28.7.10

Who really goes to hell? by David Rudel


David I Rudel, Who Really Goes To Hell? The Gospel You've Never Heard: What a Protestant Bible Written by Jews say about God's work through Christ (a book for those in church and those offended by it).  Biblical Heresy Press, 2009. 188 pgs. 

First of all, I think this book gets the award for longest title... seriously.  Sadly, in terms of style, the title is a precursor of things to come; I guess that's what you get when a mathematician does theology.  In terms of content, however, there is much more positive to say.  But first, a summary. 

In this book Rudel takes on the "modern gospel message" in all its minimalistic glory, claiming that this is not the message of Jesus, nor his apostles, nor Paul, nor anyone else in Scripture.  If your curious, the modern gospel message is basically this: Believe in Jesus and you will get in to heaven.  In the face of this slogan, Rudel begins by spending 4 chapters asking difficult questions (like, if this is the answer, then what was Jesus doing to that poor man in Luke 10? And how in the world does the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 fit in? And so on).  He then spends 3 chapters, in his second section, exploring what the bible says about judgment, heaven, and hell. Finally, in his last 4 chapters, he redefines salvation.

So, what do I think?  First of all, Rudel asks some VERY good questions, questions which evangelicals desperately need to be able to answer.  Secondly, Rudel does his best to stay true to scripture and, at most points, he does this well.  I think he is right on when it comes to clarifying the call for Christ-followers today, how the gospel is so much more than a message about how to avoid hell, how Paul and Jesus ought to be read so that they do not directly contradict each other, and how our modern gospel message has completely missed the point. 

Sadly, I think Rudel is a perfect demonstration of the pendelum swing.  Thus, he trades in the modern minimalist gospel message, with its total uselessness in terms of life today, for a full on Jewish gospel, with a new total uselessness in terms of life after resurrection and judgment.  Considering how thorough his research was into the items such as Jesus fulfilling Jewish prophecies, Paul's distinctions between terms such as salvation/judgement/justification, I was sadly surprised to find that Rudel lacks any and all sophistication or proper research when it comes to such literature as Revelation (which he takes to speak of literal physical wrath approaching in the future, and this in spite of having read Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright?). 

Overall: 3.5 of 5 stars.  Conditionally Recommended.  This book demands careful reading, both because of the positive points which we NEED to consider, and because of the negative considerations which ought to make the reader pause.  

Disclosure: this book was provided for me to review by viralbloggers.com

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