Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hell Comes Under Fire

One of the most popular of younger evangelical preachers is questioning the reality of Hell:
Tour of Hell by James Anderson
A new book [Love Wins] by one of the country’s most influential evangelical pastors, challenging traditional Christian views of heaven, hell and eternal damnation, has created an uproar among evangelical leaders, with the most ancient of questions being argued in a biblical hailstorm of Twitter messages and blog posts.

In a book to be published this month, the pastor, Rob Bell, known for his provocative views and appeal among the young, describes as “misguided and toxic” the dogma 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.”

Such statements are hardly radical among more liberal theologians, who for centuries have wrestled with the seeming contradiction between an all-loving God and the consignment of the billions of non-Christians to eternal suffering. But to traditionalists they border on heresy, and they have come just at a time when conservative evangelicals fear that a younger generation is straying from unbendable biblical truths.

Mr. Bell, 40, whose Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., has 10,000 members, is a Christian celebrity and something of a hipster in the pulpit, with engaging videos that sell by the hundreds of thousands and appearances to rapt, youthful crowds in rock-music arenas
Ah yes, this was inevitable.  It happened 200 years ago, as the Calvinists of New England were shocked by the 'heretics' in their midst in the environs of Boston and that damnable and veritable fountain of heresy, Harvard Divinity School.  And that led to the rise of liberal Protestant theology, which has lately been in decline.

And now that the dam of evangelical orthodoxy has once again sprung a leak, more 'heresies' will flood forth on all kinds of theological topics. It's as natural as the coming of the rains of spring, and as lovely, in that it renews the fields and soil of Christianity.

More power to ya, Rev. Bell!

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