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. TDJ

    Every universalist should witness an exorcism. That will set them right.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  2. Bob

    The arguments that we have with the Bible and faith in general are not with each other, they are with God. No man has the answers for another, so why do you look to other men for answers. Everyone has an opinion, but the only one that counts is God's.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • JCO64

      And how do you know what God's opinion is? Oh, I forgot, this 3000 year old book that says there once was a talking snake that lived in a magic garden.....

      March 1, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  3. Tom L

    Sometimes Christ spoke in parables or used other techniques to illustrate a point. Sometimes he spoke out clearly and left no room for doubt or interpretation. He didn't say one way to Heaven is through Him or the best way to Heaven is through Him. He said the ONLY way to Heaven is through Him. If you reject the word of Jesus, I don't see how you can call yourself a Christian or why you'd even want to! God doesn't only like the people who go to Heaven. He loves EVERYONE. It makes Him incredibly sad when a person rejects Him but He respects us enough to let us make our own choices. So, yes there is a Hell but, no, God does NOT send us there. We send ourselves there by rejecting Him.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Observer

      "So, yes there is a Hell but, no, God does NOT send us there"

      That's pretty silly. We obviously wouldn't send ourselves there. Being the nicest, kindest, smartest person in the world doesn't matter at all to God unless you believe in something that CANNOT be proven. That's got to be the harshest penalty ever for using logic rather than blindly accepting something. Sure doesn't say much good about God's fairness.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • JCO64

      He's GOD. If he wanted to stop it, he could. If he didn't want hell to exist it wouldn't exist. If He's all-powerful and all-knowing, He could have figured out a way for free will to exist without carrying the possibility of eternal torture with it. And speaking of free will – if God already knows everything that's going to happen and all that I will ever do, then He already knows whether or not I'll be "Saved" and whether I'll ultimately end up in Heaven or Hell. Where's this "free will" I keep hearing about?

      March 1, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Texas

      This is what I was saying above about higher versus superficial understanding. A superficial understanding of John 14 leads a man to conclude that Jesus was saying that he was a magic wand that you beleive in and poof you go to heaven, but a deeper reflection reveals several concepts being taught by Jesus and many other levels of understanding. The most clear being that he was stating that following his method was the path to heaven, which when looked at in context of the Jesus's concept that god was within each of us makes much more sense than I am a magic pill. There are even deeper meanings but it is a struggle just to present this simple one succinctly; my real point is get beyond the superficial.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • JCO64

      Now Texas, don't be silly. The Bible is inerrant literal truth, every word, cover to cover, didn't you know that? Nothing deeper than the words themselves, not a metaphor in sight.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • Patrick

      With all the stigma it carries nowadays, I don't know why anyone would refer to themselves as "Christian". I know followers of Jesus who avoid that label for fear of the associations.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Dog Boy

      Texas – keep posting; it's great to read intelligent, rational thoughts!

      I agree about the levels of knowledge and understanding. Most people have trouble with the basic concepts – it's very difficult to get them to understand the finer nuances.

      I like the parable of Santa Clause. When we are young, our parents use big symbols with basic, simple rules to mold our personalities. As we mature, we realize that Santa doesn't really exist, but the rules we learned do apply. Next, we learn to really interpret those rules to reach a finer understanding of our roles as people.

      Unfortunately, most of us don't get past the Santa Clause phase.

      By the way – YAHOOOOOOOO! Ride em, cowboy!

      March 1, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  4. jonesey

    Do yourself a favor and learn religious truths without the religiously-biased propaganda – www(dot)religioustolerance(dot)org

    March 1, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  5. Texas

    The problem here is that this gentleman is preaching the higher truths of Christianity to the masses who have been taught dogma by their church leaders based on the assumption that the masses could not understand and apply the higher thoughts and deeper meanings correctly. When you try to show high level truths to the mob, they crucify you; ask Jesus.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • Anna


      Never thought I'd say that to a Texan.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Jeffery

      Good things do come from TEXAS! Thanks....I do believe you are on the mark here Texas. These are "possibly" higher truths. If as a christian I am grounded in the Word these ideas do not scare me. I have absolute Truth so I have nothing to fear. I can seek out God and try to learn more. I think this is what i sense in Mr. Bell. Chrisitans, don't be afraid, "study to show thyself approved..."

