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March 19th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

Rob Bell punches back against claims of heresy

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

New York (CNN) – For two weeks while controversy swirled around him, Pastor Rob Bell stayed silent. His critics said he was playing fast and loose with heaven and hell, salvation and damnation. The eternity of souls was on the line, they said.

All this was over Bell’s new book, “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.” Critics tore into it before the book even hit store shelves on Tuesday, some going so far as to label Bell a heretic. The controversy pushed the book into the third spot on Amazon’s sales ranking, virtually assuring the book a place on The New York Times Best Sellers list.

On Monday night, dressed in black and sporting his trademark black-rimmed glasses, Bell strolled quietly into the auditorium of the New York Ethical Culture Society. This was his chance to hit back.

“I never set out to be controversial,” Bell told CNN before the event. “I don’t think it’s a goal that God honors. I don’t think it’s a noble goal.

“What’s interesting to me is what’s true. And what’s interesting to me is what’s inspiring. And what’s interesting to me is where’s the life? Where’s the inspiration? That’s what I’m interested in. If that happens to stir things up, that was never my intent, but I’ll accept that.”

Bell said he was surprised by the controversy around his book. Critics said he was preaching universalism, a theology that suggests everyone goes to heaven and hell is empty.

“I’m not a universalist. So that’s just not true.” He reiterated that again in the event that evening where he expounded on that idea and said that he didn’t believe God reaches down and sweeps everyone to heaven.

'Good environment for dialogue'

After a budding career as a rock star was derailed by a freak illness, Bell set his sights on the seminary. Now, at 40, he has risen to become America’s hipster pastor and one of the most influential preachers in the country.

He is quick-witted, non-denominational, and he unabashedly loves Jesus. He preaches to 10,000 people at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Michigan, the church he founded. His first four books sold nearly a million copies combined, and his short film series, Nooma, has sold more than 2 million DVDs.

He will tell you he again and again he is a pastor, not a theologian or a biblical scholar.

But for a guy who dresses in black, Bell has made his mark examining the gray areas of Christianity. His questioning of traditional approaches without always giving answers has brought him fans and made his critics gnash their teeth.

“It’s very appealing because he brings lots of facts and lots of information into it and lots of historical context into whatever discussion he has,” said Kristi Berderon, a 25-year-old Bell fan who drove an hour from New Jersey for the event. “He leaves it open-ended. He lets you think and draw your own conclusions for yourself instead of spoon-feeding what he grew up hearing or what he was taught in seminary.”

She and her friend Tommy Hayes are a lot like the others in the crowd tonight: wearing skinny jeans and dark-rimmed glasses - and openly exploring their faith. Berderon’s parents are Southern Baptists; she was home schooled and raised in the church. Today she attends a non-denominational church and self-identifies as a “Christ follower” but bristles at being called a Christian.

Danielle Miller and Maryalice Spencer took a two-hour train ride from Walden, New York, to hear Bell speak. They walked 25 blocks and stood in line in the cold to get in. Miller uses Bell’s short films as a discussion starter in her church. “I think it’s always good to ask those hard questions, and I think that’s what he’s doing, and it creates a good environment for dialogue,” Miller said.

Bell was in New York City to sit down with Newsweek’s Lisa Miller for a conversation on stage and take questions from the 650 audience members and thousands more watching the event streaming live on the Web.

Bell and Miller on stage at the New York Ethical Culture Society auditorium.

Before the crowds arrived, a contemplative Bell settled into a pew to talk with CNN about the book and to answer his critics.

The book began, he said, five years ago. “As a pastor, you interact with so many people [that] some of the same questions keep coming up. And ultimately you keep bumping up against what people really think about God.”

In his church and around the country, he saw what he considered a misrepresentation of the Christian narrative in the Bible.

“At the heart of the Christian story is [the message that] God loves the world and sent his son Jesus to show the world this love. So that’s fundamentally first and foremost the story. God is love and God sent Jesus to show this love.

“In our culture Christians are known for a number of other things. … Rarely do you hear people say, ‘Oh yeah, those are the people who never stop talking about love. Oh a Christian church - that’s where you go if feel beaten down and kicked and someone has their boot on your neck. You go there because it’s a place of healing and a place of love.’

