Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors

Heaven, Hell and Rob Bell

Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins, continues to stir controversy and provoke debate in many religious circles. Whether Bell is correct or not about who gets into heaven and who will go to Hell is not something which anyone can know.
Both Bell’s theories and those of the people who dispute him about what a loving God would do are simply mirrors of both his and their pre-existing definitions about love, God, and the afterlife. More importantly, those beliefs are great predictors of how people behave in this life and since that is the one we all share, it’s the one upon which we ought to focus.
Tell me a person’s beliefs about the afterlife, including the absence of such belief, and I’ll tell you how they function in this life, for better or for worse. Notions of the afterlife reflect our most deeply held values about this life, which because they are not always realized here, are deferred to the next life. Like all ideals, they represent that to which we aspire, and if we are serious about our aspirations, those conceptions of the hereafter impact how we live in the here and now.
Debates about what will “really” occur in the future are best left to the future. But the implications of the beliefs that people hold, have enormous impact not only on their own lives, but on the lives of all the people around them – especially those who don’t share their beliefs.


Whether there is an afterlife, how important its existence is to any individual or group, their belief about who gets in, who doesn’t, and why – all of these shape how they live and how they relate to others, especially to those who do not share their beliefs. Ultimately, it is this last issue which is the most important.
At the end of the day, it is far easier to hurt and even to destroy another human being whom one already believes is cursed by God. After all, the hurt done to them in this life is nothing compared to the suffering they will endure in the next life and, so the argument goes, reflects God’s ultimate will and may even cause them to repent of whatever sins they are supposedly guilty.
Over the centuries, millions of people have been subjected to everything from regular degradation to the most horrendous suffering, including mass murder, all because they were outside of some other group’s salvation scheme. That tragic behavior continues to this very day in more places and ways than we can name.
Unfortunately, even those who are well-intentioned, including Rob Bell, may be guilty of perpetuating this problem. While not necessarily as toxic as consigning people with whom he disagrees to Hell, Bell’s description of them as “truly humbled, broken, and desperate for reconciliation” is not much better. Am I in that category because I am a non-Christian? Are atheists in that category because they don’t believe in the existence of God?
While Bell argues for love, he does so in a way which embraces a belief in the still real spiritual failings of what I am sure equals billions of people. While his approach is a big deal within Christian theological circles, and is certainly an upgrade on those beliefs which regard many of us not only as damaged but as eternally cursed, it’s far from where I think such beliefs need to be.
Personally, it strikes me as arrogant to imagine that when we are done in this life, there is nothing that comes after. But it strikes me as both arrogant t and dangerous to believe that whatever is coming will be measured by any one set of beliefs that obtain in this word, and certainly not that people will be measured by the rules of those communities to which they did not belong when they were here.

  • jextjeams

    Author respektische. INFA has proved very useful.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment header

    testing testing test 1 2

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment g

    Does this site accept posts?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment agnosia49

    No human being can presume to know the mind of HaShem. Those who claim to know are charlatans. Even the prophets never knew fully. We only have it by hearsay that there is a heaven or hell. It would be nice if people could live with each other here, in the only life we are CERTAIN to know, rather than making it hell for those they dislike on the grounds that they are not behaving appropriately. Leave the judgment, if judgment there be, to HaShem at the appropriate time.

  • http://flipperthedolphin flipperthedolphin

    No-one knows what will happen in the next life, and, for mine,anyway, it’s the least of my worries, save for to bequeath an “environmenally sustainable, spiritually fullfilling, socially just, human presence on the planet” in the here and now, for the next generation.
    Of course, the subject of the afterlife comes up numerous times in the Gospels, but by-and-large , Jesus doesn’t talk about it much. For the most part, the subject is usually brooched by someone else. To the contrary, he was more concerned with living life, in the here and now, as, (and this is just my opinion), we all should be. Thanks, Rabbi, and richest blessings.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Lucy

    Thank you for the post Rabbi Brad. I wish the world was filled with people who shared your good will and kindness.
    Personally, I liked the Twilight Zone episode where the man would not enter heaven without his dog. Turned out, that was not heaven at all! He knew he could not abandon his best friend and, of course, God would never make him do so.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment romanscapegoat

    Lucy in the sky with diamonds…everything is god…you have no free will…god is playing with himself…jesus never knew you

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Linda

    The Torah speaks of a resurrection of the dead, judgment by God, some will have everlasting life and some everlasting contempt:

    “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” (from Daniel chapter 12)

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Linda

    According to Psalm 2, you better kiss (pay homage) the Son of God and put your trust in Him, or you will end up in Hell:

    1 Why do the nations rage,
    And the people plot a vain thing?
    2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
    And the rulers take counsel together,
    Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
    3 “Let us break Their bonds in pieces
    And cast away Their cords from us.”

    4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
    The Lord shall hold them in derision.
    5 Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
    And distress them in His deep displeasure:
    6 “Yet I have set My King
    On My holy hill of Zion.”

    7 “I will declare the decree:
    The LORD has said to Me,
    ‘You are My Son,
    Today I have begotten You.
    8 Ask of Me, and I will give You
    The nations for Your inheritance,
    And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
    9 You shall break them with a rod of iron;
    You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”

    10 Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
    Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
    11 Serve the LORD with fear,
    And rejoice with trembling.
    12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
    And you perish in the way,
    When His wrath is kindled but a little.
    Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment g

    Linda Said :
    According to Psalm 2, you better kiss (pay homage) the Son of God and put your trust in Him, or you will end up in Hell:

    Not only does this not say anything about Hell, Linda needs some examination of the Bible in terms of how to interpret scripture rather than just spout indoctrinated palaver she learned in endless Bible studies and reading some translation of the Bible without deeply examining the non-translated versions of the manuscripts and literal translations.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment romanscapegoat

    its a known fact that all jews are going to hell…just ask any christian

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