      March 1, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  6. William Winner

    Hmm...Wheaton is the Harvard of Christian schools? What a strange statement. First, Harvard could also be considered a "Christian" school since that's what it was founded as. Secondly, Wheaton falls at 56 on one scale at US News and World Report with many other christian schools above it.

    Also, Fuller is generally not held in high esteem in many Christian circles.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  7. Mitch

    Hearing anyone being called a heretic makes me sick. Are we the freaking Taliban now? I thought Christians were supposed to leave the judging to God. I am an atheist, and it was the Bible itself that made me into one. I was raised in a very Fundamentalist Southern Baptist home, and have been reading the Bible for as long as I can remember.

    I'm going to list some of the things in the Bible that led me to become an Athiest. If anyone is curious, please look these verses up. These aren't incidents of historical inaccuracy, or contradictions in the text itself (although I can make a list of those too, hahaha). Rather, these are Bible verses that I find to be morally reprehensible. No good God could ever have inspired these, and I am not even counting things like the Bible telling us that execution is an appropriate punishment for misbehaving children.

    As a young man, I was taught that the Bible is the true and unerring word of God. Reading these verses (and others) made me realize that the Bible wasn't written by God, but by man, primitive and violent, Bronze Age man. There are many more verses like these, but these are the ones that personally offend me the most. I'm not trying to damage your faith or anything like that; I just want to show you my perspective on the issue. Call me a heretic if you want. I've been called worse than that by Christians.

    To me, the Bible is pretty much the same thing as the Iliad, or the Bhagavad Gita, or the Koran; mythology, some good moral teaching, and a lot of primitive nonsense. There are good, important lessons to be learned from the Bible, and I value the study of scripture; but there is as much evil in the Bible as there is good. I don't expect or want to change your opinion on these issues. Consider it food for thought. -PartialMitch

    Numbers 31:17-18 -The most evil commandment ever.
    Judges 11:29-40 -Child Sacrifice
    Judges 19:20-29 -Death of a concubine
    1 Samuel 15:3 -More Genocide
    2 Kings 2:23-24 -Elisha, some children and a bear
    1 Timothy 2:12 -Sorry, I know too many smart women to obey this command.
    1 Peter 2:18 -Slavery is totally unacceptable to me. No man should own any other human.

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

      You do shoot some pretty big holes in that "take everything you read in the bible literally" argument.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Ants?

      Mitch you are a good person, if you lived 500 years ago the men of God would be burning you at the stake.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • John

      lol and "take things in context" was clearly something you haven't learned. You're taking single verses from a long story and using them as single statements....hmm doesnt sound too intelligent to me. Using your style of proof, it then appears that ants? just stated "burning you at the stake." We'll he's clearly a murderer who is morally reprehensible, just look at what he said.....lol u ppl r hilarious and the way you try to provide proof about how "smart and intelligent" you are, actually does quite the opposite.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • John

      Oh and fyi, slavery is referring to how somebody would repay a debt that they owed to someone else if they didn't have the money (aka working to pay bills), sounds pretty reasonable to me....Has nothing to do with skin color but good try.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Texas

      John you said that the parent posts author needs to, "take things in context" , my freind that means he needs to interprit...aka not take it literally. Now that you have opened that door it is very easy to say that your interpritations have no greater validity than his or anyone elses. In fact you make his point as he was saying some parts are good but others you can interprit out. Its either literal or its iterprited you can't have it both ways.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • John

      texas: correct, interpreting (please note the spelling) would be to take things in the correct context. And yes you can have it both ways because the Bible was not meant to be all taken literally or all figuratively, you need to read the whole story in context and then it can be determined if it was literal/figurative.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • Texas

      Excellent John, I agree with you, the bible is to be interprited (I'll just keep spelling it like we say it in the Lone Star State Y'all) and no person can claim to know the truth.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Bibletruth

