Hell: The plot thickens
Bob and Frankie had a lot in common. They were roughly the same age, they had started leading churches while both still young, and they had both grown them to several thousand in a fairly short period of time. Both had written books with two-word titles and funky covers which had made the NYT bestseller lists and sold hundreds of thousands of copies. Both had made well-produced, thought-provoking sets of short DVDs with one-word, five-letter titles, and both had become household names in many parts of their native USA. Both were creative, insightful, gifted communicators, in print and on screen, and both spoke with an authenticity that their generation (broadly speaking, those under 40) were crying out for: words like justice, generosity and community were not just buzzwords, but enacted realities in their churches. And in the first half of 2011, both had some strong words to say on the subject of hell.
But there were quite a few differences between them, too. Theologically, Bob was a leftie in a state full of righties; Frankie was a rightie in a state full of lefties. As preachers, Frankie liked to be frank about things, making emphatic statements about key themes to keep people from being too open, whereas Bob liked to bob about things, making empathetic statements about key themes to keep people from being too closed. The people who invited Frankie to conferences were mostly part of a coalition, and thought lots of Bob’s friends were heretics; the people who endorsed Bob’s books were mostly part of a village, and thought lots of Frankie’s friends were lunatics. When they both made little videos to trailer their new books on hell, debate exploded immediately – not just over what they had said, but over whether or not the other side was representing it correctly.
If you’ve got this far and still have no idea what we’re talking about, have a look at these two videos by Bob and Frankie. Then log on again tomorrow, and we’ll talk about it in a slightly less silly tone of voice.