In an interview with The New Yorker, former megachurch pastor Rob Bell said fallout from his 2011 book Love Wins was a large part of why he left his post at Mars Hill Church in West Michigan. The New Yorker article, titled “Hell-Raiser,” wrote that Mars Hill saw a 3,000-person decrease in membership and received a great deal of negative criticism and accusations of heresy and universalism over the book, which questioned the existence of hell and the exclusivity of heaven. Kristen Bell, Rob’s wife, said in the interview that “there was a cost … and part of the cost was we couldn’t keep doing what we were doing at Mars Hill.”
“The book also put pressure on others around Bell, who found themselves having to defend statements they might never have heard, let alone approved,” The New Yorker wrote. “Congregants reported that friends and family members were asking why they were allowing themselves to be led by a false teacher.”
Bell told The Christian Post in an earlier interview when the book came out that he never intended to be controversial. “My interest is in what’s true and where is the life and where is the heart and what inspires. And if that happens to stir up a few things, that’s something I accept.”
Bell finally left for California, where he is now working on a talk-show opportunity with the producer of the TV series “Lost” and has “loosely aligned himself with a cohort of pastors worldwide who are searching for ways to move beyond old-fashioned worship,” wrote The New Yorker. Kent Dobson, son of megachurch pastor Ed Dobson, now leads Mars Hill Church as pastor.