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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. Bob

    All Protestant groups that are not in full communion with the Catholic Church are in a state of heresy.......that's a fact.

    April 8, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      L O L ! ! ! This claim is as valid as the one who proclaims it !

      April 8, 2011 at 11:58 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 2:38 pm |
  2. diz

    I like God

    April 6, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  3. PRISM 1234

    Here is a link to see some of Rob Bell's personal quotes.
    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Miqu5fwtEdc&w=640&h=360]
    Anyone who goes and reads what this man says, and still believes that he is really not denying the Word of God, well, then you just have to live with it.... This 10 minutes video will decide it for you.... and about you.

    April 5, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • Xcntrik

      Thanks for the Christian Anti-Christian propaganda.

      Watching Christians attacking other Christians is always entertaining, and representative of the history of the religion.

      The Replies on this thread are equally entertaining.

      Kudos to Rob Bell.

      April 7, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Xcntrik,
      I don't think you have the ability to discern what is going on here, and it's not surprising that you give Rob Bell your "kudos" ....... and I don't mean this in derogatory way......

      To expose someone's false teachings is NOT tearing down another Christian, or his ministry. We are to watch and expose false pretenders in the midst of God's people, which is the spiritual Body of Christ.... But it takes one with the spiritual discernment to be able to tell the difference, of who is who. One of satan's ways is to appear as " angel of light ". And that's what we see happening a lot in today's Christendom, and will see even more as time progresses! God's true people will know, but the rest will NOT!
      Hope that helps to clarify!

      April 8, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Brad

      I'm not defending or promoting anything Rob Bells says... because I've only read his latest book. But you can take any quote out of context and make it sound one way or another. I would recommend people actually read the books the quotes are from, and see what he says before and after the quotes to get some perspective. Then you can make up your mind what you think.

      April 9, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      Brad,
      When someone specifically, and in clear words puts spot the vir'gin birth of Lord Jesus Christ, minimizing it's im'portance, and when he cleverly disregards the im'portance of Jesus being divine, only be'gotten Son of God..... when he teaches that eternal dam'nation is NOT according what the Bible specifically teaches, and that ultimately all, even the ungodly will have chance to be saved... Then no mater with how much honey every other word he ahs coated , it is directly from satan himself!
      I would NOT read his book, in fact the things I heard him speak, and what I've read of his quotes, raises up spiritual red flags in my spirit so strongly, that I would not read his book undrer NO circu'mstances! The Holy Spirit brings to my remembrance the words written in the Scriptures do not partake of their evil, but flee even from the appearance of it.(1 Thess. 5:22) .Because it 's through imm'ersing your eyes, mind and your spirit into satan's sweet coated lies, that your own spirit becomes c'on'taminated and becomes numb to the voice of God. That's how satan gets a ho'ok in someone and be'guiles him.... I know that the things I'm saying herre are to be spiritualuy discerned, and you may not understand them...But I hope and pray that you willl understand what I am saying here. It does matter very much what you ex'pose yourself to, because it puts you on the spot to agree or disagree with it. There can not be no neutral stance. Through this God is tes'ting what we are made out of....

      April 10, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • Phillip

      Prism1234: I am SO SORRY! I accidently clicked the "report abuse" butten when I meant to click "Reply." Your reply shows some discernment! Questining the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, and the inspiritation of Scripture certainly sounds like the first question the devil asked: "Has God really said?" Satan always takes the strategy of 1) questioning the Word, 2) Flattering people that they should be able to make a decision as to the truth or falsehood of the Word, 3) telling people that they will be like God (the masters of their own destinies), 4) Twisting the Scriptures, and 5) Flat out denying the Word of God.
      I am not saying that we should not look into the historicity of the Bible. I am saying that Rob Bell's description of the Virgin Birth is deceptive and Satanic (in that he twists the facts, and tells you only part of the story). The uneducated and shallow will be swept away and blown about by every wind of doctrine. What he doesn't tell you is that while the hebrew word "Almah" can mean "a young woman" or a "virgin", the greek word "Parthenos" (translated "virgin" in the NT when the prophesy from Isaiah is quoted) is very specific, and can only mean virgin. Beyond this, the wider context makes it clear that Mary did not know Joseph UNTIL after she had given birth to her firstborn son (Matthew 1:25). So, we are not only talking about a word (virgin), but a wider context that defines the word clearly. To leave out these facts is deceptive and dishonest.
      Keep fighting the good fight, and continue to grow in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the judge of the living and the dead!

