Rob Bell and "Love Wins"

Part 2: What really happens after death?

By Robin Schumacher

Question: Is the Bible clear on the topic of Hell? Does Scripture plainly state what Hell is, what its purpose is, and how (or if) people spend eternity there vs. eternity with God?

In his MSNBC interview with Martin Bashir, Rob Bell replied in the following way when asked if responding to Jesus in this life was relevant and if it determines a person's eternal destiny: "It is terribly relevant and terribly important. Now, how exactly that works out now and how exactly it works out in the future when you die, we are firmly in the realm of speculation."

Are we in the "realm of speculation" when it comes to knowing what happens to a person when they die? Or, has God clearly spelled out in His Word what becomes of each and every person who leaves this life and enters the next? And has God left us guessing as to what determines each person's ultimate and final destination?

Again, Bell seems to throw up his hands at such questions and say we can't know for certain. He puts it like this: "Will everybody be saved, or will some perish apart from God forever because of their choices? Those are questions, or more accurately, those are tensions we are free to leave fully intact. We don‘t need to resolve them or answer them because we can‘t, and so we simply respect them, creating space for the freedom that love requires" (pg. 115).

Emergent Church leaders like Bell firmly believe that such a stance is the best position to hold. They call it one of ‘humility' because to take any other viewpoint would be to say that something is ‘certain' or absolutely true, and to make an absolute truth claim in matters of faith is akin to being arrogant (so they believe). If you haven't been dealt this hand of cards yet, welcome to one of the main tenets of Postmodernism.

I admire Bell's desire to respect the opinion of others and I applaud his plea for having discussions about controversial subjects. But when it comes to the teaching of Scripture, although there are certainly places where we say with Paul that we "now see in a mirror dimly" (1 Cor. 13:12), there are on the other hand many explicit statements made in the Bible that aren't difficult to discern at all. This is what is referred to as the "perspicuity" of Scripture, which means the core teachings contained in God's Word are clear and simple to understand.

The presentation below is part 2 of my series on Rob Bell's book Love Wins, and dives into various passages of Scripture that refute Bell's teaching that Scripture is not clear where Heaven and Hell are concerned. It examines the Old Testament, the teachings of Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John, and then concludes with a look at what salvation really means – a deliverance from God's wrath and judgment over sin.

Rob Bell and "Love Wins," The Series

Part 1: Truth loses when 'Love Wins'
Part 2: What really happens after death?
Part 3: Universalism and the truth about hell

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Published 11-22-12