      Mitch...... There is no bronze age, barbarianism, unenlightened, etc. things going on. It is because so many look at the bible through their lifes experiences, education, etc. and just cant believe or internalize the truth of what happened at the fall when humanity became "heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it ". God provided the sanctuary service as his lesson book of the plan of salvation. Some people take the slaying of the imnnumerable lambs and other anmals regarding the sanctuary service as something disgusting, unworthy of a God of love, and yet these same folks have not a clue what the sanctuary service means. I will bet (friendly bet) you cant even list the old testament and new testament verses that speak of the fact that God will be judged as to how he handles the sin issue/judgement, etc. God sent his son to show who God is...what he is like, and to magnify the law. Jesus is the rightousness of God. God is perfect in all his ways, righteous, kind, love. Its one thing to say, this or that scripture just seems out of character with God (there is an act in scripture that God does , one time, that seems out of character..in fact scripture calls it His strange act, but even that isnt when understood in the overall context) but to go where you go and not give any weight at all to God giving his Son to die for you, really is hard to fathom, unless one hates God because what one wants to do is against His commandments....it seems at the most one would say, The God of all creation sent his son to die for me, at least I am going to give it an honest effort to try to reconcile all this. And it is all reconcilable, although God never goes so far that faith is not necessary, simply because we do not have the attributes of divinity, and can never understand all the things of God....but what he has revealed, we can understand, and understanding we can see God is love, and truly love him because of who he is.

      April 5, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  8. Paulie

    "If you're 555, then I'm ..." ~ Heretic Anthem

    March 1, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  9. fsmgroupie

    If I make it into heaven and then refuse to kiss god's feet because he's burning the flesh off of my doubting teenagers who didn't make it, can he still cast me into hell or do I now have a free pass?

    March 1, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • Ants?

      I think if you did make to Heaven you'd be so freaked out you'd be kissing all the feet you could get your lips on, it would be quite a rush. But if Gods is hanging Hell over our heads now he'd be doing the same in Heaven, buck up, pay the 10% or your all going straight into the fire, all the saints and popes would be passing the basket around, come on throw in the cash.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  10. Tare

    Faith is supposed to bring a release from fear, but all I hear is fear (e.g. their own) when these conservative theologians preach about Hell. Pat Benatar had it right! Hell is for children, and others who are so naive as to believe that anybody knows God's mind any better than everybody else. BS! These supposedly enlightened people have more fear than the agnostic! Unfortunately, this is consistent with the theory that religion is specifically designed to control the minds of the people in order to give power to religious know-it-alls. Like these people have some special contact with God because of their position in some church. God is love not hate. Compassion not fear. Heaven not Hell. Plain and simple!

    March 1, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Dog Boy

      Yes, yes, and YES!!!

      I know a number of christians (e.g., my in-laws) who believe (make that KNOW) they are going to heaven, and yet they are scared of just about everything in life. If you have eternal paradise waiting for you after you die, why are you so afraid?

      March 1, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  11. darklyastir

    Christianity is all about being the bigger teachers pet, who can call out the heathen fastest. God hates suck-ups, secretly he thinks your'e all cowards, you will get into Heaven yes, but ask yourselves what side you want to be on when Hell comes marching to pearly gates. We're gonna decimate you guys! HAIL SATAN-I-

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

      Hi Mr Sheen how are you doing today?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • darklyastir

      Just another day in the life of a rockstar from Mars baby!

      March 1, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • notscared

      You're going to reduce us by 10%? Ooh. Pardon me while I quake. The Romans did better than that.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  12. Pam

    Religion is for sheep, cowards and liars. You're all nuts to believe that garbage. Religion is a farce and you have to be weak to give your soul to people preaching whatever. If you truly believe in God, then why not speak directly to God? Why does some church guy speak for you? I don't get it. I also don't get how blind you must be to think that virgins have babies whose father is God! Really, you believe that? Ok, then , you've lost all rational thinking!

    March 1, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • Mike

      So Charlie you still a little high from this past weekend?

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

      Pam, you're sounding a little judgmental and painting with a broad brush what I'm sure isn't true. According to your argument there are a group of people that, by their lack of interest in religion, are brave and honest? Please, if you want to add to the discussion, keep it rational.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • PascalWager

      You must be speaking to Catholics: Christian believe they can (and do) pray directly to God.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Jeffery

      Pam, why are you arguing with Sheep and cowards?