      April 11, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • Brad

      Prism,

      I don't disagree with what you're saying, about not letting evil creep in. All I'm saying is that people should research for themselves, not just listen to a 7 minute video from some person who posts a video on youtube. Not exactly a reliable source of info. That's why we read the Bible, pray for the spirit to give us discernment and verify what is being said for ourselves. It's no different than just listening to a paster without reading the Bible for ourselves.

      If we are so easily thrown off our spiritual track as Christians... I think we need to re-evaluate our spiritual walk.

      April 11, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • Brad

      Prism,

      We will have to agree to disagree on this one. It's a matter of difference of opinion. I don't automatically throw someone in the heretic category, just because they bring up a different interpretation... especially other Christians. If I listened to what everyone else said, I wouldn't even have picked up Rob's new book. I think his new book raises some good questions and is a beautiful interpretation of God's love. Do I buy into everything in the book? Not on first pass... but am going to look into the questions he brings up and make up my own mind.

      April 11, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Phillip,
      I don't think that your clicking on "report abuse " button did any harm... At least I didn't get any warnings... Anyway, it seems that CNN has it all on automatic mode, even to the point that their blogs are so messed up... if one doesn't put the name of person whom they are addressing, no one will ever know what is posted for whom....

      I want to thank you for encouraging words.... I have found out that speaking the truth without sugarcoating or diluting it, even though it is not presented in mean spirited way, it can be a lonely journey!....
      But our Lord said it will be that way for us. But He also promised that He will give us strength to sustain us....

      God bless and keep you , my brother!

      April 13, 2011 at 12:18 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      Brad,
      in first five lines of my post above which I have written to you, I have explained in clear way why is Rob Bell a false teacher . It is because he has departed from foundation AND fundamental teachings of Christian faith. In the rest of my post I explained why I would not read his books: for the same reason I will not expose myself to ungodly shows of today's "entertainment" We are spiritual beings, as well as physical... what we expose ourselves to, will leave it's imprints on our mind, soul and spirit. Whether one knows this, being aware of it or not, the impact is the same....
      I only read very short time of any book that comes to my hands, till God by His Spirit shows me if it is of Him or not. From there I go on or stop. If you know the Word of God, and the Spirit of truth is in you, you will recognize when something is not of God. But the spirit of compromise is very alluring, because always offers something good mixed in to beguile. ... Pray that God will show you what I am saying here, because it is not a trivial matter....

      April 13, 2011 at 12:43 am |
  4. Brad

    I want to start out by saying I believe the Christian faith is strong enough to withstand some open dialogue about scriptures in the Bible. Bashing people that bring up new ideas or who provoke some thought shouldn't be automatically thrown out because "this is the way it's been taught for years". Anyone remember the Protestant Reformation?

    With that said, I've read Rob Bell's "Love Wins" and think it beautifully expresses God's love for us. From what I got out of the book as the over-arching theme, is that Christians have intentionally or unintentionally skewed the way we view Heaven and Hell. In the past, Heaven has been made to sound like something we can only hope for, after this god-forsaken planet is destroyed… but it doesn't have to be. We can experience a bit of Heaven here on earth, if we just let God in our lives and open ourselves up to the greatness of his love. In the same vein, we can make our lives Hell here on earth by denying God's love.

    Rob brings up some interesting questions that I'm sure a lot of people have. Let's be honest. There are a lot of grey areas in the Bible that can be left up to interpretation. But that doesn't mean you abandon what's in black and white in the process. I do wish Rob explained some of his points a bit more in the book. I feel like he left some concepts too open. Or maybe he just didn't articulate them very well. I can't say I totally buy into everything Rob brings up in the book on first pass, but he does raise some good questions and I plan on doing more research on the topics... which I believe everyone should do. I think anyone who just takes what any pastor says without researching it for yourself, is very unwise.

    I don't view Rob as a Universalist after reading this book. He doesn't say every religion leads to the same God. He just says that God is bigger than any one religion and He can find ways to each person's heart, no matter what religious banner they hold. He still says Jesus is the way, and that's it's ultimately our choice to accept God or not. But if we let Jesus in, he will change our lives. Isn't that what's at the root of the Christian faith?

