I started reading Rob Bell’s book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived to see what the fuss is about.
I read a book before assuming the author is a heretic because I am an author that has been misquoted and misunderstood. I was going to pick it up at my local Christian bookstore, but they refuse to carry it so I purchased the Kindle edition.
If you have the time the Amazon book reviews are extremely entertaining. I love this one line review of the book:
“One of the nation’s rock-star-popular young pastors, Rob Bell, has stuck a pitchfork in how Christians talk about damnation.”
Bell asks great questions about who God is, the Trinity, salvation, heaven, hell and God’s desire to save. I don’t agree with his conclusions on hell.
Hell is what we create for ourselves when we reject God’s love. Hell is both a present reality for those who resist God and a future reality for those who die unready for God’s love. Hell is what we make of heaven when we cannot accept the good news of God’s forgiveness and mercy. (Rob Bell)
I wish Bell was right but the the things he says about hell they don’t jive with Scripture. I believe there is a hell and I also believe God is there at the edge doing everything He can to keep us from going there.
Remember, I don’t have all the answers, I’m still asking many questions myself. Through study I’ve found passages I was taught meant one thing mean something else completely when studying the Greek or Hebrew. (Check out the word , eternal or Aion in the Greek). I have several issues I still need to unpack for myself.
Just because I don’t agree with Rob Bell does not mean I think he is evil nor hell bound. It’s sad to see how ugly things can get when talk about God loving people (whats wrong with this picture)!
The bashers are calling Bell a Universalist, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a false prophet, a radical and dangerous.
For the record, Bell stated he is not a universalist, that he believes in heaven and hell, and that he believes Jesus is the only way to God. I believe if someone says they aren’t a universalist we should believe them. They know more about what they believe then we do.
It’s not like he’s rejecting the divinity of Jesus–he’s talking about reexamining teachings most of us haven’t bothered to study in the original language. I would love to see the result of this book being iron sharpening iron.
If you recall Jesus and the disciples were accused of heresy. The religious leaders made up lies and falsely accused them over and over because they brought forth different view of God.
My point is, don’t join the angry mob until you study the issue for yourself.
Parts I Agree With
I agree with the what I feel is the main message of the book: God loves you and that there is nothing you can do to make God love you more or less. That is the “Good News” of Jesus. I would rather someone heard this message over “turn or burn” legalistic love-is-tied-to-performance teachings I came out of or the Calvinist teaching that God created most people just to burn in hell for eternity.
I like this quote from the book:
Religion that is primarily motivated by heavenly reward is flawed. It is no more admirable than a man who tells a woman he loves her simply to get her into bed.
Wayne Jacobsen addresses the controversy and problems on both sides in the tongue in cheek titled podcast Slap a Calvinist for Christ.
Step Away for the Torches
I did not post about this to jump into the controversy. I wanted to share this super teaching Dust of the Rabbi by Bell made a few years ago but felt I needed to explain I’m not in full agreement with all his teachings first, else some will get out the rakes and torches for me.
Even if you are angry about Bell’s book you’ll enjoy the light he sheds on understanding the Hebrew culture.