Christian author's book sparks charges of heresy
Rob Bell is under fire for his latest book before it even hits the shelves.
March 1st, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Christian author's book sparks charges of heresy

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Rob Bell, a pastor and author who has achieved rock star status in the Christian world, is preaching a false gospel, his critics say. And some of those critics are Christian rock stars in their own right.

The pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Bell has authored a book called Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, which ignited a firestorm of controversy over the weekend, weeks before it arrives in bookstores.

On Saturday, in a blog post on the popular Christian website The Gospel Coalition, Justin Taylor blasted Bell's new book, out March 29, for teaching "false doctrine":

I’m glad that Rob Bell has the integrity to be lay [sic] his cards on the table about universalism. It seems that this is not just optimism about the fate of those who haven’t heard the Good News, but (as it seems from below) full-blown hell-is-empty-everyone-gets-saved universalism.

Universalism, in its broadest terms, preaches that everyone goes to heaven and that there is no hell. Critics say it represents a break from traditional Christianity, which they say holds that heaven and hell are very real places. In most Christian circles, universalism is a dirty word.

Taylor's post was quickly tweeted by several prominent pastors, including John Piper and Mark Driscoll, connected to the Gospel Coalition, a coalition of theologically conservative evangelical churches, and a full-blown theological controversy was on. By Monday, Taylor's response post had racked up a quarter million hits.

Other bloggers, meanwhile, are calling Bell an outright heretic.

Bell is not the first prominent Christian pastor to be recently accused of wading into theologically troubled waters. Bishop Carlton Pearson, once a mentee of famed Pentecostal televangelist Oral Roberts, has been run out of two churches and branded a heretic for preaching what he says is a gospel of inclusion with broad universalist themes.

Last year, Brian McLaren - a popular Christian author and a former pastor - was accused of breaking with Christian orthodoxy and delving headlong into universalism in his book A New Kind of Christianity.

But it's rare that theological arguments become top ten trending topics on Twitter, as Rob Bell did on Saturday.

“To be honest, it was a pretty rough weekend,” Taylor said in a phone interview. The 34-year-old heads the editorial content for Crossway, a Christian publishing company in Wheaton, Illinois.  Taylor he says his blog expresses his personal opinion not the opinion of the coalition.

"We’re talking about the big things here, things that have been historically defined as orthodox, " he said. "I have a high degree of confidence in what God is saying and what we can understand."

Though many things that separate Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox Christians, “this isn’t one of them," Taylor said. "We’ve historically agreed on many things, the person of Christ, heaven and hell. This isn’t a peripheral academic debate. What Rob Bell is talking about gets to the heart of Christianity.”

Taylor has not read Bell's forthcoming book in its entirety. His blog post was in response to the description released by Bell publisher HarperOne and a promotional video that features Bell.

"Rob Bell hasn’t sinned against me personally,” Taylor said, which is why he did not go to Bell before making his comments public. Instead, Taylor said, Bell's book represents a clear example of false teaching.

In the promotional video Bell refers to the nonviolent Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, a Hindu, and asks, "Gandhi's in hell? He is?"

"And someone knows this for sure?" Bell continues. "Will billions and billions of people burn forever in hell? And if that's the case how do you become one of the few? "

The video follows a trend in Bell's career as a pastor: he has long asked tough theological questions and challenged traditional answers. The short promotional video raises lots of questions without offering definitive answers.

"What we believe about heaven and hell is incredibly important because it exposes what we believe about who God is and what God is like," Bell says in it. " The good news is that love wins."

Those lines raised eyebrows for Taylor and others. "It is not preaching the gospel as found in the New Testament," Taylor said. "The New Testament is pretty clear if someone preaches a false gospel… that we are to reject that and have nothing to do with them."

For all his hipster leanings - including black rimmed glasses - Bell has a traditional pedigree. He went to Wheaton College, the Harvard of Christian schools, and later graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity.

But the Mars Hill Bible Church, which Bell founded, is not attached to any denomination. Were it attached to one - the Presbyterian or Catholic church, say - his book and video could raise eyebrows in the hierarchy and might lead to a church trial that could result in Bell's expulsion.

"A larger denomination would take his credentials and excommunicate him like they did to me,” Bishop Pearson told CNN.

