Friday, May 27, 2011

"Love Wins" by Rob Bell

Recently finished reading Love Wins by Evangelical Pastor Rob Bell.

Interesting book that I first heard about from the Time Magazine cover story “Is Hell Dead” (and then wrote about in this blog post).

There’s no unequivocal answers that come out of Bell’s work, but it's thought provoking on the questions and subjects covered... with those below being the main things I felt Bell was addressing.

Is it a God of inclusion or exclusion?

Both in the beginning and later in the book, Bell questions the conversion to Christianity story as it’s commonly thought of. Specifically the notion that if people don’t repent their sins and accept Christ, it’s over for them… off to a lifetime in Hell after death. Basic question he raises is whether a benevolent God would exclude so many people just… because.

The "love wins" notion is that God has a purpose and doesn't give up, to the point of granting virtually endless chances to live a Godly life, even after death as we know it. Basically, a story of inclusion for those that want it, not a story of exclusion by God based on a time space continuum.

Where are this Heaven and Hell and is the point to just reach the first place?

The idea is put forth by Bell of Heaven as a place on earth (no, not like the song) and entering into this state of living here and now for people who accept Christ. Rather than the acceptance being a free pass for after death, two phrases from Bell are "dragging the future into the present" and "living in this age and the age to come."

In terms of Hell as a place, Bell notes that there’s no mention of it in the Old Testament and New Testament mentions could easily be interpreted as referring to a Hell on earth type of living by those who reject a righteous life.

Additionally, Bell relates the story of two sons, one who strayed from his family and returned to an embrace in spite of his wrongdoings and one who stated and was resentful of not being rewarded for his good behavior. The reason for inclusion of this story seems to be to illustrated the concept of God's love always being there waiting for people, and them having the choice to accept it at any point. Bell also uses the phrase "we shape our God and our God shapes us" in the telling of this father and two sons story.


Bell had very interesting content in the book, but (while he perhaps limited the scope of the book by design) I wish that he had touched more on a couple of different areas...

Moral living or Christian living?

One could almost take what Bell wrote about view it through the lens of morality rather than Christianity. However, I believe it was C.S. Lewis who wrote about God as the basis of morality… with the concept being that if righteous living didn’t come from a higher power, where would it had come from at all? In short, actions by people show what God's love looks like.

What comes after death?

Bell just doesn't get into it other than reference to a series of endless chances to come to God. I don't know if that's a case for reincarnation (and none of us including Bell know for sure what comes), but I did find myself unclear about the author's beliefs on the subject other than his brief mention of multiple dimensions in relation to God.


All in all, I thought it a interesting book that also made me want to learn more about what Bell says through his Mars Hill Bible Church... and read more C.S. Lewis (who Bell notes being impacted by) for that matter.