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What is hell? Book stirs debate about afterlife

Mar 27, 2011 5:24:00 PM - thestate.com
What does hell mean to you? Is it an endless nightmare for sinners and unsaved souls, as mainstream Christianity has taught for centuries? Or is hell here on Earth, in the distractions, addictions and emptiness of daily life?

Those ideas are receiving fresh scrutiny from some believers after a prominent evangelical pastor questioned the traditional idea of hell in his new book, "Love Wins."

Even before Rob Bell's book was published this month, religious leaders and their followers were branding it heresy, hailing it as a breakthrough or landing somewhere in the middle. Thousands have weighed in on Twitter, Facebook, blogs or outside their places of worship.

Bell "better go back and read his Bible again! He's all messed up!" wrote Ruth Ward of New Albany, Ind., on Facebook. "Satan is having a field day."

James Turner, a 49-year-old Chicago laborer, says his concept of hell hasn't changed much since he attended church as a boy. For him, hell "is a place where if you don't accept Jesus, or you reject Jesus, it is a place of torment."

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