Pastor's Book Questions Existence of Hell in Afterlife

Rob Bell's controversial new book challenges concept of Hell.

ByABC News via logo
March 13, 2011, 7:49 PM

March 15, 2011— -- Rob Bell's new book, "Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived," delivers an optimistic message about the afterlife, challenging the Christian notion of hell.

Bell, the founding pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church, a megachurch located in Grand Rapids, Mich., Bell, appears poised to unleash a firestorm of controversy among evangelical Christians, who say the notion of a literal Hell is well-defined in the Bible.

Read an excerpt from "Love Wins" below, then check out some other books in the "GMA" library

Millions of Us

First, I believe that Jesus's story is first and foremost about the love of God for every single one of us. It is a stunning, beautiful, expansive love, and it is for everybody, everywhere.

That's the story. "For God so loved the world . . ." That's why Jesus came. That's his message. That's where the life is found.

There are a growing number of us who have become acutely aware that Jesus's story has been hijacked by a number of other stories, stories Jesus isn't interested in telling, because they have nothing to do with what he came to do. The plot has been lost, and it's time to reclaim it.

I've written this book for all those, everywhere, who have heard some version of the Jesus story that caused their pulse rate to rise, their stomach to churn, and their heart to utter those resolute words, "I would never be a part of that."

You are not alone. There are millions of us.

This love compels us to question some of the dominant stories that are being told as the Jesus story. A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better. It's been clearly communicated to many that this belief is a central truth of the Christian faith and to reject it is, in essence, to reject Jesus. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus's message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.