teaching and to defend unfairly maligned brothers without suggesting either action is wrong in and of itself.”
I for one have said to others that IF in fact Rob Bell lands where some think he lands, then he is in fact in hot water, but even then I don’t think there would be an apology in order for blasting the WAY that these other brothers have maligned Rob.
I can’t get over that Piper tweet…you can absolutely oppose false teaching, but take your cues from the Bible on how to deal with that as well. I don’t see scripture allowing a curt “Farewell” unless Piper has already gone to Bell both himself and with others, and Bell has continued to ignore or stiff-arm them.



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Mik

posted February 28, 2011 at 11:00 am


Thanks. Nothing else to add.



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Rickety

posted February 28, 2011 at 11:02 am


When I read the tweet by John Piper, I pictured him high fiving people. And in Taylor’s edits to his original post he adds several points, one of which is
“4) I highly doubt that this is a mere marketing stunt or that Bell is merely asking questions or playing Devil’s Advocate. If it turns out that the full book is diametrically opposed to his publisher’s description and to the conclusions he wants you to reach in the video, I will make that clear on this blog.”
Thanks, but I believe the damage is done. It’s like an attorney in the courtroom who makes outlandish accusations they know will be objected to but they do it to influence the jury. Sure, the jury is supposed to disregard the comments but good luck with that.
When stuff like this happens in the church, I keep seeing clips of nature videos run in my mind where more and more animals pile on to a weakened victim and devour it. Pretty sad picture of the church…
Thanks for this post.



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Jonathan Brink

posted February 28, 2011 at 11:02 am


Thoughtful Jason.



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Bob Kellemen

posted February 28, 2011 at 11:02 am


Jason, Interesting post. A couple of summary thoughts on your thoughts…
1. I read the publisher’s summary and I listened to the video and I read Justin Taylor’s post. I think Justin was “tame” in his wording and summary.
2. I did not read John Piper’s tweet at all as saying, “You’re dead to me.” I read it in the context of their ongoing dialogue to mean, “If this indeed is the direction you have headed, then you have stepped across the bounds of orthodox theology.
3. That leads to point 3: Jason, are you saying that because people disagree about biblical interpretation, that anything goes? Does that mean that no one has a right to say, “Based upon historic definitions of what is orthodox and non-heretical, this teaching is heretical?” Is this PCish? Are we saying that the only unacceptable view is to call someone else’s view unacceptable?
Bob



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Jim B.

posted February 28, 2011 at 11:03 am


I never understand these kinds of posts labeling a detractor/critic a “meanie”. I just heard about this controversy yesterday and just read Taylor’s post and watched Bell’s video. The question I come away with is this: Why is it unseemly for Taylor and Piper to strongly critique/dismiss Bell while it’s apparently OK for Bell in his video to strongly critique/dismiss those- like Piper and Taylor – who believe God saves us from Himself (His wrath), that only the elect are saved, that billions are not saved and will perish eternally, etc. Bell’s video is every bit as smug toward this theology as Piper and Taylor’s responses to it.
So, if Piper and Taylor are meanies, so are you and Bell. Instead of calling each other names – the very thing you seem to be chastising – how about we all put our man-pants on and have an adult conversation?



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gdub3

posted February 28, 2011 at 11:03 am


Good Post, Jason….
If we don’t question, we will never really know the truth.
Tradition is usually greater…
Personal opinion is usually greater…
Desire and/or Heart is usually greater…
Confusion is usually greater…
…….than TRUTH.
Challenge, critical thinking and open-minded exploration usually uncover the TRUTH (to those TRULY seeking it).
TRUTH is what I hope we are seeking.
Thank you for the green light to discovery.



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Steve McCoy

posted February 28, 2011 at 11:04 am


“Farwell, Rob Bell” isn’t a personal statement from Piper to Bell, I don’t think. I think it means, “We finally know for sure he’s fallen off the cliff of orthodoxy into heresy,” or something like that.



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Michelle

posted February 28, 2011 at 11:07 am


I appreciate this article. (found you via Jay Bakkers FB page)
I think Rob Bell would benefit from talking to Carlton Pearson about the drama that comes when a Christian comes out of the closet as a universalist.
This isnt the first time that Christianity has attempted to destroy someone who made the claim that maybe, just maybe, they serve a loving, inclusive God.



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Strader

posted February 28, 2011 at 11:10 am


Judging one single Tweet without explanation is no different than judging a book by it’s cover. Knee jerk reactions are annoying no matter if they are Christians or not.



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Larry Williams

posted February 28, 2011 at 11:15 am


Geeeezzzzz…… People being killed in Libya…. A new government in the process of being formed in Tunesia and Egypt… People losing their homes and whole families in this country… Haiti and New Orleans STILL trying to rebuild….
… and christians are STILL arguing over who is right and who is wrong. We fall into the corporate culture of sensationalism as a means to market. The zeitgeist of our times in this culture seems to be division… across the board. What better testament to the culture in which we live than love in spite of disagreements, rather then quick bombastic words written in the privacy of our own space. How courage has dwindled when our assessments of another position is communicated in the cloud of privacy rather than debated face to face… without a public show which can me market beforehand…
The surrounding culture defines God by the actions, words, and attitude of his followers. Hopefully, the culture was too busy watching the Oscar’s…



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Faith Bogdan

posted February 28, 2011 at 11:18 am


“Is it so wrong to maybe hope that…hell doesn’t exist?”
I believe hell is simply a place of voluntary separation from God.
So was the Cross.
Seems to me that Christ went through an awful lot of needless suffering if hell does not exist.
Thanks for the thoughtful post. :)



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Rick Nier

posted February 28, 2011 at 11:31 am


I refuse to make any controversial statement about Bell or anyone else. I am intrigued enough to buy this book, but judging it by its’ cover seems to be outlandishly juvenile. What happens to Justin Taylor’s credibility if this turns out to be marketing on Rob Bell’s part? They call it crying wolf fro a reason.
I do appreciate the direction you took on all this. I think your questions point to a deeper issue we as Christians seem to have of trying to make the Bible say what we want it to say, then reading the book. Hmmm, perhaps we have judged the Bible by its’ cover as well?



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A Voice

posted February 28, 2011 at 11:33 am


This is why between 20-30K denominations exist.
Belief is important; don’t get me wrong. But being loving is more important than being right, and knowing how to declare your distaste for someone’s perspective in a way that dignifies both they and your “followers” is vital.
The polarizing of the church is a track we are on in these times. It will be the greatest test of our actual ability to love, and it will be the birth canal for us to have something to say in the culture in 20 years.



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Ben Boles

posted February 28, 2011 at 11:36 am


I agree, like most I jumped to conclusions before actually reading the book. The only point I want to make is that everybody is say that all we have to go on is the back of the book but that is not true. Rob made a promo video that is on the post that Justin wrote where he is pretty clean. He asks how a loving God could condem people to hell. He said he couldn’t believe in a God like that. He also when referring to Jesus in a sentence that naturally flowed to calling Him Jesus Christ, cut short in what seemed to me to a pretty blatant attempt to deminish that He is our Savior.
Maybe we are all going to be completely shocked that all of this was a way to get the people who need to read it the most to read it because of the provocative nature of promotional material. I guess we’ll all see.



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Jim B.

posted February 28, 2011 at 11:42 am


I’ve always been amused at how some of those who shout “God is Love” the loudest are the very same who are quickest to assume the worst about those they disagree with. Example: Why is it impossible for those who care about sound theology – and speak/write about it publicly – to also care about people? Why is it assumed that those like Taylor or Piper – or the Christians who follow them/belong to their churches – don’t love people? Don’t send money, supplies and themselves to those hurting in Haiti, New Orleans and around the world?
Oughtn’t it give one pause to publicly criticize folks like Taylor for… public criticism?
Log, speck… no?



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Kim Gentes

posted February 28, 2011 at 11:42 am


I am not a universalist, although I am not a Calvinist either. The fact is, I believe in the Jesus of the bible, and am trying daily to bring a clearer understanding to my understanding of the bible by ongoing study, and direction of the Holy Spirit.
Thanks Jason for the thoughtful article. I am not sure why we can’t wait to read Bell’s book before judging him. Even in that, why can’t we discuss it without saying something like “Farewell, Rob Bell”.
I, for one, have benefited from the public discourse of both Piper and NT Wright. Seeing two brilliant theologians give a thoughtful outline of alternative points of view has helped us as a global Body of Christ, I think. I respect them both for their work in making their points well.
But seeing the terse and dismissive “Farewell, Rob Bell” from Piper has lowered my view of his character. And that is too bad. I suspect his voice as a thoughtful writer and speaker just got weaker and less respected with those three ill-chosen words.



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Josh

posted February 28, 2011 at 11:47 am


Well said. Great post.



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Mike Schutz

posted February 28, 2011 at 11:50 am


As an Arminian, free-will, working-really-hear-to-help-folks-avoid-the-hell-that-is-right-now-as well-as-the one-for-eternity-Christian, I’m about to say something very controversial:
Thanks, Jason.



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rain

posted February 28, 2011 at 11:50 am


Thank you for this. I really appreciate your reminder that theology must be done with humility.
1 Cor. 2:2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.



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Janet Oberholtzer

posted February 28, 2011 at 11:55 am


Well done Jason!
Especially love this paragraph and the lead in to it … “Reading and understanding the Bible involves lots and lots of interpretation. Not just in light of the world and culture around us, but in reference to other parts of the Bible. At best, there are things that are unclear and not easily harmonized from Genesis to Revelation. At worst, there are things that seem to be downright contradictory. That’s why I have doubts. That’s why theology can be so controversial.”



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David

posted February 28, 2011 at 12:04 pm


Piper’s tweet makes this quote from him even more interesting:
“Every good thing in the Christian life grows in the soil of humility. Without humility, every virtue and every grace withers. That’s why Calvin said humility is first, second, and third in the Christian faith. “— John Piper
Thanks for this post.



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franklin harrison

posted February 28, 2011 at 12:06 pm


i think this is probably the most well-thought response that i have seen so far to the whole issue. thank you.



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Anzaholyman

posted February 28, 2011 at 12:10 pm


I find Rob Bells courage refreshing, that some want all conversation to stop or else, it will not. Calvin who?



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Ben

posted February 28, 2011 at 12:12 pm


Well said, Boyett. Not just a rant, but thoughtfully spoken.
As you said, I sometimes wonder how people can be so certain about things so vaguely discussed in the Bible.



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Lisa Kerr

posted February 28, 2011 at 12:14 pm


I think it was really hateful and irresponsible of Taylor and Piper to attack. It shows more jealousy than anything.



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The Woman at The Well

posted February 28, 2011 at 12:19 pm


GREAT Post…… my thoughts exactly! I read his snarky post and couldnt believe he was weighing in on a book he had never read! How UN-credible is that?! I dont know Rob Bell, have never read any of his books, but have been told by others to ‘stay away’…… really? I would rather distance myself from John Piper. This kind of arrogance is what makes me want to lose the name Christian…..and we pastor a church!
John Piper, and Justin Who?, you need to hold your understanding of truth with a bit of humility.



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Ric Booth

posted February 28, 2011 at 12:20 pm


Excellent. Love all 5 points and the “The truth is this: …”
I’m with you, I kinda wish Justin Taylor finds my blog and calls me out. That’d be cool.



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Charlie's Church of Christ

posted February 28, 2011 at 12:25 pm


This is a public relations disaster for Christians trying to shake off the “judgmental/hateful” vibe. I do think Rob is pointing out something American Christianity needs to hear – that the Bible is a lot less clear on heaven and hell then fundamentalism is, and that it references far less than we think it does. However people can be stubborn and will likely not hear Rob on that point.



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Ian

posted February 28, 2011 at 12:29 pm


Sorry Jason. I think you’re correct on this one. Well said on all points.



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Chris

posted February 28, 2011 at 12:31 pm


You are attacking people that attacked Rob Bell. Why didnt you call John Piper or Justin Taylor and talk to them about this, rather than posting it online like you stated Piper and Taylor should have done? We are all sinners and need God to save us from our sin. If we dont except that we go to hell. Biblical doctrine. Some people don’t accept God. That is biblical too. Piper and Taylor are not wrong in saying that it is dangerous if Rob Bell calls himself a Christian but then preaches a gospel that isnt the Gospel. They went about it the wrong way but Romans 3:23 states that they are sinful just like me and you. They need grace too. Same with Rob Bell.



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Lori

posted February 28, 2011 at 12:41 pm


Too many today are sliding down this slippery slope. Judge the fruit is what we are instructed to do. The fruit of universalism and distorting the gospel is rotten fruit. Jesus and the Holy word does speak of hell.
Jesus speaking in
Matt 5:29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
again in
Matt 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Please read 2 Peter 2. Be warned that God is both loving and just. He will hold those who reject His Son accountable for their sins and the wages of sin is death.
May God help us all rightly divide the word of truth, for His Glory.



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Christiaan

posted February 28, 2011 at 12:52 pm


Well said. Thanks for posting this.



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Larry Williams

posted February 28, 2011 at 12:53 pm


Jim B… you are right. Publicly criticising someone for their public criticism is hypocritical… Therefore, I will take my own advise and do something more positive with my time. Y’all argue nice now, y’hear?



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michael l mckee

posted February 28, 2011 at 12:58 pm


This brew-ha-ha is an old, old, story…fundamentalists vs generative interpretation. A timely quote from a talk that i was blessed to hear last weekend: “The move from fundamentalism is the move beyond the ability to pretend that one is simple.” ~ Walter Brueggemann



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Richard Wayne Garganta

posted February 28, 2011 at 1:04 pm


Christianity in America is coming out of the dark ages of ignorance. As a former preacher of “God loves you so much he will burn you alive and forever unless you love him back”, I applaud ministers are finally teaching from original language instead of Dante’s Inferno.



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Kenny

posted February 28, 2011 at 1:05 pm


Jason, Thank you for being open and honest and really unbiased with the religious views. Thank you for calling them out when they needed to be called out. We are called to use discernment, not judgment. I don’t believe you’re judging them, you’re just pointing out that they were wrong. Thanks for the blog, Great read sir.



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Haley

posted February 28, 2011 at 1:12 pm


I had to rethink my post about this after I read thru Taylors blog a second time. I’ll repose my thoughts after the book is released Andover had a chance to read his true views on this subject. I should not have pre-judged beside on someone elses opinions.



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Sisterlisa

posted February 28, 2011 at 1:14 pm


Well, I guess Taylor is providing Rob Bell’s book some free advertising. Way to get the word out, Taylor. ;) I imagine Rob will sell far more books now that you openly insulted him so foolishly.
I am looking forward to this book. I think every person needs to be convinced in their own mind and not just take a religious forefather’s word for it. The reformers fled a controlled government religion. When you study the cult mind and what happens when people leave cults, you see clearly how their theology is emerging, but still holding on to things they were mis-taught before. It is of no surprise to me at all that Luther, Calvin, and others may have had some things out of context after being forced a one way of teaching for so long.
I applaud Rob Bell for studying so diligently and when a theologian publishes their dissertation, as a community we can study it to see if there is any validity to what he has discovered and make a fair and balanced decision about it. To make up our minds without reading it, without studying every passage he presents, and doing so with such arrogance shows the world an incredible lack of temperance and patience. Where’s the fruit of the spirit among the brethren? Why is Christianity so quick to throw him to the lions before giving the book a thoughtful evaluation? This isn’t ancient Rome, it’s America.
A person mature in the faith will not resort to name calling and insults when someone questions popular theology. We are to be like the Bereans, study diligently. And if the past theologians had something off base, and scholars have spread those false interpretations without double checking them out for themselves, then they weren’t very responsible with the Gospel.
If there is any validity in the mainstream teaching of hell, then let’s not be so afraid to put hell on trial. If you believe it’s true, then let it be questioned. Let it be questioned furiously. Truth will come forth. Proverbs 25:4 “Take away the dross from the silver and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.” So turn the heat up and let the dross rise to the top and be removed.



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jon miller

posted February 28, 2011 at 1:14 pm


thanks for this. I just hope everyone has eyes to see and ear to hear…….



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Carlene Byron

posted February 28, 2011 at 1:14 pm


Thanks especially for the comments on how we do theology, and how we treat those whose theology differs from our own.
God’s enough smarter than we are that any claim to have “harmonized” God’s thought into a consistent system of theology requires a fair amount of intellectual pride. And of course pride is something that our systematic theologies used to recognize as pretty close to the root of all sin.
Peace to all honest seekers, for “he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”



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Greg

posted February 28, 2011 at 1:18 pm


My first stop here at your blog…
Some thoughts on this Bell, Taylor, Piper fiasco:
(1) Maybe it’s just me, but the title of Bell’s latest book is a bit provocative. Not saying provocation is right or wrong, good or bad. It is what it is. But if the title is intended to draw a response, should anyone be surprised when the responses come?
(2) If this is all part of HarperCollins’ marketing strategy to generate interest in the book, it obviously worked. Creating buzz for a product doesn’t bother me, even if it’s a Christian product. What is problematic though is the following statement in the promo blurb: it says that Bell argues “that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering.” Come on, folks, strong push-back has to be expected to such a comment. I’ll give Bell the benefit of the doubt and assume that he didn’t write the piece or know it was part of the promo material. But he knows it now, and if he doesn’t argue this position in the book should he not insist on clarification?
(3) What would be the response to this if the statement or argument were made by someone like Richard Dawkins, for instance? And should the response be any different based on who made the statement?
(4) There’s good wisdom in McKnight’s words. So if it’s wrong for Piper to tweet his thoughts on this rather than express them to Bell privately, is it not also wrong for Piper’s critics to voice their opinions of his actions/words publicly rather than privately?
(5) I’m wondering… by “the Bible is really squishy on hell” are you saying that we can’t be certain as to whether or not hell is real, that the Bible isn’t clear on it?



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Kurt W

posted February 28, 2011 at 1:23 pm


Jason, you brought life into this conversation. I really appreciate your perspective on this and even bringing Rob (a real person, not just some abstract beating post) and what he was doing when he blew up the web, into all of this.
Not sure if you saw my response to this situation or not that I wrote saturday afternoon, but if you are interested it is here: http://thepangeablog.com/2011/02/26/if-rob-bell-is-a-universalist-then-maybe-i-am-along-with-many-prominent-evangelicals/
Peace.
Kurt



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John Renfrew

posted February 28, 2011 at 1:28 pm


@ J. Francis
February 28, 2011 10:58 AM
lovely contribution
In fact lots of lovely contributions
Just read Doug Frank’s book A Gentler God which takes a serious look at the GOD IS ANGRY viewpoint. I already know who in my church leadership wont like it. I also know who wont like this.
BUT I love the fact that Rob starts often by asking the question ‘What if…’ If more people asked that then we might just start to get somewhere.
Thank God for parents who raised me to question. Painful path but well worth it.



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Mike

posted February 28, 2011 at 1:34 pm


hell is real. i really wish it wasn’t. but it is. and any kind of teaching or belief outside of that is dangerous, NOT TO THE CHURCH, but to human souls all around us. pray for a revival of the theology of heaven and hell.



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Kristian

posted February 28, 2011 at 1:38 pm


I agree with your assessment that the posts by Taylor and Piper were premature and imprudent. I agree with you that theological study needs to be undertaken with great humility. I agree with you that it’s best to read a work before making critical remarks about it.
What I’m having trouble seeing, though, is how your post is much different from the things you denounce herein.
I was hoping that you would avoid commenting on this whole thing, opting to take a very humble posture and waiting until the dust settles and the book is released. Moreover, I was hoping that you would resist saying unkind things about “the Calvinists” (again, kettle/pot tension).
Honest question: Have you used your gift of sarcasm and wit to denigrate people with only a feigned humility, for denigrating Bell with no humility? In other words, as you typed this post, was there a sense of self-righteous indignation rising up in your heart? Did you feel superior to the men you’ve lampooned? If so, maybe you could have benefited from your own advice and waited a little while before committing your thoughts to paper. If not, I commend your courage to speak boldly according to your convictions. I hope that your words are received by your readers with discernment and humility.



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David

posted February 28, 2011 at 1:42 pm


I am feeling a Noomatic today, but I am going to wait and read the book.
When it comes to Heaven and Hell, I am an NT Wright fan all the way!



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Ken Silva

posted February 28, 2011 at 1:42 pm


Interesting to note that Zondervan is not the publisher, Harper is.
And Rob Bell’s been teaching a quasi-universal soteriology similar to the “opt out” Christian Universalism ala Spencer Burke for years:
http://tiny.cc/l7fhj



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teri

posted February 28, 2011 at 1:43 pm


It is amazing that we so quickly throw stones and dismiss others…I’m so sad, but I understand their thinking. It’s hard to think outside personal boxes. This is exactly what I blogged about today.
I welcome Rob Bell…
” Do not be called Rabbi, for you have one teacher and all of you are brothers”. Matt 20:8
by Teri Undreiner on Monday, February 28, 2011 at 9:06am
To walk away from the world of human beings as the prophets and mystics of old did, is not to leave their company but from their “formulas”. We can get all most anyone to teach us something that is mathematical, scientific, or mechanical like riding a bike, doing algebra, or operating a computer. But, in the things that really matter, life, love, reality, God…no one can really teach you anything except for a formula. As soon as you have a formula, you have your reality filtered through someone else’s mind.
Imagine yourself on a bus with a bunch of tourists and the buses shades are down. You have a guide and all along he is telling you what the sights and sounds are around you but you are only getting the images and information from his viewpoint and you have to try to makes sense of those images in your own head. He chatters away about this exotic land giving what he thinks is a vivid description of the sights and smells and sounds outside. Then, lets suppose that he stops the bus and lets everyone off to go and experience what he has told them. Their experience is not necessarily the reality because it has been contaminated by knowledge that someone else has either learned from someone else or experienced themselves. It is not your own. You can only then look at your reality selectively or will project your own formula around it.
The most terrifying thing is to move out into the unknown, away from any protective formulas. What is it you will see? You will begin to see anything and everything : a falling leaf, the behavior of a friend, a crowded highway, a starry sky, a quiet brook, a pile of stones, a ruined building. Someone may attempt to put some meaning into what you saw and will give you a formula to build around it so you can give that formula to someone else. You will try to put all your concepts into finding some meaning behind everything you saw so that it will make sense to the thinking mind.
Once you have seen and shaken off the temptation to control life into a formula, you will have experienced something that goes beyond formulas. You will become exhilaratingly free with an extraordinary confidence that comes from knowing that every formula, no matter how sacred, can often be worthless in the light of what you personally experience. You will never again call anyone your teacher because now you have put all aside to experience reality for yourself.. You will never cease to move into every day with a fresh sense of observation and understanding. When you dare to begin to look at everyone and everything around you without fear and formulas and you begin to really see.” ADM
I also wrote about Stones Of Remembrance
This weekend at Yoga Retreat , we were asked to pick out a stone of remembrance. The stones were all turned over so that we couldn’t see what they said. I “randomly” chose “FORGIVENESS”. I wanted to return it as I already have that stone. Then, I decided to ask God.
We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and yet Jesus never condemns us. He even asks, ” where are your accusers?” Maybe what He wrote on the ground was their particular issues or maybe He wrote something they held against others. OR maybe he wrote the mens names in the dirt that had been with this woman and now stood in the crowd to stone her. For some reason, I don’t think each of their stones were imprinted with the word, ” FORGIVENESS”.
So today I reflected on my own stone. Would I accept it or would I turn to throw it at myself or others had I been in that crowd. Would I return it and try to pick out one that I REALLY would rather have?
Today, I understand my stone and I embrace it. I hold it in my hand tightly , refusing to let it go. Maybe at some moment I will reach out my hand and pass it into yours and in turn, when you have held it tightly and embraced it, you will pass it on to another.
“Lord, when I reach forth my hand, may it be extended for the purpose of forgiveness, love, acceptance, and most of all understanding that MERCY triumphs over Judgement”.
So be it.



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JB

posted February 28, 2011 at 1:45 pm


Thank you.
My husband and I come from a conservative Christian background. We are also members of Mars Hill. Taylor and Piper’s comments have struck a nerve. I think its unfortunate that they have prejudged Rob and his book. There are a lot of Christians out there who will take what they say as gospel truth and not research it for themselves. They will jump on the Rob-Bell-is-a-heretic band wagon without having a solid grasp on the issue. Its possible members of my family will be among those people.
A few years ago we’d become frustrated and jaded…Christian rhetoric, legalism and church politics were getting in the way of the Biblical model of the church. We didn’t know where to go. I picked up Rob’s book Velvet Elvis one day and started reading. I was amazed…someone out there was asking the same kind of questions we were…and his church was only a few miles away!! This next Sunday will mark 3 years of attending Mars. It has been a place of healing. Its given us the chance to ask questions and interact with Scripture and come to our own conclusions. Do we always agree with what we hear at Mars? Absolutely not, but that’s ok. We’re free to disagree there without being labeled liberal or struggling spiritually.
I may agree or disagree with Rob’s conclusions in this book. Either way it will ignite a desire to learn more and search God’s word for myself….always a good thing :)



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T Woznek

posted February 28, 2011 at 1:55 pm


I’ve been following the story. But there are a couple of things I’d point out:
1) Taylor did mention that he read a few chapters of the book that he had been given.
2)Forwarding a tweet doesn’t mean you agree with it- it’s also used to pass things along to your group so they are aware of it- so the hate charge based on volume isn’t necessarily a valid point.
3) Perhaps this story demonstrates a different problem: lack of precision in how we speak & the problem of Shock and Confront style to promote things. An old and retired mentor of mine said this: “It’s not a vice to be plain. When you try to be clever you can create more problems and not be heard.”
4) I agree with your comment on Piper. To me it felt like Santa grabbing a present from a child and saying “See ya, kid!”



