The coming release of Rob Bell’s new book questioning the existence or make up of hell is sure to spark serious debate within the church. And it may surprise you to hear me say I think it is a good thing. Really, I’m glad Bell has decided to tackle this issue and write the book. Now before you start to think I’m buying what Bell is selling, please let me explain.
There can be little doubt that Christianity in America for the most part has become luke warm. Collectively, we seem to have forgotten our first love and allowed ourselves to be more consumed with what is going on in this world instead of committing ourselves to God’s Word and teachings. Too many of our churches have become more interested in becoming welcome places for non-believers rather than preaching the unadulterated Word and truth of God. And we as individuals within the church—are we passionate about sharing the salvation of Jesus Christ with our neighbors and friends? Or do we fear they will shun us and see us as weird?
Maybe—just maybe—Rob Bell’s book is what we need to wake ourselves out of a state of apathy we have succumbed to as the Body of Christ. Bell is asking questions that cut right to the core of our Christian faith—Will God really condemn people to eternal damnation? In my study of God’s Word, I believe He will. Jesus taught about hell and that He alone is the path to eternal life with God. But I am glad Bell is asking the question. If this is what it takes for us to wake up and realize how God’s Word and absolute truth are under attack, then so be it.
We can react as Christians in one of two ways—we can yell and scream and rant about how Bell is a heretic and a false teacher, dismissing the real influence he has on our youth and some of our youth leaders. Or we can look at this as a potential Romans 8:28 moment—where God works in all circumstances to be glorified and works for the good of those who love Him. If Bell is indeed a false teacher for what he will be professing, then let’s call it that way. But let’s not waste this opportunity to talk with our youth and compare what Bell teaches with the Word of God. The time is fast approaching when Jesus will separate His sheep from the goats. No matter what we think about Bell’s new book, let’s use this as a Romans 8:28 moment to talk with our youth about what God has to say about heaven and hell—and to point our youth to the only real authority on all things—The Word of God.