here and there that pointed to Rob Bell adopting universalism and rejecting the idea of hell and eternal punishment. Instead it was beginning to seem that Bell was asserting that all people would be saved and receive the promise of eternal life. Blogs were written, and some of the same leaders who had previously expressed worry about what Bell's beliefs seemed to be morphing into began writing the man off and labeling him as a false teacher.
Meanwhile, fans of Rob Bell wrote on their own blogs in defense of the pastor, arguing for his universalistic tendencies (including some who attempted to downplay Bell's tendency toward universalism), and also to decry those who would question him. One blog I read (a "friend" on Facebook posted it, who is also a fan of Bell) rips John Piper and Justin Taylor for judging Bell before the book was even released (which is ironic, because to say that someone is judging someone else is a judgment against that person). This particular blogger doesn't even seem to have read Justin Taylor's blog that originally criticized Bell's upcoming work. Taylor never claims to be making absolute judgments, but that he is simply connecting the dots of what Bell has been saying/writing/teaching/preaching lately.
One of the main criticisms leveled against conservative evangelicals is that they perhaps appeared to be unfairly criticizing Bell and his book before the book was even released, although after looking into the criticisms leveled against Bell, I don't think this was the case. No one was claiming that Bell was a universalist, but just that certain things said, written, and video recorded and put on the internet seemed to suggest that Bell was trending that way.
reviewed, it would appear that all concerns that Bell was trending toward universalism (and even promoting universalism) have been confirmed. Here's Kevin DeYoung's review of the book (it's rather long, but it's worth the read, if for no other reason than to learn more about universalism and to be encouraged in sound doctrine).
I have one or two of Bell's previous books, and they both have a permanent position on the "Heresy Shelf" of my library. And this was before it was known that Bell was a full-fledged universalist. It would seem that my own and others' fears about Rob Bell were not unfounded. I used to chomp at the bit to read books like this, but nowadays I just don't have the stamina needed to get through them anymore. Most false teaching is just the same recycled garbage that has been around for centuries.
I think the proper response to this guy and his teachings should be one of two things: 1) we should pray that he would repent, be restored to the truth, and cling to sound doctrine, and failing that, 2) we should pray that God silence him and/or show his teaching to be unsound and unorthodox. Rob Bell is one of the most prominent Christians in the country right now. Tens of thousands of people cling to what he teaches. Some have even said that he is the "next Billy Graham." May it never be so.