Book Review: Love Wins by Rob Bell

Let’s get the big questions out of the way first:

  1. Is Rob Bell teaching Universalism?  No.
  2. Is Rob Bell teaching Annihilationism?  No.
  3. Is Rob Bell a heretic?  No.
  4. Does the book Love Wins challenge traditional views of Hell?  Absolutely!

“What we have here…is a failure to communicate.” – Cool Hand Luke

There has been a lot of hooplah over this book and I am happy about that…it is about time!

Indeed, what we are seeing is a failure to communicate, and in this case the communication has to do with the gospel and the essential truths of the Christian faith.

The church has over the centuries seemingly perfected an odd yet compelling sense of interpreting and explaining what is found in scripture.  And just like all of the reformations and revolutions that have gone on throughout those centuries we are seeing yet another in Rob Bell’s Love Wins. [If you haven’t already done so…go get it and read it!]

It seems to me that those most upset about this are also the most out of touch with the reality that the very questions Bell raises in this book are those being asked by people both in and out of the church.

As one who spends a lot of time working and talking with those who do not attend church on a regular basis, I can testify that these questions need to be answered…and the typical fare served up in the form of confessions and dogmas in Protestant and Evangelical circles is not doing the job.

There needs to be a fair amount of objectivity when reading this book.  Those who consider themselves conservative Christians can all too easily see conflict with what they have been taught.  Those outside the church also need to be objective, for Bell’s message is not one that issues a free ticket to heaven.

I strongly believe that we need to be able to visualize the stories and teachings of the early church to better understand how they affected their life together and their ministry to the world.  When it came to heaven and hell, the early church lived in the midst of paradox out of necessity. They simply did not have the systematic professional set of tools that we have today to carve out definitive answers.  Yet, they seemed to both thrive and succeed in living out the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Such well defined answers as we have them today seem to be detrimental in at least two main ways:

  1. They cause unnecessary division among Christians
  2. They promote an incomplete picture of the narrative of the New Testament

Bell’s book seeks to look past the accepted beliefs, in effect, opening up the box and expanding our thoughts regarding the scriptures.

If Rob Bell is on the right track here, and I believe he is,  Christians all the more should lead the way to heaven.  According to his accounting those who protest the most will champion systems of belief but those who are living the faith now get the point.  Faith alone is enough, but it isn’t the end…there is more…much more.

In case you missed it, I heartily recommend this book and look forward to the dialogue that will follow.


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