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Millions of Christians have struggled with how to reconcile God's love and God's judgment: Has God created billions of people over thousands of years only to select a few to go to heaven and everyone else to suffer forever in hell? Is this acceptable to God? How is this "good news"?

Troubling questions—so troubling that many have lost their faith because of them. Others only whisper the questions to themselves, fearing or being taught that they might lose their faith and their church if they ask them out loud.

But what if these questions trouble us for good reason? What if the story of heaven and hell we have been taught is not, in fact, what the Bible teaches? What if what Jesus meant by heaven, hell, and salvation are very different from how we have come to understand them?

What if it is God who wants us to face these questions?

Author, pastor, and innovative teacher Rob Bell presents a deeply biblical vision for rediscovering a richer, grander, truer, and more spiritually satisfying way of understanding heaven, hell, God, Jesus, salvation, and repentance. The result is the discovery that the "good news" is much, much better than we ever imagined.

Love wins.

Topics: Christian Afterlife, Hell, Heaven, Salvation, Love, Hope, Redemption, Jesus, Inspirational, and Lyrical

Published: HarperCollins on Mar 15, 2011
ISBN: 9780062049636
List price: $8.99
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I have heard a lot about this book, the bad things and the good things, nevertheless, after reading it, I realized that there were more talking about the book than content in the book itself. As a book it is badly written and plotted. This book could receive half of the pages that it actually has. I really don't see what the writer was thinking about when he wrote it in this format. This is not a theological book, it is more like some sort of writer private aphorisms. Hermeneutically poor and the writer misuses Greek and Hebrew language. There is no exegesis at all, it looks like a peace of work practiced by any first year Bible school student. I think that the writer had a goal, punch the Christian doctrine of heaven and hell, but he drops it as a blind man. read more
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A twisting of actual scripture to support his own wants out of God. Rob Bell might want God to be different than He is but that will not change Him. read more
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Good read. Lots of good questions and lots of good references. Two best lines from the book. 1. "Sometimes what we are witnessing is simply a massive exercise in missing the point."2. "Grace and generosity aren't fair; that's their very essence."read more
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I really love this book! It's so easy to read and understand. And he supports his thesis and each point he makes extremely well.read more
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This was an appealing book to read. I am an Episcopalian, not an evangelical. So, I am quite accustomed to a variety of viewpoints on how Christianity is lived out. Rob Bell stresses that the heaven and the kingdom of God are part of the same idea and that means we need to live our life right now in response to God's love. The Christian faith has been hi-jacked by people who want to line up people into two camps, those bound for heaven, and those bound for hell. Bell rejects that binding.The style is more stacatto than what I am normally accustomed, sometimes almost a series of bullet points. I am more accustomed to hearing this style spoen in a sermon rather than written in a book. But this style does focus the reader to Bell's points, particularly on paying attention to what is found in scripture, and the need for an abiding love for ourselves and for humanity when dealing with the concepts of heaven and hell.The one area that Bell doesn't deal with is that how do we cope with a loved ones destiny just after he or she has died. Most people I know struggle with that for certain people, and may even feel bereft. This is not an everyday pastoral concern, but one which does come up.read more
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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.read more
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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.read more
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Continuing my uncharacteristic journey into Christian theology, I read this book. This is a hugely controversial book for American Evangelicals, although having read it, I think that most of the controversy was generated by people who had not actually read this very short book. Basically, the author looks at what Jesus has to say about hell and takes the merciful interpretation. It's a you may be surprised at the people you see in heaven emphasis rather than the more usual idea that heaven's inhabitants will consist only of the very few people whose theology exactly agrees with one's own. Bell also separates what's actually in the Bible on the topic from the cultural constructs that form a huge part of the traditional fundamentalist view of heaven and hell. It's very thought provoking, but not really that shocking, unless you're really, really committed to wanting everyone you ever disliked punished for eternity. The sans-serif typeface drove me nuts, but that's nit-picking.read more
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A thorough discussion of exactly what the subtitle proclaims: heaven, hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived. But it's so much more than that as well. It's a book that re-casts the vision of what it means to live as a Christian by re-examining the historic roots of the Christian faith and takes its lessons from the Church Fathers understanding of what it means to be a Christian in light of our unavoidable mortality. The only down-side: I would have preferred more notes in the back like Rob did for his previous books. I want to read up on the extended context of those quotes and ideas, and now it's going to take a bit longer for me to track them down.read more
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I feel weird writing a book review for Love Wins when so many great leaders and famous pastors have done the same thing.Some hate it, some love it, some tolerate it… certainly this book will not be labeled so quickly.If you have not read it, but are reading the reviews to decide if you should, I fear that the only way to know if you’ll find it useful is… if you read it. The only reason I would steer you as a reader from a book would be that I thought it contained dangerous or heretical teaching; and I don’t. Nothing in this book will alter your salvation or change your faith or standing with God. In the end, Rob’s book is about love and I believe so is God.I have read this book from cover to cover, and I read each word carefully and took it in, I didn’t skim it and jump to conclusions, I acted as though the author was there in the room with me and we were having a conversation. I read the book slowly over time and allowed the words to sit with me and last, I talked with others about what I read to have a sounding board.I doubt those who have given this book such a low review have done the same.Deservedly, they probably know scripture better than I do, or at least the “ammunition verses” to use in situations like this – but as a pastor myself – and having been in conversations and ministry like Rob has, I know that a conversation like this – is important.When I read some of these reviews I find myself saying, “Rob never said that.” Many have jumped to their own conclusions and because words carry such weight and can be loaded with bias and history, we sling them like rocks or stamp them like labels without so much as a care.And even though I do not think I have ever typed a negative word about Rob in the past, there were two aspects of the book I disagreed with (notice I did not say Rob was “wrong”).The first is, Rob suggested that perhaps after death, people will get a second chance to go to Heaven. Yes, they will go to Hell, yes they will have chosen it, but perhaps God will bring them before judgment once more (Matt 20:1-16). Some have called this “univeralism” however; Rob does not believe that God will “pull” all into Heaven as universalists do.Rob squarely indicated that he believes there are those that will choose hell forever. Do I think there are second chances after