Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, wasted no words in describing Bell as a "false teacher and a heretic" because "the Bible is very clear that there is a hell." Playing the devil's advocate O'Reilly questioned whether the belief in eternal damnation in hell is cruel. The evangelist responded.
What's cruel is a person who rejects Almighty God and slams the door in God's face. The Bible says God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.Graham made it clear that God has made every provision possible through the gift of His Son Jesus Christ so that no one need spend eternity separated from God.
Pastor Rob Bell of Mars Hill Bible Church, outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan, has become the center of controversy due to his denial of hell recently reported in Time magazine's cover article. Bell is a declared participant in a growing movement trying to pass themselves off as part of evangelical Christianity known as the "emerging church."
The emerging church phenomenon is a new generation churches, according to Christianity Today known for their improvisational approach to everything "from worship to leadership to preaching to prayer." Unfortunately, emerging church pastors are also taking an improvisational approach to the authority of the Bible.
I have to ask myself if a so called "christian" movement questions the reliability of the Word of God, then what is this movement emerging towards. Heresy? False doctrine? A watered-down version of the New Testament?
In an CT interview with Pastor Bell, he told the evangelical magazine that he started questioning his own assumptions about the Bible, "discovering the Bible as a human product, rather than a product of divine utterance."
Bell's wife Kristen confessed in the same interview that she grew up thinking "that we figured out the Bible that we knew what it means. Now I have no idea of what most of it means." With statements like these from the Bells, perhaps Mars Hill Bible Church should rename itself to "Mars Hill Bibleless Church."
It also seems any pastor who associates himself with the views of Pastor Bell may lose his job. At the end of March, North Carolina Methodist minister Chad Holtz was fired from his pastoral position after expressing his doubts over the existence of hell. Holtz was outed for his beliefs after posting on his Facebook page support for Pastor Bell's book Love Wins.
As a former pastor I rejoice that evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham, pastor and author John Piper and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president R. Albert Mohler, Jr. are stepping forward in condemning the false teachings that are expressed by the leaders of the emerging church movement, especially Pastor Bell.
In a time when sound doctrine is essential to communicate the good news of Jesus the Messiah to a lost world, we cannot be improvising the eternal truths of the Word of God as seen in this current movement.
The challenge to the growing rank of emergent churches is to start emerging back to holding fast to timeless teachings of Jesus, and stop worrying how to make Jesus more relevant to today's aimless culture. Jesus Himself told His contemporaries that "heaven and earth will pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Matthew 24:35).