“I’m passionate about calling people back to [Christianity’s] roots,” Bell said.

'Theology of evacuation'

In his new book, Bell challenges the traditional notions of heaven and hell.

“For many people the fundamental story was one of escape - Jesus is how you get out of here. I think for many people in the modern world, the way they heard it was fundamentally, ‘This place is bad, and there is some other place, and Jesus - believe, accept, trust, confess, join, get baptized, whatever sort of language got put on it - Jesus is how you get to some other realm where things are good.’

“So essentially it’s a theology of evacuation. And my understanding is the Bible is first and foremost a story of restoration. It’s a story of renewal.”

“The fundamental story arc of the Bible,” he said “is God is passionate about rescuing this world, restoring it renewing it. So discussions about heaven and hell … for many people are irrelevant and esoteric. … But what happens is, what you believe about heaven and hell deeply shapes how you engage this world now.”

Bell said if a believer has their eyes on heaven, they can miss the opportunities to bring people a taste of heaven here on Earth - and they can miss seeing the hell around them.

“Greed, injustice, the sex trade in Far East Asia, we see hell all around us, whenever people reject what is good and human and right and peaceful and all that,” he said.

“I begin with this world right now and the observation that we are free to choose. It’s the nature of love. So then when you die, I would assume [given] the nature of love you can continue to make these types of choices.”

For Bell the here and now is just as important as any possible life to come. “I think it’s very very important to point out … [that] we are speculating about after you die,” he said.

“In the Jewish context in which [Jesus] lived and moved, you didn’t have that articulated belief system about when you die. It was very rooted in this life - dirt and wine and banquets, family and fishing. [In] his stories, it’s all a very visceral – this world is our home, this world that God loves, that God is redeeming - so that’s the starting point.

“I think for many people they were taught you’re either in or out. But Jesus invites us to a journey that’s a fundamentally different way to think about it, and that frees you up from a lot of things that I think haunt people, bind them up and make them miserable. Then it creates all sorts of space for wonder and awe and mystery and the unexpected,” Bell said.

His perspective does not line up with many of the traditional views about heaven and hell, of separate spaces and places with streets of gold or lakes of fire.

For Christians who see salvation and heaven as crucial elements to their faith, Bell’s message can be abrasive - which in part led to so many people pouncing on his book before it was released.

What stirred many critics was a promotional video in which Bell asks whether Mohandas Gandhi, India’s non-violent leader, was in heaven. Bell’s answer offers a good insight into his view of salvation.

Bell would not be surprised if he saw Gandhi in heaven. “Jesus was very clear. Heaven is full of surprises. That’s central to Jesus teaching.”

Bell insists there is room for mystery in salvation and that Christianity is open to discussion.

“The historical orthodox Christian faith is extremely wide and diverse,” Bell said. “No one has the last word other than God. I am taking part in a discussion that’s been going on for thousands of years. Everyone can play a part in that discussion.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Devil

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    ARE NOT DEMOCRATIC STATE – WHY, JUST FOR BUSINESS – PUSHING THE VENEZUELAN irradiating DEMENTIA A WHILE

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    I believe this website contains some genuine great info for everyone. "A man's dreams are an index to his greatness." by Zadok Rabinwitz. iphone行動電源 http://www.powerbankhq.com

    June 21, 2013 at 5:33 am |
  3. Robert

    This guy is a living freak show when it comes to his theology! Wow! God's Word is so clear on HOW to get into HIS heaven
    – All have sinned: Rom 3:23
    – If we deliberately keep sinning we're doomed: Heb 10:26
    – God is love: 1 John 4:8
    – God is just: 2 Thess 1:6-9
    – God's record is the determining factor: Rev 21:27
    – Jesus is the ONLY means: John 14:6

    Either the Bible is right and ONLY through Jesus can salvation be found or the Bible is wrong and it really doesn't matter.

    March 19, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
  4. Matt

    Another good lovey, good feelings, ear tickler like Joel Olsteen.

    June 2, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  5. Donny

    Osama Now in Heaven..."Love Wins". http://youtu.be/pks7DZxBRq0

    May 19, 2011 at 3:15 am |
  6. Brent

    I will keep this man, his followers, and all of you in my prayers. God bless you.