death? No, I don’t… but the bigger question should be… does God? I can’t dictate in my personal theology what God should or should not do in judgment. He is the judge and I am not.Maybe Rob is a “post-modern Universalist” and perhaps it is time for words to carry new meanings.What does the bible say? “One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus is Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11). The scriptures say “every” person will bend the knee in worship and that “every” mouth will make a confession of faith. What does that mean? It certainly does not sound like “Hell wins” does it? Because right now, most Christians believe Hell wins. We believe two-thirds of the earth will go to a place of torment, fire and punishment. We believe that a loving forgiving God will send millions and millions of people to eternal torment simply because they never said the sinner’s prayer (a prayer not found in the bible). But if “wide is the path that leads to destruction” (Matthew 7:13) how can we in the next breath say, “I know the end of the story (meaning the bible) and Jesus wins.”He does?Jesus wins if the majority of the world goes to Hell?How is that winning?I guess it’s a back handed win by having the “last word” with a giant “I told you so” as you slam dunk the naysayers and doubters of the world into the universe’s largest barbeque pit.Second Rob indicated that Jesus is the “mechanism” that each of us goes to heaven; however it is uncertain how that mechanism works. As Christians we have claimed that “confession” is the “key” that unlocks the “Jesus code” and allows sinners to enter paradise, but do we always believe that?If a two month old baby dies, we say that the little one is now “resting in the arms of Jesus.” Why? Did the baby make a confession of faith? No, but we sometimes bend the rules don’t we? So the question then becomes… does God? Does God bend the rules for the lost tribe in the deep dark Amazon forest who have never heard the name of Jesus? Will Jews who faithfully read the torah and pray to YHWH go to Heaven? Will nominal Jehovah’s Witnesses go to heaven? A staunch Christian would love to say “no” but in the end… aren’t they God’s rules?Personally I believe a knowledge of Jesus and a willingness to follow him are required for salvation – so here is another area my beliefs don’t align with Rob’s … but… as far as we know there is no “video evidence” of Heaven, Hell or eternity. It is not up to us to steak a flag in the sand and demand that eternity has to be exactly the way we dictate. If Ghandi is standing next to me in Heaven, I am not going to storm into God’s office and demand that he be deported.Rob believes that in the end Love Wins and that yes… God wins.But is that heretical?Is it so bad to believe that God’s grace and love and forgiveness will extend to my enemy? Is it so wrong to believe that Heaven will be filled with people from every race, language and nation (Rev 5:9)?Rob’s intent was so that this book would start a discussion, not an argument. Rob wanted people to talk with openness about God’s love and to perhaps find new ways to talk to those that have so many questions about a loving God who allows “good people” to burn forever. Certainly Heaven and Hell are not as “simple” as we make them out to be, and most definitely we can not just “dismiss” these questions with a three word tweet.read more
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I am pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed "Love Wins". I've never been a Rob Bell fan, having started (but never finished) "Velvet Elvis" and "Sex God", but this book is worth picking up and wrestling with. For that reason — the value of wrestling with its topics — it will stand as one of the more important books of the decade.After having just read C.S. Lewis' "The Great Divorce" for the second time, I began Rob Bell's "Love Wins". The similarities are apparent. It's quite clear that Lewis' perspective on the subject of Hell has influenced Rob. However, I don't think that Bell's views of the Afterlife are identical to those of Lewis, but he's certainly not less orthodox in this area than Lewis.One thing that struck me a little less than half-way through: "Love Wins" quotes from Scripture A LOT — much more than the average Christian book. Significantly, Bell doesn't spend a lot of time trying to take verses that seem on the surface to contradict his points and show how they really don't contradict his points. Instead, he spends most of his time quoting Scripture in showing how frequently and in how strong language the Bible at least seems to indicate that eventually "all shall be well". This is significant because it's apparent that his purpose with this book is to get us to dialog about Heaven and Hell — about the tension between how we often view world history, in light of Christian belief, as a tragedy, though the Bible in many places rises to such poignant superlatives of grandeur that seem to tell a different story. The Bible does say powerful things like:"As in Adam all die, so in Christ all shall be made alive." (1 Corinthians 15)"All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him — those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord." (Psalm 22)"Love is patient... it always protects... always hopes... Love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13)"Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself, that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him." (Ephesians 1)"At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2)"For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." (Colossians 1)"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man." (Hebrews 2)"Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." (Luke 2)"For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets." (Acts 3)"He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces." (Isaiah 25)"I will not contend forever, neither will I be always wroth; for the spirit should fail before men, and the souls which I have made." (Isaiah 57:16)"The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever." (Psalm 103)"For I will not fight against you forever; I will not always be angry. If I were, all people would pass away — all the souls I have made.""His mercy endureth forever." (Psalm 136)Those verses sound pretty all-encompassing. And the list just goes on and on, in both Old Testament and New. The point: we need to talk about this. If we assume that what we have been told is true is indeed true, then we merely perpetuate the very root problem that got us to the point where we needed a Reformation in the first place. We really must confront the issues and admit ambiguity where there is ambiguity. Assumptions limit growth. The pursuit of truth requires a willingness to accept that which we do not already accept. Humblemindedness — a humility of intellect and will — this is the very foundation of learning.My own views don't completely coincide with either Rob Bell's or C.S. Lewis'. But that doesn't mean I can't learn from them, or even learn in spite of them. I value how these two have added to our attempts at grasping after God.read more
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Bell's defense of his eschatological position, a variant on universalism.It must first be said that it is good to have a conversation about eschatology; Bell is right to say that eschatology will shape one's present expectations as well as one's views about the future. He is also right to point out that there are many popular but un-Biblical views and attitudes about what will happen to people in the end.The case he makes seems so persuasive, but there are "skeletons in the closet" left unaddressed. Those "skeletons in the closet" really undo his thesis. For the most part, Bell does present a more Biblical view of the future expectation of the believer, speaking strongly about the restoration and reconciliation of the creation back to God in the resurrection. But he does not treat hell like he treats heaven. He takes the most extreme "orthodox" portrayal of hell and uses it as his foil with no attempt to sort through the various nuances in positions about it. Hell gets mostly spoken of in terms of present injustice and terrible conditions-- something not seen in Scripture for certain. It's almost insulting to see him attempt to claim some high ground by showing how all the evil in the world can well be called "hell." Sure, it's "hell-ish," but it it's not hell. Hell was always considered in starker, more dark terms than present suffering.Put