Former megachurch pastor Rob Bell created quite the firestorm when he published the bestseller Love Wins, which questioned whether a loving God would send people to eternal torment forever. He left his church in Michigan to explore opportunities in California. He is reportedly taping a pilot for Oprah Winfrey’s network (OWN). Correspondent Wrigley Peterborough transcribed this recent debate between Bell and a well known authority on Hell.
There Really Isn’t A Hell
By Rob Bell
Come on, man. No way would a loving God put anyone in Hell. It just ain’t right. Do you believe that He would put billions upon billions of people in Hell who never had a chance to make a decision for Christ? Really? Brother, we got bigger problems if that’s the way God works.
And is this any way to bring anyone into the Church? “Hey, gay guy, you’re going to hell! Join my church!” Not! I wouldn’t set foot in a church that preached stuff all the time about hell-fire and damnation, would you? Sorry man, I don’t mean to get so worked up. But this gets me seriously P-O’d. No wonder people think Christians are cruel or bigoted. All they seem to want to talk about is God’s wrath and eternal punishment, not His kindness and compassion. We can be gluttons for punishing others!
And do ya really think there’s a devil with pointy horns, soul patch, and pitchfork? Like Howie Mandel on Halloween night? Come on, gimme a break.
If there is a Hell, it is starvation in Africa, or the guilt that comes from a life of abuse, or all the psychological pain and anxiety that comes from worrying too much about the topic of Hell.
We just need to shut the hell up about Hell. Instead, let’s be merciful and profoundly empathetic, healing broken relationships, and feeding the poor… and really just being the best people we can be, which is how God would want it. Because God is love.
I tell you what, I’ll believe there are people in Hell…when it freezes over.
Hell Awaits Thee, Sinner!
By Dante Alighieri
Hell indeed is frozen over at its most extreme. Lucifer, the Father of Lies, is half entombed in a bed of ice while he gnaws bitterly and insatiably on the heads of history’s greatest malefactors, Brutus, Judas Iscariot, and Cassius for all eternity. O Sinner! Do not be deceived by the Father of Lies! I have beheld, with mine own eyes his dark kingdom, the abode of the damned, wherein dwell the sons of perdition. Halfway through life’s journey, I was shown the underworld by the Roman poet, Virgil. As he led me by the hand, I did look upon the torment of those consigned to the flames, an unnatural fire that produces heat but no light. The air was heavy with the foul odor of sulfur, burning flesh, and offal. And the din, the constant shrieking of the damned, their hopeless lamentations, their fruitless and unavailing sorrow echoing from Hell’s indifferent walls…it was deafening! Many and varied were the savage punishments being meted out. Schismatics were disemboweled and hacked into pieces by fallen angels, adulterous lovers were swallowed up by burning tempests. Every sin has its own evil remedy! It was a grim surprise to encounter in Hell men who in Florence I had known to be upright and decent; nay virtuous and charitable! Imagine my horror when I came upon the shade of Brunetto Latini, in the circle of Hell reserved for sodomites. Bitter tears I wept as I witnessed this old friend being lashed and driven forward by a band of demons. Barely did I recognize his scorched visage, disfigured as it was, which itself recited a tale of unspeakable woe.
On Hell’s entrance is etched the bleak adjuration: “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here!” Once the sentence is rendered by a just and wrathful Deity, there is no longer any possibility for deliverance. Before the hour of grace expires, and thy life is required of thee, repent sinner lest ye too are flung into the lake of everlasting fire!