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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

soundoff (1,308 Responses)
  1. Teddy

    Another Bozo false teacher who is in it for the money! God is many things to many people. God sifts the heart therefore even those of past who never knew Jesus will know him regardless. God's people are those that work silently and faithfully from neighbor to neighbor as a friend to all. Not judging but guiding people through example. God's people don't need a book because they know whats right from wrong without having to be told. Even the bible is a tool for reference not arguments. Fools!

    March 19, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  2. Freak in Tongues

    Just another con artist out to generate personal revenue at the expense of others' beliefs. Where's Marjoe when you need someone to slap?

    March 19, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • airwx

      Just like the people who make money on the Atheist Bible???....what was it jesus said??? Take no purse or coin with you ???We should all follow that instruction...

      March 19, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • Pangea

      @airwx...There's an Atheist Bible? Where can I get one?

      March 19, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • NL

      airwx-
      How many people ever go into a church without carrying money? How many, besides the preacher, ever leave church carrying less money than what they came with?

      March 19, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • airwx

      @ Pangea....try Amazon

      March 19, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • airwx

      @NL...I leave church with less money every Sunday...and I preach. I think you mean how many leave with more money...most of us in our church leave with less, especially when we are about to make our monthly pilgrage to one of the most infamous homeless parks in the country, where we feed, cloth and assist the poor. I take no money as a minister...nothing. What is it that we are doing that is so wrong?

      March 19, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Quag

      @airwx the "atheist bible" is just a bunch of quotes from atheist and agnostics. It's not in any sense an actual bible that an atheist would study. Context my friend. Atheists, I assure you, don't have a bible.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • airwx

      @ Quag...Isn't the bible a collection of supposed quotes? That makes the atheist bible a correct name for the book.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
    • Freak in Tongues

      @airwx...This Atheist Bible is just a thing that exists to provoke believers, and apparently, it works. Questions: Can one ignore this Atheist Bible and still be an Atheist? Yes. Can a Christian ignore the New testament and still be a Christian? No. This is the ultimate way to compare these two collections of words. Trying to equate Atheism with religion in the claim that Atheists have a Bible is simply an attempt to make atheism seem like a religion itself, which it is not. It is a lack thereof.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • NL

      airwx-
      Sounds like you and your group are a rare exception. What's the name of your church?

      March 20, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • Quag

      The Christian bible is a collection of stories…not just quotes. We atheists don't have a faith based book that we turn to for answers. We have science books.

      March 20, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  3. Observer

    Tara is real. Scarlett O'Hara said so in the book about her.

    March 19, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  4. JesusisLord

    Hell is real. Jesus spoke of it often. Shame on anyone who misleads, otherwise.

    March 19, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • holycow

      My question: is it necessary to believe in Hell to be a Christian? Seriously, would you follow Jesus as closely if you didn't believe your soul depended on it?
      If you would, it's not necessary for a Christian to believe in Hell.
      If you wouldn't, it implies that you're religious fervor is eternal fire insurance, and therefore shallow and meaningless.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • airwx

      @ Holy cow..... The issue of hell and the issue of belief in Jesus are separate. The linkage you propose is flawed in that the disciples of Jesus were not enticed by "insurance"; they were called to "follow me". This is still true today. Your implication of a linkage thus is incorrect.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • NL

      holycow-
      Perhaps a better question is how many Christians would believe in Jesus, and accept the idea that some behaviours, while not harming anyone, are still wrong because they are sinful if they were not taught to expect heaven as a reward for such thinking?

