Category Archives: Book Review

A Brief Review of Bell’s Book

Okay, so back when the Bell controversy first hit, I promised to read Love Wins (the book that started it all) and write a review. However, in reading it I realized two important things. First of all, the book is all about Heaven and Hell. Second of all, I don’t have the credibility to speak on the truth of Heaven and Hell. Now, if you want a more comprehensive review than what I’m about to give you (like a theological analysis of the Heaven/Hell debate that is listed in the book), you can probably find something online. The one key to look for is if they claim Bell is an universalist. If they do, run away FAST. Today I will present a few key points that I found in reading said book.

1. Rob Bell is not an Universalist.
Bell’s book presents an idea that all of us end up in the new Heaven/new Earth when we die and that it is the same place. However, our attitude is what makes it Heaven or Hell. This is not an Universalist idea. Universalism is the belief that everyone ends up in Heaven.

2. The book covers a topic which does require discussion.
Whether you agree or disagree with Bell, the idea of Heaven and Hell is one that requires discourse. There are many differing beliefs on the topic and people should really explore all the options. You can probably find works by your favorite theologian on the topic.

3. Rob Bell kills unnecessary amounts of trees.
Now that you know that I think the topic is admirable, you should know that Bell’s book is a waste of space. Obviously this has nothing to do with what’s being written
It’s about how
It is written
With short lines
To attempt
To provide
Or something.
The 200 page book probably could have been cut down to 150, if not shorter.

4. Christianity is not as easy as Bell makes it sound.
In the second to last chapter, Bell speaks about how many pastors and Christians see Christianity as being so much work and that this is incorrect because God doesn’t want to make us slaves. He compares us to the older son in the story of the prodigal son, saying we don’t need to do as much work as we feel we need to do. I both agree and disagree with him.
First of all, this parable is found in Luke 15. The context is that Jesus is preaching to crowd full of “tax collectors and sinners.” Pharisees are also in attendance, and they marvel at the fact that this supposed God spends His time with sinners. He tells them several parables about the importance of all His followers. This parable is one of them. The meaning is not that discipline is worthless, but that we have blessings in God’s presence. The point is that everyone is welcome if they will humble themselves and bring themselves before God. This is a part of the Christian life.
The Christian life takes discipline. This is referenced many times, and one that comes to mind is Romans 6:20-23:
“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Those are the views on the book that I will put out there on the internet. Hopefully this helps somewhat in your decision to read or not to read the book.

Have You Heard About Rob Bell Lately?

It seems as though the Christian world has now focused its attention to Rob Bell and his new book, Love Wins. There are many claiming (without having read it in whole) that Bell is a heretic and going against the Bible by stating that all people are going to Heaven. The fact that people are declaring they know the relationship with God that a person has without even having read the novel in question is one of the reasons that I get utterly frustrated with Christians…

Now, let me clarify that I am not a Bell fan. I am fully against the emergent church movement and Bell happens to be a part of it. (If you read anything Bell writes on the topic, he’ll state that he isn’t. However, most people involved with the movement claim to not be involved with the movement. Bell’s basic theology matches with it completely.) Like most Christian subsets I’m against, the emergent church gets some things right. I love the fact that they are so focused on the poor and the outcasts. However, completely ridding oneself of all traditions and ignoring pieces of Scripture that don’t seem to fit with your beliefs are giant red flags that there are issues with your theology. The idea is that God’s love trumps all, and while I would love to believe that, words and actions from both God and Jesus seem to suggest otherwise. There is some accountability on our part.

I think what I find odd about this whole situation is the fact that Bell claiming all people will go to Heaven (provided that’s his actual claim) is surprising. He has often preached of the power of God’s love in such a way that seems to suggest a far more liberal take on sin than the Bible backs up. He even has stated that he finds truth in all places and all religions, so long as they point back to God (I don’t understand what that even means). Yet many considered him one of the great Christian writers of our time and so many considered his ideas as straight from God’s mouth. Many people from my generation find him to be inspiring and are outraged at the idea that he might suggest this (or agree with him, but more on that for a later post).

Once again, it is frustrating to me that Christians find the need to jump to conclusions based on what people say. I’m not a firm believer on taking quotes without their context (it can have dismal outcomes) or for taking people purely at their word. Because of this, I have preordered the book from Amazon (I figured with all the attention it’s getting, the library would be impossible, yet I could resell it fairly easily). Even though I’m not a Bell fan, I will read it and review it IN context. Granted, you still shouldn’t take my word for it, because I’m human, but I’ll be telling you all about it in about a month (or two).