Monday, March 28, 2011

Rob Bell's questions about heaven and hell: "Love Wins"

I haven't read Rob Bell's new book, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived or seen him preach. I have a number of good, solid-Biblical/Christian friends who are fans of his.

Someone sent me the trailer on the book for feedback-- and I found it provocative but not at all over-the-line. It was mostly comprised of questions. In this, Bell follows in good or dangerous steps. After all, the ministry of Jesus featured questions as a dominant form of teaching and discipling. Then again, the devil's first words are in the form of a question!

Given the controversy, I would be careful with Bell. But I would be careful with his critics as well. Michael Youssef's response is very disappointing. In particular, a comparison to Bishop John Spong (if you know his work) is outrageous and slanderous. (Youssef also trashes The Shack-- when a more nuanced view would be much preferred.)

Al Mohler's review is far more thoughtful. Even so, I wonder if this is an example of exclusivists labeling inclusivists as universalists and liberals. (You might also notice that Mohler conflates "eternal punishment" with "eternal punishing". I don't know if Bell deals with any of the various forms of annihilationism in his book.)

I also wonder if Bell is saying that X doctrine is wrong OR that X doctrine is what we're known for, but not in balance with the related doctrines Y and Z.

It looks like a book that I'll have to read...


At March 28, 2011 at 10:33 AM , Blogger Darrell said...

Did you see Doug Wilson's comments?

It's worth 10 or 15 minutes of your time.

At March 28, 2011 at 11:45 AM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...


Bell wrestles with the nature and existence of Hell? I would not have gathered that (especially the latter) from Bell's preview or Mohler's response.

He takes pokes at Stott (even though he says that he is a thorough Biblical exegete!) on annihilationism-- and calls it a close cousin of universalism. Hmmm...

The Biblical basis for a form of annihilationism is debatable but quite respectable.

I like Wilson's reference to post-mill. But ironically, it could be compared more closely to universalism in the same manner!

At March 28, 2011 at 4:15 PM , Blogger Bryce Raley said...

I haven't read the book yet either. I watched the videos, and read a lot of the blog backlash before, during and after the book launch.

The only opinions I've read were from the reformed school of thinking: Mohler, Driscoll, Piper, Justin Taylor. I've been waiting for some non-reformed folks to weigh in- just to get a different perspective.

Look forward to more reviews from discerning minds.

At March 28, 2011 at 4:16 PM , Blogger Darrell said...

I'm increasingly sympathetic to the postmil eschatology laid out by Wilson and exemplified by the like of B.B. Warfield.

I've not read Bell's book, either, but he's been on a certain trajectory for a while. My fear is that he continue in a more clearly heretical direction.

Russ Moore argues that Bell's theology as laid out in the book undermines the atonement (

I've seen a couple of long reviews, too, that others have commended. I hesitate to pass them along without having read them, but I assume they are sound.

One is by Kevin Deyoung,

The other is from Denny Burk,

At March 29, 2011 at 8:21 AM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

Here's John Wilson in the WSJ:


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