Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rob Bell's "Love Wins".....a review

Like I said in my previous blog, I've always liked Rob Bell.  He has a knack for making scripture culturally relevant and understandable.  I just finished his new book LOVE WINS while on a cruise with my family.  To put it plainly...I'm pretty disturbed...and disappointed.

I've always tried  to be open-minded on my journey with Jesus while maintaining a theological rudder....measuring new things I learn or think against what I read in scripture.  I just can't get my mind around where Rob has come up with his new theology.  A big problem with his book also, in that he has set off a grenade in the evangelical camp with only 100 pages of "thoughts."  Something this earth-shattering to so many other God-loving theologians before him, seems to me, to need a more in depth survey.  I'll try my best to be concise and limit it to what I think are his two main points.

1. God is Love.  Agree, totally agree, most whole heatedly agree!  But it seems brother Rob is making Love the only trait of God....where love trumps everything else.  My problem is that I'm reading the bible through this year, front to back, while I was reading his book.  I come across all the passages in Genesis through Ruth where God's holiness trumps other things.  God tells the Hebrews to wipe out whole towns, cities and civilizations so that His people remain Holy.  He has them kill men, women & children that did nothing wrong...all for His holiness.  What does that mean in Rob's economy?  Not saying God does not love...just saying His will and His holiness is the point, not us all the time.  When sacrifices are made incorrectly, death.  When rules are not followed, death by stoning.  Seems there are many instances where God demands that His holiness be observed even though He loves us.

So I fear that Rob's "all we need is love" theology water's down our Creator and he has done away with a "balance" of fear and love.

2. Everybody gets to go to heaven.  Wow.  Rob does a masterful job of developing the thought that everything will be redeemed via Jesus.  No one will get to the Father except thru Jesus, we agree, but his point is that God could be working through Buddhists, Muslims, in other ways.....that "all things are possible with God."  That it's a mystery.  I agree that I don't have it all figured out and I will be surprised in the end to see what God is doing...but come on dude!  Rob has holes in many things he says regarding salvation of everyone.  He takes passages like Matthew 7 (road to life is narrow that few find, road to destruction is wide that many find...) and reduces them to choices in daily life. ie. Choose a poor way in your marriage and your marriage could be destroyed..the wide path.  Few choose Godly ways, narrow ways, which lead to "life" in your life journey. (this was verbally explained in his talk which can we watched here.)

I just see to many times where God's primary mission isn't just "love".  His plan and his will trump many people's other plans and even their lives sometimes. 

These are two main points I see in Rob's treatment.  Again, he needs a larger survey of the topics so that he can prove/teach his point.  It's very disappointing for someone with such a large following to not feel more responsible for teaching this in depth if it's going to cause so many waves.  Being shocking for the sake of being shocking is not a good reason to write something like LOVE WINS.

I have alot of other opinions after reading thru scripture while reading different sections of his book....but debate is not a good form in blogs.  I will just rest in giving my opinion to the few that read this in hopes it spurs questions...for I feel we need to really question what this book teaches.  It's nothing personal against Rob, I don't know him....but this is dangerous ground for a teacher of the Word.

I suspect you'll see less of Rob at conferences and in evangelical circles.  He has again been shocking in his teaching, but this time it's heretical in my opinion.  I can't get there.  I don't see it in the Bible.  Which makes me sad as a Rob Bell fan.

My vote: Wait for the movie....


  1. Rowland--I agree. I read his book yesterday. His teaching on the subject is disappointing, as you said, and also dangerous. How many people will now think they're "in the clear" and can go on living life apart from Christ knowing that one day, even if it's after death, they can get right with God?


  2. I am planning on reading the book, and have yet to do so , so I won't comment on it... yet.

    But, i will comment on the promo video. I agree with a thought which was given through a panel discussion facilitated at Southern Seminary: Questions are good teaching tools. Jesus used this method a lot. The serpent in the garden also used this method... quite effectively. A good question for us to ponder is whether Rob Bell uses question- asking responsibly.... to teach or to plant untruths that will grow in people's minds.

    Thanks for writing about this. It is an important issue to discuss.

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  4. Doctrine is, to use a Rob Bell phrase, "terribly important". You can "re-paint" the hallway or the bedroom, but you do not remove the foundation of the house and replace it with jello. What we have here is a christian "rock star" whose meteoric rise to fame gave him huge influence across the country. But instead of submitting his thesis to respected theologians and pastors, he redefined a core doctrine of the faith and let it loose like a snake in the children's nursery. Universalism is, unequivocally, a damning heresy. Under the cloak of "God's love" thousands of sheep will be led astray and maybe even more unbelievers as well into the wolves lair. Thinking they are going to heaven through trusting in Allah or Confucious, yes Rob, they will wake up in Hell only to discover there is no "second chance". I am more than disappointed. I am shocked and saddened. I too was a fan of Rob's creative approach to communication, but now it is clear that he should have stuck to making artsy videos and leave the deep truth stuff to those who really understand theology.