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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. PRISM 1234

    @Jabarhead
    In my first post to you were the answers to things you debated, and said you wanted answers for them... You ignored all of it.
    You say no one knows what real meaning of the Scriptures is, and what truth is....

    But Scriptures declare "my sheep hears my voice, they know me, and I know them... They will not follow the impostor, they will flee from him...."

    Scriptures also say to those who are His, that "the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you, but as the same anointing teaches you all things...."

    You obviously don't acknowledge those scriptures, and according to what you say in all of your posts, my last post to you was right on.

    I didn't intend to say anything further to you, but the things written here would be a proper conclusion to our corresponding.

    Good day to you!

    March 30, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  2. VoipOfReason

    I find it funny that most religous consertives, would list Thomas Jefferson, as one of the prominent founding fathers of this great nation. Hey, religous consertives, know your history... ""[N]o man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

    March 30, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  3. Mike

    The apostle Paul called the church at Berea "noble", because they searched the scriptures to see if what Paul said was true. Let God be True, and every man a liar...read it for yourself, study, learn, embrace or reject...its part of the freewill God gave you in Genesis...just be advised, your choice determines your destination.

    March 30, 2011 at 10:32 am |
  4. TravWise

    I'm just so glad for this man who empowers the people of the world (both Christian and non-Christian) to continue asking questions. I believe that if God is who He says He is, we have nothing to fear from honest, earnest questions. We may not be able to fully understand our God, but He is a God of truth, and that truth will be revealed to us.

    I am questioning a lot right now. Thank you, Rob, for letting me know it's not a crime. I'll be reading this book in a small group study session and commenting about it on my blog: travwise.blogspot

    March 30, 2011 at 3:23 am |
  5. luke

    check out my review of the book if you want a fair reaction to this topic and not so much hatin'

    part 1: http://lukeaviatorkuhns.tumblr.com/post/4070495548/love-wins-book-review-part-1

    part 2: http://lukeaviatorkuhns.tumblr.com/post/4084847981/love-wins-book-review-part-2

    enjoy!

    March 30, 2011 at 3:21 am |
  6. Angela

    Honestly, after reading all these comments, I can see why Rob Bell thought the need to write this book. There is so much misunderstanding, misinterpretation, and lots of confusion. I don't really know if I believe what his book says, because I honestly haven't read it yet, but I know he got a very important topic started. If you don't believe the whole of what he preaches, at least check into some of the principles he is trying to address, take some time seriously considering the tough questions. The questions being posed here are sincere and shouldn't be shrugged off with simple explanations. These people are asking questions about the very nature of God, sin, eternity, etc. I think if I take anything from this, it will be a greater respect for the struggle so many go through when contemplating these issues from a non-Christian point of view.

    March 29, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
    • TravWise

      Well said, Angela. Thank you.

      March 30, 2011 at 3:24 am |
  7. Nancy

    Arguing about concepts of heaven and hell gets no one, nowhere real fast. ...How bout we all just deal with planet earth and all it's perils since we're all here and no one can argue about it's existence.

    March 29, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
    • RightTurnClyde

      It is true .. people argue about everything (even the earth and here-and-now). A physicist was going on and on about "black holes" and it was all "perhaps" and "possibly" and "we think" .. and nobody has ever actually seen a black hole. SETI has NO evidence of extra terrestials. We have no evidence of how life began (single cell life). Oh but books are written (Darwin) on maybe how it originated .. perhaps, possibly, maybe, could have .. and that gets accepted as TRUE. Well it is OK to "believe" something without evidence .. but to be honest then it is a belief. So often we are given as FACT what someone believes (strongly believes). To be precise and accurate we need to begin with we believe this to be true (having reasoned from some premise).. and CANNOT prove it.

      March 30, 2011 at 2:10 am |
  8. Jonathan

    Haven't met too many happy atheists in my day. That's just my experience. And no I don't live in the hinterands, I live in NYC. If that means anything.

