Rob Bell / Love Wins Review – Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Synopsis:
We have been taught that heaven is always about somewhere else. But the scriptures do not talk about heaven in this way. Not ever. Heaven is not what we escape to. Bell rightly connects Jesus to the line of prophets before him. They talked about “this age” and “the age to come.” The age to come in the prophets is: 1) diverse; multi-ethic, tradition, sensory, mutli-everything. 2) earthy; wine, crops, eating, feasting. 3) not new; it always includes earth & all of creation. Some of creation doesn’t survive: war, rape, greed, injustice, violence, pride, division, exploitation, disgrace, etc. The time when this stuff is purged is called the “day of the Lord,” and it is when God says enough to all that threatens his peace/shalom.
He touches on all of the salient passages from Jesus and Paul that demonstrate there is great continuity between the life we know now, and “heaven.” He asks the question, “How many o f us could handle heaven today? How would we do life w/out our crutches – pride, bigotry, cynicism, slander, (or our need to be right).” Our conversation about who is “in” and who is “out” often misses the ways in which that question is a surprise in the scriptures. It’s typically the wrong people who are in. Remember that next time someone is railing about the heretics. By eternal life standards we are all heretics.
Heaven is not: intangible, esoteric, immaterial, floaty, dreamy, hazy, or somewhere else. “For Jesus, heaven is more real than what we experience now. This is true for the future, when the earth and heaven become one, but also for today.”
When Jesus uses the word “heaven”
– Sometimes he’s using it as a substitute for the name of God (as in kingdom of heaven)
– Sometimes he is using it to talk about the future coming together of heaven and earth – when the will be one.
– Sometimes he used it to talk about eternal, intense, real, experiences of joy, peace, and love in this life AND in the age to come. He uses it to merge the lines between heaven and earth, future and present, here and now.
“eternal life is less about a kind of time that starts when we die, and more about a quality and vitality of life lived now in connection to God. Eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts now.”
This age is a struggle. It’s not like the age to come:
– This life is like playing piano w/oven mits on.
– Like embracing our lover w/a hazmat suit on.
– Having a conversation under water
– Tasting a spice w/a mouth full of gravel.
This is a good chapter. There is nothing novel here – this is orthodox Christian thought on heave, eternal life, this age, age to come and the concept of time (chronos v. chairos)
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  • My copy of Rob's book just showed up today. I've liked Rob Bell for sometime for his ability to articulate the message of Jesus in ways I hadn't thought of. He and McLaren and others seem to get a lot of negative press which i think is uncalled for. None of us has a monopoly on the truth. I just finished another semester and had a class on reformation theology. Our view of the Kingdom is continuing to evolve. Imagine if we hadn't taking the views of many of the great reformers to heart. Whenever the subject of heaven and hell gets brought up in discussion I'm always a bit uncomfortable with the standard cliches. I'm reminded of Moltmann's comments:"I'm not a universalist because there are some people I don't want to see on the other side…but God might be". Also, "I don't want to live in heaven, that's where the angels live. I want to live in the new earth where justice reigns".

  • Nice comment Scott. No monopoly on truth – that's right. I also think that our very definition of truth needs tweaking. I think it is not a rational abstraction. Truth is not something you can write down and parrot back. Truth is a person. Truth was embodied by Jesus. And now we are meant to be a truthful people who embody Jesus. When we call each other heretics and fight and squabble over things like "is hell forever," which is all this controversy comes down to after all, then I think we are not living truthfully.