The moment this video promoting Rob Bell's upcoming book popped up in my Facebook newsfeed I knew that this would not pass quietly. But then I finally got a long overdue copy of Starcraft 2 and so the happenings on the internet was put aside while I lost myself in glorious battle. However I was happy to find that I was completely correct. That simple promo set the interwebs on fire (well the part of it that has interest in religious matters anyway). Predictably, a large group of Christians threw a shit fit and called for the heretic to be burned at the stake (I'm paraphrasing of course). My favourite Christian blog, The Slacktivist, came out in strong support for Rob and in a twist I did not see coming this led to a prominent Atheist blog weighing in on the matter - on the Fundamentalist side no less!
Now I have already written a long blogpost to explain my thoughts on why I don't believe the Doctrine of Hell deserves the prominent place it currently occupies in Christianity (and especially in evangelism) so I'm not going to write another blog covering the same ground. But there is something interesting about all this that I do feel like mentioning. The fact of the matter is simply this, Rob Bell's book "Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived" has not been published yet. Therefore no one can actually know at this point what arguments and claims he will or will not make in this book. So then to accuse him of being a heretic, universalist, false prophet who teaches that Jesus is not the way and that everyone will go to Heaven because there is no Hell is pure speculation. The little preview video certainly says none of those things.
So then what has everyone so upset? The fact that someone suggested that love might end up winning the day? That someone had the temerity to suggest that God wasn't a monster who would have billions upon billions of good people brutally tortured for all eternity for the crime of being born in a non-Christian part of the world? Sounds as if a lot of people, much like Jonah of old, still get so angry they could die upon finding out that God doesn't wish the damnation of the heathens.
Really, why must the idea of Hell and eternal torture be so vigorously defended? Doesn't say much for your carrot if you are this attached to your stick...
For some very elegant (Biblical) discussions far superior to anything I've ever written on the subject you may want to look at the following:
I spent most of my life as a fundamentalist and discovered Reason much later than I would have liked. I'm still dealing with the trauma and this blog is my therapy. So this is me: non-conformist, heretic, fan of delicious flavour and a man without a home. I’m a cynical optimist and a really angry zen master. I am just a man trying to make sense of it all. This is my life in juxtaposition.