One of the most telling illustrations from Velvet Elvis challenges Christians to stop looking at their faith as a wall with individual bricks making up the elements of our faith. For one, when these small elements of our faith are broken, the wall's integrity is compromised. For two, when we build a wall, we want to stay inside of it and protect it. Bell argues that Christian faith is more like a trampoline. When a spring or two (the elements of our faith) give out, the trampoline is still just as functional as before. And unlike a wall that we defend, a trampoline is a joy that we invite others in to play on.
Bell says that certain doctrines should not "make or break" our faith. As an example, he uses the Virgin Birth. I remember him taking much heat for that. He didn't disavow the Virgin Birth, he simply showed that with this metaphor of faith that even a doctrinal tenet as strong as the Virgin Birth should not be such a strong part of our faith that if it turned out to be untrue that our faith as well would be proved untrue. (On a side note, it appears that the 2011 American Catholic Bishop's "New American Bible has remove the reference to Virgin Birth from Isaiah 7:14)
But apparently, his statements about the Virgin Birth didn't go nearly as far as the claim in his new book at upsetting the Christian community. His new book Love Wins is due out April 1, and the short video promo and news release about the book this weekend was too much for some to handle. Here's what the publisher says:
In Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith--the afterlife--arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering. With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly optimistic--eternal life doesn't start when we die; it starts right now. And ultimately, Love Wins.