Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Review of "Love Wins." by Rob Bell

Alright, so I decided to listen to this book, via Rob reading it on audiobook. Here are my thoughts. First, our job, as Christians, is to rightly handle God's word. To understand what it really teaches. Second, because Rob Bell currently has a large church does not necessarily mean he is an expert at handling God's word. Third, Rob is great at laying out an argument & then leaving you wondering, "So what does he really believe about this?". Ultimately, it doesn't really matter what Rob believes, it matters what The Bible teaches. God has laid out His book, so we, your average Joes could clearly understand it. Fourth, because Rob doesn't agree with something, doesn't necessarily mean he is right, or that the Bible is unclear. Fifth, I acknowledge that most people have no interest in God or in Jesus. So here we go...

58 minutes in. Thought- Rob asks a lot of tough questions. He questions normally accepted biblical teaching. Hopefully he will also give an answer to these questions, seeing that he is a pastor who is suppose to rightly divide the word of truth. I am not too impressed with someone who is "bold enough" to ask the tough questions, because everyone asks these. In my opinion, God gave us brains to use. God is a God of truth, so seeking truth, asking questions is NORMAL (ie David-Psalm 13). I wonder who his target audience is, or the straw-man of his conversation, who he is upset with. At times, I feel he is challenging biblical Christianity. At times, I feel that he is challenging Westborough Baptist or the Puritains.

Final thoughts- "God's essence is love" is his main starting point. While I believe that God is loving, I believe that His love radiates from His HOLINESS. He struggles with God's holiness. He says that a God who destroys is not one who people would trust. While this may be true for many people, God does judge people who refuse to obey Him. Rob never gets into THOSE verses, where God does destroy things.
He believes that there is no distinct HEAVEN (where God dwells) and HELL (a place). He believes that both are together, with God, but for unbelievers being with God is HELL. A HELL of their own making. They are in this "Hell" (which is a state of mind), until they finally humble themselves & decide that God's way is better. In other words, people are able to make a choice post-death. However, he skirts around the verses that teach about the finality of the decision made in life (parable of the virgins, sheep and goats, rich man vs. Lazarus).
He sets up a pretty sweet defense for himself by saying that only closed-minded people would call him a heretic. He says they are unloving.

If I were to summarize Rob Bell's theology on Heaven, Hell, eternity-
1. Hell is not an eternal destination, necessarily. It depends how long it takes people to repent.
2. Hell is a state of mind, which people create themselves, by stubbornly refusing God.
3. Salvation is not just for the other side of death, but it is for us in life too.
4. The word eternal is not a period of time, but a state of time.
5. God is, at His core, loving and would not make an eternal final destination.
6. God gets what He wants. He wants all men to be saved, therefore, eventually, given enough time, all men will. Either in this life, or after life.
7. God is, at His core, loving and doesn't destroy people.
8. Mankind, will eventually choose to accept God, given enough time.

Problem- I will state these kindly & keep the issues before me.
1. God, at His core, is HOLY. Love radiates from His holiness. Rob Bell, never acknowledges God's holiness.
2. There is a separation between those who reject God/Jesus and those who humble themselves before Him.
3. Hell, Gehenna, the garbage dump, is an eternal place. The Bible is clear that people will go there.
4. See my other post on Hell for details and a study of it.
5. Would a good God, a loving God send someone to Hell? Answer for both is NO. Instead, a good, loving God will allow people to reject so great a salvation and choose separation if they desire too.
6. Rob struggles to reconcile God's holiness & God's love.
7. Rob starts with a definition of "love" that may not be accurate from God's angle.
8. Could Hell bring glory to God? Rob would say absolutely NOT.
9. I believe Rob underestimates the depravity/pride of people. I believe that if people do not accept Jesus here on earth, why would they ever decide to change their minds after death?
10. It is destined for man to die once, and after that to face judgment.
11. Hades, the dwelling place of unbelievers is thrown into the Lake of Fire, at the judgment. There is clearly a distinction in places. To deny this is to not accurately handle Scripture. It is to be ashamed of the gospel.
12. Rob teaches that the word aionios/eternal refers to not length but quality. However, it is NORMALLY accepted, and widely accepted by scholars, that this Greek word has to do with both quality and duration. In fact, it refers to the eternality of God. According to Rob, God would not be everlasting, but just have good quality. He neglects the thrust of the word for the sake of his argument. This is dishonest. Aionios- age, eternal, perpetual, constant, above time (Romans 16:26, 1 Timothy 6:16 of God. Matt. 18:8, 25:41, 46, Mark 3:29, 2 Thess. 1:9, Heb. 6:2, Jude 1:7 of punishment of the wicked-those who stubbornly refuse God's salvation).
I appreciate Rob pointing out that eternal life/fire is bigger than just a location. It is a state of living as well. Eternal life, for those who accept God's salvation begins now. There is a qualitative difference in this life.

Thoughts Rob left me with-
1. What was the early church's view of eternity (like pre-300AD)?
2. What does "eternity" mean, in the sense of quality of life NOW?
3. Rob is right, in the sense, that God is, at times, scary. But not because He is fickle. He is scary because I cannot control Him. His ways are different than mine, I seek pleasure, and don't want Him to put me through suffering, because I do not yet comprehend the benefit of suffering.


  1. Very interesting. A couple of my friends and I were just discussing this book last night. Thanks for the quick outline of the book. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the matter.

  2. Good stuff. Thanks for posting. Sure does get me thinking...