Rob Bell… seems you either love him or hate him!
I knew that his upcoming book Love Wins : A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, was going to create some controversy (as all his works do) but I assumed that people would begin to throw their stones AFTER they read the book! The rumors have been floating around that Rob Bell will finally come out as a Universalist in this book! I was shocked to read that prominent pastors and evangelicals were blogging and tweeting about the demise of Rob Bell and almost enjoying it without reading the book they were commenting on! But they did read a blog of another guy who didn’t read the book either. John Piper simply said, “Farewell Rob Bell” with a link to the blog that started much of the fuss, The Gospel Coalition’s Justin Taylor. I realize these men think Rob Bell and most who disagree with them on issues of election, God’s sovereignty, and predestination are a cancer to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but I figured they could hold their tongues until they actually had proof in written form that he indeed is espousing the view that EVERYONE will be in heaven, and hell doesn’t exists. I was also saddened but not surprised by John Piper’s flippant attitude and disingenuous “farewell”. I could see the snarling smirk through the twitterverse as I read his simple but revealing tweet! They think they have the ONLY true brand of Christianity and the rest of us are lacking the whole truth, so help us God! But we can rant about that later : )
I will not respond to the claims that Rob Bell is a Universalist until I read the book, but I will say that if he flat out says that EVERYONE will go to heaven regardless of their life of faith and trusting Jesus, I will respond with a blog that differs in opinion than Rob Bell and Love Wins… but I don’t think that is going to happen.
A number of people I respect have ACTUALLY read the book and responded by saying that Rob is asking the right questions and yet not off the Christian Orthodox path, namely Eugene Peterson (author/translator of The Message Bible). I mean is it even possible, to ask questions and still be an orthodox Christian!! Here is what Peterson said of Love Wins AFTER he read the book…
“In the current religious climate in America, it isn’t easy to develop an imagination, a thoroughly biblical imagination, that takes in the comprehensive and eternal work of Christ in all people and all circumstances in love and for salvation. Rob Bell goes a long way in helping us acquire just such an imagination. Love Wins accomplishes this without a trace of soft sentimentality and without compromising an inch of evangelical conviction in its proclamation of the good news that is most truly for all.”
– Eugene H. Peterson, Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology, Regent College, and author of The Message and The Pastor
I think this book will be no different than other works that strive to ask tough questions about how Christianity is playing out in our American culture and churches. And like his other works, I expect to be challenged and stretched without agreeing 100% with everything he says! But that is what makes his work so brilliant. You come away engaged with the scriptures and the living God, and those two encounters will change EVERYONE 100% of the time, regardless of why the encounter took place and what percentage of Bell’s perspectives you buy into!
Here is the video released by Rob Bell that stirred the pot and has people throwing out words like heretic, false teacher, universalist. Watch, you be the judge… and may we all learn to hold our ultimate judgments of the man based on his words in the book… when it actually hits the shelves at the end of the month!! For the record, I have searched a good bit to find the blogger/writer who read the book and confirms ALL of the rumors!