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Is Hell a Vital Doctrine?

Biola Magazine has a good interview with Ashish Naidu, assistant professor of theology at Biola’s Talbot School of Theology, on some of the recent challenges to the doctrine of hell.

Reviews of Rob Bell’s Love Wins

We’ve given a lot of coverage to Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins this week, and though it’s starting to feel toxically oversaturated, the issues Bell’s book has brought up have justified the attention. Before we finally move on, here are some of the reviews of Love Wins from across the interwebs and beyond.

Kevin DeYoung (Pastor at University Reformed Church), God Is Still Holy and What You Learned in Sunday School Is Still True: A Review of “Love Wins” : “…there are dozens of problems with Love Wins. The theology is heterodox. The history is inaccurate. The impact on souls is devastating. And the use of Scripture is indefensible. Worst of all, Love Wins demeans the cross and misrepresents God’s character.”

Mark Galli (Christianity Today), Rob Bell’s Bridge Too Far: “If there is a criterion driving these distinctions, it seems to be based on what Bell thinks contemporary people can swallow. I couldn’t see any other criteria at play. Given the complete lack of quotes from any other writer or tradition, one is led to the unfortunate conclusion that what makes one extraordinary biblical claim a time-bound metaphor and another literal truth is that Bell says so.”

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Why does punishment in hell go on forever?

With Rob Bell’s recent questioning of the Christian doctrine of hell, Russell Moore suggests two reasons why hell is forever:

First, the revolt against God is more serious than we think it is. An insurrection against an infinitely worthy Creator is an infinitely heinous offense. We know something of this intuitively. This is why, in our human sentences of justice, we sentence a man to one punishment for threatening to kill his co-worker and another man to a much more severe punishment for threatening to kill the nation’s president.

Second, and more important, is the nature of the punishment itself. The sinner in hell does not become morally neutral upon his sentence to hell. We must not imagine the damned displaying gospel repentance and longing for the presence of Christ. They do indeed, as in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, seek for an escape from punishment, but they are not new creations. They do not in hell love the Lord their God with heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Read his whole post here.

HT: Stand to Reason

Eugene Peterson, Rob Bell, and Evangelicalism

John Mark Reynolds offers some wise words in response to remarks made by Eugene Peterson in defense of Rob Bell’s book.

Martin Bashir talks about his Rob Bell interview

If you’ve seen the video of Rob Bell’s appearance on MSNBC with Martin Bashir then this may be of interest to you. The conversation is between Bashir and Paul Edwards but this time it is Bashir who is on the receiving end of the questions. He offers his thoughts about the Bell interview and his own impression of Love Wins.

It’s a great insight into the research Bashir did for the interview, the importance of truth-seeking in journalism, and — perhaps most interestingly — Bashir’s own theological beliefs.

Here’s the link to the audio.

Love Actually

Doug Wilson:

“Rob Bell believes that hell is what we create when we reject God’s love. Amen. But I would want to add the absolutely critical proviso that this love of God (that is so rejected) must be defined as He defines it in the Bible, and not as we would wish it might be defined in our Big Rock Candy Mountain versions of Heaven. Read more

Rob Bell defends his book on MSNBC

Martin Bashir does a good job of asking the right questions and getting to the heart of the issue in the controversy about Bell’s new book Love Wins.

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The review that Bashir refers to is the excellent response written by Kevin DeYoung.

Reviewing Rob Bell

Even before its release, Rob Bell’s book Love Wins has been drawing controversy. In questioning many of the traditional Christian views of heaven, hell, and eternal punishment, the popular megachurch pastor seemed to be abandoning the doctrine of God’s judgment and advocating a brand of universalism.

Now that the book has been published, several reviews and responses have became available. Of these, Kevin DeYoung has perhaps written one of the most careful and comprehensive treatments of the book. He summarizes why the book is so dangerous:

“The theology is heterodox. The history is inaccurate. The impact on souls is devastating. And the use of Scripture is indefensible. Worst of all, Love Wins demeans the cross and misrepresents God’s character.”

You can read the whole review on his blog or download the 21 page pdf here.

DeYoung’s response is organized under seven headings:

  1. Not Your Grandmother’s Christianity
  2. Historical Problems
  3. Exegetical Problems
  4. Eschatological Problems
  5. Christological Problems
  6. Gospel Problems
  7. A Different God

Rob Bell is right when he says “what we believe about heaven and hell is incredibly important because it exposes what we believe about who God is, and what God is like” and that’s why we need to take these issues so seriously and understand how harmful Bell’s claims are to the gospel message.