The Tenth Leper

Theology Made Practical

Review: “Love Wins” by Rob Bell, Part I – Some Introductory Thoughts

Love Wins is my first foray into the writings of Rob Bell.  Yeah, I’ve been aware of him for years, and based on numerous quotes and such that I’ve read/heard of his in that period of time I’ve always been a bit cautious of the dude.  For some reason though I’ve always felt that I would have to read one of his books for myself before seriously engaging one of his followers.  Turns out, Love Wins, perhaps his most controversial book to date (based solely upon a promotional video on it), is that book.

Just in case you’re an irrelevant Christian who listens to Nickelback instead of Mumford and Sons,  has a burden to reach Latin America instead of Africa or Europe, and who has held out on signing up for a Twitter or Facebook account, Christians are in an uproar.  Rob Bell released a promotional video last weekend for his upcoming book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.  The video seems to strongly suggest that Rob Bell is promoting a Universalist theology. A lot of people are freaking out about it because Bell has a pretty large following.  But many preachers are wise enough to say that while the video strongly suggests a denial of the biblical understanding of Hell, we should reserve judgment until the book is actually released.

A month or so ago I got my hands on an advance-reader copy of the book and decided to take it, knowing that if ever I was going to read a book by the guy, why not his newest one which talks about hell and which I got for free?  It’s been on my bookcase since then, and after watching his promo video for the book on Saturday, I pulled it off the shelf and started it.  I finished it in two sittings, which is pretty impressive for the slow reader I am.

Very impressive.

Of course it helps when
Bell is the sort of writer that takes
great liberties with
page margins.

Great. Liberties.

Margins.

Thick-rimmed glasses.

So for people curious about the book (and more than anything to process the book myself), I’ll be analyzing his book in different posts over the next several days.  My initial assessment of the book is this: I think my conviction that I should read Rob Bell before I ever publish an opinion on Rob Bell was extremely well-founded.  That’s because Bell doesn’t strike me as the guy who would ever denounce orthodox Christian beliefs outright.  He strikes me as a guy who would denounce them by retaining Christian terms and redefining them, seeking in the process to show how this new definition of such a familiar term as “hell” isn’t new at all.  Rather, the term as he uses it is how it was originally understood by the writers of the New Testament and their audiences, and we are the ones who have made it to mean something it was never meant to mean.  That’s why I’m glad I sat down to read this book for myself, because Bell doesn’t really seek to say “This isn’t in the Bible” as much as he does “That’s not actually what the Bible is saying here.”  “Do I believe in a literal hell?” he asks.  “Of course.” (p.72)  So it’s perhaps not the best route to rebuke Bell’s argument by pointing to places in Scripture that talk about Hell as a real place.  Nor is it as simple as quoting Matthew 25:46 which says that those who do evil go off to “eternal punishment.”  He’s ready for that.  Invoking the original language of the New Testament, he’ll argue his case that the punishment referred to here (better translated, he believes, as “correction”, or “pruning”, or “trimming”) doesn’t last forever in the way we understand the term “forever”.  If I were to rebuke his thoughts on Hell by pointing to Matthew 25:46, it would be clear to anyone who has read Love Wins that I had not.

The definition of “eternal” in Matthew 25:46 (which I’ll devote a whole entry to) is probably the most blunt thing I remember reading in Love Wins.  As I said, he doesn’t ever say “Hell isn’t real.”  He just challenges what we mean by it.  He’s too smart to be overly blunt throughout most of the book.  But he makes no apology for his declaration that while Hell is a real place, and people will go there, it’s not forever.  Ultimately, God’s love will prevail for every person and they will be restored.  So I would say that what the recently-released promo video for Love Wins suggests, the book confirms.

A couple final comments.  My goal is to be as fair to Rob Bell as I can. There’s a difference between going on a witch-hunt and calling someone a false prophet.   Witch-hunts are void of facts and are based on hysteria.  I want to understand Bell on his own terms and evaluate the strength of his arguments according to Scripture.  If I find him preaching something contrary to what’s in Scripture, I’ll call him out.  I’ll quote Bell extensively and to the best of my ability seek to ensure that nothing I quote would be out-of-context, which leads to my second comment: All page numbers and quotations are based off an advance-reader, uncorrected proof copy of his book.  The page numbers and the words themselves may or may not correspond exactly to the final edition of the book which will be released on March 29.  I’ll try to check on that when it is released.