      March 1, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  13. AaronS

    The word "heresy" has become an incendiary term in the Christian world that is meant to torch all open discussion. There is a VAST difference between saying something that is contrary to church doctrine...vs. being contrary to the scripture.

    Jesus pinged the Pharisees in one place by saying that they "teach for doctrine the commandments of men." That is, the Pharisees had elevated THEIR interpretation of things to be equivalent with scripture. But Jesus let's us know that there is a difference between "doctrine" (which he implies is the TRUTH) and the commandments of men.

    Most atheists, after gutting some fundamentalist position, think they have gutted Christianity. NOT SO. They have simply had a go at a particular INTERPRETATION of the Bible.

    It is not at all unreasonable to suggest that a good God will do something other than allow people to burn forever and ever and ever. I mean, we can all agree that IF God allowed people to just be immediately obliterated for not being such a nice person, well, that's reasonable. After all, we all have to die. But to "force" people to live forever in incredible torment...that's not redemptive or a matter of justice. It's not enough to say, "Well, that's God's call."

    Yes, it is God's call. But just as we all reject the Aztec notions of human sacrifice, because we find them distasteful and uncivilized, we are free to refuse to worship a God that sends people to hell for ETERNITY for things that wouldn't get them 30 days of probation in this world. Besides, if God's sense of justice is so out of kilter with ours, on what grounds do we think that his notion of truth is in alignment with ours? And if it's not, then why believe Him? After all, while we believe telling the truth is important, He might not think that way.

    The people who are most upset about any notion of getting out of hell early–or missing it altogether–are those who are afraid that it will damage the exclusivity of Christianity. But note that Rob Bell is NOT saying that Jesus is not essential to eternal life. He is apparently simply pointing out the possibility that God makes a way (through Jesus) for those who were not believers.

    Read Romans 2–about some people, who having not the law, still obeyed the "law" in their hearts. Hmmmm....

    March 1, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • Jmaxx30

      Super reply. One of the most well formulated replies I've seen on a CNN board. At church on Sunday the pastor said something I thought was interesting. He believes the first thing that will happen when we all go to heaven is that God/Jesus will sit us all down and correct our theology. In other words who know whose right, but hopefully we all get to heaven.

      March 1, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  14. Dave N.

    "Harvard of Christian schools?" One can almost hear the eyes rolling.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • A Mom

      Harvard used to be a training ground for ministers of the Gospel.

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

      I'm pretty sure Harvard Divinity School is the Harvard of Christian schools.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  15. John

    Universalism is an old belief. John Murray founded modern Universalism in 1790 (the Universalists merged with the Unitarians in 1960). But the belief is older than that. Origen, among the Church Fathers, believed in universal salvation as well. Universalism has a long and distinguished history within Christianity.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • Zenith9995

      Unitarian Universalists RULE 😀

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

      Indeed – some of the old Irish monks who helped keep Christianity alive during the Dark Ages were universalist. Other notable Christian figures believed in "soul sleep," in which those who are not called to heaven simply have no eternal life. That reading is rather simple - it fits the belief that Biblical references to Hell are metaphorical, and it takes literally the words of John 3:16 that those who know in Christ "shall not PERISH."

      Those who claim Hell is a settled matter of theology ignore all 2,000 years of Christian history.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  16. rcs0469

    Personally, I believe everyone who has ever taken the time to seek out answers to the question of why we exist and/or how we got here has discovered one if not a few pieces of the puzzle which comes together to create the big picture. It's truly a matter of perspective and how much we limit our thinking. Evolutionist/Darwinist cringe at the thought of Intelligent
    Design. Different religions argue and battle over who is the most righteous and will receive favor. What if everyone was right to some degree? Once humanity lets go of it's need to be right and thinking everyone else is wrong the pieces of the puzzle may come together.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • Denogh

      You're confused. I don't cringe at the thought of intelligent design. I cringe at the thought of teaching that in science classrooms. There's a distinction. People are free to believe whatever scientifically unsupported thing they please, but don't call it science and put it in a classroom.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  17. Lynda

