With so many opinions, speculations, and criticisms floating around the internet, I feel like I don’t have too much to add about this book, but I did promise to write a review, so here it is.
Love Wins conflicts with my beliefs, perhaps, more than any book I have ever read. The problem is that is makes so much sense to me. While I will not say that I agree with the conclusions of Love Wins, I do find it incredibly compelling, and I believe that we all should find it compelling.
The problem that I have with most of the controversy surrounding Rob Bell’s unconventional ideas has nothing to do whether I think he is right or wrong. My problem is that the debate has been so reactionary and divisive. Why can’t we have a civil conversation about divergent ideas where we respect each other, understanding that we each have some very valid, well-reasoned ideas? Why does the debate always resort to exaggeration, hyperbole, and tossing around labels like liberal, universalist, and heretic? I long for the late-night, pipe-smoking, civilized, theological discussions of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
It seems to me that some of Bell’s ideas in the book venture into the realm of speculation. His idea about God’s grace extending beyond death is certainly not a topic that Scripture deals much with. Most of Bell’s thoughts about this idea are based on the way he sees the character of God: always redeeming, always loving, always bringing hope.
Even though some of Rob Bell’s ideas may not be fully developed, he does reveal that the evangelical understanding of many theological ideas (salvation, eternity, end times, Heaven, Hell, redemption) have been based largely on tradition. These ideas certainly deserve an honest, thoughtful second look by each of us.
Rob Bell is always very good at explaining the broad themes of the Bible that point to God’s master plan. Even if we do not come to the same conclusions about Hell or redemption as Bell, this understanding of God’s big plan makes Love Wins an important book that is worth reading and discussing.