With that said, I am in full agreement with Rob Bell that LOVE WINS.  But as the entries which follow will show, I disagree with his definition of “love” and “wins”.

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90 thoughts on “Review: “Love Wins” by Rob Bell, Part I – Some Introductory Thoughts

  1. I just wanted to alert you to be prepared for incoming as I did a synopsis of your post here to help get it out to the broader blogosphere because there’s such a firestorm surrounding this book: http://tiny.cc/4bcu8

    Feel free to contact me if you wish; I can tell you from six years of experience that those under the spell of Bell can be especially nasty.

    • James on said:

      I’d love for you to eloborate on what you think being “under the spell of Bell” is and why it is especially nasty.

      I am both excited for your review and to read the actual book.

    • “I can tell you from six years of experience that those under the spell of Bell can be especially nasty.”

      Biting my tongue.

      • I simply stated my experience is all.

        I’ve seen many so taken by Rob Bell they won’t even consider the evidence of his new postmodern form of liberalism.

        I didn’t say it was “nasty” to be so taken by Bell; I’m saying that many of his followers exhibit a particularly nasty demeanor.

    • Ken,

      Wouldn’t it have been more loving to simply post a link to this article, rather than stealing the whole thing and posting it on your own blog?

      I looked at the link and it isn’t even clear to me at a glance that you are posting someone else’s thoughts.

  2. Thanks for doing this. I’m excited to see what you find.

  3. oh, scottie boy. can i just say how much I miss you?!
    secondly, this post just made me laugh out loud like 4 different times… in Starbucks.. for REAL :)
    third, YOU ARE AWESOME AND I MISS YOU.
    fourth, I love you and continue to pray for you.
    fifth, I really enjoy this post. as I do most all of your posts.
    sixth, I really do love being around your awesome humor and intrepid truth-seeking abilities.
    seventh, ….
    and eighth, I’m going to HAVE to make the trip to D-town to see you some time in the near future. maybe even my spring break. :)

  4. oh… hahah and how great is our God???
    (I will ask you this in person next time I see you. How bout THEM apples!)

  5. 1. Thanks for reading it and writing the review. Look forward to it.
    2. Thanks for joining the fracas.
    3. How did you get the advance copy?

  6. This is such a fantastic way to review this book. I’m looking forward to getting my own hands on it to review it for Cogito | Credo. Thanks for the thoughtful look at the title and I’m bookmarking your blog to continue further reading. Blessings.

    C.E. Moore
    Cogito | Credo
    http://www.cogitocredo.com
    twitter.com/cogitocredo

  7. Thanks. Great stuff. I’ve got your RSS and I’ll be waiting for more. Blessings.

  8. Bobby on said:

    Matthew 25:46 and John 3:16 use the exact same Greek word to describe ETERNAL life AND torment (αἰώνιον/aiōnion). Are we only going to be in Heaven for a season as well? I think not!! “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Tim 4:3 Sorry folks but this is nothing more than “Nu Gnosticism” & PURE APOSTASY!! Our preceding mainstream Church fathers NEVER preached this doctrine as the Holy Spirit would have revealed it to them and they to us. This is just one of many false teachings the WORD foretells will come upon our society. BEWARE!

    • Scott on said:

      Yeesh, I’m not even a new Christian and you’re scaring me away from Christianity.

      Proof-texting is bad form. I can do it, too!

      “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” –James 1:19.

      Maybe you should be slow to speak before you’ve even read the book.

      • Bobby on said:

        “Yeesh, I’m not even a new Christian and you’re scaring me away from Christianity.”

        That’s your problem, not mine. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of repentance. I am commissioned to sow. I am commissioned to speak the Truth. If it offends people then AMEN…I am my Father’s son! As He offended the false teachers, so will I!

        “Proof-texting is bad form. I can do it, too!”

        Go right ahead sir!! I await your response! Nice quote by James, but the context in which you place it does not fit the situation. False doctrine must be spoken against and rebuked! I don’t need to read the book, the reviewer tells me all I need to know. I am familiar with the apostate doctrine of Universalism. I will never tell someone if they reject Christ, they will escape Hell…it just isn’t true.

      • Fair comment, Scott.

        Bobby’s comment is very harsh and the tone is very unloving.

      • Bobby on said:

        I don’t feel that way, Scott. I think it’s up to us as believers to speak the truth and not just scratch ears. Apologies to all if I sound harsh. Sometimes the voice doesn’t translate well to text. Much love.

      • couldn’t agree more Bobby with your comment Bobby. To the blog author: Good review of a book that reflects a very deceptive trend in today’s Christianity.

