Bell's Hells: Seven Myths about Universalism

Here is a link to an article I wrote in the Baptist Times this week. It is simply an attempt to clear some ground for a more fruitful discussion.


Mike Gantt said…
Well said, Robin.

The more evangelicals are shown that universalism can proceed from faith in Christ rather than be a departure from Him, the more I believe they will take the teaching seriously.
Gem said…
In the article you said: "Most universalists believe that hell is not simply retributive punishment but a painful yet corrective/educative state from which people will eventually exit (some, myself included, think it has a retributive dimension, while others do not)."

That sounds like Purgatory. In my Catholic childhood I learned that's the intermediate place where people go.
Gem said…
NT Wright points out that modern readers misinterpret the biblical term, Kingdom of Heaven, as referring to "a place we go to when we die." But ancient readers knew the phrase meant "the rule of heaven on earth."

Could hell be on earth too? (Look at some of the pictures coming out of Japan) When I take a simple look at all the NT references to "hell", they make sense reading in the present tense. My choice TODAY is living in the Kingdom of God or living in "hell on earth".
"Nick" said…

Purgatory is for Christians who weren't quite good enough or didn't do enough good works.

Hell is the place where sinners who have not accepted Christ or become Christians go, forever in the traditional view.

Universalist hell is not for Christians but for non-Christians.

Robin also talks a little about this in the audio talk he posted earlier.

Great article Robin.
Anonymous said…
Hi Robin,

In the article you state that:

'We need to be careful not to confuse the discussion between exclusivists and inclusivists with the issue of universalism... Two different questions.'

May I enquire as to which side of the fence you find yourself - 'in' or 'ex' ...clusive?
Rev Drew Tweedy said…
Great article Robin and God bless the Baptist Times for publishing it. Respect!
Robin Parry said…
Thanks for the kind words.

Gem. Re: purgatory. My own view is that the pains associated with eschatological judgement are not purgative. Pain is not redemptive. But it can be corrective and enlightening; it can expose sin and its consequences for what they are. As such it can play a role in leading people towards God. And, as Nick mentioned, Purgatory in Catholic theology is for Christians whereas eschatological judgement is not.

Gem—Re: hell-on-earth: I am open to something like that although I'd need to think about it. Rob Bell floats an idea like that too.

Anonymous—I have no fixed view but I tend towards exclusivism. That said, I am open to the possibility of invlusivism. Perhaps I am an exclusivist with fuzzy edges.
Anonymous said…
Sooo badly needed !

Thank you for writing that.

Ted said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ted said…
Having read the book I'm not sure Bell is a universalist, and he's reported in a recent Q&A replying 'No' to the question of whether he is one. However in the book he does say there is a respectable school of thought that believes God will reconcile all people. I'd say his views are more in line with CS Lewis (and Tim Keller in Reason for God), that no one is sent to hell against their own will but freely choose it (though Bell by no means defines hell as a place of eternal conscious torment). Bell puts a lot of emphasis (perhaps problematically?) on human freedom to choose/reject love. Reading your book or Thomas Talbott might show him it's not a choice between 'you freely choose God' or 'God forces himself on you'.
Anonymous said…
Bell's book is pretty much unreadable -- it's written in the form of a long prose poem with "pregnant pause" gaps between each and every one of his thoughts.

Someone should tell him there's a difference between preaching and writing.
James Goetz said…
"My own view is that the pains associated with eschatological judgement are not purgative. Pain is not redemptive. But it can be corrective and enlightening; it can expose sin and its consequences for what they are."

Robin, I've come close to saying that divine punishment isn't purgative while it's corrective, but reading this post helped to gel this in my mind. I don't see you referring to this in your EU book, unless I missed it. Have you written this view in any of your books or is this blog the only place where you published it?

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