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. Radagast

    There is no Hell, and no Damnation. There are hells – small 'h', plural – but those are self-inflicted and self-created, and thus one can escape from those.

    Think about it – Christians like to describe God as a "God of love". Yet they believe that their God of love would condemn sentient beings – his own creations, his own "children" – to eternal torture simply because they professed the wrong belief. Any such being that would do such a thing and feel good about it is no God of love, but a Devil. If you worship a God who would condemn people to eternal torture in a lake of fire, you are worshiping a devil, and are presumably doing so out of fear.

    Give up your fear, there is no such fate awaiting you. And if there were, the Author of it would need to be opposed, not worshiped.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Dan

      No. Hell is for those who refuse his righteousness. Anyone - matter how bad - can be saved. All you have to do is receive it.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Anna

      If I believe in God, but do not bellieve in the trinity/that Jesus was the son of God, am I screwed?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • RealisticHumanist_986487563

      Right on, Radagast! Any omniscient, omnipotent "god" who allows suffering of any kind, much less eternal torture in a place of fire and brimstone "where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth" doesn't deserve any kind of "glory".

      March 1, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  2. Christ a liar, no. But...

    After 2000 years (or more) of filtration by the powers that be, and after looking into things, I'm convinced that we cannot historically know the truth about this obviously amazing and very important person, who I do believe is divine-but that's my own business. I think the more important thing is that we are completely missing the point of what he, and other very important and inspirational religious "messengers" have said- stop shooting each other, damn it! Aren't the challenges of staying alive, fed, and loved enough?

    March 1, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  3. toni

    Go first amendment!

    March 1, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Anna

      I'll drink to that!

      March 1, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  4. RealisticHumanist_986487563

    Ha ha, it's so funny to watch everyone argue about which fairy tale is more correct! I prefer the Jedi Knights, personally.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • TraderJoe

      I know, people just have closed their mind and follow a very narrow path like bulls with blinders.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  5. Mike

    o JCO64 Have I missed anything?
    o Yes,
    o Psalms 53:1
    1 the fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.
    o Acts 4:12
    12 neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
    o John 17:3
    3 and this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
    o 1 John 1:7-10
    7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.
    8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
    9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
    10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
    o John 3:16-18
    16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
    17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
    18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
    o Romans 5:8
    8 But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
    o John 14:6
    6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
    o 1 Timothy 2:5
    5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
    o Isa 43:11
    11 I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no savior.
    o 1 John 5:12, 13
    12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
    13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
    o 1 John 4:3
    and every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
    o 1 John 2:22
    who is a liar but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist that denies the Father and the Son.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • LittleChild

      The WORD works! plant that SEED!

      March 1, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Anna

      Mike, with all due respect, many people do not believe that the bible is the word of God. You can quote it all day long but it doesn't mean anything to those who believe it was written/translated/interpreted by man.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • Observer

      Here's something else that God, who is perfect and unchanging, said: "Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death.".

      Please tell us that you advocate following those words from God.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • TraderJoe

      All that stuff is from the same book written by men, who did not like the previous version and wrote their own.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • RealisticHumanist_986487563

      You can't use quotes from the book in question as proof of its veracity! Lol!

      March 1, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  6. Ants?

    Folks, I've got to get back to work, God may work in strange ways but he's not producing much today. Excellent discussion from both the believers and the non. Believers continue to give the 10% the church needs to eat too.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  7. JJ

    2 Timothy 4:3-5 (New International Version)
    3 For the time will come when people 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. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      Paul said that stuff, not the Rabbi he never knew, who's followers he willfully persecuted. Paul perverted the teachings to remove Jesus the person, and removed his family (Jacob, Miriam, Thomas, Judah) from the leadership of the early church to Peter, who he seduced into thinking he was above the others.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  8. mjg228

    Back in the day (well, very early days) the church would confront "heretics" face to face and discuss the topic in question. Today, Bell's critics are a bunch of cowards – hiding behind Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and pulpits. It's funny how his critics are so afraid of him, afraid of questions – they just gave his book free publicity.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • Jennifer S

      How are they hiding behind their social media presence? Twitter, Facebook, and blogs are all now a valid way to discuss the issues of the day. All of the men who are mentioned in the article as blogging or tweeting about this are public figures in their own right who did not hide behind an anonymous name. Kind of ironic that you hide behind "mjg228" though, isn't it?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
  9. Rambo with a tootpick

    Haven't read the book so I can't comment on that. However, the preacher man looks like Bono and that is cause for alarm.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  10. Alan

    He calls God/Christ a liar. Enough said.

