This review of Time magazine’s Holy Week cover story appears at DefendChristian.org:
Is Hell Dead? The Sad Story of Rev. Rob Bell and His Departure From the Faith
Every year it seems Time Magazine tries to exploit the Easter season with some provocative, anti-Christian edition of its magazine. In its April 14, 2011 cover story, Time raises the question, “Is Hell Dead?” This new cover story is a clever play on one of Time’s most inflammatory cover stories from April 8, 1966 that asked, “Is God Dead?” The editors apparently relish attacking Christianity and now Rev. Rob Bell, a Michigan mega-church minister, has given them ammunition for the attack.
There is a significant difference between these two Time Magazine cover story attacks. Forty-five years ago the first article declaring God is dead had its impetus from outside the church with the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Now the attack on the nature the gospel and God’s justice in the punishment of sinners is coming from within the church from Rev. Bell in his heretical book, Love Wins.
Provocateur or Wolf?
It’s very fashionable for Americans to engage in the practice of challenging authority after all, we are built on a Protestant foundation. While the impulse to question authority can be redeeming, it must be engaged in humbly and carefully.
The protestant reformers rejected the excesses of medieval Romanism, but they were far from anarchists. The reformers made their appeals to the clear message of the Bible and the early church Fathers. Rob Bell’s misuse of scripture is inexcusable and his historical sources are inaccurate and come from the fringes of church, not the mainstream.
Yet, Bell seems to wants it both ways. He seems to be offended when he is told that he has left the faith and is leading others to do the same, but Bell gladly attacks evangelicals and their historic, biblical doctrines.
If a person doesn’t believe the teachings of the Scriptures, why would he spend so much time in them trying to make them say what they don’t? Could it be the tithes and offerings from those 7000 attendees each week?
Jesus’s words about Hell:
But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell.
“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’”
Teaching from the Epistles:
They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might….
—2 Thessalonians 1:9
Teaching from prophecy, Old Testament and New Testament:
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
One last thought:
Suppose there were a bountiful feast set up in the middle of Central Park and everyone was invited to eat all they wanted to their heart’s content, with but one requirement; each invitee had to go to a table and accept the invitation. Many thousands accepted went to the table, then partook of the banquet enjoying the best meal they had ever eaten.
Many decided this invitation just couldn’t be true, or they wanted to “pay their own way,” or they decided that with all these people and such a generous host, the acceptance just wouldn’t be necessary. Some just stood near the table and watched the others eating. When those who failed to accept the invitation approached the banquet table, they were turned away. Their disappointment was deep and visible. Their starvation was unnecessary, but inevitable.
Let me ask you, who’s fault was it? The host’s or the invited guest who failed to respond?
“I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”
–John 12:46-50 NASB
Here is an interesting little blog by Christian Life With Michael, for those who want a little more…