“Christian” movie questions Hell. Sound familiar?

Hellbound is the name of the new movie coming out tomorrow, that sports a tagline reading: “Prepare to have your buttons pushed.” But don’t forget the question mark–it’s important.  The name of the movie is actually titled, HELLBOUND?

The movie is a documentary based on the premise that more and more Christians are questioning and rejecting the doctrine of Hell as an eternal place of torment. Even though Jesus was quite clear on Hell in Scripture, the director continues to ask, “How can a loving God send people, even bad people, to a place of eternal torment?”

 I wonder if the reason people are questioning the reality of the Bible has something to do with last year’s “Love Wins,” by Rob Bell?  Filmmaker Kevin Miller believes he indeed had enormous influence.

Bottom line: Those who teach that Hell isn’t the way Jesus said it is are calling our Savior a liar.

Hellbound? Official Theatrical Trailer HD

So let’s see what the Christian leaders featured in Miller’s film have to say about Hell in 2012. Check out the review shared today in the Wall Street Journal:

Movie questions hell as place of eternal torment – Wall Street Journal

…Perhaps popular theologian Brian McLaren best expresses that thought in the movie when he says, “If I believe that a small percentage of human beings were created to enjoy bliss eternally and another group of beings were created to experience eternal conscious torment, then I look at human beings differently than if I say, ‘Every human being was made in the image of God. Every human being is beloved by God. God is at work to save every human being.'”

McLaren’s position is contrasted with that of Seattle megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll, who explains that, in his view, “God created the world and people chose to rebel against him. And God came and died to save some of them from the death they deserve.”

Mainstream Christianity, especially evangelical Christianity, tends to promote some version of that view, which includes the idea of hell as eternal torment.

Miller briefly mentions the view that those unsaved by Jesus will simply perish, called annihilationism. But the filmmaker seems to lean toward a view that holds out hope that hell exists but may not be eternal — that God wants to be reconciled to all people, and that the reconciliation can happen even after death.

Bell was called heretical by some critics for promoting a similar view in “Love Wins.”

In the film, Missouri’s International House of Prayer Director Mike Bickle says that to promote the idea that the grace of God is available in hell, or universalism, “is the worst crime that a preacher of the Gospel could say to the world.”

But Miller seeks to show that the view is not out of line with Christian tradition.

Catholic apologist Peter Kreeft says the Catholic church leaves the question somewhat open.

“That there is a hell and that anyone can go there by their free choice, that’s dogma,” he says. “That there’s anybody in it and how many people are in it, nobody knows.”

Orthodox Archbishop Lazar Puhalo emphatically asserts, “God doesn’t send anybody to hell. God doesn’t punish anybody, either in this world or the world to come.”

In his view, “hell is a condition, not a place. The malice we feel is the fire that burns.”

Miller bookends the film around the 9/11 tragedy, saying events like the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center are the reason people need to believe in hell as a place of punishment for bad people, like Osama bin Laden or Adolf Hitler.

But Christian author Brad Jersak reminds the audience that common Christian belief teaches that Hitler isn’t the only one going to hell.

“If we’re strict infernalists, the victims of Auschwitz who didn’t have their names written in the book of life go right from Hitler’s flames into God’s flames, forever and ever and ever,” he says.

Miller is from Canada, but his religious upbringing probably would be more common for an American. He calls himself a recovering fundamentalist, although he said has great respect for the “ladies who put their heart and soul” into teaching him about the Bible.

He grew up in the mainline United Church of Canada but joined the Mennonite church as teenager. He went to a Mennonite Bible college and spent some time in an interdenominational seminary. He attended several nondenominational evangelical churches before becoming an Anglican.

Miller said he considers himself a sophisticated reader of the Bible but never gave much thought to hell before he edited a book on the subject several years ago.

The controversy surrounding Bell’s “Love Wins” helped him frame the debate for the movie and some of the interview subjects are Bell’s most significant critics and supporters.

Miller says his film is primarily aimed at a religious audience.

“A growing number of people are increasingly uncomfortable with the notion of a God who calls us to love our enemies but who will one day vanquish his enemies to hell,” he said in an interview. “People sense the contradiction but think that the only way to resolve it is to leave Christianity.”

“Hellbound?” opens in New York City on Friday.




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One Response to “Christian” movie questions Hell. Sound familiar?

  1. Mr Davis says:

    In a country where the word of God is so readily available it only stands to reason that the father of lies, would work through clever men to instill doubt in the holy command that all who do not receive the mercy and grace of God through faith in the Lamb of God who took on Himself our sins and died and not only ours but the sins of the whole world. Yes the Lamb is Christ Jesus whom God established for that very purpose to make salvation available to men and that through rebirth by the Holy Spirit. How can it be, if we reject the way that God himself has established to make us perfect before him, how shall we then go unpunished. It is for these that the Lake of Fire exists, even Death and Hell will be cast there.

    Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

    The Lake of Fire is real and eternal.

    8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable , and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. Revelation 21

    25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. 26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. 27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth , neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life. Revelation 21

    46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing . 47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods . 48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming ; 49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken ; 50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of , 51 And shall cut him asunder , and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 24

    41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed , into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty , and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying , Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying , Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. Matthew 25


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