    March 29, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  9. Tim

    No matter what anyone on earth says, no one on this planet knows the mind of God or anything with certainty. If they claim to, they are doing so to further their own interests, not yours.
    As for surprises, many will find their post-life existence very surprising, but I sure don't know what that existence will look like and neither does anyone else. Perhaps people who say they have experienced death may, but even that is debatable.
    It seems odd to me that in a world where, clearly, we are expected to use our minds to create, innovate, advance ourselves, that we are also expected to believe, literally, fables told to a much simpler, less sophisticated people about streets of gold and flames of hell.
    Questions are what we should be asking, but definitive answers should make us skeptical. I like Bell's thinking.

    March 29, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • slodorpapa

      No, Tim, you're wrong. PRISM 1234 knows everything! He's the one who knows all the truth about the world, the bible, everything. Thank God we have him to lead is through these dark, uncertain times.

      March 29, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  10. PRISM 1234

    I have posted most of what I will say here earlier on this blog, but I think it needs to be said again:

    You will never know what someone is made out of, till they be ex'posed to the Word of God, which is THE STANDARD. This man has will'fuly taken The Word of God out of context, and made it out to his own likings, and the love of truth is not inn him. Therefore the Spirit of Truth is NOT THE ONE who is speaking to him, nor thru him.

    He may have fame for a season, and he will gather followers who will ch'eer him, because there is ever increasing number of apostates who want to claim Jesus Christ, but refuse the Spirit of Truth, which is the Holy Spirit who test'ifies of Truth.
    But when he stands before the holy God , and the int'ents of his heart are ex'posed, he will be judged according to what he did WITH THE REAL JESUS CHRIST, WHO IS THE WORD OF GOD, AND THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH WHO TESTIFIED OF HIM

    March 29, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Earthbound

      All hail the great Prism the great "I AM." Dude time to check that almighty opinion of yourself and don't let hells door hit you in the a$$ on your way down. Oh, that's right your in hell now.

      March 29, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • slodorpapa

      I love Heretics!

      I can't wait until we're ALL in Heaven together!

      March 29, 2011 at 8:22 pm |
    • slodorpapa

      ps: Earthbound, there's NO way PRISM is in Hell right now...

      he's such a duitful, respectful servant of the Lord...

      and soooo humble...

      March 29, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
  11. MelvinVines

    Earth is our home. The Bible does not teach that people go to Heaven (or hell) Paradise is to come on the EARTH.

    Lords Prayer:

    "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
    your kingdom come,
    your will be done ON EARTH as it is in heaven..."

    Psalm 37:11-12
    "But the meek shall inherit the EARTH; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. "

    Psalm 37:29
    "The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it FOREVER."

    Please read N.T Wright's book "Surprised by Hope"
    http://tinyurl.com/5uay2sg

    March 29, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      @Melvin V.

      This too is another selective reading into what Scriptures teach. That's how ALL false doctrines and schisms emerge....

      Curiously, What do they all do with the REST? Ignore it, pretending it not to be there?

      ....mind as well tear the pages out... At least you're not liyng to yourself then...

      March 29, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • sand

      the book of Revelation talks about a new earth and a new kingdom right here on this earth after all the terrible things have taken place. it is invalid to think of heaven as some place we go when we die, but the Bible states that the earth will be a place where God and man will reside together in perfect harmony. that is what the Christians living under Nero looked forward to and that is what Christians today look forward to as well.

      @PRISM – the same idea of selective quoting of the Bible can be said of you as well. tell me, how do you reconcile the passages that Melvin quotes with your view on heaven and hell?

      March 29, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      @ Sand
      "how do you reconcile the passages that Melvin quotes with your view on heaven and hell?....

      When someone purposely chooses to state 1/2 of truth, and leaves out another half, I don't reconcile anything they say, because they have already shown that their view is NOT based on the Scriptures. The statement "The Bible does not teach that people go TO HEAVEN OR HELL" that M.V. wrote is telling me more then thousand other words will say.
      I also went to the link of the N.T. Wright, whose link he posted, and have seen that this man is apostate himself. His views of writings of Apostle Paul are no other then of one who is an apostate from the Faith, so why then world I not say what I said? It's the truth!

      As for you telling me that " the same idea of selective quoting of the Bible can be said of "me" as well ".....

