There is an article on www.foxnews.com today that I have received from several people that merits some commentary. It is about a Methodist pastor who was fired by his church because of his stating on Facebook that he agrees with “Pastor” Rob Bell’s new book “Love Wins” in the assertion that there is no hell. Here’s the link if you’d like to read the entire thing: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/03/24/whos-hell-michigan-pastors-book-sparks-debate-eternal-torment/#
Some of the statements he makes are completely outrageous for someone who claims to not only be a Christian but to be a pastor, responsible for the teaching and encouragement of others. Here’s a couple of excerpts, including some comments on what Bell teaches in his book:
Bell, the pastor of the 10,000-member Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., criticizes the belief that a select number of Christians will spend eternity in the bliss of heaven while everyone else is tormented forever in hell.
“This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness and joy that our world desperately needs to hear,” Bell writes in his book.
“Misguided” and “toxic”? Really? Jesus Himself teaches clearly that there is a literal hell (Matthew 8:11-12, 10:28; Luke 12:5, 16:19-31) –was He misguided? He further claimed that the only way to the Father was through a relationship with Him (John 14:6)–is that “toxic”? Bell’s complete and total contempt of and disregard for the Biblical teaching of the substitutionary atonement of Christ is what is misguided here, and leading people to believe that it is possible to get to heaven because we are “good” is not only toxic, it is heresy.
The Methodist “pastor”, Chad Holtz, was “shocked” that his congregation fired him for abandoning core Biblical truth.
Holtz, 36, who has served as pastor of Marrow’s Chapel for almost four years, said he took to Facebook on March 2 to share his “personal journey” with the notion of hell as a place of torment.
He told FoxNews.com that he wrote about the four things he “lost” when he “lost the idea of hell.”
“I lost the idol of belief; I lost a very powerful and useful motivator — fear; I lost the right to hate my enemy and I lost my place in a tribe,” he said.
“The idol of belief”? That doesn’t sound like a very good thing, as belief is inextricably linked to faith, and the Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Without belief, there is nothing but bragging about how “spiritual” one is.
He lost “fear”? Not very wise: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10a). The author of proverbs goes even further: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). He later states that anyone who does not choose “the fear of the Lord” is one who hates knowledge (Prov. 1:29). Jesus Himself teaches that fear is not only healthy but necessary: “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
“The right to hate my enemy?” We are never given that right in Scripture. Quite the opposite, Jesus says “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
“Lost my place in a tribe”? There is no “tribe”, but there is a “body”–the Body of Christ, consisting of all believers who have placed their trust in Christ alone for their salvation. Ignoring or abandoning Biblical truth for the sake of comfort, “logic”, or expediency indeed makes one part of a “tribe” or group–those who have rejected Jesus and His atoning death on the cross. If all it takes for a person to go to heaven is to be “good”, then why did Jesus die on the cross at all? The Bible says that “there is none good” (Romans 3:10-11). Jesus Himself said that “there is only One who is good”, referring to Himself, the eternal creator God (Matthew 19:17).
A married Navy veteran with five children, Holtz spent years trying to reconcile his belief that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross redeemed the entire world with the idea that millions of people — including millions who had never even heard of Jesus — were suffering forever in hell.
“We do these somersaults to justify the monster god we believe in,” he said. “But confronting my own sinfulness, that’s when things started to topple for me. Am I really going to be saved just because I believe something, when all these good people in the world aren’t?”
Yes, Mr. Holtz, the Bible says we are really saved because we believe in something that others don’t. That’s exactly what Jesus meant when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). That others need to hear is why we are charged with sharing the Gospel (Matthew 28:18-20).
“Monster god”? Try John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life”. The Bible says we are the ones who are “monsters”, rebellious sinners against a righteous God: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). God made a way for us through the death of Christ when there was no other way: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Who is the real “monster” here? Certainly not the God who provided a way for us by dying on a cross to redeem people who hated him.
The only “mental somersaults” being done are by people who are buying into the manipulations of false teachers, which the Bible warns about: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). What both Bell, Holtz, and others who fall into such compromise do is fail in their task, as Paul cautioned Timothy, a young pastor: “But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5).
“The people at my church are good, decent people,” he told FoxNews.com. “They’re simply feeling a little threatened by a pastor who is asking questions that they don’t want to ask right now. I hope some seeds are planted and that God will bring some good about it.”
What we need more than ever is men of God who will stand on God’s Word, not trample it underfoot. Congratulations to Marrow’s Chapel in Henderson, North Carolina, for boldly taking a stand on Biblical principle and dismissing a “pastor” who was leading the people astray.
And God is already bringing some good out of it, Mr. Holtz. He is revealing people like you and Mr. Bell who are false teachers. He is giving people the courage to stand on His perfect Word. He is giving the opportunity for the true Gospel of Jesus Christ–that He died to pay for the sins of the world, and any who receive that forgiveness will be eternally forgiven–to go forth. Congratulations on your success.