Baptists: There IS a Hell!

Southern Baptists recently called hell an “eternal, conscious punishment” for those who do not accept Jesus, rebutting a controversial book from Michigan pastor Rob Bell that questions traditional views of hell.

Citing Bell’s book “Love Wins,” the resolution urges 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.”

OK… I get it.  Affirming hell.  A good thing.

But did anyone question whether Southern Baptists didn’t believe in Hell?  I’ve definitely never heard anyone say that.

So, the statement, to me, seems to be totally reactionary to one book published by someone not in your tribe.

Which begs the question to me… who was this statement for?

If it was for Rob Bell, then I’m not sure what it accomplishes, other than to say that you have profound impact on the Christian community, especially our own SBC pastors.

If it was for the SBC pastors, then it says that you need to preach against hell.  Most do, as far as I can tell.

If it was for the SBC congregations, that’s good, but I don’t know that Rob Bell’s book was read by tons of congregational people.  Their too busy reading Stephen King and John Grisham.

And if it was for the public at large, I don’t know that it will have much of an effect.  It could be seen as ‘we still believe in hell and we still believe you’re going there’.

I’m not trying to be too harsh… I’m just wondering what the real purpose of the resolution was.  Was it necessary?  And should resolutions by such a large body be made over one isolated published work?

You tell me.

More here…



  • Cecil Linke June 23, 2011 Reply

    Great question. My “rule of thumb” – spend more time “living” your convictions and less time taking votes and writing position papers. Seems that opinions are as numerous as the stars in the age of social media – kind of like values statements on a church web site that never make it further than the soft glow of a computer screen.

  • Peter June 23, 2011 Reply

    We all think our words and pronouncements are more important than they actually are. So we keep making them, thinking that it’s what God asks of us…

    How many lead and preaching pastors rely on their sermons to change lives, when in reality, most of your flock can’t remember even one of the three points you had last week… (not discounting preaching, btw… just saying our words aren’t the end-all be-all that we often think they are)

  • Cliff June 23, 2011 Reply

    I agree that we shouldn’t put too much weight on pronouncements, and that we shouldn’t over-react to particular books or authors. However, I would disagree that Rob Bell’s view is an isolated position. I think he simply articulated what a lot of post-moderns (and others) have been feeling for a while–including younger generations of the SBC. So if the pronouncement was intended for the congregations, then I think it can serve a helpful purpose.

    I agree with Peter that our lives speak loudest, but I don’t think it’s either/or, but rather both/and. We must speak with our lives AND our words (including sermons), and the message must be consistent between the two.

  • Michael June 23, 2011 Reply

    I am an SBC pastor. I find most of our resolutions to be silly. It allows us as a convention to speak to different issues however no one really cares and I have never seen anything positive come out of them.

  • Rich Bradford June 23, 2011 Reply

    “But did anyone question whether Southern Baptists didn’t believe in Hell? I’ve definitely never heard anyone say that.”

    That is a great quote. I don’t think many SBC pastors and leaders would question the existence of Hell. I do believe that members of their congregation could be swayed by the likes of Rob Bell, so it probably was worth a discussion. Without naming names, I can think of at least one fictional book that was popular in the evangelical (and perhaps SBC) community with questionable theology.

  • Michael June 24, 2011 Reply

    I do agree the resolution could help congregations but the people in the pews most likely will never hear about this. The ones that will keep up with it are probably already well aware of all the other thoughts and opinions surrounding Rob Bell.

  • Pastor_Shane June 25, 2011 Reply

    I enjoyed Michael’s observation on how effective resolutions are. I rank them right up there with New Years Resolutions and how “Life Changing” they are.

  • Ken June 27, 2011 Reply

    Hmmmm. Maybe there are still some of us in ministry who think it is important to share our convictions verbally and in print. Granted, we all preach things that not everybody “buys” but we still feel compelled by the Holy Spirit to preach them (I hope). I’m glad the SBC isn’t going the way of other mainline denominations. I’m glad (even if nobody notices) that we (I am one) at least have the courage of convictions to state our convictions.

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