Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Livedby Rob Bell
Fans flock to his Facebook page, his NOOMA videos have been viewed by millions, and his Sunday sermons are attended by 10,000 parishioners—with a downloadable podcast reaching 50,000 more. An electrifying, unconventional pastor whom Time magazine calls "a singular rock star in the church world," Rob Bell is the most vibrant, central religious leader of the millennial… See more details below
- Editorial Reviews
- Product Details
- Related Subjects
- Read an Excerpt
- What People Are Saying
- Meet the author
Fans flock to his Facebook page, his NOOMA videos have been viewed by millions, and his Sunday sermons are attended by 10,000 parishioners—with a downloadable podcast reaching 50,000 more. An electrifying, unconventional pastor whom Time magazine calls "a singular rock star in the church world," Rob Bell is the most vibrant, central religious leader of the millennial generation. Now, in Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith—the afterlife—arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering. With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly optimistic—eternal life doesn't start when we die; it starts right now. And ultimately, Love Wins.
- HarperCollins Publishers
- Publication date:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Read an Excerpt
Love WinsA Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived
By Rob Bell
HarperCollinsCopyright © 2011 Rob Bell
All right reserved.
Several years ago we had an art show at our church. I
had been giving a series of teachings on peacemaking,
and we invited artists to display their paintings, poems,
and sculptures that reflected their understanding of what
it means to be a peacemaker. One woman included in her
work a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, which a number of
people found quite compelling.
But not everyone.
Someone attached a piece of paper to it.
On the piece of paper was written: Reality check: Hes in hell.
Gandhis in hell?
We have confirmation of this?
Somebody knows this?
Without a doubt?
And that somebody decided to take on the responsibility
of letting the rest of us know?
Of all the billions of people who have ever lived, will only
a select number make it to a better place and every
single other person suffer in torment and punishment
forever? Is this acceptable to God? Has God created
millions of people over tens of thousands of years who
are going to spend eternity in anguish? Can God do this,
or even allow this, and still claim to be a loving God?
Does God punish people for thousands of years with
infinite, eternal torment for things they did in their few
finite years of life?
This doesnt just raise disturbing questions about God; it
raises questions about the beliefs themselves.
Why not him or her or them?
If there are only a select few who go to heaven, which is
more terrifying to fathom: the billions who burn forever
or the few who escape this fate? How does a person end
up being one of the few?
Being born in the right place, family, or country?
Having a youth pastor who relates better to the kids?
God choosing you instead of others?
What kind of faith is that?
Or, more important:
What kind of God is that?
And whenever people
claim that one group is in, saved,
accepted by God, forgiven, enlightened, redeemedand
everybody else isntwhy is it that those who make this
claim are almost always part of the group thats in?
Have you ever heard people make claims about a select
few being the chosen and then claim that theyre not part
of that group?
Several years ago I heard a woman tell about the funeral
of her daughters friend, a high-school student who was
killed in a car accident. Her daughter was asked by a Christian
if the young man who had died was a Christian.
She said that he told people he was an atheist. This
person then said to her, So theres no hope then.
Is that the Christian message?
Is that what Jesus offers the world?
Is this the sacred calling of Christians
to announce that theres no hope?
The death of this high-school student raises questions
about whats called the age of accountability. Some
Christians believe that up to a certain age children arent
held accountable for what they believe or who they
believe in, so if they die during those years, they go to be
with God. But then when they reach a certain age, they
become accountable for their beliefs, and if they die,
they go to be with God only if they have said or done or
believed the right things. Among those who believe
this, this age of accountability is generally considered to
be sometime around age twelve.
This belief raises a number of issues, one of them being
the risk each new life faces. If every new baby being born
could grow up to not believe the right things and go to
hell forever, then prematurely terminating a childs life
anytime from conception to twelve years of age would
actually be the loving thing to do, guaranteeing that the
child ends up in heaven, and not hell, forever. Why run the risk?
And that risk raises another question about this high-
school students death. What happens when a fifteen-
year-old atheist dies? Was there a three-year window
when he could have made a decision to change his
eternal destiny? Did he miss his chance? What if he had
lived to sixteen and it was in that sixteenth year that
he came to believe what he was supposed to believe?
Was God limited to that three-year window, and if the
message didnt get to the young man in that time, well,
thats just unfortunate?
And what exactly would have had to happen in that
three-year window to change his future?