    Christians – be afraid, be very afraid – for who knows, he may be telling the truth and what you think is the truth could be all ....(gasp) .... lies. As I see it, those that are giving this man a difficult time, are afraid of their beliefs being challenged. GOD does not need debate, but our own stubbornness in the possibility we may actually be WRONG does. Who knows, THE CHURCH could be wrong. We all know that the bible was written by men,(ie – dead sea scrolls and the Torah) rewritten by men,(Constantine) rewritten again by men (Martin Luther and the church in Worms, GE) , many of the various writers' works were thrown out (The Gospel of Mary?), some were changed, and we don't know how much is actually whole truth. Just because the church says that is the truth, I should hope everyone would question it. The Church throws up its arms and wails because its word is challenged, wow, what a concept. KEEP Going!!! Maybe bring down The Church altogether!!! Pagans will rule.

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

      Pegans will rule? Just another group of believers that are wrong.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • William Winner

      Just wanted to comment on your comments about the Bible being changed and rewritten. Here are some excerpts from: http://www.allabouttruth.org/Origin-Of-The-Bible.htm

      "There are more than 14,000 existing Old Testament manuscripts and fragments copied throughout the Middle East, Mediterranean and European regions that agree dramatically with each other. In addition, these texts agree with the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, which was translated from Hebrew to Greek some time during the 3rd century BC. The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in Israel in the 1940's and 50's, also provide phenomenal evidence for the reliability of the ancient transmission of the Jewish Scriptures (Old Testament) before the arrival of Jesus Christ."

      "The manuscript evidence for the New Testament is also dramatic, with over 5,300 known copies and fragments in the original Greek, nearly 800 of which were copied before 1000 AD. Some manuscript texts date to the early second and third centuries, with the time between the original autographs and our earliest existing copies being a remarkably short 60 years. Interestingly, this manuscript evidence far surpasses the manuscript reliability of other ancient writings that we trust as authentic every day. Look at these comparisons: Julius Caesar's "The Gallic Wars" (10 manuscripts remain, with the earliest one dating to 1,000 years after the original autograph); Pliny the Younger's "History" (7 manuscripts; 750 years elapsed); Thucydides' "History" (8 manuscripts; 1,300 years elapsed); Herodotus' "History" (8 manuscripts; 1,300 years elapsed); Sophocles (193 manuscripts; 1,400 years); Euripides (9 manuscripts; 1,500 years); and Aristotle (49 manuscripts; 1,400 years).

      Homer's "Iliad", the most renowned book of ancient Greece, has 643 copies of manuscript support. In those copies, there are 764 disputed lines of text, as compared to 40 lines in all the New Testament manuscripts (Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, Moody, Chicago, Revised and Expanded 1986, p. 367)."

      The Bible that we have today is actually the most historically accurate version of any ancient manuscript by far.

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

      Not really; this is nothing new. You think this is the first time the devil tried to distort God's truth? He's been doing since Adam and Eve and he's real good at it. The devil is not God; he doesn't know everything or is all powerful. He loses in the end along with all those he has deceived. God made such we have his Word; the truth. You can deny the truth all you want, but in the end you will not be able to deny the truth.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • Patrick

      @ William Winner:
      Which is more accurate, the Old or New Testament? Having you provide further analysis will help me determine whether to put any stock into the NT or just stick with the old. Obviously if the NT has more changes than the OT, it has to be disregarded as truth (using your sound logic).
      How many other ancient texts have you compared? 100? 1000? 10,000? The Bagavhad-Gita? The Egyptian Book the the Dead? What about the Koran? Does that have fewer changes (given it is the youngest of the three Yahweh-inspired religions)?

      March 1, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  18. LittleChild

    For ANTS:

    we'll all be over the arguments when we die...and no...the ants were still praising YAWEH even after you ran over them...the ants have never worshiped anything or anyone else...just their Creator...

    I gather you didn't read Proverbs 6:6 "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:"

    The ants were just cleaning up your mess of things...consider that an act of mercy...

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

      [koh-heer-uhnt, -her-] Show IPA
      logically connected; consistent: a coherent argument.

