So, Rob Bell, young evangelical’s favorite controversial expounder of questionable truth, has a new book coming out. For the record, no, I’m not a fan and, yes, I’m fine with you knowing that. In the stream of what has emerged as the emergent church movement in which the Gospel is regularly compromised and a kinder, gentler god (that is, kinder and gentler than Scripture tells us), a new step towards outright rejection of historical Christianity has, well, emerged.
With Bell’s new book, it appears that he has not only taken on Hell, but defeated it. The book has not yet been released and, therefore, I have not read it, but in this case, there appears no surprises in store. Bell makes his goals very clear in the promotional trailer. Here, see it for yourself:
I hope just watching that video is enough to trouble you about the message being preached by the pastor of a church of thousands of loyal disciples (at least of Rob Bell). I’m troubled on so many levels by this entire line of thinking. Here are just a couple of questions that surface for me in light of Rob Bell’s “questions”: If there is no hell, why is there a cross? Why would Jesus suffer so cruelly when it would clearly be unnecessary? What does it say of the holiness and justice of God (and God’s perceived seriousness of that in Scripture), if there is no penalty for willfully offending that holiness? Why does Jesus claim to be the only way if God is cool with any way?
Some have criticized those who have sounded the alarm to this upcoming book as extremists who have jumped the gun before even reading the book. Normally, I might agree with them. In certain cases, though, it is justified. In this particular case, an entirely different book than the one promoted would have to be written in order for the message to be different.
Since some excellent critiques of Bell’s message in the above video have been offered (which I strongly encourage you to take the time to read), I’ll simply point you to some of them for consideration so you can make your own determination:
Justin Taylor’s Between Two Worlds – Rob Bell: Universalist?
Denny Burk – Rob Bell Outs Himself
The only way in which love wins is if Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, freely offers Himself for the sake of the fallen that are destined for an eternal hell, in order to satisfy the justified wrath of a holy God who must avenge offenses against that holiness in order to maintain it. When the sinner is declared righteous by the imputation of Christ’s own righteousness through faith and repentance, love wins.
The highest form of cruelty is to give a doomed man a false sense of hope. If the message of Rob Bell’s new book remains consistent with what has been promoted about it thus far, Love Wins may be a financial success, but Mr. Bell will have committed an act that demonstrates the absolute farthest thing from love.