- Isaac Newton, Eat Your Heart Out
- Who Gets the Credit?
- Andrew Peterson
- An Unfettered Gospel?
- Early Bracket Champ!
- Delusions of Innocence
- What a Weekend!
- It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!
- Jackhammers of Grace
- Love Wins?
- What if They Were Bunnies?
- Let's Go Dancing!
- Challies Reviews Bell
- Wilson on Universalism
- Book Bracketology II Coming Soon!
- Scientists Continue to Speak Out
- Discrimination and Risk
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Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Here we go, a review of Rob Bell's book by the chief Christian book reviewer of our day, Tim Challies.
Bell begins the book with surprising forthrightness: Jesus’ story has been hijacked by a number of different stories that Jesus has no interest in telling. “The plot has been lost, and it’s time to reclaim it.” (Preface, vi)Unfortunately, this is not unexpected. But it is still heart-breaking... not so much because of Rob Bell's soul (which is important) but because of the millions of souls he is leading astray to a very real Hell. May his words perish and wither so they may yet live.A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better…. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear. (ibid)You may want to read that again.
It really says that. And it really means what you think it means. Though it takes time for that to become clear.
A God who would allow people to go to hell is not a great God, according to Bell, and the traditional belief that He would is “devastating … psychologically crushing … terrifying and traumatizing and unbearable” (pp. 136-7).
God is at best sort of great, a little great—great for saving some, but evil for allowing others to perish. Dangerous words, those. It is a fearful thing to ascribe evil to God.
So what of the gospel? Where is the gospel and what is the gospel? Ultimately, what Bell offers in this book is a gospel with no purpose. In his understanding of the Bible, people are essentially good, although we certainly do sin, and are completely free to choose or not choose to love God on our own terms. Even then he seems to believe that most people, given enough time and opportunity, will turn to God.
Christians do not need more confusion. They need clarity. They need teachers who are willing to deal honestly with what the Bible says, no matter how hard that truth is. And let’s be honest—many truths are very, very hard to swallow.
Love does win, but not the kind of love that Bell talks about in this book. The love he describes is one that is founded solely on the idea that the primary object of God’s love is man; indeed, the whole story, he writes, can be summed up in these words: “For God so loved the world.” But this doesn’t hold a candle to altogether amazing love of God as actually shown in the Bible. The God who “shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8), who acts on our behalf not so much because His love for us is great, but because He is great (Isaiah 48:9, Ezekiel 20:9,14,22,44, 36:22; John 17:1-5).
That’s the kind of love that wins. That’s the kind of love that motivates us to love our neighbors enough to compel them to flee from the wrath to come. And our love for people means nothing if we do not first and foremost love God enough to be honest about Him.