Would he have had to perform a specific rite or ritual?
Or take a class?
Or be baptized?
Or join a church?
Or have something happen somewhere in his heart?
Some believe he would have had to say a specific prayer.
Christians dont agree on exactly what this prayer is, but
for many the essential idea is that the only way to get
into heaven is to pray at some point in your life, asking
God to forgive you and telling God that you accept
Jesus, you believe Jesus died on the cross to pay the
price for your sins, and you want to go to heaven when
you die. Some call this accepting Christ, others call
it the sinners prayer, and still others call it getting
saved, being born again, or being converted.
That, of course, raises more questions. What about
people who have said some form of the prayer at some
point in their life, but it means nothing to them today?
What about those who said it in a highly emotionally
charged environment like a youth camp or church service
because it was the thing to do, but were unaware of
the significance of what they were doing? What about
people who have never said the prayer and dont claim to be Christians,
but live a more Christ like life than some Christians?
This raises even more disconcerting questions about
what the message even is. Some Christians believe and
often repeat that all that matters is whether or not a
person is going to heaven. Is that the message? Is that
what life is about? Going somewhere else? If thats the
gospel, the good newsif what Jesus does is get people
somewhere elsethen the central message of the Christian
faith has very little to do with this life other than
getting you what you need for the next one. Which of
course raises the question: Is that the best God can do?
Which leads to a far more disturbing question. So is it
true that the kind of person you are doesnt ultimately
matter, as long as youve said or prayed or believed
the right things? If you truly believed that, and you
were surrounded by Christians who believed that, then
you wouldnt have much motivation to do anything
about the present suffering of the world, because you
would believe you were going to leave someday and go
somewhere else to be with Jesus. If this understanding
of the good news of Jesus prevailed among Christians,
the belief that Jesus message is about how to get
somewhere else, you could possibly end up with a world
in which millions of people were starving, thirsty, and
poor; the earth was being exploited and polluted; disease
and despair were everywhere; and Christians werent
known for doing much about it. If it got bad enough, you
might even have people rejecting Jesus because of how
his followers lived.
That would be tragic.
One way to respond to these questions is with the clear,
helpful answer: all that matters is how you respond to
Jesus. And that answer totally resonates with me; it is
about how you respond to Jesus. But it raises another
important question: Which Jesus?
Renee Altson begins her book Stumbling Toward Faith
with these words:
I grew up in an abusive household. Much of my abuse was
spiritualand when I say spiritual, I dont mean new age,
esoteric, random mumblings from half-Wicca, hippie
parents. . . . I mean that my father raped me while reciting
the Lords Prayer. I mean that my father molested me while
singing Christian hymns.
When one woman in our church invited her friend to
come to one of our services, he asked her if it was a Christian
church. She said yes, it was. He then told her about Christians
in his village in Eastern Europe who rounded up the Muslims in town and herded them into
a building, where they opened fire on them with their
machine guns and killed them all. He explained to her
that he was a Muslim and had no interest in going to her
Or think about the many who know about Christians
only from what theyve seen on television and so assume
that Jesus is anti-science, antigay, standing out on the
sidewalk with his bullhorn, telling people that theyre going to burn forever?
Do you know any individuals who grew up in a Christian
church and then walked away when they got older?
Often pastors and parents and brothers and sisters
are concerned about them and their spiritualityand
often they should be. But sometimes those individuals
rejection of church and the Christian faith they were
presented with as the only possible interpretation of what
it means to follow Jesus may in fact be a sign of spiritual
health. They may be resisting behaviors, interpretations,
and attitudes that should be rejected. Perhaps they
simply came to a point where they refused to accept the
very sorts of things that Jesus would refuse to accept.
Some Jesuses should be rejected.
Often times when I meet atheists and we talk about the
god they dont believe in, we quickly discover that I dont
believe in that god either.
So when we hear that a certain person has rejected
Christ, we should first ask, Which Christ?
Many would respond to the question, Which Jesus?
by saying that we have to trust that God will bring those
who authentically represent the real Jesus into peoples
lives to show them the transforming truths of Jesus
life and message. A passage from Romans 10 is often
quoted to explain this trust: How can they hear without
someone preaching to them? And I wholeheartedly
agree, but that raises another question. If our salvation,
our future, our destiny is dependent on others bringing
the message to us, teaching us, showing uswhat
happens if they dont do their part?
What if the missionary gets a flat tire?
