Love wins, Christianity loses

The Evangelical world may not be as coherent and homogeneous as some would lead you to believe. For one thing, they can’t seem to properly contain the apostasy of Pastor Robert Bell, who has been preaching from Mars Hill a theology that takes special efforts to exclude Hell.

Bell credits a conversation he had about Ghandi. When a parishoner kindly reminded him he was slowly roasting in the fires of Hell, something changed in him, according to this Time article. He wanted to believe in a God who didn’t send people to Hell. What, the author argues somewhat saliently, is the point of believing if it doesn’t matter anyways?

If, in other words, Gandhi is in heaven, then why bother with accepting Christ? If you say the Bible doesn’t really say what a lot of people have said it says, then where does that stop? If the verses about hell and judgment aren’t literal, what about the ones on adultery, say, or homosexuality? Taken to their logical conclusions, such questions could undermine much of conservative Christianity.

It’s not just the conservative side that gets bent out of shape once you expose people to the real nightmare that is the Bible, and the poisonous undercurrent of its theology. Given the authority society has granted this book, rather uncritically I might add, the Bible becomes the tool of bigots, racists, and sexists alike. We then find it surprising when the power and authority they command through their religions allow for the continued mistreatment of women, minorities, and the emotional, physical and sexual abuse of children.

Some, like Bell, have resolved to make the texts fit their own perception of the world. With delightful impunity he denies Hell, aware this idea alone – ¬†eternal torture of the innocent for the crime of having chosen the wrong god – is morally repugnant. He attempts to save his favorite deity by endorsing the idea that everyone has been retroactively saved due to the torture and martyrdom of a middle-aged Nazarene some two thousand years ago. Asking why such a barbaric act is necessary in the first place is not something he’s yet ready for, since this too taxes a belief system already strained by the capricious and cruel blood thirst of Bell’s Abrahamic god.

With Bell’s attempt to stretch the foundations of his faith to encompass individuals outside his own organization, he in effect weakens the redemptive message evangelical preachers rely on to terrify their flock from questioning doctrine. What he and his cohorts fail to understand is for some, it’s the fire and torment they like. The “lovey-dovey” stuff is for sissies and liberals in their eyes. For many in the Evangelical right, it is the intensity of their hatred of people on the “outside” of their tight little Jesus circle-jerk that fuels their hellish fantasies. Recall in their eyes, we’ve already made our choice not to believe in their intellectually void ministrations, and the heavenly reward that supposedly awaits them includes the pleasure of watching the eternity of our torment for so much free-thought. If love was really the issue at hand, how could the so-called “righteous ones” not rebel against their God at the though of so many suffering in pain forever?

Of course that’s exactly the kinds of morally repulsive conclusions Bell has reached, and so he seduces those within Evangelism who have tired of the “brimstone mandate”. They are more numerous than the churches would ever admit. It is yet another kink in their already fading aura of supposed invisibility. Keep up the good work, Robby. Your attempts to civilize your religion will end up destroying it from the inside.

Comments (1)

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    I have to say I’m enjoying how truly, as you put it, bent out of shape many are getting over Mr. Bell. His theology is obviously unsupported vacuity masquerading as a slightly new-agey sort of Christianity. I fully sympathize with his problem; I can recall thinking the same thing about hell and the good non-Christians do. But since I ruminated over goofiness like that, I’ve dropped the whole thing because none of it is “good” or supported, regardless of how nice anyone tries to make it.

    I know someone who is a pastor and is extremely skeptical of Mr. Bell since this book of his came out. I recall seeing a Facebook update a few weeks back saying that people need to “pray for Robert Bell”, and that he seems to have taken “a turn toward Universalism”, which of course is a major finger-waving no-no.

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