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Sarah

posted February 28, 2011 at 2:12 pm


I would agree that Justin Taylor should take more caution in how he addresses his concern, recognizing that any statement he makes about Bell without reading the book—or even after reading the book—could cause unnecessary injury and disrupt unity on the essentials for believers. Still, I don’t believe he was mean, or that he harbors any sort of contempt. Really, Jason? Mean-ness? I don’t see that anywhere in Justin’s blog. We don’t know that he didn’t try contacting Rob before he wrote the blog. We don’t know that he hasn’t tried to contact Rob in the past. I hope he did. If he hasn’t, I hope he does soon.
I would also agree that John Piper’s comment was tactless, and even immature. Especially when you consider his age, past experience in ministry, and the time his heart has been vested in the grace of God through Jesus Christ. I hope that John Piper would display grace and care for Bell as my Grandfather might for me if I had “gone astray.” Piper’s tweet didn’t seem like a real concern as much as a flippant dismissal (per Scot McKnight.) It might be silly, but it’s definitely disappointing. Still, I wouldn’t consider Piper’s tweet hateful by any means. I do agree he should have written a letter or made a phone call. And we don’t know that he didn’t. Dear Lord, I hope he did. And if he hasn’t, I hope he does.
However, Rob Bell has to expect some sort of reaction. Isn’t that why he and his publisher made the video? I don’t mind him asking questions, but his conclusions have serious implications on the responsibilities that fellow Church leaders have to affirm or admonish him. And as a pastor, leader and influencer, I do wonder about his decision to pose such pivotal questions without quickly following with truthful answers on which he is willing to stand and defend.
So, I can’t say I’m surprised that other Church leaders reacted. If they didn’t, I’d wonder why we (or I) would need to believe or proclaim absolute truths found in the scriptures—ever. If I am to live my life staked on God’s grace through the death of Christ and the power of his resurrection alone, then you better believe I’m going to wonder why the hell this guy, a pastor at that, is questioning that truth. The first place I go in my head? “What have I been living for, then? Or at least sought to live for? What God have I served? Wouldn’t it be cruel for God to send Christ as a sacrifice if He was going to end up saving everyone anyway?” (Rob Bell, I hope you explain yourself well.) Nevertheless, I’m not happy with the way the Church has responded to him. It’s discouraging.
To add, I hope most Christian leaders interact more outside of social media than I am led to believe they do. Sometimes, our famous pastors and Church leaders mirror 16 year old girls on Facebook more than they do 60 year old, wise, well-lived men.



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David N.

posted February 28, 2011 at 2:27 pm


Thank you. And also, thank you.



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Jim B.

posted February 28, 2011 at 2:36 pm


I think we all err when we leverage Matthew 18 against those who speak, publicly or privately, against public teaching they believe to be dangerous, unhelpful, unorthodox, heretical, etc. Matthew 18 is speaking about personal sin against a brother. If I gossip about Jason and it gets back to him, hurts him, etc. he should approach me man-to-man first. If I don’t respond in love and humility by repenting, he gets a couple other brothers and confronts me again, etc.
Matthew 18 is not prohibiting Piper from publicly critiquing Bell without first going through a church discipline process, or vice versa. If this were the case, I couldn’t warn my fellow church member of the problems with Benny Hinn unless I first approached Hinn man-to-man, then man-to-men, etc. That’s absurd and it’s not what the text teaches. This would give a monopoly on public speech to those with the megaphones (e.g. pulpits, publishers, popular blogs, etc.).
And I’m still not grasping how Piper’s tweet was hateful or immature. Piper simply referred to Taylor’s blog and basically said, “Farewell (from Christian orthodoxy), Rob Bell.” Bell seems to acknowledge he’s doing just this in his video.



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mark gouge

posted February 28, 2011 at 2:50 pm


How did Mr piper accept your private letter or phone call?



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Chris Hughes

posted February 28, 2011 at 2:57 pm


Jason,
Thank you for pointing out some of the deeper issues underlying this explosion of arrogance and condemnation. I love the light you shed on the thought provoking questions that Bell asks, and that we should all be asking ourselves. I wish this matter were being handled with a little bit more grace and humility in light of God who is beyond our comprehension.



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Tris Miles

posted February 28, 2011 at 3:02 pm


I’m saddened by Rob Bell. I’m saddened by the millions who’ve watched his hip and trendy–try–and–be–cool–and–contextual–but–being–unfaithful–to–Scripture ‘Christianity’. But I’m more saddened by someone who wants to defend Bell and attack those that attack him. I mean doesn’t the Blog author read his Bible?? God tells us to expose those who teach false doctrine and Paul curses them!!! This isn’t some Calvinistic/Arminian thang… this is outright heresy. Your point 2 about disagreeing with someone privately… is that why you’ve disagreed with all the disagreers publicly on a blog?? Why shouldn’t Piper make use of the social networking forums that reach millions knowing that Bells teaching has reached millions?
//That’s when we do things like tweet that a thoughtful, hopeful, influential Christian like Rob Bell is dead to us.//
I’m sorry but there is only one point here that is correct…. influential.
//When we become so certain that our theology is ironclad and right, that’s when we become smug, arrogant, and dismissive of people who disagree with us.//
Don’t you get this? Desiring God and anyone else who is dismissing Bell isn’t smug and arrogant because Bell’s theology is in disagreement with theirs, it’s because it’s outright heresy. Just accept it and stop trying to be diplomatic. Diplomacy belongs in certain contexts but not in handling God’s Word, Heresy and Doctrine.
How do you think the false teachers/Messiah’s that Jesus predicts in the end times will look? Todd Bentley? David Ike? David Koresh? Doesn’t the bible say that Satan masquerades as an angel of light? Surely, the greatest deceptions of God’s Word are not those who are obviously bad, with horns and all… but those who are so so close to the Truth, that look right, say all the right things but just change 1 or 2 things??
Well done Bell for nailing your colours to the mast, now we can see you for the heretic you are. Well done Desiring God for likewise, nailing your colours by speaking out against this rubbish.



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JD

posted February 28, 2011 at 3:14 pm


Remember not to judge others, unless they do it first.
“Your Reformed followers can be obnoxious at times”
See where you start to insult others in your blog and choose to create a wall between yourself and others? Perhaps you’re no less guilty if the attitude you’re blogging about. It’s your blog, just letting you know how it came across to me.



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Cindy

posted February 28, 2011 at 3:14 pm


Thank you Jason. This is a refreshing change in approach and one I would hope other Christians would share.
The fact that such hateful speech and blogs can come forth without people actually reading the book or knowing much about the ministry at Mars Hill is incredibly sad.
Many people are turned off by ‘christianity’ because they see the strife and criticism between people who call themselves Christians. Lost is the message of a God of amazing love who gave His son to be a sacrifice for our sins. What grace and mercy He has shown! Lost also is the support of people within the body of Christ for one another.
I have been a member of Mars Hill since its inception. I am challenged, not by any question of my faith in Jesus Christ as God’s provision for my sin, but in how that means I live my life each day. Do I care about the things God cares about? Do I love the people God loves? Do I share my faith in a merciful, loving God with others?
I believe Rob is reaching out to the many people who don’t see God as a loving God (and I have the book…). I pray God will use it to help those who read it know how vast is His love for them.



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Tris Miles

posted February 28, 2011 at 3:34 pm


Cindy, Gods love is just that, love, not because he has strong emotional feelings for us all, (though I’m sure he does) but because he has saved us from his wrath.
Romans 5: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God’s love is demonstrated to you in the face of Jesus Christ and the Cross.
Romans 5: Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!
You’re saved Cindy from His Wrath. Christ died a bloody death to purchase that eternal security for you. But not everyone believes like you do, not everyone accepts and that means they will have to suffer the punishment for their sins.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14.
Cindy, try reading some of the reasons why so many Christians are speaking out against Rob Bell: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2011/02/26/to-hell-with-hell/
We need the doctrine of eternal punishment. Time and time again in the New Testament we find that understanding divine justice is essential to our sanctification. Believing in God’s judgment actually helps us look more like Jesus. In short, we need the doctrine of the wrath of God.



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Jeff Ling

posted February 28, 2011 at 3:44 pm


Jason – I appreciate your comments. I do think you have fallen prey to the same thing you accuse Piper of. How do you know the comment was a “you’re dead to me comment?” I can’t imagine anything that harsh from John. I could be wrong but what if that was an anguished comment? What if the farewell was because Rob was moving away from orthodoxy and the departure is sad to witness.
That’s what my farewell would be like.



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Dennis

posted February 28, 2011 at 3:44 pm


The madness is crazy. FWIW, I really appreciated Eugene Cho’s blog post today. It was fair and reasonable and I would encourage people to check it out:
http://eugenecho.wordpress.com/2009/03/07/the-most-anti-essential-christian-books/



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John Gnotek

posted February 28, 2011 at 3:46 pm


In answer to your first question. I would guess Bell was home in bed. Sick. Since Tuesday. At least that’s what I would assume from what I heard. I just happen to take a ride across the state with a couple friends to visit Mars Hill Sunday. Bell wasn’t there. “Just goes to show Rob Bell is human, he’s been in bed sick since Tuesday…so on 36-hour notice, Steve will fill in…”
FYI, just in case you were curious. In reference to the rest, well said.
By odd coincidence, when I got home from Mars Hill I happened to have an “email” from the one person I ever defriended on Facebook, defriended because of the extremism of hell-loving christianity. I mean I’ve never even defriended some hard-hitting rapper friends or extreme anarchist Facebook friends, but there’s just something cannot stomach about the “Christians” as you’ve described above. Anyway, this email had a link to a couple articles including one cite above.
My friends and I had chatted with one of the Mars Hill elders after the service and he had mentioned this book and the forthcoming book signing. He explained the book to us a bit, so when I had read the article immediately afterward, it was real evident to me Taylor had no idea what he was speaking, certainly he had not read any drafts, nor spoke to Bell about it. The biblical references Taylor cited were skewed and weak arguments—unless that’s how you are already pre-supposed to believe, as my defriended friend is. Thus such un-researched accusation/opinions, ONLY fuel an already unstable and dangerous faith. Shame.
Again, well said Mr Boyett



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Melissa

posted February 28, 2011 at 3:58 pm


I don’t think “Farewell, Rob Bell” means You’re dead to me. What I believe is right. If you oppose it, then I’m done with you. I think it simply means that he has, apparently, departed from a belief and the group that believes it. Please don’t jump on the going overboard bandwagon.



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Don Every

posted February 28, 2011 at 4:10 pm


I won’t comment in detail, as others here have said it well, but I would like to have good people like Piper and Taylor give us all a beak and honestly think and pray about things that are said, instead of blazing away from their hips. That is a real giveaway that you are relying on closed traditional views and neglecting the present revelatory work and word of God here and now, and that’s sad.



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Dawntoya

posted February 28, 2011 at 4:13 pm


Reading into what John Piper wrote seems to be what you are complaining he and Taylor have done to Bell. You’re apart of the cycle you hate. There’s so much off here. I could understand if this were the only time Rob Bell seemed to add to scripture but whether you read the book or not, he has been preaching lots of fluff lately. Don’t hate the man, but you have to guard against teaching that’s isn’t in the bible. Whether from a calvanist or Armenian. If people call someone out, they’re “pharisees” or it’s hate. But could it also be hate to not tell people the truth that they came to your church to hear? The rich man in the new testament was pleading for a dip of water and to tell his family of this place of torment. That dude didn’t seem to be chilling in heaven w “everyone.”



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Jonathan Sigmon

posted February 28, 2011 at 4:15 pm


I’m thankful for your voice. It inspired me to write too. Thanks Jason.



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LeighAnn

posted February 28, 2011 at 4:24 pm


wouldn’t it be safer for all of us to love like Jesus did? Show people love, expect good things from them..ask them to move to a life of holiness because they love Jesus ( not because they are afraid. )
Fear is a controlling part of christianity that doesn’t work anymore. People are not afraid anymore..they are just broken. They need love. if we loved radically without fearing, we would change the world and show them a God that IS love. Why don’t we just love..and let Jesus worry about the rest.



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sarah a.

posted February 28, 2011 at 4:40 pm


i would agree that it means “you’re dead to me”, in the sense that certain people (including piper) will never respect what bell has to say again – all because of one difference in doctrine.
Jesus would love that. the whole division thing is exactly what he came down here to promote.



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Brit Windel

posted February 28, 2011 at 4:55 pm


I greatly enjoyed this blog. It is heart breaking the fear tactics and ignorance spotted often by things we have no idea about. The video was very intriguing, the book sounds no more controversial than Jesus teaching about the Sabbath, worship, riches, what it means to follow. Will have to pick up this book that other wise might have passed off my radar… hahaha thanks Piper (which by the way I’ve never read a book of yours)



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Lis

posted February 28, 2011 at 5:00 pm


I don’t know if you are wrong, but I appreciated your insights.



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Kevin

posted February 28, 2011 at 5:06 pm


I hope for a universalist outcome (or if that turns out to be wrong then at least an annihilationism outcome regarding the unrighteous). While I strongly hope for this, I do not share the same certainty that many “orthodox” Christians have regarding the traditional view of hell. Sadly, theological humility does not seem to be a strong trait of Christians these days (especially in Reformed circles).



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Robin Aguilar

posted February 28, 2011 at 5:09 pm


You are essentially doing what John Piper did by criticizing him, and in my opinion, you are doing it in a more condescending way. He is just defending bibilical doctrine. I feel like this blog Does not do that.



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KATHLEEN

posted February 28, 2011 at 5:20 pm


let’s just keep fighting among ourselves and watch Satan get the victory. The church with the signs outside funerals will become more of a reality in Christian attitudes. We are already known to the “world” as homophobic, biggots, and people of hate. Wow…now we hate our own. Sorry Jesus



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Jusup Sianturi

posted February 28, 2011 at 5:23 pm


Jason, you wrote, “And we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover”, also “But “farewell, Rob Bell”? What a disappointingly smug, arrogant tweet” about John Piper’s tweet, and quoted Scott McKnight’s, “The way to disagree with someone of Rob Bell’s influence is not a tweet of dismissal but a private letter or a phone call. Flippancy should have no part in judging a Christian leader’s theology, character or status”. Then you wrote this about John Piper’s tweet, “Because that’s what “Farewell, Rob Bell” means, isn’t it? You’re dead to me. What I believe is right. If you oppose it, then I’m done with you”. So… how did you get to your conclusion about John Piper’s tweet? Have you asked him by a “private letter” or gave him “a phone call” to find out what he really meant by “Farewell, Rob Bell”? If you haven’t done so, aren’t you then contradicting your own, “And we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover” with what you said about John Piper’s tweet by judging him by his tweet?



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Mark Hunter

posted February 28, 2011 at 5:28 pm


Well said Jay. Where is the tolerance? Why do we not all seek to understand?



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Andy Atencio

posted February 28, 2011 at 5:48 pm


Jason, first off I have stumbled across this as I have been trying to learn what all the angst is about Rob Bell and this new book. It is one of the best postings on this subject that I have read to this point. I have to say that Rob Bell was instrumental in my returning to Christ. I read his book the Velvet Elvis and it gave me a view of Christianity that I had not experienced in my youth or my early adulthood.
I do not agree with @Robin that you are in turn doing the same thing to John Piper that he and others have been doing to Rob Bell. They are saying Bell is completely and totally wrong and that they know that for a fact. Where as you are saying there is no true way to tell for sure that either opinion is in fact right or wrong. We will in fact not find out how much of what we hold to in “biblical doctrine” is really true until we meet God and he says yep you got it right or what in the world, how did you get that from what I said? All of these people that think they know what the “biblical doctrine” is or the “right theology” I find entertaining.
I believe that a number of the things that are currently being, or have historically been said about Rob Bell are similar to the things that were said about Jesus in his day as he challenged the “established church ideals” of the time. I think anyone that can bring people to Christ, can make people think and question, and can scare of few of the current Pharisees might just be in some good company when his days here are at an end.



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Shiloh Bloomer

posted February 28, 2011 at 5:55 pm


I think that we should be grateful for challenges to orthodox (as in “normal”) theology, because they illicit responses from us who want to defend theology. Let us also remember that Christians were once labeled “heretics” and that we also have access to the Holy Spirit, who “teaches us all things.” Also, “Who are you to judge another man’s servant–to his own master he will fall or stand, and he will stand, because God is able to make him stand.”
That being said, I don’t believe Rob is going to hell because of his unbelief of it, because Jesus didn’t tell us to “confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Hell exists, and you shall be saved.”
Let’s remember the central stuff and measure theories and “different theology” by the Spirit of God



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Ross

posted February 28, 2011 at 6:06 pm


Jason Boyett
How sad that you make a case for those shaming Christianity by judging and being mean and calling people out! How dare you? Piper said “Farewell Rob Bell” and you go ahead and call him arogant and smug! Wow YOu are the one that is reinterpreting what Piper is saying! You bash Piper here and lead so many to hate on him! You are the one that is throwing stones, not Piper who said three words and reposted a link! Why? You seriously are the real one opening up the can of worms? “I’m not going to fault Taylor for pre-judging Bell’s book” You say this but then call Piper Arrogant and Smug, The guy who all he said was “farewell Rob bell and linked Taylor’s post! But you are not going to fault Taylor the one who really said things that actually were defined and more in depth instead your going to pick on 3 words and interpret them in a way that slanders and downgrades someone! In my opinion this article of yours is worse for the church then Taylor’s. Piper should have been wiser in his wording because there is room for interpretation especially like yours where he is slandered! I read Taylors article Sunday and I didn’t find him bashing Bell or Christianity! The article made myself and most of us aware and warned against things taht widely in the Church are not accepted as the possiblity of this offense! I wanted to read Bells book more and see for myself what was going on! I did not find Christianity Bashed at all! YOu Sir have done most of the Bashing! Perhaps you are trying to appear unbiased but your single handed shots at Piper way more than Taylor when Taylor wrote the article shows me you have more biased than you are showing! Those that understand Language and words as myself can see right through it!



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michael stinnett

posted February 28, 2011 at 6:26 pm


way to go Jared Wilson…we need to be discerning people. Christians need to be more loving of Christians, but let us not forget that honesty is a great form of love…if everyone gets to be saved, then why is obedience to God important? that’s a pretty big question…



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Johnny

posted February 28, 2011 at 6:38 pm


Jesup said it well, also to paraphrase Tim Keller in The Reason for God, if someone thought a cookie you were about to eat was poisoned and would kill you but you disagreed, does that make them smug for telling you they are wrong and trying to prevent you from eating it? Every reference to hell refers to a place of fire, created for Satan and his angels. It does exist. Whether you think humans go there or not. The clearest picture is the story from Jesus about Lazarus and the rich man. A story you know. What references are there that people go somewhere else?



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nance

posted February 28, 2011 at 6:38 pm


Jason, I read John Piper’s post about Rob Bell. I understand we cannot test & approve this book until we’ve read it. There is a call on our lives as effective, fruit-bearing Christians to remain and cling to what is holy. That means we will have to test and approve things in life- and I believe that is done by first asking our Heavenly Father for wisdom [for if we are lacking, He is gracious] and then holding it to the Word. The more it lines up with the very WORD of GOD, the more biblical I consider it. Plain and simple.
I believe your case would be made more effectively if first, it is for the sole purpose of seeking first God’s Kingdom above all. Second, I would find your case more effective if it were full of biblical references. To be honest, it comes across as an attack on John Piper, which just seems to be continuing a futile cycle.
If this post by John Piper, article by Taylor, or the book that prompted it is of false teaching, or distracts from the most important mission given to us- to make Him known, then it is time to address either the post, the article, the book or maybe even your post, too. If our complaint is that something was done in harshness, or arrogance, it does not seem wise to attack in the same manner it offended us.
James 3v.13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.



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Tina

posted February 28, 2011 at 7:09 pm


Wow – thank you, Jason. Your article gives me hope for Thinking Christianity. The comment section does not. I will be buying the book.



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TheendofAndy

posted February 28, 2011 at 7:11 pm


This post is nothing but an attack on John Piper-I’m not a follower of Him, and wouldn’t label myself a “reformed baptist” but I know enough to know this blog is just as “judgmental” as the author accusing Piper.
Sigh….
I digress.



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kim

posted February 28, 2011 at 7:12 pm


Well said. Thank you for speaking my mind and heart on the matter as well.



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mkimpan

posted February 28, 2011 at 7:14 pm


it amazes me how quickly and how upset people can be when we start challenging an obese census in hell. it’s as if the hint of universalism has taken away the ‘secret weapon’ of evangelical theology, the Hell Card.
for a related post and discussion, see ‘ambassadors of reconciliation.’ http://tinyurl.com/4qxqzll



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Your Name

posted February 28, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Edward Carter

posted February 28, 2011 at 7:37 pm


The soul that sins shall die is the scriptural punishment for sin. I cannot find where God says to His son Adam(Luke 3:38)”And as an extra incentive not to disobey Me, I will throw you into a furnace of literal fire and torture you until the resurrection of the dead at which time I will judge you, and find you guilty and send you to the just punishment of the Lake of fire where you burn once again. Keeping my fingers crossed you do not eat off the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which I planted together in one tree… Good luck kid!!!
He only said the day you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the day you die.. Ever notice even in the church in the wilderness that Jesus came to,to this present age,that the majority always has it wrong?



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Chris

posted February 28, 2011 at 7:52 pm


I have been a huge fan of Rob Bell for a number of years. His way of poetically and simply bringing scripture to life caught my attention and gave me hope for this new generation of believers. Sadly when I saw this article I broke.
Of course the idea of no hell, no judgement, free to be whatever I want to be is so stimulating. And of course we want this Idea to be real, cause what one person wants to be judged? I hate court, even for some lame ticket! standing before some guy in a black robe condemning me to pay so much money BLOWS!
Our view of Judgement must not be looked at like God is in a big black robe, and he has been practicing his gavel swing..his aim? right for your face. God’s Judgement must allways be viewed at the cross of Jesus. Judgement has allready been passed! and Jesus the essence of love has won!
But does this mean that everyone will be entering glory? no…does everyone have the oppurtunity to? yes! The scripture says He did not come to condemn the world buy by him ALL men might be saved. Romans says that anyone that calls on the name of the lord would be saved. That name is Jesus.
it is not by any work, that we enter into heave. Only by accepting the free gift of Salvation by the name of Jesus….Good people are going to go to hell, why? because of things they had done? sins they commited? did they not give enough offerings? NO! they did not accept Jesus work of redemption. They tried to get to God in there own righteoussness and ours is like dirty rags!
Scripture is plain about Hell, But let’s talk more of the redemption and the power of love to save us from this place.
I desire to read Mr.Bell’s book to properly understand where he is coming from.My advice to christians everywhere that believe there’s a hell and think bell is wrong..don’t waste your time with back biting a fellow brother who is only searching for truth…go out there and show people that love does win, and bring salvation to them..so they don’t have to be eternally seperated from God. And for those who believe what Bell is saying in his book. Please don’t take one man’s word please examine the scripture for yourself! I think Rob would agree…..(sorry for the long entry)



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David Foreman

posted February 28, 2011 at 7:56 pm


A great article, Jason! I’ll be passing this on.



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David Foreman

posted February 28, 2011 at 8:01 pm


By the way, many Christians don’t realize our doctrine of hell is a combination of scriptures about FOUR DIFFERENT THINGS combined into a remix of Dante’s Inferno.
http://lifewalkblog.wordpress.com/2010/12/02/what-the-hell/



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Kyle

posted February 28, 2011 at 8:02 pm


I can appreciate some of what you’ve said here, but your last thought (#5) is immensely unhelpful. Undergirding it is a presupposition that neither Piper or Taylor agree with, and you’re practically asking them to give up on that conviction. In so doing you’re being no better than what you charge them with: a failure to be open minded. Look at it from their standpoint. A publisher description that says a book is “arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering” cannot, from their convictions of Scripture, be nuanced, clarified, or spun into anything biblically acceptable. It’s akin, in their minds, as if it read “Author X argues that Christ did not rise from the dead.” No matter how you look at that, no matter how you try to rewrite it, or try to buttress it with ‘biblical’ arguments, it’s just plain wrong. And Piper and Taylor are allowed to come with that conviction, just as Bell is allowed to come and say “God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering” even though he’s wrong. This whole argument has really escalated beyond and far from where it should be. The issue is how do we understand the Scriptural witness regarding hell. Saying “Piper and Taylor how dare you think you’re right” isn’t helpful in the least.