simply: if one were to treat heaven like Bell treats hell, one would become a postmillennial social gospel advocate. Bell would not agree with that; his inconsistency is evident. The main thesis-- love will win, in some way, all (or most of) those who rejected God in life will see their error in the hereafter and cry out for reconciliation with God, and God will welcome all-- sounds great in a postmodern, post-Enlightenment Western context. But Bell never deals with some of the images used to describe hell, and does not deal with matters of justice, the wrath of God, or the vengeance of God, prominent themes in both testaments. But the biggest challenge is that he provides not one Biblical passage that speaks of a place where this will happen; he only provides Scriptures speaking of God reconciling and restoring all things to Himself.And the one who will go to great lengths to define "eternal" and "torment" does not spend one second doubting his definition of "all things" and how that would look. Bell, I imagine, assumes that to reconcile and restore "all things" means exactly that, and such provides the basis for this expected future reconciliation of the condemned. But what if reconciliation and restoration involves access and opportunity and was never intended to be an absolute statement of the salvation of all? Now there's no ground for what he has said; the entire concept goes up in smoke. Such is not much of a Biblical foundation for such a critical dogma!Bell spends a lot of time talking about views of God and the "type of God" people believe in. It's a necessary challenge and issue with which to deal, but the standard in the book is never directed back to understanding the revelation; it's based far too much on feelings and "logical" connections, and thus is entirely one-sided. Bell has boxed himself in too tightly in his theology; in it, there's no room for the condemnation without hope of Satan and the angels as Jesus declares in Matthew 25; what can be said of God commanding genocide/ethnic cleansing in 1 Samuel 15? What of the vengeance of God in Romans 12? The wrath of God displayed in Judgment in Romans 2? As difficult as it might be for the Christian to understand such things, or even perhaps despite the revulsion we might feel at such things, we are not given the right to make up our own God and be pleasing to the One True God; we have to make sense of everything God has revealed about Himself and His expectations for mankind and what lies ahead. However one may agree or disagree with Bell, the fact remains that he has not sufficiently wrestled with this in this book.This theology seems to be a postmodern reaction to excesses of the past while remaining consistent with the ethos of the present. No one can accuse Bell of being "countercultural" with his theology in this book; one may not appreciate questioning of motives, but the person who believes that his culture does not impact his belief system is a deceived fool. For that matter, it's not good to be countercultural for the sake of being countercultural. I say this because the theology behind "Love Wins" is exactly what you would expect of someone who has all the trappings of modern convenience and enjoys "first world problems" and is completely removed from the oppressions of injustice that terrorized the world for generations and still terrorizes far too many in the world. In "Love Wins," there can be no real vengeance, no real righting of wrongs; both oppressor and oppressed die and ultimately all come to reconciliation with God. The worldly minded can take this message and use it to justify continued immorality; there will be plenty of opportunities in the hereafter to get back into God's good graces. Yes, I know that Bell would oppose this; he would want people to see that such is a counterfeit life and does not partake of the true life in Jesus Christ. But we are fallen creatures in a fallen world, and plenty of people take bad theology and use it to justify immorality.Rob Bell declares at one point that a loving God could not say "too late" to anyone. But that's not what the message of the parable of the virgins says (Matthew 25:1-13); that theology cannot lie behind Jesus' declaration to those who professed belief in Him in Matthew 7:21-23. And that's the real danger with this theology: if Bell's wrong, and deceived a lot of people in the process, the damage is severe. There are always dangers in having bad theology; Bell points many of them out, but is not immune to them himself.This is a necessary conversation, and Bell has certainly found a way to galvanize the discussion. Nevertheless, no one should walk away feeling as if all questions have been answered and Bell's argumentation is sufficient. It's not. And the questions that it leaves, the issues left unaddressed, the theological realities of the Bible shoved out of sight cannot be so easily shrugged off.read more
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Where I got the book: from the library.I'm going to try to keep away from discussing the theological points in this book, mostly because I barely know what I'm talking about. Love Wins has been making waves in some sections of the Christian community because of Bell's notion (some say heretical) that there is no such thing as a literal Hell. I prefer to see this book not as an attempt to preach a new truth, but as asking questions there's no harm debating. Bell says at the outset that he's entitled to his opinion, and I'd back him up on that.I enjoyed reading this book. It's an easy read,although Bell's habitof making pointsby using lotsand lotsof short linescan be a little irritating at times, but it sure makes the pages zip by. Bell makes some really interesting points that are worth considering, calling, for example, for more action here on earth to make the world a better place. I can't really fault that.On the whole, I'd call this wishful-thinking theology; if you've read the Bible enough times, you'll know that Bell's claims just don't really line up with all the uncomfortable stuff that's in there. It's a shame, because Bell's version of Christianity would pretty much reconcile the rest of the world to the Christian religion, and wipe out the you're-going-to-Hell-I'm-not attitude adopted by all too many believers. Humility, anyone?Anyway, NOT getting into the theology, this is a nicely-written addition to some debates that have been going on for the last two thousand years. Nothing to get overly excited about, in my opinion, but I'm glad I read it.read more
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Content aside for a moment... I think this book could have used another month or two of polishing and organizing. I felt like it was disjointed and not well researched. I don't think it was as well written as 'Velvet Elvis.' That said, I have a really hard time just flat out condemning the content of this book. I don't agree with everything Rob says... but the questions he asks (and there are a lot of them) are good ones... important ones... questions that non-Christians and new Christians alike will be asking for years to come. So we need to be aware of the issues surrounding them... instead of ignoring them. And I do think we need to revisit the topic of hell without just assuming Dante's Inferno as our main source of inspiration. This was a flawed attempt to do so... but hopefully there will be better attempts in the years to come.read more
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Despite all the controversy surrounding this work, Bell's book is really just a compassionate and sensitive treatment of a topic that so often is at the core of what people want to know about the Christian faith. Generations who have felt that the notion of 'Hell' is really just a scare tactic Christians use to manage children or manipulate the guilty will have their prejudice concerning Christianity thoroughly challenged.Bell ponders along through the book, and plays with some ideas that have floated around the Christian faith from time to time even of they've been more to the fringe. In particular, he raises the question of whether a person separated from God in Hell can ever be freed from that state. At the critical point in his book, however, Bell does not demand these ideas as conclusions, but rather invites future discussion about them. To end that chapter, Bell lays out a solid and compassionate evangelical position that the people we imagine being in hell are those who have chosen, in effect, to be there through some rejection of God's love. Bell is a good writer, and his treatment of the Biblical text is excellent. His discussion around the Rich Man & Lazarus, for example, is insightful and illustrates well the kind of rejection of love that characterizes the hell bound. To see all this done with such sensitivity, with such an interest in what the Bible is actually saying, and with the goal of engagement and conversation with the curious is truly exciting.read more