By Sunday evening, Pearson was getting sent articles about the Bell flap. He said it reminded him of his days as a charismatic leader of a big church in the largest Pentecostal denomination. His questioning of hell from the pulpit led to his ouster.

"What happened to me is happening to Rob Bell," Pearson said. "If you denounce hell, it's like you are denouncing God. You’re going to be called a heretic."

“I thought my people loved me and would walk through the valley of the shadow of death with me, but they didn’t,” Pearson said.

Bell's church did not respond to requests for an interview. His Twitter feed has been silent since he posted about writing a piece for CNN's Belief Blog a few weeks ago. His publicist at HarperOne said he would not be doing publicity until his book hits shelves.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Leaders • Michigan • United States

soundoff (2,200 Responses)
  1. Chuck

    If he is supporting Universalism, or if he is a Universalist, he is not a Christian.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • daflew

      That is Legalism

      March 1, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Jon Zebedee

      the gospel according to chuck

      March 1, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • David

      Do you know who is in hell?
      Let me ask you a question. If you had a child what would your child have to do for you to cast them into eternal torment without hope?
      And do you think your father in heaven is more or less forgiving, caring, and understanding than you are?
      And let's just say he is wrong. What loving God would take offense at someone believing that God is too kind and too loving to send anyone to hell or even allow them to go to hell? At worst his sin is a lack of understand and an abundance of love.
      I am not saying he is wrong or he is right since I am not God. I just want to give you something to think about.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Ian F

      Says who? Have you studied the gospels in academic sense? Do you know who wrote them, in what languages they written, and when they were written? Do you know why the Gospels were chosen out of the 1hundreds of accounts of Jesus? Where does Jesus day that you have to believe in him to go to heaven? We know that Christ spoke in parables and allegory. In John (the most contentious Gospel as opposed to the synoptic Gospels) Christ says that only through him shall you receive the father. People have interpreted this to mean that only by believing in him; another interpretation is that only by acting like him shall you receive the father. If this latter interpretation is the truth, a lot of Christians are in big trouble.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Southern Christian

      You are correct. The Bible makes it perfectly clear that heaven and hell are real places. The rich man Lazarus in the Old Testament was clearly in hell.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Godless

      Heaven and hell are real? Okay, where are they?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Jim

      Terrific! Another Gospel. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Chuck.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • Alan

      Absolutely correct. If everyone goes to heaven then what's the point. he's basically calling Jesus Christ a liar.

      I will take God's word (CHRIST) over this guy anyday. I guess we'll see where this gets him in the end.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  2. Barbara

    There is one name under heaven whereby men MUST BE SAVED.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  3. mattifolks

    Sweet, so now we are all going to heaven even if we are not christians? Cool, coz I was worried there for a second. Just curious though what makes his interpretation of your fairy tale any different that any other interpretation? What authority does a baptist preacher have that this guy does not? NONE. These people are all off in left field together bickering with each other over why the sky is several shades of purple and not green with pink stripes. It just seems a silly waste of anyone's intellect.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Stephen

      Joh 14:10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
      Joh 14:11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.

      Believe ministers for their work's sake... not for empty words. Scripture is just philosophy if God doesn't back up what is spoken with miracles. It's a simple way to distinguish truth.

      1Co 4:20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  4. ju

    Its not true (Truth) because I believe,

    I believe because its True (Truth) -Gods Word

    March 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  5. Jeff

    Flash: Christians struggle for control of the weak masses! Opposing sides say their invisible friends don't like the other guy!

    How can one be a heretic when there clearly is no god? Anyone who preaches otherwise is a heretic against the laws of reality.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Stephen

      Why are you reading about something that doesn't exist then?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  6. mtsthelena

    What is being lost in universalism is a recognition of man's need of God's forgiveness and the importance of Jesus Christ. He is God's Son and came to us in the greatest act of compassion and kindness the world has ever known, "to seek and to save that which was lost". We actually needed Him to come.

    He did not some to "like" some and condemn others, but to mitigate another universal our race had brought on ourselves – universal condemnation – unless something changed, we would ALL end up in Hell. It cost Jesus a terrible death and punishment he did not deserve. His resurrection proved His solution was effective. Those who turn away from their wrongdoing and trust in Him to pay for it get to live. What is wrong with that?

