Thinking about Bell’s book


(Disclaimer: My opinion in this post is based on interviews with Rob Bell and not the contents of Love Wins.)

Last night, I watched Lisa Miller’s interview with Rob Bell about his new book, Love Wins. One of the things I noticed is that Bell rarely answered the questions that were asked. He also hid behind the label “pastor,” saying that he isn’t a scholar or a theologian. It really frustrated me. If you watch it, you may notice that he keeps talking and talking, as though he’s getting to an answer, but he rarely gets to one.

I am most definitely not a postmodern-type thinker. I ask questions because I want to understand something and learn, not because I enjoy frustrating people and forcing conversations. To me, a conversation is not a goal. If Bell wrote this just to force a conversation….well, the manner in which he is going about it is neither kind nor loving. I think he means well, but he isn’t being fair or intellectually honest.

Bell has been all over the television today making the network rounds to promote his book. I heard that Amazon sold out of it. The only interview I caught was the one with Stephanopolous on Good Morning America. He seemed genuinely interested in understanding Bell’s thesis, but, alas, they ran out of time before he could probe Bell further.

I’ve been thinking about Bell’s answers off and on all day. As I was sweeping the kitchen this afternoon it hit me that I actually like his idea of love winning because it means that those friends of mine who hate Jesus still have a chance. I can think of six people (right off the top of my head) who I love and want to see in Heaven, and who would like to be there if only they didn’t have to follow Jesus to get there. Bell has constructed something that I think they may like to hear. But immediately after I thought that, I was convicted because of what that means regarding Jesus — he’s optional.

Then someone on twitter pointed me to this MSNBC interview in which Bell is redirected to actually provide an answer to the questions:

The Bible is clear that Jesus is not optional. He is EVERYTHING! God’s plan for how love wins is better. Not only does it make more sense as a whole, but it removes all fear and doubt. It is satisfying in every way.

I will concede to Bell that many Christians have done a poor job of conveying how love wins. And his comments in that regard have made me think about whether I draw people to Christ or drive them away with my words and actions. That’s something to evaluate every day.

The bottom line is this: love wins. God’s love does win. But Love Wins is a hateful message because it’s not the truth regarding God’s love. I know, I know: How do you know what’s true? How can you be so sure? I believe scripture. That’s it. I submit myself to its authority. That may make me seem small minded and gullible to some. OK. I’m small minded and gullible.

Please pray for Bell and all those who will read his books, watch his videos, and listen to his sermons. Pray that pastors will gently guard the church and entrust the gospel to faithful men and women. Pray that God’s people will not be led astray.

14 thoughts on “Thinking about Bell’s book

  1. Well said, Leslie.

    I think the thing that bothers me most about all the uproar this book has caused is the accusation that those of us who believe in a literal Hell actually *enjoy* this teaching. Nothing could be further from the truth. I find that particular truth very sobering.

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  2. You are not small minded and gullible! On the other side, I think those who don’t give God a chance might be. I mean, we have to be open minded enough to consider that there is a Higher Power and that we may not be in control of it all. Personally, I’m comforted in knowing that I don’t have to do all the right things to make my life worth it. Takes all the pressure off me to perform.

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    1. I know I’m not, but that is the perception. Some of my friends, while they still like and respect me (for the most part), also think my beliefs about God and salvation are too narrow. But the truth is, and I wish this is what Bell actually said, that the gospel is WIDE. There IS a wideness to God’s mercy. And a part of that wideness includes telling us exactly how we can know Him. How incredibly merciful and loving is that?!

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  3. Well said. I had the same reaction, that wow, it would be nice if that’s really how it was because the people I’m concerned about would escape hell eventually no matter what. Then I repented that thought, because, as you said, that is not true. I believe the Bible. Jesus is not optional. And it is not loving to lie and say you can pick and choose and it’s all going to be okay. The loving thing is to tell the truth. I probably haven’t said anywhere near what I need to about that, but I hope you know what I mean. We who are created do not get to decide the truth. God does. And we had better listen to what He has said. I really liked what you said, too, about examining whether I’m pushing people away from Christ with my words. Good post, Leslie.

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  4. Pingback: Love Did Win
  5. I just wanted to point out that “to actually provide” is a split infinitive. There is narrowness to grammar. 🙂

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    1. BOOM, you got me! But nobody cares about those anymore, do they? 🙂 ….. Wow, I have to completely reword…er, reword completely the sentence… or reword the sentence completely. “Actually” and “to provide an answer” do not work well together.

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