Southern Baptists officially spank Rob Bell

I followed the SBC annual meeting in Phoenix – they are my homies after all – and I have to say I was a little disappointed to hear the official Southern Baptist response to Rob Bell's book. Not because I think its a must read book but because it represents a larger reevaluation of eschatology, in particular a dispensational eschatology that has flavored Baptist life for a long time. I thought they might suggest a good old fashioned Bible Study on the subject. But I was wrong.

Christian Post put it this way:

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."

This surprises me because I dont think even Rob Bell is sure on what his view on hell actually is. It also suprises me because I was expecting a challenge to read the Bible for ourselves rather than just refer to three paragraph resolution called The Reality of Hell.

Its a nuanced discussion, as I have said, and assuming that every instance of the various words translated as "hell" in the Bible all point to the same reality is at best sloppy and at worst misleading.

Personally, I think the issue of last things, heaven, hell, judgement, the role of Israel, and eschatology in general, is a huge issue right now and there remains a window of time for us to examine the Scriptures afresh. Like Francis Chan says, its too important to get wrong. But that does not mean we will end up in the same place.

If Southern Baptists wish to push deeper on this issue, I suggest starting with Ed Stetzer's well written response to Rob Bell, which does not shy away from reading the book, and go from there. After that, try the Anglicans. Why does nobody want to deal with NT Wright on this subject? Is is because they are scared they will get their butt kicked like Piper?

Related: Rob Bell and my predictions about this book


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • great post! particularly like the last (2) question(s).

  • Adam Shields says:

    They also voted by about 2 to 1 to encourage all Southern Baptist and other Christians to avoid the new NIV. SBC anual meetings are a great example of how not to make church pronouncements.

  • Canuckster1127 says:

    Makes me happy I left that denomination these 25 years ago ….. Come to think of it, it makes me glad I’ve left all denominations now …..
    How long did it take Al Mohler to let the convention know what they thought about the issue?

  • Kurt Willems says:

    I couldn’t agree with your assessment of this situation more. Thanks for your thoughts Andrew…

  • JH says:

    Poor Robby…. no on second thought poor baptists. I’d say that they’re kinda creating for themselves their own little hell by being like that. I’d say that, but they might spank me for it…

  • Inchristus says:

    One of the things I notice about the SBC blogites is they repeatedly point/link to one another, viz., the more “HTs” there are (=hat tips, aka reference links), the more momentum a doctrine has giving the illusion that the doctrine is true, yet all the while unaware of their hermeneutical blind spots. Thus, they end up feeding a hungry homogeneous culture as they slam out their “at-a-boys” and pats on the backs.

  • fairmack says:

    [Spotted this little goodie on the net. Reaction?]
    Just wondering if Dr. Patterson and other dispy SBC leaders have ever Googled “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty,” “Pretrib Rapture Pride,” and “Pretrib Rapture Stealth.” The last item has enough passages from Acts etc. to blow the pretrib rapture all the way back to 1830 and to the doorstep in Scotland of Margaret Macdonald!

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