By Gary Amirault, Tentmaker Ministries
Many consider me an expert on the subjects of Hell and Universalism of the Biblical or Christian variety. Hundreds of books and writings on Hell and Universalism of the scriptural variety fill my book shelves and computer. Having wrestled with the subjects of Hell and universalism earnestly combing through thousands of resources to help me determine what the original Hebrew and Greek texts say on the subjects and what the early church fathers taught, I must concur with William Barclay, one of the best Bible commentators of the twentieth century who said in his Spiritual Autobiography “I am a convinced universalist.” (William Barclay: A Spiritual Autobiography, pps. 66, 67, Eerdman’s Publishing, 1977) Understand, dear reader, Barclay said this after decades of intense study of the original languages of the Bible. While I cannot hold a candle to Barclay’s skills in the ancient languages, I, too, after intense study and prayer, am a “convinced universalist” of the biblical, Christian kind.
Why is Hell such an easy Sell
I also know a little about Christian publishing and marketing. Hell sells. Books about a loving, wise, resourceful, powerful God who desires and is able to draw all mankind to Himself do not sell very well. Even popular books like The Shack and Love Wins which present a much more loving view of God than traditional Christianity has presented in the last sixteen hundred years or so must leave a door open for the possibility that part of mankind will be separated from their Maker for all eternity if they are going to be successful. The authors of both these books were accused of teaching universalism when they first came out. Immediately the authors, William P. Young and his editors and Rob Bell and his church came out with statements, “I am not a universalist.” That statement helped the sale of those two books tremendously. In Christianity, selling the “fear of the Lord” and vengeance still works better than “Love your enemies.”
Encouraged by the success of HarperOne’s Love Wins by Rob Bell, a whole slew of books is scheduled for release in upcoming months. Personally, I think Rob Bell’s Title Love wins does not convey the theology Bell teaches in his book. According to Bell in Love Wins, one can get as much hell as they want. It is not God who sends people to eternal damnation, according to Bell, “the doors of Hell are closed from the inside.” This is a famous statement borrowed from C.S. Lewis who made that statement famous in his book, The Problem of Pain. According to Rob Bell, C.S. Lewis and millions of Christians who have bought into this new philosophy that people choose to be eternally damned through the use of their own “free will.” Why was Rob Bell’s Love Wins so successful?According to Christian blogger, Mark Sayers, “The reason that Love Wins has sold so many copies, the reason that it has set twitter and the net alight, the reason that I am even talking about it here, is not because of its importance, its theological insight, its high quality writing or its radical new viewpoint. Rather we are discussing the book because of successful marketing.” He is mostly right. HarperOne, publisher of Love Wins (Also publisher of Satan’s Bible) pulled out the plugs to hype this book. HarperOne is owned by NewsCorp that owns a whole armada of media companies including Fox News. They know how to sell anything except truth. They deal in lies and half-truths. Let’s face it — fear, terror, lies, sleaze, gossip, violence, rape, murder, slander — sensationalism sells.
Encouraged by HarperOne’s successful marketing with Love Wins, a slew of books is coming out this summer to capitalize on the hype generated by the media machinery and the social media like Facebook and Twitter.
Hell’s Armada is on a Rampage
At the top of the list of books defending the gates of Hell, with a six digit marketing budget is Erasing Hell: What God said about Eternity and the Things We Make Up by the very charismatic bestselling author and pastor Francis Chan (David C. Cook, publisher, July 2011). His Crazy Love sold more than 1.6 million copies. I don’t know why Chan entitled his book Crazy Love — the only thing crazy in his book is his portrayal of God. His God is crazy. Actually it is Chan who has been driven crazy by the concepts of God he has received from the traditional church. These concepts of Hell and the guilt he feels from not doing enough to save people have driven him crazy. And Chan drives other people crazy by injecting his fears into those who watch him at church, in videos and through his best-selling books. One reviewer of the book wrote “With every chapter I read I felt like he was hitting me over the head with condemnation and guilt and works theology.” You see, fear, guilt, works theology, condemnation, hell for your enemies — it all works — if you want to sell books and if you want to herd people into Hell teaching churches.