    John 14:6

    March 1, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  11. Justin Lowry

    He's not a Christian, an Elect Sheep who hearkens to the Kingdom as a little child. He's a Goat False Profit and God hates him!
    But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 Pet 2
    You will go to the place where your fire is not quenched and your worm will not die Isa. 66 and Mark 9
    Rev. 14:10B, 11A and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever

    March 1, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Melissa

      Funny- the only thing I got out of that rant is "God hates!"

      March 1, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Mike

      God does NOT hate him or any sinner. That belief is just as false is as his believing there's no hell, if that is what he really believes. I don't know him personally or read his book, so I don't know what he really believes. The truth is Jesus died to pay our sin debt. If there's no hell, then why did Jesus die and what about our sin?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Michelle

      God doesn't hate anyone, neither did JC....it is about love.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • Anna

      Mike...perhaps Jesus died because he was a human and humans die. I personally don't believe that Jesus' death has one thing to do with my (or your) so-called "sins."

      March 1, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  12. Casey

    How can a righteous and just God dwell in the midst sin? It goes against His very nature. One simple word changes that: atonement. God has extended His love to us by providing a way to satisfy the need for justice while showing us His love simultaneously. Who will go to Heaven? Only those that have embraced Jesus Christ, God's atonement for sin, as their Savior. Sadly, the rest will be subject to the punishment that sin rightly deserves because they were unwilling to embrace God's way.

    John 14:6... "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

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

      That's one mean God you serve.....and Casey "the punishment sin rightly deserves" that seems to please you...you like that, you in heaven...me in hell....Gives you a sense of superiority... self righteiousness. So my brother..... Your righteousness is as filthy rags in God's nostrils....look that one up.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Anna

      I embrace God, but I believe that Jesus was no more than a prophet, on par with Mother Theresa, and Ghandi, and Martin Luther King Jr.

      What will become of me?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Travis

      youre exactly right casey! Ive listened to rob bell speak before and he has just always struck me weird, when he speaks he uses little to no scripture and i just cant follow someone without scripture being his support. If Bell is preaching No Hell, i would just ask him, why does the bible refer to hell so much than? if no one is going, why talk about it?? False teaching is a dangerous path...

      March 1, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Dan

      Brent, there is nothing mean in Christ volunteering for the job, which he said he did. He himself took on humanity and offered himself as a sacrifice. It is absolutely not what you suggest.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • TraderJoe

      A very narrow thinking....

      March 1, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • brent

      Dan: God condemning the vast majority of all those whoever lived to eternal damnation is mean. Pure and simple....my God does not do that. He is love and only love...and he loves me...but i feel no love on this forum....just comdemnation.... judgement and self righteousness.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  13. scott

    I want to know why the spaghetti monster is not getting equal time on CNN ! (psst... it is all just made up stuff... no one should care)

    March 1, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  14. Paul

    Praise the Lord !! They are half way to the truth !! There is no heaven either. Let's all grow up and out of the infancy of our species and just do good because it is good, not because it is god.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • Alan

      "Good" as you call it is rooted in the word "GOD".

      March 1, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • FSM

      Thor is rooted in the word Thursday. Why are you not worrying this very moment about pleasing Thor? He is going to strike you down you know if you don't believe in him.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  15. John

    IMO, Bell has it partly right. No one is going to hell, but no one is going to heaven either. Heaven and hell do not exist. We are nothing special, just another animal with a big brain and the ability to talk. Religion is poison and it is way past time that we all realize it. I don't need a savior and I don't need to be saved. I also cannot fathom anyone's desire to worship a psychopath, which if you look into it, is exactly how I would describe the imaginary biblical god.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  16. Bev

    ...and somewhere satan is saying "yes, yes, yes, my plan is working."

