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For those looking to go deeper with Rob Bell’s bestselling pioneering book Love Wins, this companion offers:Insights and commentary by theologians, Bible scholars, scientists, and pastors Deep analysis of all relevant Bible passages on heaven, hell, and salvation Detailed chapter summaries, discussion questions, and Bible studies for individuals, groups, and classes Excerpts from works throughout Christian history illustrating the variety of teachers also debating the issues Bell wrestles with New material by Bell on his mission for the book and how people can take the next step
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Love Wins really resonated with me. Overall, it was a good read that challenged my views and stretched my thinking. Ultimately causing me to delve deeper into God's word. In a sense it liberated me from the constraints of my own ill-conceived views about God. I have for many years viewed God much like my earthly father: fear-monger, rule-maker, always careful not to incur his wrath. But, then Jesus comes along and my view of God changes everything. I have long held to the belief that Jesus has reconciled ALL things to God. Ultimately, as long as we place our trust in Christ... everything will be alright; complete with our imperfections and screw ups. My view of grace has become broader in scope. It's no longer bound by individual belief or doctrine, but is a free gift for the entire world. And, I do believe all people will have a chance to grab hold of that gift, now, and just maybe even after death.Bell's retelling of the story of the Prodigal Son really hit home with me too. How often are we the older son, at home with the Father, but never really enjoying life? We think life is unfair, full of rules, strict doctrine, theology, legalism, and requiring strict obedience, but fail to really enjoy life and engage our Father.In regards to theology, the chapter concerning hell really made me pause and think. Is hell a literal place that God simply throws people away to be burned and consumed by fire because they didn't accept Jesus in this life? Is God all loving, but then shows no love to those who never heard the Gospel and consigns them to eternal torment? Or, was hell simply a place called Gehenna where the city trash dump existed near Jerusalem at the time of Jesus, where trash was thrown to the fire and the animals can be found gnashing at the teeth? Or, is hell what we make from rejecting the love of God, both in the life now and the life thereafter?And what about salvation? Is salvation limited and confined to the natural world in which we live? Or, can salvation be received even after we die in the spiritual world? Bell presupposes that God may save people even after their earthly death. If you would have told me this two years ago I would have scoffed at the idea. But, the more I thought about it, why couldn't He? If God is totally sovereign, then why should He be confined and limited to saving people only in the natural world, and not in the spiritual world? Bell references the story of Abraham's bosom in Luke 16 as possible evidence that God can indeed save people in the afterlife. And, I believe this passage is key because it shows interaction between God and what is presumed to be hell or separation (great chasm). The fact that God can still interact with those in this "place" shows that God doesn't give up and is not absent in the afterlife no matter the destination.Although I agreed with a majority of Bell's material, there were a few things I disagreed with. I disagreed that people will be able to be saved from hell and move on over into heaven after they die. This would imply that God wavers in His judgment. I believe once God pronounces His judgment, what is done is done. But, I do believe that people may still be saved after their death prior to judgment. Does this mean I believe in a sort of purgatory? Perhaps. I don't know. I believe there is a biblical case for it. This is something I'm still wrestling through. Gregory Boyd talks a lot about this from a Protestant perspective. I also disagree that hell is temporary, only a refining fire. Hell is permanent. It is literal and not figurative. But, what hell looks like we can only speculate.I also disagreed with the minimal use of Scripture. Bell really needed to use more Scripture to back his claims. A lot of what he proposed was speculative, but certainly a possibility. I believe Bell would have built a stronger case would he have utilized more Scripture, along with the early church's views on these matters.However, what I disagreed with the most was that Bell left almost all of the subject matter open-ended. I know this was intentional. But, I think he left more people scratching their heads. I hope he will someday write a follow-up book to answer these open-ended questions. For instance, I want to know more details about why he believes people will be saved after they die. I want to know more details about why he believes hell will be more of an imaginative reality rather than the traditional views held by most evangelicals.All throughout the book I thought Rob Bell gives compelling alternative views to heaven, hell, and eternal salvation from a biblical perspective. Even though I might not have agreed with everything, it most certainly has made me rethink my own position on these issues. I didn't see any glaring red flags or heresy from my own observation. I hope those who ranted and raved against him will relax a bit in the spirit of Christ and unity. Bell simply provides another view complete with Scripture and hermeneutical research to solidify his thoughts. And, many of his arguments are not new, but simply resurrected from the past. Do we default to centuries old traditions/interpretations on these matters and dismiss all other views? Or, do we open ourselves to probing deeper into these issues, engaging in dialog, and possibly begin to understand them from a much different perspective?If anything, Rob Bell has taught me two things: that it's okay to question fundamental issues and love indeed wins.more
This is Bell's controversial masterpiece about "heaven, hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived." Love, says this internationally influential pastor, wins in the end ... and nobody has to go to hell. God wants all people to be saved. Will God get what He wants?Of Bell's works, I've read only this and Velvet Elvis, though I have three more in my review stack. I'll be spreading them out over the next few months. I confess that too much Bell, with his colloquial rah-rah style, might push me off the deep end, but in Love Wins, the message overcomes the style and earns five stars. I also feel the book is very well organized, leading inexorably to a logical conclusion.That said, this book does not probe any deep theological arguments. It's far too short for that. It's a common-sense approach to a troubling question: Can God be both loving and vengeful?Actually, Bell's book is chock full of questions! It makes you think about your perception of Jesus, of God, and of His eternal plan. Bell says, "Often times when I meet atheists and we talk about the god they don't believe in, we quickly discover that I don't believe in that god either." When we hear that a certain person has rejected Christ, we should probably first ask, "Which Christ?" The antiscience, antigay one standing out on the sidewalk with his bullhorn, telling people that they're going to burn forever? Or the one who invites everyone to share in his heaven?Which invites another question. Which heaven? The one far away, a dream of eternal bliss, or the one Jesus constantly spoke of, here, now, on this earth? Bell's "heaven" is very "earthy," rightly recognizing that Jesus spoke not of a place but of an age ... an age where God dwells with his people, on this earth. Bell is not denying an afterlife, he simply is putting the focus where Jesus did: the now. But what about hell? Well, there's plenty of hell on earth now, too. Surprisingly, not everyone prefers heaven. Love wins, and we get whatever we want. But over and over and over, God speaks of restoration ... helping those who have slipped into hell back on their feet and back into heaven.That's God's agenda. So here we are at a final question: Does this magnificent, mighty, marvelous God fail in the end?more
Brian McLaren says of this book, “In Love Wins, Rob Bell tackles the old heaven-and-hell question and offers a courageous alternative answer. Thousands of readers will find freedom and hope and a new way of understanding the biblical story - from beginning to end." McLaren's assessment is right on track. For those who struggle with the theology that God loved the world so much he sent his son, but that same God of love is willing to condemn people to eternal torment, Bell offers some alternative ways to encounter the message of God in Jesus. Bell suggests that the message Jesus brought has been co-opted by other stories - messages that Jesus isn't interested in because they weren't his story. If you are interested in reclaiming the story - God loves us and wants a relationship with us - God is reaching out to us and seeking to embrace us - if you want to reclaim the message of Jesus, Bell's book points you in that direction. It is well written with an easy to read style that asks the reader to reflect on scripture and on the message that we hear from Jesus.more
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