    May 16, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  7. Randall12

    Love wins controversial? You've gotta be kidding me! Try reading Perceptional Threshold by Casper Parks. Parks' book has a few grammatical errors here and there, still overall he blows the doors off Bell's moderate book with something that is truly entertaining and controversial...

    May 15, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  8. Scott

    Anger and desire of vengeance conjured hell from our imaginations. A place to punish bad people, a place of pain, torture. I do not believe in hell. Jesus asks us to love our enemies, and Jesus showed us through his crucifixion that it is wrong to treat your brothers and sisters in such a way. Jesus is not a hypocrite, were just too angry and vengeful to embrace our enemies.

    April 26, 2011 at 7:58 am |
  9. Frank S

    So while hell is taught in the New Testament by both our Lord and the apostles, later by the church fathers and pretty much all serious Christian thinkers for 2000 years, some kid in Grand Rapids comes out and says, "No, they've got it all wrong" and is surprised by the controversy. Heresy is a major departure from accepted teaching and that is what this gentleman is doing. Why so many so called Christian leaders are defending his position is what surprises me.

    April 24, 2011 at 8:43 am |
    • max

      how dare he interpret a book in a manner that doesnt follow established church dogma!

      i think hes a tool of satan....

      April 24, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
  10. Esther

    I nearly cried upon reading about this book in Time mag. I was brought up by fundamental Christian parents, with a father who died fearing he might go to hell anyway, even though he did everything he thought possible to "be saved," and this very afternoon, before I came across this article, I watched my aging mother trying to nap watching some tv evangelist furiously proclaim the fierce torments awaiting "most " people, a mother who is so haunted by dying she is spending her last years of life on tranquilizers. I am 51 now, and for about the last 15 years have come to the quite peaceful conclusion that the fundamental churches' teaching on hell is downright demonic itself. I have no idea how God will judge us, and I do believe there are some consequences, both for good and bad, in an eternity we can only think we know anything about, but the idea that an all-powerful, God who IS LOVE, could come up with no better plan than to torture most of his creation forever and ever...that would be a criminally insane God, and while there is undoubtedly a problem of evil God has to resolve, I am sure, from my own personal experience of His(and Her, God is really Spirit, not male or female) goodness that He/She/Spirit has a better plan. I grieve so for the twisted perverted message the "church" has been conned into teaching, and blame it for the fact that so little of Christ's teachings have ever been put into practice. People who worship the kind of God fundamental religious people do, (not just fundamental Christians) are not people free to love and be loved, to heal and to be healed, to live, indeed, in the Kingdom of Heaven; theirs is a gospel of the Kingdom of Hell, and it shows in the ugliness that religious people are associated with. I beg this pastor not to back down, and for others to join him. The true church is not one worrying about escaping hell-fire and believing 98% of the people he or she moves through life with is going to be damned by this "God of love" to eternal torture...the subconscious result is why religious people are essentially cold and hard at heart to people who do not share their viewpoints...If a "God of love" is going to hurt most of his creation it follows that followers of such a "God" can be capable of great harm in "his name." I say yea and amen to anyone who can believe in a resurrected Yeshua and a Holy Spirit of a God who IS LOVE having an eternity that is one of love and peace for all of His/Her/Spirit creation...the eternity envisioned by the Hell believers is one ruled by a madman torturing people for their sins, where have I seen that? Oh, yeah, the movie Seven, Anthony Hopkins. There's your hell, take it and quit attaching it to the wonderful true Messiah, God and Spirit.

    April 20, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • Joy

      Esther,

      What you do not seem to realize is that God NEVER created hell for the people of this earth. Hell was created for Satan and his angels as a place where there would be total separation from God. What people seem to forget though, is that by rejecting Christ, they are saying that they want nothing to do with God. They are saying they would rather do their own thing and be separated from the True Light and from the love of God. If you think about it, God is being gracious. All of someone's life, they have shaken their fist in God's face, yelled at Him, and screamed that they want nothing to do with Him by running in the complete opposite direction. How unloving would it be for God to force someone to spend eternity with Him? Hell is a place of full separation from God. When someone chooses to walk away from God, they are choosing an eternity in hell by saying they want nothing to do with God. God did not create it for the intent of people going to hell, but people still have a choice because God will not force His love on anyone who does not want to willingly accept it.

