The basic run-down is that Rob Bell (one of the more prominent Evangelicals of a new generation) wrote a book on the character and grasp of Love and how that conquers the doctrine of eternal, everlasting, burning-fire-brimstone-and-worm-infested hell. Bell doesn't seem to bring anything new to the table, certainly not unorthodox. He's not arguing that there isn't justice, nor that there isn't some form of hell (although it may not be what most pew-fillers imagine it to be) - but that hasn't stopped Team Hell from being very, very angewy (my three year old's word) and upset nor from casting him as a heretic. Err, maybe a Heretic. Capital, bolded, and italicized 'H' and all.
And now that the book is coming out today and a few people did read it and opine on it, some bloggers are angewy that others have told them not to rush to judgment when they were so absolutely sure they had judgment to
Here's the money shot, though, of the third generation response from Reformed Arsenal:
You see, this is not just a matter of academic theological objection. This is not just a matter of us disagreeing with the premises that Bell puts forward. This is a matter of truth, and more importantly than that... it is a matter of salvific truth. Millions of people will read Bell's book... hundreds of thousands of Christians will question the truth that they have been taught since they were young. Thousands of non-Christians will read this and find security in the fact that Christ saves them regardless of their allegience to them... thousands will plummet into hell, because contrary to what Mr Bell argues... it is real and it is terrible.
No, you know what is terrible? Fear-based preaching. A relationship based on fear. Fear-mongering. The only one we should fear (in any sense of the word, we should say reverence with some trembling) is God.
But God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-discipline.2 Timothy 1:7
Perfect love expels all fear.I John 4:16
You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.Hebrews 12:18-22 (NIV)
What Reformed Arsenal is advocating above is that people will not come to trust in Jesus because they will not be afraid of hell. The view of hell that RA believes in, he believes, saves. Not so much Jesus. But the fear of retribution and burning, now, that's what God is looking for!
Jesus isn't enough? He isn't the Way, the Truth, and the Life? He isn't the center of the Gospel, of the Good News?
The teaching that the doctrine of hell is central to the gospel isn't just manipulation, it is idolatry.
I hope that some of these leaders and pastors repent of this manipulation and idolatry. I'm not, however, saying they're going to hell or leading billions to hell.
Though I'm sure in trying to control a population from Rob Bell, they're leading them straight to Rob Bell. In a hand basket.