This past weekend, I had the opportunity to sit down one on one with the Devil. We could have talked about a thousand different things but the reason for our conversation was simple. I wanted to get his thoughts on the controversy surrounding Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins. Everyone out there seems to have an opinion but it seemed beneficial to talk to someone who knows about hell firsthand. As you can imagine, it was a fascinating conversation and you can read the full transcript below.
Note to the readers: if you are looking for theologically sound information on the topic of hell, please check out my friend Michael’s thoroughly thought-provoking article. It explains it all extremely well. If you are looking for pure silliness that should not be taken seriously, you've come to the right place.
Musing Carnival: Devil, thank you so much for visiting with me.
The Devil: Thanks for having me. Haven’t seen you in a while. You doing good?
MC: I’m fine, yes.
D: Cool. You still have that one dog?
MC: No, um… she got hit by a car.
D: Oh that’s right! (Laughter) I almost forgot. What a riot!
MC: Well, I’m glad you enjoyed it. The whole event was pretty miserable for me. But that’s neither here nor there. What have you been up to lately?
D: Been staying pretty busy as usual. Practically living with Charlie Sheen for the past month. Would have been a little weird had we not worked together at CBS for all those years.
MC: You worked at CBS?
D: Oh yeah, on lots of projects. He won’t tell you this but “Two and a Half Men” was practically my idea. Let’s see, what else? Oh yeah! I was a crime scene consultant for “The Mentalist” for a couple of seasons… I was heavily involved with “Big Bang Theory”… because, you know, it is pretty anti-intelligent design… Oh, here’s one! “How I Met Your Mother” was actually created because I lost a bet with Hitler. I also have a lot to do with the NCAA tournament.
MC: March Madness?
D: Yep. I monitor upsets and make sure those religious schools don’t make it too far.
MC: What about Gonzaga? Isn’t it a Catholic school?
D: It is… but I made a deal with John Stockton back in the 90’s that always guarantees them at least one win. Don’t ask. It’s complicated.
MC: So while we’re talking basketball, who do you like this year?
D: Well, I’m partial to Duke. Obviously. But since I grew up in Cleveland, I’ve got to go with Ohio State.
MC: Good choice. Obama picked the Buckeyes in his bracket too.
D: Yeah I know. Where do you think he got that idea?
MC: I’m afraid to ask. But we’re not here to talk basketball. I know you’ve been busy, but have you heard about the uproar caused by Rob Bell’s new book?
D: Yeah, I have. Love Wins? Pretty wild, pretty wild. You Christians always surprise me at how easily worked up you get about things. Man, I thought Disney’s Gay Day was a big deal but, wow, you really set the bar high on this one.
MC: It’s true. Even John Piper jumped all over him about it.
D: Yeah, I know. I follow him on twitter. So, tell me this, has anyone even read the book yet?
MC: Um, no.
D: WHAT?!?! (Laughter) You’re telling me that all these people got upset about a book they haven’t even read? Man, talk about drama! I’m impressed. I don’t think I could have pulled that off if I tried…
MC: Well, yeah but…
D: And I have tried! Remember when Christians thought Harry Potter was evil? That was mine! Personally, I think the books are stupid. Not believable at all. I’m more of a Jodi Picoult guy.
MC: Well, a lot of people think that Rob Bell is saying that hell isn’t real and that a loving God wouldn’t punish anyone.
D: Wait a minute. Rob Bell? The Nooma guy?
MC: Yeah that’s him.
D: Well he’s certainly not the first. I can still remember Origen talking about the same thing. What was that, like 1,500 years ago?
MC: More than that. He lived in the third century AD.
D: Really? Wow. Time flies. You know, I was just thinking the other day that you Christians like to talk about hell a lot.
MC: We do. You’re right.
D: I’d think you’d spend your time talking about heaven or that whole grace thing but you all seem, and this is just my uneducated opinion, to be so worked up about who is going to hell.
MC: Yeah, some people get a little carried away.
D: Exactly! And let me tell you, I love it! Love it. Love it. Love. It. For me, it’s awesome when Christians beat each other up. Makes my job 100 times easier.
MC: Good point.
D: You want to frustrate me? Try spending as much time talking about how “good” the Christian life is and all that goofy hope-stuff as you spend arguing about who is in heaven and who is out. That’d make my job difficult.
MC: I’m sure it would. But do you have anything to say specifically about the controversy?
D: You mean about hell being real or not?
D: Hmm… it’s real. You can trust me on that. And yes, I get how ironic it is for me to ask you to trust me. I mean, hello, I’m the Father of Lies and all.
MC: Yeah, I wasn’t going to mention that.
D: Now, I’ll admit that it is a little tough for me to put myself in your shoes. But I don’t know how you can think otherwise, about hell being real, you know. The concept is pretty clear throughout your bible. And off the record… it scares the… um, well… hell out of me. Get it? The “hell” out of…
MC: Yeah, I get it. So you disagree with Rob Bell?
D: Well, I haven’t read the book yet. But it wouldn’t be the first time. I hate the guy. Osteen I can deal with. He’s just so optimistic. I like that. But Rob Bell... I can’t stand him… and not just theologically either. I’ve been sporting the black-rimmed glasses forever and this dweeb from Michigan comes around and totally steals my look.
MC: Right well…
D: Oh, and how come no one is bringing this up?!? Does anyone see how frickin’ funny it is that a guy from Michigan doesn’t believe in hell? Have you EVER been to Michigan? Don’t even get me started. It. Is. Miserable.
MC: I’ll make a note, but back to my question. Do you have any insight into how a loving God could…
D: Could send someone to hell? No… no… the loving gig isn’t my thing. Don’t get it. Don’t want to get it. I don’t care. But I’ll take a stab at it. You guys say “God IS Love”, right? To me, that means he defines what love is. What about justice? That’s his thing too. The two go together, don’t they? I’m certain that God sends people to hell. But, you know, whatever, I’m just the devil. My only point is this. I don’t know how God works. If I did, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
MC: Makes sense. Anything else you’d like to add?
D: No, that pretty much sums it up. I wish Rob the best. I hope he sells a lot of books. Hope you guys keep arguing about this. Hope you burn him at the stake. Man, those were the days.
MC: Fair enough. So what’s next for you?
D: Well, we’re coming up on spring break and prom season, which is kinda peak season for me. “Devil’s Christmas” we call it around here. And you know the summer movie season starts earlier and earlier every year. So soon I’ll be busy making sure Transformers 3 makes a lot of money. Hmm… let’s see… that’ll take me right up to the fall… a few weeks off… Halloween, or as I call it, my birthday, and then I’ll start work on the Obama re-election campaign. Thinking about going with a “trust us, THIS time we can!” slogan. I think it’s got legs. We’ll see.
MC: Devil, thanks so much for taking the time to chat. It’s been very enlightening.
D: Pleasure was all mine. Oh, one more thing… everyone go out and get the new Rascal Flatts album. Those guys define country music! I think you’re going to love it. Also, go Buckeyes!