  9. Brad Rhame on said:

    I have read two of Bell’s past books and they were written in the same “margin” style. I will be following your review of his current book. Thank you for taking the time to break down his book for all of us who are so intrigued as to what it says. May God bless you and be with you in your studies.

  10. Pingback: Rob Bell Review, Free Audio Book, Tabletalk Magazine, Holiness, and Being Lazy « Him we proclaim…

  11. James on said:

    Also, for conversations sake:

    Let’s put Matt 25:46 in the context

    45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

    46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

    Eternal punishment; for not feeding the hungry; not giving the thirsty to drink; not inviting the stranger in; not clothing those who need it; and not looking after those who are sick and in prison. If there’e eternal punishment for that. Let that serve as a wake up call for the Church.

    • Bobby on said:

      Regardless of the context, they are the Words of Christ…and when He says eternal, He means eternal. Bell is an apostate, and I have no fear whatsoever of labeling him one.

      • James on said:

        Call him what you will. I am not defending or arguing on the side of Bell.

        I am saying this: The words Jesus used was eternal punishment, yes. And for what? For not being there for the least of these in a practical way.

        Let’s run on the premise that you are right, hell is eternal.

        Then faced with the words of Jesus, unless we aren’t getting off our arses and feeding the hungry; giving the thirsty something to drink; clothing those who need it; and looking after those who are sick and in prison; unless we are doing all those things – eternal punishment: hell, is reserved for us.

      • Bobby on said:

        @James: Our salvation is not based on works, but on Faith and Grace. If we’re not feeding and watering His sheep then we must examine our relationship with Him. It all begins with Prayer and study/application of the Word…that’s where the Holy Spirit does His awesome work. Putting it all into context, Grace is not a doormat nor is it a License to Sin, but grace is for transgression and trespass…NOT iniquity. One must repent or one will not see the Kingdom of God. Jesus says people will say “Lord! Lord didn’t I? didn’t I?” and He will say “Away from me evildoers…I never knew you!” Much love to you brother.

  12. Jon Sellers on said:

    Yours is the first discussion that is based on actually reading the book. Thanks. The idea that somehow hell is not eternal is not a new idea, but it is not a biblical idea. Looking forward to the rest of the review.

  13. Pingback: Rob Bell’s talking points « Cyberpunk + Blue Twin

  14. Dude, You are a good writer. Last line very clever.Very Robbellish. Funny too. latin america…mumford and sons….hysterical. I want to re-post for all my mumfordites…

    Look forward to your review, and keep honing your skills. I would buy a book from you.

    I personally can’t wait to be spellbound again by Rob and his false teaching. It is so much better than the rest of what is being published today. In my shallow, experience-based, “looking for someone to tickle my ears” aproach to my faith…he is exactly what I am looking for. I can’t believe that you had it on your shelf for a month. Ebay, brotha!

    in all seriousness, based on your cogent and fair approach, I look forward to your opinions as we address these important matters. I wish Tom Wright would do the same for Hell as he did for Heaven in “Surprised by Hope”. But I guess Rob is taking up the mantle. I will stay tuned. Have you reviewed Tom’s book?

  15. The firestorm was not just caused by the video. Apparently you didn’t read the other blogs thoroughly. These people had advanced copies of several chapters, and then there is the publishers marketing copy. And these people had already done what you haven’t, which was to read Bell’s other works. Maybe you should get some context before you write too :)

    • not dan on said:

      Oh Dan, when I think Firestorm, I think of two things, how silly it is that people would argue about exactly where the issue started, and “Firestorm”, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120670/, starring a middle age Howie Long before he got his gig as the incoherent voice of Fox NFL Sunday.

      All kidding aside, a lot of the tweets and RT’s started around an article mainly about the video and the marketing copy… They didn’t mention their claims came from anything other than that. It’s ok to be angry about false teaching, and even getting fooled by a tweet by the great Piper, but don’t take that out on a technicality in a decent blog. Unless that blog is about the rise of a literal Zombie nation out of Wyoming, they probably aren’t just trying to lie to a readership which is generally small and mostly friends.

      I don’t think the point of the 1st paragraph was about the video, or even the other blogs specifically, but more what sparked his interest in reading the book to begin with.