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Pastor Rob Bell, founder of the Mars Hill Bible Church, has a message. It's not the fire and brimstone message of many religious leaders, or the judgmental message of many "Christians," but rather the simple message that we've got to trust in God enough to know that in the end, love will always win. It's true that Bell asks a lot of questions, and doesn't have answers to many of them. He quotes a lot of contradictory scripture, and admits that not even he can always determine what the intended message is. It's this humility which makes Bell easy to listen to. We're on the journey together.Warning: there are a LOT of run-on sentences in this book. As an audiobook, it didn't matter much because Bell's delivery made the run-on sentences make sense. However, I have a feeling that if I'd read a paper copy of this book, I would have had a tough time making it through. Also, there are times when he speaks much faster than necessary. Sometimes he's bringing about a sense of urgency, which is fine, but there are also some times when he's difficult to understand because he's speaking so fast.In all, I'm glad I listened to this book. The passion in Pastor Bell's voice and his little asides to the audience made it seem more like a lecture than a book.read more
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I listened to this book, and I suspect that it is probably easier listening than it is reading. I had heard ahead of time that Bell's writing style drives a lot of readers nuts. He narrates his own book, and it's a little much to take in all at once while driving. I listened to two out of the three discs twice, and I'm still not sure I really absorbed everything he has to say. I will say that he does seem to believe in Hell, and his main thesis is, in my opinion, that Jesus is probably a lot broader than mainstream Christianity gives him credit for being as far as reaching out to all corners of the world. I've always heard that we will be surprised at who we see in Heaven, and Bell certainly agrees with that theory. Whether he is correct or not, I cannot say. He does make for interesting reading and pondering.read more
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Bestselling author of VELVET ELVIS and the 2 million-plus selling Nooma videos, Rob Bell, reveals a secret deep in the heart of millions of Christians-they don’t believe what they have been taught are the essential truths of their faith. Out of respect for their tradition, they keep quiet, confiding to a few close friends their doubts and questions about salvation, Jesus, and, of course, God. Is Jesus really the only way into heaven? Is God "good" if he is planning on sending billions of people to eternal torment in hell? Are Christians the only ones who have it "right," and everyone else is just deceived? Bell brings out to the open and faces squarely the questions on everyone’s mind: Does it really make sense that God is a loving, kind, compassionate God who wants to know people in a personal way, but if they reject this relationship with Jesus, they will be sent to hell where God will eternally punish them forever? In LOVE WINS, Bell goes to the heart of these issues and argues that the church’s traditional understanding of heaven and hell is actually not taught by the Bible. Bell is emphatically not offering a new view of heaven and hell-instead, he closely examines every verse in the Bible on heaven and hell and shows what they really teach. And he discovers that Jesus’s most fundamental teaching about heaven and hell is, "Love wins."read more
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The controversy over this book is very revealing. In a way, it's a perfect example of the case that Bell puts forth. I agree with Bell when he states that the desire for all people to be reconciled to God is unquestionably a very Christian desire. The anger and devisiveness with which this idea has been met speaks volumes about both the state of the church, and Christianity in general, today.Our focus, as Christians, should be on Christ's love, the gift of his grace and to be in relationship with him today. It shouldn't be on who "gets in" and who doesn't. If that's our focus, then we're missing the point and we're missing out on a whole lot. Ultimately, it doesn't even matter what you believe about heaven and hell, because love wins.read more
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Rob Bell sure knows how to create a stir! Like Jesus turning over the tables of the moneychangers in the Temple, Bell has turned over some hot-button doctrinal issues held by the evangelical (and specifically the neo-Reformation) world. I’ll confess: I stopped reading Bell after his second book because I realized I had already read most of the cited works in his bibliography. I bought this one because of the Twitter war the promotional video launched.If you want to take a short cut and find out just what he believes about Heaven and Hell (and the fate of every person who ever lived), Mars Hill Church has written a nice little two page FAQ.If you’re an evangelical Christian who wonders what all the fuss is about, here’s the issue: Rob Bell suggests that God could allow people a chance to repent after death. That’s it. That’s what all the exaggerated zeal is about.If you only stick with the summaries, you’ll miss something. That would be a bit like asking for a bullet list of points from one of Jesus’ parables because you’re more comfortable with lists than narrative. Rob Bell excels at narrative. The entire book reads like a long Nooma message.I would encourage anyone concerned about heaven and hell to give this book a read. Don’t just read it to pick apart Bell’s theology, either. Ask God to reveal himself to you as you walk through the various chapters. Whether you agree with him or not, we Christians all have something to learn from each other.read more
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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?read more
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Mikhail Bakhtin, a Russian scholar, says that when we speak or write that the words we use have meaning to us that comes from the groups to which we belong, our culture, and that those who are reading or hearing those words spoken hear or read them with the meaning that they bring from their groups, their own culture. I did not see Love Wins as the heresy that others believe it to be. Rob Bell has taken passages from the Bible and followed them back to the original time in which they were written, the original language, and the original culture. While there are some things that he says that I don’t necessarily think he proves, I think he brings up some excellent questions. One of those questions is; If as Christians we are to prepare for our life in Heaven, then would that mean that our entire life on earth is to be spent preparing for another place? Bell says, “What you believe about the future shapes, informs, and determines how you live now.” Bell says, “ Jesus brings a social revolution, in which the previous systems and hierarchies of clean and unclean, sinner and saved, and up and down don’t mean what they used to. God is doing a new work through Jesus, calling all people to human solidarity.” However he admits that there are questions that cannot be answered. Traditional Christianity often teaches that God is loving one moment and vengeful the next, but if we accept Jesus then we will “ be saved”. Bell says this subtly teaches us that Jesus rescues us from God. He makes the statement that a gospel with the key message is don’t sin, avoid hell runs the risk of reducing it to something that is “just for humans”. Bell says that we have the responsibility to be careful about making negative judgments about eternal destinies of others for as he points out, even Jesus said “I did not come to judge, but to save the world John 12: 47. Just for the record, I would like to point out two things that I was told about Bell’s book, that he says we can do anything we want to because there is no hell. In reading the book I discovered neither of these things are true. Bell says that what we spend time and effort on will all endure, and that a “proper view of heaven” will give us more desire to engage with this world to improve it. As for hell, on page 79 he says, “ There is hell now, and there is hell later, and Jesus teaches us to take both seriously”.read more
