That is a bad pun. I wouldn’t use it at Civil Religion, but I have less dignity here.
After I wrote on Rob Bell and hell….which makes me ponder other bad puns about “hell’s bells”….anyway, after I put up that post at Civil Religion I heard from the p.r. folks for Johnnie Moore, vice-president and campus pastor at Liberty University. That’s the university founded by Jerry Falwell. Johnnie had written an op-ed piece on hell that his people were shopping around (well, not “shopping, exactly, since Civil Religion doesn’t pay), and they offered me posting rights, along with an interview. This isn’t the kind of thing that happens to me typically, and even though I felt a little weird about getting drawn into someone’s marketing machine, I took Johnnie up on the offer. I did see one, great advantage. Johnnie’s views on hell are conservative, I think it fair to say. And yet his op-ed piece was not a declaration of war against anyone who disagrees with him. I’ve seen far too many of those lately, and they do nothing but harden the opinions on both sides – especially the opinion that the “other side” is made up of godless jerks. It’s like Simcha Fisher said on her blog today: “People are generally not much swayed by the, ‘Listen up, jerkwad, and I’ll teach you something’ approach.'” That’s wisdom.
So kudos to Johnnie for trying a different tack. I also appreciated that he was willing to answer some direct questions on the subject. Even if the answer is, “I don’t know,” that’s a better answer than, “Burn the heretic!” – or the liberal version, which is, “Why do you like torture so much?”
I may not agree with everything Johnnie says, but I want voices like his to be heard above the ruckus. So please, read the op-ed piece and then return tomorrow to read the questions and answers.
And now, because I think humility is in order when we talk about heaven and hell, here’s a reminder for all of us: