There’s a second mistake in how the debate has lined up and that is in fixing positions too early on. We all know how hard it is to change your mind especially on public statements and comments. If you want to go looking faults of course you can find them in Love Wins rack ’em up and list them as if that can’t be done in other ‘sound’ books or that those errors mean we can still be friends.
So I don’t think it matters what Bell says from here on in, I don’t think (barring some incredible recantation) that he’ll be listened to or believed. Judgements have been made, positions have been taken, the die has been cast. Rob Bell is no longer (if, of course, he ever was) sound.
So Rob Bell can say, ‘I believe in hell’ but it won’t matter. It’s not the right sort of hell. The fire isn’t hot enough and it goes out eventually.
‘I believe in judgement.’ Sorry, not the right sort of judgement. Not eternal judgement like the sort we’re dishing out. In your view of justice people can be rehabilitated. Sorry.
‘I believe God wants everyone to go to heaven and is able to do it’. Sorry, that can’t be right.
‘I believe in Jesus, he is the only way of salvation’. Ah yes but not the right sort of belief in the right sort of Jesus or the right sort of salvation.
You don’t want to come across as making those sort of defences, it’s really looks bad. Bell’s reformed opponents should be careful lest they back themselves into the narrow-minded, increasingly tightly defined, small, self-righteous corner.
I don’t believe that’s what his most well known opponents think, it’s not (I hope) their heart. But it’s not far off how they’re coming across and that’s not good.