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Ken

posted February 28, 2011 at 8:14 pm


You said to tell if you’re wrong. You’re wrong.



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glenn toering-boyes

posted February 28, 2011 at 8:23 pm


Kyle, #5 might be very pertinent, especially since neither Piper or Taylor have read the book. how can one come to a conviction based on not reading the book. further more, didn’t jesus instruct us that if we have a problem with a fellow believer, to go to them and deal with it privately. he sure didn’t instruct us to “tweet” our judgements!!



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drew

posted February 28, 2011 at 8:27 pm


“And that’s also why theology is best done with humility and a recognition that certainty is very hard to come by. When we become so certain that our theology is ironclad and right, that’s when we become smug, arrogant, and dismissive of people who disagree with us.”
so an example of this would be me thinking there is no hell and no one goes there (apparently i don’t read scripture) and then knowing i am right and certain enough to publish a book about it. Also, i have a 10,000 member church and over 50,000 subscribe to my podcast…
then i’ll make a video and be smug/arrogant enough to not comment on all the haters because i’m right and there just angry people who shouldn’t disagree with me.
and when they say my theology is wrong publicly, i’ll leave it to my many many followers to defend me and say the accusers give christians a “bad name” because Jesus never got angry at people selling stuff in the temple…and Paul never confronted Peter publicly when he saw he was wrong.



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Nathan

posted February 28, 2011 at 8:35 pm


I appreciate your clear thinking. I wish more of the Christian world had it. I say that as a pastor and fan of Rob Bell–and I also hope universalism is the case. I guess we’ll know some day–will the hard liners get mad and stomp off from the Kingdom if they find someone there they think doesn’t belong? Then where would they be? I imagine that our ignorance and bigotry is washed out of our infected minds when we “get our new skin” as my five year old son likes to say.



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Kyle

posted February 28, 2011 at 8:38 pm


Glenn,
Thanks for the Matthew 18 citation…good verse, wrong context. In the words of Kevin DeYoung “This is not a personal offense or an interpersonal squabble that should have been left in private. The general rule of thumb, supported by Matthew 18 and sanctified common sense, is we should not make a matter more public than it has to be. But by definition, YouTube videos and Vimeo clips and books and blogs are meant to be public. That’s the whole point. The Love Wins trailer was not a private email correspondence intercepted by the Reformed Gestapo. It was deliberately made public and can be commented on in public.”
Secondly, there’s absolutely no way you can nuance, defend, twist, or support the publisher descriptions of Bell’s book in such a way that it reflects Scripture’s teaching on the doctrine of hell. To say a loving God would not sentence a soul to eternal suffering is a dead end road, and I don’t need to get down and examine the pavement to see that it’s a dead end road. Sure, the finer details of Bell’s book might show us how he specifically gets there, but that doesn’t change the fact that his conclusion is wrong. Like I said, it’s akin to someone saying “Author X argues that Christ didn’t rise from the dead.” I don’t really care how he gets there, he’s wrong.



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seth

posted February 28, 2011 at 8:44 pm


Bro,
Thank you for this post! Words are not enough… Thank you!
Seth



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Jeff Watkins

posted February 28, 2011 at 8:51 pm


“When we become so certain that our theology is ironclad and right…” [it means we have a Masters Degree from a seminary.]
Just sayin’.
P.S. I do.



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Saints Not Sinners

posted February 28, 2011 at 9:35 pm


Well, it’s good to see that 2 or 3 people in the comments understood what you were going for in the article. :)
It’s important to remember that we are followers of Jesus, not John Piper or Rob Bell. So was JESUS’ message more hell focused, or more focused on the Kingdom of God being manifest on earth? I’ll stick with doing things how He did and seeing His kingdom on earth :]. Paul’s message was that of extreme grace. It offended all of the law-keepers, much as that same message does today.
It’s silly how quickly people will parrot their favorite preachers and never stop to question if what they say is even biblical or lines up with Jesus. If John Piper and Rob Bell are your models for life, kindly stop calling yourself Christians :).
I too hope universalism is accurate. Biblically, I don’t see it. But I hope that God has one more trick/loophole up his sleeve after death :].
People who are more concerned with people keeping rules than they are with people are the only ones I ever see getting mad at scandalous grace. It’s a tad bit sad.



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Saints Not Sinners

posted February 28, 2011 at 9:38 pm


@Jeff, you’re assuming that what they teach in seminary is ironclad and right. It’s not.



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HopefulLeigh

posted February 28, 2011 at 9:40 pm


Amen! I wish we weren’t so divisive.



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Warren Aldrich

posted February 28, 2011 at 9:46 pm


the comments above and spoken of by “Christians” is precisely why I am careful to distance myself from being labeled as such.
It’s as though to be mean-spirited is the 11th commandment. Sad.



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able70448@yahoo.com

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:17 pm


What we need is another 75 years of sunday sermons, more “christian” t.v. shows with singers and personalities, a 2 million dvd/cd package ( with workbooks!)and MORE books by “anoited” people who have new and intriguing revelations to help us “make” it to heaven. With all of these “helps – now we don’t need the Holy Spirit. Won’t it be nice to sit in our pews on sunday mornings and know for sure that we’re going to see the pearly gates…..and the most comforting thing will be that there will be no muslims,hindus, or buddhist’s there………amen………p.s Does anyone know where I can find the new book ” Jesus-Fact or Fiction?”



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Dave Martin

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:28 pm


I think true Christianity is about your personal relationship with Christ. Not rules and rituals!



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Randy Starkey

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:46 pm


Yes, the blogs were premature, mainly in content, not in existence. The publicity of the book asked for it in terms of some response. So chill on that.
Yes, John Piper’s comment was especially arrogant.
But Jason – calling it “hate”? C’mon. That’s as bad as what they did. That’s as tired as saying to me that I hate gays because I believe homosexuality is a sin. In fact, I love them. I want them to experience God’s freedom. They are welcome to come to our church.
Now, on to a quote from you… “Is it so wrong to maybe hope that everyone gets saved? That hell doesn’t exist? Because I totally hope that to be the case.” How can you possibly hope that that could be the case if you have read the Gospels and the teaching of Jesus? What would be the point of Jesus warning anyone about hell if everyone gets saved? It’s not logical to hope that. It’s sentimental. That’s the problem. People wish and hope, and it’s emotional, but it’s not spiritual truth. If you “hope” everyone gets saved, what in the world would be the point of Jesus teaching the parable of the rich man and Lazarus? Jesus *taught* that! For a reason. What would be the point of Him telling you something as strong as it’s better to cut off your hand than go to hell? C’mon. There is no hidden, spiritual metaphor here. We may not fully understand exactly what hell is (I don’t think we do – but it’s clear it’s not good!) – but everyone get saved? Not in the light of scripture, not if one is intellectually honest. Only if you just want to be sentimental, emotional, and/or as Peter warned, twist scripture (2 Pe 3.15-18)to make it mean something it doesn’t. That whole passage is a warning about destruction. What’s the point of even writing it and telling believers to be on guard and not to lose their secure footing (you can tell I’m not reformed, right? :-))if everyone gets saved? So *I* hope you will rethink *YOUR* hope, because biblically I think it’s a false hope. It destroys the sinfulness of sin and makes conviction of sin emotionally unnecessary, convenient and comfortable, but unfortunately not true.



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Nate

posted February 28, 2011 at 10:48 pm


Thank You. Point number one is so big right now.



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Wesley

posted February 28, 2011 at 11:13 pm


I initially thought Piper’s Tweet was flippant and uncharitable. But then, looking at the longstanding logger-heads Piper and other emergents have been having for years now, i remembered two things:
1 – this is not Piper’s first interaction with Bell; as thought he just heard about him and something he said and just wrote him off, point blank.
2 – “Farewell Rob Bell” could also – judging from what you even say yourself is Piper’s countenance and graciousness – could also have been written/said with a great deal of weight and sadness, as one who stands at the grave of one they’ve wrestled and loved on for years to stop drinking, only to have them finally die in some accident, etc. etc. From what i know of Piper, i’d say it was more this then what initially comes across, which sounds more like Piper is saying this with the finger in the air at the same time. Juss sayin’
God’s peace.



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Randy Starkey

posted February 28, 2011 at 11:31 pm


Wesley – great point on your #2. My bad too. So important not to judge heart intentions. But still it represents a separation that is not necessary. Even if Rob Bell has become a universalist, he won’t be convinced otherwise by “farewells”.



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Faydra

posted February 28, 2011 at 11:45 pm


Saturday night my husband was at a church dinner thing, so I got the kids to bed, then plopped into my own bed, lap top on hand and began my surfing and… woah! Was there plenty to read!
My evenings reading led me with three thoughts:
1. Since when did Stuff Christians Like get so racy!? (Some of those comments – yikes!)
2. Wait. That tweet couldn’t be from the REAL John Piper, could it? Oh wow, it is. Deep sigh.
3. Somewhere those in charge in marketing Bell’s book are breaking out the champagne and high-fiving each other.
And I want to talk about my number three. It’s the number that your number 4 jokingly considers as well.
Because in spite of the warnings of this recent CT article: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/february/follyansweringfools.html?sms_ss=facebook&at_xt=4d6a5b0144d4e232%2C0 opponents of Bell couldn’t resist the “posture of perpetual outrage” and put tons of free press under the noses of people who otherwise wouldn’t have cared but now want to see what the fuss is about. And it felt like that was exactly what was supposed to happen.
Which is disturbing. It’s a big reminder that the Christian publishing industry is just that, an industry. And clearly the profit of tomorrow’s new release trumps peace in the Christian community.
If indeed (and it’s just so speculative at this point, who really knows) the pre-released excerpts are the most inciting (because hints of universalism are certainly inciting to numerous Christians, if not the vast majority of churched Christians) and the entire book itself will prevent a fuller, less controversial picture then I will walk away from all of this most disappointed in the publisher for encouraging a public hubbub (no press is bad press!) to take ultimate precedence. Because aren’t we believers supposed to be, ya know, different?! And shouldn’t Christian companies also try to operate, ya know, differently?
Or maybe I’m just being terribly pessimistic?



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Matt

posted March 1, 2011 at 12:22 am


So well written! Outstanding stuff



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Allen

posted March 1, 2011 at 12:28 am


Why do we think so highly of ourselves? That in itself is sinful. Instead of asking the question, “Why would a loving God allow someone to burn in Hell?”, we should be asking, “Why would a just God allow me to spend an eternity with Him?”, or “Why would a just God even allow me to live?”



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Daniel Decker

posted March 1, 2011 at 12:45 am


Probably the best, most level headed response I have seen to all this Rob Bell ruckus. Well done.
I’ll read the book myself and then decide but either way, even if Rob somehow has strayed… I would say “Farewell Rob Bell.” We, Christians, are so easy to dismiss those closest to us.



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Luis Soto

posted March 1, 2011 at 1:10 am

daryl underwood

posted March 1, 2011 at 2:18 am


Just wanted to say this was well written…It seems Rob’s views has given fuel to a substantial serving of genuine dogmatism (unfounded positiveness in matters of opinion; arrogant assertion of opinions as truths)…and I really got a chuckle when reading your thought number 4…’I kind of wish Justin Taylor had gotten a copy of my latest book and called me names in a blog post.’
And really (tongue in cheek)…isn’t that what it’s is all about for many of us…glad to discover you, blessing



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Cindy

posted March 1, 2011 at 2:58 am


I just know in the end it is me n God. I have a hard time undertanding how one is capable of attacking that he has not read. I do endorse those whom I’ve read, when a new book is authored prior to reading. I must also read, because the wisdom, challenge, and information. Judging an unread book is like a man knowing what labor and childbirth feel like.



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the routed sojourner

posted March 1, 2011 at 3:26 am


Ok.
You said…”In order to be a predestination-style, God-saves-the-elect reformed Christian — like Taylor and Piper — you have to elevate some biblical passages and ignore (or explain away) others. Because there are definitely some passages that seem to contradict predestination.”
Ok, now tell me what in the Bible supports the idea that there is no punishment for those who reject God. On the other hand, I can show you scripture that shows what is in store for those who reject God, and it is not Heaven.
I’m pretty sure that God’s truth for humanity is Ironclad and it does not change. Now, I’m not saying that all the rules of the Old Testament still apply. The Old Law is gone. The new operation is one of Grace, as a response to our failure to measure up to God’s standard of perfection. But I have trouble swallowing the idea that the things that the Bible clearly lays out are up to such wild interpretation.
Interesting article. I had not heard this story until now.



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Does it matter?

posted March 1, 2011 at 3:53 am


?1 Cor 1:10-13 & 17
10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.
12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”
13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
……
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
Seems we along with many others are doing a lot of thinking about Rob Bell…. Well as ministers of the gospel our focus should be on the gospel (and further more the God of the gospel) our attention should NOT the one who is or is not preaching it well….. It makes me wonder if ministers more often grasped what Paul did in
1 Cor 9:16
For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!
1 COR 15:3-4
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the day….. Just peep that entire chapter….
Fact is I haven’t seen this video and most likely will not be reading this book… But it saddens me when Christians (I myself being one) spend so much time trying to understand some other persons stance with out ever examining our own. Fact is heresy is not the problem! It’s when people like me and you don’t repent for our untrue beliefs about God…. And every person on this planet as of right now has beliefs about God that are untrue!
So with this in mind let’s be a church walking out Phil 2…. And consider one another greater than our selfs and out do one another (Rom 12:10) in doing this. As we keep in mind
1 Cor 3:1-9
1 But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.
2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready,
3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?
4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?
5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each.
6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.
7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.
9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.



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Brad

posted March 1, 2011 at 3:59 am


Why does he suggest a careful study on false teachers? Why doesn’t he suggest a careful study on the topic of hell that he’s so confidant that he has right.



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Michael

posted March 1, 2011 at 4:58 am


I have read Rob Bell’s first book (velvet elvis) and i thought it to be an interesting and challenging book, however i do feel like its not a bad thing to question Rob’s interpretations of scripture, especially when they are making such huge implications. I myself feel that Piper and Taylor went to far, a christian should gently rebuke his brother if he believes he has gone astray, but also they have admitted to not even reading his book, to me this reminds me a lot of martin luther (not that I’m an expert or anything) but if you judge a but on theology such as this one, with out reading it then you are simply making an argument in ignorance.
On to the subject of hell, I believe the bible is pretty clear that hell does exist and that it is not simply a place on this mortal plane. I myself do not believe hell is a place to go to be “punished” but a place that God is not, and this place, as i see it is the most horrible and dreadful place to be. Not because a bunch of demons are there, or there is a burning lake of fire, but because the souls that go there are in a place that is devoid of God. A place where God is not. Being separated from the master of the universe. From what we were created for. That is Hell.
Now this is what i have come to learn in my walk, and i know that its not a complete nor perfect view, and i also know that there can be situations on earth that are like “hell” however i think that we loose site of the big picture if we think this physical world is all there is. After all isn’t that a view that Jesus challenged when he was teaching.
we as Christians should be filled we a deep compassion for those who don’t have a relationship with God, we should be willing to sacrifice our own life’s to share that love!



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Bart Breen

posted March 1, 2011 at 6:17 am


I am a book critic. I have about 250 reviews up on Amazon. I am a top 1000 book reviewer in the US and a top 100 reviewer in Canada (where I am originally from). I am also an Amazon Vine Reviewer, meaning that I’ve been asked by Amazon to receive books and products, often in advance of publication, for review. I probably receive about 100 offers outside of that a year from Publishers and Authors asking if they can send me their book in return for my review.
I might certainly have an opinion of a particular author based upon previous works or previous reviews before I read the book, but integrity demands before I review a product that I actually use it or read the book. Not all reviewers do that. Some just scan it and there are even some who read all the other other reviews and then just do a summary.
I decided a long time ago I’d rather be a VOICE than an ECHO. It means I produce reviews much more slowly than others and it usually means my review is longer than most other reviews. It also means I try to give the reader of my review not only my opinion but enough background of where I’m coming from in my opinion that they know enough that if they don’t agree with my position they know that it’s influencing my evaluation of the book .
When I read “reviews” from anyone, (not just heresy hunters) who admit they haven’t read the book and who then go on to judge the book based upon their evaluation of the author’s character, that “reviewer” loses all credibility with me. That behavior is the literary and intellectual equivilent of the old party game “telephone” where people whisper a phrase down the line and see what comes out.
There still exists a very strong faction with fundamentalism and evangelicalism that defends “orthodoxy” many of whom couldn’t define orthodoxy if their lives depended upon it and who know more about what they are against than what they are for. It still saddens me. Principled disagreement is fine. I do that in my reviews when it’s necessary, but I try to separate that from the character of the writer and if I can, I balance it with what I see that is positive and helpful. If I can’t do that with a book, more often than not I’ll just decline to do the review unless I think there’s a valid reason to provide it because of some legitimate danger to the reader if they don’t discern something about an issue.
Anyway, just so others understand, I used to be something of a “heresy hunter” in my younger days. I wasn’t afraid to voice disagreement and attack others in this manner from the pulpit or in discussions with congregants or other pastors. Doing graduate level work and self-study on critical thinking and learning to identify logical fallicies as well, I think, as just desiring to experience the love of Christ and realizing I couldn’t experience that as well when I was not demonstrating love to others (disagreement is OK, it’s how we disagree that is a matter of love), has led me on this different path. I still have to go back at times and re-evaluate and even adjust my thinking and words from time to time.
If most “heresy hunters” put the effort into examining themselves, I’m convinced, their tone toward others would change. What saddens me in addition when I read that type of stuff, apart from reminding me of my own past, is the realization of how unhappy many of these folks must be. Their activities and “reviews” usually tell me more about them than the book they haven’t read.



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Mary Eliz

posted March 1, 2011 at 6:48 am


It is so good to remember in all circumstances love wins. Thanks to Rob Bell and Mars Hill for reminding us every Sunday. Can’t wait to read Rob’s book. grace + peace everyone



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Ruth Dyke

posted March 1, 2011 at 7:19 am


And they’ll know we are Christians by our love for each other?????????



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Ken Howard

posted March 1, 2011 at 7:25 am


Thank you, Jason, for articulating this. The tendency to “excommunicate” those with whom we disagree and to define “unity” as “uniformity” is a sign of the disfunctionality of our present understanding of the basis for Christian unity and community. As I said in my recently published book, “Paradoxy: Creating Christian Community Beyond Us and Them,” it is not a behavior limited to conservatives, it’s just that conservatives and liberals do it differently. Liberals excommunicate by changing the subject, Conservatives by changing the venue (making the offending voices leave, or leave themselves if they cannot).
Oddly enough, on this particular issue, Universalism was not originally outside the bounds of “orthodoxy.” Many of the Fathers of the Early Church believed it to be a perfectly supportable position to hold based on the scriptures. Clement of Alexandria said roughly, “You cannot restrict the freedom of the redeemer to redeem.” and I certainly do not see a reference to eternal punishment in the creeds we say each Sunday.
Whatever our theological point of view, we would be well advised to espouse it with some humility. Because as fallen humanity, our ability to understand the fullness of God’s Truth is limited our finiteness and fallenness. Our best theology must, by nature, be a little wrong. And that the deepest of God’s Truths — those found at the very core of Christian fait — are paradoxes.
I came to the church as a person of Jewish heritage. In Judaism there is a exegetical practice called “midrash,” in which opinion is set against opinion and text against text, and in the tension of the struggle we are brought closer to a more complete understanding of what God is saying to us.
We must not excommunicate those with whom we disagree. We NEED them.
Ken+



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Michael

posted March 1, 2011 at 8:18 am


Christ did die for all mankind. And while man’s rejection of God isn’t bigger than God’s ability to save, any implications made otherwise are foolish. God’s sovergnty is outside our alphabet of explanation. This will be an interesting read.



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Joshua B

posted March 1, 2011 at 8:53 am


Thank you Jason.
Wonderfully said. I wish this would receive 16,000 Facebook Likes.
Pray for Justin Taylor.
Joshua



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JD

posted March 1, 2011 at 9:09 am


Right on, Jason…
there are those who live, explore, push the boundaries and think…
and those who criticize, tear down and attempt to destroy…
one would think that believers should be secure enough to ponder any line of thinking without being dismissive, attacking, or just plain hateful. Perhaps that’s the real issue underneath.
I believe every action is rooted at its basest level in either love or fear, and responses like those critical of Rob Bell would seem closer to fear than love. And yet, in the end, love wins! It always has and always will, for the final outcome is never in question.
Thank you for this thoughtful, articulate, compassionate post…
Bless you,
JD



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joshuadf

posted March 1, 2011 at 9:44 am


Hmm, I wonder if he’d tweet “farewell, C. S. Lewis” after reading the Great Divorce?



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David Price

posted March 1, 2011 at 9:50 am


I wonder if any of them read my article, because they sure illustrated it well.



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Donny White

posted March 1, 2011 at 9:50 am


Rob Bell is correct in saying a loving God would never sentence anyone to (an eternal) hell. A loving God sentenced His Son to take a sacrificial role on the cross. I’ll be quite dogmatic that people go to Hell. No one can argue otherwise unless they call Yeshua a liar. But God doesn’t sentence them. Those people have a choice in the matter. No judge ever gave a convicted criminal a choice whether or not to be sentenced. People go to hell because they reject the cross. It’s pretty plain, and there’s no need to complicate anything that’s black and white.



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Richard Jones

posted March 1, 2011 at 9:51 am


Jason, this is a good post. I like how to turned it around to be about how we do theology (rather than what our specific theology is), and how we respond to people whose theology may differ from ours.
This whole incident,though, is not really about Rob Bell or his critics. It is about how the Christian presence (I can’t think of a better way to say that) on the internet can be co-opted for marketing. Rob Bell didn’t “blow up” the internet. And neither did his yet to be released book. The people MARKETING his book did. And we went along. Boy, did we go along. Harper is hoping to be (and surely will be) laughing all the way to the bank. This post was thoughtful and civil, I’m sure many were not. In other words, we Christians were baited into devouring each other by people just in it for a buck.
Second, on the whole subject of universalism, it seems to me that all the people bashing Bell should hold up. They seem to me to be liars or hypocrites (or both). What do I mean? What makes them hypocrites? They are hypocrites every time they watch TV, or go to a movie, or go to the gym, or sit down to eat with their families, or go to work, or go to sleep. If you really believe that people who don’t pray the prayer, who don’t believe like you do are going to burn forever in infinite torment with no hope of relief or escape, then how can you do ANYTHING but run around like a firetruck heading to a fire telling people about Jesus? The point is we don’t believe it. We say we do. But we don’t. I say we, but I don’t believe that. About the only person I can think of who comes close to this is Francis Chan. The conventional view of hell and eternal punishment is unsustainable. And it is time evangelicals admitted that.



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Sarah@EmergingMummy

posted March 1, 2011 at 10:58 am


Thanks for this post, Jason. I appreciate the perspective – lots to think about here. This is bigger than Rob Bell, John Piper et al. It’s even bigger than the theological issue itself. And this perspective – that it is family, the throwing down of gauntlets and walls, is sorely needed for most of us.



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Kevin

posted March 1, 2011 at 11:07 am


I am very interested in reading Bell’s book to get his take on the matter. Personally, I have mixed feelings in the subject. Part of me is reluctant to dismiss nearly 2,000 years of Christian orthodoxy because certain doctrine’s of heaven/hell might not line up with what my own sense of what love and compassion looks like…if there is one thing I know, God is mysterious…and I do not trust my own (nor any body else’s) sense of reason to dictate my faith. I worry that we so often answer only to our own intellect…that is to say, our own Reasoning becomes our God, our Law. Yes, I understand the message of the cross is foolishness to many, for me it is the power of God.
I am not surprised to see some of the resistance Bell is facing. But it saddense me to hear how dismissive much of the Church has been towered him. we do not all I’ve to agree on everything to still love one another. Yes, I believe orthodoxy is very importantant…many fathers andmoters in our faith died defending such beliefs found in our creeds. Paul obviously took doctrine very seriously. So we should as well, so long as we do so humbly (for who can truly claim to knowall the ways of God?)
All that said, I hope Rob Bell is right…and I pray that his exegesis is convincing. I want to believe him…I want more to be faithful to teachings of scripture. Perhaps these will coincide…



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Your Name

posted March 1, 2011 at 11:17 am


Your wrong. A little bit though. John Piper is known to call up his friends when they did something sketchy and and confront them about it. I wouldn’t be surprised if he called Rob Bell and confirmed that he really is taking the universalist stance before he tweeted that. You are attacking people for making assumptions (assumptions that are probably correct based on the description of the book and based upon the video of Rob Bell explaining the book), but you yourself are making assumptions on the fact that John Piper and Tyler were making assumptions! I love you, and I love Rob Bell, Piper, and Tyler as brothers, but this attacking thing just should stop all together, and I feel that this article is just putting logs into the fire.
You really must realize that all the men involved in this are prayerful, loving, smart, and gifted men of God who love eachother deeply and want the best for eachother. It is posts like these that don’t build up others but tear them down.



