You recently preached a sermon called “God wants to save Christians from hell.” I was discussing the message with a guy who after hearing this message was a bit disturbed and somehow came to the conclusion that you didn’t believe in a literal hell. Let me ask you, do you believe in a literal hell that is defined simply as eternal separation from God?Why would a Christian say there is a literal hell? Because the Bible says so.
Well, there are people now who are seriously separated from God. So I would assume that God will leave room for people to say “no I don’t want any part of this”. My question would be, does grace win or is the human heart stronger than God’s love or grace. Who wins, does darkness and sin and hardness of heart win or does God’s love and grace win?
I don’t know why as a Christian you would have to make such declarative statements. Like your friend, does he want there to be a literal hell? I am a bit skeptical of somebody who argues that passionately for a literal hell, why would you be on that side? Like if you are going to pick causes, if you’re literally going to say these are the lines in the sand, I’ve got to know that people are going to burn forever, this is one of the things that you drive your stake in the ground on. I don’t understand that.
Especially when so many fail to recognize the hell that many people are experiencing today and do little about it.
Yeah, I would think it would be your duty as a Christian to hope and long and pray for somehow everybody to be reconciled to God. If you are really serious about evangelism, as I’m sure you friend would claim, and you wanted to save people from hell, then wouldn’t your hope be that everybody reconciles with God? Why would you hope for anything else? It would be your duty to long for that. I would actually ask questions about his salvation.
Rob Bell, interview at theooze
Should I Christian hope that people come to Christ and be saved from hell? Sure.
Does that negate what the Bible says about hell? No.
And, as a final insult, Bell comes close to questioning the salvation of anyone who would say there is a hell (but what would that mean, anyway, if in his theology there is no hell then questioning their salvation becomes a moot point).
It's as if Bell is saying "Close your eyes and wish real hard, and the big bad hell will go away". That's not how reality and truth work. The Bible is unapologetic about hell, and leaves no question about the reality of eternal judgment. One doesn't make it go away by saying it's not nice.