      I think you should understand that t is a small thing for me to be told this by someone who himself is in the same group with those who disregard the Scriptures, who make up God to be according to their own likings. I know who I am, and my assurance, self esteem and worth comes from Him, as well as the authority to speak His Word. Everything other than that is trivial!
      Good Day to you!

      P.S. If you are still perplexed why I said what I did, I have written few other posts on pg. 15 and 16. This may explain it further to you.

      March 29, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Earthbound

      Hell in the Bible is temporary, all get OUT of it. The saints to go to heaven to judge/rule, the rest to come to earth. Rev. 20:13, 14, Acts 24:15, Ecclesiastes 3:17-20, Isaiah 33:24, 35:all, 65:17, 20, 11:6-9, Matthew 5:5, 6:10.

      March 29, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Smite Me

      sand,

      In case you don't know... Prism's "Good Day to you!" means that you are dismissed. It's... .

      March 29, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • Earthbound

      Smite LMAO! Yeah, Prism 1234 and HeavenSent need to go to the pot blog and take a few tokes. They preach their garbage while stating "as well as the authority to speak His Word." Yet when someone else does that they rip them a new one because it's not according to the almighty Prism and HeavenSent. All hail the great Prism the great "I AM."

      March 29, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  12. Erik

    Do grown adults really talk about this stuff seriously? Really?

    Um... Have we not matured and learned a bit in the last 2000 years? Can we not put our childish stories to bed yet?

    March 29, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  13. ryan

    if you dont like the doctrine of hell, why not simply accept that god is imaginary, and move on in a spirit of love for your fellow man free from fear of what lies beyond death?

    March 29, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • slodorpapa

      okay... will do...! thanks for the advice...! much appreciated!

      March 29, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Nancy

      sounds good to me.

      March 29, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • Jennifer

      That sounds heavenly to me!! 🙂

      March 30, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  14. Don Lee

    I think he's absolutely right. Read Bart Ehrman's MISQUOTING JESUS or JESUS INTERRUPTED et. al. to see how *hugely* open to interpretation the Scriptures are. Really. Just read the books.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  15. blivenhim

    A wolf in sheep's clothing. I'm praying for you Rob. You are leading the flock astray. Humble yourself before God. You're preaching Rob Bell's Bible, not God's. Pride is an evil thing.

    March 29, 2011 at 9:09 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      A wolf in sheep's clothing.....
      He is preaching Jesus Christ of his own imagination, and rejecting the Spirit of Truth. This is the mark of an Apostate church, which we will see more and more on surfacing as time progresses!

      March 29, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • slodorpapa

      I heart wolves and sheep.

      Both are equally cute animals in my opinion.

      March 29, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
  16. seabeau

    Rob Bell is a heretic!! What he preaches is non-biblical. Most of his followers are people who fail to commit their hearts to Jesus so they can do as they wish (sin) for six days a week and get forgiven on Sunday. New-Age crap!

    March 29, 2011 at 7:06 am |
    • Nancy

      ok...so who cares?

      March 29, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
  17. Mo

    Watered-down, new-age pap. Hey "pastor", you're selling false doctrine but I'm pretty certain that's your whole point. Bonne chance on Judgement Day slick.

    March 29, 2011 at 5:19 am |
    • sand

      really? i didn't know believing that hell is an eternal place of torment and punishment was a requirement for being a Christian.

      March 29, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  18. Joe B

    Premise 1: If God is just, then his punishments must be just.
    Premise 2: A man's life is finite, and the extent of his sins are thus finite.
    Premise 3: Hell is infinite punishment, for finite sinfulness.

    Conclusion: God is not just.

    March 29, 2011 at 3:51 am |
    • Fred

      Sins are committed against an Infinite God, therefore punishment must also be infinite.

      March 29, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • humbleservant

      PLEASE BE WARY OF PEOPLE ONLY SELLING THE LOVE OF GOD AND IGNORING THE JUSTICE OF GOD.............