      November 28, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • Alex

      What's with the 'His/her/Spirit' conundrum? What does the Bible refer to Him as exactly?

      April 10, 2013 at 6:04 am |
  11. PRISM 1234

    It's amazing how people make up God to be what THEY WANT Him to be!

    It looks that we're seeing another "love" cult in making....

    Has anyone read the epistles of Jude and 2Peter lately?.....and Book of Revelation? How does God deal with the proud, rebellious and evil doers?
    Do you people think that God's kingdom is like our flawed democracy, where majority votes rule, regardless if good and just, or evil and unjust?

    Do you think that He asks us what we want the truth to be, and then He does according to our wishes?

    Foolish people! ! !

    They flock to hear what they want to hear!

    Yep, giving them love WITHOUT TRUTH will take them straight to the portals of Hell itself....

    April 19, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  12. paul corey

    The laws of hell are chains of bondage. Only the freedom of knowing that were free of those laws, can we be free to enter the true love of Christ, and only if were free of sin will we be allowed back to the tree of life thats inside all of us.Remember, The meaning of Cheribum in the hebrew is imaginary figures. These imaginary figures are protecting the tree of life and no sin, no, not one fragment shall enter. Nothing but love in its purist form can enter. Remember, every sin creates another cheribum that guards the tree of life, preventing us from entering. Love you Rob !

    April 18, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
  13. Matthew Ferszt

    To the editor:

    The Bible doesn't say which verses should be taken literally and which
    should be "interpreted". In fact, when we start constructing methods of interpretation, aren't we relying on our own way of thinking. But more importantly, If we take verses about hell literally, we should
    also take the ones that say a woman should be in complete submission to her
    husband and not be allowed to teach in school literally. On that basis, any
    church that has a woman Pastor or Sunday School teacher is practicing
    heresy.

    April 17, 2011 at 8:01 am |
  14. avsecbostjan

    WHAT DO EUROPE, USA, CANADA, AUSTRALIA ETC. HAVE COMMON WITH LIBYA !!? DICTATORS vs DIC TRAITORS !!! What is worse !!!? LEARN TRUTH ABOUT LIBYA AND ARAB WORLD CIVIL RIOTS WHICH NEWS/MEDIA DOESN'T WANT YOU KNOW ABOUT OR SEE AND THEREFORE LIE JUST AS ORDERED BY USA FOREIGN DPT. OF AFFAIRS http://dictatorsvsdictraitors.wordpress.com/ – http://dictraitorsvsdictators.blogspot.com/ OR CONTINUE FOR FULL VERSION OF "DICTATOR OBAMA = STALIN = BUSH – USA = SOVIET UNION"..TO LEARN WHO, HOW, AND WHY RUINED YOU…FROM 911 TO WHITE AMERICAN REFUGEES IN EXILE SEEKING ASYLUM RIGHT NOW – WHO/WHY//HOW CREATED SCHOOL SHOOTINGS(Arizona incl.) – AUSTRALIAN FLOODS – BREAST FEEDING INSANITY PROTESTS – WIKILEAKS is CIA – HUMAN FLASH EATING MACHINE – TRUTH BEHIND COLD WAR CURTAIN – MULTICULTURALISM AND SWINE/PIG FLUE SYNDROME BROTHERHOOD – TRUTH ABOUT FACEBOOK(Facebooth) – EUROPEAN NATIONALIST PARTIES OR HEAVILY LOADED WITH LIES SINKING WRECKS – ESKIMO SARAH PALIN'S "BRIDGE TO NOWHERE" – NEWS/MEDIA OR SIMPLY BIG FAT VACUUM WORLD OF LIES/DEMENTIA !!? – THE REAL DON'T ASK DON'T TELL, BUT DIE !!! NWO POLITICAL PARTIES <- not there for you, but to seal your faith for their parliament pay$$ scale !!! http://avsecbostjan.wordpress.com/

    April 16, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • hope

      I cant make heads or tails out of this rant.Are you sure you are on the correct blog?

