Rob Bell’s “Love Wins”

November 30, 2010 — 21 Comments

rob-bell-love-wins

It looks like Rob Bell (pastor/author) will be releasing another book in 2011, this one entitled “Love Wins”. I couldn’t agree more with this statement, but I’m not sure if I will actually end up agreeing with his premise in this book (despite me openly supporting most of the conclusions Rob Bell comes to). The description at the Harper One website says:

Rob Bell reveals a secret deep in the heart of millions of Christians–they don’t believe what they have been taught are the essential truths of their faith. Out of respect for their tradition, they keep quiet, confiding to a few close friends their doubts and questions about salvation, Jesus, and, of course, God.

Bell brings out to the open and faces squarely the questions on everyone’s mind: Does it really make sense that God is a loving, kind, compassionate God who wants to know people in a personal way, but if they reject this relationship with Jesus, they will be sent to hell where God will eternally punish them forever?

In Love Wins, Bell goes to the heart of these issues and argues that the church’s traditional understanding of heaven and hell is actually not taught by the Bible. Bell is emphatically not offering a new view of heaven and hell; instead, he closely examines every verse in the Bible on heaven and hell and shows what they really teach. And he discovers that Jesus’s most fundamental teaching about heaven and hell is, “Love wins.”

The question raised in the second paragraph is a huge question, and one that is very dividing for many Christians. Brian McLaren weighed in his opinion this year in A New Kind of Christianity, and ends up with a lot of different answers than I would cite (despite me still deeply appreciating him and his heart). I’m not sure if Rob is going to take it as far as “hell is non-existent”, but the one thing that Bell seems to do well is walk the line of controversy, yet remain a consistent voice that challenges the Evangelical community. The best example of this is in Velvet Elvis where Rob Bell uses the example of questioning the Virgin birth to make a case for deconstructing one’s faith, even though he doesn’t actually make the claim that Jesus was not born of a Virgin. Since this is a pillar of faith for most Christians (myself included), this (of course) stirred controversy in the ole blogosphere (love this word), and Rob Bell blew up with a Christian bestseller. Bell’s like the Kanye West of Christian authors, minus the arrogance and annoyance factor…so I guess not much at all.

But it seems like this new book is inspired by this sermon (which you can download for free) – and I agree with the mantra that:

The cross is God’s way of saying, “Love Wins.”

I can get behind that. And if you really like this idea, you can buy the phrase for a buck and put it on your bumper. Of course.

Love Wins. I agree. We’ll see about his new book.

Sigs

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21 responses to Rob Bell’s “Love Wins”

  1. here is what eugene peterson said about his Rob Bell’s new book – Love Wins

    “In the current religious climate in America, it isn’t easy to develop an imagination, a thoroughly biblical imagination, that takes in the comprehensive and eternal work of Christ in all people and all circumstances in love and for salvation. Rob Bell goes a long way in helping us acquire just such an imagination. Love Wins accomplishes this without a trace of soft sentimentality and without compromising an inch of evangelical conviction in its proclamation of the good news that is most truly for all.”

    - Eugene H. Peterson, Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology, Regent College, and author of The Message

    • That is great! That definitely opens my mind even more about the book – in fact it makes me more excited to read it. Rob Bell pushes boundaries so well without conforming to the standard liberal theology. I love it! Thanks for sharing, Andrew!

  2. Rob Bell is teaching a new postmodern form of progressive/liberalism that’s just as non-Christian as the original liberalism: http://apprising.org/2011/02/26/rob-bell-teaching-universalism/

    • Ken Silva himself. How predictable a comment.

    • One thing Rob Bell is NOT doing is preaching a postmodern Christianity. Postmodernism tells us there is no absolutes — not final, authoritative, absolute truth. In fact truth doesn’t really exist for postmodernism, at least in the way we understand it. Everything is contextual — everything is relative to something else. Nothing is transcendent or transcendentally true. Far from preaching this, Bell argues that Love is ultimate — it is THE truth, as revealed by Jesus, and has the final authority in everything. He is also clear about other virtues, like justice, honesty, fidelity, all being ultimate — and yet all, as Jesus also revealed, only ultimate in the service of the One who IS Love. Jesus’ parables reveal that even justice is subservient to the Love that is God — and Rob Bell preaches that God, a God that for too long has been distorted by so much evangelical heresy where Justice or Righteousness are equal to or more important than the Unconditional Love, lived and died by Christ. That doctrine, scripture, Righteousness, Cleanliness, Justice, the Law, are more important than Love, is the belief system of the pharisees. While Jesus revered scripture, he had no qualms about saying publically that Love trumps it, when he argued that Moses said what he said because of our hardness of heart. We’re still hard hearted, but Rob Bell is reclaiming the Christ the Bible really reveals.