    We should all be grateful for what He did and respond to it. I would love it if everybody responded, and I know that many who do are very different from me – that is fine. Unfortunately, some – Jesus predicted it would be many – may refuse, perhaps thinking their good deeds would impress God.

    We should never confuse man's achievements with God's requirements. Jesus spoke of a small gate and narrow road that few would take and of His being the only way to God. Bell asked whether Gandhi could be in Hell, even with all he did for others. I do not know that Gandhi ever trusted in Jesus – if he did not, his works could not save him. No one's can.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • mtsthelena

      Correction: "He did not come to..."

      March 1, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • mattifolks

      Please provide one shred of physical evidence that the man actually existed. No, the bible is not physical evidence. Yes, there are other people from antiquity that we believe existed without physical evidence, but we are not talking about those people right now. Third hand accounts from second hand witnesses whose accounts were appropriated by elitists and changed to fit their own agendas is not evidence (aka the bible).

      Open your test booklets now and begin...

      March 1, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • midwstrn girl

      the whole thing was a setup from the begining. Should you be punished for anothers sins? But yet we were all condemed at birth due to inherited sin. So Adam sinned and now we all must die?

      Since Jesus was God (or some other beleive a separate person Gods son) wouldnt he be immortal? so then he never really died or had the possiblity of dying right? So that is not a tru ransome sacrifice is it?

      Why did God create us with intellegence and brain, but not expect for us to determine good and bad? If we are to be punished for reason and thought then why not create us as drones? Basically that is why adam and eve sinned, they thought indepentaly of god.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • midwstrn girl

      the whole thing was a setup from the beginning. Should you be punished for another’s sins? But yet we were all condemned at birth due to inherited sin. So Adam sinned and now we all must die?

      Since Jesus was God (or some other believe a separate person Gods son) wouldn’t he be immortal? so then he never really died or had the possibility of dying right? So that is not a true ransom sacrifice is it?
      I apologize for my earlier post. I typed quickly and ran thru spell check only to post the version that had errors...so sorry for the eye strain...

      Why did God create us with intelligence and brain, but not expect for us to determine good and bad? If we are to be punished for reason and thought then why not create us as drones? Basically that is why Adam and Eve sinned, they thought independently of god.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • Stephen

      This is for mattifolks. There's more evidence Jesus existed then many other historical figures of His time. You know it's ok to not look so foolish and just deny Christ because you don't want to believe in Him then to be stupid about it. I'm sure you can come up with better reasons to not believe then something that is so obviously and easily proved wrong. 🙂 Why don't you try the Bible contradicts itself bandwagon. LOL.


      March 1, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  7. Dr. Ken Craven

    Of course he's a heretic: he's a Protestant.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  8. yoda

    He got it half right. He is correct that there is no hell. Now if he could just come to terms with the FACT that there is no heaven either he'd actually be on to something.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  9. brad

    Just to you know: the Catholic Church teaches that Hell exists, it does not teach that anyone is in it. Not Ghandi, not the Buddha, not even Hitler.

    On the other hand, Jesus prayed "Lead us not into temptation." and "deliver us from evil". Why would he be interested in evil and temptation? He didn't say "don't worry about it. Everything's fluffy."

    March 1, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  10. Cameron Dalton

    EVERY knee shall bow and EVERY tougue shall confess Jesus is LORD.

    The only questions is will you bow and confess the easy way or the hard way. At that my friends is the ONLY question!

    March 1, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Godless

      Does Jesus know karate? Or will he defeat the non-believers with the Force, Vader-style?

      March 1, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  11. Middle America

    It seems to me that if every one can be saved with out accepting Jesus, then what did Jesus die for? Personally, I'm betting on Jesus. I require his grace and mercy. I can't be perfect. I've tried. I've failed. I rest in Jesus.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  12. Super Funky Awesome Time

    I love reading about religious "heresy", it's like watching Trekkies argue over Harry Potter. On the streetcar the other day a man tried to give me a flier about his church or something and I politely declined, I told him that I don't believe in magic. He replied that what he is preaching is NOT magic, it is what will keep Satan from murdering my family. Haha, these people walk the streets!

