I have written about Bell’s dangerous theological leanings before (see the links here and here), but this new teaching takes him far outside orthodox Christianity. Jesus is the figure from the Bible who says the most about hell. He describes it as eternal (Mt. 25:41, 46; Mk. 9:43, 48) and as a place of torment (Mt. 25:30). To venture outside these teachings is to find oneself arrayed against the Lord of Glory Himself. (I recommend an audio presentation by R. C. Sproul on hell at this link.)
I do not relish the idea of anyone going to hell, and I find it encouraging that God does not either (Ezek. 33:11, Mt. 23:37-38). Yet God’s justice requires eternal punishment when it is affronted. Perfect righteousness requires perfect punishment to those that offend it. Perfect innocence requires infinite punishment when injured. Absolute authority demands overwhelming retribution when rebelled against.
Kevin DeYoung gives eight reasons why we need a doctrine of hell on his blog at this link. They are excerpted from his excellent book Why We Are Not Emergent.
The most compelling reason DeYoung gives is that “we need God’s wrath in order to understand what [God’s] mercy means.”
Divine mercy without divine wrath is meaningless. Only when we know that we were objects of wrath(Ep. 2:3), stood condemned already (John 3:18), and would have faced hell as God’s enemies were it not for undeserved mercy (Rom. 5:10), can we sing from the heart “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!”May we all throw ourselves on the mercy of God in order to escape the coming wrath.
May Rob Bell take the chance to repent.
[3/2/11: Please see more thoughts from Kevin DeYoung at this link.]
[3/9/11: Tim Challies reviews the entire book at this link. I have more questions than answers.]
[3/15: Follow this link for a parody of the Rob Bell video that makes a great point.]