    March 1, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • Agnostic Front

      Is he really Bev? Like the wicked witch from Hansel and Gretel is still waiting on her lunch and Cinderella is trying on shoes? All of this is a bunch of crap and fairy tales. We die, our energy goes back to the universe. We rot. We are nothing more than ants on the buttocks of the universe.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Wells

      You should know what Satan is saying.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • JCO64

      Since nothing can happen contrary to the will of God, I'd say God is ALLOWING Satan's plan to work.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  17. Pirate65

    Hey, CNN. Ghandi wasn't a Hindu. He was a Jainist. Those are two very different belief systems. Please research before you post this stuff!

    March 1, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • Pirate65

      Oh...and by the way, Ghandi is certainly in Heaven or whatever other place enlightened, moral, non-judgemental, good people go when they die.

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

      Being "good" doesn't get you into heaven.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Anna

      Right. You can be as bad as can be, as long as you tap your feet three times and say the magic words "I accept the lord Jesus Christ as my lord and savior."

      I have said the words many times. They are just words to me. Do I get in, or no?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • mms

      Who said Gandhi is a Jain? Check your facts brother. He always carried a copy of Bhagwad Gita with him....

      Quote from – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohandas_Karamchand_Gandhi

      "Gandhi was born a Hindu and practised Hinduism all his life. As a common Hindu, he believed all religions to be equal, and rejected all efforts to convert him to a different faith. He was an avid theologian and read extensively about all major religions. He had the following to say about Hinduism:

      Hinduism as I know it entirely satisfies my soul, fills my whole being...When doubts haunt me, when disappointments stare me in the face, and when I see not one ray of light on the horizon, I turn to the Bhagavad Gita, and find a verse to comfort me; and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming sorrow. My life has been full of tragedies and if they have not left any visible and indelible effect on me, I owe it to the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita."

      March 1, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • oriental

      Well Hinduism is not a religion in a traditional sense, It was given to us by the westerners who couldn't fathom a belief system which was universal , had no heaven or hell.
      Anyways Gandhi was certainly not a Jain but a follower of Santana Dharam.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • JDJ


      I agree with you that clicking your heels 3x and saying the prayer won't get it done. God is interested in our heart. When we do pray and ask for forgiveness, we become a new person. God then gives us the ability to overcome sin, not to be perfect mind you, because that will not happen during our lifetime.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  18. Lets not judge

    I am a Christian believer and have been inspired by many of Bell's teachings. I haven't read the book so I can't draw any conclusion. But what intrigues me is that the only comments that made me unease were the accusing ones by fellow Christians.
    Come on, brothers and sisters! It's not our place to judge Rob bell. His pursuit of God is genuine and even if we knew him close, we have no business in judging.
    There are far more clear "PUNISHMENT" against judging one another in the bible, then there is to false teaching. After all, the book tallks about: love winning. Where is the love?

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

      Well he's not a Christian. Nobody that considers Jesus Christ a liar is a Christian. John 14:6 is clear. Either Christ is a liar or he is who says.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Amanda

      There is clear punishment for false teaching/false prophets. Deut 13:1-5 speaks of punishment by death. That's pretty clear.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Anna

      Bell calls Jesus a liar?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • Dan

      It is not judging to disagree with a man who has maligned the very teachings of Christ, who stated emphatically that there was a hell and that "many were on that road." If he wants to cause controversy, he has to man up and take the consequences.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • dbnotcooper

      To amanda:

      Lol. The Christian faith is founded on the new testament, not the old testament. The OT was done away with when Jesus came onto the scene. Learn your religion if you are going to preach it. The old testament, more or less, is a collection of books of the Jewish faith, the tanakh (sp?). If you were to follow all the laws of the OT, which generally would be required to get into heaven if it weren't for Jesus, you would have to make animal sacrifices as well, and wear garments of only pure threads (no poly cotton blends you silly heathen!)

      I always stand in awe of those who don't know their own religion.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  19. Chris

    Last time I checked, people are free to believe and write about whatever they want. If swaths of devout Christians get angry about it, well, that's their own personal problem...

