Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The storm about hell continues

Normally at the end of the month I post a simple summary of posts. This month however has been noted in the wider community for a stormy discussion about hell.

I began with a post reviewing a survey by the UK Evangelical Alliance, which showed that the issue over which there is greatest uncertainty is the reality of hell. Only 37% of evangelicals strongly agree that hell is a place where the condemned will suffer eternal conscious pain. Note that this was a survey of 17,000 evangelical believers.

The media storm was triggered by Rob Bell's promotion and launch of his book, Love Wins which examines the Biblical doctrines of heaven and hell. The blogo-sphere and twitter-verse exploded with comment. It subsequently became mainstream news on CNN.

It also seems one of the common links of the case for and against is "Mars Hill". Let me explain.

Rob Bell is pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He proposes what is essentially a universalist approach - in other words "it'll all be alright in the end".

Here is Rob Bell's interview with Martin Bashir.

Click here to view the YouTube clip.

Mark Driscoll is pastor at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. He teaches the reality of heaven and hell and how the idea of God's love is consonant with his righteous anger (wrath).

Here is an extract from Mark Driscoll's sermon on Heaven and Hell given on Sunday 27 March 2011.

Click here to view the full sermon, based on Luke 16:19-31.

In my posts I have explained how the Primitive Methodists were derailed by liberal theology in the late 1880s, over similar questions. By 1900 their theology changed from ‘the Divine Sovereignty’ to ‘the Fatherhood of God’. The all-loving father figure disposed of hell. In effect God became a Santa Claus like figure who presided over the Sunday School picnic. By the time of their centenary in 1907 the doctrine of hell was being substantially watered down.

It seems as though we've been here before.

Related posts

UK Evangelical Alliance survey

The gathering storm

A hell of a storm

Heaven and hell: an inconvenient truth?

Eternal consequences

Doing a U-turn

Going off track (1)

Going off track (2)

Going off track (3)

Going off track – heresy

Simple Gospel or Social Gospel?

Other blogs

Remaining Clear On What Is Clear: On Rob Bell Again

On Hell

Bell on Hell

Out of Ur - Rob Bell: Universalist?

Gospel Coalition - Rob Bell: Universalist?

To Hell with Hell

Mark Driscoll on Emerging Church - this message has renewed relevance


  1. Great post Dave.
    "The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death." Prov 14:26
    A bit different to "God loves you so it will all be ok" (my summary!)
    Love reading your blog.

  2. "For when [not now, but 'when'] Thy Judgments are in the earth the inhabitants of the world [how many is that?] WILL LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Isaiah 9:26).