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Should this pastor have lost his job because he questioned the existence of hell?

When Chad Holtz lost his old belief in hell, he also lost his job.

The pastor of a rural United Methodist church in North Carolina wrote a note on his Facebook page supporting a new book by Rob Bell, a prominent young evangelical pastor and critic of the traditional view of hell as a place of eternal torment for billions of damned souls.

Two days later, Holtz was told complaints from church members prompted his dismissal from Marrow's Chapel in Henderson.

"I think justice comes and judgment will happen, but I don't think that means an eternity of torment," Holtz said. "But I can understand why people in my church aren't ready to leave that behind. It's something I'm still grappling with myself."


Asked by tasches at 1:11 PM on Mar. 24, 2011 in Religious Debate

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Answers (21)
  • If his stated views did not represent those of the church of which he was pastor, then they were within their rights to dismiss him. As pastor, he is to represent the beliefs of his congregation.

    Answer by NannyB. at 1:14 PM on Mar. 24, 2011

  • that darn facebook does it again :)

    he's an employee of the church and the church probably doesnt want a pastor that doesnt agree w/ what the church teaches...and thats their right. i think its sad that he was fired just b/c he questioned the human interpretation of hell and that it was a probably more of a "how dare you" reaction b/c Rob Bell is kinda the scape goat author for "everything thats wrong w/ this generation" (at least to the older, more conservative Christians). i hope he finds a church where they care more about how to be good people NOW than the interpretation of hell.

    Answer by okmanders at 1:44 PM on Mar. 24, 2011

  • I do understand the church needing a pastor that actually reflects the teaching of the church.

    That being said, I'm thrilled that Christian Universalism (whether he claims the title or not, he fits the definition, lol) is getting attention, and that more and more pastors are coming to teach it (Pearson's Gospel of Inclusion, Boyd Purcell, etc, etc). Its great to know that there's finally a real presence out there saying there there can be and IS a different way of looking at things, a way driven by LOVE and not fear. And although I do take my universalism a bit further than most, I am a member of the CUA (Christian Universalist Association) and cannot wait to read this book. If its anything like the other books I've read that touch on the subject, I know I'll be pleased. :)

    Answer by bandgeek521 at 2:09 PM on Mar. 24, 2011

  • I guess it's within the church's right to dismiss him if his views don't fit the views of most of the congregation. I hope he finds a church (or starts his own) where others have similar views to his. Personally, I'd rather attend his church--or one where the leader of the church was questioning the literal existence of Hell--than the one that kicked him out for having a different opinion. It's unfortunate for him that it happened though. Hopefully he can find a church that accepts his views and embraces questioning a little more. They are out there.

    Answer by pam19 at 2:50 PM on Mar. 24, 2011

  • I think it is a conflict of interest when you're the pastor of a church that believes something that you do not. With that said, every one of us has questioned our beliefs or will question our beliefs at some point in time. No one is exempt from that.

    Answer by Renee3K at 1:25 PM on Mar. 24, 2011

  • I think the Baptist Church is strongly based on the idea of Hell, so if he preached against that notion, he preached against one of their strongest beliefs. That being the case, I suppose he lost his job honestly. Perhaps he should change his denomination to one that doesn't embrace the idea of hellfire and brimstone. I'm not sure what denominations don't have some belief in the existence of hell, but there must be some. . .


    Answer by jsbenkert at 1:27 PM on Mar. 24, 2011

  • I dont think he should have been dismissed.

    Answer by Wish2Be at 1:23 PM on Mar. 24, 2011

  • Oh and from what I read of the article it wasn't that the Pastor no longer believes in Hell, but rather questions the traditional view of "this specific denomination is going to heaven and everyone else burns" and the capability of men to judge or say for certain who is there (or going there) and who is not when God is the final judge.

    Answer by KristiS11384 at 1:53 PM on Mar. 24, 2011

  • I think that he shouldn't have been shocked for being dismissed if his views changed. If my pastor decided that heaved or God didn't exist, he couldn't possibly continue pastoring our church and leading our congregation. You need to hold the same views and values of the church that you lead. That's just common sense.

    Answer by KennsWifey at 2:23 PM on Mar. 24, 2011

  • oh well. Obviously people didn't like what he had to say and if they believed in hell then maybe it is the wrong path for him

    Answer by jujubean1979200 at 2:45 PM on Mar. 24, 2011