Apr 23, 2014 |
Inside Out 58: The Rob Bell Controversy
Have you been following the Rob Bell controversy? It very well could be the first big theological firestorm started, fueled, and fought on the Internet. Bell is the popular pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan. He’s got a new book coming out called “Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.”
Recently influential Christian blogger Justin Taylor posted a trailer clip for the book featuring Bell. Taylor also shared a blurb from the publisher describing the content of the book:
"In Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith-the afterlife-arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering. With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly optimistic-eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now. And ultimately, Love Wins."
Obviously concerned, Taylor posted some thoughts. Those thoughts led to a Twitter comment on the blog from Pastor John Piper: “Farewell, Rob Bell.”
Cue the perfect theological storm. 250,000 hits on Justin’s blog in the first couple of days alone.
Does Bell believe everyone will eventually be saved and hell will be empty (Universalism)? Or is this just a ploy to get people talking or sell some books? Are we jumping to conclusions before reading the book? Taylor shares many interesting observations on these questions in our conversation. But this is also part of the bigger conversation: the fight for the faith delivered to the saints. That’s our frame of reference.
I should mention that we’ve also requested an interview with Rob Bell through his publisher. We’ll keep you posted on that.
This isn’t a matter of splitting theological hairs. This issue strikes at the heart of the Gospel. Controversy for the sake of controversy is pointless and harmful. Controversy that sharpens our biblical convictions can help us know why we believe what we say we believe.
Speaking the truth in love still means speaking the truth. It’s the fine line we walk. Grace and truth. God help us all.
For further reading: Don’t Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day.