    April 5, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Phillip

      Ok... I bite my tongue so much when I hear these assumptions, so I am going to state the obvious. God does not present himself in Scripture as a God who is "accepted" by man, needs the approval of man, or desires the salvation of every man. INstead, He presents himself as a God to whom no one is able to come unless God himself draws him (John 6:44). He is a God, who, in the Person of his Son said "All the the Father gives to me WILL come to me" (John 6:37). He is a God who does all his pleasure, and whose counsel will stand forever. All this talk about "the choice being ultimately up to us" is silly in light of Scripture, but it does form the basis for all kinds of heresy, even and especially universalism. It can't explain why God at times blinds eyes and hardens hearts, lest people see and believe and are saved, as in John 12:37-40...
      In other words, your God is too small and weak if he is not absolutely in control of Salvation from beginning to end. People don't just "decide" to "let Jesus in" as though he is too weak! The essence of the New Covenant is that GOD takes out the heart of stone and gives a new heart, causing his people to believe (Sorry if that limits your free will). It kills me how often I hear people saying that they "decided to get born again." Really? (talking in Rob Bell tones) You decided to be born? Are you sure? I thought "they were born not according to the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13).

      OK: I'm moving on. I was really just checking to see if I ever got a reply from Jabarhead...

      April 6, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • Brad

      Phillip,

      How hypocritical of you. You lecture Jabberhead about speaking with civility, then talk down to me with the utmost arrogance.
      For someone who acts like they know the Bible so well... I can't believe I even have to explain this to you. We accept or reject God through our choices...

      John 14:15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments.

      1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and [before] Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you keep [this] commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ's appearing.

      AND we can accept to believe in Jesus or not...

      Mark 16:16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

      John 20:31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

      Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

      Your reply sounds very Calvinistic. So has God already chosen who's going to accept and not? If so, then why are we asked to believe?

      1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may [continue] [to] believe in the name of the Son of God.

      April 7, 2011 at 12:02 am |
    • Brad

      Phillip,

      I just re-read your post and am shocked at your claims. God doesn't require the Salvation of every man? Are you serious!?! Where does it say THAT in the Bible? Why did Jesus come if that's the case?

      Again. I can't believe I even have to refute what your saying, since you know the Bible so well...

      1 Timothy 2: 1-6
      1 I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men;2 for kings and all that are in high place; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity.3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;4 who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.5 For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus,6 who gave himself a ransom for all; the testimony to be borne in its own times;

      You're claiming heresy by others, but what you're saying is extremely heretical.

      April 7, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Brad

      Phillip,

      I say this with all sincerity. I think you need to go read your Bible, instead of arguing over semantics with people on this thread.

      April 7, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • Brad

      Correction: In my second post I wrote...

      "God doesn't require the Salvation of every man?"

      What I meant to say was...

      "God doesn't desire the Salvation of every man?"

      April 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Phillip

      Brad, I took time to reply to you, but my comment is still awaiting moderation after almost a week. Please email my ghost account at jphilip213@aol.com so that I can reply. I am not sure why my comment is not posting...

      April 12, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  5. SaintoftheSouth

    If Gandi was not a Christian then no he cannot be saved. Why? Because Jesus is the only way and said He was the only way. So change what Jesus said or what the Bible says is a heresy.

    April 5, 2011 at 6:35 am |
    • FairNuff

      So then what? God says "Mmm, sorry, but it's too late. Maybe if you had come a little earlier I could do something, but now you just have to go to hell for all eternity because you didn't "pick the right" way to worship me in your precious few years on Earth." Is that the kind of God the bible talks about? Does that sound like "good news" to you?

      April 5, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Kat

      Actually according to the bible Gandhi could indeed be saved, whether he was a Christian at the time of his death or not. Revelations 20:5 and 20:12 – 15. In the second resurrection, those who were not part of the first resurrection, will be judged by their works as written in the book of Life. If not found in the Book of Life they will be cast into the lake of fire and experience the second death.

