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TIME Rob Bell's Hell: A Threat to the Evangelical Business Plan?
There are more reasons than mere theology why Evangelical Christian leaders are raising Cain over the message now being wholesaled by the Rev. Rob Bell of Mars Hill Bible Church, featured in TIME's current cover story, "What If There's No Hell?" Bell's I'm-O.K.-you're-O.K., we're-not-going-to-hell-today spin is not merely a refutation of a basic belief. If this piece of theological reordering takes hold, it's the Evangelicals' business plan that's going to hell.
Fire and brimstone has been one of the Evangelicals' main product lines. It's based on a zero-sum outcome: heaven or hell. Believe or perish. And part of the deal, at least in practical application, is that you can't get spiritually right without monetarily supporting the church. Pay to play, in other words. It's the same with most religions. No one says so in those crude terms - it's all about the mission - but a sales pitch is a sales...
Campus Crusade for Christ has distributed in excess of 1 billion "Four Spiritual Laws" booklets with this prayer to receive Christ at the end:
"Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be."
Perhaps Pastor Bell and hundreds of millions of others have prayed this prayer which makes no mention of Hell.
In fact, the booklet doesn't even refer to Hell.
David Wells once quipped, "What you win them with, is what you win them to." Perhaps this is why Hell is a non-issue in many sectors of Evangelicalism.