Follow-up on Rob Bell and the Hell Controversy

Eternal Perspective MinistriesRandy Alcorn

This is my third and possibly last blog on this. But given its importance to the gospel of Christ and the health of Christ’s body, I make no promises.

Someone placed my Friday blog on their site. A journalist who read it posted this response: “Alcorn's piece has a pretty major error of fact in the post. It's in this statement: ‘every human being will ultimately be saved, and that none will experience Hell.’ That's not what Bell says in Love Wins.”

Now, people frequently disagree with me online, and I rarely respond, but I’m glad this was said, because I’ve seen similar statements in response to others who criticize Bell. People say the critics are wrong, that Bell really believes in Hell and isn’t a universalist. After all, that's what he says.

I am sympathetic to the confusion. As I read Love Wins I felt portions were slippery, and very difficult to nail down. I think the truth is this—Bell believes in Hell as HE defines it. That includes bad experiences in this life and a period some may face in the afterlife before turning to faith in Christ and being transferred to Heaven where everyone will spend eternity. My point was that Bell doesn’t believe people will experience the Hell that the BIBLE talks about—a place of eternal punishment.

In other words, Bell does not believe in the REAL Hell, as Jesus defines it, and has been accordingly affirmed by historic Christianity. Jesus said, “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt.25:46). Christ also says of Hell, “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:47-48).

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