Everybody probably knows that Rob Bell has a new book coming out. It will probably outsell all of his previous books (and probably sell better than it deserves), because it’s had the best marketing campaign imaginable—controversy. Bell put out a video trailer for the book in which he comments that he doesn’t believe Ghandhi will spend eternity in hell, suggesting that perhaps he’s a universalist (holding the belief that everyone will be saved, whether they are Christians or not).
Everybody seems to care a lot about what Mr. Bell thinks about hell. Justin Taylor (who??) does. (I’m wondering if Mr. Taylor would review my book…) John Piper apparently does. Many people who should know better have also labelled Bell a universalist—and none of them have read the book. (The only article I’ve read from someone who’s actually read the book says that he’s not a universalist.)
And, everyone and their cat has jumped into the fray with their own opinions of Mr. Bell’s beliefs, all without reading the book.
My opinion of Rob Bell’s theology
I don’t care.
Seriously—I don’t care. I read a blog post this morning that explained why we should care, and how “countless lives” are at stake (seriously?), and I still don’t care.
On a certain level, of course, I do care whether or not he’s a heretic, for the sake of those people in his church and the dozens of youth groups who watch his videos without any supplemental teaching by their own pastors. But, whether or not he believes non-Christians will spend eternity in hell is perhaps not as important as his view of grace, which, by the way, I know nothing about. I’ve never read his books or listened to his videos. By the way, throughout the history of the Church there have been—and still are—many views of hell, and so far the gates of hell haven’t prevailed against the church.
Rob Bell is a trend, and possibly a short-term trend, just like Brian McLaren (who’s probably a heretic) and the whole “emergent ” thing. Yes, it’s dead—though they may not know it yet. A few decades from now, I doubt many people will remember Bell or McLaren, but they’ll still read CS Lewis, and probably folks like NT Wright, JI Packer, and John Stott.
What does concern me
What does concern me are the people who jump to judgment about what people may or may not believe about things that don’t really change anything.
I do get concerned about people teaching other gospels, and I’ve always thought that hell was a terrible motivator for evangelism.
All I know
All I know about Rob Bell is that Bell rhymes with hell. And, that’s good enough for me.
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Who can tell
If Robert Bell
Whose view of hell
Will soon compel
His book to sell
Can gently quell
The Creed Cartel
Who would expel
The man pell-mell
A break his spell?
I wish him well.