I think that part of the problem that Bell and others have with hell is a lack of understanding of the seriousness of sin and God’s response to it. We may be finite, but we sin against the infinite. Bell claims that many people already think of God as angry at them. I suspect that in fact most don’t realize quite how angry he is. It is only when we understand that God hates sin that we can trully appreciate the wonder of our salvation.
One way we see how serious sin is, is when we look at how Jesus experienced hell on the cross. Certainly in his original video promoting the book Bell seemed to deny this traditional view of what happened on the cross, mocking the idea that Jesus somehow rescued us from God. This would seem to imply that he is rejecting any sense of God actively punishing our sin in Jesus on the cross. Though, of course the problem is worse than that, Jesus is also the one angry with us who will judge us. As explained in Psalm 2, the same Son who is the one we are to run to and seek refuge in, is also the one who is angry with us. God provides a way out from his own righteous wrath.
Without wanting to repeat my whole atonement series, I will just remind you of a few verses:
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us Gal 3:13
“Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief;1 when his soul makes2 an offering for guilt” Isaiah 53:10
“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,1 he condemned sin in the flesh” Romans 8:3
Did God crush him? Did he condemn him?
Do you believe with Acts 4 that the cross was what God’s hand and his plan had predestined to take place?
The horrors of the cross really are the horrors of hell. Jesus was crying out my God my God why have you forsaken me? Not a cry of doubt but the anguish of God turning his face away from him and pouring out ACTIVELY his wrath on him. Do you believe this?
Which DO YOU believe is the worse event: the sufferings of people in hell or the suffering of the infinitely valuable Son of God?