  16. Pingback: Love Wins: Banished to Bell? » Evangel | A First Things Blog

  17. tammy stortz on said:

    this i am writing as a 4 year non-member to marshill bible church and a buyer of his noomas and book velvet elvis, and oh yes we also did marriage mentoring at mars, i am glad to say that me and my husband left the church a few years back. We started to realize rob was not preaching according to scripture. We now attend (oddly enough) the church bell came from. Calvary non denom. I am reading responses to this review and all i can say is that my prayer is that people will open their eyes and ears to the truth. Read the scripture for yourselves. If you truly believe that the scripture is God inspired than your only conclusion, i believe is to leave and find a bible based church. And pray for rob bell and shane hipps that they would open their eyes to the truth

  18. Ryan on said:

    Not to miss the point here or anything, but Having a burden for latin America makes me an irrelevant Christian? Wow.

    • haha!
      No Ryan, it doesn’t. I love Latin America… hate Nickelback, but that’s another topic altogether :)
      Scott’s just sarcastically pointing to the stereotype that is currently pervasive, much like Jon Acuff does over at Stuff Christians Like (http://www.jonacuff.com). There’s nothing wrong with the stereotype either. I love Mumford and Sons… For that matter, Scott has some pretty rockin’ awesome artsy-thick-rimmed glasses.
      Don’t hate, appreciate. It’s about edification.

    • Not at all: that was intended as humor. It’s cool to care about Africa or Europe; Latin America is, you know… lame, because who wants to go there? (Not nearly as many people as ought to!)

    • Jared on said:

      It was sarcasm dude

    • It was a joke. He was poking fun at current trends in popular ministry culture.

    • Sarah on said:

      Hello, that comment is obviously tongue in cheek. He’s making fun of people who think that.

  19. I’ll be looking forward to an honest review as well (since there seems to be a dearth of them in the blogosphere/twitterverse at the moment).

    Based on what you’ve said so far I can’t help but wonder if Bell is putting forth anything that C.S. Lewis hasn’t already covered in “The Great Divorce?” I’m not sure I’ve seen anyone label Lewis as a “heretic.”

    Although, I see that Mr. Silva has posted here. Perhaps he would be in that minority? He seems fond of the term.

  20. This blog post seems to indicate that Rob Bell simply has a version of C.S. Lewis’ view: God wants all to be saved, but Hell might be locked from the inside.

    *yawn*

    How was this worth getting angry about? He’s saying what parts of the church has said for millenia, at least the Eastern Orthodox Church.

      • Just as an FYI, Eastern Orthodoxy is apostate, and C.S, Lewis is not a good source on the after-life.

        None of that helps Rob Bell’s false teaching, it contradicts Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14.

      • With all due respect, Ken is there anything that you DON’T find to be apostate? That is, anything outside of your own narrow interpretation?

        I’m asking in all seriousness.

      • Bobby on said:

        @Sean Reid: I think the Bible has MUCH to say about being “Narrow” sir http://bit.ly/dUipRO and http://bit.ly/gnwxEs “Narrow” sounds to me like the way to be!

      • I’m not the one who originally made that determination.

        And to answer your question; sure, plenty. And my view of the faith is right in line with men like Dr. Walter Martin who often spoke of the “historic, orthodox, Christian faith.

        He was the original Bible Answer Man, and widely respected as a foremost apologist for the Christian faith.

      • @Bobby Thank you for both making, and missing, my point for me.

      • Bobby on said:

        @Reid, sorry you feel this way. Be as fuzzy wuzzy as you wish, but lukewarm/false doctrine will get you rejected. Insult me all you want. My father in heaven has been insulted, blasphemed and rejected since the day of His first creation. I too will accept those things and count them as joy. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Cor. 1:18 “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor. 2:14

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  22. The best information I have found on this questions about hell is http://www.helltruth.com/ They have a Bible based explanation for the whole thing.

  23. Pingback: Jesus Will Save My Soul Whether I’m Conscious or Not « Belief in People

  24. brad on said:

    hey scott – i appreciate the time you took to read thru LOVE WINS and give, what i perceive as, an honest and humble opinion. Thank you. I look forward to reading the whole series.

    comment-ers – i like you am struggling with ‘where are the answers?’ but alas that is another question. This concept of having the answers to the hard, big questions reminds me of this haunting song by Brooke Fraser called FLAGS. You might enjoy it – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNSemrzbtek

  25. Wow. This whole thing has really got me thinking, looking through my Bible and more! I had a good discussion going on my Facebook page and thought it would be good to move it to a blog. http://robbelldiscussions.blogspot.com/ feel free to leave comments, Scripture, or whatever might be helpful and productive. I have a lot of non-Christian friends reading this and really thinking and sorting these ideas so please no personal attacks but I would love to hear people’s thoughts!

