A recent article in The New York Times might make even the most discontented Catholics feel better about their tradition.
While differing Catholic factions are struggling over the fate of their church, many evangelical Christians are wrestling over more cosmic concerns: namely the fate of non-Christian souls.
In his forthcoming, Love Wins: Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, the youngish, charismatic pastor Rob Bell calls “the dogma 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’” both “misguided and toxic.”
Bell, who has been called a “singular rockstar in the church world” and a “hipster,” seems to be accomplishing what most Christians -- including Catholics -- are finding nearly impossible: he is attracting the attention and devotion of Millennials. Many credit his popularity with his willingness to question entrenched evangelical convictions.
In a video promotion for his book, Bell, who leads a congregation of 10,000 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, asks whether it can be true that Gandhi, as a non-Christian, is burning in hell.
Apparently, inquiries like this can still spark widespread debate -- and condemnation, too. A major evangelical blogger quickly proclaimed that Bell is “moving farther and farther away from anything resembling biblical Christianity.” That blog post received over a quarter of a million hits.
And, in an analogy that would seem racy if it weren’t so baffling, the leader of the Southern Baptist Convention called Bell’s Gandhi question as a “the sad equivalent of a theological striptease.”
For more on this Christian-themed burlesque, click here.