This raises another, far more disturbing question:
Is your future in someone elses hands?
Which raises another question:
Is someone elses eternity resting in your hands?
So is it not only that a person has to respond, pray,
accept, believe, trust, confess, and dobut also that
someone else has to act, teach, travel, organize, fund-
raise, and build so that the person can know what to
respond, pray, accept, believe, trust, confess, and do?
At this point some would step in and remind us in
the midst of all of these questions that its not that
complicated, and we have to remember that God has lots
of ways of communicating apart from people speaking
to each other face-to-face; the real issue, the one that
cant be avoided, is whether a person has a personal
relationship with God through Jesus. However that
happens, whoever told whomever, however it was done,
thats the bottom line: a personal relationship. If you
dont have that, you will die apart from God and spend
eternity in torment in hell.
The problem, however, is that the phrase personal
relationship is found nowhere in the Bible.
Nowhere in the Hebrew Scriptures, nowhere in the New
Testament. Jesus never used the phrase. Paul didnt use
it. Nor did John, Peter, James, or the woman who wrote
the Letter to the Hebrews.
So if thats it,
if thats the point of it all,
if thats the ticket,
the one unavoidable reality,
the heart of the Christian faith,
why is it that no one used the phrase until the last
hundred years or so?
And that question raises another question. If the
message of Jesus is that God is offering the free gift of
eternal life through hima gift we cannot earn by our
own efforts, works, or good deedsand all we have to do
is accept and confess and believe, arent those verbs?
And arent verbs actions?
Accepting, confessing, believingthose are things we do.
Does that mean, then, that going to heaven is dependent
on something I do?
How is any of that grace?
How is that a gift?
How is that good news?
Isnt that what Christians
have always claimed set their
religion apartthat it wasnt, in the end, a religion at
allthat you dont have to do anything, because God has
already done it through Jesus?
At this point another voice enters the discussionthe
reasoned, wise voice of the one who reminds us that it is,
after all, a story.
Just read the story, because a good story has a powerful
way of rescuing us from abstract theological discussions
that can tie us up in knots for years.
In Luke 7 we read a story about a Roman centurion who
sends a message to Jesus, telling him that all he has to
do is say the word and the centurions sick servant will be
healed. Jesus is amazed at the mans confidence in him,
and, turning to the crowd following him, he says, I tell
you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.
Then in Luke 18, Jesus tells a story about two people
who go to the temple to pray. The one prays about how glad
he is to not be a sinner like other people, while the other
stands at a distance and says, God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
And then in Luke 23, the man hanging on the cross next
to Jesus says to him, Remember me when you come
into your kingdom, and Jesus assures him that theyll be
together in paradise.
Excerpted from Love Wins by Rob Bell Copyright © 2011 by Rob Bell. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
What People are saying about this
“In Love Wins, Rob Bell tackles the old heaven-and-hell question and offers a courageous alternative answer. Thousands of readers will find freedom and hope and a new way of understanding the biblical story - from beginning to end.”
“It isn’t easy to develop a biblical imagination that takes in the comprehensive and eternal work of Christ . . . Rob Bell goes a long way in helping us acquire just such an imaginationwithout a trace of soft sentimentality and without compromising an inch of evangelical conviction.”
“A bold, prophetic and poetic masterpiece. I don’t know any writer who expresses the inexpressible love of God as powerfully and as beautifully as Rob Bell! No one who seriously engages this book will put it down unchanged. A ‘must read’ book!”
Meet the Author
Rob Bell is the bestselling author of Love Wins, Velvet Elvis, Sex God, Jesus Wants to Save Christians, Drops Like Stars, and What We Talk About When We Talk About God. An international teacher and speaker, he was profiled in The New Yorker and TIME magazine, which named him one of 2011’s hundred most influential people.
