Hell According to Rob Bell

September 23rd, 2007 | 15 Comments | Church Issues, Emergent Church Hell According to Rob Bell |  Facebook

Over at Six Steps, Alex S. Leung writes:

Does Hell really exist? Rob Bell doesn’t seem to think so. Or does he? Maybe he does, and I’m just confused at his evasive indirectness. If he does believe in a literal hell, he’s seems very quiet about it — especially for somebody who apparently has graduated from seminary. At least, that is what I gather after reading this recent interview where he simply dodges answering the question in a very Emergent kind of way…

You recently preached a sermon called “God wants to save Christians from hell.” I was discussing the message with a guy who after hearing this message was a bit disturbed and somehow came to the conclusion that you didn’t believe in a literal hell. Let me ask you, do you believe in a literal hell that is defined simply as eternal separation from God?

Well, there are people now who are seriously separated from God. So I would assume that God will leave room for people to say “no I don’t want any part of this”. My question would be, does grace win or is the human heart stronger than God’s love or grace. Who wins, does darkness and sin and hardness of heart win or does God’s love and grace win?

I don’t know why as a Christian you would have to make such declarative statements. Like your friend, does he want there to be a literal hell? I am a bit skeptical of somebody who argues that passionately for a literal hell, why would you be on that side? Like if you are going to pick causes, if you’re literally going to say these are the lines in the sand, I’ve got to know that people are going to burn forever, this is one of the things that you drive your stake in the ground on. I don’t understand that.

Especially when so many fail to recognize the hell that many people are experiencing today and do little about it.

Yeah, I would think it would be your duty as a Christian to hope and long and pray for somehow everybody to be reconciled to God. If you are really serious about evangelism, as I’m sure you friend would claim, and you wanted to save people from hell, then wouldn’t your hope be that everybody reconciles with God? Why would you hope for anything else? It would be your duty to long for that. I would actually ask questions about his salvation.

You can read the entire interview here.
HT: Six Steps

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15 Responses to “Hell According to Rob Bell”

  1. Bororean says:

    He should be a politician he is good at avoiding direct questions. He “ministers questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith.” (1 Timothy 1:4) He is a false teacher who “is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,” (1 Timothy 6:4) and should be avoided becasue he ask “foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.” (Titus 3:9) Mr. Bell Christians make such declarative statements because our Lord Jesus Christ made such declarative statements even about Hell? (Matthew 5:22, Matthew 5:29, Matthew 5:30, Matthew 10:28, Matthew 11:23, Matthew 16:18, Matthew 18:9, Matthew 23:15, Matthew 23:33, Mark 9:43, Mark 9:45, Mark 9:47, Luke 10:15, Luke 12:5, Luke 16:23) Repent and Believe the Gospel Mr. Bell!

  2. namoi says:

    Rob bell Is a Joke.

  3. Gladlybear says:

    Just because this person graduated from seminary and has a pastor position somewhere doesn’t make him a Christian or at least a knowledgable Christian. It doesn’t mean he knows more than anyone else. Just because he went to seminary doesn’t mean he loves the Lord more than anyone else, either. Apparently, he hasn’t even studied the Scriptures. As our fellow FaithFreak, Bororean, shares several scripture that Rob Bell surely doesn’t know about or whatever, there are so many scriptures to prove a true, literal hell. If Jesus Christ Himself said hell is real, then it is real. Period. End of story.

  4. abe says:

    What Mr. Bell forgets is that the grace of God is found only in Christ and no where else. And this gift of God through Christ is obtained only through faith. Its not a matter of sin being more powerful than Gods grace but more a matter of God allowing sinners to exist. And Gods grace does win over sin as evidenced by those in Christ.

    As for those outside of Christ, Mr. Bell also forgets that God never overrides the will of men, however flawed it maybe, as it would destroy it but persuades them convincingly with the light of the knowledge of God causing them to repent and believe. The reformers believed that though man is a fallen creature he is still capable of being reasoned with. Come now let us reason together – should ring a bell.

    He does talk like origen the universalist. Guess it is inevitable if one separates the grace of God from His holiness.