      Do your research and don't allow yourselves to be misled.
      READ THE BIBLE AND PRAY THAT GOD SPEAKS INTO YOUR HEART WITH THE TRUTH AND HE WILL............ Do not trust the words of man for man can be decieved, (Remember Adam and Eve)

      The bible does give us answers and direction. It speaks of God as "perfect" love and therefore he must also be just.
      It speaks of sin and it talks of the consequences of sin. It tells you how to be saved...... It may take a bit of time and maturity to start to understand, but it all starts with prayer and reading the bible. Only what is written in the bible is the truth because God is pure, he cannot lie.

      May Gods will be done and all the glory be brought unto him.

      March 29, 2011 at 9:24 am |
    • Keegan

      Premise 1: Correct
      premise 2: incorrect, man's life is infinite either heaven or hell, but man's physical body is finite.
      Premise 3: incorrect, Hell is an infinite punishment, for sin that is more severe than any human can comprehend.
      God is just and must punish sin. Would loving and just judge let a rapist go? No, God must punish sin to be considered loving. And hell must exist for God to be just, this makes Heaven and the Gift of Jesus Christ more amazing, that he saves us from our sin and our deserved eternal justified death. God doesn't send people to hell, we send our selves because of our failure to follow Gods law. But God new that after the Fall of man (the garden) that people needed to be saved, and because he loved us, he sent Jesus to save us. God is Just, heaven is real, Jesus is needed. we do nothing

      March 29, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      Joe B
      If you understood the suffering Jesus Christ went through to save the lost mankind, AND the depth of meaning of it, you would not come to your shallow conclusion.

      Can a finite man understand the infinite God? Yet he sits high and lofty at his little ant hill mound, AND JUDGES GOD ! ! !

      March 29, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • sand

      Keegan, how do you figure that a man's life is infinite? Infinite by definition means that we were around since time began. The Bible indicates that each person is hand crafted by God so we do have a beginning. Thus we are not infinite, otherwise we will be God ourselves.

      What about those people that lived before Christianity was even on the face of this earth? What about those living in the remote areas of the world that will never hear about Jesus? Did God create them to be tormented eternally? Why would a loving God do such a thing?

      March 29, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Magic

      PRISM,
      "If you understood the suffering Jesus Christ went through to save the lost mankind..."

      People all over the world suffer horribly –*horribly* - every single day, and have done so all throughout history... not to quantify suffering, but some even more horribly than Jesus. I don't even want to give you examples to prove the point... you certainly must be aware of this.

      Jesus suffered, I'm sad to hear that; but it proves nothing. Actually, if you believe suffering, dying savior story, it proves that your god is one who demands horrific suffering to be appeased, happy and satisfied... not good.

      March 29, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • frank

      sand, how do you state "Premise 3: Hell is infinite punishment, ..." but then also write that "Infinite by definition means that we were around since time began"? Really, you've been around since time began? Or, did mean humans have been around since time began? Can you prove that human were present at the very first minute of time? Time DID have a beginning (ask any good scientist). Your next mistake was that "infinite" doesn't start with time or start with anything because if something has a starting point it isn't infinite! But what were trying to say, that someone has been punished since the beginning of time? If that person spent ALL their time being punished when did they have a chance to commit any sins? Clearly, you just don't know how to properly use the word "infinite".

      March 29, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Magic,
      The suffering of Jesus was like no other human being suffered. What happened there at that cross, never happened to any human being. Things there happened that ar not of natural, human realm. It is to deep to ever comprehend it in your own mind. But if someone really wants to know and in their heart longs to know God and if he comes to Him with humble heart and ask of Him to show him what the death of Jesus on the Cross means, and why is it necessary for those who refuse Him to be cast away forever from God, God will show it to him, and he will understand what he could not understand in his own human ability.
      When you said
      "if you believe suffering, dying savior story, it proves that your god is one who demands horrific suffering to be appeased, happy and satisfied"...... you were wrong.... The suffering of Jesus Christ is the price for our sins and rebellion against God. The depth of His suffering and sacrifice for us is in proportion of the depth of our sins , and what it has done to separate us from Him.
      Pray that you would understand!

