Rob Bell's New Book— Love Wins

It seems that there are a ton of Christians out there in cyberspace who are prepared to judge Rob Bell before his book has even been published.  As I happen to have the same publisher as Rob now has (Harper),  I called them today and talked to my senior editor this afternoon.   They are tight lipped about the content of the book and the publicist will send me one at the appropriate juncture.  It will then be time to critically evaluate  Rob’s latest thoughts.

In this post,  I have a very different beef—– I must say I am hugely disappointed in people like John Piper and Mark Driscoll, who also haven’t read the book yet, and yet are prepared to condemn Rob— one even saying dismissively— ‘Farewell Rob Bell’.   Frankly this is all too typical of the hyper-Calvinistic wing of the Evangelical world.   Shoot first, ask questions later.   They’ve even given a Reformed Evangelical like Tom Wright this sort of treatment in some cases.

And what should be said to them is— shame on you for prejudging a brother in Christ.  Shame on you for being prepared to pontificate and judge before you have even read what the man has to say.   IS THIS THE SORT OF BEHAVIOR JESUS WOULD BE HAPPY ABOUT?   I think not.   And even it it turns out there are some unBiblical ideas or thoughts in Rob’s new book, shouldn’t the approach to the matter be to first ‘go to the brother’ and gently talk to him personally about these things before  twittering, tweeting, or blogging about the matter?     Yes indeed, that is what Jesus told us to do, frankly.   He also said,  “judge not, lest you be judged”, and what he seems to have meant by that is “don’t write someone off as hell bound, lest you be judged by the same standard’, which by the way, is exactly what Rob wants us to talk about.   How about extracting some of the logs in your own eye first, before trying to be the optician of Rob Bell?    In the meanwhile, as my granny would have said,  the ethics of some Evangelical commentators is not merely going to pot,  its  ‘going to hell in a handbasket’ :)

More later, when the book comes out.   In the meantime all fair minded Christians should hold their fire.

  • http://nestheology.org Pennoyer

    I just posted another opinion on Bell’s Love Wins at the following location. It is provisional (of course) but takes into account some of his earlier work. Let’s just say, I hope to be surprised by an excellent book!

    http://www.nestheology.org/2011/03/06/ready-for-rob-bells-new-book-love-wins/

  • Robert

    You have to remember, for many out there in Xtian land…most even….if it isn’t “bad news”, then its not the Good News!

  • joe

    Well Rob Bell,
    Where in scripture did you dig up this silly doctrine? Jesus is saving us from God!!?? Jesus & God are One! Also be warned – It would be better if there were a millstone tied to your neck and are cast into the ocean. (paraphrase)

  • steve

    @joe #101

    “For God has consigned ALL to disobedience, that he may have mercy on ALL.” Romans 11:32

  • http://www.versexverse.com Mike Tilbury

    I don’t need to read this book to pass judgment, Rob Bell has made plenty of heretical statements in the past. This book will just add to them.

  • http://dld.bz/P8sz 4granted

    It’s important to keep in mind that the goal of the video was to create interest in (and sell) Rob’s new book. Rob is provocative, he always has been. But he raises some interesting questions. An important step in clarifying your beliefs is to talk about and even defend them. So the fact that the publicity campaign for Rob Bell’s book has provided an impetus for Christians to actually do theology (to figure out what they think about God) is a positive thing. Even if you disagree with Bell, it’s important for Christians to wrestle with what they believe. Another great resource on heaven, what it’s like and who will be there is “Heaven Revealed” by Dr. Paul Enns, released this month by Moody Publishers. I recommend it. Here’s the amazon page: http://dld.bz/P8sz

  • http://keriwyattkent.com/soul/ Keri Wyatt Kent

    Jesus told his disciples he would make them fishers of men.
    My unbelieving (and unbelieving) friends’ most common question about God are ths same questions asked in the promo video (and hello, Christian publishing is a BUSINESS, and this is a promo video, not a theology class!)
    What if Rob was trying to “fish” for those people, who ask those questions? And he was using the “bait” of asking the same questions they as do?
    In my research for my forthcoming book on Old Testament words, I was surprised to learn that the Jewish concept of hell was quite different from ours, which is deeply influenced by Dante’ Divine Inferno, written many centuries after Christ!
    Bell’s questions are not new–theologians for centuries have debated the nature and duration of hell. What’s tragic to me is the response of conservative Christians. All those who are asking honest questions and were intrigued by Bell’s video will likely write off Christianity because of the very unChristian response it received from within the church.

  • steve

    Love Wins!

    ….or, to say it another way:

    God’s “Yes” is bigger than our “No!”