  26. Pingback: What is more Shocking: Rob Bell? or How we Communicate? | Christ and Pop Culture

  27. mason on said:

    so Bell is “promoting” Christian universalism? o.k. that is not the same as unitarianism. CU means that everyone will go to heaven but perhaps through fire. as one person already mentioned, this is a belieg that C.S. Lewis toyed with in the Great Divorce. people die and they are not ready for heaven. so they go through purging until they are prepared. they do not get a pass. God does not overlook their sin, but God puts forth punishment equal to their sin. thus preserving God’s justice and mercy at the same time. not that i agree with this. i am more of an annihilationist. what is important to remember is if this is Rob’s belief it is not heretical. faithful Christians have held similar beliefs. the charge of heresy is normally used for people who deny the resurrection or the virginal conception or the inspiration of scripture, not denying eternal torment. are people who do not believe in a literal 6 day of creation heretics? surely people would not think so. what about female deacons or pastors? Paul was very clear that the bedrock of the Christian faith is belief in the resurrection of Jesus. that is pretty simple. a belief or a non-belief in the traditional view has nothing to do with belief in the resurrection of Jesus. Crossan and Funk are heretics. Rob Bell may be wrong about his belief concerning hell, but he is not a heretic. save that kind of talk for the real issues threatening the Church.

    • Bobby on said:

      Yeah, but if someone weak in the faith were to think they were going to escape hell, it may make them weaker. To me ANY gospel other than the one preached to to and by the apostles is heretical. As the Word says “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” Galatians 1:8

      • Bobby on said:

        Accursed in Greek = Anathema

        –noun, plural -mas.
        1.
        a person or thing detested or loathed: That subject is anathema to him.
        2.
        a person or thing accursed or consigned to damnation or destruction.
        3.
        a formal ecclesiastical curse involving excommunication.
        4.
        any imprecation of divine punishment.
        5.
        a curse; execration.

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  29. Laurel Romanella on said:

    I have listened to Rob Bell now for 10 years+ as a member of Mars Hill. Growing up in the church, I’ve listened to many pastors before him. What I appreciate about Rob is his willingness to ask questions and his ability to get me to think or look at things differently. Rob has challenged my thinking and my life. He is passionate about Christians living as Jesus would have us live, not as the church would have us live. He is also very diligent about understanding the original meaning of words or adding to the understanding of the Bible with historical and cultural context. I haven’t read LOVE WINS yet, but I’m reserving any comment until I do. I may not agree with everything Rob has to say, but I believe the challenge is beneficial to us all. It makes us evaluate why we believe what we do, why we live like we do. I love the idea of this book – it asks the “elephant in the room” question that we all want to know the answer to – how can really good people go to hell? Even Jesus questionned God; God doesn’t command us to not ask questions. I welcome Rob’s and other’s questions – I think it makes us all a little stronger in our faith by getting us to really understand what it is we believe and why.

    • Bobby on said:

      Any questions of God can be answered in His Word. Bell isn’t questioning God, he’s challenging the authority of His Word (The Holy Bible) and altering it’s Truth. In reality, if you continue to follow an unrepentant Bell and refuse to believe the Truth, you are merely being judged by God because God isn’t really what you want.

      • Bobby, are you worshiping God or are you worshiping a book?? It sounds like more of the latter. Bibliodolatry is just another form Baal worship. Assuming that your ideas are exactly in line with the mind of God is the height of arrogance.

        At this point I don’t see much difference between your version of “christianity” and what scientologists practice. You care more about your book than you do the God you claim to love.

      • Bobby on said:

        God and His Word are one. His Word is the absolute and final authority. To faithfully study and apply His Word is to complete knowing Him. Prayer is the other part. This conversation is getting too divisive though. The Lord calls for unity in the body so I will put down my sword and leave this alone.