      March 29, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • Lucy

      In order to be tormented, an individual has to be conscious. Are the dead conscious? No. (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6) 5 For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, neither do they anymore have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten. 6 Also, their love and their hate and their jealousy have already perished, and they have no portion anymore to time indefinite in anything that has to be done under the sun.
      Note: It is impossible for the dead, "consicuous of nothing at all," to be experience the agonies of hellfire.
      Our Holy God puncishes sinners, but he does not torture them. When they repent, he forgive them. What is the punishment for sin? Rom 6:23 says: "The wages of sin pays is death." Why evenone dies, that is true because we are all sinners, inheritance. That is why Jesus Christ was sent to die for our sins and pay the ransom so that is where John 3:16 comes in.
      .

      March 30, 2011 at 12:56 am |
  19. sand

    i think it's a pretty good book when it makes Christians leap out of their recliners and actually start a dialogue, instead of being smug that they have a free ticket to heaven and it's all that matters. to the Christians on this blog: do you realize that all this infighting and bickering makes us look like bumbling idiots? how about some honest discourse for a change instead of reciting slogans we learn in Sunday school! sheesh!

    March 28, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • Dan

      Your tactics really aren't any better. As to the "bickering" among Christians, it's called "dialectic" - healthy debate among brothers of the same school. Just because we don't agree doesn't mean we don't reagrd each other as brothers and feel familial affetion toward one another. Time to step down from the high-horse, Friend.

      March 28, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
    • slodorpapa

      familial affection. ha.

      you're still talking about Christians, right?

      ps: I'm a Christian, too, blah, blah, blah... I know you're about to send your ultra-righteous, I'm-so-intelligent, cutting response back at me and put me in my "place." Save your breath. Christians, including me, should all be ashamed at how absolutely ridiculous we look and sound on these blogs, and ESPECIALLY take note of how unholy and mercilessly we treat people that disagree with us.

      We look about as affectionate as rabid dogs.

      March 29, 2011 at 3:26 am |
    • humbleservant

      PLEASE BE WARY OF PEOPLE ONLY SELLING THE LOVE OF GOD AND IGNORING THE JUSTICE OF GOD.............

      Do your research and don't allow yourselves to be misled.
      READ THE BIBLE AND PRAY THAT GOD SPEAKS INTO YOUR HEART WITH THE TRUTH AND HE WILL............ Do not trust the words of man for man can be decieved, (Remember Adam and Eve)

      The bible does give us answers and direction. It speaks of God as "perfect" love and therefore he must also be just.
      It speaks of sin and it talks of the consequences of sin. It tells you how to be saved...... It may take a bit of time and maturity to start to understand, but it all starts with prayer and reading the bible. Only what is written in the bible is the truth because God is pure, he cannot lie.

      May Gods will be done and all the glory be brought unto him.

      March 29, 2011 at 9:09 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      "PLEASE BE WARY OF PEOPLE ONLY SELLING THE LOVE OF GOD AND IGNORING THE JUSTICE OF GOD............."

      Yes, please be wary, because we are seeing what is written in 2Timothy 5-8 in front of our eyes!

      But know this, that Love without Truth is lame, JUST AS Truth without Love is lame ....

      Read 2Peter and Jude if in doubt!

      March 29, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • Ray

      sand, well said I may not agree with everything said here but it does at least open the door for people seeking the truth about Jesus and what he stood for.... again I say you hit the nail on the head... well done..

      March 29, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
  20. skeptic2

    For all you believers in a heaven and a hell, can you tell me, no better prove to me, where these fabled places are and what they contain? Are you going to tell me that heaven, whatever that is, is up there in the clouds, with a gate and a bearded man in front of it. In the clouds? You mean sitting on water vapor which falls to the ground as rain? You mean suspended somewhere in the stratosphere where airliners have to make detours around it? You mean hanging in space somewhere. where Google Earth can't see it, where the ISS with its high power cameras can't see it? And what about hell? If the primitive vision that believers have of caverns populated somewhere below ground with cloven hooved devils prodding people with pitchforks wasn't so absurdly ludicrous I'd almost feel sorry for them. Do these fools know anything of the multilayered structure of the Earth, of the tectonic plates miles thick riding on magma that fills the Earth all the way down to its iron core? Must we continue the ignorant fictions of the 16th century just to frighten believers into compliance with their religion? When, oh when are we all going to grow up?