  • Zach

    I know I’m a little late to the party on this one, but I just read an excellent critique of Piper / Justin Taylor by the Fake D.A. Carson. Apparently he “re-opened” the blog just to discuss this: http://fakecarson.blogspot.com/2011/03/open-letter-to-entire-evangelical-world.html

  • Smithy

    I’m with Ben – we should wait until the book comes out, not rush to judgement based on a short and provocative marketing video.

    At the risk of stating the obvious, it is worth mentioning that the conservative evangelical world can’t really tolerate its dogmas being questioned. People who study the Bible and come to a conclusion that puts them at odds with the status quo tend to be excommunicated as heretics (eg look what happened to Peter Enns). I find this really saddening, and have long felt that we need to find a better way of handling our differences than burning people at the stake.

  • Smithy

    Sorry, I’ve just spotted the comments by 4granted and Keri Wyatt Kent which say very similar things to me. I hadn’t read them when I wrote my 2 cents!!

  • pnd

    i, too, don’t feel prejudging is advisable. however, nor do i think rob bell’s elusiveness a prudent way to go. either, he has adopted unorthodox views (putting it more tastefully) and does need to be exposed (and mourned), or he has been intentionally deceptive for marketing purposes. either way is just wrong and a poor way to treat the brothers and sisters in the body.

    my hope is that he hasn’t adopted rogue doctrine and that his publishers made decisions in marketing that he had no control over. one can hope.

  • hypertolerant

    Let me see if I follow this :

    1) Tosh et al conclude from two chapters of an unpublished book and a YOUtube video that Rob Bell is a heretic

    2) If Rob Bell was not a heretic, he’d come out and clairify his position,

    3) Rob Bell has not come out to clarify his position,

    ergo, 4) Rob bell is a heretic.

    1) When in the history of academia was reading two chapters of a book and watching four minute YOUtube video considered “first hand evidence”? At most, a person can do is construct an inductive investigation into what Rob Bell’s book is about. However, the reasonable conclusion inevitabley ends like this: “Based on two chapters from Love Wins and this YOUtube video I think the book is about X, but I wont know until I read it”. So, on this premiss, no one has the last word on Bell’s book yet.

    (2) – (3)- invalid. Rob is under no obligation to clarify what his book is about especially since it is going to be released soon. He might be more inclined if nothing else would be said on the issue then those two chapters and the YOUtube video, but that isn’t the case.

    (4)- In light of the problems with 1-3, I don’t see any reason why anyone should entertain the conclusion that Rob Bell is a heretic with evidence from 1-3.

    I think this entire discussion is sad. When the Church is no longer effective in the ministry of evangelism it will look instead to hunt for witches. This is not to be mistaken with “contending for the faith” like in Jude. Two chapters and YOUtube video is not a false doctrine, the book is yet to come out. And besides, no writing exists in a vacuum. Not, Ben’s, Rob’s or even the Scriptures. Everything has a context, and to judge it outisde of that context isn’t the best way to divide and handle the word of truth, at least, I don’t think so.

  • John

    Ben I’m sorry about my previous post, me and Bell have bad blood since his velvet elvis turned one of my great Christian friends into questioning if scripture is authoritative and accurate. After calming down, and reading that Paul and Derek called me to apologize I re-read the last part and realized I was not speaking in love but in anger. The last part about Bell taking place before Christ was inappropriate and could have done without it. I’m sorry.

  • Ken Anwari

    Gracious goodness, what a firestorm! (pun intended) LOVE WINS will surely sell like slushies in the Sahara!

    I have no doubt that this Hellish issue will be the next “test of orthodoxy” that the heresy hunters will concoct for many “conservative” denominations. Their older tests have grown stale, and their latest tests haven’t gained enough traction. So sad, actually.

    Having witnessed the ruthless wrath of one major witch-hunt and a few minor ones, I’m in no mood to experience another.

    I did find this article that was quite sane & helpful: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/marchweb-only/rob-bell-universalism.html

  • MArtin

    Did you talk to Mark and John before posting this?

  • http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/ Chris

    I’d actually say that Love Wins is somewhat of a Rorschach Test: If you can’t stand Bell, or have always questioned what he had to say, you will read the book through that lens and find what you’re looking for. If you’ve been on the fence about him, you’ll still be there. If you’ve read him charitably in the past and found that, even when you disagree, he is still within the stream of orthodox Christianity, you will still find that he’s there. One of his stated purposes in the book is to get folks to study what is actually in Scripture, and to ask the tough questions – and accept fuzzy answers and to be charitable to others who do, as well. For example, here is an examination of what the Scriptures actually say about hell, and it is possible to take them seriously, yet come up with a different answer than eternal, conscious torture.

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