My take on the article: "TIME Cover: No Hell? Pastor Rob Bell Angers Evangelicals"

There's a very long article in TIME that to me is pushing a book and a lifestyle that is denying truth. The article is "Is Hell Dead?" by Jon Meacham. It's about a new book, "Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived," by Rob Bell.

The article begins:

My take on the article: "TIME Cover: No Hell? Pastor Rob Bell Angers Evangelicals"

Rob Bell

As part of a series on peacemaking, in late 2007, Pastor Rob Bell's Mars Hill Bible Church put on an art exhibit about the search for peace in a broken world. It was just the kind of avant-garde project that had helped power Mars Hill's growth (the Michigan church attracts 7,000 people each Sunday) as a nontraditional congregation that emphasizes discussion rather than dogmatic teaching. An artist in the show had included a quotation from Mohandas Gandhi. Hardly a controversial touch, one would have thought. But one would have been wrong.

TIME Cover: No Hell? Pastor Rob Bell Angers Evangelicals - TIME.

"Hardly a controversial touch, one would have thought." Why? Gandhi wasn't a Christian. Gandhi didn't teach Christianity. Gandhi wasn't, isn't, and never will be in this world, a Christian authority, a source of true, ultimate enlightenment. I wonder what the quote was and how it fit in with Jesus's teaching. I've written plenty about Gandhi on this site. He's a historical figure who had a major influence (still does) on billions of people. Still, one must keep him in Christian perspective and not fall prey to misguiding, anti-Jesus Eastern mysticism. One must always remain on guard not to let Theosophy (the foundation of one of India's two largest political parties, Gandhi's party) into the Church or it will soon become just a church, not of Jesus.

The Church must remain vigilant against ecumenism that especially verges over into syncretism. There are no Buddhist-Christians or Hindu-Christians or Muslim-Christians or anything of the like. There are only Christians who have no Buddhism, Hinduism, or Islam in them. This is extremely important. Jesus was not a Hindu or Buddhist, and Mohammed was not his disciple. There are overlaps in areas, but we are not as Christians partial-Christians but all Christian, through-and-through. Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam stop short, well short.

So, is Gandhi, a Hindu devotee of Ram, in Hell?

Clearly Jesus spoke in relative terms. He spoke in both absolute and relative terms but definitely in relative terms.

And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:47-48)

That is clear, and it is relative. Where does Gandhi fit in?

Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation. (Mark 3:28-29)

That's clear too. However, does it apply to those who also denied Jesus who knew or read the word but rejected it? Refer back to Luke above. It's still relative. Where does the relativity leave off? It leaves off at the terms "never" and "eternal" in Mark there. However, the words "in danger of" suggest the possibility for forgiveness may still exist even for that most outrageous sin.

Did Gandhi blaspheme against the Holy Ghost? I never read where he did. I know he did not understand Jesus's Holy Ghost, which lets him out of the many stripes above, but I don't believe Gandhi ever thought to disrespect Jesus's Holy Ghost either.

I know the Holy Ghost knows where and when people are confused and frustrated but still want to be good souls. Jesus's teachings leave room for this.

Another important thing to consider is what is meant when Jesus taught that In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2)

If the place for them didn't exist already in someway and if it is a distinct place also in someway, then what isn't that place, that new place, but is still in our Father's house in some other mansion or mansions? Where does Gandhi's soul fit within that framework?

I suggest to you that Gandhi was not a mass killer or a megalomaniac or the like. He was not perfect, but if we are to take Jesus's relativism at anything approaching face value, that is discernible truth, we must leave room for God not to place Gandhi in the lowest part of Hell where he will be burned and tortured as the very worst essentially evil manifestation in existence for all time. Why not? It wouldn't be right, that's why not.

That said, there is constantly a movement to slip into Christianity to cause Christianity to become something else, something it can never be.

There will be resurrection of all, but the goats (those who refused Jesus, his words and to emulate him to the best of their abilities) are resurrected only into damnation of their own making. The issue is not whether or not that is true but rather what bearing upon that truth does all of the foregoing have.

Are all of the proverbial goats thrown into the Lake of Fire with the devil the beast and the beast's false prophet? Even if they are, is that lake purgative?

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:10-15)

You see there the words "for ever and ever." That leaves no escape. That though was written by John and not Jesus, even though most Christians have been taught that John received that revelation from Jesus and that Jesus spoke in that revelation.

I like John. Of all of the Apostles, I am closest to what one calls Johannine. I also do not automatically accept that the Gospel of John is the latest of the four "canonical" Gospels. I rather doubt it.

What is the baptism of fire? Who receives it? Jesus didn't deserve to be tortured to death, but who deserved to be Jesus on that cross but Jesus? Who could love so much that he would give his flesh and blood to show such love to edify and save souls?

The souls that burn forever are the souls that refuse truth forever. Who created them and forced them never to accept the truth? God knows all things. God is in complete charge. Is God responsible for creating entities that are tortured constantly forever?

This passage speaks directly to all of that:

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44)

Notice the phrases "father the devil" and "from the beginning." "From the beginning" temporally or has he been literally eternally (without beginning) at odds with God the father of Jesus? The Bible speaks of one God. It also says Satan is the god of this world. Well, it also speaks of false gods and that "this world" is contextual and means the world under that false god even while the real God is over the real world, also here and now, for those who know it.

We need more to flesh this out. It raises the old Calvinist question of predestination versus free will, etc. It raises the question of whether God is the author of the evil and sin God hates. I say God is not. I say that these are paradoxes that can and should be reconciled. I also say that Aristotelian logic is not divine logic and that it is divine logic only that reconciles these paradoxes.

God created edification. God created us to learn to become one with God. God increases and magnifies truth. Those souls that are not up to it are selected out. It's the evolution of the soul(s). It is the same as a group of predators taking out the weakest of the herd or flock. We are not beast though, or don't have to be. Our shepherd can and does, if he is the right one, take us above the fleshly level/spiritless/Godless level.

There is no other way other than handing all souls an unlearned and therefore fake and unappreciated "knowledge."

You are here. I am here. You or I or we make it or not. That's the way of it. No amount of Godless "science" (a misnomer) can or will ever alter that.

What are the New Heaven and New Earth and is Gandhi there? The New Heaven and New Earth are places separate from elsewhere. They are universal only for those within. It is a mistake to assume that the universality of the New Heaven-Earth includes Hell. It does not. The New Heaven-Earth is real while Hell is falsehood. Souls still abide in that death. Not all souls live in the New Heaven-Earth. The essence that is evil, the evil spirit, Satan, never makes it there. It is free of Satan forever and ever.

Don't forget that there are many mansions and levels. There is the relative. The New Heaven-Earth is one place of many but separated — thank God!

What's wrong right now is that the current young-generation is looking for new that isn't. They are looking for stimulation but not to come to grips with their own misguided ways. They don't want their sin to be what it is. They want to invent a new church where their sin is not wrong. Well, that's not Christ's teachings.

Truth is truth. If it makes you uncomfortable, change yourself. Don't try to change the truth. As long as you're trying to change the truth, you'll be failing forever and ever. That's eternal damnation. Face it and change for real.

Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Mark 8:34)

It's not pain free but it's purgative and ultimately freeing. Let go of the sins. Don't retain them. Get the claws out. Heal.

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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