    Also reminded me of a quote from Jonathan Edwards – Sinners in the hands of an angry God: Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it

  5. Amber says:

    Seriously am I the only one in the entire world that realizes the Bible you are reading is not verbatim. At first yes I believe it was, then it got translated a few hundred times to English, then it got cut and pasted together by someone, I think his name was King James. And although his acts were noble, trying to get the word into everyones hands, rich and poor alike, he had “politicians”‘ do it, yeah thats what the church has been for so many centuries. Way back then and even during the crucifixtion of Christ a seat in the Church was a seat of power. A political move. So lets get a book together of the word of God and piece the parts we think are relative and translate it using scholars not bilinguals (scholars were taught the meaning, they don’t know the meaning) then give to all the ignorant people out there and say “This book was written by the hand of GOD himself”

    No the bible you know today was NOT written by GOD himself, the DEAD SEA SCROLLS were, if you would like to know what he really means, learn hebrew and go read them yourselves. Until then don’t believe everything you read, and please continue to be free thinkers, because honestly what human can you trust to get it right!

  6. Justin Anderson says:

    Dear Amber, I hope I can add some helpful clarification.

    I think it would be fair to assume that the vast majority of our readers (Christian readers in particular), would be well aware that the Bible was written in it’s original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Ancient Koine Greek.

    While we still posses the Biblical text in it’s original language form, there does exist a large amount of translations from these languages into the thousands of languages people now speak today. However this translation effort (“trying to get the word into everyones hands”) actually began over a thousand years before the specific mention of the King James Translation of the Bible.

    Your remarks; “At first yes I believe it was, then it got translated a few hundred times to English, then it got cut and pasted together by someone, I think his name was King James.”, would seem to indicate that you don’t really poses a fair knowledge of the history of Bible translation in general, nor the translation of the King James Bible specifically. I hope this post can help with some apparent misgivings about the situation.

    The translators of the specific English Bible version known as the King James Version were indeed educated men. They were by and large some of the finest Biblical language scholars the world has ever seen; and contrary to the above, possessed specific bilingual knowledge of the Biblical languages Hebrew and Greek (hence the translating…)
    To quote an excerpt from the epistle to the reader prefacing the 1611 King James Bible, the translators write:
    “If you ask what they had before them, truly it was the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, the Greek of the New. These are the two golden pipes, or rather conduits, where-through the olive branches empty themselves into the gold…
    …If truth be tried by these tongues, then whence should a Translation be made, but out of them? These tongues therefore, the Scriptures we say in those tongues, we set before us to translate, being the tongues wherein God was pleased to speak to his Church by the Prophets and Apostles.”

    The majority of these church men did not poses political power, though they did have an impact in academic fields due to their expertise. To avoid personal error, translation work was conducted and reviewed by six committees meeting at Westminster, Oxford, and Cambridge.

    Rather than the King having the idea and handing to work of translation over to politicians who do not speak the Biblical languages (as is the scenario presented above); it was one of the translators, a Puritan by the name of John Rainolds who suggested the new translation to King James at the famous Hampton Court encounter of January 16, 1604, to which the King gave the approval (and hence the reason for the name of this particular translation).

    As far the idea goes for as a ‘cut and past job’ where people said, “let’s piece the parts we think are relative and translate it” – such a thought simply does not hold any accuracy in light of the thoroughly documentable history of the KJV translation. The King James translators translated the entire cannon of the Bible from the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts they had available to them. Since we posses the languages in the original it is very easy to compare them with the KJV and rules out any conspiracy.

    Not only this, to doubt the validity of the English Bible texts simply based on an alleged cut and paste, language illiterate, political conspiracy involving the King James translators is to ignore the fact that there exists other English Bibles translated before the King James with no association, including the Bishops’ Bible, Tyndale’s Bible, The Matthew’s Bible, Coverdale’s Bible, Whitchurch’s Bible, the Geneve Bible etc.

    Such a hasty throwaway would also ignore the many accurate English translations produced after the King James Version which did not rely on the KJV but upon the ancient Hebrew and Greek manuscripts (including the dead sea scrolls).

    You wrote that the Biblical manuscripts in the Dead Sea Scrolls were the Bible written by God. Yet the DSS confirm just how accurately the Hebrew text has been preserved for us throughout the ages, including the ones used by the King James translators. They are in the Hebrew, and as a Christian I have found that knowing of the Hebrew text has been very insightful in my understanding of certain Biblical passages so I’d join with you in encouraging people to learn the original languages, however this is no reason to present an inaccurate view of the English translation process or the reading of the languages in a way that can get in everyone’s hands (something you even expressed was “noble”).

