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Christian Reactions To Rob Bell's New Book


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Rob Bell is a pretty popular Christian author with the younger Christians at my parents' church and they've previously had a lot of respect for him, but now that Rob Bell has a new book out where he apparently argues there is no hell, suddenly they treat him like a heretic who's fallen away and leading people astray. Like this morning during bible class when they were asking for prayers, one of them suggested we should all pray for Rob Bell and for God to help him see the light and error of his ways. Then they started ranting about how sinful it was for him to preach that non-Christians can go to heaven too and how Jesus' death is meaningless if everyone gets into heaven. Of course nobody presented any actual proof that hell is real and didn't bother to refute any of Rob Bell's arguments. They just attacked his character instead and mocked how he was supposedly "dodging" questions in interviews and complaining about how he was shattering many young Christians' faith for challenging their belief in hell. One of them also tried to claim Rob Bell must have gone through a personal tragedy to arrive at this conclusion because nobody could have possibly arrived at this conclusion through thoughtful consideration or logical thinking. It obviously had to have been an emotional decision.

 

It just irritates me that for years they sang praises to Rob Bell about how wonderful he is and now that he says something they don't agree with, suddenly he's treated like a traitor who's leading people to hellfire with his evil heresy even though none of them have any actual proof that hell is real. I also find their "let's pray for Rob Bell to change his mind" attitude to be rather patronizing and obnoxiously self-righteous. Besides, doesn't praying for Rob Bell to change his mind contradict the Christian belief in free will? If Rob Bell magically changes his mind because of his prayer, then how can he have changed his mind with freewill? It just annoys me with how these Christians are just fair weather friends who only like you when you say what they want to hear but if anyone challenges their beliefs by daring to disagree, they just toss them aside and brand them as heretics and traitors.

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Pure Church of Christ mentality.

 

I spotted this early in youth how people would be grinned up and spit out by the church if they had different views. Huge reason why I didn't want to go to church around my early twenties. Everyone had to have the same assembly line quality frame of thought on all issues. Looking back I question many friendships in the youth group now that my mind sees how it all was about fitting into the religious environment everyone was birthed into. That mentality shaped the church culture like an X-acto blade, dividing up the church into little finger food sub groups that spoke with sharpened flaming arrows of speculation aimed at other members backs. Difference is treated as a threat and must be shunned in order for group cohesion to keep up appearances. Look at it this way Neon... moments like this the people in church are showing their fears, their thoughts, their vulnerabilities toward others who don't share the same group think programing. It's their way of calming themselves when a shift in reality happens. Remember the Bible teaches not to suffer a witch. Just watch, the ripples will travel into other places in the church and witness Rob Bell fade away from the collective as they replace him with other names to fill in the gaps.

 

People are individuals, not clones made of interchangeable Lego parts, which the church makes it's mission to role out with the fever of an automotive chop shop.

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The doctrine of hell was taught profusely in most churches that I attended during the time I was xtian. Without hell, there would be no fear of suffering for sin, and also no "justice" for those who did not accept xtianity or committed some other wrongdoing. I think most believers think that it is necessary to teach that hell is a very real place. The fear of hell is used as a tool to get people into church and whip them into order. As a xtian, I was always afraid because deep down I questioned whether or not I really believed everything in the bible. I always worried about doubting the resurrection and other biblical teachings; I don't think I ever really believed it, but I still had that nagging fear that my doubt would ultimately send me to suffer eternally for not believing. That fear drowned out my logic and reasoning for a very long time.

 

I just had someone tell me that I would burn in hell for not believing, and that person did not think it was at all hateful to say such things. She said that it was no different than telling someone they would burn their hand if they touched a flame, and even compared it to warning a blind man that he was about to walk off a cliff.

 

I responded that it was indeed very different, because she knew that a flame was hot and if she saw a blind person about to walk off a cliff, the only right thing to do would be to warn that person, because her little analogy took place in the real world, not some imaginary place that she didn't know for a FACT existed.

 

The reality is, there is no evidence for heaven or hell. There is no good reason to believe that either exists.

 

Some people just cannot believe such nonsense. I don't see how these people (myself being one of them) would have to suffer eternally for that. It doesn't make sense to me. I wonder how many people actually do believe it.

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Beth, I agree Xtianity would be very much powerless without the doctrine of Hell. They know it and that's why they hate Rob Bell for this opinion.

 

BTW, I have heard Jehova's Witnesses don't believe in Hell. They say whoever dies in sin he will just be in a state of nothingness, non-existence. It seems a lot fairer to me than Hell. Also that's the only way God could ensure that people would follow him out of love and wanting to be with him in Heaven and not because they fear Hell.