      Like the mules who draw water for their masters until the day they drop dead from exhaustion, heaven is the carrot that always remains just out of reach, and hell is the stick they get beaten with whenever they stop dreaming about the carrot.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • Freak in Tongues

      @ airwx...Your claim of there being no link between the motivation of Hell in belief and the motivation to simply follow Jesus cannot be validated. How can you possibly speak for all the people out there who claim to be Christian? Furthermore, how can you actually speak for the apostles? Were you there? I think they were motivated by the fear of Hell, just as many Chritians today are. Look at the pattern of the New Testament. While Jesus was alive, the apostles taught love and healing and "following" Jesus. After he died, the writings of the Apostles evolved into a more and more grim outlook for mankind, speaking more of punishment and of hell. This seems to suggest that they were in fact afraid. And they were. The apostles were being murdered, tortured, and hunted. Thier motivatiion for induring these things? Going to Heaven...and not Hell. You can claim that the premise of Chritianity is perfect, which is a cop-out for many Christians (and people of other religions), but claims of perfection are easy, when any claims to the contrary might senfd you to Hell. The exclusion of Hell as a factor in Christian beliefs is very niave.

      March 19, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • holycow

      @airwx – I agree that there need be no link between belief in Hell and following Jesus. Is it not obvious in the way I stated my question? My point is that to live a Christian life, focusing on an afterlife is unnecessary.

      March 20, 2011 at 3:33 am |
  5. Veritas.Martyros

    Joh. 14: 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

    Act. 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

    1 Tim. 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

    Gandhi was a Hindu idolater and did not believe in Jesus the ONLY son of God.

    This pastor is misled and are leading people astray to the eternal hell.

    March 19, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • Observer

      Moses and everyone else who lived before Jeus never went to heaven according to what you said.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      According to Pope Leo X, Martin Luther misled his followers...

      March 19, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • airwx

      @ Praise the Lard....Leo isn't exactly a saint, so I don't place a lot of stock in him or his indulgences; his opinions are thus not a valid point of arguement.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • NL

      Observer-
      You forget, Moses was a murderer. He killed an Egyptian. That's why he had to flee Egypt in the first place. Granted, that was before the Commandments, but Cain doesn't get any pass because of that, so why should Moses?

      March 19, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      AirWX: you mean that Pope Leo X did not possess Papal Infallibility when he denounced heretics?

      March 19, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  6. Brian

    Questioning, discussing, not sp.oon-feeding the answers, encouraging people to reach their own conclusions, focusing on this world instead of the next, rejecting a religious view based on "escape", existence of heaven/hell not necessarily relevant... he's practically a jew. I say that with the utmost respect.

    March 19, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  7. Ross

    Just for a minute lets' forget all books about God. Forget all words by man. Look at the entire universe and ask how could all of this happen by chance? The true arrogance of man is to individually decide that there is nothing more significant (in power) than themselves. Big Bang takes more faith than believing in a higher being. The utter pride that consumes man is striking. How by chance could all this occur?

    If there is no God, then what stops any of us from doing anything we choose? What keeps us from creating laws? Why boundaries in society? Why believe in justice? The answer because our Creator placed an imprint on our souls for such things? Even an atheist want these things? Otherwise, let's all sign up for utter chaos as truth comes as a moral compass in all of us? Atheists, why do you have any controls in your behavior? Why not do anything? Why set standards, morals, codes, and templates?

    March 19, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • Mr. Sniffles

      There can be no higher arrogance than to believe that you and the few who think just like you are divinely special, and that everyone else is going to be tortured for the rest of eternity.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • Freak in Tongues

      Ross... you, your opinion, and those others I assume you assume it represents sound more arrogant than anyone I know who believes in the Big Bang. Arrogance transcends beliefs systems. It is a trait of all humans who have confidence in their beliefs, not just atheists.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

      You raise an interesting point – Do people who do not believe in God act less morally? A religious person would think so, but numerous studies have clearly found that atheists and agnostics actually tend to behave more morally – less major crime, less support of torture, war and capital punishment, lower rates of divorce. Atheists are 4% of the American population and .21% of the prison population.

      Quite the opposite of your "utter chaos" if we were all atheists, the reality is that religion actually impedes the morality naturally in humans.