      • cliff on said:

        Bobby, it looks like your English is really good, so I assume you’re reading an English version of the bible. If so, I am also sure you have heard that the original bible was written in Hebrew and/or Latin or Greek.
        So, when reading an English version of the bible (which was created by the Catholic Church, not God), it is quite easy to not understand what the original writer wrote.
        For example, how long did it take to create the universe. In the King James version, it reads “six days”. That information is incorrect. The original Hebrew version says it took “six undifferentiated time periods”. That is why the universe is 6+ Billion years old, and matches what is in the Bible. When the translaters of the bible translated the Hebrew wording, they decided to change “undifferentiated time periods” to “six days”. Obviously, the two are not closely related at all. And, using the English version, makes it very difficult to reconcile science and God’s word.
        The more we can connect religion and science, the sooner science can prove God exits, which will really improve things here on earth!
        God Bless!
        cliff
        SYD

      • Bobby on said:

        I would be ecstatic if science would get off of the believer’s back! I thought the NT was originally written in Greek…but I’ve also heard Aramaic. I understand some of translation errors, but to me, I don’t believe God would allow any errors in the revelation…which is where I believe the infallibility is. Got a chart here that claims the purity of the KJV translation: http://bit.ly/ev4Son

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  32. Random internet dude on said:

    So you can conveniently pigeon-hole me, quick rundown of myself:
    1) I believe in a literal hell, an eternal one.
    2) I’ve always given Rob Bell the benefit of the doubt–at least until now.

    But there are obvious serious ramifications to his theology, if what you’re saying that’s in the book is true.

    First, the eternal nature of hell is essential. The eternal nature of torment is essential to the Christian faith. Why? Because there are two facets of God–the first is love, which is the easy, palatable one. The second is holiness, and this is where feel-good Christianity dismantles, and where the line is drawn. An affront to God, is an eternal affront to Him, because He is not only loving, but infinitely holy. A transgression against God carries an infinite punishment–in other words, an eternal punishment.

    To say hell is temporary violates the eternal nature of God. Truth is, Jesus wasn’t so touchy-feely as Rob Bell puts it. Rob Bell’s perception of Jesus in his sermon is one-sided and shallow. Sure, he loved his disciples, even Judas who betrayed him. But he also called the Pharisees a brood of vipers. He carries the distinction of preaching hell, hellfire, torment more than any other person in the whole entire bible. But Bell doesn’t go there, and paints a one-sided view of Christ.

  33. Erik on said:

    @ Bobby…. man you wewre just getting started… tell me, what is your Biblical reference for the fact that the Bible (66 Books – the canon) that we have today is “One” with God?

    You said God and His Word are One. Where do you get that?

    John clearly defined the Word as Jesus…made flesh and dealt among us…But the actual book you have in your hands…. Where is the biblical support that the book you have today in 2011, is actually “one” with God.

    The truth is your belief in the Bible as inerrant and infallible is right there along with your opinion that Bobby’s “interepretation” of these ancient books are inerrant as well. Dang, there I go again…sorry. That is quite a mantle that you are carrying and I feel for you.

    Thank you for “making and missing” Sean’s point.

    • Bobby on said:

      I’m sure Jesus “made and missed” a lot of points with the Pharisees he argued with who disbelieved His testimony. He also “made and missed” the point when He debated satan in the wilderness. Beautiful thing is, in the end “He won.” Like I tell the atheists I argue with, who’s style is VERY similar to your own btw “Get in the Word and find the evidence yourself.” I have all the evidence I need that the Word is His God breathed revelation to the world. I am called to sow, not “make points.” If you disbelieve my testimony, that is your choice. I will either sow a testimony in you or AGAINST you.

      • Bobby,

        I do not mean this as a personal attack, I promise.

        However, as a former atheist I can assure you that your “methods” of sharing the love of Christ most likely do NOTHING to actually share the love of Christ. As a matter of fact, it was testimony such as you espouse that proved me that atheism was not only right but it was moral, just and true. Because if being a Christian meant sharing the anger, bitterness and arrogance that I was confronted by then I had no interest in joining that club and being a hypocrite.

        I came to know Christ through love, through grace and it was forgiveness that changed my heart. It was through experiencing a relationship with God that ONLY comes through relationship and not being brow-beaten with proof-texting verses by those wielding the Bible like a sword.

        I’d rather be a Christian who argues like an atheist searching for truth than a hypocrite who assumes his interpretation is “one with God.” Might I recommend that you learn to see others as your brothers/sisters instead of your enemy? Not all that seek are lost and not all that are lost are evil. Christ demonstrated love for those that bound him to the cross. Perhaps there’s a lesson that you’re missing because it’s hidden by self-righteousness.

      • Bobby on said:

        I’m not having a discussion with any atheists though. And seeing that you have no insight into my life, calling me a hypocrite is quite “hypocritical” …as twisting my words the way satan twists our Lord’s Words as well. I never said my interpretation and God were one. I said His Word and He were one.

