Will not the Judge of all the earth do right? – Genesis 18:25
Hellbound? Kevin Miller, 2012.
For many people, belief in hell as a place of eternal torment for the wicked is an indisputable tenet of Christian orthodoxy. In their view, rejecting or modifying this belief is tantamount to rejecting Christianity, itself. But a growing number of believers disagree. They argue that we can have a loving God or we can have eternal hell, but we can’t have both.
Hellbound? is a provocative, critically acclaimed documentary that wades right into the center of this debate. Featuring interviews with controversial Mars Hill Church pastor Mark Driscoll; screenwriting guru (and atheist) Robert McKee; self-proclaimed exorcist Bob Larson; the purveyors of a “hell house” in Dallas, TX; “Oderous Urungus,” lead singer of the rock band GWAR; and the notorious Westboro Baptists, Hellbound? presents a challenging, eclectic and entertaining mixture of views from across the theological spectrum.
Does hell exist? If so, who goes there, and why? Hellbound? is a probing, incendiary journey that ensures viewers will never look at hell the same way again.
This is why we want hell. In the face of such overwhelming evil sometimes our only comfort is the hope that somehow, someway, the people who do such things will have hell to pay.
If we’re completely honest, is this way of dealing with evil really satisfying? Because if the only way to get rid of evil is to get rid of evil people, who among us will be left? Is hell really God’s final answer to our pain? Because if God responds to evil in the same way we do, how can we call him good? How can we call him, “God?”
These first two quotes were the only ones I could really get down before wishing I had an already extant script of the film. As can be imagined with a topic such as this one, each interview is an extreme concentration and distillation of ideas, opinions, scriptures, hermeneutics, exegesis, and experience. Hours would be needed to pause and parse out the meaning and histories of each, complete with references. Even more time would be needed to actually try and piece together some sort of cogent conversation between all of the varieties of views. This, and other reasons, are why this film doesn’t get much love in the reviews (CT, Patheos, Rotten Tomatoes. Variety offers a more balanced review.)
Heavily skewed towards a more progressive view, those who hold to traditional conservative views may find this film too biased for their tastes (e.g. Bob Larson). If guided well, this film could be a great conversation starter, especially for those who are seeking some sort of intellectual provocation over the issue.
Below are the interviewees:
Ron Dart – Professor of World Religions, University College of the Fraser Valley
William Paul Young – Author, The Shack