If it’s ok with everyone (hope so, cause I didn’t ask), I want to jump on the bandwagon of talking about Hell. Now I know Rob Bell ruined it for us, but I want to take a different spin if I could. You see, aside from theology, I have some things in common with Rob. We are both from the same generation, we are both Gen Xers, he is slightly older than I am. We both ask many questions, and we both question the established system. That is where we depart, I headed more towards Driscoll, he went towards McLaren.
That being said, I see the meta-narrative approach, and I understand where Bell misses it. You see, the scripture can’t be cut and parcelled into chunks, so the question comes up, how can a loving and merciful God send people to hell? Bell says He doesn’t. I say, there is mercy with Hell. Are you scratching your head a little? Think maybe I am as crazy as Rob Bell? Let me unpack it just a bit.
If you remember Isaiah chapter 6, the prophet is suddenly in the presence of God, and his reaction was overwhelming guilt and shame. He exclaimed “woe is me”. It was then when an angel came with a coal and cleansed his lips and only then was Isaiah able to hear the words of the Lord.
Once judgement comes to pass, there is no more cleansing of sin. It was done once and for all through the blood of Christ. Jesus made the atonement and we are saved through that power. Those who are not covered in the blood of Christ still carry their own sin. There is no atonement, there is no cleansing power.
I submit to you, for your discussion and input that the only thing worse that being separated from God for eternity in hell would be eternity before God bearing the weight of your sin with no hope of forgiveness. The reality of hell is knowing you are being punished and eternally atoning for your sin. Heaven with sin would be guilt and shame heaped upon remorse and unworthiness for all of eternity. Being in the presence of the Glory of God, but never able to look upon it. To look upon the face of God with sin is to bring death, so in a sense, it would be eternal death worse than the eternal punishment in hell.
If this is true, then casting the sinner into the flames of hell where they face punishment is loving and merciful, and having them suffer the crushing weight of sin for eternity in God’s presence would show no mercy. This is where I believe Rob Bell missed it, Universalism for the unsaved would be worse than hell. What do you think?