      April 17, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  15. Steven

    Living in Heaven is to live with God, serve God, and bow the knee to God. Why would someone, who consciously and deliberately chooses to NOT live for God in this life want to be re-united with Him in the afterlife? God would not do that to someone. If they choose to live apart from Him in this life, they will stay that way in eternity.

    Someone once wisely said that "Everyone wants to go to Heaven. The devil wants to go back to Heaven. The only question is, do they want to bow the knee to God once they get there?"

    April 14, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • max

      i think you just have to go with the odds...

      always have been partial to women of questionable morals and the odds of finding one are better in hell.

      April 24, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  16. Leah LaRue

    I'm thoroughly enjoying reading this discussion. We could all stand to remember, however, that no matter how smart we are, no matter how much revelation or insight we may have, and no matter how deeply we have studied the Bible, God's ways aren't our ways, nor are His thoughts our thoughts. We simply cannot know the mind of God, nor can we ever determine how or for whom hell is designed. All we can do is read and study the Bible with our limited logic and reasoning, and assume that what we understand in our tiny brain capacity is right. That's a pretty big risk. Let's leave the big stuff up to God and just strive to live a life that's pleasing to Him according to what we know. One way you're sure to please Him is to live like Christ.

    April 12, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Leah,
      I do not want to say this to start another deb'ate or to co'ntra'di'ct in wrong att'itude what you said, but I happen to be co'nvinced that we can know God's thoughts and His ways, as He specifically points this out in many places of the Gospels and epistles of the Bible.
      He gives to His own His Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Truth, and He reveals Himself to His people, giving them co'unsel and wisdom which only comes from God.
      As for the the Hell, for whom is designed... It was never designed for human souls. But those who reject God, and who on their own go to establish their own righteousness, disregarding the Word of God, Hell will be their destination. I would kindly suggest, please read the Holy Scriptures, starting with the Gospel of John, and the epistles... You will find that what I spoke to you here is true, and that it is written in the Scriptures that we who know Him DO have the mind of Christ.

      April 13, 2011 at 12:04 am |
    • John Platanitis

      If we cannot know God's mind, because "His thoughts and ways are not our thoughts and ways", then how can we in fact, ever know Him at all? If His WORD is not an expression of His mind, or if He can in His mind, mean something entirely different than what He says in His word, just because He is "different" than we are, then how are we to possibly know and relate to and with Him? Since His word IS an expression of His mind, we can know what He has revealed therein. And therein, in His word, He plainly tells us who hell was intended for. Jesus said it was "created FOR the devil and his angels". He also told us, "He that believes on the Son, has everlasting life. He that does not believe on the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him".

      April 18, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • John Platanitis

      Leah, if the "one way we're sure to please God" is to "try and live like Christ", then how are we to know HOW Christ lived? If your answer is, 'By the scriptures", then since Jesus said, "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father", claiming "The Father who lives in Me does the works (that I do)", then obviously God's mind CAN be known and understood by us. His word reveals Him and His mind and thoughts and Jesus revealed Him perfectly. By the assistance of the Holy Spirit, we can know what is revealed about God in His word...pls do not take the quote "my ways are not your ways, nor are my thoughts your thoughts", out of its context in Isaiah. Which clearly seems to be referencing how unlike we are, God is "full of mercy and abounding in pardon", and how so unlike we, His word will always accomplish His purpose and never return to Him void. If we claim that as a universal or categorical rule, God's thoughts and ways cannot be known by us, then we by that statement destroy any and all human ability to relate to Him or know Him at all. How could anyone possibly know what His will was? Or what He's like, if in fact, we cannot know His ways or thoughts?

      April 18, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Kristine Langridge

      Beautifully said Leah. I am in agreement.

      April 18, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • David

      All scripture is inspired by God and is the word of God. The Word became Flesh in Christ and we can follow His example, read His preaching and follow The Way. We cannot begin to comprehend His thoughts or desires though. Leah I agree with you, and I love Rob for starting and stirring the debate. I have always argued with my veru Godly father that I hope that Gandhi is in heaven, cause he is the kind of man Jesus wants us to be. Gandhi himself, according to rumor, rejected Christianity because of Christians not Christ. I call myself a Jesus follower now adays not a Christian, I don't want to be affiliated with most Christians, but I do want to be like Christ. Leah I love your entry, bravo!!

