A few weeks back, I posted an article titled, “Rob Bell’s Love Wins. It was my initial observation that no one should critique something they hadn’t personally read (which was happening alot). My feelings were that too many people were reacting pro and con on the basis of what others were telling them.
I’ve now read, “Love Wins.” I believe it’s only proper that I should comment on my personal reactions to what I’ve read. I do so, not as a theologian or pastor. I also do not report my observations as…”My perspective-is-God’s-perspective-therefore-it’s-the-truth-you-should-believe.” Plain and simply it’s my perspective and personal perceptions.
Some reading this will fear for my soul and the souls of those I influence. Others will agree with me. Still others will probably put words in my mouth that I really wasn’t saying. I know that there are many well schooled and sincere followers of Jesus Christ who have come to different conclusions. Too me…that’s very okay.
Although Rob makes some very edgy statements on the surface that I probably wouldn’t make, I do NOT…(that’s right NOT) believe he is a young heretic out to destroy the faith of millions, nor water down the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It seems clear to me that Rob Bell is not diluting the potency of the necessity of faith in Jesus, the Son of God and Savior of mankind. He clearly states in “Love Wins,” that faith in Jesus Christ is essential and critical for this age and the age to come. He has also stipulated the same truth in teachings I’ve listened to and interviews I’ve watched.
He never states that you can substitute Krishna, Buddha, Gandhi, or anyone else for Jesus and discover the heart of God.
He does ask us to think about real questions that are being asked by non-Christians. He does suggest that we need to come up with better responses than the cookie cutter declarations so many have memorized from an evangelism class but have not thought through, themselves. He does ask questions many Christians do not want to think about. He does give, what he believes are more accurate explanations of biblical doctrines on hell.
“So, Gary. Do you agree with Rob Bell’s chapter on hell?”
I believe Hell is a literal place and condition. I believe the only escape is faith in Jesus Christ. So does Rob Bell, according to his book.
“What about the redesign of our faith?”
He does not suggest that true faith in Christ, itself (and Himself) needs to be redesigned! He does suggest that Christianity as a “religious system” needs to re-examine some it’s issues with a view to bringing greater glory to God. I agree with him. I repeat: Faith in Christ does not (must not) change one iota. Aspects of Christianity as a religious system needs to look at itself and ask the hard questions. My personal faith in Christ Jesus is as solid as the rock of revelation it stands upon. But, in my opinion, so is Rob Bell’s.
The way that the book, “Love Wins,” struck me…and affected me…was to expand my perception and grandeur of the restorative mercy, grace, and beauty of God. It also further strengthened my resolve to not have granite-ized opinions on issues about which it’s not possible to do anything more than speculate. It didn’t in any way minimize the work of the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It magnified it.
Rob Bell has clearly stated in many forums that he is not a Universalist. I am going to join him in that declaration. I, also, am not a Universalist.
I personally believe that there’s confusion over the title,”Love Wins.”
It doesn’t strike me that Rob is suggesting that there will come a time when God will usurp all choice and – at the time – all of mankind will march lockstep through the gates of heaven because God decides it to be so. It seems clear to me from Rob’s description that Love is Freedom of Choice and true love will have to protect Freedom of Choice. The character and quality of love as a free choice will win.
The rub seems to come in man’s interpretation of the end of life where choices can be freely made. Ie: The last physical heartbeat…or sometime later. Some feel the Bible is very clear on that. Others, reading the same text, don’t believe it’s that clear. That’s for you to decide for yourself. In my opinion, for the Gospel’s sake, the wrong issue to fight over is the “point in time” at which man looses eternal life with God.
Instead our emphasis should be on the “point in time” when man chooses eternal life with God. Since when is the main point of evangelism and the Good News about fear motivation? It’s never really worked. Case in point: The multitude of Doctors that smoke.
There are a lot more discussion points that could be had in Rob’s book. I’ll leave that to you. The only thing I would say is an echo of my first article. No one should be arguing for or against the book unless they’ve personally read it.
Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but through Him.
P.S. I probably would have given the book a different title. But, then….it ain’t my book 🙂