Westminster Seminary California
 
 

Valiant for Truth

Posts by: Michael S. Horton


Bell’s Hell: A Review by Michael Horton, Part 9
Michael S. Horton

The title of this chapter reinforces the impression that Bell has simply collapsed the future into the present.

 
 
 
Bell’s Hell: A Review by Michael Horton, Part 8
Michael S. Horton

According to Bell, heaven and hell are not actual places but subjective states in which people live. To be sure, living “heavenly” or “hellishly” will affect the people around us and the wider society. In the parable of the prodigal son, we are at a party and it’s up to us whether we’ll join in or sit off to the side in protest. “In this story, heaven and hell are within each other, intertwined, interwoven, bumping up against each other” (170).

 
 
 
Bell’s Hell: A Review by Michael Horton, Part 7
Michael S. Horton

Speaking of natural religion, Bell collapses saving grace into common grace and general revelation into special revelation. In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul speaks of the Rock that followed Israel in the wilderness as Christ. “Paul finds Jesus there, in that rock, because Paul finds Jesus everywhere” (144). Literally, everywhere: “There is an energy in the world, a spark, an electricity that everything is plugged into. The Greeks called it zoe, the mystics call it ‘Spirit,’ and Obi-Wan called it ‘the Force’” (144).

 
 
 
Bell’s Hell: A Review by Michael Horton, Part 6
Michael S. Horton

For me, the greatest danger of Bell’s interpretation in this book is his view of Christ’s cross. Obviously, if there is no wrath or judgment, then whatever Christ achieved for us on the cross cannot be understood in terms of a vicarious substitute. There is no objective propitiation and, since everyone is already God’s friend (regardless of whether God is theirs), no objective reconciliation.

 
 
 
Bell’s Hell: A Review by Michael Horton, Part 5
Michael S. Horton

In this chapter the central dogma becomes especially evident. It’s the old conundrum: God is either sovereign or loving. Bell bases his conclusion on the premise that God has determined to save everyone and that it’s only their absolutely free will that makes the difference. “Will all people be saved, or will God not get what God wants? Does this magnificent, mighty, marvelous God fail in the end?” (98).