- Grand Rapids, Michigan
- Date of Birth:
- August 23, 1970
- Place of Birth:
- Lansing, Michigan
- B.S., Wheaton College, 1992; M. Div., Fuller Seminary, 1995
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >
Scripture tells us that God IS Love. Not loving, full of love, love like, but... LOVE. Could a God who is LOVE condemn "his" children to an eternity of suffering for a finite trespass? Why would a God who tells us to love our enemies, asks us to forgive 70x7 times, tells us to turn the other cheek... why would that God ask of us anything that "he" is unable or unwilling to do "himself?" Why would a God of LOVE demand that our redemption be won by such a violent act as crucifixion? Scripture tells us that God takes no delight in sacrifice. "For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings." -- Hosea 6:6 "I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." -- Amos 5:21-24 Romans 5 tells us that just as death came into the world because of one mans sin, so to salvation has come to ALL because of one mans obedience. Seeing a world in turmoil, God humbled "himself", and came t live among us in human form. God taught us how to live in relationship with one another. How to love unconditionally, to be gracious and merciful, to forgive; and yet we rejected that message, and killed the very son of God. Perhaps Jesus died not FOR my sins, but rather BECAUSE of them. And yet, in the ultimate display of unconditional love, God looks down from heaven and says, "I love you. I forgive you. You are my child." What greater love could there be? And now, how do we live in response to that love? We do not fathom the depth of God's grace, of God's mercy, of God's LOVE for us. I think all of us will be surprised by who we meet in heaven. Thank you Rob Bell for having the courage to write this book.
Wow! The warnings toward and bashing of Mr Bell in the negative reviews here is remarkable. I applaud Rob for digging deeper than surface interpretations and accepted wisdoms of the bible. Rob looks directly at the words of Jesus in a fresh and challenging perspective. I am no longer a Christian, but am VERY familiar with the bible. These are all questions I myself have had when reading the bible. He is encouraging Christians to think outside the box, especially when they believe they KNOW what God is thinking. If that scares you, perhaps Mr Bell has achieved what he set out to do- MAKE YOU THINK! Brave work...
This book, which I devoured in just 4 days (even though I'm a slow reader), took me back to the early days of my faith in Christ, some 30(+) years ago, before I already "knew" everything (uh-hem...); to a time before I had learned all the lingo and labels and gotten thoroughly confused by denominational differences. This was a very timely and needed read. Obviously inspired, God spoke to me quite profoundly through it, and my faith has been renewed and refreshed.
I have a great respect for Rob Bell and only wish the best for him. His greatest gift to me has been in pushing me to think outside the norm, so that I can hold to the truths of scripture with confidence. However in this newest book he has espoused and ideal that can only be defended by using verses out of context and not providing a full picture of God who has other characteristics besides love - and all of them perfect including perfectly just. If you read this book, read every scripture quoted in the larger context (usually the complete book) in the book in which it was written
Satan got Eve to question what God had clearly said in the garden. She was emboldened to take what God had forbidden by the devil's clever insinuation and paid for it. It astounds me that in a book about heaven and hell that supposedly is teaching what the Bible says that Rob Bell would never even quote the clearest OT passages about the resurrection of the dead and the eternal damnation of sinners- Isaiah 66:22-24 and Daniel 12:2. And even more so, key NT passages like Luke 13:23-28, Mark 9:43-48, Romans 2:4-5, Romans 10:14-17, Luke 12:58-13:9, etc. These passages and others so perfectly refute the writer's conjectures that if he merely quoted them without explaining them away he would then have nothing to write about. The good news of the gospel is necessary because there is bad news, as Paul shows in Roman 1:18-3:20- our guilt before God and righteous condemnation of us on the day of judgment- if we're not made new creatures and forgiven in Christ. The Bible says "Flee from the wrath to come" and to bring forth fruits meet (fit) for repentance (Matthew 3:7-10). That is the response we must make to God's generous offer of mercy and grace through the death and resurrection of Christ. When we consider that Jesus himself warned his hearers to turn from sin or be punished in hell forever; and that he left a responsibility for us to do so in the limited time of our lives in this world in Mark 9:43-48, Luke 12:58-13:9, then anyone who claims to speak for Jesus and denies that warning and that urgency must be treated as a false teacher/prophet. Jesus loves us more than anyone else, and to deny and leave out what he has clearly said is to oppose him. What "Love Wins" does is give false comfort to those who have not turned from all sin and let Christ take his rightful hold on their lives (Psalm 2:10-12, Hebrews 5:9). The same type of false comfort the Serpent gave Eve in the garden. "Love Wins" also doesn't take into account that it is often better SHORT-TERM to disobey God than to follow Christ. There is a pleasure to sin that is very uncomfortable to forsake to the point it can be called suffering (See Hebrews 11:25, Romans 8:17). That goes against Bell's premise that hell is what we create for ourselves by disobeying God. Truly obeying God can be extremely unpleasant and only those who are totally convinced by Christ's total faithfulness and the sureness of his promises will actually be his disciples and walk the narrow way that leads to life. That is when God really does get glory. We have the privilege that we can go straight to the Bible to see those promises, the truth about heaven and hell, and the entire counsel of God regarding salvation. May all who read this not be deceived by preachers who say what appeals to the itching ears of people.
