What Happened to Heaven and Is Gandhi There?
A new book stirs debate about the afterlife.
By JOHN WILSON
Something strange has happened in evangelical churches over the past generation. Not in every congregation, but in the main, sermons devoted to the grim prospect of hell have become rare, and even talk of heaven is muted.
Many have noted this development without making much impact. Along comes Rob Bell, founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan. His “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived” is now ranked No. 8 on Amazon.com, and it has been generating controversy since before its release earlier this week.
“There are a growing number of us,” Mr. Bell writes on the first page—”millions”—”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. . . . 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.” Presumably this disquiet accounts for the reticence of many evangelicals when it comes to the afterlife.