Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Oh Hell...Again

I was in today's Elizabethton Star. Evangelical superstar Rob Bell has shaken up the literalists with his book, Love Wins. I wrote about this a couple weeks ago. In an article on "Hell: Is It Real?" local reporter, Rozella Hardin, wanted opinions of local preachers regarding hell. She chose two of us. There must be 500 preachers in Carter County. I apparently get picked because I'm so contrary.

This was the view of the other preacher, Rev. Jack Roddy, of the Watauga Association of Baptists:

The Bible describes hell as a literal place where real people dwell. Just as surely as there is a heaven for those who have received God's grace, there is a hell for those who have refused Him. In the Bible, God proclaims He loved all people so much that He gave His Son Jesus so that anyone who received Him would have eternal life and not perish. So then, hell is a place where people suffer utter, endless hopelessness, like continually dying.
He wrote more but you get the idea. This is what I wrote:
"Hell" has no reality to it except as an expression (ie. war is hell) or a metaphor for intense suffering. Hell is a symbol that is used to bully and cajole people into believing and doing things from fear rather than love or reason. We might call it cosmic negative reinforcement. "Hell" is one of those doctrines that we ought to quickly discard into the dustbin of history. I am glad Rob Bell is helping evangelicals question this abusive notion.
I think it is interesting that Ms. Hardin was curious about this enough to ask my opinion. This is only a guess on my part, but I think more and more people are questioning beliefs they have heard in church all of their lives. That is refreshing.
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