Much has been written about Rob Bell's new book Love Wins. But - the motivation was missed. Yes, he seems to be re-defining hell and trying to find a way to get everyone into heaven. But - those are the verses. The motivation is the chorus. The Motivating Chorus Rob Bell is an excellent writer, and his book reads like a good song. Songs have verses, but it's the oft-repeated chorus that rams the thought home. I found Rob's chorus no less than four times, and I probably missed some. Listen to the chorus as it repeats itself in the quotes below. 1. If "you were surrounded by Christians who believed that . . . you were going to leave someday and go somewhere else to be with Jesus . . . you could possibly end up in a world in which millions of people were starving, thirsty, and poor; the earth was being exploited and polluted; disease and despair were everywhere; and Christians weren't known for doing much about it. . . . That would be tragic." p. 6-7 2. "It often appears that those who talk the most about going to heaven when you die talk the least about bringing heaven to earth right now, as Jesus taught us to pray: 'Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.' At the same time, it often appears that those who talk the most about relieving suffering now talk the least about heaven when we die." P. 45 3. "Often the people most concerned about others going to hell when they die seem less concerned with the hells on earth right now, while the people most concerned with the hells on earth right now seem the least concerned about hell after death." P. 78-79 4. "Christians who talk the most about going to heaven while everybody else goes to hell don't throw very good parties." P. 179 Maybe he is right. But CS Lewis disagreed. Of course Lewis smoke and drank too, so maybe he knew more than some about how to party. Lewis said, "If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this one." Everybody has a right to their opinion, but nobody has a right to be wrong in their facts. They can't both be right. So, who is - Lewis or Bell? I did a Google search and found the largest private disaster relief organizations are those who believe in a literal heaven and hell, and are looking forward to the next world. Three of what are often listed as the top four (it rather depends on what kind of relief you are focusing on for who is listed as largest) are Christian organizations who are doing just what Rob Bell says isn't done. The top four are: 1. The Red Cross 2. The Salvation Army 3. The Southern Baptist Convention 4. The Roman Catholic Church If William Booth, the SBC and the Catholics aren't thinking about the next world, who is? And no one is helping out this world more. No one. Once you look further, you find that CS Lewis hit the nail on the head. Those who are looking forward to the next world are the most involved in fixing this one. From Saddleback's P.E.A.C.E. initiative to alleviate AIDS to Compassion International, Samaritans Purse, the lists are overwhelming. In an effort to support a wrong premise (that a literal view of heaven and hell has kept the church from being effective in the present age), Rob Bell wrote new verses to fit his chorus. The verses he changes are Biblical. If you
As Christ said: "He whose has ears, let them hear.". If you want to learn alot about a person's heart, then listen to the criticism they unleash from their mouth. It is terribly sad to read some of what is being said about this book. As I was once told by a wise man: "You have truly be ome educated when you realize how much you do not know.". From the very first page, Rob compels the reader to ask better questions. Read, listen and pray; then trust the Holy Spirit. Life with God is a journey of the heart. For those that criticize: are you so sure your heart is beating in rhythm with God's?
If you read and believe the whole Word of God, don't bother with this. If you take Oprah's "All roads/religions lead to Heaven" view, then you should buy it. Satan used scripture out of context, too. I too believe that Love wins, but this controversial garble only serves to confuse those that are not sure of The Truth before they start reading....
This makes the bible make sense, it makes God and his love for his creation make sense.
This book will appeal to those who exalt their personal view of God over Scripture. For those who affrim the Bible as the word of God, this book is heresy. Love only wins when the true God is seen, loved, and treasured for who He really is.
Mr. Bell has managed to write a book about Universalism and disguise it as a new theology. Universalism and the so-called doctrine of free will have been around for a long time and have now evolved into a version of pop religion, or feel good religion, much like most television prosperity ministries espouse. Listening to his sermons which are available online, sounds a lot like another false teacher, Joel Osteen. Scriptural references are taken totally out of context and are often used without reference to related passages which disprove what Mr. Bell espouses. Paul warned us of false teachers and false prophets and Rob Bell is one of them. Only if you follow Universalism and/or the doctrine of free will and believe that they are not heretical teachings will you agree with the contents of this book.
