Rejecting Rob Bell’s view on hell, Southern Baptists affirmed the historical biblical teaching on hell as an “eternal conscious punishment” in a resolution that was passed on the last day of the denomination’s annual meeting.
The resolution, entitled “Reality of Hell,” specifically mentions Rob Bell’s controversial book Love Wins. The book, released in March, criticizes the belief that a few Christians will spend eternity in heaven while everyone else is eternally punished in hell.
“Rob Bell, in his 2011 book, Love Wins, has called into question the church's historical teaching on the doctrine of eternal punishment of the unregenerate,” reads the resolution, which was introduced and passed Wednesday at the Southern Baptist Convention annual convention in Phoenix, Arizona.
The messengers to the SBC meeting voted to “hereby affirm our belief in the biblical teaching on eternal conscious punishment of the unregenerate in Hell.”
The three-paragraph resolution also urged Southern Baptists to hold fast to the teachings on the reality of hell and salvation found in Christ alone.
“RESOLVED, That out of our love for lost people and our deep desire that they will not suffer eternally in Hell, we implore Southern Baptists to proclaim faithfully the depth and gravity of sin against a holy God, the reality of Hell, and the salvation of sinners by God's grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, to the glory of God alone,” read the statement.
David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala., and author of the bestselling book Radical, also referenced Rob Bell’s view on hell in a sermon delivered following the morning’s vote on several resolutions.
While Bell acknowledges in his book that hell is a literal reality, he suggests that “hell is not forever, and love, in the end, wins.” Bell says the Greek word aion, which is translated to mean “eternal,” could also mean “period of time.”
In his convention sermon, Platt took issue with Bell’s claim that hell may not be forever.
"Is hell real? Is hell forever? Did God really say sinners would perish in eternal torment forever and ever?" the pastor asked.
He cautioned readers of Rob Bell’s book to “listen very carefully be very cautious, when anyone says, `Did God really say this?"'
Several prominent evangelical Christian scholars, including Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler, have strongly denounced Bell’s teachings on hell as unbiblical. They have also accused Bell with being a universalist, a charge the author has verbally denied.