    March 1, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  13. questioning

    Fear in one form or another is a basic tenant of all organized religion. Organized religion was created to control people. All organized religion would oppose the taking away of their fear tool. Without fear all you have is, be the way we say or shame on you. How effective in controlling people is that? How long will this guy last now that his congregation knows they have nothing to fear in not OBEYING scripture?

    March 1, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  14. Tdogg

    For those who believe that hell exists, and that most of creation will burn in that hell for eternity – I ask you this question: What would it take for your child, your son or your daughter, to do in order for you to throw them into the pit of hell as you believe it to be? What would they do to be judged by you as unworthy of anything other than eternal, burning damnation forever? Think carefully. Because you do believe that your "god" is capable of doing just that. I cannot fathom a God that would love so little as to toss people into hell forever.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • Harry

      I am a Christian and Most of my kids are not. My eldest is 23. Me being a Christian means I have a relationship with God and I acknowledge Jesus as his son...nothing more really. I use an example if I am going to CA and i want to stay there for a week with a family, but I don't know them. I walk into their house lay down on their couch eat their food and don't know them you would call that home invasion or break and entering.

      Same scenario but I know the Son. I am welcomed fed and can rest. Same deal with God. You don't have to know him or even understand him. As long as you know the Son, you are ok.

      And in answering your question of what I just said and what I do believe, yes, My children that do not know him will burn in hell. I hope they have time and come to him before its too late.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Stephen

      You ask the question that what parent would put their child in Hell and I would ask what society would not put people in prison who were a life/death danger to the rest of society. I believe any parent, thinking right, would have to admit that if their child continued to do things that killed the innocent, that they needed to go somewhere separate from the rest of society. Answering your question doesn't really address what I think the Bible does say on the issue. It might help a lot of people here to do a word study of hell and eternity to see what the Bible actually says about it. When it says eternity it actually means for an age... not forever. Hell most often means the grave but there are times mentioned about hell fire where there does seem to be some burning of something going on. After studying it through I think there could very well be a place separated from Heaven that isn't too comfortable but it actually may be for the benefit of those there to bring them to a place that frees them of the desires to do those things that are wrong. There is also a good argument that the final judgment is not one of eternal damnation but one where you are utterly and forever destroyed as if you never existed. Is it not less painful to just not be then to be and suffer torment forever. Anyone fearful of questioning doctrine should be pointed to the middle ages as proof that theological doctrine isn't always God's actual Word on the matter.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  15. Godfrey

    The idea that "Hell" exists in the mind of any modern human is hilarious... and tragic.

    As Hitchens says: religion belongs to the bawling and fearful infancy of our species.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • brt

      It's something that worked in the Bronze age because they didn't know any science or have any idea about what makes us tick. Thanks to religion we are here today and were able to socially and technologically evolve into who we are today, but who we are today and the technology we have obtained does not mix with religious myth. The middle east is a perfect example of this. If we don't let go of this tool and upgrade to a better one, then we will probably destroy ourselves.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  16. Recovering Baptist, now Episcopalian

    Thanks, Ken. I'll be sure to let Jesus know that you've delimited His discretion so neatly based on your knowledge of God's will. I would have done it for Him, but it felt too much like hubris to me.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Godfrey

      Your moniker is amusing. It's like calling yourself "Recovering Alcoholic, now Crackhead".

      March 1, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  17. Nate

    For those who are throwing out accusations, questioning Bell's theology, or questioning Bell's salvation:

    You are playing right into his hand. The promotional videos are meant to stir up questions. They're meant to make you think "what if". And they're made to make you go pick up the book and read it to see if this guy really is crazy.

    You have a narrow view of the Bible and theology, so anything that doesn't match up just right gets thrown into the heresy fire. But Bell didn't answer any questions in his promo video. He just asked questions.

    I have a feeling that Bell is not going to be quite the universalist you think he is, but you won't know that, because most of you have already made up your mind.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • neoritter

      I have to agree with you to a certain degree. The question of universalism aside. From my limited knowledge on the situation, it seems he hasn't made any claims. He has hinted at some, but they're tenuous at best. I'm not sure he's proposing that everyone goes to heaven. So I don't complete get what the whole stink is about.