    March 28, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Skeptic2

      If you only knew ! ! !

      March 28, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • sand

      perhaps heaven and hell are not something that we think it is. i mean, our version of heaven and hell is shaped by Medieval traditions, such as Dante's Inferno. Jesus describes that there will be death for those who do not believe and weeping and gnashing of teeth, but nowhere in the Bible does it say that we will be tortured forever and ever for eternity. besides, i'm sure God does not believe in torture anyways.

      March 28, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
    • Logicrules

      Skeptic2, Your prepositions about heaven and hell has to be the worst I have ever read on any public forum thus far. If you ever bothered to even research the Christian worldview, irrespective of whether you believe it or not, You would not have made the most elementary of mistakes on Christian theology. Heaven and Hell are spiritual, immaterial domains. Not physical places you can locate on google earth. In the future, Understand a worldview before you critique it.

      March 28, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
    • Minos

      Heaven and hell are not a physical places but spiritual realms of mystery that we can't even begin to fully fathom. God is Love. Heaven is being immersed in God's love / presence. Hell is the opposite - it's the absence of God and his love. When the Prodigal Son ran away from his loving father he ended up broke and working at a pig farm cleaning up pig muck and eating leftover pig slop. He, by virtue of his arrogance and pride, chose to distance himself from his Father and ended up in a living "Hell". In a moment of enlightment and humility, he realized his true place and returned to his Father who received him with open arms, a robe, a ring, and a celebratory feast. Not a word of judgement. no "I told you so" from his Father. Just love and acceptance and joy at his return. That is Heaven. Read what Jesus had to say about Heaven and Hell via his parables and teachings and you'll quickly get past your hang up with locating heaven and hell is specific physical places. You have a several hundred years of theological understanding to catch up with my friend. Don't make the mistake of pigeon holing Biblical understanding with the looney fundamentalists running around and making all the noise - they are new to the Christian scene and represent a horribly shallow and pathetic interpretation of spiritual matters. They pit rational science and reason against their one dimensional and immature literalist views and make fools of themselves and people like you who take their nonsense as "gospel" for the Truth of what being a follower of Christ is all about. They are the Pharisees and Scribes of our day, the same archetype that Jesus taught against and referred to, often with great frustration and even anger, as hypocrites.

      March 28, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • Mike

      All you really need to answer is this...Did Jesus exist? / Are the claims about him and his teachings true? Remember it doesnt matter what a person feels or believes...all that matters is whats true. Jesus claimed he was God in human form and the only way to the Father..If thats true, we need to know it.... Get me on Facebook...mikefrye1096@yahoo.com

      March 29, 2011 at 9:01 am |
    • humbleservant

      What I recommend to all non-believers is this..........

      Earnestly pray one prayer to God asking him to open your eyes so you can see and believe. Let him know you aren't sure he exists and you want to know the truth, if he's there. You can say anything and everything to him because he already knows whats in your heart.

      This can be done privately and there is nothing to loose by trying.

      That's it. Then sit back and watch your entire world change in ways you've never thought it could.

      HE WILL RESPOND IN WAYS THAT WILL ASTOUND YOU.

      March 29, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • humbleservant

      I recommend you go to the source ............. Do not seek man's wisdom or proof ............. Ask God for your answers.

      You may be surprised.

      March 29, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • Epidi

      They exist within us and are manifested in our actions. The devine is in every rock and tree and in us. We ourselves are devine. But we get swept up in arrogance of ourselves and our religions, who's right, who's wrong, that we forget we are no more devine than the tiniest microbe. We have made our Mother the Earth the Insane Asylum of the universe.

      March 29, 2011 at 10:02 am |
    • Ken

      troll

      March 29, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Why are people still debating the truth or factual nature of a place for which there is ZERO evidence? It's like arguing over what Hogwarts School for Wizards is really like or whether there is really a witch on the other side of the wardrobe. Why don't we argue about the planet where ET lives? It has as much reality as Heaven or Hell.

      March 30, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
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About this blog

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.