It was also hell that was the beginning of the end of Jerry DeWitt's faith, as he explained in his book, Hope After Faith.
And it was the same for Charles Darwin. Here's what he said about it in his autobiography:
I can hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so, the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother, and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine.But there are some Christians who can get around hell by ignoring "the plain language of the text."
Rob Bell is one of those.
In the first chapter of his book, Love Wins, Bell clearly expresses the problems that hell presents to a believer.
1. It's unfair and incredibly cruel.
2. The Bible is unclear about how it can be avoided.
The first problem is obvious to anyone who gives it a moment's thought. Here is just one of the many excellent rhetorical questions that Bell asks about hell.
Of all the billions of people who have ever lived, will only a select number "make it to a better place" and every single other person suffer in torment and punishment forever? ... Can God do this, or even allow this, and still be a loving God?"The second problem is a bit less obvious. According to the Bible, how do you escape hell?
It was here that Rob Bell provided me with another half dozen ways to get saved. (I'm now up to 205. Some of these were already listed, but some I added to the list.)
- Listen to a preacher and call on whomever he tells you to believe in. Romans 10:14
- Beat your breast and say you're a sinner. Luke 18:13-14
- Ask Jesus to remember you when he comes into his kingdom. Luke 23:42-43
- Be born again. John 3:3
- Be worthy. (Don't get married.) Luke 20:35
- Forgive people. Matthew 6:14
- Do the will of Jesus's father. Matthew 7:21
- Endure to the end. Matthew 10:22
- Give half your goods to the poor and restore fourfold whatever you have taken falsely. Luke 19:8-9
- Get saved (or at least have your sins forgiven) by other people's faith. Mark 2:3-5
- Get saved by your spouse. 1 Corinthians 7:16
- Do whatever a voice in the sky tells you do do. Acts 22:6-10
- Become an Israeli citizen. Romans 11:26
- Love much. Luke 7:47
And what is that way?
It is this: You've got to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus.
There are 205 ways to get saved that I have found in the Bible, but the one most believers believe in is not one of them. Because it's not in the Bible.
So the first chapter of "Love Wins" is great. Bell demolishes hell.
The rest of the book tries to salvage what remains of Christianity after removing the belief in hell.
What remains after removing hell from Christianity?
If there is no hell, there's no outer darkness, no place of torments, no everlasting fire, no everlasting punishment, no land of immortal worms, no weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.
If there is no hell, there's no way to get saved and no need for a savior. Jesus has nothing to say and nothing to do.
And faith loses.