This is that post that I said wouldn’t do. Then I said I would do. Then I said I wouldn’t do. Then I said I would do. It went back and forth for quite some time because everyone has an opinion on Rob Bell’s new book ‘Love Wins,’ and I wasn’t sure I wanted to join in that morass of posts, or that I had the credibility to join in for that matter. But yesterday I read a blog post that I linked to from twitter that had a little catch phrase of “The problem with ‘Love Wins,’” or something to that effect anyway. So I linked there and read the post (by someone that I have respect for) and made the final call, “It may be short and not have the depth of other posts, but I’m throwing my two cents out there on my feelings about this book.”
What I want to do is be very frustrated with the book because of issues like:
- Reductionism (trying to explain the gospel in a very simplistic form that robs it of its glory and depth).
- Inclusivism (presenting the argument that one day everyone who has ever lived will end up in heaven, which I do not believe Scripture actually allows us to arrive at, [I've seen people argue that the book is not about this but about God's love and a new perspective on him, but Bell leads you to this conclusion whatever else they want to believe he is doing in the book]).
- The pulling out of context of a ridiculous number of passages (example: Bell says we have to be extremely careful in making lasting judgments about people’s destinies because Jesus came not to judge the world but to save the world citing John 12, but in the same passage, literally right after he says that, Jesus says that God will condemn those that reject Jesus’ word).
- Inconsistency in his argument (on page ten we are chastised for using the phrase “personal relationship with Jesus” because it’s “found nowhere in the bible, but on page 178, Bell says, “Jesus invites us into ‘that’ relationship,” which by default indicates something personal [*side note, there are other terms we use like "trinity" which are not found in the Bible either]).
- Unnecessary/Unhelpful Comments that can add to confusion (Bell, very confidently, writes things like, “The woman who wrote Hebrews…” I am fully aware that it may have been a woman that wrote Hebrews. Furthermore, I’m fully okay with that being true. But that’s not fact or proven and many people have probably never heard that presented, much less that there seems to be a final authority on the subject somewhere that Bell is citing [except that nothing is cited]. The point here is that it would have been just as easy to say, “The Author of Hebrews…” since in fact we don’t have final proof who wrote Hebrews. But, Bell chooses to throw some random comment that left me having to reread a portion of the text because I was caught off guard by the comment. Unnecessary and unhelpful).
I suppose I could go on, but these seemed to be the most blatant to me. It’s going to take another book to put all the verses he used back in to context.
But the reason for this post goes back to the comment above of “the problem with Love Wins.” To me, the problem lies not in the silliness of the above, but in this egregious error that I believe Tim Tennent writes so clearly about, “Bell’s solution takes humanity out of the dock and puts God in the dock. After reading Bell’s book one gets the feeling that Bell has put God on trial. It is God who now has to justify why he would be so cruel…” As I read Bell’s book, I thought or literally wrote this several times. “Looks like God is on trail here.”
Rob seems mad that God doesn’t fit his mold, that surely Scripture couldn’t point to anything other than a love that makes the most sense in his mind. The problem with love wins is that it drops in line with a long line of ‘redefining’ God, whether it be in our minds or on paper, to fit what we want Him to be.
God is not the one on trial. We are. And the verdict is out. We don’t get to decide who or what God will be. He defines himself. And when we move away from reducing the gospel to a simple form, denying it depth and mystery and when we keep Scripture within the context of itself (which I’ve heard Rob argue for in other places) as opposed to eisegetical gymnastics, I believe that we will arrive at a different conclusion than Bell.
Love will indeed win. But not our definition of love. The love of the one who is called by that name.
For much better reviews on this book that are much more in depth: