Book sparks debate on reality of hell

Throughout church history there have been everlasting questions about heaven, hell and the ultimate fate of humanity.

The recent release of Rob Bell’s book, “Love Wins,” has added to the discussion, as well as sparked a heated debate about whether or not people will be given a second chance to choose Christ after death — leaving many people to wonder: Is Rob Bell a universalist?

Bell is the 41-year-old pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church located in Grand Rapids, MI.

He is most well-known for his books “Velvet Elvis” and “Sex God,” as well as his production of a series of spiritual short films known as NOOMA.

Not one to shy away from controversy, Bell’s newest book has raised a number of questions about life after death, including “will only a few select people make it to heaven, and will billions and billions of people burn forever in hell?”

“The struggle with hell is a reality for every thinking person because we can understand and feel pain and know what that is,” Lew Weider, professor of contemporary issues, said.

“To think of an eternity separated from God as punishment is hard to understand though scripture makes it clear.”

In convocation Wednesday, April 6, Dr. Ed Hindson, dean of the Institute of Biblical Studies, spoke about this topic to Liberty University students.

“It’s not so much as important to be cool as it is to be correct,” Hindson said to the crowd. “… You either tell them the truth or water it down.”

Some people criticize Bell’s shift in theology and claim he is trying to make Christianity appealing to a broader crowd.

“If you trace (Bell’s) ministry, he started out with one goal — lead people to Christ,” first year graduate student Eli Overbey said. “But in order to achieve that goal, he sacrificed the gospel.”

Hindson said he doesn’t know the reasons behind Bell’s shift, but believes there is something important missing from his message.

“I don’t think Rob is simply trying to appeal to a broader crowd. I can’t, and shouldn’t, them unconditionally and pursues them relentlessly.”

As Hindson said, for the Christian community, the controversy is: Does his book really answer the questions people have about Christ?

University spokesperson Johnnie Moore said there are many places Christians can turn to for help in answering the numerous questions Bell’s book raises about life after death.

“We are fortunate to live in the ‘information age’ where the whole world is at our fingertips,” Moore said. “We should take advantage of this and read, study and learn for ourselves what we believe. Then we will be able to defend those beliefs and properly discern the difference between orthodoxy and heresy.”

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