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
Sure, I'd love to hear your story....
This feels a bit like taking a theology class, watching a great play, and talking to your best friend. This is one of the most interesting explorations of Christianity, inviting us to expand our view of God and Jesus. This is going to cause controversy and will be considered radical. But more than that it will make us reconsider what we believe and why.
Once you begin listening, it's easy to understand why Rob Bell founded a church that now has 10,000 members. Few authors do even a workman-like job of reading their own work. Bell does a great job. You feel as if he is sincerely talking to you personally, which is a good thing because he is talking about God, Jesus, Heaven and Hell, names and places so misused by TV preachers as to rob Christian theology of any authenticity. Bell offers understanding where many others only offer overwrought opinions.
It is possible that this book may even help convert a some churchgoers to Christianity.
I thought this book was a work of art. It's gorgeous.
Sure, I have some questions, and I'm going to dig in and find answers. We all need to. It's really worth it. Our perspective on this effects our perspective and worth that we assign to every man, woman and child that we pass on the street.
It's an awesome thing.
There's nothing to be afraid of or offended by in this book- absolutely nothing.
Rob Bell attempts to dispel some of the anecdotal theology which has come up to surround the Bible that is unsupported by the Bible itself. To this end he succeeds, but he quickly moves from dispelling bad theology to doubting incontrovertible truths of scripture. He rightly identifies god as the focal point of heaven, the reality of a physical and enjoyable place, and the need for condemnation of the unrepentant. However, he fails to close the door on some heresies which the Bible is in fact explicit about. He emphasizes God's love to the point of mistaking it for the whole of God's character rather than one of his attributes, and skews his interpretation of what love should look like to fit his personal expectations to the point of undoing many well supported doctrines regarding Hell. To this end I would highly recommend reading Francis Chan's book Crazy Love either instead of or along with this book should you choose to read Love Wins. Ultimately, Rob Bell narrowly steers clear of outright espousing any heretical theological positions, but in his exploration of possible interpretation he leaves the door open on many doctrines about which the Bible leaves no wiggle room. I cannot in good conscience recommend this book, either to the unbeliever who could mistake Bell's willingness to abandon sound doctrine with the unsound doctrines at the point of personal preference, or to the believer looking to expand his understanding of scripture as Bell relies more heavily in his own interpretation and assumptions than the vast array of scripture that undermines most of his more controversial conclusions and suggestions. I can only really recommend this book to someone who is interacting with a friend, family member or coworker who is enamored with Love Wins so that you can in love help them to separate the important valid points that Bell makes (which have been made by others before him and will be made by others in the future) from his overreaching assertions brought forth from faulty assumptions and infusing his opinions and definitions to mold scripture to fit his expectations, and then I would recommend supplementing it with either Crazy Love or another book which challenges the conclusions Bell reaches. Finally test everything Bell and others say with the totality of scripture, not just the proof texts they offer. Bell has some good points, but the number of and implications from unwarranted assertions from Bell lead me to recommend against reading this book unless you have a desire and the time to thoroughly engage the text and the scriptures so as to not be misled by some sweet sounding doctrinal errors.
This is a book that purports to use a Christian worldview to tell of God's amazing love for all mankind. When you dig beneath the surface, it is simply a universalist manifesto that makes Christ's death on the cross meaningless. Read Kevin Deyoung's review online for a full critical analysis.
Don't know what all the fuss is about, this book is amazing. If it does nothing more than help you think about what we believe then it has done its job. I think that people need to read this book and then leave it alone for a while, let it settle, test it. Nothing new in it, but there are many things that need to be said that have not been said for a very long time.
Rob Bell delivers a thoughtful and provoking message to both Christians and unbelievers. Each chapter develops ideas so creatively and effectively. However if an unbeliever were to read this book would he come to the conclusion that he is a person who has violated God's character and is in desperate need for a redeemer??? God's love can only reach down to an evil heart because of the death and ressurection of Jesus. My concern is that this book preaches a gospel that God accepts humanity because he is too nice to condemn people, rather than preaching The Gospel that every man must cry out to Jesus who has made the way possible. The cross is the path to God and the path to salvation . . .You cannot get to God by trusting in the fact that he is too good to send people to hell. You cannot get to God by trusting that "love" will give you a free pass . . . Yes God sent Jesus because of his love, but we must be drawn to Jesus at the cross. Does this book draw people to the cross . . .
I remember back in the early 90's, sitting in a Southern Baptist church in which I was deeply involved, watching a friend's child "walk the aisle" to publicly accept Christ as his lord and savior. That night, I laid awake in terror because my oldest son was about the same age as the child who'd made the walk earlier that day. I was terrified because my son was reaching that dreaded age of accountability and being a shy youngster, he'd never be comfortable walking the aisle in front of all those people so according to what I'd been taught, if my son died that night, he'd go to hell. Somehow in the dark of that night, a peace crept in that gently asked me, "Do you really think the same loving God who blessed you with this child would damn him to eternal torture for not walking the aisle of a church?" No. No, he wouldn't. This book is a detailed and loving confirmation of the reassurance I got that night in the darkness.
If you haven't gotten the chance to dive into this book you absolutely need to. Rob challenged my worldview (as a born again Christian) and had helped me to understand the all inclusive nature of the love of God. This book is for more than just another good Christian read. This book is one for every human soul. Love Wins: an epic for this age and the age to come.
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