      Try it sometime.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  19. Bibletruth

    This is the bible word to Satan: Satan, your destiny is the lake of fire...your time to that event is short ...you may go around like a roaring lion all you want, but your time to that event is short...there, in the lake of fire, I shall bring thee to ashes and never shalt thou be anymore.
    By the way the bible says that all the lost shall be brought to ashes in the lake of fire and never shall they be anymore. Friends, thats why its called eternal death...the death is for all eternity...i.e. nonlife for all eternity.

    March 1, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • A Mom

      Can you give us the book, chapter and verse? Your quote does not sound like scripture to me.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Denogh

      As an unbeliever I'm already expecting non-life for all eternity. I'm expecting the essence of my being, which is contained in and defined by electrical impulses in my brain, to disappear upon death. Oh noes! Not believing what you believe is going to give me exactly what I expect out of my death.

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

      Anyone else think this guy is a bit off the rocker?

      March 1, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • Mike

      That's not what God says in His word.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • William Winner

      It doesn't say they will be brought to ashes, but for those interested, here are the verses from Revelation 20:

      "10: And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone..."
      "15: And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."

      March 1, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • wjmknight

      Get thee behind me Satan! Bibletruth you need to actually READ teh bible. Nowhere in Revelations do the Scriptures say anyone who refuses Christ after the seperations of the "lambs from the goats" will experience a "second death." In the original greek, the "second death" is translated as a "spiritual death" and is interpeted to mean that those who refuse Christ after the judgement will no longer exist, their souls will be "terminated."

      The above is from no less a persoange than Billy Graham. Bibletruth, you need to get back to the bible, and read and study it before you come off sounding like an ignorant heathen.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • wjmknight

      CORRECTION: Nowhere in Revelation do the Scriptures say anyone who refuses Christ after the seperations of the "lambs from the goats" will BE SENT TO A "LAKE OF FIRE" NOWHERE. REVELATION SAYS those who refuse Christ will experience a "second death." In the original greek, the "second death" is translated as a "spiritual death"and is interpeted to mean that those who refuse Christ after the judgement will no longer exist, their souls will be "terminated."

      March 1, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • LittleChild

      he's generalizing (not propehseying) out of a few scriptures...somewhat scattered...Revelation chapter 20 is one of them...
      Hell is emptied out in that chapter and then thrown into the lake of fire...

      It's what John saw and was told to write down...John was seeing prophetically...he was seeing the future...

      Interesting outcome for a man to SEE thiswho survived being boiled in oil...

      which means if we believe these scriptures to be true...hell is not the final destination place for the dead placed there originally...and you don't hear that alot...

      some think hell is synonomous with the lake of fire...but why would hell be cast into itself?

      the argument may be...what or who was acutally thrown into hell in the first place...

      the scriptures expain themselves...just read them and ask the Holy spirit for help Who inspired them in the first place...

      March 1, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • Patrick

      Sign me up! Nothing kills the value of life like Eternal Life.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • LittleChild

      that would make for a good argument/insight...what did the writers/and the Holy Spirit mean when they wrote 'death"?

      what's the difference in the hebrew/greek/aramaic translation/deffition of their day of death...sometime we assume we know what someone meant...and we are wrong...been there done that...

      As long as we filter before hand what we read and hear from one another (like light being filtered through a veil) we will never see or hear the truth as it was meant...

      Remove the veils...

      March 1, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • pepe


      March 1, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  20. Ryan Gear

    History has shown repeatedly that religious fundamentalists will execute anyone they label a "heretic". I posted some thoughts about this at ryangear.com. Tweeting "Farewell Rob Bell" is a way of dispatching of someone now that burning at the stake is impossible. I think of lot of people are ready to say, "Farewell fundamentalism". Anyone who follows Jesus must love, and I agree with Rob that, eventually, love wins.

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

      I also believe that love will prevail. Love is universal and non-denominational.

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

      Ryan, yes yes and again yes, agree 1000%.

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

      A lot of people of all walks of life execute those who step out of line. It's part of humanity's sinfulness. Love does win, because God is love and he cannot lose. The pardons, however, are issued to those who submit to that love and allow him to clothe them in righteousness, not those who merely presume upon it.

      March 1, 2011 at 3:49 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.