Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 24:46 (Spring 2011)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. By Rob Bell. New York, NY: HarperOne, 2011. 202 pp. Cloth, $22.99.

The fanfare that surrounded the release of this book was enormous. Bell, Pastor of a megachurch in Grand Rapids, MI (Mars Hill Bible Church), previously garnered a lot of attention with his book Velvet Elvis.

Since Bell is openly postmodern, this book should not come as a shock to anyone. Postmodern Evangelicals believe in salvation now (psychological wholeness, saving the planet via ecology, instituting peace and justice in our time, etc.), in tolerance, and in pluralism. Thus the notion of eternal torment in hell is one that unsurprisingly is rejected by Bell. His view of reality makes a place of eternal torment unthinkable.

It should be noted that Bell, like many postmoderns, deliberately couches his views in such a way as to make it hard to pin him down. Bell practices theological double-speak. Hence the reader knows where he is going, but those who wish to defend him as being orthodox can find snippets that indeed seem to suggest that.

This book is filled with questions, many of which are rhetorical. For example, on pages 5, 11, 60, and 102 there are at least seven questions per page. About one page in five has one or more questions on it. And these questions are rarely answered. Bell assumes that we know his answer to the questions. By the way he slants the discussion, he clearly is pushing the reader to accept his postmodern conclusions.

Any fair-minded reader would come away with the following understandings of what Bell says:

  • No human being will spend eternity in eternal, conscious torment (pp. viii, 1-3, 84, 109, 155, 173-74).
  • People will be given another chance to be born again after this life is over (p. 108).
  • “There is hell now” (p. 71, 79).
  • “There is hell later” (p. 79).
  • “Hell is not forever” (p. 109).
  • Salvation is here and now, not pie in the sky (p. 6).
  • Homosexuality is okay with Jesus (p. 9).
  • The death of Christ eliminates the possibility of eternal condemnation for everyone: “What Jesus does is declare that he, and he alone, is saving everybody” (p. 155).
  • People of every religion are exempt from hell and guaranteed eternal joy: “As soon as the door is opened to Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Baptists from Cleveland, many Christians become very uneasy…” (p. 155).
  • God has one overriding attribute: love. Love wins in the sense that God pours His love on all of mankind. All of His other attributes are subordinate to His love (pp. vii, 1...
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