The Good to Be Found in Love Wins

This is the first part of a three-part series in which I will explore Rob Bell’s book Love Wins. Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section below.

I have been reading and listening to Rob Bell for the better part of the past decade. I first heard him speaking at the National Youth Worker’s Convention in 2001 as a freshman at Geneva College. He struck me as someone who was very passionate and intelligent. Someone who knew of what he was speaking from that main stage. It encouraged me to hear more. Over the years I have heard a lot from him. I cannot say that I have agreed with all of it, but I have found him to be accurate more often than not. The same can be said of his latest book, Love Wins.

Rob sets out to answer a deeply challenging question (at least from our human perspective) without falling back on the same arguments that shut people off from the church. In doing so, he shares a lot of good thoughts, such as the fact that we as American Christians often try to co-opt Jesus to our own views. We make Him out to be who we want Him to be instead of speaking Him as He truly is. He makes us really think about the nature of grace and our role in accepting God’s grace (can we truly accept something that is freely given regardless of our desire to receive?) He points out God’s desire for all to be saved to Himself. But perhaps the most important thing that Rob states is that Jesus is indeed the only way to reach God. The only way to heaven. Let that sink in for a little bit.

Rob also goes to great lengths to paint an accurate Biblical picture of what heaven really is. He smashes through what we have built it up to be (no mansions, folks), and does a fair job of exploring what hell is. He takes some interesting thoughts to show how we in our role as followers of God partner with Him to bring heaven here now (a bit of the Kingdom coming but not yet fully realized), and even how things that we do here on earth can even bring hell here.  (Look for more on his views of hell tomorrow before you attack me here). He walks us through all of the original language words that we translate as hell and even gives (for the most part) accurate observations as to their original meaning and context. He even states that hell is punishment. People do go to hell (again, check back in tomorrow for more on this one). There is punishment for not coming to Christ.

Rob writes in such a manner that the reader can easily fall into the line he is tracing. It does not read as clunky, and he has peppered in a lot of questions that we find ourselves asking. He makes it obvious that we are not Christians so that we can get into heaven, but so that we can partner with God here and now. In all of this Rob weaves a fair amount of good theology for us to digest.

But not all of it is good, and I want to take some time tomorrow to explore what is not to be celebrated about Love Wins…