Asks more questions than it answers, nothing new, incorrect translation of the Greek and intellectually weak.
In this book Rob Bell has a need to attract those who have been turned off by the True Gospel, in rhetoric soothing to our feely touchy side. His attempts to save God from a bad reputation are both damaging and wrought with deceit, leading unknowing souls down a path of apostasy.
This book was very troubling to mt. I read it through in a matter of hours, but I felt that Rob Bell was all over the place. While I agreed with some of his critizism of many Christians and churches, I feel he is reviving many of the different heresies that have been soundly put down over the centuries. He dabbles in universalism, do overs if you mess up, salvation by works etc. While I'm glad that I read the book to see what the hubbub was all about, I would not recommend it to anyone else, especially young Christians, or at least young in their faith.
It's hard not to read this book and walk away unchanged or unmoved by what Rob Bell has provided. This book is a must read. I'd also recommend another life changing book, "When God Stopped Keeping Score" which will change everything that you only thought you knew about God and forgiveness.
After reading about the controversy surrounding the release of Rob Bell's new book, "Love Wins," I pre-ordered it. I had hoped that the book would offer insight into a deeper understanding of eschatology that would reach a wider audience than other scholarly texts; I was deeply disappointed. If the reader is able to trudge through the annoying layout of the book, which is presented more as a series of sermon notes than a coherent text, then they are sure to be disappointed by the content as well. The book's failure to do much more than ask lofty questions, is accompanied by an unsuccessful attempt to convince the reader that the title is somehow linked to the content of the book. "Love Wins," fails to consider the depth of meaning behind words such as Satan and meanders around "what" exactly hell is without ever coming to a clear conclusion.
Rob Bell's LOVE WINS is about God's love, heaven, hell and who will be saved. One of its biggest recommendations lies in those who who have railed against it. Whether or not you agree with it, this book is well worth reading.
This book is courageous, important, and well-done (although not exactly groundbreaking). It builds on works like Gulley and Mulholland's "If Grace is True." In either case, it echoes what my grandmother taught me about a God who is love (and who knows more about love than grandmothers).
Much of what there is to say about this book has already been said in the other reviews, but, after reading it, I think there's one thing I haven't seen said yet (at least not explicitly) that probably bears pointing out: Basically, its the fact that Bell seems much more interested in this book in raising questions than in providing dogmatic answers. To those accusing him of a direct heresy, I would suggest that he never really says anything heretical, because he rarely says anything dogmatic at all. He does not, for instance, come out anywhere in the book and say whether or not he thinks there is life after death, or whether Hell is a literal location that matches some of the scriptural descriptions thereof (much less any later descriptions, like Dante's, with which I think some of those crying "heresy" have the Bible confused). Bell doesn't seem interested in dogma here; his purpose does not appear to be to develop a systematic theology of heaven, hell, and the afterlife. That would be another book. What he does do is raise some interesting questions intended to make one think about the concepts of heaven, hell, grace, and God's justice that disrupt some of the knee-jerk ways people think about them. I don't think a lot of Christians actually have a worked-out theology of Hell; it's simply accepted that if you're a Christian you go to the good place and if you're not you go to the bad one. What Bell does is throw a few spanners in those works to show that that explanation is not, in fact, as simple as it might appear on the surface. For instance, what if a person (to use one of Bell's examples) was continually raped as a child from a parent who was a "Christian" and recited the Lord's Prayer while he was raping his own child? It seems not unreasonable that that person would not be psychologically able to see Christianity as a positive, or even to recite the Lord's Prayer without bringing up the memories of sexual violation associated with it. Nor does it seem unreasonable that that person would reject Christianity throughout his or her life, because it couldn't help but have only negative connotations. But what if that person is genuinely seeking God, genuinely looking for the truth, throughout his or her life? What if that person is really seeking Christ even though she is psychologically unable to speak that name without reliving past horrors? Does God categorically reject that person and condemn her to eternal, conscious punishment because of the effects not of her own choices but of a crime committed upon her by someone else, simply because she had failed, at some point, to say someone's version of a prayer in which she "accepts Christ?" Would God be a "just" God if he did? Bell doesn't actually even get to the point of deciding whether there's a physical Hell or not, or whether you need to be "converted" in some particular way in order to be saved, or whether there is life after death. All he does is open up the questions to show that the kind of belief a lot of Christians hold is actually a lot more complicated than they think it is. So, read the book, be open to what he's saying, but take it as the beginning of a process of thought on these issues and not the end.
