Evangelicals: Rob Bell Preaching 'False Gospel'

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Two months after popular pastor Rob Bell released his book about heaven and hell, it is still stirring debate in Christian circles.

Bell's new book Love Wins challenges the biblical definition of hell and who will end up there. The book earned him a spot on Time Magazine's annual list of the most influential people in America.

"It surprised me that there isn't a widely held understanding that we are disciples of Jesus. And so, we are learning and we are growing," Bell said.
    
The pastor of the 10,000-member Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Mich. told CBN News he was surprised by all the controversy - despite the fact that it challenges fundamental Christian beliefs about the afterlife.

"Actually, hell is very easy for me to grasp," he told CBN News. "I see rape, abuse, genocide in our generation. We have seen financial scandals. I have sat with people deep in the throws of hardcore drug addiction with the vacant, empty look in their eyes."

"I see hell all the time around me through all sorts of destructive choices that we make," Bell said.

Bell's definition of hell brought criticism from popular ministers like John Piper, who quickly tweeted, "Farewell Rob Bell."     
    
Another pastor said, "There is nothing loving about preaching a false gospel." 
   
Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told CBN News that scripture "presents hell as a necessary dimension of God's judgment."

"The Bible's words on hell are spectacularly clear, and they are meant to be a warning to us," he said.  "We do not do the gospel a service -- for that matter, we do not do a kindness to lost people if we minimize the reality and biblical reality and threat of hell."

Dr. Vinson Synan, former dean of Regent University's School of Divinity in Virginia Beach, Va., also took a dim view of Bell's theology.

"The question of justice -- people do horrible things, and if they die and don't get judged on this earth, there must be justice somewhere," he reasoned.

"To say that there is no heaven or hell means there is no meaning to existence," Synan told CBN News. "The Bible clearly teaches that there is a hell for the unrighteous who die persistently in sin and do not repent, and there is a heaven for the righteous to be forever with God. 

"I will take my chances with the Bible," he concluded.

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Efrem Graham

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Efrem Graham is an award-winning journalist, who comes to CBN News from the ABC owned and operated station in Toledo, Ohio.  He received his master's degree from the Columbia University Journalism School. He also holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Follow Efrem on Twitter @EfremGraham and "like" him at Facebook.com/EfremGrahamCBN.