Some people are primarily concerned with systemic evils–corporations, nations, and institutions that enslave people, exploit the earth,and disregard the welfare of the weak and disempowered.  Others are primarily concerned with individual sins, and so they focus on personal morality, individual patterns, habits, and addictions that prevent human flourishing and cause profound suffering.

Some pass out pamphlets that explain how to have peace with God; some work in refugee camps in war zones.  Some have radio shows that discuss particular interpretations of particular Bible verses; others work to liberate women and children from the sex trade.

Often the people most concerned about others going to hell when they die seem less concerned with the hells on earth right now, while the people most concerned with the hells on earth right now seem the least concerned with hell after death.

What we see in Jesus’s story about the rich man and Lazarus is an affirmation that there are all kinds of hells, because there are all kinds of ways to resist and reject all that is good and true and beautiful and human now, in this life, and so we can only assume that we can do the same in the next.

There are individual hells,
and communal, society-wide hells,
and Jesus teaches us to take both seriously.

Rob Bell

Love Wins


2 comments on “Hells

  1. shoreacres says:

    Word association’s an interesting thing. When I read the title, the first thing I heard was my dad saying “hell’s bells” – and in his voice, I might add. As I remember, it was his only oath, used sparingly and usually to express frustration.

    It’s nice to begin the day by remembering Dad, but also good to read this reminder about the relationship between individual and corporate hells.

    I confess I couldn’t suppress a second smile when I got to the end and saw the author’s name.


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