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Nick

posted March 1, 2011 at 11:43 am


“Tension” is a most basic and essential theological category. Most wish this was not the case. It’s full of in”tens”ity and in”tens”ions.



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Brandon Scott Thomas

posted March 1, 2011 at 12:07 pm


Jason- Thank you! I so appreciate you!



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Dave Wilson

posted March 1, 2011 at 12:08 pm


Jason,
A couple of things:
Thing one — Like you, I’d an ad guy. My first thought is whether Bell’s video was (seemingly) bad theology or good marketing. I explored that in a blog post because no one (until you) mentioned that. The video and subsequent firestorm have served to get the book a lot of attention and galvanize Bell’s supporters. Man Men would approve.
Thing two — As a crabby “God-saves-the-elect reformed Christian,” I’d have to agree with Kevin DeYoung that Bell communicates a number of things in his video that should be examined and discussed now. His book won’t be released for a month, and I don’t think it would serve people to just take a “wait and see” approach until they read the book. Wouldn’t you agree that people should weigh in on Bell’s seeming universalism AND give their opinion on the book when it comes out?
Dave



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Uniquely Normal

posted March 1, 2011 at 12:26 pm


Excellent. I decided to blog about it too. Why not.
http://www.uniquelynormalmom.com/2011/03/shame-on-you-john-piper.html



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Matt Jones

posted March 1, 2011 at 12:46 pm


So did you Call Piper?
“The way to disagree with someone of Rob Bell’s influence is not a tweet of dismissal but a private letter or a phone call. Flippancy should have no part in judging a Christian leader’s theology, character or status.”
I agree Piper could have said a few more helpful words but I really don’t see any difference between what you are doing in this post and what Piper and Justin did with Bell



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Rory

posted March 1, 2011 at 1:46 pm


Jason,
I appreciate your thoughts. If anyone’s interested, I own an advance copy of the book and have started a series of posts about it at my blog, which is linked here. The first one is already up – it’s basically an exercise in ground-clearing so that everybody can be as self-aware as possible of our assumptions and the processes by which we decided (or, sometimes, assumed) certain understandings about scripture, hell, and what it means to even come to those understandings using scripture.
What I’ve seen thus far in most of the reformed blog responses to Bell is a confusion about at what level Bell’s trying to have this discussion. Kevin DeYoung, for instance, merely reposted a section from “Why We’re Not Emergent” on why God’s wrath / judgment are necessary to our sanctification. But Bell isn’t denying that God has an attribute of wrath. He is denying what Kevin (unfortunately for all concerned) simply assumes: that the phrase “divine judgment” or “divine wrath” equals or entails “eternal, conscious, tormenting punishment in a fiery hell”. I think Bell wants to ask this question:
“Is it possible to fully believe that God is for God’s own glory, and to fully believe what Scripture says about God’s wrath and judgment, while at the same time not believing that Scripture necessitates an understanding of hell as eternal, conscious, tormenting punishment?”
I think it’s question worth pursuing. At the very least it ought to be recognized that to move from “divine justice” to “eternal, conscious…etc.” requires some rather sophisticated hermeneutical, exegetical, and canonical moves. This is true of almost every doctrine within systematic theology, but when somebody’s trying to address the foundational moves themselves – as Bell seems to be doing – it’s unhelpful to simply reemphasize God’s wrath and judgment: It’s precisely the material content of those terms that’s in question!
Also, Jason, you’re hilarious; thank you for existing and writing.



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Eyelean

posted March 1, 2011 at 1:47 pm


The problem with conversing through technology is you miss out on 80% clarity due to missing body language “communication”. Clear, concise, understanding of anothers position must be face-to-face or else put into a format that allows the writer to fully explore his thoughts and feelings. If that isn’t the case, the reader is forced to fill in with own views, prejudices and jaundices which are obviously inaccurate of the writers intent. Critiquing & judging people’s tweets, blogs and posts for ‘motive & meaning’ is basing it on incomplete information right from the start.
Let’s read Bell’s book when it comes out, when he has had a chance to form, expostulate and clarify his position BEFORE we decide he needs to be crucified, eh?



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Larry Daily

posted March 1, 2011 at 1:50 pm


You said; “God-saves-the-elect reformed Christian” is what some believe. I think God save the “reformed sinner”. Therein lies the rub. If a person chooses to continue in their sin they have made the choice and God just says “Ok” and by doing so they have choosen Hell and rejected Heaven. What is so hard to understand about that?



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Carson T. Clark

posted March 1, 2011 at 2:01 pm


An Open Letter to Justin Taylor Regarding His Condemnation of Rob Bell
http://bit.ly/fLawpU



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Lindsey

posted March 1, 2011 at 2:28 pm


“1. This is why people hate us. There is no meaner, more hateful person on Earth than a Christian who suspects you have gotten your theology wrong. Labeling that mean-ness as “being faithful” to the Gospel doesn’t make it less hateful. While Taylor’s post was fairly calm, the response to it by his readers was not. Bell got skewered in the comments, on twitter, and in other blog posts.”
Amen. As a graduate of a Liberal Arts Christian college, I have seen the arrogance and selfishness that take over ‘followers of God’ when they believe they are right and everyone else is wrong concerning a value, belief, or overall theology. The Church is in a sad state right now in so many ways…we would rather argue theology and go to battle over words used in sermons than worry about serving the poor and those around us. The greatest challenge comes when our “beliefs” are called into true action, because we often don’t know what that looks like. Words are easy to exchange, but do people look at us and see love? See Jesus? Sadly, I think not…



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Lauren

posted March 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm


calm down
Rob Bell’s beliefs do not change reality.
same goes to you and me. If we try to teach and preach outside of the bible and Jesus we are not teaching the truth or reality. I am so not for sending out hate tweets and comments but if he is in fact guilty of believing what he is being accused of, then I sure do hope those who follow him open their eyes to the deception. I also hope and pray that his eyes are opened, too.



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Greenmum

posted March 1, 2011 at 2:45 pm


Great post. Thanx. :0)



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Doug

posted March 1, 2011 at 2:56 pm


I wonder where John MacArthur’s ministry would be today had twitter been around when he made some of his comments about the blood of Christ?



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Derrick

posted March 1, 2011 at 3:21 pm


Sweet Jesus, have mercy on us all. Rob Bell and I were classmates in college, and I’ll be the first to admit that I have absolutely no idea where his heart is at on all these controversial issues that characterize so much of what he has done. Grand Rapids is full of young adults who were force fed on Christianity growing up, and they have flocked to a pied piper who can present a whole new way of doing the faith. Part of the appeal has always been the rejection of the Christian status quo of the previous generation — so many people running from an empty experience of faith, and they want to be assured that they have done the right thing, that someone understands their hurt and anger, and that he can emphasize certain Scriptural facts in the same way that past generations did, but to a new and entirely different effect. I pray that the people who have flocked to Rob were people who would’ve lost their faith completely if he had not come along with an “intellectually honest” variation that spoke to their empty and confused hearts. I pray that in the grand scheme he is doing more good than…not. And I pray that when this generation grows older, and the next generation rises up and decides to be controversial just for the sake of argument, that this generation will smile a knowing smile, and grow a little less angry at the 2,000 years of Christians who spent more time respecting the lives of those who went before them instead of deconstructing them.
A true child of God ought always to hope that all will be saved sooner or later, one way or the other.
But “to be saved” means not simply escape from catastrophe, but to find complete joy, holiness, glory, and perfection in the life-giving presence of our Eternal Daddy. What is to be done with a rebel who will not lay down his arms and call on the mercy of the only One who can save him? No doubt all are aware that there can be no “heaven” for one who will not abide the presence of a Ruling King and Lord and Master: He cannot offer Eternal life anywhere but in His own Presence. Somehow we all assume that every soul, when confronted with God in all His blinding glory on the day of judgement, will turn to Him in repentence and beg His mercy. What then? Is there hope to choose sides after death? This, every Christian must hope…but they must never preach nor live as if it is so, because it may turn out to be a false hope. We have no promise that there will be such a chance.
And what if we are wrong in even assuming that the broken body will create a contrite soul? What is to be done then?
No more needs to be said then these brief glimpses of “mere Christianity”. Controversy can be avoided. Compassion for where people’s opinions vary from this basic foundation of truth MUST become a part of our understanding of how the Body operates. Yes, if we give too many opinions, sooner or later someone is going to have to be WRONG. That is simply the nature of Truth and logic – some truths are mutually exclusive of other truths.
Sweet Jesus, have mercy on our arguments: the arguers and the ones who stir up controversy and incite the arguments that follow.



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Captain Obvious

posted March 1, 2011 at 3:32 pm


Your comparison of universalism verses vs. Calvanism, evangelicalism, etc… Is a terrible one.
There are main and plain things that you understand from scripture – ‘hell’ speicifcally – being very clear and obvious. The others mentioned could have sufficient evidence and are worthy of logical discussion and debate.
I think I understand your overall point – but really think you could study a bit more before making such poor comparisons.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, but I for one at least – disagree



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Nolan's Daddy

posted March 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm


We were having this discussion when “the furor” broke (and was tweeted incessantly by some staunch Calvinist former-members of our decidedly non-Calvinist church.) I don’t understand the indignation. Is Universalism not simply Calvinist predestination writ large? The Calvin crowd says, “GOD decides who is saved — but He only chooses to save those who deserve it.” The Universalists say, “GOD decides who is saved, and He chooses to save everyone because of His love.” I’m neither, but if I had to choose between the two….



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Stan

posted March 1, 2011 at 4:03 pm


I don’t know Rob Hill from Adam, so it was with great interest and curiosity that I watched the promotional video in question – then I watched it again, and again. And I have come to the conclusion that what he “seems” (giving him the benefit of the doubt until I read the written word) to be advocating is that we are somehow naturally NOT children of wrath, that we are NOT already condemned, that Jesus did NOT die for the purpose of removing God’s wrath from us. If that is in fact what he is conveying, then be upset with how people may have reacted to it (and the timing of their reaction) all you want – but don’t neglect to acknowledge that Rob “seems” to be teaching something other than a Christian faith based on man’s fallen nature, man’s just condemnation, and God’s complete and undeserved work of redemption through Jesus Christ, and through Him ALONE. If adhering to those tenets is considered “unloving” and “intolerable” (which are neither), then you have no choice but to get in line with all the others who feel that way.



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Aaron

posted March 1, 2011 at 4:15 pm


You misrepresented entirely the fact that both Justin Taylor and John Piper made their respective comments on Rob Bell’s own promotional video for his book… not on the book itself. I think the video speaks clearly enough to merit such dialogue.



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Jason Hess

posted March 1, 2011 at 4:33 pm


The best thing to do is wait and see. Making assumptions isn’t always the best way to approach things.



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Rev. Z. Bartels

posted March 1, 2011 at 4:37 pm


You wrote, “1. This is why people hate us.”
Wrong. They hate us because they first hated JESUS. At least that’s what he said (John 15:18). When we gauge our faithfulness to Christ by whether or not the world loves us, we need to count the world usually loving our message as a marker of UN-faithfulness.
Oh, and I can tell you what Rob Bell was doing when he realized he’d “blown up the Internet.” He was sitting there waiting to hear that he’d blown up the Internet. This whole thing STINKS of planned publicity stunt, and guys like Taylor fell right into his hands.



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Stephen

posted March 1, 2011 at 4:40 pm


The part of this article that is the most poignant and, in my opinion, irrefutably profound is the part about the dismissive nature of the medium in which Piper and Taylor offer their condemnation. It is one thing for Christians to be relevant with regard to communicating in a digital age, but quite another to reduce issues like Matthew 18 to twitter quips and jabs. It appears arrogant and cowardly.
Further, I’ve seen the video, and seems like pretty tame stuff. Nothing definitive is mentioned. I suspect that “Love Wins” will sell a ton of copies thanks to all this and, quite possibly not end up nearly as controversial as many hope.



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Michele

posted March 1, 2011 at 4:42 pm


I’m so sad. I’m praying that my pastor, Rob Bell, is not a universalist. One thing I know is that I haven’t read the book yet. I’ll make my decision then.



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Vicky

posted March 1, 2011 at 4:49 pm


A lovely, humble, eloquent and balanced response.



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Josh

posted March 1, 2011 at 4:56 pm


I agree with Stan’s point.
In addition, two other things.
One, Jason, you are correct in saying that arrogance has no place for this. I agree that humility is, in fact, what is most needed when something controversial comes up (and even without it I might add :D). Probably the first thing that Taylor and Piper should have done was ask Bell “what do you mean by that?” That is a fair and honest question and perhaps Bell would then explain to them so that they can judge the theology properly.
That comes to my second (and perhaps lesser) point, however. The video does “seem”, as Stan pointed out, to promote something unbiblical. So then I guess my question is whether Bell could have perhaps thought through how he promoted the book better. Realize that I am assuming that what he is teaching is, in fact, orthodox but simply construed in a clever way to get people to think deeper.
Oh, and one final note: Jason, your 5th point, particularily the latter half in regards to the doctrine of hell, might, just might, reinforce the idea that Bell is a universalist. This is because your basically give somewhat of an argument for universalism in your criticism of the “orthodox” backers (Piper and Taylor). I don’t mean to be a harsh critic, but I think it was unnecessary to even go there. I think you could have made your point about arrogance and judging without getting into whether the Bible is “squishy” on heaven and hell. Just a thought.
I hope I was clear as I sometimes write too fast and have incomplete sentences or miss a word and thus make really dumb statements or say the opposite of the point I wanted to make.
God Bless



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Scott Russ

posted March 1, 2011 at 5:08 pm


This is in response to a relative who emailed me asking my opinion. I thought i would also post it here too.
Now, I did not say I didn’t have ANY problems with Velvet Elvis. He said some things that I thought were poor choices in illustrating his point that did raise some questions. Nothing to declare him a heretic though. Now about this new book, I think a lot of people are jumping the gun here before his book has even come out. Honestly, I am tired of those who shoot first and ask questions later. Rob is doing a tremendous amount of good at his church. If I am to judge a person by their fruit, then to throw the label “heretic” to a public audience without even reading the book, and not calling Mars Hill to speak to Bell himself, I think is more “unchristian” than having a universalist position on hell. Quite frankly the universalist-view has been held by some very prominent Christians in the past. (That is assuming that this is what we are arguing about before anyone has cracked the book open.) I think it can be a valid view of end times. Now, I am not one of those who hold to this view (although I honestly would prefer this option over all the others), but i do struggle with a literal interpretation of hell and the length of time being eternal. Several times it is referred to as the second death. I see that as physical death as the first and then spiritual death as second. But then there are verses that talk about eternal punishment. The fact is, we hold on to our beliefs with a sense of humility and continual study and dialogue with those who came before us, and with those in the present, figuring out what we can learn in our own times and how the Bible may apply similarly/differently to our context. If you study the theology of just about any pastor or theologian in the past you will find things that we today would consider horribly wrong and misguided. But when you look at the cultural context in which they lived you begin to realize that the culture plays a much bigger part in shaping our faith. That is where humility must come in. One day, 100 years from now, I am certain that the Christian community will look back on 20th century evangelicalism and wonder how in the HELL we ever came to the conclusions that we did and declare all of us heretics. Rob is good at asking questions to get us to think. To consider different angles rather than assuming everything from the past has been figured out, therefore, we don’t have a voice to consider our own context and how faith may impact us differently. Those pastors who are set in their ways from the past, influenced by a modernistic, scientific view of theology will rail against those who take a more post-modern “question-everything” psychological approach. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I sat and heard lectures about the evils of post-modernism! But this is the cultural shift we are emerging into. Each stage of history came with the previous thinkers wanting to destroy the new thinking. But the beauty of each stage was that a predominate area of theology was developed within the context of what the culture was focused on:
Reformation: salvation and justification
Renaissance: theology of humanity
20th Century: theology of sin / holy spirit
21st Century: who knows yet where this is going?
I think the best we can do though is to dialogue rather than label those you disagree with as a nonbeliever or false teacher who is leading everyone astray. The fruits of Rob’s life does not match that label. One of his primary mentors was my pastor in Grand Rapids. He was Jerry Falwell’s right-hand man for many years before he moved to GR. If Rob was going heretical I know that Ed Dobson would have something to say about that. But Ed, while dying of Parkinsons, still makes the effort to preach from Mars Hill’s pulpit and team teaches with Rob sometimes.
The more these guys attack Rob like this, the more ridiculous they look and the more Rob, in a strictly financial sense, is going to rake in on all this negative publicity. And I hope he does. Because I know he will take all that money and put it into significant ministries around the world that are having a big impact on changing the world for the better.
I ran into all of this yesterday on the twitter-universe. It made me mad and I wanted to blog about it, but I shouldn’t do it in anger. Piper has always struck me as a Reformist theologian who is very judgmental and angry at times in the way he handles himself. (And absolutely bizarre on Twitter at times). I used to listen to his podcast but I just got tired of him. He always seemed angry about something. And really, who made him the father of theology in our nation? There are things about Reformed theology that are just wacked. One day we will all sit before God and he will himself explain where we got it right and were we got it wrong. And those who came before us and after us might be surprised that he still allowed us into His kingdom!
There are my two cents.
Pastor Scott Russ
Epiphany UMC
Loveland, OH
scottruss86@gmail.com



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Maureen

posted March 1, 2011 at 5:34 pm


One question, did you try and call Piper? I would have called you to ask but i dont have your phone number. ;)
In all seriousness, well said.



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Amy

posted March 1, 2011 at 5:38 pm


YES! Love it!
I’ve been attending Mars Hill since they opened their doors and I have been unbelievably transformed by the teaching. We (as in the regular attenders) are used to controversy surrounding the teachings. We are also used to the hate that is spewed all over the internet about Rob. I am sure most of what is in the book has already been presented to us in church (that is how most of the books are). However, I still can’t wait to read it :)
I love this article!



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Suzy

posted March 1, 2011 at 6:01 pm


I like your last paragraph, and have found it to be painfully true. One of the huge downsides to electronic communication is that it has pretty much deleted the thoughtful, careful writing which was usually characteristic of a handwritten letter. Texting is too easy, too fast, and too often thoughtless — and it goes out to many many people instead of just one. Old-fashioned letterwriting and old-fashioned love go hand in hand, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to consider both before making impersonal remarks about family members.



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Jason

posted March 1, 2011 at 6:02 pm


Dear Jason Boyett, essential bad theology should be called out, and you too are to be called out for not having a spine to stand up for bad theology and linking to Rob Bell’s book with your Amazon account so you can make money off the book you criticize yourself.



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Jason Boyett

posted March 1, 2011 at 6:11 pm


@Jason:
1. Every time I mention a book on this blog, I link to it on Amazon using my associates account, whether I agree with the book or not. I do this because Beliefnet allows me to do this, and because I like to buy and read books at Amazon.
2. I’m not criticizing Rob’s book anyway. Not sure how you got that impression. But even if I were, I’d still link to it. Just because I don’t like a book (theoretically) doesn’t mean I don’t want other people to read it for themselves.
jb



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Sean R Reid

posted March 1, 2011 at 6:17 pm


@Jason (not Boyett)
SRSLY? I’m going to pretend you’re kidding. Because, well, it’s just to sad to imagine otherwise. Seriously, no one is that addicted to being right, are they?
@Jason (Boyett)
How darest thou not cast out the apostate while linking from thine own Amazon account! Blasphemer
(I, in fact, AM kidding. I couldn’t really talk all KJV all the time).
-SR



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Ron Harvey

posted March 1, 2011 at 6:48 pm


Dear Sir,
I am just curious if you did what you said Scot McKnight recommends: call Bell and ask him to explain himself? You seem to assume that both Taylor and Piper didn’t do any of this? The fact is, you don’t know either. Yet you are quick to criticize them as well. Hmm??? Who is worse?
Signed,
I’ll-not-waste-money-on-Bell-but-will-read-the-reviews-of-those-who-do -that-sort-of-stuff.



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james

posted March 1, 2011 at 6:54 pm


First time at the blog here. Thanks for the post. I will heartily, but Lord willing respectfully, disagree with you on a couple things.
Regarding point 5: For you to fault Piper and Taylor’s quips on Twitter, to me, seems much more judgmental (for lack of a better word) than their quips about what Bell is teaching (or, what the promo material suggests he is teaching). They are taking a stand on what they (and I, too) see as false doctrine. It is false and wrong to believe that hell doesn’t exist (or that everyone gets there). It is their responsibility as leaders in Christian churches/circles, etc. to be discerning for their people. It is my responsibility as well for the people I have influence with in my life.
ustin Taylor updated his blog and added this note:
“If Bell is teaching that hell is empty and that you can reject Jesus and still be saved, he is opposing the gospel and the biblical teaching of Jesus Christ. You may think that’s judgmental to say that; I think it’s being faithful. I would encourage a careful study of 1 Timothy to see what Paul says about false teaching and teachers.”
I couldn’t agree more. Why? Because the lives of thousands who look to Bell for spiritual direction at stake, therefore the *eternity* of thousands are a stake. What kind of eternity? An eternity in heaven or hell. No other option.
Regarding point 2, (and Stephen’s comments): No one is obligated to contact Bell in private for a very public, viral video online. This is not a Matthew 18 issue, as Kevin DeYoung pointed out in a blog earlier today. Matthew 18 is about people committing sins against other people. Rob Bell did not sin against Taylor or Piper or me.
Finally, in point 5 you wrote, “Is it so wrong to maybe hope that everyone gets saved? That hell doesn’t exist? Because I totally hope that to be the case.”
If you HOPE hell doesn’t exist, then you are hoping Jesus is wrong about a lot of things. If you HOPE everyone gets saved, then you are hoping that Jesus is wrong about a lot more things. And if you HOPE these things (no hell, everyone gets to heaven) to be true, you are hoping that there really is no “narrow way” that Jesus preached, and that God doesn’t own a particular, chosen, special people that he loves and saves for his glory and their good. And if you hope against those things, that is a tragedy.



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Bill

posted March 1, 2011 at 6:58 pm


Wonderul, wonderful post.



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Mary

posted March 1, 2011 at 7:08 pm


Why don’t we just wait till the book comes out?!! If we’re really concerned about Rob Bell’s theology we should first of all read what he has to say! And besides, the hype on the book cover might be just a provocative mind twister to get us interested and thinking about the subject of what happens in the after life.



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Stephen

posted March 1, 2011 at 7:22 pm


@james
Interesting to note that Rob Bell’s actions are not a sin against an individual and therefore do not require private conference. Fair enough, I’ll follow the logic and then ask you if you find it responsible for Piper to throw out a pithy dismissal when he knows full well the power his opinion has? Does he then owe his followers (twitter and otherwise) an explanation for his words or should he be able to just throw something out there into cyberspace for millions to do with as they please? I would suggest that Matthew 18 is open for interpretation in the sense that it is open for debate what constitutes a sin against an individual. If Bell is preaching a false doctrine, is he not sinning against all he teaches to or is it more abstract than that? For Piper to bid Bell farewell is to suggest that Piper is an authority for whatever object the sin was enacted upon. I might read into Piper’s tweet that he took Bell’s offense personally – but that is difficult to know as the tweet was without any explanation. Hence my issue with the nature of the comment. Maybe they reached out to Bell and nothing came of it. More to the point, if Piper is responding to a critique that is not based on full evidence then I stand by my criticism of the message being irresponsible.
Now, if Bell is explicitly claiming that hell does not truly exist or is preaching something contrary to scripture, then bring on the criticism – but we aren’t even at that point yet.



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doug

posted March 1, 2011 at 7:28 pm


My heart breaks for a world that looks behind the vail of Christianity and cannot tel what we are for, only what and who we are against. Does that make Jesus look more or less beautiful. I am not a universalist, but weep over the fact that some will go to hell (and glad that I don’t know exactly what that will be or be responsible for the who’s). That said, I have no idea what Rob Bell wrote, because I have not read the book — that is the point, right? And even if I did, and I disagreed, I am way more comfortable with a theology that I disagree with in points but that says at the bottom of it all that it is about Jesus and his love for you and his desire for you to follow him than I am about a “correct” theology that sounds really angry and tells people only what you are against.
If following Jesus does not make you a more loving, more humble, more just and more merciful person, there is something wrong. Think of the phrase “mean Christian,” that should make us all fall on our knees and weep.



