Love Wins has been the hot topic of Christians and non-christians alike over the past two months. It is mega-church pastor and author, Rob Bell’s, latest release, which now sits near the top of the NY Times Bestseller list.
Beginning when Justin Taylor wrote a blog post claiming Bell might be a universalist, it seems everyone has been seeking any opportunity to offer their viewpoints. To date, my favorite review of this book has to be Donald Miller’s concise, and very honest take on it. You can read it here.
I had never planned to read the book. Life seemed a little busy for me right now, and I was content working through the list of books already in front of me. Recently a friend asked me what I thought of it, and given its popularity among younger people, I though it would be good to know what it says.
A few days later, I tweeted that I had picked up a copy and was interested to see what all the fuss was about. Some people I am connected with on Twitter asked my take on it, so I figured I would enter the fray to offer my two cents.
So here it is….
Love Wins is not a book. It is a painting, with words.
Yes, it has a cover, a binding, and many pages in between. Yet, the content in the middle is very ethereal, and left to be interpreted many different ways by different people.
It is a very easy read, which I actually mean as a compliment to Bell. He has a way with words, telling a story, that allows most anyone the ability to glide ride through it. Unfortunately, that same content is dangerous.
In this post, it is not the content of the book I want to address. If you’d like to read a very thorough, meaty review of the content of the book, I would recommend this one. If it would help you to see a quick, 3-minute response, watch this video below, by the One-Minute Apologist. I think he did a good job with it.
Instead of pointing out what many others before me already have, I’d like to make a few points of what I think we can learn directly from Rob Bell in light of this book, good or bad.
Here are a few thoughts that rattled around in my mind after reading it:
1) Think. Many great leaders have been thinkers that challenged the status quo. (Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Jr.) We should do the same. Over the years I continue to unearth deep-seeded beliefs I have, only to realize many of them are cultural, American, or just flat out wrong. I appreciate that Bell wants to encourage people to think and question.
2) Engage culture. I appreciate the fact that Bell seems to want to love people. He is actually getting out there and mixing it up. Too often, we Christians want to insulate our lives with fellow Christians, so that we don’t get “dirty” by interacting with non-believers. We are called ambassadors in scripture for a reason; to represent Someone greater than ourselves.
3) Take responsibility. I’ve heard Bell say over the years that he is not a theologian. He describes himself as an artist. Yet Bell has 7,000 people at his church each weekend. This book is #1 on the NY Times bestseller list. It is time for Bell to see that he is seen as a teacher and theologian, and needs to handle the text appropriately. We are responsible for our theology. Instead of just listening to the loudest talking head, we must read and study for ourselves.
4) Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Before we go to war over the content of a book list this, we ought to know what it says. It is important that we don’t just begin quoting our favorite podcast pastor over and over again. Through my reading of this book, I was challenged to dig on what the Bible says about Hell, in context.
I describe this book more as a painting, partly because Bell seems to float into different ideas throughout the book. I appreciate that at the beginning of chapter 8, he shares how he became a christian. By reading it, you get the sense that it was an important part of his life. Yet, the book ends with the anthem that in the end, love wins. Watch this interview below with Martin Bashir. It is the best representation of this book to me.
Yes, Bell trusted Christ, but this book seems to imply that decisions on this earth aren’t that important because it will all come together anyway, or will it? See how he answers.
The main problem with this book is that Bell is not spurring a conversation. He is offering an over-arching answer to many of the questions he poses in the book. That answer is, in the end, love wins. Sadly, I think many readers who are either non-believers or young in their faith will not recognize the error in his writing, and be led astray.
What is your take? Have you read it? If so, what do you think?