      April 6, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  6. juan carr

    Ronn the problem will have been solved by the time your in heaven, as far as dealing with self rightous hypicrites. the issue is dealing with them now, and you know what your so right about this being an issue and the crazy thing is theres all these people going around trying key word here trying to save the lost, Ronn God knows the end from the beginning, and its really not a big deal untill it happens to you, But in the mean time dont stop believing and hoping, Im sure someday youll see something good in someone and this person will relay to you its nothing they are responsible for, its undiscribable and its super rare,its the character of Christ you cant help to notice it because its good unlike us, this character is humility 1st and for most. cant mistake it for anything else and theres also compassion, But thats just the thing people are reading that word and assuming so much they think that that word is for them to do with it what they please, in the name of Jesus well my Lord has revealed to me that the only reason God even talks to me is because I was the most self centered person on the face of the earth, till all I could see was my life as I know it family and friends an all, was absolutly worthless to me I felt completly hopeless, when my 14 year old daughter asked me to go to this neww church with her not the catholic one we used to go to and the third time I went I was in the position to recieve the truth about why Jesus died on the cross, He died for all all my sins not just the ones I confess to the preist but all of them and the reason I felt bad was I didnt even know this and He forgave me anyway I never talked about my sins so out of sight out of mind except still there, hence no hope. I realize now that this sin thing is selfishness or pride in believing in my self. self rightousness is all a part of our DNA as is any other thing assosiated with putting our self 1st vs God, So yeah we have a ton of work to do as born again Christians,and guess who does the work all the work the holy spirit, the same holy spirit we asked to come into our lives to help us to do what is impossible for ourself, Do you really think God would give someone all of His powers and or authority no, God intrusts it to Himself within you. , that when we stop playing God and stop greiving the spirit and start assuming the true Christian role that was so clearly discribed by the apostle Paul we must suffer for Christ sake wait a minute Christ suffered so I dont have to, wrong if the will of God was john 3;16 and Jesus full filled it and were to imitate Him well , The way I see it, the only thing I can do is make a choice, thats it and thats the hardest part each moment of everyday I choose not to do what pleases me but to live my life pleasing onto God. and thats all He asks, us to just make a choice to read His word and trust Him, We cannot do anything to please Him period. thats why He came to die in order that he would take care of us in this area that we are clueless in. its in these moments of suffering on the inside as He looks to the heart and gives us His direction in everystep we take that brings to understanding this character of humility and compassion,

    April 4, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
  7. Dianka

    While I believe that Jesus walked this earth, I do not believe that the bible is the exact story of his life and works. Mathew, Mark, Luke and John were his biographers but we no longer have a pure version of their writings. It is their writing that have been turned into fables over the centuries by popes and kings who's goals were based in greed and power, thereby diluting what would have been Jesus' original message of love and acceptance of all people. I guess we won't know God's real intent until we die our indivdual deaths. See you all in heaven.

    April 4, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  8. PRISM 1234

    Jim, we are in times of Great falling away spoken of in the Scriptures. There are two things that we will see in the future, and as you can see, we are already seeing them happening.
    * Number 1: The apostate church will deny the ex-istence of literal Hell, of which the Scriptures specifically speak, and by no means are they parables. It can't be more clear, then the scriptures you quoted in your post!
    But the apostate church will do anything to water down, minimize and discredit those Scriptures....
    * Number 2: There will be a systematic onslaught of opposition led by satan, and his disguised servants who are part of teh apostate church, to discredit the writings of Apostle Paul, which are the stumbling block to his plan of deception. He hates the other parts of New Testament written by others just the same, but if he can discredit Paul's writings, he can make the rest of the Bible to be according to every man's interpretation. Apostle Paul explains the Gospels, and in them the Holy Spirit is clear about most fun-damental issues of Christianity.
    ... That's why satan hates them so much. And he's got the army out there, which he planted in the wheat field of harvest as tares, to deceive those which he is able to deceive. And they pay him allegiance, and do his work.... But Jesus said, that those who are His will know the impostor, and will not listen and follow. It really is no surprise at what we are seeing. But we know who our Shepherd is, and Him we will love, honor and worship, our Savior, our Counselor! JESUS CHRIST, The LORD OF ALL, and ABOVE ALL! Blessed is His Name FOREVER.

    April 3, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
  9. Eugene ElGrande

    I'm amazed on how much electronic ink people spends discussing religion. Religion is useless.

    April 3, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
  10. trex

    Can you see the other side of the universe? It's the same with your own heart, and the love of my living God. No one can really know the extent of our Father's love for us. He may even take upon him those that are the most evil in this world. When a lamb is lost, does our God stay and wish for their return, or does He seek them out and return them to the flock? My God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirt lives in all of us. Only He will know the truth and my guess is that He would not have put us here unless he knew most would fail. Just pray and ask the Lord for forgiveness and He will live with you always.