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I do not agree with all of Rob Bell’s theology but he articulates his beliefs well and roots his ideas in his interpretation of the scripture. I wished that he had included footnotes to back up some of his claims and this may be the biggest problem with Love Wins. Without documentation it is difficult to figure out where Bell is drawing some of his biblical conclusions from. Love Wins is a good beginning and got me to think about traditional theological concepts in a new light. Whether you agree with Bell’ theology or not, Love Wins should be read simply for its willingness to challenge thousands of years of biblical interpretation.read more
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Written in Bell's typical fashion, this book was a rumination of a Christian's belief of Heaven and Hell and where we're all heading. Bell asserts Grace over Works. It was an easy book to read, but he could have made his point quicker. I was a little put off by the never-ending series of questions in the first chapter. Overall it earned a three-star rating because of the style and conclusion.read more
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Once again Rob Bell delivers an imaginative and refreshingly honest take on some of the big questions that people have about some of the ways in which followers of Jesus tell the story of their faith.This is a book that is not afraid of questions, and which presents a range of answers from different orthodox Christian viewpoints. These viewpoints are presented accessibly and with vigour, and usually with a generous balance.Bell's knowledge and presentation of Biblical themes is generally compelling and helpful, however in some areas I felt that Bell was inconsistent in his approach to scripture, especially the Old Testament. At times he is keen to emphasis the literary and historical context of verses, and at others seems to skate over it. For instance he cites examples of OT verses which refer to God restoring Israel (a category) and seems to apply them to all individuals within that category.I was glad to read this book, as it gave me some imaginative ways to engage with the concept of hell, and reinforced for me the reality of the Kingdom that is breaking through, a Kingdom that I love and want to see more and more of. It also challenged me to consider God more carefully that I may represent God more truly and love God more deeply.read more
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Even though I don’t agree with everything the author says or believes (I’m even more heretical than he is, and take things more metaphorically than even he does), I really loved this book and found myself agreeing with most of what he had to say. I found it to be a brilliant example of our need to reclaim our faith in a God of love, written in a casual, personal, and easy to read style that in its simplicity touches on matters of deep spiritual significance.The author touches on some of the points that other Christian authors I have read have as well – the concept and translations of and for hell, the meanings of aion in reference to our idea of eternity, the idea of heaven/hell also being on here on earth, etc. – things each and every Christian should at least consider, even if they reject them in the end.read more
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Someone once said that there will either be a lot more people in heaven than you expect or a lot fewer. This book is about why there may be a lot more people there than many Christians expect. Bell rejects the "turn or burn" attitude that many take and focuses on God's love and desire that all might be saved. This book seems to be one that people either love or hate, judging from the reviews on Amazon. For that reason I gave it 2.5 stars because there is a lot to love about Bell's concern for God's love but also much to hate in his unwillingness to proclaim Jesus as both savior and judge. In Bell's perfect world there would be no one left to judge because all would finally (at some point after death even?) accept God's love and live under his lordship. However, that is not the picture given in Scripture and Jesus will return and judge both the living and the dead.read more
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I have heard a lot about this book, the bad things and the good things, nevertheless, after reading it, I realized that there were more talking about the book than content in the book itself. As a book it is badly written and plotted. This book could receive half of the pages that it actually has. I really don't see what the writer was thinking about when he wrote it in this format. This is not a theological book, it is more like some sort of writer private aphorisms. Hermeneutically poor and the writer misuses Greek and Hebrew language. There is no exegesis at all, it looks like a peace of work practiced by any first year Bible school student. I think that the writer had a goal, punch the Christian doctrine of heaven and hell, but he drops it as a blind man.
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A twisting of actual scripture to support his own wants out of God. Rob Bell might want God to be different than He is but that will not change Him.
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Good read. Lots of good questions and lots of good references. Two best lines from the book. 1. "Sometimes what we are witnessing is simply a massive exercise in missing the point."2. "Grace and generosity aren't fair; that's their very essence."
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I really love this book! It's so easy to read and understand. And he supports his thesis and each point he makes extremely well.
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This was an appealing book to read. I am an Episcopalian, not an evangelical. So, I am quite accustomed to a variety of viewpoints on how Christianity is lived out. Rob Bell stresses that the heaven and the kingdom of God are part of the same idea and that means we need to live our life right now in response to God's love. The Christian faith has been hi-jacked by people who want to line up people into two camps, those bound for heaven, and those bound for hell. Bell rejects that binding.The style is more stacatto than what I am normally accustomed, sometimes almost a series of bullet points. I am more accustomed to hearing this style spoen in a sermon rather than written in a book. But this style does focus the reader to Bell's points, particularly on paying attention to what is found in scripture, and the need for an abiding love for ourselves and for humanity when dealing with the concepts of heaven and hell.The one area that Bell doesn't deal with is that how do we cope with a loved ones destiny just after he or she has died. Most people I know struggle with that for certain people, and may even feel bereft. This is not an everyday pastoral concern, but one which does come up.
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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.
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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.
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Continuing my uncharacteristic journey into Christian theology, I read this book. This is a hugely controversial book for American Evangelicals, although having read it, I think that most of the controversy was generated by people who had not actually read this very short book. Basically, the author looks at what Jesus has to say about hell and takes the merciful interpretation. It's a you may be surprised at the people you see in heaven emphasis rather than the more usual idea that heaven's inhabitants will consist only of the very few people whose theology exactly agrees with one's own. Bell also separates what's actually in the Bible on the topic from the cultural constructs that form a huge part of the traditional fundamentalist view of heaven and hell. It's very thought provoking, but not really that shocking, unless you're really, really committed to wanting everyone you ever disliked punished for eternity. The sans-serif typeface drove me nuts, but that's nit-picking.
