Saturday, March 26, 2011

Who's in Hell? Pastors' Criticism of Eternal Torment for Some Sparks Fierce Debate

From Fox News: A Methodist pastor who voiced support for a book questioning the view of hell as a place of eternal damnation is "shocked" by his church's decision to fire him. Chad Holtz, who served as pastor of the United Methodist church in rural North Carolina, said he hoped his personal belief posted on Facebook would engage -- not anger -- members of his congregation.

Holtz was dismissed this month as pastor of Marrow's Chapel in Henderson after he wrote a note on his Facebook page supporting a new book by Rob Bell, a prominent young evangelical pastor and critic of the traditional view of hell as a place of torment for billions of damned souls.

Bell, the pastor of the 10,000-member Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., criticizes the belief that a select number of Christians will spend eternity in the bliss of heaven while everyone else is tormented forever in hell.

"This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus' message of love, peace, forgiveness and joy that our world desperately needs to hear," Bell writes in his book.

Bell obviously has a problem with Jesus’ message; in fact, no one spoke more about hell than Christ Jesus. Hell is an eternal place of fire and punishment - (Matt 3:12; 5:22; 5:29-30; 18:8-9; 25:41; 25:46; Jude 7; Rev 20:15).

If one rejects eternal punishment and the bible teaches eternal punishment, one is left with no other alternative than to dismiss the authority of the Bible. The only place one finds a God that is a God of love, is the Bible. When folks accept this, (albeit usually at the exclusion of His holiness) yet reject eternal punishment, it is not so because the scriptures are unclear; it is an objection based on theological concerns not exegetical. The phrase “God is dead” comes to mind in the sense that man would also like to dismiss, if not kill the notion of Hell, and probably for good reasons. The reasons why men have a somewhat “natural” desire to make God inconsequential in their daily lives may also hold some of the same answers as to why the doctrine of hell is so differently understood and viewed.

Bell, and the rest of the like-minded world are perfectly free to choose any god they wish, just as long as it is not the God of the Bible. Bell’s god bothers the souls (hearts) of no one, makes no absolute or eternal demands. The God of the Bible is the creator, sustainer, savior and judge. Bell has made a god created in man’s image, and that is a very terrible thing.

This Methodist pastor’s words are very instructive here: he states “"I lost the idol of belief; I lost a very powerful and useful motivator -- fear; I lost the right to hate my enemy and I lost my place in a tribe,…We do these somersaults to justify the monster god we believe in," he said. "But confronting my own sinfulness, that's when things started to topple for me. Am I really going to be saved just because I believe something, when all these good people in the world aren't?"

This “pastor” is unmistakably standing in judgment of God’s word. This is precisely why theology and doctrine are critical. First, his motivation is wrapped up in fear, not what Jesus has accomplished on the cross on behalf of lost sinners. Two, he actually “believes” men are “good” and deserve something more than God’s wrath, and at the same time discounts one’s “belief” as being inconsequential. You can’t have it both ways, either what you believe will save you or it will not. You can’t say one’s “beliefs” don’t matter when it comes to hell, but they do matter if you are arguing against a god who judges men to hell. And perhaps most disturbing, he actually minimizes the Cross of Christ by not mentioning it once in "his" salvation equation. Thankfully, this one rural United Methodist Church had the spiritual maturity and God given discernment to throw him out! Maybe after Satan has had his way with him, he will repent and return to fellowship and obedience to God’s word.

Pastors who embrace false teachings and do not protect the flock from unbiblical theology and doctrines, are doing the work of Satan, and yep - he too is as real as hell.

Lastly, we would do well to remember, the ultimate object of our faith is not doctrine, it is in fact the person - Christ Jesus. We are not at liberty to claim He is our savior while contradicting His word. We must remember - even the demons believe in Jesus, make sure your belief is not the same kind as theirs!

The goal of every (false) religion on earth is in some way trying to appease God. Biblical Christianity knows know such system - God alone is both Just and the Justifier, we have not been left alone to work out a plan. We indeed believe what Christ has done and said, from Genesis to Revelation and we do not dare stand in judgment of His word, His word has and will always stand in judgment of men.


4simpsons said...

Excellent analysis. I hope this "pastor" either gets saved or gets some non-religious job. I hate the thought of him starting another apostate church.

Mark said...

Thanks brother! I hope the folks in TN will reject his nonsense, I am just glad this Methodist church did!

Go Share Your Faith said...

Very well written brother...(as always.. :)

Anonymous said...

Please read the following on an update of Chad Holtz:

Mark said...

Thank you anonymous! What a blessing to hear of God's work in this man's life.