    April 3, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Trex,
      there are those whom God knew as His own before they ever knew Him, because they are still lost sheep who are not yet in the fold. Those HE will seek our to bring them into the fold. Some who are His stray, and God our Father patiently waits, and woos them by the cords of His love, often chastising them as good father would his child who strays, till he comes humble and broken back into the fold....

      But there are those who were goats from beginning, and God knows what they are.... He knows that they will not come to Him, although He desires them to come... He will let them go their own way, because OG will not force Himself on no one.... You can not just believe that God is all of us, this is not true. This is NOT in the written Word of God, nor does the Spirit of God bear witness to it....
      We all are God's children by Him giving us life. But no man can come to Him unless he is born of His Spirit, by faith in Him, and the finished work of Jesus Christ whom He sent to redeem us, fallen human race.....

      So, There are those who are the children of God in this world and there are those who are children of the evil one. Jesus spoke of this very clearly....Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, and Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Truth testifies of Him. One can not say they believe in Jesus Christ but refuse the Spirit of Truth, or else they believe a lie. This is what we are seeing on large scale in today's apostate Christendom...
      Remember this one thing, dear friend: We know that Truth without Love is like hollow noise of an angry, lame man's cane. Innocent little children at play hear it, and run to hide from him.... But Love without Truth is as sweet coated poisoned apple that puts those who take a bite of it into sedated sleep, taking them right to the portals of Hell....
      I see in your post that You have a beautiful , loving spirit. But you do need to know the Truth and pray to God for the Spirit of Discernment, because the enemy of our souls can AND does transform himself into the angel of light, in order to deceive! Remenmber the words Jesus said, to be wise as serpants, but gentle as doves..We can be both, in HIm! 🙂

      April 3, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      P.S. I have misspelled some words , so I will re post the sentence...

      He will let them go their own way, because GOD will not force Himself on anyone.... You can not just believe that God is IN ALL OF US, this is not true....

      April 3, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
  11. JWH

    Rob seems to be a type that tries to take the sting of God's wrath toward sin and expound the love side of God.
    You cannot find "sin" in the article. He is a rebel to the way the gospel has been presented for a long time. He must simply say, Jesus is the Way or not to heaven, That simple.

    BTW, if he was serious about lipstick and those leather clothes in the video being on the Holy perfect Lord God Almighty, he does not know him. Jesus, not man, Jesus said I am the way, and NO man come to the Father, but by me. That means Muhammad, Buddha and all others are lost.

    April 3, 2011 at 7:51 am |
    • LongLiveThePhoenix

      The one thing that i find very interesting is that every religion has a grave site with remains, Muslims, Buddhism, Judaism, ect. ect. yet Christianity has a grave site but no remains. For those out their that think "some one stole them"....no don't be dumb

      April 3, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  12. 20 Year Veggie

    I have study crusader in high school. I also study that crusader end centuries ago. Get over it and join modern world.

    April 2, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  13. Victor

    Hello, Judgment Day is May 21, 2011. http://www.ebiblefellowship.com/may21 http://www.familyradio.com

    April 2, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • hmayberry

      Hey Victor: "No man knows the day nor the hour" (Matthew 25:36). Let's talk on the 22nd! But just out of curiosity, which time zones are we talking about?

      April 2, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • Jay

      @HMAYBERRY

      HIGH FIVE!

      April 2, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  14. Jim

    In regards to Christianity, please refer to the Book of Revelations to expel any doubt regarding where sinners will be heading for eternity.

    According to John, sinners bound in hell, will at the end of time, be cast down into an even fiercer place, named the Pit of Sulfur, for all eternity. Rather frightening in my opinion. Clearly there is nothing spoken of their redemption back into Paradise.

    I love how anyone can declare themselves as any sort of biblical expert of any kind, I could probably go write a book, like a certain Mr. Hubbard, and gather enough followers to create my own religion these days. That is how pathetically gullible 80% of humanity is. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if someone went and wrote a new "new testament" to the bible and managed to pull away followers from different christian sects, forming a Baptist/Lutheran/Protestant fusion.

    April 2, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  15. Phillip

    Jabarhead: have you taken any literary courses in high school? I am trying to be patient, but you seem to be insisting that we act ridiculous in order to talk with you. Are you just here to insult? I could play on your level and say "Define for me what the word "clearly" or "exactly" means, and pretend that I have no ability or willingness to interact under the normal rules of grammar. Instead, I will attempt to do what any student of literature should do (even a student of your literature), and ascribe the best meaning to your words that I can, taking into account what I perceive that you mean by each of them. If you would but do this with the text, you could no longer pretend ignorance. You said: "'wide' hmm.. not quite an exact measurement, is it?)

