A DOCUMENTARY film that questions a traditional understanding
of hell has been released in the United States.
Hellbound?, directed by the Christian film-maker Kevin
Miller, is described in promotional material as "a provocative,
feature-length documentary that looks at why we are so bound
to the idea of hell, and how our beliefs about hell affect the
world we are creating today" (stills from the film
Mr Miller said that he decided to make the documentary after the
megachurch pastor Rob Bell provoked the ire of many Evangelicals
by questioning their received understanding of hell in his book
Love Wins (Feature, 5 August 2011;
News, 1 April 2011).
Hellbound? includes interviews with those who defend
the view of hell as eternal punishment, such as the Calvinist
pastor Mark Driscoll, and with those who question that view, such
as Brian McLaren, the author and writer associated with the
Emerging Church movement.
"Hellbound? is my attempt to get to the bottom of the
current debate over hell. Why is it happening right now? And . . .
why are Christians so hot and bothered about hell?", Mr Miller
He suggested that a battle was taking place between
"universalists who argue that the Christian message should be
reframed to include redemption for anyone and everyone" and the
Evangelical "Establishment", which "is holding the line on an
exclusive gospel, where those who fail to pass the test of faith
are condemned to an eternity of torment and isolation from all
that is good".
He continued: "While hell is the current flashpoint, I believe
this debate is merely a warning tremor signalling a potential
seismic shift in the religious landscape."
Dr Robin Parry, author of The Evangelical Universalist,
which he wrote under the pseudonym Gregory MacDonald (
News, 18 February 2011), wrote on his blog that
Hellbound? was "a beautifully made and fascinating
introduction to a debate within the contemporary Church about the
nature and duration of hell. . .
"The documentary is not a neutral guide that treats all views as
equally plausible. It offers a clear critique of the traditional
view of hell as eternal torment, and it recommends, at very least,
an openness towards universalism as a neglected view within the