Bell on Hell

Rob Bell has been "stirring the possum" regarding the doctrine of hell, ahead of the release of his book on the topic.

Last time I checked it was #14 on Amazon's best seller list. Rob's a good communicator and controversy sells.

Questioning hell is not a new thing for western theologians and church leaders to do. It's been going on in recurring cycles for at least the last hundred years. Not just hell, but also belief in the uniqueness of Christ and his atoning death for our sin. And just about every other biblical truth you can think of.

I don't know what Rob will say in his book. I guess whatever he says, he's going to offend someone. Let's hope he doesn't extend the controversy by being vague about such an important truth.

Ultimately it doesn't matter what Rob believes, or what I believe. What matters is what the Scriptures teach. Rob and I don't get a vote on this, or any other doctrine.

The recurring cycle relates to the tension we all feel from the world around us. Over time we want to relieve this tension. Especially if we're a Christian leader or theologian. Ordinary believers are generally more biblically orthodox than the man in the pulpit, and always more orthodox than the denominational college or headquarters.

It's never been natural to believe in one true God who is Creator and Lord over all. The Jewish people didn't come to that conclusion because they were smarter than everyone else. It was revealed to them. It wasn't popular outside Israel in the ancient world. It wasn't popular in Paul's day. It's never been popular.

That the one true God would reveal himself in Jesus Christ—his life, his death and his resurrection—is not something that "sells" well. That Jesus' death on the Cross is our only hope of salvation is a scandal to the religious, and an absurdity to the wise.

What a negative doctrine hell is. Why should God be bothered by our sin? Surely God could just blink at evil. Surely he could forgive sin and impose his will, regardless of what we want.

I'm uncomfortable with the doctrine of hell. That's not the point. Truth is. And the best guide we have is very clear on the matter.

Yet, here we go again . . .