So in the interest of being fair and balanced I read Francis Chan's rebuttal to Love Wins titled Erasing Hell.
While I agree with almost all of Chan's theology regarding hell his book was very, um...scholarly. Now I love a good footnote as much as the next person but it doesn't make for compelling reading.
I think I see the problem.
Bell's book reads like a grand story. His style is almost conversational. And if I'm being brutally honest, the God he describes is much more lovable.
Chan's book contains the traditional teaching on hell that I grew up with. Probably a lot of you did too. Hell is a literal place that unbelievers in Christ go when they die and suffer eternal torment as punishment for their unbelief. While I agree with Chan's interpretation of Scripture, I have to admit that to an average person who maybe didn't grow up with this traditional view, his God could come across as harsh and almost vindictive.
And so the question remains...how to explain to a lost world that a loving God can condemn people to eternal punishment. I'm not suggesting that we have to apologize for God or sugar-coat the Gospel. But I'm not sure that focusing on avoidance of hell is the best way to persuade unbelievers that Jesus is for them. And I think maybe that was Bell's point.
There seems to be a lot of "Christians" out there who love condemning people to hell. You should read some of the comments on some of the articles I read about Rob Bell. Many of them are convinced that even though Bell professes Jesus as his Savior and trusts in the redemptive power of the cross Bell is going to bust the gates of hell wide open when he dies because of his differing interpretation of certain Scripture regarding hell. Really? I thought trusting Jesus was enough. You mean we also have to correctly interpret every single Scripture? I mean, have you READ Revelation?! Now there's a daunting study! And who decides which interpretation is correct...the Baptists, the Methodists, the Catholics or, heaven forbid, the Mormons? I'm pretty sure I don't know every thing there is to know about every single Scripture and I've probably gotten some it wrong somewhere along the way. How about you? Is my salvation in jeopardy? Is yours? I choose to believe that Jesus is enough and trust that God will sort out the rest of it in His wisdom and mercy.
I'll just sum it up this way: Bell's book made me want to immediately start trying to better love God and my neighbor. Chan's book made me want to hide under my bed in fear.