Here it is. The book that was in Twitter’s top 10 trending topics. I’ve read it once, and I wish I could say I was any the wiser. So what I am intending to do to try and get my head around it is resurrect this blog (which it was high time I did anyway) and write a review chapter by chapter as I re-read it.
By way of introduction and for those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, Love Wins is a new book by Rob Bell, pastor of a large church in the US, and founder of the Nooma video series which is characterised by a thoughtful and above all pastoral commentary on the Christian Faith and high production values. So here is a communicator and a pastor who has obviously been compelled to write this book because of the many people he has pastored over the years who have been deeply hurt by what they have been taught about the Christian faith, and as a result have been driven away from the very good news of Jesus they (and we all) so desperately need.
Love wins is about “…Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.” Not a small subject then, for a relatively small book. What’s all the fuss about? From the video he has produced (and from some reviews from folks who have seen early copies) Rob Bell seems to veer away from Christian Orthodoxy and appears to tempt us to follow him to a place where Hell does not exist and where everyone will be “saved” in the end, and where “Love Wins”. He does this through the seemingly innocent device of asking lots of questions, although often the questions are immensely loaded and invite a very obvious response.
So how does Love Win? I’m not sure I really know after reading the book, but in the next few posts I’ll see if I can decipher what Rob Bell has to say, and how it squares with my understanding of Scripture.
I have to say at the outset I have a lot of sympathy with Rob Bell’s pastoral heart on this. We spent two years in the US in the mid-90’s at a Fundamentalist Baptist Church. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything and God has used it as a source of great blessing. But there was also a lot of pain and fear for me, as I was asked every Sunday morning and evening “If you died tonight, where would you end up?” Heaven and Hell were respectively and literally paved with Gold or burning with unquenchable fire. “Are you saved?” was a weekly question, the answer to which had wonderful or terrible consequences. When someone asks me if I am sure about something, my natural tendency is to answer no. Whatever it is. And there were clearly things that needed sorting out in my Christian life. So this was a huge struggle for me, which took years to come through.
Nevertheless I am very grateful to God for it. And I have become convinced that the answer to bad theology (or badly and un-pastorally presented theology) is not more bad theology, but good, Bible-based, God-glorifying theology. It’s the truth that sets us free. So is that what Rob Bell is presenting here? Let’s see…