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A thorough discussion of exactly what the subtitle proclaims: heaven, hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived. But it's so much more than that as well. It's a book that re-casts the vision of what it means to live as a Christian by re-examining the historic roots of the Christian faith and takes its lessons from the Church Fathers understanding of what it means to be a Christian in light of our unavoidable mortality. The only down-side: I would have preferred more notes in the back like Rob did for his previous books. I want to read up on the extended context of those quotes and ideas, and now it's going to take a bit longer for me to track them down.
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I feel weird writing a book review for Love Wins when so many great leaders and famous pastors have done the same thing.Some hate it, some love it, some tolerate it… certainly this book will not be labeled so quickly.If you have not read it, but are reading the reviews to decide if you should, I fear that the only way to know if you’ll find it useful is… if you read it. The only reason I would steer you as a reader from a book would be that I thought it contained dangerous or heretical teaching; and I don’t. Nothing in this book will alter your salvation or change your faith or standing with God. In the end, Rob’s book is about love and I believe so is God.I have read this book from cover to cover, and I read each word carefully and took it in, I didn’t skim it and jump to conclusions, I acted as though the author was there in the room with me and we were having a conversation. I read the book slowly over time and allowed the words to sit with me and last, I talked with others about what I read to have a sounding board.I doubt those who have given this book such a low review have done the same.Deservedly, they probably know scripture better than I do, or at least the “ammunition verses” to use in situations like this – but as a pastor myself – and having been in conversations and ministry like Rob has, I know that a conversation like this – is important.When I read some of these reviews I find myself saying, “Rob never said that.” Many have jumped to their own conclusions and because words carry such weight and can be loaded with bias and history, we sling them like rocks or stamp them like labels without so much as a care.And even though I do not think I have ever typed a negative word about Rob in the past, there were two aspects of the book I disagreed with (notice I did not say Rob was “wrong”).The first is, Rob suggested that perhaps after death, people will get a second chance to go to Heaven. Yes, they will go to Hell, yes they will have chosen it, but perhaps God will bring them before judgment once more (Matt 20:1-16). Some have called this “univeralism” however; Rob does not believe that God will “pull” all into Heaven as universalists do.Rob squarely indicated that he believes there are those that will choose hell forever. Do I think there are second chances after death? No, I don’t… but the bigger question should be… does God? I can’t dictate in my personal theology what God should or should not do in judgment. He is the judge and I am not.Maybe Rob is a “post-modern Universalist” and perhaps it is time for words to carry new meanings.What does the bible say? “One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus is Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11). The scriptures say “every” person will bend the knee in worship and that “every” mouth will make a confession of faith. What does that mean? It certainly does not sound like “Hell wins” does it? Because right now, most Christians believe Hell wins. We believe two-thirds of the earth will go to a place of torment, fire and punishment. We believe that a loving forgiving God will send millions and millions of people to eternal torment simply because they never said the sinner’s prayer (a prayer not found in the bible). But if “wide is the path that leads to destruction” (Matthew 7:13) how can we in the next breath say, “I know the end of the story (meaning the bible) and Jesus wins.”He does?Jesus wins if the majority of the world goes to Hell?How is that winning?I guess it’s a back handed win by having the “last word” with a giant “I told you so” as you slam dunk the naysayers and doubters of the world into the universe’s largest barbeque pit.Second Rob indicated that Jesus is the “mechanism” that each of us goes to heaven; however it is uncertain how that mechanism works. As Christians we have claimed that “confession” is the “key” that unlocks the “Jesus code” and allows sinners to enter paradise, but do we always believe that?If a two month old baby dies, we say that the little one is now “resting in the arms of Jesus.” Why? Did the baby make a confession of faith? No, but we sometimes bend the rules don’t we? So the question then becomes… does God? Does God bend the rules for the lost tribe in the deep dark Amazon forest who have never heard the name of Jesus? Will Jews who faithfully read the torah and pray to YHWH go to Heaven? Will nominal Jehovah’s Witnesses go to heaven? A staunch Christian would love to say “no” but in the end… aren’t they God’s rules?Personally I believe a knowledge of Jesus and a willingness to follow him are required for salvation – so here is another area my beliefs don’t align with Rob’s … but… as far as we know there is no “video evidence” of Heaven, Hell or eternity. It is not up to us to steak a flag in the sand and demand that eternity has to be exactly the way we dictate. If Ghandi is standing next to me in Heaven, I am not going to storm into God’s office and demand that he be deported.Rob believes that in the end Love Wins and that yes… God wins.But is that heretical?Is it so bad to believe that God’s grace and love and forgiveness will extend to my enemy? Is it so wrong to believe that Heaven will be filled with people from every race, language and nation (Rev 5:9)?Rob’s intent was so that this book would start a discussion, not an argument. Rob wanted people to talk with openness about God’s love and to perhaps find new ways to talk to those that have so many questions about a loving God who allows “good people” to burn forever. Certainly Heaven and Hell are not as “simple” as we make them out to be, and most definitely we can not just “dismiss” these questions with a three word tweet.