      February 10, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  17. Joe Redbear

    This is just my opinion...and if it offends anyone? Forgive me. But all this makes no sense what so ever. For a person...or church to go around make all this stuff up, telling people that this is the lords word...or Jesus christ is all this and that...put you faith in the lord? Come on...wake up. To go around and make all thease claims? Aint buying it. The creator in my opinion...can speak to everyone. Just have to be of open mind and heart...Listing. My ansistors died for my people...so that we may live....not this Jesus person. Im sure he was a good man..and a holyman at that. But thats all. He may had some special gifts...but they did not belong to him...they came from the creator. Be like me doing a raindance...i didnt make it happen...the creator did. You follow? I dont need someone to tell em how to live...how to act... It's a personal choice to be good or bad...i choose to be good...treat others in a good way...live in a good way. No church is going to tell me otherwise. Be good too all living things...respect each other and our earth mother. In return...they will be kind to you.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:39 am |
    • Mike

      :1 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, [1] my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

      6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

      14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, [2] but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

      19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,

      “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
      and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”

      April 15, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  18. Joseph

    Like Bell, I have also struggled with the idea that a nomad in the middle of the Sahara desert 1,500 years ago – someone who never heard the gospel would automatically be shot off to an eternity (of torture) in hell. But while reading I Peter 3:18 through to 4:6 – I couldn’t help but acknowledge that there is much more this topic than what I've heard traditionally! For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead (from the flood), that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does” . . . . verse 6.

    Personally I'm convinced that no human would to submit their will to their creator (God) throughout eternity unless they sought God’s grace to depend on Jesus’ incredible sacrifice to redeem them, along with all willing humans past, present and future -from this “rebel planet.” But who am I to say that God would not provide such an opportunity for such a nomad 1,500 years ago – or to a Ghandi after they die – since it is clear that Jesus proclaimed the gospel to those who died during the flood – after they died (see versus mentioned previously)?

    I think our little minds are far too prideful – thinking we have everything figured out – falling prey to putting God in a little box. God will never be fooled by someone’s heart. It’s just my perspective through a lousy piece of glass – but I think when someone dies and they’re standing before an angel or Jesus himself, the truth of where their heart is will lay bare before all to see – much like the thrust of CS Lewis’ book, The Great Divorce: There are two kinds of people on earth: One who is saying in some way or another with their life and heart – I want to live forever with my creator and I want to do his will – and the other kind of person to whom God must one day say: “Your will be done – to the second death.”

    April 11, 2011 at 12:51 am |
    • Joseph

      Joseph- people do not go to eternal damnation because they don't trust in Jesus Christ, they go to Hell becuase they've broken God's law!

      April 11, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • David

      scary thought Joseph, we all have broken God's law!! so I guess we all go to Hell according to you? OUCH!!

      February 10, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  19. PRISM 1234

    Come on, Bob! ...... Are you a grown man who can read, think and reason on your own?! Or does the long robed friar with a cane in his hand and cap on his head have to tell you what it means what you're reading? I do know history, but I won't go there right now! The Roman church has HIJACKED the Scriptures, not gave them to the world.

    ....Oh, how the "Mother church" beguiles her children! ...

    But here is something for you to think about and sincerely ask yourself the questions ..... If "Mother church" is so right, and if her authority comes from Jesus Christ Himself, then....

    *How come it is going astray in so many points from His Word?

    *How come it is allowing idolatress of bowing down to statues to flourish in the midst of it?

    *How come it has hidden from the people the true 10th Commandments, doing away with the 2nd one, and to make up for it, it has split up the last one into two to make up for the one they have hidden?

    * How come they made up the position of blessed mother of Jesus to something which the Scriptures only attribute to God? They have actually replaced "her" with the role of the Holy Spirit of God. He is the ONLY One who leads people to Christ!

    *How come they proclaim that SHE IS th immaculate conception? ONLY Christ Jesus, God"s only begotten Son IS THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION? Do you realise that proclaiming her to be "immaculate conception" they make her to be DIVINE? God's Word NEVER says that she was divine! She was a pure, humble servant of God , and she never said all generation shall ":worship me, bow down to me, exalt me".... She said "all generations shall call me blessed". And that's she was, blessed virgin, mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, no more, no less!