      Why do we set standards? Because we don't want to live in a world of violence and theft. Because we can never pawn off the guilt by "finding Jesus and being forgiven" or claiming the devil made us do it. Because most people really don't want to hurt others, regardless if they are religious or not.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
    • Pangea

      The source of morals, laws, justice, etc. is the human mind's ability to reason combined with the natural instinct to survive as a social animal, which is what humans are. One does not have to be aware of God to be moral, unless one is too weak to do so on one's own. You may claim that people cannot be moral without God, but I tell you people only need the desire to be moral...or the motivation, which people like you can only achieve with the hammer of God hanging over your heads.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • aWitchintheWoods

      You were on the right track then lost it. It's not that mankind is so arrogant for believing in themselves... it's that mankind is so arrogant in believing that "something" which created the universe and everything in it SHOULD CARE ABOUT US.
      Do YOU care about the individual lives of ants in a hill 100 miles down the road in the woods?? Of course not.
      So why should a "god" care about who or what we believe?
      People just want to feel important and loved, even if they have to make up a powerful, imaginary daddy.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • Magic

      Ross,

      So if it takes more faith to believe in the Big Bang, that is a good thing, right? More faith is better, right? /sarcasm

      No thinking person takes the Big Bang on faith... it is regarded any validity only by current evidence, which can be added to, refined or even changed completely by new evidence, which is constantly and earnestly being sought.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Ross Science explains a lot bout what is and what is NOT "just due to chance". Religion explains nothing. Laws vary widely from place to place across the globe and change radically through time, precisely because we DO adopt them – or at least those in power do.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  8. Kaycee

    I guess it's pick and choose time again. Take all the warnings about hell out of the Bible. Jesus must have known it is a place to avoid, to have spent time talking about it. He said He was the only way to avoid it.
    Bell is not the first to put a spin on it, skew the words of Christ, and try to muddy the issue. I am not the judge...I just think the Bible means what it says. You can believe what you want. You can put your own twist on it..say it really means this, not that.. I wish people who can't take it for what it simply says would find another book to read.
    People who read the Bible to find ways to argue with the plain truth , must be miserable...or looking to come up with a new theory to write a book, ($$$$} gain a following.
    READ THE BIBLE. You don't need another book to tell you what it means, and what to believe. Pray to find a church that sticks to it, and nothing else.

    March 19, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  9. Gods Servant

    behold satan you are thy void, thy one who will be destroyed by ME, I am what I am, A son of a Living God, behold I am thunder wind and rain, I am thy creation of A Mighty God, Through Jesus Christ All shall Know Amen, thy Father.....behold thy servants are mighty sons of the Most High, young Lions we Are Roarrrrrr!!!!!!!! I challenge any satanic priest to a dull at the courts of the Most High, sirius star brothers I welcome you as brothers, you too were created by my God, thy one whom is above orion, and thy whole cosmos with everything in it, behold humans are sons of a Living God..... Amen my Father I Worship you Oh Heavenly Father who reings supreme above all souls...Divine Brother Jesus I worship you too for saving my soul......ahhhh thy Power of the Cosmos..........God is one awesome cool Cat and a Mighty Force......

    March 19, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • Observer

      "I am what I am"
      - Popeye

      March 19, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      I never heard of Pope ye

      March 19, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
  10. Arick

    I keep my beliefs (or lack of) to myself and I appreciate the same courtesy from others. I've seen Christians and atheists try to "educate" each other. It almost always comes off as patronizing and all it usually accomplishes is making both sides angry. People might be more open to the other sides ideas if they talked about it without arrogance or hostility, but that is usually the case. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

    March 19, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      I'm happy to live and let live... however, when the Great Delusioned insist on constantly forcing their moronic points of view on everyone, it's bound to grate. When congressmen waste time passing resolutions promoting a national Theist "motto", when religious propagandists show up on the news almost every day, someone must say: "Stop the Madness".

      March 19, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • Arick

      Let's say that you feel strongly about something and I hold the opposite view. If I called you "delusional" and "moronic", would you be inclined to consider my argument or treat me with hostility?