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Joe

posted March 1, 2011 at 8:03 pm


First, you’re doing the exact same thing to Piper and Taylor that you accuse them of doing to Bell.
Second, though I’ll be the first to agree with you that we need to constantly consider that we may have gotten things wrong over the years, to dismiss the reality of hell (which, whether you think so or not, is clearly taught in the Bible) is extremely dangerous and not something to be flippantly printed in a publishers ad, whether that is the actual message of the book or not. I think we sometimes forget what the word “eternity” really means and forget the reality that those we love may suffer forever.
We also need to prayfully consider Bell’s eternal state and pray that he would see the light. IF he truly believes these things he may very well be destined for this same hell that he doesn’t think exists, and he may be leading others in the same direction.
I’d love to dialogue with you about these thoughts.



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Kristi

posted March 1, 2011 at 8:42 pm


Rob Bell and the rest of the hipster Christians drive me insane. I went to college with this era of authors/speakers/pastors and it feel like they’ve become the Godly version of the hippies. At 30+ years old I feel lost in the church with all the navel gazing we do. Much prefer the company of thieves who are getting things done in the world, and talking to them about their motivations for doing it vs. mine. Yes, I know I’m judgemental sour grapes but I get SO TIRED of these suburban church discussions.



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Paula

posted March 1, 2011 at 9:12 pm


Just wondering what part of “lukewarm” and “….will spit you out of my mouth…..” infers that everybody gets to spend eternity with the King?



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random blog reader

posted March 1, 2011 at 9:22 pm


I am not taking any sides before I can read the book for myself. But I do know that some things are non-negotiable when it comes to what God says in His bible. We cannot use our intellectual mind to “figure” God out. God is not fickle and He is sure of His word. If hell is not real, why would He send His only Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins? Have we forgotten the cross?
I agree we should not jump into conclusion of anyone’s theology. It must be tested and with the gift of discernment & knowledge, we will know for sure which is the correct way to go.



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Eaglesway

posted March 1, 2011 at 9:32 pm


Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
(Eph 1:9-11)
For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
(Col 1:19-20)
For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
(Rom 11:32-36)



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Eaglesway

posted March 1, 2011 at 9:37 pm


A discussion based in the scriptures, without all the vitriol, among those who declare themselves disciples of Jesus, the resurrected, virgin born son of God- shouldn’t be such a big deal. certainly there is no need to blast someone for what they have written if you haven’t even read it yet.
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
(2Ti 2:24-26)



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Brett

posted March 1, 2011 at 10:08 pm


Paula….
Jesus was talking to the church when he made that statement. I’m sure there is a principle or is truth to the statement that God doesn’t like people on the fence but contextually Jesus isn’t talking about people who will or won’t be in heaven. And people can be pretty spiteful about the “unsaved” or “heathens”. It’s like Christians are jealous that these “sinners” can live as they want while they have to “follow all of the rules”. It seems to me people are not only quick to determine people’s “eternal fate” but also REVEL in it, like “those (excuse my language) bastards deserve it”.
Very disappointed



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Dave

posted March 1, 2011 at 10:33 pm


Thoroughly agree with #1. That comment stream was unloving, unkind, and uncalled-for. Shameful. I hate to admit it, but this sort of behavior makes me dislike the church.



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Cameron

posted March 1, 2011 at 10:45 pm


Honestly, I think they are all jealous of Rob Bell’s popularity.
It’s not news that his theology and that of his detractor’s is opposed on a good day.
The book- selling celebrity culture that we’ve built around pastors and teachers is the real heresy here. If all these guys didn’t care about how many twitter followers they have or books they sell there would be no argument.



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Kelly McLOUD

posted March 1, 2011 at 10:45 pm


Let me tell you what a person who turned away from organized christian faith see’s or hears in conversation such as this.The disciples were constantly reminded of the danger of arrogance,the absence of love kindness,forgiveness and a merciful attitude in their dealing with people.The most unloving,hateful,spiteful and arrogant,only my faith is correct people I have met in the last 30 years have been ,I will use believers as I saw nothing of christ in them.If you find it so easy to judge others and so difficult to love as we were directed to as we are not capable or tasked with judgement,then you have my prayers,the least of your problem is hell,the lack of connecting to the love you are offered is far more,shall I say terminally sad.I wish you all a heart full of love and empty of judgement.



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Nathan Rose

posted March 1, 2011 at 10:48 pm


I think it is ironic that if an individual disagrees with another individual’s theology he is labeled “mean”. Piper’s tweet wasn’t “mean”. It was a message that implied he disagreed with Bell. What is so mean with that? Doesn’t Bell disagree with Piper? Is that mean? What about when you respond to this comment and disagree with me? Am I allowed to call you mean? It’s contradictory.
Second, no one pre-judged Bell’s book. Taylor, DeYoung, and Piper were responding to the video that Bell put out. Ridiculous



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Phil Weingart

posted March 1, 2011 at 10:52 pm


You lost me at your first point. The impulse to label as “hate” any significant disagreement, or worse, to label as “hate” the position a man takes out of conviction, is a modern control game that’s been perfected by progressives of all stripes. Good people pursuing truth don’t do that; people do it who would rather shame others into abandoning their convictions than persuade them. It’s a vicious tactic, and it’s morally offensive. Once you’ve done it, I have absolutely no interest in anything else you have to say, because you’ve shown your true character, and it is something ungodly.
If you’re willing to recant that first comment, and allow that a man may hold a conviction that certain errors are damnable without doing so out of “hate,” then the discussion may commence. Until that time, you’ve made it clear that intelligent discussion is the last thing on earth you really want.



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Bob

posted March 1, 2011 at 10:54 pm


This whole conversation reminds me why I am eternally grateful for having the wisdom to leave the Christian church. The hypocrisy and stupidity of it all leaves me numb. At least for a minute – til I realize I don’t have to deal with that b.s. anymore. Hallelujah to that!



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Grant

posted March 1, 2011 at 10:58 pm


For the record: I’ve read Sex God, Velvet Elvis and plan on reading Love Wins.
“In order to be a predestination-style, God-saves-the-elect reformed Christian — like Taylor and Piper — you have to elevate some biblical passages and ignore (or explain away) others. Because there are definitely some passages that seem to contradict predestination.”
Obviously you have never read nor heard much of Piper’s preaching – exegetically faithful. To put Bell and Piper in the same category is preposterous – Bell doesn’t teach the bible, he’s a philosopher – as he all but says in Velvet Elvis:
“This is part of the problem continually insisting that one of the absolutes of the Christian faith must be a belief that ‘scripture alone’ is our guide. It sounds nice, but it is not true. In reaction to abuses by the church, a group of believers during a time called the Reformation claimed that we only need the authority of the Bible…. When people say that all we need is the bible, it is simply not true.” (Velvet Elvis, pp.67-68)
So you hound Taylor for not having read ‘Love Wins’ (when he had read a few chapters, DO YOUR RESEARCH: “[T]his video from Bell himself shows that he is moving farther and farther away from anything resembling biblical Christianity,” — http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctliveblog/archives/2011/02/rob_bells_book.html)and you make assumptions about Piper’s teaching – grab any sermon from desiringgod and you’ll realize your mistake – he is faithful to the text.
Bell is massively influential, and he placed his message into the public arena – inviting public feedback. Seems pretty straightforward.



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Grant

posted March 1, 2011 at 11:01 pm


Taylor, vice president of editorial at Crossway, has not seen Bell’s book (though he read some chapters that were sent to him), but he expressed concern with a video. “[T]his video from Bell himself shows that he is moving farther and farther away from anything resembling biblical Christianity,” Taylor wrote.
sorry – thats the correct link and quote citing Taylor actually having read a portion of the book.



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Tim Miller

posted March 1, 2011 at 11:02 pm


Highlighting this little “controversy” in this way is probably not the best use of your influence. I’m guessing if you read most of the comments, it’s clear that the natural response of readers is likely to be “To hell with Justin, John, and Christianity.”
Is that really the response you want?



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Derek Reed

posted March 1, 2011 at 11:11 pm


The thing that’s crazy about all of this is that no one brings to light that in Velvet Elvis, Bell clearly states there is a Hell with people in it. If Bell has changed his position, so be it. I don’t agree with him on every point, and won’t. Even more, I won’t agree with him if his view of Hell changes. But I won’t massacre him. I don’t agree with once saved always saved, but I don’t get into debates and condemn everyone that opposes my Arminian thought.
We are meant to love.
I read a story about a college girl from Texas. She decided to talk to another peer who she knew was Muslim. They began to discuss and the Christian girl made point after point; argument after argument about the Christian faith, and how Islam was incorrect. The Muslim simply replied at the end of the conversation with tears down her eyes, “I thought Christians were supposed to love?”
Instead of condemning Bell, why don’t those of us who might disagree with him pray and show him love?
After all, Love Wins.



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Blake H

posted March 1, 2011 at 11:14 pm


While I don’t totally agree with all your points, I’ll give you credit for having the most fair summation of perspectives I’ve seen on this issue. And you know there’s been close to 847 million blog posts on it.
Well done, Jason.
Found your post via Bryan Allain.



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Kelly

posted March 1, 2011 at 11:25 pm


I really appreciated Jared Wilson’s comment at the beginning.
There have been many updates to peoples blogs over the last two days. One blog I found helpful was Kevin DeYoung’s. Kevin points out that we can discuss what was said on Rob Bell’s video promo b/c he said it. Things aren’t being assumed because he was the one saying them. (It also doesn’t help that the title of the book leads us to believe that the them is universalism.)
Just saying.
Thanks for the forum!
Kell



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Grant

posted March 1, 2011 at 11:26 pm


Ha! To hell?
That’s a fair point.
The most loving thing to do in this situation is to bring light to the heresy. Eternity is at stake, the happiness of every soul is at stake. Throughout history theological controversies have been taken public, and we owe much gratitude to the people who stood for the faith.
If the upset audience can’t be thoughtful and evaluate objectively- what other approach would you suggest that would work to communicate with them?



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Debra

posted March 1, 2011 at 11:43 pm


John 17:20-24
Jesus’ prayer for the believers….
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
I find it interesting that Jesus prayer to Father on the believers behalf is that we might be ONE, united together. I love how He says “so that they may be brought to complete unity. THEN the world will know that you have sent me and have loved them, as you have loved me.” If we could all just remember that it is about Jesus, and what He came to do, to restore.
People want nothing to do with us, because we aren’t any different in our response. The world needs to see something different, being united is a hard thing because it means laying aside our differences for the sake of one name… Jesus. We cannot misinterpret “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.”



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John Doe

posted March 2, 2011 at 2:30 am


This blog post is awful.



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Mubarack Obamarama Sin Laden

posted March 2, 2011 at 2:53 am


Farewell to…
Hell?
False teachers have their place in the “lake of fire” alongside with anyone that rejects God’s word for what it’s apparent and literal interpretation is.



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Roslyn

posted March 2, 2011 at 3:04 am


Well done, Jason. I started to read the comments and just couldn’t stomach it. As I stated when re-posting your article, I am just thankful that you are able to articulate something other than venomous outrage in response to the fundamentalist response to Bell.



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Dan R.

posted March 2, 2011 at 3:10 am


While I agree with the fact that Reformers can be arrgont at times, I do not think its fair to say that that they are judgmental. Your first put was really right, they should have talked to personally to and not called him names. This was right
However I think when its something as important as hell, they should take a strong stand on it. I am not a reformed person, but I’d like to point out that despite its sinful practice of name calling it is the fastest growing Movement within Christianity. The Emgerent movement is not growing and its really because of claims like Rob Bell has made. When I go to the Christian book store I used to find tons of books by Rob bell and Brian Mclaren, now there’s none. If people are moving away from people like Rob Bell and Brian Mc and going to people like Mark Driscoll, i think it speaks to an issue. People don’t want a new way of thinking, they want one that works and the emgernet movement doesn’t. Sometimes when I read books by this movement all i read is how bad the church is and how nothing works… it just seems like a lot of complaining and questioning, which is good but it never moves beyond that
So when Rob Bell comes along and says there is no hell, it just feel like this argument is made out of wounds and bitterness



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Dan R.

posted March 2, 2011 at 3:49 am


On the issue of Hell itself,
I don’t think its very fair to say that the Bible is not clear on the issue. I feel like people say that too much when something is controversial regarding the Bible. I would suggest that the Bible is incredibly clear on the subject and an to debate the issue stops us from moving forward. Here are my reasons why it’s not productive and not helpful
1) If you study the doctrine of Hell, it has been around in Christianity for a very long time, does it not seem odd to you that after 1600 years of people studying history, and picking apart greek, and reading the bible word by word, studying cultural anthropology and debating about hell, that we misread the Bible all this time? It seems really odd for all these people to invest their careers sometimes even paying for it with their lives only to now say we got it wrong. I think its somewhat arrogant for us to say all the Christians who have ever lived got it wrong on this subject but now we, the more educated and tolerant ones have it right
2) I would suggest Hell shows God’s love and tolerance and grace better than the idea of no hell
1) Just last year in my city a girl was gang raped drugged and beaten while plus 20 people watched. After the deed was they posted the video of the rape on facebook for everyone to watch. Now that girl for the rest of her life can never escape from that because its on the net and because of that she has to live with the knowlege that someone is either laughing while watching that video or masturbating while she was raped again and again and again, As you can imagine the public outcry was one of anger. They wanted the right people to answer for their crimes. As far as I know they weren’t sorry. Why were the people angry? They were angry because a great wrong was done. You and I look at that and think that is a normal and healthy response to want the people to answer for thier crime. If they had let them go even when they were’t sorry, we would not see that as justice we would see that apathy, injustice, not love, Why is not okay for God to feel and act the same way? Don’t you understand that his wrath is because his heart breaks over that girl? IF God offers grace to the people that did this and they don’t take, don’t you think God is well within his rights to punish them for raping his child that he loves and cares for?
Hell is a measure of Grace also because if people don’t want God to rule them in this life, why would want to be have him rule in the next. Having no hell, is like someone forcing you to do something thats good for you even if you don’t want to.. I don’t think thats very loving or graceful
I also think the Bible is clear on this, Shiloh was the Hebrew word used to reefer to a physical place that people were sent to has punishment, as time went on it became to be known as Hell. Jesus is very clear on this, and while the idea of burning flames is debatable, Jesus says that it will be a place where God punishes perfectly where there is weeping and Nashing of teeth.
This God of grace punishes, and kills but its out of his love. Remember in the NT God killed Annais and Sepria for lying and later killed Heord for claiming to be God. If God does that kind of thing in this life, why would he not in the next?



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David Kelley

posted March 2, 2011 at 4:31 am


I didn’t read all the awful posts to see if this had been done before but in the words of John Piper… @johnpiper Farewell, Jason Boyett. hahahaha



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Gordon Onley

posted March 2, 2011 at 6:11 am


Wow. This is the clearest and most thoughtful assessment of the sitution I have read.
It is largely because of the mean-spiritness of ‘holy men’ like John Piper that I first left the church. And only by the grace of God did I manage to find my way home. When your savior preaches love and reconciliation, and you come across with judgement and wrath, many people (in and outside the body) are going to see your statements as hypocrisy.
My heart and prayers go out to all seekers who because of the behavior of our brothers have now turned away from Jesus. It’s simplistic and arrogant to just dismiss this and say to the new believer “Don’t put your faith in men like Piper, put your faith in Christ”, as many souls will look at this mess and turn away, perhaps forever.



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Skillie

posted March 2, 2011 at 7:36 am


Brilliant!
bless your heart!
thanx for this



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Edward William Fudge

posted March 2, 2011 at 8:57 am


Thank you for these wise, balanced and godly words. Sadly, the remarks to which you respond spring from the sin nature with which we all still struggle–and to which we sometimes surrender without a fight. The truth is that such respected and solid evangelical leaders as F. F. Bruce, John Stott, Michael Green, John Wenham, E. Earle Ellis, Philip E. Hughes, Stephen Travis, Richard Bauckham, Clark Pinnock, John Franke, and a host of others have publicly broken ranks with the traditional doctrine of conscious unending torment, a tradition that, on closer investigation, proves lacking in biblical authority and which consequently slanders the character of God himself. For resources regarding a much-preferable biblical alternative to traditionalism and universalism, see the URL given.



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Ron Rose

posted March 2, 2011 at 9:06 am


These arguments over assumed theology and doctrinal positions are more than distracting. They perpetuate the popular notion that Christians “eat their own.” In the midst of so much cynicism and narcissism we still take pride in pointing out differences. In fact, without talking face to face, we find ways to assume differences, skip over listening and personal dialogue, and miss the major point.
The only test for genuine faith that I know of is, “Do you see Jesus among you? Not “Are you right about heaven or hell.”
Both women claimed the baby. The wise King responded, “Let’s just cut the baby in half, that way each of can win, each can be right.”
Then, in order to save the baby, the real mother relinquished her claim, “Let her win… that way the baby lives.”
The King gave the baby to the mother who cared enough to loose in order to save the child.



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john w

posted March 2, 2011 at 9:33 am


When you accuse someone of being judgemental, you’re being judgemental yourself. You seem to be as dismissive of John Piper as he was of Rob Bell. Your post, from my persepctive, was as arrogant, hateful, obnoxious and smug as those you criticize. Perhaps more so, since you don’t seem to get it. The fact that you took the time to write your opinion in a blog shows that you believe your own position to be ironclad and right, and everyone else to be wrong. It’s human nature, no one can escape it, and it’s time we all started admitting it. We all think we’re right, all the time. Criticism of a supposed disrespect, in a highly disrespectful manner, is an endorsement of the thing criticized.



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Sunil

posted March 2, 2011 at 10:18 am


Woah John W.
Come on. That is a complete relativist way of talking. Anyone can be accused of being smug and right. The point is that as Christians we subscribe to certain things and we are fleshing out what they are and how we do so. But we no longer seem to subscribe to common rules of decency and grace.
The reaction to this sorry saga reminds me of the reaction to the Satanic Verses. http://bit.ly/g84lGX



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Jamey

posted March 2, 2011 at 10:27 am


I have to agree with John W – though not as strongly. You can’t make a statement for or against without judging the situation yourself.
I know who Rob Bell is, but I don’t follow him very closely. So, when I picked up this controversy, its through your blog and through your lenses. And from that first knee-jerk reaction, I would say that there’s the possibility that the book’s cover script is controversial enough to start a maelstrom – yet open enough to find out he’s actually still arguing a Hell… it’s just that God doesn’t send people there – they send themselves.
Maybe I’m wrong, maybe Mr. Bell is as everyone is describing. The point is, no one seems to have all the information yet to make a clear decision, form me all the way up to Mr. Piper. So, instead, all the public response should be, we’ll pray for you, Rob – to get your doctrine right, if it’s wrong, to lead your faithful straight, if you’re awry, and to endure the negativity of the cannibalistic Christians who want to crucify you.
…and just for the record, I certainly hope we’re all wrong about his slant on Hell.



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B.U.

posted March 2, 2011 at 10:34 am


John W. is right. It’s easy to just say that everyone who stands firm to his beliefs is judgmental, hateful, mean, etc. But let’s look at what Jesus says. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice the son of hell as you are.” (Matt. 23:15). That is our loving God. Rob Bell needs to remember that he is very influential, and to not hasten himself to be a teacher, because it carries heavy responsibility and judgment (James 3:1). Better to tie a millstone around your neck and be thrown into the sea than to lead a little one astray. (Lk 17:2-3).
Would you paint Jesus with the same brush you paint John Piper? Because these are His words.



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Moe Pacheco

posted March 2, 2011 at 10:46 am


This blog describes Taylor and Piper in very similar ways to how they seem to be describing Bell. I’m confused as to how the harsh words are inappropriate for one but ok for the others. All in all, Bell will profit from his book more because of the Taylor and Piper. He should probably thank them.



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Ben

posted March 2, 2011 at 11:01 am


Thanks for your reasoned response, Jason. The thing that’s profoundly disturbing about this issue isn’t what Rob Bell has or hasn’t written about eternal life (can we at least wait until we’ve read the book?), but the eagerness with which self-professed Christians have jumped at his throat. The sins about which Jesus most often cautions his audience are self-righteousness and judging others. The reason for this, I believe, is that our perception regarding others’ sins is too often distorted by our own. As a preacher my own pride and desire for attention easily motivate me to tear down someone who’s getting more airtime. As an American Christian my fear over threats to my religious rights or the moral equilibrium in my country easily motivate me to create enemies I want nothing more than to destroy. But how does Jesus tell me to respond to my enemies? Anyone? Even if you believe Rob Bell is an enemy of your faith – at the very least get to know him before you draw that grave conclusion – you are not a disciple of Christ if your intent is to destroy him. If you must react to Rob – as friend or enemy – pray for him.



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Pamela

posted March 2, 2011 at 11:07 am


I totally agree with you Jason. Not being a christian this is a true example as to why Christians have a bad reputation. If two influential leaders resort to twitter and their blogs to be smug or class-less to another influential christian leader.. why wouldn’t believers do that to us nonbelievers? It’s degrading to y’alls faith. Christians already have the stereotype of being judgmental, close minded, having lack of grace, and ignorant and these two HUGE influential leaders have jumped the gun to stir up negative opinions, made crude remarks, and have contaminated other believers thoughts before reading the book. BEFORE READING THE BOOK…. Aren’t christians called to have grace… and christians can’t even do that to other believers? A phone call or letter would have been much better than twitter- which totally just boosted their own egos of feeling right. A christian once told me.. when you except Christ into your heart you are truly changed.. but it seems like a lot of christians act the same as everyone else… petty, greedy, judgmental, ignorant and close minded. Thanks for the post- it made me think.



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daniel

posted March 2, 2011 at 11:30 am


There is no meaner, more hateful person on Earth than a Christian who suspects you have gotten your theology wrong.
So, by your definition, Paul and Jesus are hateful and mean? Interesting …..



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daniel

posted March 2, 2011 at 11:43 am


I’ll add this too, a response I sent to someone who linked me to this blog entry:
I agree that it seemed uncharacteristically smug of John Piper to say “farewell, Rob Bell.” I think further expansion of this comment could possibly lead to Piper saying that Bell has gone out on a limb that is so far out there that many are going to completely discount and discredit him more than ever before. I suspect most of the Christian community is going to “blacklist” him, so to speak. Perhaps this was what Piper was alluding to, no one can really say.
3. My issues are not with the book itself but the questions posed by Rob Bell in the video. As a Rob Bell … observer, I have gleaned a lot of wisdom and teaching from his short NOOMA videos. Why now is the short length of the videos an issue? Can Rob Bell not say something in 3 minutes that undermines the faith or do we really have to wait for the 200-page book to come out and get a “better understanding” of what he is trying to say.
Agree or not, Rob Bell is baiting people with open-ended questions that suggest the answers without contextualization or further exposition. And some people will stop there, that will be enough for them, and they will stray off on some path towards deception so, at the very least, this was an extremely irresponsible move on Rob Bell’s part that has incited divisiveness, deception, and discord. I have a hard time believing someone who speaks out and causes those things is a true disciple of Christ.
We could all be wrong, though, Rob Bell might come full circle and declare that Jesus is the only reasonable answer after all our questions have been placed on the table, and that his propitiation did indeed, as the Scriptures say, save us through God’s grace. He might just pull a “gotcha” and tell us he was just baiting us all along to sell books. If so, what an irresponsible, reckless, arrogant jackass.
There is no wisdom in seeking complete understanding when it comes to God, and Rob would like people to think he “gets it” and we’re either with him, or we are deluded. Well, I’m not with him, I’m with Him.



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Brad Cook

posted March 2, 2011 at 2:02 pm


I too would like to believe that nobody goes to hell, but the Bible and the Holy Spirit warn me that it is quite real! I can only hope that Bell, in his book, does warn people of impending judgment for those who don’t follow Christ’s commands. You might all want to read Matthew 7:21-23 and Matthew 7:31-46 for starters.



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Brad Cook

posted March 2, 2011 at 2:07 pm


*Matthew 25:31-46



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Eric

posted March 2, 2011 at 2:39 pm


Interesting comments…
This very thing is why God doesn’t expect people to relate to Him through a book, even the bible. It has become clear to me that just as Jesus said would happen, anyone who seeks find, if they knock, the door is opened, and all who ask will receive. I don’t care if that person be hindu, muslim, buddhist, taoist, or atheist. God did not entrust his image and his nature to the hands of corruptible man. He himself makes himself known when a person sets their heart to understand.



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hazel b

posted March 2, 2011 at 2:57 pm


Thank you for breathing wisdom into observation of knee jerk reactions.



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Bethany

posted March 2, 2011 at 5:11 pm


See linked article for some answers to thoughts in this post.