I have enjoyed Rob's teachings in the past but I was very disappointed with "Love Wins". He asks more questions than he answers and I found myself disagreeing or simply unsatisfied with his answers. I believe "Love Wins" can stimulate good conversation about the nature of God and our relationship with Him. But I question the validity of the theology being presented.
-A warning from Jude (The half brother of Jesus): "Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all. For certain men, who were designated for this judgment long ago, have come in by stealth; they are ungodly, turning the grace of our God into promiscuity and denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." "These dreamers likewise defile their flesh, despise authority, and blaspheme glorious beings." "These people blaspheme anything they do not understand, and what they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals - they destroy themselves." "These people are discontented grumblers, walking according to their desires; their mouths utter arrogant words, flattering people for their own advantage." "Remember the words foretold by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; "In the end time there will be scoffers walking according to their own ungodly desires"; these people create divisions and are merely natural, not having the spirit"
This Book is incredible. You may not fully agree with all the views presented, but you cannot deny the beautiful pronouncement of a Christ who is so far beyond our ability to ever fully grasp. It discusses the beauty of longing to know Christ more and more, and tells of the joy of a relationship with God that will always grow deeper. Rob Bell is labeled by so many as a heretic, when if those same people would move beyond their preconceived notions and actually listen, what they would find is an incredible inspiration to live a life striving to express the unfathomably deep love of God, through Christ, to all the world. Rob Bell makes no attempt to convince the reader his view is more right than another, but invites all to join in on a discussion and study, of the never ending love of Christ which, has been taking place since the very beginning of time.
You silly dogmatic, legalistic, old school Christians who still believe in Hell – lighten up! That’s so first century. I mean, C-O-M-E ON! Do you expect us to believe in an eternal damnation and separation from God for all eternity for less than a century of indiscretion? Don’t you think that’s a little harsh? Let me illustrate: “So Harry.., you talked to Adolph yet?” “Adolph?” “Yeah, you know, Adolph Hitler.” “Adolph Hitler’s here?” “Yeah.., everybody’s here! Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao.., all the guys.” “You got to be kiddin’ me, really?” “No, not kidding!” “Wow, how’s my grandfather taking that?” “Awe.., no problem, the two of them, are like, best buds. Oh sure, your grandfather was a little taken back at first, but once Adolph explained his thoughts behind the whole Holocaust thing, your gramps was fine. I mean, he seemed a little weirded out at first, but now they’re practically inseparable.” “Really?” “Well.., practically.” This would be an interesting paradigm to say the least. And, if Mr. Bell’s theology of questions rather than answers is correct on the subject of Hell, then the whole gospel message taught in scripture is really much ado about nothing! According to him, centuries of Christians have co-opted the original intent of the gospel message away from a message where “Love Wins” (the title of his book), to a message of fire and brimstone, heaven and hell and to a message that is just plain mean. Of course, you have to forget about the little fact that he is in disagreement with Jesus himself (Matthew 13:36-43). The questioning theology which Rob Bell hides behind in his book reads more like a junior high seeker’s journal than any serious expose on the true gospel meaning. While I must admit that the idea of Hell not existing does have a certain appeal, unfortunately it’s not supported anywhere in scripture as Bell’s book suggests, even though it’s filled with out of context scripture. Furthermore, if Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was nothing more than a token gesture, with all roads leading to heaven regardless of your beliefs, then the very gospel message itself is a powerless and feeble attempt by an impotent god to reign in his unruly children. And though I sometimes agonize over my friends and family, who reject Christ, spending an eternity separated from God, I have to remember that God is still God. He is a mighty God, full of both compassion and justice and whose ways are higher than our ways. He meant what he said and continues to mean it to this day. This patience of his with mankind is expressed in 2 Peter 3:9-10. And though Jesus warned us about false teaching in these end times, I am still astonished at the depth of the false teaching’s penetration within the church. Rob Bell’s book is nothing more and nothing less, simply repackaged and reissued for the feel good generation of our time.
But for anyone else, this book is excellent!
Why fill your mind with lies and deceptions? There is a narrow road based on Gods word of salvation thru faith. All broad roads with many choices even after death will deny you the hope, peace, joy, & promise found only in the Lamb of God.