Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Evangelicals take to Twitter to debate the doctrine of hell

By Rachel Held Evans

Rob Bell didn't win an Oscar on Sunday, but his name trended alongside the likes of James Franco, Colin Firth, Natalie Portman and Christian Bale after rumors about the evangelical pastor's new book on heaven and hell spread across the blogosphere.

The book entitled "Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived" won't hit shelves until March 29, but that didn't stop a group of conservative bloggers from speculating about its contents.

Justin Taylor, vice president of editorial at Crossway, wrote a blog post suggesting that Bell had become a universalist and was moving "farther and farther away from anything resembling biblical Christianity." (Universalism asserts that all people will be saved and that an eternal hell is not a part of God's plan for a new heaven and new earth.) In response, Pastor John Piper issued a tweet that linked to the post and added, "Farewell Rob Bell," suggesting that such a position disqualifies Bell from Christian fellowship. Neither Taylor nor Piper have read the book in question.

By the end of the weekend, Taylor's post had garnered more than 1,000 comments and 24,000 Facebook shares. Piper's tweet went viral, catapulting Bell into a national trending topic on Twitter. Pre-orders for Bell's book soared as many bloggers rose to his defense. Almost overnight, the online evangelical community had erupted into a full-blown debate over doctrines related to heaven, hell, religious pluralism, justice, mercy and atonement.

Read more at Washington Post

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