 

 

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I'm not surprised by the reaction. I'm sure most of us have been treated like anathema by Christians after we've revealed our deconversion. When I revealed to my former church that I was a Calvinist and that I was not KJO, I was shunned by almost everyone. The pastor of my former church has changed up how he is running the services at the church (not changing any doctrine, just how things are run) and alongside this he had been discussing evangelism and how people should seek developing friendships with people first before sharing the "good news". He was told that he was abandoning the faith and was confronted by several men of the church to get his act together. Christian loyalty is based solely on almost total doctrinal agreement. Without that, you are despised and cast aside.

 

As a Christian I never liked Rob Bell anyways, he always seemed wishy-washy so this move to "there is no hell" isn't surprising.

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I've often wondered how the Christian religion would have evolved if there was never a doctrine of hell. It certainly seems like the fear of eternal torment is a strong motivator for many, and without it I imagine the number of devout believers would be much lower. The whole idea of hell was one of the big things that caused me to begin to seriously question my beliefs. How a loving God could create hell for the sole purpose of allowing non-believers to be eternally tortured is a bit beyond my comprehension. And the whole argument of "God is love, but God is also just, and he can't be in the presence of sin" doesn't hold much water either. I mean, sin is supposedly present everywhere in this world, and God is believed to be omnipresent here on Earth, so he obviously can be in the presence of sin.

 

And while I'm ranting about hell, Christians always talk about "freedom in Christ" and how "perfect love casts out all fear" and all that kind of stuff. But how can you be truly free if you are constantly worried about your closest friends and family members rejecting God and spending eternity in hell. Talk about something to worry about! My wife is still a fundie and always talks about how scared she is that our kids will reject Jesus and go to hell forever (which, by the way, if that does happen, she will place the blame squarely with me because I have so many doubts). If you believe hell is real, then I agree there is nothing worse than the thought of your own kids going there. But that is so contradictory to the "peace that passes all understanding" stuff you hear most Christians spouting. Personally, I think it would be much more peaceful to think there is no hell and therefore no reason to worry about anybody ever going there. That is freedom!

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. And the whole argument of "God is love, but God is also just, and he can't be in the presence of sin" doesn't hold much water either. I mean, sin is supposedly present everywhere in this world, and God is believed to be omnipresent here on Earth, so he obviously can be in the presence of sin.

 

And while I'm ranting about hell, Christians always talk about "freedom in Christ" and how "perfect love casts out all fear" and all that kind of stuff. But how can you be truly free if you are constantly worried about your closest friends and family members rejecting God and spending eternity in hell. Talk about something to worry about! My wife is still a fundie and always talks about how scared she is that our kids will reject Jesus and go to hell forever (which, by the way, if that does happen, she will place the blame squarely with me because I have so many doubts). If you believe hell is real, then I agree there is nothing worse than the thought of your own kids going there. But that is so contradictory to the "peace that passes all understanding" stuff you hear most Christians spouting. Personally, I think it would be much more peaceful to think there is no hell and therefore no reason to worry about anybody ever going there. That is freedom!

 

This has always confused me also. It makes no sense. God is everywhere but he can't be in the presence of sin? But the entire world is fallen so how can god be here with us? Although questions like this might seem silly to some people, they really, really bothered me as a Christian. And I coudln't get answers from anyone that didn't run in circles.

 

 

There are many Christians that are friendly towards others, not because they are nice people, but in the hopes of converting someone. Once you convert, you are expected to follow their doctrine. The kindness disappears the moment that a Christian begins to have serious doubts and refuses to accept their pat answers.

 

Protestant Christians will joyfully explain that conversion is so easy. You just admit that you are a worthless sinner and need Christ. If it was that easy, Christians wouldn't call Rob Bell a heretic or any other names. They could look rationally at his arguments and agree or disagree with him without doubting that he was a Christian. They could disagree with one another on issues like infant baptism, female preachers and other subjects without claiming that those that disagreed with them were less religious or close to Jesus.

 

What the Christian really mean when they say, "Just accept Jesus" is "Just accept Jesus and my interpretation of the bible and any extra rules that I throw in the mix."

 

Hell used to terrify me, not for myself but for others. Yet, it seems that a lot of Christians do not want to let go of hell.

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Same thing happened to Phil Gulley, a noted author and Quaker pastor.

 

He came out with a book some years ago and stated essentially no one was going to Hell because they were all saved by the grace of their god.

 

He's been ostracized ever since.