Right behind Chan is Mark Galli with God Wins: Heaven, Hell, and Why the Good News is Better than Love Wins (Tyndale, July). Galli is senior managing editor of the evangelical magazine Christianity Today. Christianity Today magazine has been a leading Hell’s gatekeeper in the evangelical community for a long time. Jesus said the “gates of Hell/hades will not prevail against His called out ones.” It is rather interesting to see that the largest institutions of “church” are the leading voices demanding a God who will consigns the majority of mankind to eternal damnation. Jesus said He came to save the world, not judge it. Leading authorities and institutions keep watch on the outside of Hell’s gates to make sure most of mankind remains eternally damned while Rob Bell informs us that Hell’s occupants are there because they like it better than heaven. What a queer bunch of people, these keepers of the gates of Hell. Incidentally, as a little side bible study note, the term “gates of Hell” speaks of people and their powers and the institutions they control. In ancient Semitic cities, “businessmen” and politicians did their business at the city gates. In this series of articles on the business of Hell, we will see who some of Hell’s gatekeepers are.
The next Hell gatekeeping book in the list is scheduled for an August release: Hell Is Real (But I Hate To Admit It) by Brian Jones (David C. Cook publisher, August) Let me paraphrase Brian Jones’ title: “Hell is really an embarrassment to me. I would never have created such a horrible place. I can’t, for the life of me understand why a loving, all-powerful, wise God would create such an awful scenario, but then who am I to argue with God. If He wants most of mankind to be tortured forever and ever, who am I to argue with Him?” If Brian Jones would carefully read a handful of books like Hope Beyond Hell, Restitution of all things, Christ Triumphant, The Inescapable Love of God, Absolute Assurance in Jesus Christ, Razing Hell, Raising Hell, A Gentler God and many other fine books which prove the traditional teaching of Hell is false, then Jones wouldn’t have to write books in which he has to admit that he hates hell but has to believe in it. “My people perish for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6)
Next on the short list of Hell defending books releasing this summer Is Hell Real? Or Does Everyone Go To Heaven? which is a compilation articles from various contributors including Timothy Keller, R. Albert Mohler Jr. and others well-known in the evangelical community. These major publishers and their authors will be backed by media campaigns and evangelical networks that will push these books in hope of high profits. Zondervan, Is Hell Real publisher is owned by HarperOne which is owned by NewsCorp which is owned by Ruppert Murdoch, king of yellow-journalism, a polite word for sleaze. Ruppert Murdoch is notoriously famous for his sensationalism and his unsatiable appetite for money and power. Presently, he is under investigating for tampering with the phones of 9/11 victims. Ruppert Murdoch is extremely political and ruthless. Anyone who has ever watched his Fox News, knows that his version of “fair and balanced” is not even remotely close to anything one would call truth. Why would people like Ruppert Murdoch own conservative Christian book publishers like Zondervan? We’ll find out in subsequent editions of Hell Sells.
What I personally hate about these books and the sleazy way in which they are marketed is that they all give God such a bad name. Rob Bell teases us with the title Love Wins but after analyzing what his book really says, God’s love doesn’t really win at all. He tells us that people still can have as much of Hell as they want; that “the doors of Hell are closed from the inside.” Adam’s transgression forced all mankind to death, but Christ’s cross cannot draw all mankind out of eternal damnation because of “free will.” According to Bell, God will never force Himself upon anyone; Bell considers that rape. So every single human being is forced into being slaves to sin because of Adam’s transgression, consigned to death meaning eternal damnation, forced to live under the dominion of Satan who is the “God of this world” who comes but to kill, steal and destroy — but Jesus, who God the Father sent to save the world can’t free one from this state of insanity unless they “choose” of their own free will to be set free. Anyone that would want to live in a state of eternal misery is insane! According to Rob Bell, Hell may be full of insane people Jesus can’t free because that would be violating them. Really Rob? To me, Love Wins was a very bad tease — the contents of the book did not meet the title. But hey, Rob Bell and company know, Hell sells. ” For the sake of book sales, he was wise enough to say, “I am not a universalist.” I personally believe he will one day regret those words.
In recent months, I have been in correspondence with many authors who have published God defaming books for major Christian publishers. Many of them privately tell me they believe in universal salvation, but are afraid of the consequences of changing position on the subject of Hell. Yes, Hell sells, intimidates and holds billions of sheeple in bondage to money and power hungry men and woman who control institutions like Church denominations and book publishing businesses.