Back in January 2011 when I first embarked on Hellbound?, I had no idea how deeply political the idea of hell could be. For me, the film was more of a personal journey, my attempt to grapple with a concept that had both repelled and fascinated me throughout my journey as a Christian. As I’ve recounted dozens of times during interviews and Q&A sessions, it wasn’t until I witnessed the reaction to Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins, that I realized how heated this discussion could get.
The publication of Love Wins-–or, more accurately, the trailer that preceded the book’s publication–truly was a watershed moment. Although people like Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt and other members of the emergent crowd had been raising similar questions for years, somehow Bell hit the zeitgeist just right, causing an explosion of controversy. At the time, two voices struck me as particularly prescient about the implications of this debate. The first was Jimmy Spencer, Jr., who said (in a writing style reminiscent of Bell’s own),
You’re witnessing something big right now. You’re witnessing a new split in Protestant Evangelicalism.
We have all felt tremors of this thing coming for a couple years now…
Rob Bell’s book will play a huge part in triggering this split.
This is not just about theology. It’s about control of the story of Jesus.
It’s about the entire framing of God and The Gospel.
It may not be nailing 95 theses on a door…
But it could mark a major shift in how Evangelical Christianity represents itself from this point forward.
The other voice was Kevin DeYoung, who said Love Wins represented such a wholesale departure from historic Christianity that he didn’t even known where to begin his critique.
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