Rob Bell. It was reported on Good Morning America that Rob Bell, megapastor of Mars Hill Bible Church, asserts that "there is No HELL!". Yes, Rob Bell from Bible Church. This is bound to get things heated up.
In his book "Love Wins" Bell asserts that there are many things in the Jesus story that turns people off, and we don't talk about them, like the concept of Hell and Heaven. Here is an excerpt: "Some communities don't permit open, honest inquiry about the things that matter most. Lots of people have voiced a concern, expressed a doubt, or raised a question, only to be told by their family, church, friends, or tribe: "We don't discuss those things here."
Galileo had similar problems with the Catholic church some few hundred years ago when he blasphemously asserted heresy that it appeared the Earth was not flat (simplified). How dare he question the teachings clearly illustrated in the bible that "heaven is above and hell is below and the world was created and set firmly on a pedastal". (Old Testament paraphrased). The view of the world then was based upon the biblical assertion that it was a three teird universe. Heaven above (the sky), the world (where people lived) and hell was underground (Under the world they lived in). 3 Layers. And it was set upon a pedestal. Now that seems a little strange to us today as we grew up understanding a round earth that rotated around the sun and we have a few scientific details to back that up, say like PICTURES! In Galileo's day, that was not the world view. The Bible said this or that, and that settled it.
But does it?
For many, these questions need answers. Or put another way, maybe not answers but at least need to be asked and honestly addressed. And though these issues are not fundamental to the faith that Christians share, they are stumbling blocks (throwing a little Paulianism in here) for many that they can't get over and hence blocks there pathway to Christ.
So why do we go to great lengths to defend the truth even its wrong? Or if not wrong at least not clear? I assume there are many reasons. If you have things totally figured out, then questioning those things will mess up your tidy little doctrinal world. If you find that there are things your faith denomination told you all these years that just don't hold up under scrutiny any longer, does that spead so much doubt for you that you throw the baby out with the bathwater? I think some believe it will.
I love to ask questions. I love to engage others who share this same fascination and who try to become closer to God by understanding. And by honestly talking about these stuff I come to a better understanding. However, there are some people I just can't talk to. Okay, maybe I mean they can't honestly talk with me. Or you. They are too busy defending there tribe's knowledge. I have tried several times over and over to engage in dialogue with these, for lack of a better word, evangelicals (its predominate in a certain denomination in the Southern United States), and have been met with contempt and hostility. The conversation on my part begins with a question that I would like to hear their point of view on, hence a discussion, and quickly turns into a defensive diatribe on their end or an absolute that "cannot be questioned" because it is in the bible. Enter Galilieo. Enter Rob Bell. Enter hundreds of thousands of us, believers and non-believers alike.
Example: This week at the morning coffee b.s. session the abortion issue comes up. Now I will not go into what I think or do not think about that issue here, it was just the topic. And the fellow says how the world is messed up because some kid is getting felony charges for killing a hampster while the world condones the murder of babies through abortion. So I ask the group, what about God in the Old Testament ordering and condoning the killing of whole groups of people, including women, children and pregnant women whose bellies are spilt out on the ground. Yes, I'm an instigator. And without skipping a beat the answer I got from the two Baptists in the circle was "Because God is Sovereign". Oh, okay. Thats a great reason. Thanks for clearing that up for me. I was so confused prior to that.
Idiots. Of course God is Sovereign. But what I wanted was an answer or at least some honest dialogue. Because that Sovereign God seems to be conflicting with the God I understand in the New Testament. The God who says love your enemies. Turn the other check. Or that the eye for an eye thing is no longer a good thing. They get defensive. I am asking questions their belief system can't handle and, as Rob Bell said, "we don't talk about that stuff in this tribe". Its messy.
But no. Christianity for many "professing Christians" has been reduced to a formula that goes something like this:
Adam&Eve = Fall/Sin. Prophets foretell coming Messiah = Jesus. Jesus saves us from Fall/Sin by sacrifice. Accept Jesus in your heart, say a little prayer, and Abracadabra you are in the club. Saved. No flames for you my friend. You followed the process to enternal bliss.
Did you notice anything missing here? Anybody? Anybody? Anybody? Bingo. yes. The Teachings of Jesus. That messy little section of the bible that seems to get overlooked in the formula. The teachings that messed up the whole world and the view of the religious teachings of the day. Turned the world right side up. "I know you have been told...., but I tell you this....".
Yet we still defend the truth as we believe it, even if if we are wrong. And that's too bad. We can't have the conversation because maybe our world would become a little more rounded in the process, and others could join us.
I know. Heresy. ~npp