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Rick Lannoye

posted March 2, 2011 at 5:37 pm


Jason, your post is one of the most thoughtful I’ve seen on in some time, especially when the topic involves the doctrine of Hell.
Yes, isn’t it remarkable that so much judgment has been rendered against Rev. Bell, and I’ve yet to see anyone other than yourself base their comments on objective criticisms of the arguments (kind of hard to do since the book is not out yet).
But maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised. To argue in favor of the notion that God really intends to torture billions of people for all eternity is to take what Jesus taught and reject it. It seems that there is an underlying fear that people might actually find Rev Bell’s arguments convincing, because all his book needs to do is direct us to take a fresh look at the message of Jesus without wearing any sort of doctrine goggles.
Rick Lannoye, author
Hell? No! Why You Can Be Certain There Is No Such Place As Hell
http://www.thereisnohell.com



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Corbin Miles

posted March 2, 2011 at 6:08 pm


Great analysis of the situation. I would also add: Where is the love of Christ in those casting stones? I see pride, prejudice, hatred, malice… What does that say about those casting the stones? What does Jesus say about these kinds of people? And where is the love of Christ to care for a brother, bring correction (if it is needed,) and see one restored to true faith? Maybe the wrong person is on trial here. Just more food for thought.



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Phil Brown

posted March 2, 2011 at 6:50 pm


I could be wrong, but I think that Taylor and Piper’s comments were not just based on the book title. As I recall, they and Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill in Seattle have taken issue with some of Bell’s preaching. I don’t think that this is new. The description of Bell’s book raises a skeptical eye in my opinion. If God won’t send us to hell for rejecting His Son, then we need not worry, and we can do as we please apart from the Will of God. I think that you and I know that isn’t right. But, if that isn’t Bell’s stance, then I suppose I will have to wait and see and so should Piper and Taylor. If it is Bell’s stance to teach that hell will be empty of unbelievers, then I think that Taylor is right in saying that he is a Universalist.



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Brett Yates

posted March 2, 2011 at 7:17 pm


Admittedly, I have not read the book mentioned; however, if the author is asserting the idea that Hell does not exist then this is a heresy. Certainly, I concur with others such as Max Lucado who once said that if there was a doctrine he were ever wrong about it would be the doctrine of Hell. But I have to ask a few questions concerning this. If we don’t believe what Jesus said about Hell, then why should we believe what He said about Heaven? Another question that I wish to ask is that do we serve a God who usurps freewill.
Consider the Nazis who participated in the genocide of millions during World War II who went defiantly to their deaths with a “heil Hitler” and a praise that they killed six million Jews? What of them? What of Hitler? Himmler and other wicked people who went to their deaths ardently defiant against the God we serve? What does God do? Wipe away their memories and turn them into “Stepford wives” for all eternity? The other alternative is that we share eternity with an unrepentent Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin and their pernicious ilk.
Am I uncomfortable with the idea of Hell? Hell yes! But that is the point isn’t it! That is the point of the church. We are to share the love of Christ with a lost and dying world. The idea of Hell should make us weep for the loss, should spur us to go out and share the message of the gospel with those who don’t know it! What I fear about the doctrine of universalism is that it promotes apathy in the church–it promotes dropout! Suddenly it becomes real easy to become an armchair Christian! Indeed the whole point of church becomes invalid in the hearts of many. If Rob Bell is right in his thesis then suddenly Charlie Sheen begins to make sense. Let’s all party on dudes! We can all live selfishly, wreck our lives and still have eternal bliss! The trouble is though there just aren’t many universalistic churches out there–even in Europe where the church is dying out, where secularism has taken over. People understand that there has to be consequences to our choices. Even many non-Christians realize that! Just listen to all the recent talk about Charlie Sheen.
Please understand that it is not with arrogance that we should believe in the doctrine of Hell, but with brokenness. It is evident the early Apostles believed in it, otherwise why would they have travelled throughout the Roman world preaching the gospel to the Gentiles if Zeus and Athena were enough for their salvation.



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Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill

posted March 2, 2011 at 8:29 pm


I thought all the talk about who would inhabit either Heaven or Hell in an Afterlife that is not quite proven to really exist quite interesting.
Personally, have you ever noticed, as I have, that those who say that they will be going to Heaven in the Afterlife are people you cannot stand to be around more than ten minutes in this life? And, I should want to spend Eternity with these people? What does that say about me?
I am told that If I don’t accept my Jewish brother Jesus H. Christ, Esq., as my Lord and Savior, I go to Hell; don’t pass go; don’t collect $200.00.
This is OK by me. I am too close to Yesu ben Yoseph HaDaveedee, to be able to elevate him to godhood (we Jews know which side of the bed he wet as a child).
And besides, these same people tell me that Mormons are also going to Hell (and they are CHRISTIANS!) Look, Jews can get water out of the rocks, and, do you know what a Mormon can do with just a little bit of water?
Hell, Hell cannot be half bad.



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Chuck Bush

posted March 2, 2011 at 8:49 pm


I certainly do appreciate the evenness of your assessment. At the very least, Rob’s book will get people thinking. And that really is Rob’s gift.
Hebrews 10: 15-18
The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.
An eternal agreement was ratified through the sacrifice of God the Son and sealed with his blood. God the father, who is unchanging, will eternally exact judgment for acts against his will and God the Son will eternally hand him the agreement that says, “paid in full.”
There is now no reason why every cognizant human being cannot embrace the unfathomable riches given freely, to all, without prejudice, because of this new agreement.
It goes without saying that a literal hell with continuous molten lakes and streams of fire, exacting forever hellish pain, is inconceivable and wholly illogical. But, I can think of no greater “hell” than the condition of one who absolutely, with no turning to the left or to the right, rejects the living God.
The new agreement, new covenant, has guaranteed for all, the blessing of eternity with God. In that sense, all have been saved. However, the proviso is that they agree to the terms of the new covenant. Should they find these terms to be unacceptable, they will ultimately have what they so diligently have a right to reject. I think that would be hell.



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carol

posted March 2, 2011 at 8:50 pm


ONE important biblical fact that has not been mentioned: The infinite HOLINESS of GOD. We, as human beings with a sin nature, cannot comprehend this. That is why even evil glorifies Him, as His angels praise Him: “HOLY, HOLY, HOLY…”
Also: Love is God—of course, yet He is still JUST. How could a just, holy God allow sin to go unpunished? How could a GOOD human judge look the other way when a law has been broken? We cannot pick and choose biblical truths for our private interpretations; we must put the pieces together (as fitting pieces of a puzzle) in order to interpret God’s Word. HE alone is TRUTH, LOVE, JUSTICE, HOLY…….



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brad

posted March 2, 2011 at 8:56 pm


The best information I have found on this questions about hell is http://www.helltruth.com/ They have a Bible based explanation for the whole thing.



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Dave Spring

posted March 2, 2011 at 8:57 pm


Jason, thank you so much for a well thought out response to Piper and Taylor. I am so weary of the attacks that “believers” make on one other. You have set a great example and given opportunity for open dialogue…kudos!



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brad

posted March 2, 2011 at 9:01 pm


The best information I have found on this questions about hell is http://www.helltruth.com/ They have a Bible based explanation for the whole thing.



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Nadyne Parr

posted March 2, 2011 at 10:59 pm


Thank you.
In your words and concern for Piper and Taylor, there is demonstrated the LOVE WINS we talk so much about at Mars Hill. You have spoken a thought-out and deeply kind response to two men who have made judgments on a book they haven’t read, and on a man they seem to know nothing about. They can express their opinion for sure, but to slander the man is the very thing that breeds hate, which is what leads to the walls that continue to divide us. Here’s what I know for sure: Jesus was born in a manger, died on a cross, and rose from the grave to demonstrate extraordinary love that we might then go and love others likewise. I love you John Piper. I love you Justin Taylor. I love you Jason Boyett. I love you Rob Bell. I don’t hang out with Rob Bell, but I do know him. I see him often at our church. I’ve been sitting under his teaching since he was a mere boy. Pretty confident he’s smack dab in the middle of the palm of a loving God and clear about the Savior. Maybe we all ought to exhale and trust this God we say we believe in to translate all of these voices into a language of love – cause that’s what I’m thinking everyone meant in the first place. Things just got a little cloudy in the passion.
And, because I’m a mom and my heart is deeply connected to anything MARS HILL, Mr. Piper, would you be so kind as to make a phone call, like Mr. Boyett suggested. Rob is a human being and it wasn’t very nice what you said. Be nice.
Love has already won.



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Samuel

posted March 3, 2011 at 1:08 am


Don’t feel too bad, Jason.
This “publicity” has given Rob a lot more people reading what he had to say, and therefore some of them are sure to see/hear/recognize the truth of what he is saying.
As Jesus said, those who don’t want to know the truth won’t understand it when they hear it. We can’t change that. But we can pray for God to get thru to their hearts, so they will turn to wanting the truth (instead of believing the lie that they already have it all).
Personally, I think Rob is on to something. We need to be willing to let God continue to reveal truth. Those who think that the Bible contains all truth that will ever be revealed, haven’t read the Bible (because it doesn’t say that about itself).
Thanks for posting this!



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Emily

posted March 3, 2011 at 7:48 am


For that integration of humility. That, is much more attractive than Right-isms.



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Emily

posted March 3, 2011 at 7:50 am


That meant to say Thank you in the subject!



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Don Walsh

posted March 3, 2011 at 8:34 am


Ok. Controversy over what some are saying about hell. It’s your conclusion that gives me pause. Basically you are saying there is no way to know the truth, all we can have are opinions and the proof of that is diversity in doctrine.
This should have been taught to people from the beginning of their lives and they should have been told that there is no truth and therefore do what you want. I know that is probably not what you want to say but it is what you’re saying.
If I can’t have a guide to my life that is totally understandable then I am free to come to my own conclusions and I cannot judge any act performed by someone else.
As a Pastor ,I have problems with ,what I believe, is a suttle way people are being given this message.



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Wayne

posted March 3, 2011 at 9:27 am


Jason; It saddens me to know that so many Christian individuals spend so little time studying their bibles. We all are prone to look for authors who seem to fit our own image of God. This can be a dangerous place to go. This can help to reinforce our non-biblical God understanding and lead to much misinformation and deception. The bible- not John Piper or Mr Taylor should be our source for truth. Everyone would love to find loop holes in this particular area of theology. Having a God who would send individuals to a place of eternal torment, certainly does not fit with most of our 21st century perceptions of God.
Yet since “all Scripture is God breathed” 2 Timothy 3:16 we must let it, not man, be our source of truth.
To your statements concerning biblical interpretations on the subject of hell.You say; “the everlasting-torment hell of Dante and Johnathan Edwards doesn’t exist at all in the old testament”. I can find twenty nine references to hell in the old testament-several are the Hebrew word Sheh-ole:the world of the dead, pit, hell. And how can The “weeping and gnashing of teeth” described by Jesus himself in Matthew 8:12,22:13,24:51,25:30 be interpreted as “squishy”?



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H

posted March 3, 2011 at 10:34 am


OT sheol is where all dead go. According to wikipedia and a concordance, sheol is not always hell. (I also learned that in a college class.)
“In Judaism She’ol[3] is the earliest conception of the afterlife in the Jewish Scriptures. It is a place of darkness to which all dead go regardless of the moral choices made in life and where they are “removed from the light of God” (see the Book of Job). She’ol is a concept that predates the Christian and Muslim ideas of judgement after death and also predates, and is different from, Heaven and Hell. It is unclear whether Sheol was to be considered a real place or a way of describing the unknown status of a person’s conscious being.”



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cmaglaughlin

posted March 3, 2011 at 11:11 am


1 Timothy 3:1-5, 13-16
1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.



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Kevin Tully

posted March 3, 2011 at 11:28 am


Thanks, Jason. Well said. We forget that Jesus reinterpreted parts of the Hebrew Bible. You know, much the same thing happened to Carlton Pearson of Tulsa, Oklahoma. His is an interesting story; even received coverage from Dateline NBC, This American Life (an entire episode, I believe), Nightline and CNN. Driscoll and Pearson are very different from me, theologically… but my respect for them grew when they had the courage to say what they had come to believe. To me, it shows growth and openness…. something that is intrinsic to Christian faith, as I understand it.



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Terri

posted March 3, 2011 at 12:52 pm


I agree judgment is to be left to our Lord, which ironically this is what we are talking about. Why is there judgment at all if by Bell’s definition that there is no condemnation. Please tell me how then the scriptures from Matthew 25:31-46 fits into the belief that maybe we missed an understanding of what hell is meant for. I fear that as time goes by we just keep watering down God’s Word much like our country seems to be continually watering down our history which is a distortion of truth. Oh, I forget that our universities are busy about the business of teaching there is only an evolving truth, nothing is absolute. Sorry, I’m not looking for living a life that ebbs and flows on the tide, I’ll take the sure rock and solid foundation.



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Tom

posted March 3, 2011 at 1:16 pm


Wayne, try actually reading your Bible then, and not simply projecting your own pre-conceived notions on to it. For a look at OT attitudes towards the possibility of an afterlife, I’d suggest Ecclesiastes, particularly chapter 3, is a good place to start…
Also, take a look at John Stott, a fairly conservative and respected Evangelical theologian, and his thoughts on Conditional Mortality.
Fantastic blog post, and very much what I’ve been thinking about recently. I’m a theology student and you’re spot on when you say it has to be done with humility and acceptance that we can’t know all the facts. It’s horribly ironic when these very orthodox Evangelicals try to tell God how he should act.



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Disappointed

posted March 3, 2011 at 1:20 pm


I am constantly disappointed by the Christian community’s inability to realize that you can’t just hide behind the Bible. Everything is an interpretation of Scripture. These are based on what you think the english means which was derived from what someone else thought the original greek/hebrew/aramaic meant. You can not make a definitive statement that “this” is what the Bible says. As a Christian, hell should be one thing: eternity without God, when you could have spent eternity with God.



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Christine Northern

posted March 3, 2011 at 1:57 pm


I just hate the whole, “a loving God would never do blah,” because a lot of us have no clue what a loving God would do. It really comes down to Bell’s motive for having this book or even asking the question. There’s lots of people that flat out oppose God. There are lots of people who flat out sold their soul to the devil and that’s who they work for. There are Satanic cults that sacrifice children, did you know that? A lot of people don’t because it would disturb them. And also confuse them. I’m not saying those people shouldn’t have a chance at heaven, but is God also going to make someone be with Him who doesn’t want to be with Him? The argument can only be made with the understanding that hell is a horrible place, but some people don’t believe that. Maybe the kingdom of heaven is not the whole heaven, just the royal part, and everyone else just won’t be there. I don’t know. Bottom line, God will be making some distinctions, some “cuts” if you will. And not everyone will “enter.” There will be a kind of privilege and that is holy and perfect, based on the person you are and public and private, and every person ought to think hard about what they deserve.



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Todd

posted March 3, 2011 at 4:20 pm


I would like to interrupt you on point 5 that you made claiming that the Old Testament never makes a clear reference to the existence of hell. The way that you basically call the other Biblical scholars arrogant for rebuking a believing brother who is in doctrinal error is way off. You were awfully quick to call them arrogant when you are apparently unfamiliar with the many references to hell in the OT. The Hebrew word “sheol” shows up in the OT over sixty times. This is often translated to words like “hell”, “pit”, and “grave.” Job and Psalms use this words as a place where the wicked go upon death. Just wanted to stop you there and clear that misconception up.



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Chuck Bush

posted March 3, 2011 at 6:08 pm


J. Francis
February 28, 2011 10:58 AM
A most excellent post!
The judgment seat of Christ has nothing to do with “judging,” but rather with reward. I sometimes wonder if it is not just convenient for those who refuse to embrace the living God, to play ping pong with “if God loves, then why would he throw me in Hell for not believing in him?
I heard someone say once, “Those in the greatest darkness, are those with their backs turned to the light.” In that it is impossible for Hell to be “a place where God is not” because he is infinitely omnipresent, it really both helped me to understand what Hell really is and it evoked true compassion for the souls of those who so diligently “kick against the pricks.” It truly is beyond my capacity to understand eyes that see only darkness, while standing bathed in light.



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Ryan

posted March 3, 2011 at 6:34 pm


Jason,
Yes,yes, and yes. There’s not one thing you said I disagree with. I feel that if I had as much passion as you do I would have written the same exact thing. Thank you SO much for your honesty.
Blessing to you brother!



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Claire

posted March 3, 2011 at 10:45 pm


I agree with you.
What I would like to know is, why do “real” Christians have to be on exactly the same page about everything? There are things which are at the core of what I believe. However when it comes to issues such as the one raised by this Rob Bell mish-mash, I believe that there ought to be room for some individuality.
I swear. If my faith wasn’t as strong as it is, the reactions from certain Christian leaders are proving to be just the type of nonsense that would put me on the road to being an atheist.



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Patti

posted March 4, 2011 at 12:57 am


This is (hands down) the *best* response (both in content and writing style) to this situation that I have read. Thank you…thank you for writing and posting this.



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David Taylor

posted March 4, 2011 at 2:28 am


Hell yes.
heh, heh… :)



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Eric Bailey

posted March 4, 2011 at 8:55 am


Believing in Jesus but not believing in Hell is like believing in medicine but not believing in sickness. The matter is as simple as this: If there is no Hell, then why did Jesus die on a cross for me? Jesus himself said that there was condemnation for those who went unsaved. Go ahead and split semantic hairs all you want over whether condemnation is exactly the same as Hell, but Jesus did not walk this Earth to live an easy life and tell us all that our lives, too, would also be easy. The reason Taylor and Piper sound so convinced that they are right is because they abide by the word of the Bible, not the word of the Bell. The fact that people are trying to elevate the words of Rob Bell above the words of the Bible is worthy of concern.



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Juggernautjd

posted March 4, 2011 at 10:14 am


Eric Bailey, I think you have over simplified the issues and should look again. In fact your analogy is an over simplification of medicine and sickness. Hell would be more like death, sickness like sin, and Jesus medicine. Some people take medicine for the quality of life and not to save them from death or even sickness. Some take vitamines for health, not only for sickness. Health is a completely more complex idea than sickness and compares better to the Heaven (God’s Will done) and Hell (absence of God and His will). Sickness is the absence of health and definig health is a broad and complex subject.
You mention that Piper and Taylor abide with the word but how are you so convinced Rob Bell isn’t? Who is elevating Rob Bell over the Bible? You are throwing out alot of accusations that seem unfounded. It is like you have lost reason and are basing your views on some personal feelings, extra-biblical beliefs, and character assasination. Perhaps I have misunderstood you and you could correct me.



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Samuel

posted March 4, 2011 at 10:53 am


Since you asked for feedback, you fail to discuss that some issues in Christianity are more critical than others. While we haven’t seen Rob’s book yet, the direction he has taken in recent years is troubling and his own promotion for the book is troubling. A lot of our interpretation issues have to do with our own personal mindsets and imposing a western culture on a Hebraic text. Regardless, there are some foundational things without which Christianity isn’t Christianity. Rob, by all appearances, is deconstructing those foundational things which is the real reason behind the strong opposition by some of these leaders. Even though I’m not a Calvinist, their zeal is needed.



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Rosario

posted March 4, 2011 at 11:04 am


The word of God is not contradictory. Begin to read it. If you come to something you don’t understand or have questions about, write them down.then keep reading.The word of God will explain itself.I encourage you to get on your knees and ask the God of all creation to show you the truth. He is the only One you will have to answer to.



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Chuck Roberts

posted March 4, 2011 at 11:30 am


Thanks Jason!
I wrote a few thought of my own about new technology and how it allows us to do an even more thorough job of bashing fellow believers.
http://chuckroberts.blogspot.com/2011/03/get-twitter-bash-christians.html



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Daniel Majors

posted March 4, 2011 at 12:20 pm


I really appreciate the process of thought here, as hell is something I have struggled with in my faith, this is not to say I don’t believe it isn’t there but I like your attitude of Love, why wouldn’t we want everyone to make it to Heaven? I believe, Rob Bell, is entitled to his theological opinion, as there are several out there I don’t adhere to, but none the less find it refreshing to have an extra set of hands when trying to get Kingdom work done here and now if there is someone who agrees that Christ has called us to do good, and never tire of doing good such as in Galatians, regardless of their opinion of Hell. Hell is a sticky subject and I wonder if at times we don’t try to staple it to God as though it was His bidding, when in fact it is just the opposite, a place where His desires have failed to be heard and followed, so why plaster the concept of Hell to Him as if it was His right hand? Rather it is something He does not want, does not desire, and does not want people to have to go to, and yet we fight for its ideal like it were the 10 commandments itself. I may not agree with Rob Bell, but I will have to say that he is offering Christianity to many people who may have never wanted to hear it before.



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Alwaysjamin

posted March 4, 2011 at 1:12 pm


The funny this is that Rob Bell will be the one benefitting from all of this controversy. There is going to be a mad dash for the bookstore when this is released and it will be purchased by those who believe he is wrong, believe he is right, or just want to find out for themselves. Brendan Behan said, “There is no such thing as bad publicity”. I agree with that statement and believe Rob Bell will have the last laugh…all the way to the bank!



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AJ

posted March 4, 2011 at 7:15 pm


If we boil what rob bell says down to one blanket statement i think we would all agree that the argument is that
Premise 1: God love’s everybody,
Premise 2: God’s love does not allow eternal damnation and separation from Him.
Conclusion: Therefore, God can not send anyone to Hell.
This is nice to think about, and not so far away from the truth. But we must take into mind the whole Bible, not just the warm fuzzy parts that make us feel good.
Premise 1: God is holy and cannot allow an unholy sinful being to have a relationship with Him, much less go to Heaven.
Premise 2: We are a people of unclean lips.
Conclusion: God cannot allow us to go to Heaven.
As you can see we have a bit of an issue here.
People tend to ignore the second argument about God… ahembell… and focus on the nice part of the Gospel. Well good news friends, our God found a way to allow both of these arguments to be true…
Tis at the cross of Christ where the justice of God collides with the Love of God. It is by this that we understand, God is no more loving than he is wrathful towards sin. If he were more loving than wrathful, there would be no need for Christ. I feel sorry that Bell does not seem to understand the beauty and the mystery of a God who can be both just and loving at the same time.



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Brad Pape

posted March 5, 2011 at 11:39 am


I was struck by “There is no meaner, more hateful person on Earth than a Christian who suspects you have gotten your theology wrong. Labeling that mean-ness as ‘being faithful’ to the Gospel does not make it less hateful.”. I have observed the hate that Jason is talking about. One reason I love the denomination (Evangelical Covenant) I belong to is that we are not allowed to be hateful in matters of theology (or other matters); yet, we stop short of being Universalist.



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Brad Pape

posted March 5, 2011 at 11:43 am


Somebody has taught most Christians that they must make enemies out of people they do not agree with.



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Jonathan

posted March 5, 2011 at 1:40 pm


“There is no meaner, more hateful person on Earth than a Christian who suspects you have gotten your theology wrong.”
I don’t agree with this statement. Ever heard the song “Hit ‘Em Up” by Tupac Shakur? I’m not trying to be facetious– in my experience, MANY non-Christians are of this opinion: “They can burn in HELL for all I care.”
Which is actually quite ironic, if you think about it.
I’m pretty sure John Piper isn’t praying for the destruction of Rob Bell’s soul in a lake of fire. That is, if Hell even exists.



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Perlski

posted March 5, 2011 at 2:21 pm


In the Evangelical world, calling someone “universalist” is like calling someone “fascist.” It seems most Evangelicals don’t know that there are several kinds of universalism, some more biblical than others. In fact, there is evangelical universalism, which attempts to respectfully integrate all that scripture teaches on the issue of the afterlife.



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Jared

posted March 5, 2011 at 3:27 pm


This blog post is appalling. I think Taylor and Piper should have waited until the book was published (after they read it) to make such accusations. But hell is not “squishy” in the Bible. Scripture is clear that universalism is not an option. There is the broad road and the narrow road. There are sheep, and then there are goats. No, the Bible is not squishy on this.
Finally, there are no passages in Scripture contradicting predestination. To believe that one who have to conclude the Bible is fallible and errant. “Predestination” is a biblical term. The Bible does not “seem to affirm” predestination, it clearly affirms it (Eph. 1; Rom. 8.28-30). What a horrendous statement!
In conclusion, I think I would let Piper explain what “farewell Rob” means. I took it to me, “I see you are leaving sound doctrine and entering into false teaching. So long.”
Be strong and courageous. Take a stand for truth. Teach sound doctrine.