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I am pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed "Love Wins". I've never been a Rob Bell fan, having started (but never finished) "Velvet Elvis" and "Sex God", but this book is worth picking up and wrestling with. For that reason — the value of wrestling with its topics — it will stand as one of the more important books of the decade.After having just read C.S. Lewis' "The Great Divorce" for the second time, I began Rob Bell's "Love Wins". The similarities are apparent. It's quite clear that Lewis' perspective on the subject of Hell has influenced Rob. However, I don't think that Bell's views of the Afterlife are identical to those of Lewis, but he's certainly not less orthodox in this area than Lewis.One thing that struck me a little less than half-way through: "Love Wins" quotes from Scripture A LOT — much more than the average Christian book. Significantly, Bell doesn't spend a lot of time trying to take verses that seem on the surface to contradict his points and show how they really don't contradict his points. Instead, he spends most of his time quoting Scripture in showing how frequently and in how strong language the Bible at least seems to indicate that eventually "all shall be well". This is significant because it's apparent that his purpose with this book is to get us to dialog about Heaven and Hell — about the tension between how we often view world history, in light of Christian belief, as a tragedy, though the Bible in many places rises to such poignant superlatives of grandeur that seem to tell a different story. The Bible does say powerful things like:"As in Adam all die, so in Christ all shall be made alive." (1 Corinthians 15)"All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him — those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord." (Psalm 22)"Love is patient... it always protects... always hopes... Love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13)"Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself, that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him." (Ephesians 1)"At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2)"For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." (Colossians 1)"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he, by the grace of God, should taste death for every man." (Hebrews 2)"Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." (Luke 2)"For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets." (Acts 3)"He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces." (Isaiah 25)"I will not contend forever, neither will I be always wroth; for the spirit should fail before men, and the souls which I have made." (Isaiah 57:16)"The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever." (Psalm 103)"For I will not fight against you forever; I will not always be angry. If I were, all people would pass away — all the souls I have made.""His mercy endureth forever." (Psalm 136)Those verses sound pretty all-encompassing. And the list just goes on and on, in both Old Testament and New. The point: we need to talk about this. If we assume that what we have been told is true is indeed true, then we merely perpetuate the very root problem that got us to the point where we needed a Reformation in the first place. We really must confront the issues and admit ambiguity where there is ambiguity. Assumptions limit growth. The pursuit of truth requires a willingness to accept that which we do not already accept. Humblemindedness — a humility of intellect and will — this is the very foundation of learning.My own views don't completely coincide with either Rob Bell's or C.S. Lewis'. But that doesn't mean I can't learn from them, or even learn in spite of them. I value how these two have added to our attempts at grasping after God.
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Bell's defense of his eschatological position, a variant on universalism.It must first be said that it is good to have a conversation about eschatology; Bell is right to say that eschatology will shape one's present expectations as well as one's views about the future. He is also right to point out that there are many popular but un-Biblical views and attitudes about what will happen to people in the end.The case he makes seems so persuasive, but there are "skeletons in the closet" left unaddressed. Those "skeletons in the closet" really undo his thesis. For the most part, Bell does present a more Biblical view of the future expectation of the believer, speaking strongly about the restoration and reconciliation of the creation back to God in the resurrection. But he does not treat hell like he treats heaven. He takes the most extreme "orthodox" portrayal of hell and uses it as his foil with no attempt to sort through the various nuances in positions about it. Hell gets mostly spoken of in terms of present injustice and terrible conditions-- something not seen in Scripture for certain. It's almost insulting to see him attempt to claim some high ground by showing how all the evil in the world can well be called "hell." Sure, it's "hell-ish," but it it's not hell. Hell was always considered in starker, more dark terms than present suffering.Put simply: if one were to treat heaven like Bell treats hell, one would become a postmillennial social gospel advocate. Bell would not agree with that; his inconsistency is evident. The main thesis-- love will win, in some way, all (or most of) those who rejected God in life will see their error in the hereafter and cry out for reconciliation with God, and God will welcome all-- sounds great in a postmodern, post-Enlightenment Western context. But Bell never deals with some of the images used to describe hell, and does not deal with matters of justice, the wrath of God, or the vengeance of God, prominent themes in both testaments. But the biggest challenge is that he provides not one Biblical passage that speaks of a place where this will happen; he only provides Scriptures speaking of God reconciling and restoring all things to Himself.And the one who will go to great lengths to define "eternal" and "torment" does not spend one second doubting his definition of "all things" and how that would look. Bell, I imagine, assumes that to reconcile and restore "all things" means exactly that, and such provides the basis for this expected future reconciliation of the condemned. But what if reconciliation and restoration involves access and opportunity and was never intended to be an absolute statement of the salvation of all? Now there's no ground for what he has said; the entire concept goes up in smoke. Such is not much of a Biblical foundation for such a critical dogma!Bell spends a lot of time talking about views of God and the "type of God" people believe in. It's a necessary challenge and issue with which to deal, but the standard in the book is never directed back to understanding the revelation; it's based far too much on feelings and "logical" connections, and thus is entirely one-sided. Bell has boxed himself in too tightly in his theology; in it, there's no room for the condemnation without hope of Satan and the angels as Jesus declares in Matthew 25; what can be said of God commanding genocide/ethnic cleansing in 1 Samuel 15? What of the vengeance of God in Romans 12? The wrath of God displayed in Judgment in Romans 2? As difficult as it might be for the Christian to understand such things, or even perhaps despite the revulsion we might feel at such things, we are not given the right to make up our own God and be pleasing to the One True God; we have to make sense of everything God has revealed about Himself and His expectations for mankind and what lies ahead. However one may agree or disagree with Bell, the fact remains that he has not sufficiently wrestled with this in this book.This theology seems to be a postmodern reaction to excesses of the past while remaining consistent with the ethos of the present. No one can accuse Bell of being "countercultural" with his theology in this book; one may not appreciate questioning of motives, but the person who believes that his culture does not impact his belief system is a deceived fool. For that matter, it's not good to be countercultural for the sake of being countercultural. I say this because the theology behind "Love Wins" is exactly what you would expect of someone who has all the trappings of modern convenience and enjoys "first world problems" and is completely removed from the oppressions of injustice that terrorized the world for generations and still terrorizes far too many in the world. In "Love Wins," there can be no real vengeance, no real righting of wrongs; both oppressor and oppressed die and ultimately all come to reconciliation with God. The worldly minded can take this message and use it to justify continued immorality; there will be plenty of opportunities in the hereafter to get back into God's good graces. Yes, I know that Bell would oppose this; he would want people to see that such is a counterfeit life and does not partake of the true life in Jesus Christ. But we are fallen creatures in a fallen world, and plenty of people take bad theology and use it to justify immorality.Rob Bell declares at one point that a loving God could not say "too late" to anyone. But that's not what the message of the parable of the virgins says (Matthew 25:1-13); that theology cannot lie behind Jesus' declaration to those who professed belief in Him in Matthew 7:21-23. And that's the real danger with this theology: if Bell's wrong, and deceived a lot of people in the process, the damage is severe. There are always dangers in having bad theology; Bell points many of them out, but is not immune to them himself.This is a necessary conversation, and Bell has certainly found a way to galvanize the discussion. Nevertheless, no one should walk away feeling as if all questions have been answered and Bell's argumentation is sufficient. It's not. And the questions that it leaves, the issues left unaddressed, the theological realities of the Bible shoved out of sight cannot be so easily shrugged off.