  34. christina liebler on said:

    Would like to subscribe to site by email, but cannot unless I leave a comment. Thanks!

  35. seektruth on said:

    @James those who are saved are not under punishment but under grace. That’s bad theology there bud! Christ covered the sins of those who belong to him. Not only is it bad theology, it’s a twisting of God’s Word and that same Word strongly warns those of punishment for doing so.

  36. @Bobby:
    Again my Question (with no other comments attached):
    What is your biblical source for the fact that God is One with the 66 books of the canon?

    • Bobby on said:

      @Erik…and AGAIN, if you want the truth of Scripture seek it for yourself. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” Matthew 7:7

  37. Erik on said:

    @Bobby (My tongue is now out of my cheek)

    Sean’s question is a good one, and we have to make sure that we put Nothing over and above God.

    I have searched the scriptures and have found them to be God’s Truth to the world.
    I also have studied them extensively to know that they are a complex set of books, written with such diveristy of style, hundreds of years apart, written to and from an ancient people, whose world view was so much different than our own.

    For you to read scripture and come to an intepretation, and for I to come to a slightly different interpretation, (having both been students of the Word), could we both be looking at different aspects of the same truth and describing it with different words? Is our faith and love for one another big enough for that?

    I think that situation is more common that we want. What we want is to box the truth into our categories into black and white, and then critique others when they don’t match up to our interpretation. That makes things easy for us.

    God is a mystery, and has made himself known to us through Jesus, and as Paul said to Timothy “Everything in the Scriptures is God’s Word. All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live.”

    Our job is to be humble, search after God by being students of his Word, and understanding that our interpretations, are just that, interpretations. One Day God will set us all straight, you, me, Rob, etc, only us teachers will be held more accountable for what we taught.

    So we love, we listen, we seek to understand, and we sow the seeds of love and truth.
    Rob will answer to God and we all know that. What I and others are having a hard time with is the wrath that can be poured out on Rob Bell before his book is even released.

    That judgement is pretty severe.

    OK, I am out now… I need to go love some people….after all…Love Wins….

  38. An important step in clarifying your beliefs is to talk about and even defend them. So the fact that the publicity campaign for Rob Bell’s book has provided an impetus for Christians to actually do theology (to figure out what they think about God) is a positive thing. Even if you disagree with Bell, it’s important for Christians to wrestle with what they believe. Another great resource on heaven, what it’s like and who will be there is “Heaven Revealed” by Dr. Paul Enns, released this month by Moody Publishers. I recommend it. Here’s the amazon page: http://dld.bz/P8sz

  39. thanks so much for doing this posts. I may read the book as well, because I hate when people call me uneducated, but I have to say, I won’t be buying it. I’ll have to find it for free somewhere too! Looking forward to your subsequent posts.

  40. Pingback: Rob Bell Book Review « Fraser Murdoch

  41. I reviewed Bell’s live interview regarding his new book. His answers were frightening. Here’s the blog:
    http://compassiondave.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/rob-bell-is-a-universalist-he-said-it-himself/

  42. Laurel Romanella on said:

    Actually, that’s not what he said. I woud encourage everyone to first read the book, then comment. As my non-Christian friend recently said – why would anyone want to become a Christian when all they do is bicker and stab one another in the back? I’m afraid we aren’t good witnesses when we criticize so viciously. The other thing my non-Christian friend said was that she’s glad Rob is at least asking questions. Those who don’t like questions are really fearful at the core – her words, not mine. We should be cognizant of how non-Christians view us and decide if we really want to be witnesses to them or not. My friend has read this website and comments and used it as further evidence of why she has no intention of becoming a Christian.

  43. Please indluge the length of my post! To EVERYONE on the board: What an engaging, and for the most part—loving–discussion. In my younger Christian years I read the Bible through a judgmental, hate-filled lens; then I met the Jesus of grace. I learned that right here, right now, we are called to be transformed into the likeness of Christ! The transfiguration into the likeness of Christ, takes us on a journey of love. When I read the Bible with the lens of love, it is a tender love story, and love wins every time.

    I am going to insert myself into this dialogue by using the pronoun “we” so as not to divide the Christian community. This is not an argument, but a tender wonderment—and an engagement with all who follow the mysteries of Christ. Before I begin, let me say that while I “wonder” here, I also have clarity as to why I was unable to practice my faith as an enlightened follower in my younger years. It was not because of the Bible I read; it was because of the interpretations of man. Instead of following man, we are to follow the laws written on the “tablets of our hearts” by the Holy Spirit. And surely, what one person is given on her heart may differ greatly from what another person finds written on his heart. And, this is Biblically sound, and it is okay.

