Jesus tells us himself that there IS a hell, that it is a ” place of torment” (Luke 16:28) “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48) . Sounds like as Grudem puts it “eternal conscious punishment” to me!
That’s what Jesus says about hell, but Rob redefines it when he says (sorry that I do not have page numbers for some of these quotes, because I read it on the Kindle, if anyone wants to send me an email with page numbers for some of them that would be great).
• “Hell is our refusal to trust God’s retelling of our story.”
• “So the next time someone asks you if you believe in an actual hell, you can always say, “Yes, I do believe that my garbage goes somewhere”
• “God gives us what we want, and if that’s hell, we can have it.”
• “The chasm is the rich man’s heart!”
• “For many in the modern world, the idea of hell is a holdover from primitive, mythic religion that uses fear and punishment to control people for all sorts of devious reasons. And so the logical conclusion is that we’ve evolved beyond all of that outdated belief,”
• “He’s alive in death, but in profound torment, because he’s living with the realities of not properly dying the kind of death that actually leads a person into the only kind of life that’s worth living.”
• Hell is “a word that refers to the big, wide, terrible evil that comes from the secrets hidden deep without our hearts all the way to the massive, society-wide collapse and chaos that comes when we fail to live in God’s world God’s way” (p. 95).
• We should be “concerned with the hells on earth right now”
• “…it’s important that we don’t take Jesus’s very real and prescient warnings about judgment then out of context, making them about someday, somewhere else. That wasn’t what he was talking about.” To which I say, SAYS WHO!?
Jesus doesn’t say any of that, Rob Bell says that. Rob Bell never defines hell the same way Jesus does!
As far as I see it Rob does affirm a belief in hell, but only after carefully changing the meaning of the word! It appears clear to me that he denies hell in any classical sense of the word.
And what makes it worse is that as Keller says he is very condescending and mocking towards those who think differently to him. There are millions who agree with the traditional view of hell and he dismisses us. So for example:
“A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better. It’s been clearly communicated to many that this belief is a central truth of the Christian faith and to reject it is, in essence, to reject Jesus. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’s message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.”
But as Sproul once said: “You are required to believe, to preach, and to teach what the Bible says is true, not what you want the Bible to say is true.”
Paul also says in 1 Timothy 6:3–4, “If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing.”
It seems to me that Rob Bell is not teaching in agreement with the clear understanding of the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are warned in James that we who teach will be judged more severely than the rest. Jesus himself said that he will say to some preachers , ‘I never knew you; depart from me’ (Matt. 7:23)? I genuinely hope and pray that neither Rob nor I will hear those devastating words.
So in conclusion, there will be heaven and there will be a hell because the Bible says so. The Christian message is not just do this and avoid hell, but respond to the love of a God who is accepting you but loves you too much to leave you as you are, but will change you but you don’t get to change him.