    You look at all those questions, and then decide, if this is the "Mother church " you ought to trust and blindly follow, or is it the heretic church that has strayed from the Word of God and His Spirit of truth.
    I have much more I could tell you, but I think if this won't shime a spot light and disturb your spirit, causing you to examine what you believe, then it's no point of telling you anything else.

    And lastly, I am not guessing all those things I'm saying to you. I know very well what I'm
    talking about as one who was an insider for long time, whose eyes the Lord by His mercy has opened and took me out of that heretic apostate church!

    How come it has kept the priesthood a vocation set apart, as it was in the days of th Old Testament. Yet, the New testament specificaly declares that wed, the believers, each of us who are born of God f ar priests to God, with Jesus Chriist alone being ouir High Priest.
    Why

    April 8, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      P.S.

      This last part of the post ended up on the end by mistake. It is suposed to be one of the "How come's"

      *How come it has kept the priesthood a vocation set apart, as it was in the days of the Old Testament. Yet, the New Testament specifically declares that we, the believers, each of us who are born of God are priests to God, with Jesus Christ alone being our High Priest. And there is no one on earth that is a mediator between God and man, but Jesus Christ Himself...HOW COME?

      April 8, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  20. Bob

    Chrst only started one Church, the Catholic Church, Prism. I know where the Catholic Church gets its authority to interpret scripture correctly, where do you get your authority? Do you understand and know the history of how the bible was put together? apparently not.

    April 8, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Mike

      Where in the Bible is it written that Jesus started a "catholic church". Its not there. The first church was started by Peter and the Catholics started a church with a dead Peter as their first Pope.......The first churches were started after the resurrection of Jesus, and many of them by Paul who was a "Christian" and a former Jew.

      To the girl who said "bristles at being called a Christian", you need to read the bible. Your either a Christian or something else!!!! Stop being afraid to love Jesus, the Son of Man.

      April 15, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • hope

      Bob,

      John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that WHOSOEVER believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."

      I hear you saying:

      John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that WHOSOEVER believes in what the Catholic Religious heirarchy says shall not perish, but have everlasting life."

      So which is it? Is it how Jesus said it, or is it how you said it? Why does the Catholic Church think that no one outside of her will be saved? Is this what is taught in the bible? Tell me, where in the bible does it teach that you can sell forgiveness, like the Catholic Church did, which caused the protestant reformation? Thank God for Martin Luther.

      I pray that you stop drinking the cool aid of "religion" and drink deep of the river of life. It tastes a whole lot better!

      April 17, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • jeebs

      Bob,

      The religion of your statement is showing!

      Do you honestly think that Jesus taught us to worship his mother in the way that catholics do? I don't think so. Do you honestly think that Jesus taught us that worshipping his father should look just like Rome decided it should look? How about you stop and make a comparison of how the "traditions of man" guided the pharisees in how they worshipped in Jesus day, and how they guide the Catholic Church in thier worship today. Your going to see alot of similarities. I'm thinking that Jesus said the Pharisees and thier ilk were "whitewashed tombs", pretty on the outside and dead on the inside, following only the letter of the law.

      Dont get me wrong, I know many Catholic people and think that many of them try to follow Jesus with all of thier hearts. I wonder, though, what is Jesus really looking for? Is he looking for someone that seeks to know him personally, more and more every day, or is he wanting someone that can blindly follow a large set of rules.

      I have heard statements like this by persons that follow the Catholic faith before. I have also heard them say that the Catholic church is infallable, that her word and judgements are always correct. Do you really think that these statements can really be true, in light of the current situation that the Catholic church finds herself in? Where in the Bible are we told that birth control is a sin, for example? Are we not given free will by the creator God to choose whatever we will? How can the Pope tell me that I cannot use birth control when the God that created me said that I could choose for myself?

      These statements and questions are not meant to be an attack on you at all, only an attempt to peel the scales off of your eyes so that you can see more clearly. There is more to "the church" than just what the Catholic religion offers. Please read John 16:13 about the Spirit of Truth. The Spirit of Truth (Holy Spirit) was given to lead us into truth, and to testify of what is true. The Holy Spirit was given to all men, not just the priests, or apostles if you will, but to all men. This is exacly why there was a split away from the Catholic Church, because people could see that what was going on was wrong.

