Millions of Christians have struggled with how to reconcile God's love and God's judgment: Has God created billions of people over thousands of years only to select a few to go to heaven and everyone else to suffer forever in hell? Is this acceptable to God? How is this "good news"?
Troubling questions, so troubling that many have lost their faith because of them. Others only whisper the questions to themselves, fearing or being taught that they might lose their faith and their church if they ask them out loud.
But what if these questions trouble us for good reason? What if the story of heaven and hell we have been taught is not, in fact, what the Bible teaches? What if what Jesus meant by heaven, hell, and salvation are very different from how we have come to understand them?
What if it is God who wants us to face these questions?
Author, pastor, and innovative teacher Rob Bell presents a deeply biblical vision for rediscovering a richer, grander, truer, and more spiritually satisfying way of understanding heaven, hell, God, Jesus, salvation, and repentance. The result is the discovery that the "good news" is much, much better than we ever imagined. Love wins.
©2011 Robert H. Bell, Jr. Trust (P)2011 HarperCollins Publishers
Title sums it up for me. Not one to write reviews usually, so forgive my 'briefness'. Rob's simple message is so logical and yet has changed my entire outlook on Christianity. Laid to rest many issues and problems I have held for years. Thank you Rob.
I've listened to some of his books and watched several of his videos. He always has something to say that's worth listening to, pondering and praying about even if I ultimately don't wholly agree. The problem I have with his books is that he seems to go out of his way to use antagonistic language that makes it hard for me to get past the anger and listen to the points he's trying to make. I found it sometimes better to pause the book and start again later after I'd had time to let emotion cool and ponder what it was he might really be trying to say. He also covers a lot of biblical ground in this book so unless you're willing to simply take his word for it be prepared to do your homework!
Absolute best listen so far
So many times during this reading, I found myself thinking "wow, that makes so much sense."
At the very end when he brought all the concepts together and said "love wins."
I would recommend this book to anyone, Christian or not, to challenge what you thought you knew about God and Jesus. This short read brought me great insight to Jesus' message and where to place it in my faith.
For anyone that has been exposed to organized Christian religion and turned away, this read brings you back to the essence of God's love and Christ's purpose in our lives.
I love. I pray. I brew. I code
Rob asks good questions. I think this is a book of questions, a thought provoking one. Some of it's ideas are great, some are dangerous and need to be accepted only with prayer and study of the scriptures. My advice, for every word you read in Love Wins, read ten from the Bible. If you don't have a daily time in the Word and a strong relationship with God, you might want to wait with this book.
Every Christian, and every non-Christian or ex-Christian who's written off Christianity because of it's teachings about "eternal torment" and it's exclusivism (only a few saved), needs to read this book.
Incidentally, even though I say "read", I do think that listening to this audio presentation is a far superior experience to reading the text (which I've also done). Rob has a great speaking voice, but for some reason he loves to write everything as if it's poetry, with various kinds of "pretty" formatting, which annoyed me to no end while reading the hardback book. I guess he was trying to be clever in his presentation, but he needn't have done that, his content speaks for itself.
I was a little apprehensive to listen to the book because because of the great stir it caused, and I really don't understand that. It appears that hell is a sacred doctrine of some church people, but Paul the great Apostle of the Church never mentions it once. Jesus did and Bell explains this.
If Hell is a sacred doctrine for you and you do not want it trifled with then do not read this book. But if you want to know some truth about the traditions you have been taught and want a clearer picture of who God is to clear up some misunderstandings, then get it and enjoy it. There is much freedom in knowing who God really is.
Rob Bell is foremost a pastor. He speaks to people and for people about the fact that they are loved by God and by others even though it doesn't always seem that way. That is his job, and he does his job extremely well. In my generation, he has been perhaps the foremost master of formulating ways to communicate the most complicated and gnarly theological and historical conundrums in a manner that the average listener will understand with both mind and heart. What distinguishes him from his peers in the circle of extremely rhetorically gifted speakers from the church is his honesty, his candor, and his willingness to address honestly, from scripture, rather than from tradition, the issues that are the stickiest. He has been relentless in both honesty, in faith, and in good works. Like I was saying though: he is a profound thinker but his message is best served 'spoken,' rather than read. Probably because that is the form that he has spent the most time mastering after years of teaching and speaking with his congregation. That's just my opinion. I'm really glad I listened to the audio book before reading the prose version.
While I can feel the debates come up within my soul from my years of church attendance there is a freshness in Bell's approach to the most important subjects of all ages. Perhaps that is the point. These should not be the most important subjects. While a fast listen, in typical Bell fashion, the book is full of questions and possibilities. This book will not put an end to the resent controversy but perhaps the question of who God really is will come to the front of the discussion.
There was so much negativity around this book, that I was contacted by about 7 people directly because my championing of Rob Bell's works is widely known, but even I was having second thoughts while waiting for Love Wins to arrive. Finally I just bought the audiobook rather than wait and was so relieved to hear that once again Rob was reading his own book. I listened intently and kept waiting for Rob to finally say something controversial. Um, ok, maybe I'll need to listen to it again, because it just never came. Indeed, CS Lewis in The Great Divorce _really_ goes into Universalism, while Rob Bell merely asks us to take heaven and hell out of our boxes and rethink them. Point blank - Rob Bell is _not_ a Universalist. He's just making public issues that have fallen out of public discussion, not because they've been settled, but because Catholicism has so set the tone with their global dominion, that they erased all alternatives. And now, we are regaining some more freedom of thought and discussion. Something that I feel is the best way to summarize Rob Bell's works - they free us - to think. Imagine that!! And _that_ is precisely why so many have hated yes _hated_ his work for so long - it breaks the chains of institutionalized religion from people so they can run to their Father. Please continue Rob, because love _always_ wins.
Rob Bell does what the apostle Paul did in the epistles - explained what Jesus did and what it meant for their time. (Plus, if you know the epistles, so many of Bell's sentences have an uncanny resemblance to verses that he's almost quoting them, but in a way that they feel fresh and shocking, the way Paul's words must have sounded to his listeners.) I had to listen to it twice back to back, just for the joy of it. It's a beautiful revisioning, stripping away the cultural overlay of centuries, stuff we've added to the faith that isn't essential. In fact, I think I should listen to it again. And you definitely should too.
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