I am coming to the dance late, but it appears the party is not yet over. So late may not be too late. What party? Well, the “Hell-acious” party that has been going on in the blogosphere.
Apparently the debate was kicked off by Rob Bell and his new book titled: Love Wins. Apparently the video promoting the book leans a little too close to affirming Universalism. Having watched it, I can see why there is some concern.
There is little I will add to this discussion, other than to affirm that the Bible is clear about Hell being an actual place. Any notions that the reality of Hell somehow diminishes Grace or is a stain on God’s character are just uninformed and/or thoughtless. More than that, such theories are not rooted in Scripture. Thus we can assume they originate from the pit of… well, you know…
Some notables responding to Bell were:
John Piper & Josh Harris on Twitter:
- Universalism and the Reality of Eternal Punishment (w/ Sinclair Ferguson)
- How Do God’s Love & Wrath Relate? (w/ Don Carson)
- Rob Bell: Universalist?
Tim Keller also republished a post titled The Importance of Hell
- Hell is Important Because Jesus taught on it more than all other Biblical authors put together.
- Hell is Important because it shows how infinitely dependent we are on God for everything.
- Hell is Important because it unveils the seriousness and danger living life for yourself.
- The Doctrine of Hell is Important because it is the only way to know how much Jesus loved us and how much he did for us.
John Armstrong chimed in on the debate, and suggested that some of the responses were just knee jerk reactions. Armstrong advocates waiting for the book to come out before developing any conclusions about Rob Bell. Caution and charity is almost always good counsel.
But, while this discussion is still in vogue, I thought I would direct those interested to a few other resources. In particular 9 Marks Sept-Oct ’10 e-Journal was devoted to it. Click: Remembering the Awful Reality. Two articles from that edition I find worth consideration are summarized below:
How Does Hell Glorify God? by James Hamilton.
- Hell shows that God keeps his word.
- Hell shows God’s infinite worth.
- Hell demonstrates God’s power to subdue all who rebel against him.
- Hell shows how unspeakably merciful God is to those who trust him.
- Hell upholds the reality of love by visiting justice against those who reject God, who is love.
- Hell vindicates all who suffered to hear or proclaim the truth of God’s Word.
- Hell shows the enormity of what Jesus accomplished when he died to save all who would trust him from the what they (we) deserved. If there were no hell, there would be no need for the Cross.
Why is Hell Integral to the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert
- Hell shows us how heinous our sin really is.
- Hell shows us how unimpeachably just God really is.
- Hell shows us how horrific the cross really was, and how great God’s grace really is.
- Hell focuses our minds on the task of proclaiming the gospel.
One final word. This is not a one sided discussion. Many are picking up where Bell left off – or where they think he left off. Wherever Bell will come out on this issue, some folks are running with their own half-baked theories… they are running fast like bats out of… well you know.