      When Jesus left this world, he made a simple statement. It was "all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, GO, and make disciples of all men" The "Therefore" part of that statement is saying "I'm giving you a delegated authority to go out into the world and change it." This is the same authority that he gave to the disciples as well as the 72 that he sent out.

      This is where Prism1234 gets the authority.

      April 17, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Dan

      All those guys died 2000 years ago.

      April 19, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • jsaiditfirst

      At the time of Jesus death, when Tiberius Ceasar ruled Rome, and Pontius Pilate was Governer of Cannan, there was Herod who ruled Judea and his consorts, the jewish chief priest and their consorts, the scribes and pharisees whom together, shared a common interest for power, position and riches.
      In contrast to all the riled authority that Jesus was cast against, he was the humblest and yet most authoritive man on earth. He was not born in a palace but, a manger where animals rest. And his birth was announced by angels who sang, not to kings and nobels but simple sheperds in the field attending to their flocks. The historical record shows that he never possessed a home and we know this from his own mouth "Foxes have dens and birds of heaven have roosts, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay down his head.” (Luke 9:57, 58)
      Throughout his ministry Jesus genuinly displayed his fathers deep qualities of love, kindness and humility as he preached to the crushed and brokenhearted masses who were yearning for relief not just from their own physical condition, but relief from the burden that was placed on them by the very religious leaders whose charge it was, to provide spiritual food for their soul. It was Jesus manifest ability to read hearts that exposed these supposed "men of faith" for what they really were “offspring of vipers” because of their wickedness and the deadly spiritual harm they could inflict upon unsuspecting persons.—Mt 12:34; 23:33. The corrolation here being their obvious association with the "original serpent, the one called satan and devil WHO IS misleading the entire inhabited earth"
      And while the pratice of what makes a person an "offspring of vipers" continued beyond the time of the last apostles, it was the fall of Jerusalem by Rome in 70 CE that paid back these priests what they deserved. But the story of course doesn't end there. Christianity, however contaminated by false doctrines, flourished on into the period of Emperor Constatine who in 325 CE, convened the counsel of Nicea and in a self serving move which appeased all the parties, convinced biship leaders and pagan worshipers to join in a common goal of uniting the masses. In the centuries that lay ahead, the church embraced the false worships which included first the duality of God and Jesus, then the trinity, as well christmas, (christ and the sun god for the masses) holloween (all hollows eve, worship of those who were destroyed in the flood) and easter (worship of the god of fertility) and the pagan celebrations go on and on.
      The church (all churches) continue their course of pursueing power, position and riches. They continue to assimilate false beliefs as church teaching simply because it appeases the masses. (unhappy members fall away) and they continue venerating not just the dead, but also the living (ringo star) and now they present the blood vial of a man who was as far from holy as one can be.
      The church wants the people, and is aptly leading them on that path, to worshiping a dead mans blood only after years of having worshiped the man himself. Idol worship is clearly detestable to God as it so often states in his own word, the bible. And yet the people seem desperate for something phisycal to cling to. Case in point is a piece of wood the Tibetans believe is part of the ark of the flood. The object of course is incorporated into their worship. "The shroud of turin" is still yet another fine example of idol worship. Although it has been scientifically dated to have nothing with Jesus era, it is not only worshiped by the masses, but interned by the church as being holy!

      What was Jesus teaching us when he said “No one can slave for two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other. YOU cannot slave for God and for Riches"-Matthew 6:24. Obviousely his meaning was that we cannot praise two persons, (or one person and one object) Devotion to God requires throwing out all other images, period. This includes statues, emblems, crosses, flags, even worship towards another thats only in our mind easily becomes a desire of the flesh.

      Hebrews 11:1 reminds us that God cannot be found in the physical things around us: "Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld".

      April 28, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • David

      Have you read Acts, no mention of the Catholic Church in there...the Church is the people who follow in The Way, not those who follow the Pope, all props to the Catholic Church for its great works, but the idea that it is the only true church is stupid!!!

      February 10, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.