Rob Bell was speaking in Atlanta recently and a CNN writer wrote about it in an article titled Outlaw pastor Rob Bell shakes up the Bible belt. Rob is the author of several books that question Christian beliefs on a number of doctrines. The one he is most known for is his teaching that hell is not an everlasting place of torment.
There were some detractors outside preaching and passing out tracts to warn those arriving not to listen to him. And Rob made no attempt to placate his detractors when he said that white evangelicals had elected a man who had “no moral compass.”
He did not explain how that distinguished Donald Trump from Hillary Clinton, but if he thinks the last election was about which of the two moral midgets was the tallest, I can understand why he has difficulty interpreting the Scriptures.
There are a couple of things that need to be considered when talking about the afterlife in Scripture. While we have as complete a description as we are going to get of what is popularly termed “heaven and hell,” what we have is actually a composite picture gleaned from several scattered accounts taken from both the Old and New Testaments.
While we have been given enough information about the two destinations to know how to gain the one and shun the other, and while we do not have all the details about either place , we do have some undeniable facts, both places are eternal.
The next thing to be considered is the terminology. There are two words in the Greek New Testament that are translated as “hell” in the King James Version, Gehenna and Hades. In the New American Standard and other modern translations Gehenna is translated as “hell” and Hades is transliterated.
Both terms were borrowed from the popular culture then and mean something quite different in the context of Scripture than their etymology would suggest. There is no interpretive license to assign a meaning of these words apart from their biblical context.
But Rob Bell is right on one point, hell or Hades, is not eternal; it is to be cast into the Lake of Fire, Revelation 20:14-15, and the Lake of Fire is a place of eternal torment, Revelation 20:10, et alia. You do not need to take Rob Bell’s word for it, or even mine, it is all right there in the Bible for anyone to read.
Paul warned “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires,” 2 Timothy 4:3.
To those who want to believe there is no eternal torment awaiting disbelievers there will always be a teacher who will accommodate them. The only ones who will be deceived about hell are those who want to be, because they do not care enough to read the Bible for themselves.