Pastor loses job after questioning hell's existence

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Pastor loses job after questioning hell's existence

Post by ziggy on Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:20 pm

In the book, Bell 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," he writes in the book.

For many traditional Christians, though, Bell's new book sounds a lot like the old theological position of universalism a heresy for many churches, teaching that everyone, regardless of religious belief, will ultimately be saved by God. And that, they argue, dangerously misleads people about the reality of the Christian faith.

Bell argues that hell has assumed an outsize importance in Christian teaching, considering the word itself only appears in the New Testament about 12 times, by his count.

"For a 1st-century Jewish rabbi, where you go when you die wasn't the most pressing question," Bell told The Associated Press. "The question was how can you enter into the shalom and peace of God right now, this day."

Bell denies he's a universalist, and his exact beliefs on what happens to people after death are hard to pin down, but he argues that such speculation distracts people from an urgent point. In his telling, hell is something freely chosen that already exists on earth, in everything from war to abusive relationships.

The near-relish with which some Christians stress the torments of hell, Bell argues, keep many believers needlessly afraid of a loving God, and repel potential Christians who might otherwise be curious about the faith's teachings.

"The heart of the Christian story is that God is love," he said. "But when you hear the word 'Christian,' you don't necessarily think 'Oh, sure, those are the people who don't stop talking about God's love.' Some other things would come to mind."

"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?"

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42248810/ns/us_news-life/?gt1=43001



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ziggy
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Re: Pastor loses job after questioning hell's existence

Post by SheikBen on Thu Mar 24, 2011 6:01 pm

Ziggy,

That pastor deserved to get fired for a thousand reasons. For one, recall that he is not the pastor of a unitarian church. His thoughts are well within the confines of the unitarian faith. He would comfortably remmain in Methodist churches in most of the north, most any UCC church, a majority of ELCA churches, etc.

He, however, was the pastor a church that believed the Scriptures. If you are a pastor who does not (even using the term "monster god" which becomes not only blasphemous but rude as well), you ought to go elsewhere. I will never send in my application to the Unitarian Church in Joliet. And if they had any sense at all, they'd never accept it.

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Re: Pastor loses job after questioning hell's existence

Post by SheikBen on Thu Mar 24, 2011 6:03 pm

Now, Zig, I don't know a single Christian who relishes the concept of hell. That is slanderous towards 95% of evangelical Christians, and the other 5 % go to the Westboro Baptist Church and about twelve hillbilly, snake handling churches in West Virginia.

Just because you believe in eternal damnation (like cancer), does not mean that you "relish" its existence. This guy is an asshole and I'm glad the particular Methodist church is rid of him.

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Re: Pastor loses job after questioning hell's existence

Post by SheikBen on Thu Mar 24, 2011 6:07 pm

One last thought, Zig. I wish this man well in his professional career somewhere else. It just needs to be somewhere else. Proferring anti-scriptural views is not becoming of a pastor of a church that believes the Scriptures.

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