There's been a raging controversy within evangelical circles with the release of Rob Bell's latest book, Love Wins. Bell has been quoted as saying, "I have long wondered if there is a massive shift coming in what it means to be a Christian. Something new is in the air." Dr Tony Beam responds in the following article that arguments for universalism and the denial of hell are anything but new. Read his article below.......
You have to hand it to Michigan Pastor Rob Bell. Not only did he put hell on the map of the evangelical landscape and on the lips of almost every evangelical; he ultimately managed to get hell on the cover of Time magazine just in time for Easter. For Bell, what began as a creative art exhibit that encouraged artistic expressions of peace in a broken world has led to the supposed downfall of a bedrock belief of Christianity.
Meacham’s article in Time magazine chronicles Rob Bell’s attempt to put the doctrine of hell on trial in his book, Love Wins. The book flowed out of a comment left next to a quote from Mohandas Gandhi that was part of the afore mentioned art exhibit. The note said: “Reality check: He’s in hell.” The idea that Gandhi could be in hell sent Bell into a reflective, relativistic theological tailspin. He began asking questions like, “Somebody knows this without a doubt?”, and “Somebody decided to take on the responsibility of letting the rest of us know?” These questions didn’t lead to a concrete answer mind you for there is no such thing in the Emergent church world of Rob Bell. Evangelicals who have immersed themselves in the emergent world of post-postmodern theology long ago jettisoned biblical answers to tough questions in favor of an endless conversation. It’s kind of like driving down a road that has no destination or listening to a symphony of unresolved chords. Since there is nothing there at the end of post and post-postmodern theology the journey becomes the ultimate goal with reaching a destination considered to be the new heresy.
The plain truth of the matter is the Bible is God’s revelation so that we can know who God is (within the limits of our finite minds of course) and what He expects of us. When Luke wrote his magnificent two-volume work (Luke/Acts) for Theophilus he described his writing as “an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed” (Luke 1:3-4, NKJV, emphasis mine). The Apostle John wrote, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (I John 5:13). And Jesus rebuking the Sadducees as they tried to trap Him said, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God” (Matthew 22:29). Clearly in just these few examples we should be able to see that there are many things Jesus said we could know for sure about God. One of those things is the surety of hell.
Church planting and growth has been a focus for most of my ministry. I frequently lecture and speak on church planting and have been actively involved in many church plants. Under God's hand and direction, my wife, Kaye, and I planted the