Hell is not exactly a hot topic, since no one really likes to talk about perpetual torture. Well, no one except pastor Howard Batson who approached the tough topic of a fiery eternity during his speech at the G5 conference during the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
As reported by The Baptist Standard, faith leaders at the conference said when it comes to staying true to the gospel and evangelism, church leaders cannot neglect the reality of hell.
In an extended discussion, Batson, who pastors First Baptist Church in Amarillo, spoke out concerning the controversy surrounding the claims in Mars Hill Bible Church pastor Rob Bell’s popular book Love Wins.
Batson disputed the most controversial contention from Bell’s book, which is that that a loving God would not sentence his creation to eternal damnation.
"The problem is, when you teach and preach false doctrine, it doesn't matter how noble your intentions or how eloquent your words," Batson said. "If our teachings are not based on the words of the Lord Jesus Christ and the writing and preaching of the apostles, they're a very dangerous theology."
Although Batson regards Bell as a "master communicator" with a "passion to reach people with the story of Jesus," he referred to some of the Mars Hill church founder's philosophies as "hermeneutical gymnastics" used to mislead readers.
"Bell implies that all people will eventually be saved -- even if they reject the Lord's plan of salvation in this life -- because 'God always gets what God wants,' " Batson explained. "God will not fail in the end, and God doesn't want anyone to be lost."
His talk was joined by Pastor of First Baptist Church in Kaufman Brent Gentzel who proposed the idea that a human's desire to "avoid speaking of judgment and hell is driven more by our desire to be liked and comfortable than it is by any true love for our neighbor."
Gentzel avowed Batson's statement outlining three points for Texas Baptist leaders to follow when approaching the topic of eternal suffering. They are as follows: one should not try to be kinder than Jesus, one should not try to be more seeker-sensitive than Paul and never preach "cheap grace."
Batson said, "Bell simply rambles trying to make sense of the evangelical faith in which he was raised and the cultural diversity where he finds himself living."
The two pastors feel preaching the reality of eternal judgment is crucial so believers and non-believers can understand what a genuine commitment to Jesus Christ looks like.
"To leave that part of the story out of the narrative, or to choose to present a second hope that the Bible does not clearly present does no favor to the lost," Gentzel said.