    Perhaps you might find THIS LINK a helpful introduction to the topics discussed today and please feel free to message us using the contact form if we can be of further assistance.

    I hope I was able to clear up some things, and I pray God can give you a confidence in His ability to preserve His word, and apply it to your life.

    God bless.

  7. Daniel says:

    i used to like this dude Bell. i even had his nooma videos on myspace! thank God that he opened my eyes to false teachings. i cant believe Rob would say things like that and still consider himself a christian.

  8. Former Geek says:

    I really like the Nooma videos too, and I found most of Velvet Elvis to be invigorating and respectful of scripture, but Rob Bell has strayed off the reservation on this one.

    Reading between the lines, I think he is rejecting the idea that Hell exists, and saying that he believes all people will be reconciled to God in the end, so there is no need for it. At least, that’s what I think he is saying.

    While taking scripture lightly on these matters, he moves on to imply that someone’s belief in something somehow effects reality, as if truth can be voted off the island. I’m not for or against Hell any more than I am for or against atonement, or for or against gravity for that matter. But he wants to cast aspursions on my salvation based upon my belief in things that are clearly stated by the Bible. This amounts to a disturbing dismisal of absolute truth. Very new-age, indeed.

  9. marty mcfly says:

    hey thanks heaps for your post justin – very helpful and patient :) you got a good heart brother (well you know what i mean)

  10. Lina says:

    ok, like, back to the future is so cool!

  11. Brian C. says:

    This is a comment by the interviewer on Rob’s Respones. Make sure you read the last sentence. It was not a very well artuclated response that Rob gave.

    “I wish I would have had more time to explore this issue further with Rob, however I had already exceeded my interview time with him. I want to say that the emotion of what he was saying, which may not come through in a manuscript was that many Christians get so hung up with the doctrinal issues and miss the heart of evangelism which is to love those people who don’t know Jesus and do everything possible to keep them from being separated from Him. If we had as much zeal for people as we do doctrine sometimes, it would overshadow the need to hammer those issues so hard. Maybe it was more like “yeah I believe in hell but let’s focus on loving people and showing them Jesus, rather than telling them where they are going to go.” Also, during the session earlier that day at the conference (Isn’t she beautiful), Rob did specifically say “of course I believe in a literal hell”. ”


  12. Rhysy says:


    I am really concerned with Rob Bell’s teaching. My church is becoming increasingly influenced by his teachings. I think he is in error in this area, as is his theology on salvation. He seems to distort what the bible says. Can you please offer some advice.


  13. Colin says:

    Why does there need to be a hell? With Jesus, God promised everlasting life. Well if you believe in a literall hell with people being tortured for eternity, wll techically those poeple also have eternal life. The bible is full of opposite, light/dark, good/evil, etc,, having said that what is th opposite of eternal life? Eternal death is the oppsite, and is just a big of a punsihment as you are still seperated from God for ever.

  14. Ben Davis says:

    Hi Colin,

    We believe there is a literal hell because Jesus said there is a literal hell. Eternal life has only been promised to those who believe (John 3:16). Death is not synonymous with annihilation or unconsciousness. Death is a separation – in the first death our soul/spirit is separated from our body. In the second death our body and soul are separated from God’s goodness, mercy, kindness, love, etc.

    Mat 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

    Rev 14:11 “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night…”

  15. chris says:

    Why does there need to be a literal hell? Who are you to question God? Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, why did you make me this way? Anyone who doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ stands condemned already… he will go to a place where “his worm will not die, and the fire will not go out.” Hell is real. Rob Bell is wrong.

    A few years ago, I myself almost fell into the same error as Rob Bell. I didn’t want to believe in hell because someone I loved very much was on their way there. But, not believing something just because I don’t want to, doesn’t make me right. Its not a matter of “taking sides” as Rob Bell puts it. Its a matter of sound doctrine.

    Rob Bell is very good at framing arguments on his own terms. If you question anything he says, his answer is “The Bible says we should all agree with each other, and here you are starting foolish arguments with me.” But, these arguments are not foolish, and we are to agree with each other in Truth, not in lies.

    Rob Bell is a sad sad sad man. Worse than your average non-believer, because he actually thinks God is on his side…But, God doesn’t take sides. We either take his side (Biblical Truths), or we reject him.

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