For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not
perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned
already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because
their deeds were evil. ~ John 3:16-19
Great topic this week at Theology on Tap! Charles Spurgeon once said, “The doctrine of no punishment for any man is popular at this day, and threatens to have even greater sway in the future."
This is obviously a hot topic in our own day, proven by all the hype and questions circling Rob Bell’s controversial book and video intro. Honestly, I think Love Wins is worth the read. (And may I endorse actually reading Love Wins, instead of just talking about and interacting with the 128 word paragraph from the publisher and a three minute video introducing the book -thank you Ben!). But if your looking for some clear explanation on what Hell or divine judgment actually is then Love Wins is not the book you’re looking for. Bell deals heavily with the perception of Hell, as well as the perception of the Christian message as a whole, and he try’s to bring some awareness to the ambiguity of divine judgment. So, I think he gives provides questions then answers; and it seems that was he intension. He wants Christians to rethink some of their assumptions and I like all his questioning. It made me reexamine what I believe on this personally difficult subject.
For years I have been blessed by Bell’s insights, his ability to communicate, his passion for the advancement of Kingdom, etc… time and time again and I appreciate his ministry and I will continue to do so. But I can’t go with him on this one – his conclusions are too allusive and I see the Scriptures being much more definitive on the reality of divine judgment then Love Wins conveys. See more on my thoughts about divine punishment and Rob Bells positions here.
So, how should Christians respond to the current discussions about Hell and divine punishment? We’ll be spending a few weeks at Theology on Tap discussion the doctrine of Hell.
Here’s our discussion question for tonight:
#1 Why do some people, even some Christians, struggle with the doctrine of Hell? What makes the doctrine so hard to believe? Is it simply emotionally difficult or is also difficult to explain biblically?
#2 What’s at stake if Christians loose the doctrine of Hell or divine punishment? Will it change our message? Should the Christian message? If so, to what and how (theologically, methodologically, etc.…)?
Also, here’s Rob Bell’s controversial video intro to his latest book, Love Wins:
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