ROB BELL'S new book, LOVE WINS, has stirred in Christian circles on the internet and elsewhere. Even before the release of the book, many were weighing in because of the provocative TRAILER VIDEO. Though some were critical of the critics, it is beyond dispute that Bell's video was questionable.
Though my review will pale in significance to many well known reviewers and bloggers, I figured it would be beneficial for me to have some familiarity with these important issues as they relate to Rob Bell. That is, I have no intention of adding anything to the fire. Instead, I hope to have the opportunity to provide clarity to those who might feel lost after reading Bell's book. In addition, I would hope to offer warning and correction to my friends, co-workers, family, etc. who might buy into some of Bell's ideas.
In a way, this review is more for me than anything. If I can write about it, then it is likely that I will be able to explain it to others. And if i didn't take the time to read this book, why should others listen to me when I seek to offer correction?
With that said, i'd like to review one chapter at a time.
As I anticipated, Bell offered his fair share of skeptical and provocative questions as they relate to heaven, hell, and salvation. One can only assume that Bell felt he covered all the bases. However sincere Bell was in his efforts, I found them to be severely lacking. Though Bell was only "asking questions," I didn't think he offered anything short of a strawman in his representations of various beliefs. What's worse is, I never found my view to be questioned or mentioned. Putting hell aside for a moment, I saw no attempt on Bell's part to even attempt to ask accurate questions concerning Reformed Soteriology. I don't want to assume too much as Bell might have purposefully avoided this perspective.
I say all this because I felt like Bell's questions could have been far more smart than they were. If Bell had offered more sophistication and accurate representation in his questions, I would have been far more provoked. Instead, I read through this chapter thinking, "these questions are easy!" If I had to guess, Bell's book seemed to be geared towards ones who are not quite as theologically astute as they could be. Perhaps these are ones that grew up in a back-woods southern baptist church and heard "fire and brimstone" sermons all the time. Or these could be persons who grew up in a "seeker-sensitive" church where the gospel was reduced to, "believe in Jesus and you'll go to heaven." Whatever the case, there are many who could easily relate to Bell but I am not one of them.
At this point it is difficult to know where Bell is going in all of this. After all, he is just "asking questions," even though its obvious that his questions are, in a sense, meant to be objections. However, as obvious as they are, these questions can only provide impressions though I will be hoping for clear thoughts and little ambiguity as I continue reading.