      If universalism is such a huge issue with Christianity, than the questions need to be asked and then answered. Does Gandhi go to hell? Is an often used question by atheists to morally debunk Christianity and to cause Christians to doubt their faith. It would be smart for the average Christian to be able to answer that question adequately.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Mark

      I'm with you. I've seen some of his stuff before and sure, maybe he's going full-bore universalistic but I doubt it. No matter what the answers are, the lack of answers to questions like these are what's driving so many away from Christianity. There has to be a discussion and the sooner the better.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • SecretMark

      "Heresy" was defined by the Catholic Church during the late Roman and Middle Ages. (Of course, it includes all of the modern Protestant faiths). Most of the Protestant faiths subsequently adopted the term "heresy" to describe any view that differs from their own. The term "heresy" in these contexts is very clearly defined, and it is not just a matter of opinion. Of course, "heresy" is not necessarily a pejorative term. These days, one might be proud to be a "heretic."

      March 1, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  18. Frespech

    Closer to the truth than some- Hallowed be thy name(Most religions today do not even acknowledge His name) Thy Kingdom come. What Kingdom and why if everyone is going to heaven or hell?The tent of God is to reside with man and mourning and outcry and even death will be no more. Everlasting life is just that,not a tranformation to some other form of life. Angels have existed before mankind and mankind was made a little lower than the angels. The reason Christ resurrected people was to show its possibility.The righteous and unrighteous were resurected from the memorial tombs and judged. Read it and make your own mind up.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • SecretMark

      Mankind was not made "lower than the angels." To the contrary, God oredered the angels to serve mankind. This is in Genesis. I have no idea where you came by your assertion. I have never heard any such thing.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  19. Byrd

    I'm pretty sure he's a heretic. His eyes look kinda beady and the grin has a Colorado medicinal, almost herbal quality to it...

    Definitely burning at the stake material for you fundamentalists out there. Taste like chicken.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • SecretMark

      Oh he is a heretic all right, as that term has been defined for centuries by the Catholic Church and the major Protestant faiths. But Universailism is nothing new. See, the Apocolypse of Peter, wherein Jesus essentially tells Peter (my paraphrase): "Don't tell anyone, but everyone will eventually get into heaven." Nudge nudge wink wink.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  20. Edgar

    I believe that Mr. bell is asking a very important question. Leaving the universal entry to heaven aside; is it not illogical to think that a person who has lived a virtuous life cannot be welcomed into heaven if they were not Christian. If the universal commandment of "treat others like you would want to be treated" is followed, why then need you be a Christian? Logically a virtuous person should enter heaven because the very principles espoused for being good were uttered by a person not yet a Christian in name.

    March 1, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • brt

      because then christian organizations and churches couldn't make money off of a person's desperation and fear of death.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Godfrey

      Edgar, you're attempting to apply logic to a medieval doctrine that is based on a bronze-age myth. Logic has never had much to do with religion; it is only comparatively recently that there has been an attempt to reconcile the two.

      It cannot be done; you must compromise the one or the other.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Bernard

      God, by traditional accounts, is more forgiving than any human can ever be for he loves us all more than we can love our children. This is what event the most conservative and traditional of Christians believe.

      So how is it not a paradox then for Hell to be real for non-believers while simultaneously there is at least one human on earth with the audacity to forgive everyone and let everyone go to heaven in his or her philosophy. Even ignoring the accusation that the "holy spirit" is a euphemism for a greedy, selfish, and egotistical father figure who demands pentanence like an aztec Lord, it begs the question that if god is real and if hell is true, how has Bell not somehow "divided by zero" and destroyed the universe for being more loving and forgiving than God?

      The way I see it, either god doesn't exist, or god does exist and he's more forgiving than what the people who still use that jaded term "heretic" think God is. And personally, I think the existence of sentient life alone proves that there is some sort of higher intelligence, but thats a philosophy that would waste at least an essay's worth in explanation.