    March 1, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Alan

      Incorrect. It makes people angry because he claims to be a Christian. Christian means follower of Christ, not one that makes up his own religion. He needs to stop calling himself a Christian if he wants people to get off his back. He is a liar, plain and simple.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • Dan

      And others are free to tak eissue with it. If Bell, yourself or anyone else has an issue with it, it is your problem.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Anna

      Who is to say whether he is a follower of Christ? You? I think it makes people uncomfortable because what he says makes sense. Otherwise, why would you care? You do realize that not all Christians hold the same beliefs? Must they hold beliefs identical to yours to consider themselves Christian?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Chris

      Alan, it doesn't matter. Therefore you are the one who is incorrect. People can call themselves whatever they want. Whether or not they are correct in what they call themselves makes no difference to anyone, at least it shouldn't. That being said, I am sure he is LOVING all this attention regardless of the negativity.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Observer

      @Chris, "Christian means follower of Christ, not one that makes up his own religion. He needs to stop calling himself a Christian if he wants people to get off his back. He is a liar, plain and simple."

      Are there ANY Christians by your definition? Since the Bible is so full of errors and contradictions and there are over 20 English versions, how can ANYONE claim to be the "correct" version of a Christian? It makes for millions and millions of "liars, plain and simple".

      March 1, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • TraderJoe

      Alan, you dont have a clue...calling him liar...just because he does not have a close mind like your..

      March 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Chris

      Observer, I agree. "He needs to stop calling himself a Christian if he wants people to get off his back." However, he only "needs" to do this "if he wants people to get off his back." Whether or not he is ALLOWED to do this is not even up for discussion. My main point is people have NOTHING to be angry about. The only reason they are is because many people actually like what he has to say and the fact that he is calling himself a Christian gets WAY under their skin for some IMMATURE reason. Anyone who is angry at this man should just mind their own business and stop being INSECURE about their religion.... kind of downplays the power of it, if you ask me. But what do i know?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Kyle

      Seriously Anna? A non-believer will not understand why this is a problem. A christian sees the problem and will defend their faith.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • Observer


      I apologize for mixing up the names. Obviously, my comments were intended for Alan.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Anna

      Kyle, many Christians disagree with you. I suppose they are not true Christians? Such as yourself and Alan?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • olcranky1

      @Alan: I'm sorry, I guess I'm not as biblically literate as you. Could you kindly direct me to the passages where Jesus (or God) specifically said that anyone and everyone, even those who'd never so much as heard of Jesus, would go to Hell solely for the transgression of not believing in Jesus as their savior?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • Chris

      No worries, Observer! I am not as passionate about this topic as my messages may have indicated, however, I am passionate about everyone's right to believe and preach whatever they want. If others get offended, well that doesn't really matter in any real sense, does it? haha unless we all want to get a little more sentimental with each other all of the sudden..


      March 1, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Believer

      I've been a Christian for nearly 20 years now, but I've had it with denominational traditionalists who jump on bandwagons without knowing the true facts.

      Let's read the book first before we pass judgement. Maybe Mr Bell isn't promoting 'universalism' at all, maybe he's just challenging our thinking. we're so quick to jump to conclusions and defend our beliefs that it make us look like idiots.

      For those God-bashers who think that Christianity is all fairy tales, I can see your point. The Church and Christians in general have become like the religious people in the new testament. Jesus wasn't religious, He was for real, and He didn't need to defend God because He knew that God was big enough to take care of Himself.

      My belief in God isn't based on stories that I've read, it's based on my real life experiences with Him, and if you haven't walked in my shoes you have no right to judge. BUT, the thing which is supposed to set Christianity apart are the 'signs and wonders' ie the miracles – we should be doing the stuff that Jesus did, so we don't need to argue til we're blue in the face.

      It's not about how big churches are, or how much money they rake in, it's about showing the reality of God to the outside world. Church, get off your fatty backside, stop pointing fingers and telling people what they can/can't or should/shouldn't be doing and start showing the world what God is really like.

      Rant over.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Kyle

      Anna, if he is doubting the existence of hell, that is okay. Faith in itself would not exist without the existence of doubt. However, if he is preaching what he considers "truth", then he would be preaching a "truth" that directly disputes the words of Jesus Christ. If that were the case, it would be hard for me to consider him a Christian.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  20. Oakspar

    The problem here is that no one has read the book yet – just a blog gone tweeting back cover description designed to be provocative enough to sell books.

    If the book turns out to be Universalist, by all means, denounce it and move on. If its apparant universalism is to solict an audience who is Universalist and give them a view of the uniqueness of the cross, then there is no problem.

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


      March 1, 2011 at 4:21 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.