I'm hoping to read Bell's book at some point, just so I can see for myself what he is saying. According to a lot of theologians, he's very unclear - almost like Bell himself doesn't know what he's saying - and he poses a lot of questions but dodges answering them.
Right now I'm reading Heaven and the Afterlife by Pastor Garlow (I'm sorry, *ehem* Dr. James L. Garlow with Keith Wall). It's really interesting and has got me thinking about these things. I haven't made it to this part yet, but from reading reviews of the book and listening to Pastor Garlow preach on this topic in person, Pastor Garlow's vision of hell is ever so slightly different from mainstream theology.
Pastor Garlow has claimed that hell was not made for humans. That when God created hell, it was not for the purpose of throwing people in there. Hell was for the enemies of God. It's for demons and for Satan. And when you think about this in the context of treason (as Jason was talking about) it makes a lot of sense. It wasn't intended for us, but by committing treason, we have made ourselves the enemies of God.
However, it does say in Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." and in 2 Peter 3:9 it says "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."
So God's ultimate goal is to work for the good of those who love Him and to keep as many from perishing as possible. Those who have not heard the Word is a tricky subject. A lot of speculation can be made, but in the end you have to just trust that God (who is the measure for good) will do what is right.
However, some words of comfort may lie in what Jesus says in Luke 12:47-48, "The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."
I've been thinking a lot about it recently and there seems logical ways that God would work it out for those that do not know Christ (which I won't go into, since it's all complete speculation). I mean, the Bible makes it clear that creation itself testifies to the existence of God (Romans 1:19 and some Psalm that I can't remember, for example) so that is something. Until modern times, atheism was quite the rarity. However, Jesus makes a point of telling his disciples that it is *their* job (our job) to spread the Good News of salvation. Soooo, that brings us back to those that haven't heard that part.
I'm not very well versed in theology (I think there is a pun there) regarding Judgment Day and the end of the world, but I know Pastor Garlow was saying something about in a seven year rapture period after all the dead are raised - where the earth will be nothing but pure suffering - there will be the opportunity for those people to turn to God for forgiveness. However, it also seemed clear that most people would use that opportunity to curse God even more - which suggests those who would have chosen God had already been saved in their life on the earth. But that would give hope to those who had not heard of salvation. And I have absolutely no Scripture to back any of that up (I was pretty much ready to be done reading Revelation right after John got done scolding all the churches, so I didn't actually try and dissect it...at all).
But again, we can only do what God has put us here for and trust that He will do what is just and right. I'm inclined to fully believe in hell and the possibility of people actually going there, especially when Jude uses language like "They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire" (Jude 1:7) and "save others by snatching them from the fire." (Jude 1:23)