      March 19, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • chattykathy

      I wouldn't be so concerned with being called "delusional and moronic". I'd care more for what was being said about the topic being discussed.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Arick..I am an atheist, and rarely tell people this even when they bring up some biblical statement or start to discuss the latest events in light of the supposed biblical prophecies. I find that most Christians, while fairly inert, are unable to really understand why people do not believe. I take the stand that religion is very weak, and if it is introduced to scrutiny it falls apart. For many years this has been the case.. religions have exerted their power over those who do did not believe. Today however on forums such as these it is important to discuss the issues..we can see the dangers that religions can bring if they are left unattended.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  11. b4bigbang

    @airwx
    I disagree.
    "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus".

    March 19, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • airwx

      We actually agree as to "wise unto salvation". In my work I have come across too many people who can quote the Bible, but have no understanding beyond the translation they claim to be "the one". My work is to help them learn to "be diligent (study) and show thyself approved".

      March 19, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  12. frkelsey

    Church's are so into scaring people with "hell" that they miss the LOVE and GOOD NEWS that Jesus taught. Too bad thier fear of a wrathful God makes them so certain as to what heaven is and who gets there. I was taught that all would be surprised as to who got there and who didnt. As Jesus taught these religious amongst us should spend more time pointing at the mirror instead of condemning others. Sadaam himself may be in heaven for all I know and GW BUsh may well end up shoveling coal- but all can be thankful that I have no control over who goes where........ I hope and pray that all have a peaceful and wonderful eternity. But if it is the average churchgoer who invades the heavenly realm then I might be praying for the excitement of hell.

    March 19, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  13. sam b

    Good discussion by Bell, very "biblical" and for the reocrd I'm amazed at how many people say things like
    the bible has no relevancy in spiritual things and that its a "fantasy". Your statements are certianly your opinion
    but not fact. History (other than the bible) records jesus as existed, people witnissing his miracles, and throughout
    history this one man with 12 followers changed the world. The other side of the coin is I don't blame anyone for throwing it out the window the way "religion" has tainted the orginal message of christ. Bell gives a great example of this by religious critics upset about his "ghandi" comment. All he was saying is noone can judge whether Ghandi made it to the other side, but many religious people brisstle at that because they assume their "christianeze language" is the only way to gain heave. But lets not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    March 19, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • God Illusion

      Jesus isn't even mentioned or written about until decades after his supposed death. Historical "records" of backwards, fearful, ignorant tribes in the middle east 2000 years ago mean nothing. Myths and fables have been a staple of civilizations from the dawn of man – we have evolved beyond that now though.

      We need to let go of folklore and fables – we need to let go of wish-thinking about a country club in the sky after death where our dead friends and family are waiting. Grow up people – stop living lives dominated by fear, by the threats and promises of any number of different types of religions. This destructive BS has gone on long enough.

      March 19, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • Morrison Braddock

      Actually, Jesus wasn't written about or referred to for many decades after he was supposed to have lived. His character was conveniently created for a whole host of reasons.

      March 19, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Demonhunter

      GI and Morrison, you are wrong, Galatians was written around 47-48 AD, less than two decades after Jesus's death 29AD. Talk about people relying on myths.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  14. Observer

    "Biblical inconsistencies have nothing to do with science"

    Yes. That is not good news for the Bible.

    March 19, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Tom

      Not sure I understand your logic. Example of Biblical inconsistency is the genealogy of Christ. One example shows the historical and another shows the royal. While this is an inconsistency of those who "don't know", it is not an inconsistency in the true sense. But please explain to me how this is not good for the Bible.

      March 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Observer

      @Tom,
      When the Bible says that snakes understand language and speak, that donkeys speak (insert any comment here), that the earth is flat, that the earth can suddenly stop rotating without any effect, etc., it is just demonstrating what science has shown to be pure nonsense. Anyone want to talk about "logic" and Noah's Ark?
      Jesus theoretically was the smartest person who ever lived and he did not talk of ONE SINGLE breakthrough from the field of science. All he had to do was to tell people how important it is to keep clean because of germs and he could have prolonged lives of so many many people. Not ONE INDICATION that Jesus knew anything about science.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  15. Jo

    Not true, church would be the last place I'd go to feel healing and love. I'd rarely seen examples of people showing either who belong.