    The word "wide" is an antonym for the word "narrow." The point is one of comparison in the text (Matthew 7:13-14). "many" are on the way to destruction, and "few" are on the way to "life." So, Jesus contrasts Wide and Narrow, and Destruction and Life. Both pairs of words are opposites. "Life" in the gospels refers to the eternal life of Christ, which we can see even more clearly from the wider context. You seem to pretend that it is unacceptable and unclear when Jesus employs language that we humans use everyday! It is perfectly acceptable to say that someone is "tall" without specifically saying that they are 7'11"... we mean that they are "tall" compared to a short person. Suppose we said that person A is "tall" and person "B" is short, compared to one another. While you might not know HOW tall or short either person is, you would certainly know one thing: person B cannot be taller than person A! To say such a thing would destroy any possible meaning in the sentence itself. In the same way, when Jesus uses contrasting language (wide and narrow), it is unnecessary for us to know the exact #s. We can tell that he means to say that those on the wide path are more than those on the narrow path: the MANY are more than the FEW.

    I will do this with every word you pretend is unclear if you like. It seems like you are grasping for every excuse not to believe, my friend. I am not saying that you ought to believe in the truth claims of the Bible (although I wish you would), I am simply saying that if we played by the rules that you are trying to impose upon the Bible, no one would be able to communicate at all. You sound like a deconstructionalist, which is a self-defeating position to hold!

    BTW: a "literalist" is not someone who tries to impose a literal meaning on a non-literal genre. A literalist is someone who treats each genre according to the normal rules of discourse that apply to that genre. You do this without even knowing it every day. Have you ever told someone they were "hot?" Did you mean that they had a fever? What if they threw up their hands and said: "I don't know what you mean- always jumping to elusive metaphors..." Wouldn't you think they were silly and playing games?

    April 2, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • jabarhead

      Phillip,

      I like you. You're intellectual and you use your OWN brain. Wonderful! And very refreshing. I'm sorry you don't appreciate my sarcasm, but I'm sure in "high school" you learned about literary style or "voice" and this is mine.

      I appreciate your response. I would like to respond in kind, but I would like to ask you a question so that I may respond fully. (I ask this honestly this time... I'm not being facetious as before.)

      My question is: returning to the original Bible verse, what do you believe this is saying about Heaven and Hell

      April 2, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
    • Phillip

      Jabarhead: Ahh... now we are talking civilly. See: we can disagree charitably after all! I do appreciate sarcasm; I am one of the most sarcastic people I know. I have found, however, that sarcasm is often hurtful to a person, and is perceived more often than not as an attack. You may be surprised, however, to know that I get frustrated at Christians who do not know why they believe (and do not care to find out why), but are rather content to look down on others who do not believe. What would they do if they found that their kind of "faith" was denounced in the Bible? If they would read their Bible, they would find quickly that unless God opens your heart, you cannot believe. Thus, we have nothing to boast about. This is not the same as saying that Christianity is unreasonable: in fact, it is saying that we are unpersuaded by reason until God gives us a new heart.

      Now to your question: At face value, this statement could be speaking of only two things with regard to life (unless I am missing something). Either 1) it speaks to a better way of living here on earth (and consequently the argument that “hell/destruction” is “bad living/hell on earth” could be extrapolated by contrast), or 2) it is speaking of a kind of life that is spoken of elsewhere in the gospels which lasts after death (and consequently the “destruction” that is being spoken of likewise occurs after death”.

      I am convinced of the latter meaning (#2) for several reasons: 1) the language speaks of a “path” rather than a point. The path denotes a journey that terminates in either life or destruction. It is not therefore hard to see that Jesus denotes the person as being on a path throughout life, which terminates in two radically different ways at death (the terminus of the journey). Actually, there are two paths, but you catch my meaning. 2) The same truth is taught in other passages, where the judgment and afterlife is clearly in view (John 5:24-29; John 3:18, 36; Matthew 19:16-17; Matthew 25:46 (Aside: Can I just say that Christians should pay careful attention to these verses (25:45-46): I saw a man in a suit today being rude to a woman at McDonalds, and it made me sick).
      I think especially of the time when the disciples asked the question “Lord, will those that will be saved be few?” And the response was “strive to enter into the narrow gate: for MANY, I say to you, will seek to enter in, and will not be able” (Luke 13:23-24). The word “saved” in this passage begs the question “from what?” The answer is that we are saved from the wrath of God against our sins (Romans 5:9).