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Finn

posted March 5, 2011 at 6:07 pm


I think the problem is that we tend to fill in the gaps, instead of leaving that to God. The Bible mentions hell, and heaven, so we can assume they exist. The Bible mentions punishment and the importance of accepting Jesus. We can assume that is necessary.
But we assume earthly methods for “accepting Jesus”. We’ve no clue how God manages us in the afterlife. Do doctors see us the minute we walk into the hospital? Or do we have discussions with administrators and nurses first? Heaven might exist in the same way, where those who have not heard, or even rejected, have additional opportunities to accept Jesus. WE.DONT.KNOW.
Lacking the details our task is to share the gospel and it’s essential truths: the importance of acknowledging sin, believing that Jesus as part of the Godhead cleanses us of that sin, and by virtue of this process we become better able to rejoin God in whatever heaven turns out to be.
So the question becomes less of what some pastor suggests about the structure or existence of hell, or who God, as bouncer and gatekeeper, allows, but rather relentlessly sharing the gospel with people when we get the opportunity.
My father used to speculate endlessly about the meaning of the book of Revelation and exactly how the world will end, and when and how or whether one or two raptures will come, and who will be left behind, and who the Anti-Christ might be, or whether Babylon is representative of the US, or western evils or Europe or the Catholic Church.
He, an educated man, with an MBA, constantly speculated that the end was nigh. And it was. He died, suddenly, from heart trouble. The end of his world came suddenly to him, and at the neglect of more earthly focused,less cosmic Christian pursuits.
We should not be of the assumption that the world cannot be saved without Christians or that “if we don’t go” then “they” are regulated to hell. Outcomes are not our job, and I suspect God has a way to pull in the people we miss. Our job is just to share the Gospel and let God worry about the logistics of every soul.
The Bible is so non detailed about so many things, and largely includes just the most important things we are to focus on as Christians, and here on earth.
For example, I’ve had discussions with someone who cannot except the idea of people from another planet because it’s not in the Bible. Or as if that negates God. I respond, “Well how do you know God has not created a bazillion different peoples and worlds, some in his image, some not and only leaves us with the information that is relevant to our own story, our own salvation?”
We don’t know, because it’s not important to our salvation. God teaches us what we need to know, not everything in his massive arsenal.
Us getting to the bottom of hell (its reality or structure), or understanding the beginning of consciousness, or being able to full understand the relationship between God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, is probably fascinating. But beyond us, like the professor from MIT trying to explain string theory to kindergarten students. So instead he tells them, “Study hard and you will do well and have many things.”
One kindergartner says, “Well that must mean if we study hard we can be president”. Another says, “Oh no, it means we can have fig newtons.” Another says, “Wow, everyone who does not study hard will never have a fig newton” And on it goes. Filing in the details with our imagination, limited understanding, or bias.
In the end, study hard, show yourself approved, believe, and trust in God.



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Matt

posted March 5, 2011 at 6:13 pm


Seems odd for one who freely offers such gentle musings as “There is no meaner, more hateful person on Earth than a Christian who suspects you have gotten your theology wrong,” to take offense at those who might forcefully object to the theology of others. Your sentence is practically self-disproving.



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Andrew

posted March 5, 2011 at 6:27 pm


I don’t know what Rob Bell ultimately concludes, but annihilationism (the idea that hell will consume the wicked completely–and that it will extinguish after that) seems to be the best synthesis of the tensions in the Bible text. This is a belief that is only barely gaining ground in the Evangelical world. Only Seventh-Day Adventists have held on to this for a long time. John Stott and a few others seem to be coming around to this, much to the chagrin of those who think otherwise. I think this deserves a proper look. It certainly might keep people from veering into (the bad kind of) universalism.



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AndrewJ

posted March 5, 2011 at 10:55 pm


Mr. Taylor,
Respectfully, since you asked me to do so, I must say you’re wrong. Like you, I find it easy to hope everyone goes to heaven. I hope Hell isn’t as terrible as it has been portrayed to be, even if some do eventually wind up there. But because I hope these things to be doesn’t mean I can be intellectually honest with myself and believe them to be so. What I would wish doesn’t change things one iota. It is true that some theological issues are debated and contested among people who really believe what the Scriptures say, and they have honest differences; but to propagate the line that all will be saved can only come from willful blindness to what is written, or else a callous disregard of the same (we often call it “unbelief”). In the interest of being open-minded it is easy to become foolish, willing to consider almost anything that sounds good, and – golly! – attracts lots of people to our church! As an aside, I think that’s an interesting coincidence.
Truth is not frequently popular, so it is a mistake to measure it by how many follow or fail to follow it. I will not quote Scripture here, for I’m sure you’re educated enough to know the passages to which I might refer – but the plain teaching of the New Testament is that we are all born lost. The bit of theology is really not open to honest debate, unless you choose to simply not believe it (as often happens). The entire world is lost to God, a rebellious planet that has abandoned Him. It isn’t as if we enter life as “OK” with God, and then somehow a few of us behave badly enough to lose our relationship with Him. We are all lost from the start, born wanting our way. It is God’s gracious offering of restoration that is available to all who will respond to HIm on His terms (and only His terms). We can’t come to God in our own way, telling Him we’re good enough, and that (therefore) His Son died for nothing. John Piper’s remark was simply a pointed assessment of the situation. One who is honest with himself and is willing to submit his thinking to the teachings of Christ and the Scriptures will not have much trouble perceiving error of Rob Wells. I rather doubt that Pastor Piper took any glee in saying farewell, and if you believe so, I would ask you to be careful. It may be that you’re engaging in the very judgmental behavior that you deplore in others. Others who, by the way, are not judging motives, but fruits as we ought to do.



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Ben

posted March 6, 2011 at 1:10 am


I’ve got to point out that if there is no hell, then “why in the hell” did Jesus die on the cross? To save us from what?!? I don’t think that the Son of God would go through such agony for nothing. To claim that He did is to dismiss the price He paid and make it of no value.



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Brad Pape

posted March 6, 2011 at 7:22 am


Jason’s point 5 says “for centuries, some Christians have tried to make the case that, when Paul says Christ died for all, he really meant it.”. He cites 1 Corinthians 15:22 (For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.). See also 1 Timothy 4:10, which says “That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.”.
Jason then contrasts “a God-saves-the-elect reformed Christian — like Taylor and Piper –” to “a free-will Arminian Christian” but ignores the other options. Following are three points.
First, in that context, “reformed Christian” means a Calvinist and therefore does not include all Christian groups who trace their history to the reformation. It is generally limited to Presbyterian, Baptist, Dutch Reformed, and (recently) John MacArthur churches.
Second, “free-will Arminian Christian” is a reference to Christian groups who trace their history to Jacobus Arminius who lived from 1560-1609. We need to recognize that free will Christians existed for 1.5 millennia before Arminius was born and therefore groups accepting free will are not limited to Arminians. The largest is example is the Catholic church, which teaches free will. The concept also predates Christianity and almost everything else. Pray now, ask God to lead you, and then read Genesis 2:15-17.
The third point is longer so I will put it in a separate post.



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Brad Pape

posted March 6, 2011 at 7:24 am


I love how Jason concludes point 5 with the “where is this going?” question. My observation (from being a Christian for 31 years preceded by 18 years of being alive) is that error occurs on both sides of the true and narrow path. The Bible tells us no less than 10 times not to turn to the left or the right: Deuteronomy 5:32, Deuteronomy 17:11, Deuteronomy 17:19-20, Deuteronomy 28:14, Joshua 1:7, Joshua 23:6, 2 Samuel 14:19, 2 Kings 22:2, 2 Chronicles 34:2, and Proverbs 4:27. The most well know is Moses in Deuteronomy 28:14, which is quoted in Joshua 1:7. Despite this, I have observed many Christians turn to one side and then accuse Christians who turned to the other side of being wrong. The accusation is true because the others are wrong. That gives the accusing Christian bold confidence in his own view that is 180 degrees away from the accused (the reasoning is that nothing could be more true than something that is the opposite of a lie). The problem is that pure truth is only 90 degrees away from the accused’s position. If Rob Bell has turned to the left and become a universalist then John Piper’s response is understandable because I cannot think of anything more offensive to a Calvinist than the notion that everybody is saved. The L in tulip stands for limited atonement (the belief that the payment for sin made by Jesus on the cross was not sufficient to pay off all debts of all people).
My final observation is that Universalists and Calvinists have one thing in common with each other that is not shared by (dare I say) normal Christians. They both accept no responsibility for failing to lead others to Christ. When a Christian interacts with a person they should think “Christ died for this one; what can I do or say that will lead them to believe and accept that?”.



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Patricia

posted March 6, 2011 at 12:05 pm


So many Christians like to think in extremes: if there’s no burning-forever-and-ever, then there are no consequences for bad action and insistent self-deception. They are stuck at that developmental age where black and white is needed in order to begin to order a seemingly chaotic universe (early teens, generally). If development continues, if maturity occurs (something to which God calls us, by the way), a human begins to understand that a universe of space exists between one and the other. That is where the interesting conversation occurs.
Because it is only conversation. We don’t know much about the here-after. We are told little. We derive our thoughts/ideas on it from some inconsistent verses in the Bible and from what we know about the character of God and his Son.
And who is this human, John Piper, who snottily spouts, “Farewell, Rob Bell”, writing off another believer over something as ambiguous as the here-after? A person who responds in such a way has much corruption in his heart. He needs to do some serious soul-searching and character adjustment. Honestly!



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Patricia

posted March 6, 2011 at 12:31 pm


“…Scot McKnight told Christianity Today…: “The way to disagree with someone of Rob Bell’s influence is not a tweet of dismissal but a private letter or a phone call. Flippancy should have no part in judging a Christian leader’s theology, character or status.””
A private letter or phone call would be a courteous gesture, but to make this a useful and constructive event (something we all want, right? Right?), we could have much needed discussions about consequences and rewards, mercy and love, revenge and justice, the character of God and Jesus, eternal life and death. What a great opportunity this could be to deepen/broaden our understanding of these issues!!
Yet, even before the conversation has begun, it is slammed shut. And the kindest we can offer is a “private letter or phone call”. Why do non-orthodox ideas need to be secretly and politely disposed of? Of what are Christians afraid? Do they think that God can’t take care of Himself in this wide universe He made, and therefore He needs protection? Or that God will punish them for a wrong thought about punishment? Or that they will lose their exceptionalism and thereby lose all their inherent meaning?
Whatever it is, it has succeeded in sidelining our very religion from the most vital and substantive problems of our world. And that is the greatest failure of all. The deepest heresy. The worst witness.



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Alex McGilvery

posted March 6, 2011 at 2:38 pm


I must confess that I am not primarily concerned with convincing people that my particular version of Christianity is right. Of course Church fights and arguments about doctrine go right back to Acts and Paul’s letters. From the very beginning we have got it wrong, and we have continued to get it wrong for the many centuries that follow.
What I preached this morning (Transfiguration Sunday) is that our sole job as Christians is to listen to Jesus. It is after all what God told us to do, in the only direct command that God gives about Jesus. “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” The only direct command that Jesus gives us is “Love one another, as I have loved you.”
We fail miserably. We hate, we sneer, we cheer when our brothers or sisters fail. We create huge and complex dogma’s and try to convince the world that only we are right.
And God weeps.



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beloved490

posted March 6, 2011 at 3:12 pm


Doesn’t this post do exactly the bashing that it said Piper and Taylor shouldn’t do? It may not slam on a pastor/well known author’s book, but doesn’t it slam on a person in general? Wouldn’t it have been more conducive to go ahead and e-mail Taylor and Piper with some words of wisdom? Personally, I think this post is as bad as Taylor and Piper’s tweets.



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broschultz

posted March 6, 2011 at 3:12 pm


I don’t think our theology is important so much as our relationship with God. I believe I owe my relationship with God to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ but my understanding of theology is limited by my finite mind and is dependent on personal revelations from the Holy Spirit. There is no reason in the world why I should accept someone else’s professed revelation or understanding of theology to judge another. Jesus said we would be known by our love, not our theology.



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Marie

posted March 6, 2011 at 7:16 pm


I find myself agreeing whole heartedly with Alex. I would add that we are all entitled to an opinion, but need to use wisdom when sharing it, and if sharing, how we choose to do so. Even a correct position can be offensive when presented in an obnoxious manner.
To Patricia, I would like to say that the absence of an eternally burning hell does not necessarily equate with absence of consequence. The Bible is clear that the wages of sin is death and I am familar enough with Bell to be confident that he is not disputing that truth. Rather, he is likely holding the position that the result of sin (death) is eternal, not the act of punishing the sinner. If one were to read the book, I am confident they would discover that Bell is not denying that those who have refused salvation will in fact perish in hell fire. He just doesn’t believe the fire is forever. Rather. the effect of the fire is.
The best response to Bell’s book would be to test its premises by God’s word, allowing the Holy Spirit to lead. To do this, one would need read Bell’s book and the Bible for themself, not relying on some long withstanding traditional belief passed on through the ages or the opinion of a high profile theologian.



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4granted

posted March 7, 2011 at 11:03 am


It’s important to keep in mind that the goal of the video was to create interest in (and sell) Rob’s new book. Rob is provocative, he always has been. But he raises some interesting questions. And I agree with Dr. McKnight, Piper’s comment was not worthy of someone of his stature. An important step in clarifying your beliefs is to talk about and even defend them. So the fact that the publicity campaign for Rob Bell’s book has provided an impetus for Christians to actually do theology (to figure out what they think about God) is a positive thing. Even if you disagree with Bell, it’s important for Christians to wrestle with what they believe. Another great resource on heaven, what it’s like and who will be there is “Heaven Revealed” by Dr. Paul Enns, released this month by Moody Publishers. I recommend it. Here’s the amazon page: http://dld.bz/P8sz



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Dominic

posted March 8, 2011 at 11:24 am


Jesus made it clear that those who dont believe in Him will die in their sins.(John 8:24) Its all about whether or not you have made Jesus Lord. Making Jesus Lod is what saves you. Even though Jesus died for all it means that He provded the payment. Now if you accept the Payment(which is Jesus) for your sins you go to heaven, if you dont you go to hell. God forgave all of man kind of all their sins on the cross burt that wont save mankind from hell, accepting Jesus does.



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Max Barroso

posted March 8, 2011 at 11:56 am


I perfectly understand your reaction to Taylor’s and Piper’s remarks, and see the logic in your final argument. However, I think that perhaps it would be wise to wait for the book to be released, to read it, and then express your opinion. Otherwise you are just in the same position than Justin and John are. Remember Matthew 10:16!



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TLC

posted March 8, 2011 at 3:42 pm


Jason – I am not going to tell you are wrong any more than I want someone else to tell me that my views are wrong. Who decides that? The same men that wrote the Bible? As a Christian, I don’t believe in “Hell” either. Why would our loving Creator think any (any = all that He created) was any less than than “very good” and then seek such a horrible example of punishment or revenge because we fail? He could simply dispose of us! If one doesn’t think they are deserving of God’s love then are they saying that our Creator made a mistake? Wait a minute, God doesn’t make mistakes, right? I just don’t believe that God is vengeful. A simple denial of communication with Him would be punishment enough. God’s plan is that He will never be separated from us, nor us from Him. Such a thing as “hell” would be to deny who you are and who He is! What would be the purpose of that? Man’s invention of Hell, (along with “Satan”), was to counteract the goodness of God. Jesus was not sent here to save us from eternal damnation – there is no such thing. His mission was to save us from not knowing who we are in God’s creation and to lead by example. Christians must let go of religious elitism, believing that what they believe is the only truth. We must allow God to be the God of all people. To do otherwise is to try to limit God. Christ is (yes, I am going to say it!) universal. God created all and is for all, not just us Christians. Each culture worships in the way that evokes God’s love for them. Therefore – Christ is bigger than Christianity. Any other limitation is a conversation I choose not to enagage in, pointless banter w/out meaningful communication.



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Michelle

posted March 8, 2011 at 3:55 pm


Just a simple thought, that the phrase was meant maybe from a publishing, or popularity point of view…Basically if you offend your target audience enough, you will not be selling too many more books. Maybe to assume anything more from three words, means you yourself are looking to cast judgement.



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Ben

posted March 8, 2011 at 5:17 pm


You’re absolutely right, John Piper should not have posted that tweet about Rob Bell. Unprofessional, especially for a minister. But, as a member of the Reformed, I feel offended by your strict remarks about us. Reformed theology is a specific way to view the Bible, like the way you do and Bell does, but it doesn’t mean we are all hateful, mean-spirited people. To me, true Reformed theology is against that, seeing as its message is that we are all sinners saved by the grace of God.



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Ron Ross

posted March 8, 2011 at 9:46 pm


Jason,
Love…
I am a fourth year Student at Bethel Seminary In-Ministry Mdiv program.
I’m thankful that we are able to look at others doctrine with an attitude of “what can I learn from it”?
Unless we suppose that we have this Theology totally right, we are going to have to accept that some people outside our stream have some of the things they’re passionate about right!
Fell bad for Rob Bell here… I”ve used his videos and had my leaders read VElvet Elvis.
Would love to be able to repost your comments “quoted” on my blog.
which is on my wedsite… http://www.newnfc.org
Ron Ross



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Nina Montain

posted March 9, 2011 at 1:28 pm


Jason, you said “There is no meaner, more hateful person on Earth than a Christian who suspects you have gotten your theology wrong.” Were you grasping at false but superlative adjectives, in order to sensationalize your point? It seems so. I’m not convinced you really believe they’re the meanest and most hateful. I think you agree that radical terrorists are more mean and more hateful, when they kill innocent civilians. I also think you agree that Stalin was meaner and more hateful, as was Hitler and the rest of those types. The problem is that when you characterize a group as something negative which they are not, you in your position may influence somebody’s thinking toward a destructive or prejudicial bent, which could later promote true and outward acts of meanness and/or hatred, toward a group that was incorrectly labeled by you. So I would like to respectfully ask, would you please retract your above statement? Still, your point as to the premature reactions of many is well-made. Oh and by the way, my indictment of your choice of words is not mean and hateful, because I don’t wish any ill to come upon you, unless you measure a reply by you – rooted in true contrition – as such.



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Jeff Crabtree

posted March 9, 2011 at 3:05 pm


Oh, come on, listen to Bell’s own words – here is a quote from Bell’s book, Love Wins, based on an Advance Reader Copy sent to Tim Challies:
“A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better. . . . This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.” (from Justin Taylor’s 3/9/’11 post)
What he espouses is not supported by the totality of scripture. It is certainly not the Christian faith. Jesus is the Lion of Judah, not the kitty of Judah! He’s coming back with a sword in his hand, not a palm branch. It’s like making angles out to be fat little baby-shaped creatures with bows and heart-shaped arrows winging about making people fall in love.



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Pete

posted March 9, 2011 at 5:33 pm


If having the RIGHT theology is paramount for Salvation, I fear for us all! I tend to lean heavily on Grace, I have no other hope…isn’t that the message of Christ? Who knows how this will all play out…isn’t that God’s decision? Why don’t we just focus on being like Christ in our minds, hearts, and actions and leave damnation, or not, to Him. Thanks Jason for this article. We are all at the Mercy.



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Warren Baldwin

posted March 9, 2011 at 11:40 pm


Thanks for your very fair approach to this subject. And for advocating we at least read Bell’s new book before we attempt to evaluate it (and him).



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Dan Mages

posted March 10, 2011 at 12:15 am


Unreal. It doesn’t surprise me that Bell would go this direction. He has always played fast and loose with the text. He has a “personal relationship” with love itself, embodied in a hippie Jesus. I just wish he would hold those beliefs without appealing to the text. Let’s acknowledge that there are differences between what we believe and what Jesus believed, and Paul, and the rest. Twisting the Bible will only create a backlash from those that understand it. I absolutely adore the article though, insightful and to the point.



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Nicole

posted March 10, 2011 at 12:50 am


read that. and maybe edit your blog.



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Ruth Fanshaw

posted March 10, 2011 at 2:38 am


I can’t help but wonder if some of the people who’ve commented above have actually READ this blog post. They seem to have kinda missed the point, which is not, in fact, to defend Bell’s position (whatever that is).
What disturbs me most about this whole business is the bitterness and anger that some Christians are directing against other Christians. Disagree, by all means. But do it KINDLY.
Jesus said that people would know that we are His disciples because we love one another (John 15:12). That’s supposed to be what distinguishes us as belonging to Him.



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Don Gemus

posted March 10, 2011 at 1:40 pm


What is sad is I have read dozens of blogs like this one. “There is no meaner, more hateful person on Earth than a Christian who suspects you have gotten your theology wrong.” But that is exactly what this guy does to Taylor, Piper, and the entire Reformed church in this blog (which I am a part of – hope you don’t find me too obnoxious as usual).
“The Bible is really squishy on the subject of hell.” Really? Ever read a kingdom parable?
But there are much worse posts out there than this one. The internet is currently littered with quotes like “See. I knew God wouldn’t send people to Hell” commenting on the Love Wins promo video posted in various places. Sad.



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Alex Oliveras

posted March 10, 2011 at 10:04 pm


“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. matt 7:21
But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” matt 10:33
Jesus is not a liar.
Universalist debate over.



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Ben

posted March 11, 2011 at 1:05 am


Alex:
So basically, the debate’s over solely because YOU say that it’s over.
Got it.



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Adam

posted March 14, 2011 at 11:20 am


So this Justin Taylor guy recommended a study of 1 Tim…. Well here’s what I found…
1 Tim 4:10, “That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of ALL people, and especially of those who believe.”
The phrase “especially those who believe” only belongs in the statement because it includes those who do “not” believe. Otherwise, it would have been written… (that is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of those who believe)
But, that’s not what was written. What was written was “the Savior of ALL people” I don’t think God is in the business of failing… do you?



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Samuel Williams

posted March 14, 2011 at 4:16 pm


If Rob Bell has adopted Universalism then he has left the truth of Christianity that JESUS died in order to save us from sin. Heaven will end up just like earth where have to be afraid to go out at night.
But the point about the understanding of what hell is. That is very important. To me hell is not eternal torture. But eternal death. The bible calls it the second death. Those who choose hate over love. Die. Cease to exist.



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Peter plays bass

posted March 14, 2011 at 4:38 pm


If Bell is right, then Jesus lived a perfect life and died a horrible, violent death to get a (relatively) few people to Heaven a few years or decades earlier than everyone else? That’s like killing your mother to get to a 100-year party on time instead of 5 minutes late. In fact, it is infintely MORE ridiculous as any number of decades is precisely 0% of eternity, and any 100-year party is precisely 0% as important as Heaven.
Even if God gave the option to those in Hell to tour Heaven and choose to stay or return, what would people do? C.S. Lewis had a hunch in The Great Divorce (spoiler: they choose Hell).
You can throw the Great Commission out the window, as well. Why try to get people saved if we all end up in the same place anyway?
Bell’s message is the most dangerous lie of all: an attractive truth of counterfeit ‘good’. I pray he leads no one astray.



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Tea

posted March 15, 2011 at 3:57 pm


Amazing that those who are most adamant that they know the only “right” interpretation seem to know the least about Christian history and the development of dogma. (Well, no… Maybe it figures, as the only way you can think that there was never any other doctrine or interpretation than yours.)
Substitutionary atonement is neither the original nor the sole interpretation of Jesus’s life and death. A HUGE point against it is that Jesus NEVER specifically taught it. (Example: When the rich young ruler asks what he must do to be saved, Jesus never says, “Well, I have this crucifixion gig coming up, and that’s what’s really important…”) And, well, Jesus does not lie, right?
And no, the verse about “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord…” does not support anything about substitutionary atonement at all; it supports the idea that those who toss around the name of Jesus are missing the point if they don’t DO right, i.e., love others. It directly contradicts the idea of “…by faith alone…”.
The debate, you see, is not over. It’s right here.



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Dell

posted March 15, 2011 at 7:51 pm


I will say that, although I disagree with a lot of what Piper says, I think his comment meant “farewell” to Bell being part of the vast-majority “orthodox” circle of theology, not a dismissal of Bell as a person.



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Jeff Stewart

posted March 16, 2011 at 8:10 am


“Rather than the other…” The bible does not portray *uni*versalism, but it *does* portray *re*versalism. (Mt 7:21-23; Lk13:22-30; Lk 18:9-14). Don’t replace reading with sitting and soaking.



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Jyl

posted March 16, 2011 at 2:05 pm


Well, this is listed under Faiths and Prayer…NonChristians have faith and they pray so I assume I can write here. Plus, NonChristians read the New Testament and the words of Jesus. Just to clarify, we listen to Rob Bell too.
In that light, I think it is great that Rob Bell is speaking up for the love Jesus taught. We are to love all others …all…that includes all religions and nonreligion.
The idea of Hell was thought up long before Christianity, so it is not an original idea that is exclusive to them, neither is the idea of Heaven. Anyone who studies history should be aware of the origins of all beliefs.
I think it is okay to teach a loving G-d, and stop the hate groups from condemning others who don’t think like them. Jesus taught love, not hate.
You can believe in Hell, but understand that not all people , even Christian think everyone goes there. They don’t even think it is the same thing in all faiths. Some only see it as a metaphor.



