Posted by: Paul Chiariello | March 6, 2011

Do All non-Christians Go To Hell?: A Defense of Rob Bell’s New Book

Popular paster Rob Bell in his book called “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived,” made a number of controversial and debate sparking claims.  Here is the video by Bell about his book.  And here is the original blog post by Taylor that sparked the debate

Blog, Facebook and Twitter posts have already exploded, sparking a NY Times article today on it,  so I am a little behind.

But I wanted to add my own arguments to back up the basic argument Bell is making in questioning whether only a small group of Christians go to Heaven and the majority of everyone who will ever exist will go to Hell without any reprieve.  There are three points I’d like to make.

First, ‘Know them by their fruits,‘ will Ghandi go to hell?  This point Bell apparently makes in his book.  But from what I have read he asks the question about Ghandi, not linking it to the verse where we are to distinguish false from righteous prophets by their fruits in the book of Matthew.

15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Jesus very explicitly seems to tell us, if ‘fruits’ is reasonably considered to be righteous works coming from an righteous inward state, that prophets and teachers and even those going to heaven or hell will be sifted as such according to their fruits.

If I were told to to look out for good and bad prophets according to this rule, I would certainly pitch up my tent and follow Ghandi.

Second, you can’t call God all-merciful if He sends some people to Hell.  Very simply if there are people in Hell you can ask, could God have shown them mercy?  Yes.  Did he?  No, He showed them justice.  Alright, fair enough.  But if He could have and didn’t show them mercy He isn’t all merciful.  If you can say, “X could have been more merciful,” then X isn’t all-merciful.  Do the same with do same test with any other omni-characterisitic.

This is further complicated is ‘mercy’ is a good thing.

But you may say that He couldn’t show them mercy because it conflicts with justice, or give some other set of theological rules why He couldn’t show mercy.  Maybe, but I could go two roads that brevity will not allow me to fully go into (make some comments and i’ll reply).  1) He then isn’t omnipotent and 2) who is making up these rules anyway?  God?  If so then He could have made different rules and the questions just shifts a over little to that.

Note: in Islam this same analysis applies but isn’t so straightforward.  According to one hadith at least, all face ‘justice’ in Hell (even the prophet, pbuh) and it seems to be that God then shows mercy (to all?), especially through the last cycle of mercies shown to the final person.  Read the hadith here.

Third, Hell is completely disproportionate to anything we think of as justice.  For a finite amount of sins/decisions (including those Christians who believe we go to Hell for the single sin of not accepting Jesus), non-Christians face an infinite amount of punishment.  Also, punishment serves no function what so ever.  If God wants us to choose Him, give us more chances to choose Him.  Hell does not reform the criminal and it does not compensate any wrongs.  Besides scaring people into heaven or being vindictive, what is its purpose?  Again, if God is making the rules of the game, this seems a silly, if not immoral, one.  If He isn’t making the rules and just following them, well thats a whole ‘nother can o worms.

But you also say that you can’t understand ‘Divine Justice’ through concepts like human justice?  Well yes, you can.  You do it all the time with your own and other peoples’ Gods.  1) If we can’t then God didn’t make humans with enough of whatever it is to understand one of the most important topics concerning the fate of our immortal souls.  2) How can we know it is true that ‘God is Good’ if He operates on a completely different and incomprehensible morality that is so different to ours?  Which leads to: 3) if we can’t understand ‘divine morality’ for your God, maybe you simply can’t understand ‘divine morality’ for other people’s Gods too.  Taking away any possibility of understanding your God through our common understandings of morality means you have to admit the same possibility for other similar Gods.

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Responses

  1. […] the 1,000 years of peace it has been promised for decades. A great related post about this: https://paulkiari.wordpress.com/2011/03/06/do-all-non-christians-go-to-hell-a-defense-of-rob-bells-ne… Related to this you can read: […]

  2. I’ve had the “all-loving, all-merciful” argument for years as well as the “bad Christians vs. good Hindus (etc)” one. If God can come up with 50,000 species of fish (or whatever), then why not many paths leading to heaven? I’ve actually had someone say to me that people of other faiths, at the point of dying, if they say the name of Jesus, will be saved. We are trying to understand God using our limited abilities; God doesn’t need us to make up excuses for Him.
    Is the threat of hell an incentive to be good? Which child grows up with a better sense of right and wrong? The one who is loved, cherished and nurtured, or the one who is told he is worthless, bad and unlovable?
    The cd “Awakening” by Blessed By Love (which is God’s Love) has 18 songs dealing with interfaith and the Oneness of ALL Creation by an ALL-loving God.

  3. This man is insane, this whole article is inspired by the anti Christ, there is a hell, and if you haven’t accepted Jesus, you’re going there, fir all eternity, in exruciating pain, with no hope of escape. Even if you have never even heard of Jesus, your going to hell, where the flame never ceases, and the worm never dies. Turn or burn, simple as that.


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