      I’d like to remind you that I am not at this point asking you to believe, I am only speaking as to the meaning of the text itself.

      So, to answer the question, this verse speaks only of the proportion of those going to hell (“many”), not of the nature of hell/the lake of fire (other than that it is characterized by “destruction”).

      April 3, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  16. Jlow

    2TImothy 4:3: For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

    John 3:36: Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."

    April 2, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  17. amjp

    “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..." Not just then. It's still the fundamental emphasis of Judaism, that is, this world and the "repair" of it, as expressed in "Tikkun Olam." This is the basic distinction between Judaism and the kind of Christianity Bell preaches against and many express on this board. I think he sounds great. Would that all Christians would realize the importance of going back to the words of Jesus, not to all those who came after him.

    April 2, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  18. Shep

    Krishna gonna make a fool out of everybody.

    April 1, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • JWH

      Fool. Mantras is air movement. Looking for that oooo spiritual feeling and enlightenment? The Spirit is already here and he is Holy.

      April 3, 2011 at 8:03 am |
  19. jabarhead

    Billy,

    Zach's head just exploded. Don't confuse him. Keep it all VERY simple.

    Thanks!

    April 1, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  20. Zach

    The Bible says "for by grace are ye saved through faith and not of yourselves it is the gift of God; not of works lest any man should boast. You must believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and accept that gift in order to go to Heaven. The Bible also says that our good works are as "filthy rags". That means that just because we think we are "good" here on earth, that doesn't give us an automatic ticket to Heaven. You must confess that Jesus died on the cross for you and believe it in your heart in order to go to Heaven. If you do not do that, you will go to Hell when you die.

    April 1, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • luv2praisehim99

      Zach, couldn't have said it better myself. Unfortunately, many people believe they are saved by works. It's going to be a very sad day when Jesus comes to rapture the church. Many people will be left behind because of their willingly unbelief.

      April 1, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • Billy

      Zach, you must see that there is not one truth, your truth as you interpret a book, but as many truths as there are people. There is room for all.

      April 1, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • Jon Hendry

      " If you do not do that, you will go to Hell when you die."

      There's not much support for that in the Bible.

      April 2, 2011 at 7:34 am |
    • Evian Grey

      Thanks Zach, this is truly enlightening (sarcasm).

      Seems somewhat ridiculous that simply believing something brings you eternal gold or gloom.

      Why does anyone still need religion?

      April 2, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Bernard

      April fools, no one older than 12 believes that lesson verbatim without question, right?

      April 2, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Pedro

      It seems like it's in thru one ear and out the other with many people here... We keep "preaching" of Christ and His Love but still we act in ignorance and hate. It is obvious that people who don't believe in Christ or in God in general but still post on this page are missing something. Those who DO agree with Rob in this article are still talking about whats to happen to people who dont do this or do do that! I'm a firm believer that we must concentrate on heaven and hell here on earth and not anticipate on an after life that we as humans do NOT have the capacity to imagine. I hope that one day the TRUE believers of Christ show themselves and not just people who quote the Bible, for even satan can do that!

      April 3, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Jason

      Agreed, Zach, but "how then shall we respond" to our salvation? We don't sit back and say "I got mine, you better get yours". We go about the business that Christ was about. Healing the sick, caring for the poor, loving our neighbor, befriending the sinner and the outcast. Excuse me while I remove the plank in my eye, but we are called to restore this world as best we can (spiritually and physically) and give the glory to God.

      April 4, 2011 at 7:47 am |
    • Ronn

      I for one, could never believe in a God who would create something as terrible as Hell or an eternal burning fire. Nor do I want to go to a heaven where I will be forced to spend eternity praising an egotistical narcissistic God. I am also terrified of having to spend that eternity with some of those self righteous persons who say they will be there. Nor do I want to believe in someone who nullifies the good deeds I do from the love and compassion of my own being, unless those deeds are attributed to him.

      April 4, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Bob

      This is incorrect theology, Zach. Where did you get the authority to interpret scripture correctly? Only the Catholic Church has the authority to interpret scripture truthfully.

      April 8, 2011 at 12:47 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.