    But, I will take this road again as your companion. I wonder why we continue to espouse the literal interpretation (and it is an interpretation) of hell, yet we do not literally interpret scriptures that tell us to stone our children for their sins? Why do we not have more one-handed Christians who have cut off the hand that sinned? One eyed Christians perhaps? Why is it okay to take parts of the Bible literally and the other parts figuratively? For example in Matthew 13: 24-30, we see the parable (yes parable) of the wheat and the tares. In this passage, I believe all Christians would agree when it speaks of wheat, it is not really talking about wheat, and when it speaks of tares, it is not really talking about tares; why then, do we think that when it speaks of “burning” it is literally referring to hell? Another example of literal versus figurative: Many believe that the only Biblical of baptism is full emersion because this is the way John baptized, and thus we must go with the literal word; however, the same folk will not drink real wine at communion even though it was literally wine in the word.
    We, as Christians, must be careful not to argue over issues that have nothing to do with our salvation. When Christ died, he said “it is finished.” And it was. So now what? We are to truly love one another. Maybe we need to calm down about the issues of the afterlife–and focus on how we are allowing the light of Christ to shine right now. Love compels love! Don’t be afraid that if a person believes everyone on earth will be saved that this will give them no reason to seek the divine! Indeed, the vast love that is demonstrated by God through Jesus is a powerful enticement for those who desire unconditional acceptance. And, I think this incredibly inclusive love compels others towards Jesus, even if this is not the name they have given him for now. The world is thirsty for this love. The scripture tells us that “every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” I believe this, and I believe this is GOOD NEWS! EVERY ONE WILL CONFESS THAT CHRIST IS LORD! Let’s pause and really think about it!

    I, at one time was a “justice lover” more so (sadly) than a lover of Christ. Not everyone will hear the good news of Christ; nor will everyone have the opportunity to say the sinner’s prayer before they die. Do we truly believe that these people are damned to hell? And, speaking of hell… If we look up the meaning, right there in our Bibles, we will see it simple means Sheol (grave) or the Valley of Gehenna . It proves to be an interesting study. Wanting to believe that people will go to hell does not make us better Christians; nor does it secure our salvation. It can, however, go a great way in making us judgmental, mean-spirited justice seekers. Could it be that the more we seek justice the more we move away from grace? One thing is for sure, a constant focus on hell distracts from a constant focus on Christ. We can set our spirits on things that are “pure and of good report”, or not; if not, we are sure to want to introduce people to hell. Why do this, when we can introduce them to eternal heaven “eventually” and the “kingdom on earth” right now? Will you come alongside me in love — and wonder with me as a follower of Christ? Blessings everyone!

  44. Oops! I also meant to subscribe.

  45. Pingback: A bloody Cross and a bigger Gospel: if the atonement loses so does love « Dalit Discussions

  46. Chris on said:

    I’d actually say that Love Wins is somewhat of a Rorschach Test: If you hate Bell (like “Pastor” Silva), or have always questioned what he had to say, you will read the book through that lens and find what you’re looking for. If you’ve been on the fence about him, you’ll still be there. If you’ve read him charitably in the past and found that, even when you disagree, he is still within the stream of orthodox Christianity, you will still find that he’s there. One of his stated purposes in the book is to get folks to study what is actually in Scripture, and to ask the tough questions – and accept fuzzy answers and to be charitable to others who do, as well. For example, here is an examination of what the Scriptures actually say about hell, and it is possible to take them seriously, yet come up with a different answer than eternal, conscious torture.

  47. Sean Scott on said:

    Here’s another review of Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins.

    http://www.hellsbell.net

  48. Pingback: Tormented Into the Lake of Fire Forever or Not - Christian Forums

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  50. I read the book twice and scanned it several times more. My first impression, that Rob denies the pain or eternal nature hell, I now think was wrong.

    Rob denies the finality of death and endorses the never ending offer of salvation. Based on arguments he made in the book, I can live with that.

    One question stimulated by the book was…

    If a person born in a non-Christian country – who never heard the Gospel, read a Bible or attended a church – be condemned forever if they died only a few seconds after reaching the age of accountability?

    Rob didn’t ask that question specifically but reading the booked provoked it.

    I can’t say I agree with every idea Rob promoted but overall it was an excellent book, another one.

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