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Samson

posted March 17, 2011 at 10:37 pm


It was particularly characteristic of Staretz Silouan to pray for the dead suffering in the hell of separation from God… He could not bear to think that anyone would languish in “outer darkness.”
I remember a conversation between him and a certain hermit, who declared with evident satisfaction. “God will punish all atheists. They will burn in everlasting fire.”
Obviously upset. The Staretz said, “Tell me, supposing you went to paradise, and there looked down and saw somebody burning in hell-fire. Would you feel happy?”
“It can’t be helped. It would be their own Fault.” said the hermit.
The Staretz answered him with a sorrowful countenance. “Love could not bear that,” he said. “We must pray for all.”



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Karen

posted March 18, 2011 at 7:27 am


Thank God for Rob Bell who is not afraid to say what every thinking Christian has thought all along!
What a breath of fresh air, and something I can talk about in a lesson with the at risk kids I minister to.
You rock Rob!!



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Lisa Brown

posted March 18, 2011 at 10:24 am


And, in effect, wasn’t Pontius Pilate saying, “Farewell, Jesus.” We see where that led.



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Peter Hunsberger

posted March 24, 2011 at 11:32 am


I’m typically more skeptical of people that are 100% sure of their own theology — as they’ve turned faith (ie: belief in spite of doubt) into a science — than those who are engaging in humble dialogue. Rob Bell has been instrumental in my own personal growth over the years. And I know that he could be wrong about some stuff! But those that attack him with heresy calls are no better than the Pharisees…we need to all humble ourselves in full knowledge that we are not God. Let’s disagree with each other only when acknowledging that we might not have it right either. I’d rather err on the side of talking about love than talking about damnation, wouldn’t everyone else?



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Kathy Schallert

posted March 24, 2011 at 1:21 pm


Very well said. The concept of an eternal fiery Hell designed to torment sinners forever has been taught by the Catholic Church and accepted as true for many centuries. Integral to this concept is the proposition that no one will ever really die, since upon the death of your external mortal body, your spirit immediately (supposedly) travels to Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory. You either live forever in heaven with God, or you live forever in torment in Hell with Satan and his angels – at least that is what is taught and believed by most of the Christian world. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this debate on the state of the dead. It’s about time mainstream Protestantism started questioning this insane doctrine of an eternally burning hell. It does NOT exist, and you can study it out for yourselves why right here: http://biblelight.net/hell.htm Our God IS love, and the REAL truth about hell proves just that!



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Jerry

posted March 24, 2011 at 3:56 pm


I vote for Tim Keller…lol.



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Chris

posted March 28, 2011 at 12:57 am


I’d actually say that Love Wins is somewhat of a Rorschach Test: If you can’t stand Bell, or have always questioned what he had to say, you will read the book through that lens and find what you’re looking for. If you’ve been on the fence about him, you’ll still be there. If you’ve read him charitably in the past and found that, even when you disagree, he is still within the stream of orthodox Christianity, you will still find that he’s there. One of his stated purposes in the book is to get folks to study what is actually in Scripture, and to ask the tough questions – and accept fuzzy answers and to be charitable to others who do, as well. For example, here is an examination of what the Scriptures actually say about hell, and it is possible to take them seriously, yet come up with a different answer than eternal, conscious torture.



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Christy

posted April 1, 2011 at 5:06 pm


I think it is a bit simplistic to compare this post to Piper’s tweet in terms of log-and-speck. You’ve got 140 characters in a tweet to pack a punch, or what seems to be in Piper’s case, to remain vague. Jason unpacked this topic(arguably) with reverence and respect, characters unlimited. Not to mention that this type of exploration is the purpose of this blog. No harm, no foul.



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Brian

posted April 9, 2011 at 4:38 pm


“Jesus talks about hell a lot, but…”
Excuse me! Shouldn’t that be enough??
John Piper is not perfect, but when he speaks the Truth of Jesus and stands for the Gospel, then he DOES have authority and ground to dismiss and defend the Gospel of Christ to anyone and for the sake of his flock God has given him.



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Dan

posted April 14, 2011 at 11:53 pm


Mr Jason,
Not sure where you are really coming from in all your thoughts, but you might want to ask the Holy Spirit to answer a few BASIC things for you. WOW, is ALL I have to say…



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bill scholl

posted April 15, 2011 at 10:52 pm


Just read the Time magazine article on Rob Hill and his latest book… front page stuff. Interesting to get the general media take.

Encourages me to read the book, should be interesting.

My only question ( granted premature ): If I don’t believe in heaven and would really prefer hell and I have a choice, will I be forced to spend eternity with someone I don’t believe exists and don’t like. Is there another option for me, pergatory, nothingness reincarnation?



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Greg Bade

posted April 18, 2011 at 7:33 pm


I have read Bell’s previous books. The theology in this new book is consistent with what he has written before. Which is to say, Bell doesn’t put much stock in the Bible’s authority or reliability. Of course he is free to have his own take on truth, but we should stick with the Bible’s take. It has a longer track record and long after Bell has been forgotten God’s Word will be leading many to eternal life.



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Doug

posted April 20, 2011 at 3:15 pm


The problem many conservative evangelicals and some orthodox people alike have with RB’s book is that it rocks their true foundation—the text.

You are 100% right in what you said in this article. In order to support beliefs from all sects and denominations you have to wiggle around, and dismiss some scripture. Apparently that is OK for some. I mean, the whole idea of 10% tithing is a hoax, and a sham, and a twist of NT scripture to the max. Few question it and the top clergy drive it home every Sunday, without biblical support, only twisted views. But apparently that is OK because it supports their mission. They wouldn’t dare tell the sheep the truth about it and et them be free in their giving, anyway I digress.

The Book love wins asks questions we all wonder about. My burning question is does God send Native Americans tha have never heard of Jesus, a Bible, or a God of the Jews to hell for all eternity becaue they never heard of Jesus or said a prayer? Fundmanetalists always tell me ROMANS 1 and they are with out excuse and blah blah blah. Really. 1 chapter in the bible sentences millions to an eternity of torment and punishment. Loving people that did not ask to be born into this world, believed what they were told was right, and lived according to their forefather’s culture will be punished becasue they never heard of a savior and had achance to believe?

I think we all need to wake up. Fundamentalists like I used to be are making a wreck of our faith. They have politicized our beliefs and institutionalized the core. We need a revoulution, and maybe Zob Bell has begun it. Alond with many ohers like frank Viola and GeorgeBarna, nd a myriad of others.

It is a great book, if reading rocks your faith in Jesus, then yor faith isn’t in Jesus, it is in the Bible. And that is a shame. Stand on Him as rock, not text.



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Linda Durham

posted April 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm


Excellent response! I have been a “Evangelical Christian” for sixty years, and in the quietness of my closet I have asked some of the same questions Bell raises. Christians can be so arrogant. I believe God wants us to be honest . . . . .He is big enough for that. Thank you for your kind insightful response. I do not believe Bell is gone. I welcome the dialog.



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jeffuhson

posted April 22, 2011 at 1:46 am


Here is a well put together remake of Bell’s original promo video that sparked this ENTIRE discussion. Its called “Jesus Wins” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODUvw2McL8g



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Jonathan Facenda

posted April 25, 2011 at 10:51 am


When did certanty and knowing the truth become wrong? Yes, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Hell is real. The Bible says so. No one with any intelectual honesty can claim to believe what the Bible says and come to any other conclusion about it’s teaching. If you elebvate one teaching and ignore another you are not a bible beleiver. No part of the scripture is in conflict in any way with any other part.



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Bill Dunshie

posted April 26, 2011 at 1:09 am


One saying I like is by the narrator of “The Usual Suspects”:
“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist”.
Well, move over Verbal Kint ! Rob Bell’s here to tell us that satan actually does not exist, and he fully stands by it !
Rob Bell is doing more damage to a generation of young people than communist Russia ever thought about doing.
I purchased his book just to see what the man actually wrote, and it’s snippets of scripture here and there, many taken out of context, but mostly, it’s simply his opinion on a subject that I do not think he’s that well versed in.



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Kevin Morrow

posted April 27, 2011 at 11:18 pm


Having read a great number of the comments here, I have a few comments. First, I have sympathy for both sides of the argument, because since I got saved 27 years ago, I have ground my teeth with fury at the hypocrisy, nastiness, rigid conservatism and heartless Pharasaism exhibited by many Christians in the churches in this country, and I have devoutly wished for a revolution to overturn the moral rot and corruption and lovelessness I have seen. On the other hand, I have also witnessed an equally destructive reaction to this, in which people like Rob Bell and Brian McLaren have, supposedly in the name of love, cast aspersions on doctrinal certainty and all that hold to such certainty. This is crazy. The cure, this false choice between Pharasaism or a virtually agnostic antinomianism is as bad as the disease, and I reject both utterly. God came to reveal Himself to us so that we could know Him. He didn’t come to answer every metaphysical question ever posed, but to give us enough truth to live by. I certainly don’t look askance at asking hard questions of the Almighty, but refusing to admit that there ARE a few clear answers is a bad idea, especially if you’re a pastor. I have been particularly disturbed for some time about news stories I’m hearing about the rising generation of evangelicals who in reaction against the sins of the Religious Right are tossing overboard much in the way of basic Christian teaching. I hope Rob Bell’s message is not yet another sign of this slide towards biblical error. I haven’t read Bell’s book, and so I’m still a little uncertain as to where he stands, although I’ve read transcripts of recent interviews with him, in which he gave very weaselly, evasive, deliberately indeterminate answers. Not a good sign, but again, until I read the book, I won’t know what to think of him. I do know what to think about doctrinal certainty: we must calmly and humbly hold to what scripture teaches, but always be willing to patiently hear another point of view and not arrogantly throw thunder bolts at everyone we disagree with, but not allowing ourselves to be bullied into intellectual squeamishness either. I would also agree that John Piper’s response was not a good one. Regardless of how he meant it, it was not well thought-out before he said it. Anyway, I also thought Justin’s blog post was too dismissive of valid concerns for biblical orthodoxy. All in all, I thought all sides of this controversy have behaved in a non-biblical manner. Maybe someday, we will get real, biblically sound leadership in this country who can avoid the sins of both the pharisees and the antinomians.



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LionO

posted May 2, 2011 at 1:02 pm


This just in: Rob Bell is pretty certain Osama Bin Laden is NOT in Hell; but even if he is, he’ll soon be convinced of the error of his ways and will be doing high fives with St. Peter in short order.



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Brandon Swisher

posted May 11, 2011 at 6:18 pm


Here is my take on these controversy’s that come up often: We should keep focused on the things that matter. The focus is on the saving power behind Christ’s teachings, and the biggest joy out there-Christ’s love for us. We have energies being used here (Rob Bell) to speak of the love of Christ, the realness of life, and deeper, mind awakening subjects which point to Christ. Then we have a waste of energies here being used to debate, tear apart, divert focus, and pull a veil over what really matters, the love of Christ and his teachings. There are billions of people in this world with so many hearts at so many different stages of joy, sadness, sorrow, hurt, and just plain lost. There are only a handful of blessed speakers and message delivers’ which have gained mass attention from a hurting, self-seeking, overindulgent culture. At different points in life we need different messages; all of which should point us to–and provoke a compelling urge to–pick up the main source of it all on our own, the Bible.

This banter reminds me of the two women among the disciples in the house with Jesus. The one woman was doing the dishes and was frustrated that the other woman wasn’t helping–she was spending time with Jesus and the others instead. Jesus rebuked her because her concern was in the wrong place. She was thinking of the then and now, and not on the bigger picture.

What might the end result of Rob Bell’s teachings be? I think the teachings inspire good in people, not evil. Tell me if I’m wrong.

Worst case scenario Paul said whether people are bashing Christ or lifting Him up, Christ is being spoken about, and Glory will be given to God.

Jesus never got involved in the petty argumentative discussions. Instead, He practically ignored the statements and questions which were meant to intentionally provoke such conflict. Jesus ignored these trigger comments, and then brought the attention back on what is important. He also asked questions in response to questions to gut check the heart of the asker. Someone could ask Jesus about hell, and he might come back with a response about love, seemingly totally off topic. But, why focus on hell, what fruit will it bring? Instead lets focus on love. If we are filled with love in our hearts, than hell is not an issue anyway. One cancels out the other, and therefore we don’t have to dwell on the negative. Thats the whole thing of the Gospel, to bring the positives back into light. The love, the life saving power, the freedom from guilt, breaking the shackles, the second chance, healing, true joy, a chance for the whole world and not just the Jews, etc., etc., etc. Thats what I get from it.

The only thing I hear in all this is a lack of professionalism and jealousy in viewership which stems from selfishness–all of which seems much to childish for popular Christian authors, speakers, and preachers. Lets always ask ourselves whats the power behind our motivation in tearing someone down in this way (which is NOT the biblical way of confronting our brothers), and then lets bring our heart back to the #1 important thing, love, for all people.

Love you guys!



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Caleb

posted May 17, 2011 at 3:58 pm


It is a stretch to say that Rob Bell would ever join C S Lewis on any level. Just because two men have both been accused of the same thing doesn’t make them similar. It’s a good way to name drop to scrape for credibility, Bell needs it. Rob Bell departed from foundational biblical principals “goodbye” is appropriate



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Kevin

posted May 18, 2011 at 8:53 pm


The Bible is not contradictory. Further, it is not open to interpretation (2 Pet 1:20-21). God declares, and we obey. There are multiple schools of thought because we are fallen people. When the Bible says things like 2 Thess. 1:7-9, we are to take it at face value. If Rob Bell has made the choice to deny Scripture: how one is saved, God’s wrath, the afterlife, etc., then he has crossed over into the category of false prophet… and he certainly has the publicity and the clout to lead MANY astray. Therefore, +1 John Piper. BTW, did you write Piper a personal email or give him a call before posting publicly that he is a graceless, arrogant, non-book-reader?



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RA Murphy

posted June 8, 2011 at 10:38 pm


“Because that’s what “Farewell, Rob Bell” means, isn’t it? You’re dead to me. What I believe is right. If you oppose it, then I’m done with you.”

Great points. A settled issue for any camp is an assumption of authority – or as I like to state it “the arrogance of certainty”. So much of what happened and continues to happen with these ridiculous arguments are purely distractions and ego trips. I wish the church would stop idealizing these people for their views. I learned quickly in my first semester of theology that there are a lot of big words thrown out over ridiculously minor differences in theological understanding. How absolute the believes of these paradigms respond to a different opinion says quite a bit about their values.



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Robert

posted June 28, 2011 at 3:10 pm


I could not agree more about the danger of certainty as expressed by Taylor and Piper. Its really quite appalling. This controversy inspired me to sketch out some thoughts I’ve had on the birth of what could be a new reformation coming soon (if not already):
http://ow.ly/5sj0o



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the battle unseen

posted July 7, 2011 at 1:20 am


Matthew 7:15-23 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Dont think God wants us to be quiet about false prophets and just send them an email!



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Dwain Minor

posted August 1, 2011 at 11:55 am


So, let me get this straight. It is more honorable to live in a fog of doubt than to stand upon the certainty of Christ and His Word. I am sorry but living in a fog of doubt and confusion when Scripture calls us to be people of truth is not honorable. And Romans 16:17-18 calls believers to mark those people that cause dissensions contrary to the teaching of Scripture and to have nothing to do with them. Furthermore Titus 1:10-11 calls the false teachers to be stopped. So, if Rob Bell is a deceiver and a false teacher, then did these men really go too far?



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Peter Suderman

posted October 31, 2011 at 4:31 pm


You seem to be a very confused man. The Bible is the foundation of the Truth and theologians’ opinions mean nothing in comparison. The Gospel is hid from the “Worldly wise” and revealed to “babes”.
Calvary, the greatest sacrifice possble is enough proof of the existence of hell. Your argument is with God Almighty John 1;1 URL



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Christopher Coy

posted January 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm


Thanks for taking the time to address the negative comments regarding Rob Bells book “Love Wins”. I am disappointed that Christian theologians are so quick to judge a scripturally based writing, particularly when they have not even read it. While my children were raised in a mainstream church, they are curently questioning the destiny of nonbelievers around the world – perhaps because they have had opportunities to travel extensively and have had many chances to interact with people from a host of religious or non-religious backgrounds. They are wrestling with just how those folks have a chance to come to Christ, and neither believe that non Christians will be eliminated from heaven simply because they had the misfortune to be born in the wrong country, society or family. God must come to them somehow either in this world or the next. The open discussion of these and other theological understandings (or perhaps misunderstandings) are necessary to strengthen the relationship between the questioners and Christ. I teach at a nondenominational university and I can only suggest that Christianity encompasses a wider highway than most of my colleagues believe.



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Emmie

posted February 13, 2012 at 11:21 am


re: “There is no meaner, more hateful person on Earth than a Christian who suspects you have gotten your theology wrong. Labeling that mean-ness as “being faithful” to the Gospel doesn’t make it less hateful.” I am sorry if you have never met a true Christian. As a Christian I struggle with my temper as well. We Christians do still sin, the difference being we recognize it, repent, and seek the help of God, to change. We are still humans, humans who recognize the difference of right and wrong. I believe the Bible to be the written word of God and my users manual. God doesn’t change, we do. If you are unable to embrace Him it was not He that move. Those who are concerned with any statements concerning Our Lord, need look no further than the Bible for evidence or lack of. I also believe that we are born knowing the differences of right from wrong, of course nurture helps reinforces the law. I find that some of those most against the Word, such as the atheists that fight so hard to have every mention of God removed from our society, are the most convicted by the law. Not convicted by man but in their own souls. They fight the Truth because it makes them feel bad. The movement to “feel good” religion is a dangerous one. Just look at what has happened to the generation of everyone wins. I think they are all making $60 a day occupying.



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Desi Erasmus

posted February 17, 2012 at 10:48 am


Until the last line, you sound pretty sure of yourself too. Do I detect a lot of projection here?

If not, perhaps you should give the ones that irritate you the benefit of the doubt, as you are suggesting they should do with “Rob”.

“There is no meaner, more hateful person on Earth than a Christian who suspects you have gotten your theology wrong.”

You must not get around much. Try listening to a few Bill Maher or Keith Olberman rants if you want to experience ‘mean and spiteful’. In fact the world is full of such people from a variety of world views. Malevolence is a general malady, and we were given fair warning in the parable of the tares that the Body of Christ would not be exempt. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Tares



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Phil

posted February 17, 2012 at 6:50 pm


I think the point of this article isn’t to argue whose theology is correct, but rather it’s about the heart and spirit of people like Piper and Taylor who are willing to basically kick someone to the curb because they don’t agree with their theology.

It’s amazing and upsetting how in the world people are much more likely to embrace someone regardless of what they believe than in the church. An agnostic in most churches would be treated as if he had the plague. There’s more love in a bar than in the average church.



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hcf

posted February 22, 2012 at 5:31 am


The truth is, the Bible does not speak of a hell that burn people forever and ever. The term/phrase forever mean it will not be quenched, however it will burn itself out. Is Sodom and Gomorrah still burning? We are to study the Bible “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little”. To think that it does would mean that God created hell for humans, He did not. He created it for Satan. If sin is to be eradicated how can sinful people be living in hell’s fire for eternity? God want the love you have to give him as a free will offering, NOT based on the thought that yo will burn forever. For the worlds and beings that God will create in the future, do you think that will paint Him as a loving God. The things that go on in our mind when we are running from something is VERY different than when we are running to something. God wants us to run to him, not from hell.



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hcf

posted February 22, 2012 at 5:36 am


Please accept my apology, I should have “proofed” this before I posted.

BTW, I have not read the book.



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jlw

posted March 8, 2012 at 2:51 pm


Thank you for this thoughtful response.



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Gabriella

posted March 11, 2012 at 9:41 am


Have Piper,Taylor &Co ever heard of Origen,Hans Urs von Balthasar, Karl Barth, Karl Rahner?
Do they know the meaning of the word “apocatastasis” ? What about pondering on it a bit instead of rushing to tweet for the sake of tweeting?



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Laurel Bower

posted March 12, 2012 at 1:16 pm


Dear God,

Save us from “Christains.”

Amen



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chrismark

posted March 12, 2012 at 7:28 pm


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Jnorthrup

posted June 10, 2012 at 12:46 pm


This may have already been said, but it is with humility I remind myself that it was the religious leaders who looked Jesus in the face, heard him speak, saw his works and refused to see the Messiah they had so long been waiting for. Let’s leave judgment to God, where it belongs, and only attempt to walk humbly with Him.



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Glenda Smith

posted June 24, 2012 at 5:05 pm


Christians who believe the Bible is God’s Word do not want to listen to anyone’s “personal interpretation” of it. Anyone who is born again and has the Holy Spirit indwelling them can understand or discern the meaning of Scripture. Scripture says not to “wrestele” with it and that if and when we do we are courting destruction. People who put themselves out to be teachers will reap more judgement becasue they will inevitablly influence others to believe the way they have interpreted scripture rather than encouarging people to ask God to give them understanding. Hell is an historically accpeted teaching down through the ages. No matrer how it is described it is a place of torment for the souls who have disobeyed God and denied Christ. Many have turned to Christ during the preaching of Hell as the place of unbelievers and some have said they were turned away from God and Christianity. Well, it appears to me that the preaching of Hell brought some to God mean that God blessed this teaching. When they turned away from God, they professed their unbelief in God. God is a God of Love, but scripture also teaches that God is to be feared, not just revered as some others who desired to tickle ears that want only to hear SOFT words. God has the POWER to destroy both body and soul, the Bible says, so would you not fear Him? Would you not then desire to plase Him? I loved my parents beyond belief and my mother, especially, disciplined us kids with spankings, switchings mostly. But I learned to DESIRE to please her, no make her angry. I LOVED her and respected her, I was not inordinately afraid of her, but on the contrary, she beat the SELF WILL out of me, it did not destroy my personality but made it more desirable to be around…not some selfish nerd that thought the world centered around them. Thank God for Godly fear and parents who beat the SELF out of selfish disobedient brats.



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Carrie Burke

posted July 31, 2012 at 10:20 am


Mr. Boyett: There are over 162 references to hell in the Old & New Testaments, 70 of which are attributed to Jesus. There are 3 occurrences in Mark, 12 in Matthew, 3 in LUke, 2 in Acts, and 4 in Revelation. The Apsotle’s Creed reminds us that the doctrine of hell is a fundamental doctrine of our faith.

It is an act of LOVE to teach the Scriptures to people, even when it doesn’t tickle their ears and make them feel good. This is why Piper should say, “Farewell Rob Bell”, because Rob Bell proved himself to be a Universalist by his words and writings. So this is fruit that warrants judging, and it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. Separating the sheep from the goats is the loving thing to do. Piper is accountable to God for the kind of shepherd he is to his flock – to protect them from false doctrine. Sometimes you have to shoot the wolves. Jesus did this with the Pharisees all the time. Are you not willing to shoot the wolves for fear of being deemed intolerant or judgmental? We are called to judge the fruit…the fruit was in Rob Bell’s book.

Jesus suffered and died for mean people. A God who will suffer and die for mean people is not mean, In fact, such a God alone is altogether loving; to be condemned by a God of perfect love shows how damnable our sin truly is….To call such actions on God’s part intolerant is shameful, because tolerance would denote both approval and support of evil…. Hell is only for those who persistently reject the real God in favor of false gods. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, either people will say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ or God will say to them, ‘Thy will be done.’” (M. Driscoll)

Here are some verses that talk specifically about the agonies and eternality of hell:

Matthew 13:42: “And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

Matt 25:41: “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” This passage relates to Jesus’ judgment of all the world. It describes precisely how Jesus will separate the “sheep” — those who will spend eternity with God in Heaven — and the “goats” — those who will be tortured for all eternity in Hell. The criteria was based on the good works (or lack thereof) of people while they lived on earth. This conflicts with many references in the Christian Scriptures which specify that salvation depends upon one’s beliefs, not good works.

Mark 9:43-48: And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched.” The reference to fire is repeated three more times in the passage for emphasis.

Luke 16:24: “And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” This is a plea described as coming from an inhabitant of Hell.

Revelation 20:13-15: “…hell delivered up the dead which were in them…And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving … shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.” Brimstone is sulphur. In order for sulphur to form a lake, it must be molten. Thus, its temperature must be at or above 444.6 °C or 832 °F. That is the boiling point of sulfur.

Daniel 12:2 “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. ”

Matthew 8:12: “…there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Matthew 13:42: “… there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

Matthew 13:50: ” there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

Matthew 25:30: “… there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The punishment in Hell lasts forever:
The torment is apparently for all eternity; it never ceases:

Matthew 25:46: ” And these shall go away into everlasting punishment.”

Mark 9:43-48: “…it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched” The unquenched fire is mentioned three times in this passage for emphasis.

Revelation 14:11: ” And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night…”

Praying for Rob Bell and all who are not willing to stand for truth. The Truth sets us free.

Carrie Burke
Age 33
Raleigh, NC



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