      Bell is the best thing to ever happen to the modern Christian Youth in this nation if you ask me, and historically it was always the one accused of "heresy" in Christianity that ended up paving the way for the faith in more peaceful and adaptive forms.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • brt

      I also don't believe that a god who created the entire Universe in 7 days would create people with flaws, say everyone will have those flaws, and then create a special place for them to spend all of eternity if they sin too much in the very short time they are given. I think a god who could create the Universe would most likely give a 'soul' chance after chance until the universe ended.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Bob's Uncle

      Excellent post Edgar.
      I admit I don't know the bible as well as some, but I believe there's a passage in Matthew where Christ tells a town of people that they are good Christians. They ask "What's a Christian and who are you?"
      Christ replies that it doesn't matter if they don't know him, only that they live their life as he does.
      Many scholars believe that when Christ said "Whoever believes in me shall have eternal life", that the word 'believe' was wrongly interpretted to me the literal sense. What it could mean is Christ saying "Whoever lives like I do, or walks the walk like I do".
      I believe that as well. If someone is a good person their whole life, they are being a Christian.
      And as I get older I start believing that everyone will be saved. I have kids and I can't think of anything they could do that would make me stop loving them or want to abolish them to Hell. God's grace is infinitely greater than mine. We're all His children so I don't know if there's a Hell when everything's said and done.
      Besides, most of the people that some Christians believe will go to Hell are most likely living in a real Hell anyway. Drug users, abusers, adulterers. They all have demons they have to face every day. Who's to say they're not suffering all the time?
      In the end, it shouldn't matter to a Christian whether there's a hell or not. That shouldn't be the reason why you want to be a good person. Be good because it's the right thing to do, not because you're scared you'll be punished if you're not.

      March 1, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Fred

      Edgar as far as what I know about being a Christian, which I struggle with one way or the other, is that yes if you do not believe in Christ and take him as your savior you go to hell.

      With that said, these other people that are questioning Bell is because he claims o be a Christian and in the Bible it states you will not be welcomed in to heaven without knowing Christ as your savior.

      They are not saying this is actually true or not, but as a Christian preacher is is wrong not to preach the Gospel.

      I also have the same questions as Bell, but see why the Christians are so up in arms that one of there own is preacher something different, i am pretty sure that a Muslim would be shot on site that said something along the lines of this and basically questioned the whole faith. just joking about being shot onsite..

      March 1, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • sealchan

      My feeling is that the majority of Christians interpret the Bible as a straight-forward work of morality. This interpretation is, a miss-teaching, as opposed to a false teaching. By a miss-teaching I mean, the morailty of the Bible is secondary to a more mystical, deeper truth, that God, for better or worse, is in it with us. His creation is perfect but contains both good and evil. We are to aim for the good but if we fail miserably, and if you keep sincerely striving for the good, God will back you up.

      There is a lot of ambiguity that the moralists dismiss indicating that you can't simply add up the good works you achieve to pass the threshold for Heaven. Its about atti-tude and effort and walking a path that could put you at odds with anyone and everyone at any time. But if you fail and "go down hard" you should start right up again. How do you teach or inspire someone to set aside the score card and seek righteousness without pretension in each and every moment? That is the true teaching of the Bible. The sun rises and sets on the wicked as well as the just after all...

      March 1, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • sealchan

      In addition, the Bible is about how screwed humanities hopes for righteousness were from the very beginning...even before Cain slew Abel, God set us up in the Garden of Eden for a Fall...but to say set up is to demean God unnecessarily...the mystery of the world, that God created and so must take responsibility for, is that it does contain great evil and possibility of evil. Yet we are given the chance to commit evil or, of our own glorious free will, to commit great good and sacrifice. For all the pain and hardship seemingly, relentlessly built into this Cosmos, it is, already, an imminent Heaven where the will of a loving God can come full force upon you.

      I think we can all catch a glimpse of that in the events of the world today where so many people set aside their fear of violent repression and stand up in the face of evil to overturn dictatorial governments.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Jim

      Edgar your statement is in fact what the Catholic church holds to be true. If, through no fault of your own, you have never heard of Christ, yet you live a virtuous life, that you needn't be a baptized Christian to be saved. You would, however, still be considered saved by Jesus Christ.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • SecretMark

      It is "illogical" to think that there is any heaven at all. Try and prove that there is.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Bob's Uncle

      "It is "illogical" to think that there is any heaven at all. Try and prove that there is."

      Prove that you love your child, or your mom, or you spouse. Nobody can do that either.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:18 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.