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They say whoever dies in sin he will just be in a state of nothingness, non-existence. It seems a lot fairer to me than Hell.

 

Well, that's the atheist afterlife, isn't it? "But I wouldn't want to live forever", someone might say. Bullshit, of course you would! It's a sight better than hell (which is where they think we're going), but eternal oblivion is still a raw deal no matter how any of you tries to slice it. That's why we should think outside the goddamn box by abolishing the Pentagon so that we can spend all those trillions of dollars on the R&D it'll take to effectively extend the human life span by hundreds of years or more! Who's with me?

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I've often wondered how the Christian religion would have evolved if there was never a doctrine of hell.

 

It would have been just another one of those dozens of weird little ancient Jewish sects that went nowhere in the grand scheme of things. The hell doctrine is perhaps the most brilliant propaganda device in history. Liberal Christians like to say "but the first century Christians didn't [fill in the blank]" but then if they hadn't [fill in the blank], there would have been no Orthodoxy for liberals to liberalize away from in the first place because the early church would have dissolved into the sands of time.

 

And while I'm ranting about hell, Christians always talk about "freedom in Christ" and how "perfect love casts out all fear" and all that kind of stuff. But how can you be truly free if you are constantly worried about your closest friends and family members rejecting God and spending eternity in hell. Talk about something to worry about!

 

It's extortion of the purest kind, the ultimate 'offer you can't refuse.'

 

"Sure, you can reject Christ, but we'd 'recommend' you don't, if you get our drift...." Now imagine the mobster flashing a shit-eating grin in the witness stand: "of course they coulda turned us down, we're businessmen, not criminals!"

 

Personally, I think it would be much more peaceful to think there is no hell and therefore no reason to worry about anybody ever going there. That is freedom!

 

Amen!

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But then there's no concept of hell in the OT and yet Judaism is still around. I've watched some of the interviews with Rob Bell on youtube and he doesn't seem to be a universalist in the Spong sense of the word where they think everyone just automatically goes to heaven when they die. Bell seems to have this belief that hell is real but hell is only temporary and that you can repent of your sins whenever you want to in the afterlife and God will let you in. Isn't this like the Catholic doctrine of purgatory?

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Hell is on it's way out. It won't change anything though. Jesus will still be the only way and anyone who doesn't believe will still be 'wrong', 'running from God', 'rebellious', 'decieved', in other words 'the enemy'. Except nowt instead of telling you that you're going to hell, they'll try to 'love you into the fold'. Fake love with an agenda to convert. It's makes me want to puke, it's like a smiling corpse with make-up trying to hug and kiss you.

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Well, that's the atheist afterlife, isn't it? "But I wouldn't want to live forever", someone might say. Bullshit, of course you would! It's a sight better than hell (which is where they think we're going), but eternal oblivion is still a raw deal no matter how any of you tries to slice it.

 

Seriously? How dogmatic. Please don't tell me that my non-desire to live forever is bullshit. It seems pretty antithetical to the community at ex-christian to tell other people that you know what they want better than they do.

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But then there's no concept of hell in the OT and yet Judaism is still around. I've watched some of the interviews with Rob Bell on youtube and he doesn't seem to be a universalist in the Spong sense of the word where they think everyone just automatically goes to heaven when they die. Bell seems to have this belief that hell is real but hell is only temporary and that you can repent of your sins whenever you want to in the afterlife and God will let you in. Isn't this like the Catholic doctrine of purgatory?

 

In UR circles, the hell concept varies from no hell to temporary hell.

 

Univeralists remain woo woos just w/o the eternal hell concept. They are not united in their doctrine. It appeases a demographic that cannot equate a loving god with eternal torment. That is as far as most folk investigate, the rest like virgin birth miracles etc. remain pretty much par for the course.

 

Never tell them paul was a false prophet either :HaHa:

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I agree that prolonging life (and also health) by hundreds of years, maybe even thousands, would be a sweet deal. But the idea of eternal life is repugnant to me. After a million, a billion, a trillion years, you still have infinite more time left, still forever. Now you can start adding wishful thinking to the equation - we're going to be able to go through wormholes and survive out in space and evolve into eternal beings - but there's no guarantee of any of that to the point that it might as well be supernatural. Since we can barely conceive of infinite time, it's hard for me to give much credence to the idea that we can truly desire it.

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I even said on another debate, even if I was a 20 something and got to visit all my old flames again, I would eventually get bored.

 

There is no one dead I knew I really wish to meet again, even my folks. I knew them for 50 years or so.

 

Oblivion is the better alternative as you will not know you are dead.

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