    March 19, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • airwx

      If you don't mind my asking, what church left you with this feeling?

      March 19, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  16. les_b

    When there's any article on religious diversity it's sadly amazing how much evangelical venom gets posted. Could call it the Westboro Syndrome.

    March 19, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  17. Gatorsurgeon

    Most of these comments illustrate the basic problem with organized religion: they quote "scripture." Organized religion, whether Christian or Muslim or Jewish or Mormon, is not the worship of a god but the worship of a book. The fundamentalist versions of these religions represent the reductio a absurdum of this fact. These books were written by people, not gods, and none of you has a shred of evidence to refute that. Mr. Bell's discussion is the most reasonable take on Christianity or any other religion that I've read in a long time.

    March 19, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Tom

      Mr. Bell has a philosophy, not a theology. This may seem attractive to you, but it is because you embrace his philosophy.

      March 19, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • airwx

      I agree with your concept that the book is worshiped more than God. That is why the first thing I do in teaching a group is to take a huge King James bible, throw it on the floor and ask what the students to describe what I am doing. Most of them, after having a fit realize my point... I'm standing on the promises of God, literally. I then proceed to drop kick said book out a second story window....It opens their mind to see that God is more important than any book, that no book is nessessary to find God....helpful, but not nessessry.

      March 19, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • God Illusion

      If only more people threw their "holy" books out of the window – permanently – the world would be a more tolerant, peaceful and loving place.

      March 19, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • airwx

      @ Illusion... only if you discount the history of violence by Attila the Hun, Hitler, Stalin, Cambodian killing fields et al. That is the reason I then teach my students the deep meaning of the Bible, not the legalisms.

      March 19, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Calvin

      @God Illusion – Stalin is a good example of what you propose.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  18. Tom

    @Also a Che. Trust me when I say I paid a lot of attention in class. Biblical inconsistencies have nothing to do with science. The Bible is not a science book. That would be like saying that there are religious inconsistencies in the "Origin of Species". There may be scientific inconsistencies (which there are), but not religious ones. Hey, by the way, do you even know what the Laws of Thermodynamics are anyway? Or are you just repeating what I write? Also, please tell me what "Biblical inconsistencies" do you have a problem with.

    March 19, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  19. Newrain

    Jon,

    Do you realize what you just did? You quoted the Old Testament. I, personally, choose to follow Christ, not the Law. And Jesus said to love. I think Bell has it right. The whole concept of Hell was created by Dante, and is not biblical at all.

    Newrain

    March 19, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Demonhunter

      If you think hell was created by Dante, and is not in the New Testament, then I suggest you have not read the New Testament. If you look in a concordance, you will find the term hell in the NT about 14 times. And read Matt 25:46 which does not use the term, but shows a clear statement on the concept.

      I'm afraid Bell plays very loose with Biblical truth, and that is what has evangelicals upset with him.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • vfl

      Jesus came to bring a sword. Jesus wants you to hate your family. Jesus helped kill 42 children with 2 bears. if you believe in the 3 gods in one concept. Never hire a Christian accountant. They think 1 plus 1 plus 1 equals 1.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • Flip

      Hmmmm....maybe you'd better go read Rev. 20:12,15, Matt 10:28, and Luke 16:23 again. Jesus is pretty clear about the existence of Hell here.

      March 19, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Kenny

      I'm sorry – but you think that hell is from the mind of Dante? First of all, what about the revelation John receives and CLEARLY states in the Book of Revelation?

      March 19, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  20. HolierThanThou

    http://www.ClergyJobs.ca – Minister Jobs In Canada

    March 19, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • dan novak

      you guys are illustrating the problem with pretty much every area of our society whether its religion, politics, or science. we can never have a polite discussion with conflicting ideas involved. the problem with debating like this is that you get entrenched in youre own view point because you feel threatend or mad that someone doesnt feel the same way or believe the same things. this causes you to put up your defenses and harden your heart. which ever side of the arguement you stand on be quick to listen slow to speak and slow to be come angry

      March 19, 2011 at 5:08 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.