  3. I find it interesting that receiving Christ sounds more like some kind of ultimatum with the veiled threat of Hell’s fire. I can see why if this is your preferred method of Sharing the Love of God found in Jesus Christ with others, you would be none to happy if your Hell card was pulled from your deck. All this is just a method designed by men i.e. “The Roman Road” or the assumption of “Total Depravity” read into the words of Paul. Orthodoxy has become the wet firewood for those who wish to keep us in a frozen state in theology, after all that good old sixteenth century is a great place for a mental vacation. Let me quote from John Calvin here; “Whoever shall now contend that it is unjust to put heretics and blasphemers to death will knowingly and willingly incur their very guilt.” Not much has changed for some as their numbers shrink but after all “many are called but few are chosen”, good bye John Calvin. ANZAHOLYMAN

  4. It’s important to keep in mind that the goal of the video was to create interest in (and sell) Rob’s new book. Rob is provocative, he always has been. But he raises some interesting questions. An important step in clarifying your beliefs is to talk about and even defend them. So the fact that the publicity campaign for Rob Bell’s book has provided an impetus for Christians to actually do theology (to figure out what they think about God) is a positive thing. Even if you disagree with Bell, it’s important for Christians to wrestle with what they believe. Another great resource on heaven, what it’s like and who will be there is “Heaven Revealed” by Dr. Paul Enns, released this month by Moody Publishers. I recommend it. Here’s the amazon page: http://dld.bz/P8sz

  5. Thank you for keeping the conversation going. It is certainly a conversation worth having. Please join some of us who are gong through the book chapter-by-chapter at http://recreative.wordpress.com.

  6. Just thought I would share that aplacetotalk.net just posted a podcast on this subject and we may have read from your article. Josh

    http://aplacetotalk.net/weeklytalks/

  7. I’d actually say that Love Wins is somewhat of a Rorschach Test: If you can’t stand Bell, or have always questioned what he had to say, you will read the book through that lens and find what you’re looking for. If you’ve been on the fence about him, you’ll still be there. If you’ve read him charitably in the past and found that, even when you disagree, he is still within the stream of orthodox Christianity, you will still find that he’s there. One of his stated purposes in the book is to get folks to study what is actually in Scripture, and to ask the tough questions – and accept fuzzy answers and to be charitable to others who do, as well. For example, here is an examination of what the Scriptures actually say about hell, and it is possible to take them seriously, yet come up with a different answer than eternal, conscious torture.

    • I’ve been thinking this same thing! The lens we view a book, or even Scripture, dictates so much of what we actually receive as the reader. Well said, Chris, and a good reminder in this discussion.

      • Exactly. I really think some people would prefer the idea that God is primarily or exclusively a God of judgement and strict justice and therefore emphasise some scripture that could be interpreted that way and others focus on the declaration that God is Love and understand scripture in the light of that, but it comes from where the person already is, how s/he already looks at the world, and thus, how s/he interprets not only scripture, but everything. Rob Bell makes so much sense to those who focus on the scripture that declares that God is Love and offends mightly the ones who want there to be eternal punishment for some (or many!). But scripture has always been interpreted to make it conform to what we already believe. I’ve got a book with several sermons full of biblical exergesis supporting slavery. I think we need to take seriously the fact that some, even many, “Christians” see nothing wrong with a certain amount of cruelty being consistent with the ‘good news’.

  8. Thanks Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Eugene H. Peterson and team, for being bold enough to lead us to new levels of apostacy. It may be a bold move, but hey, as long as the bucks roll in, what the heck? (no one’s going there any way, right?) Paul was right about the time when serpents like you would rear their ugly heads and lead people astray. Funny isn’t it, when folks in Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea to name a few, are having their brains blown out for beleiving what Jesus said about heaven and hell. If only we could get them safely to American Shores where they might prosper from a gospel like yours, too bad. Hell is real, God wins, and you lose. Don’t help to send others there, take your trip alone.
    Eric

    • Eric,

      You sound angry, and seem to be SHOUTING.
      I know Jesus got angry too when he saw people profiting from religion.
      But your premise- that Bell, Peterson and McLaren are writing for financial gain is doubtful.
      The rest of your critique is compromised by your tone of voice and this unsubstantiated accusation.

  9. Rob Bell has been called a “universalist” for some time now, and by many people. What disturbs me most is that he has never denied it. If you or I were publically charged with believing in “open marriage” and cheating on our wives/husbands, would we be silent if it were n ot so? His new books explains his long silence on the matter and reveals what he truly believes.

  10. Hey Craig -

    Thanks for the comment. Rob Bell has repeatedly, publicly said he is not a universalist. I definitely don’t agree with all his points in the book, but he is not a universalist. Search in YouTube “Rob Bell denies being a universalist”. It’s always better to hear it from his lips, not mine.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

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    [...] re-examination through the filter of recent developments.  His article also links to the blog Signature Entertainment, which has a more tempered view of things: I’m not sure if Rob is going to take it as far as [...]

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