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Where I got the book: from the library.I'm going to try to keep away from discussing the theological points in this book, mostly because I barely know what I'm talking about. Love Wins has been making waves in some sections of the Christian community because of Bell's notion (some say heretical) that there is no such thing as a literal Hell. I prefer to see this book not as an attempt to preach a new truth, but as asking questions there's no harm debating. Bell says at the outset that he's entitled to his opinion, and I'd back him up on that.I enjoyed reading this book. It's an easy read,although Bell's habitof making pointsby using lotsand lotsof short linescan be a little irritating at times, but it sure makes the pages zip by. Bell makes some really interesting points that are worth considering, calling, for example, for more action here on earth to make the world a better place. I can't really fault that.On the whole, I'd call this wishful-thinking theology; if you've read the Bible enough times, you'll know that Bell's claims just don't really line up with all the uncomfortable stuff that's in there. It's a shame, because Bell's version of Christianity would pretty much reconcile the rest of the world to the Christian religion, and wipe out the you're-going-to-Hell-I'm-not attitude adopted by all too many believers. Humility, anyone?Anyway, NOT getting into the theology, this is a nicely-written addition to some debates that have been going on for the last two thousand years. Nothing to get overly excited about, in my opinion, but I'm glad I read it.
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Content aside for a moment... I think this book could have used another month or two of polishing and organizing. I felt like it was disjointed and not well researched. I don't think it was as well written as 'Velvet Elvis.' That said, I have a really hard time just flat out condemning the content of this book. I don't agree with everything Rob says... but the questions he asks (and there are a lot of them) are good ones... important ones... questions that non-Christians and new Christians alike will be asking for years to come. So we need to be aware of the issues surrounding them... instead of ignoring them. And I do think we need to revisit the topic of hell without just assuming Dante's Inferno as our main source of inspiration. This was a flawed attempt to do so... but hopefully there will be better attempts in the years to come.
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Despite all the controversy surrounding this work, Bell's book is really just a compassionate and sensitive treatment of a topic that so often is at the core of what people want to know about the Christian faith. Generations who have felt that the notion of 'Hell' is really just a scare tactic Christians use to manage children or manipulate the guilty will have their prejudice concerning Christianity thoroughly challenged.Bell ponders along through the book, and plays with some ideas that have floated around the Christian faith from time to time even of they've been more to the fringe. In particular, he raises the question of whether a person separated from God in Hell can ever be freed from that state. At the critical point in his book, however, Bell does not demand these ideas as conclusions, but rather invites future discussion about them. To end that chapter, Bell lays out a solid and compassionate evangelical position that the people we imagine being in hell are those who have chosen, in effect, to be there through some rejection of God's love. Bell is a good writer, and his treatment of the Biblical text is excellent. His discussion around the Rich Man & Lazarus, for example, is insightful and illustrates well the kind of rejection of love that characterizes the hell bound. To see all this done with such sensitivity, with such an interest in what the Bible is actually saying, and with the goal of engagement and conversation with the curious is truly exciting.
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Pastor Rob Bell, founder of the Mars Hill Bible Church, has a message. It's not the fire and brimstone message of many religious leaders, or the judgmental message of many "Christians," but rather the simple message that we've got to trust in God enough to know that in the end, love will always win. It's true that Bell asks a lot of questions, and doesn't have answers to many of them. He quotes a lot of contradictory scripture, and admits that not even he can always determine what the intended message is. It's this humility which makes Bell easy to listen to. We're on the journey together.Warning: there are a LOT of run-on sentences in this book. As an audiobook, it didn't matter much because Bell's delivery made the run-on sentences make sense. However, I have a feeling that if I'd read a paper copy of this book, I would have had a tough time making it through. Also, there are times when he speaks much faster than necessary. Sometimes he's bringing about a sense of urgency, which is fine, but there are also some times when he's difficult to understand because he's speaking so fast.In all, I'm glad I listened to this book. The passion in Pastor Bell's voice and his little asides to the audience made it seem more like a lecture than a book.
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I listened to this book, and I suspect that it is probably easier listening than it is reading. I had heard ahead of time that Bell's writing style drives a lot of readers nuts. He narrates his own book, and it's a little much to take in all at once while driving. I listened to two out of the three discs twice, and I'm still not sure I really absorbed everything he has to say. I will say that he does seem to believe in Hell, and his main thesis is, in my opinion, that Jesus is probably a lot broader than mainstream Christianity gives him credit for being as far as reaching out to all corners of the world. I've always heard that we will be surprised at who we see in Heaven, and Bell certainly agrees with that theory. Whether he is correct or not, I cannot say. He does make for interesting reading and pondering.
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Bestselling author of VELVET ELVIS and the 2 million-plus selling Nooma videos, Rob Bell, reveals a secret deep in the heart of millions of Christians-they don’t believe what they have been taught are the essential truths of their faith. Out of respect for their tradition, they keep quiet, confiding to a few close friends their doubts and questions about salvation, Jesus, and, of course, God. Is Jesus really the only way into heaven? Is God "good" if he is planning on sending billions of people to eternal torment in hell? Are Christians the only ones who have it "right," and everyone else is just deceived? Bell brings out to the open and faces squarely the questions on everyone’s mind: Does it really make sense that God is a loving, kind, compassionate God who wants to know people in a personal way, but if they reject this relationship with Jesus, they will be sent to hell where God will eternally punish them forever? In LOVE WINS, Bell goes to the heart of these issues and argues that the church’s traditional understanding of heaven and hell is actually not taught by the Bible. Bell is emphatically not offering a new view of heaven and hell-instead, he closely examines every verse in the Bible on heaven and hell and shows what they really teach. And he discovers that Jesus’s most fundamental teaching about heaven and hell is, "Love wins."
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The controversy over this book is very revealing. In a way, it's a perfect example of the case that Bell puts forth. I agree with Bell when he states that the desire for all people to be reconciled to God is unquestionably a very Christian desire. The anger and devisiveness with which this idea has been met speaks volumes about both the state of the church, and Christianity in general, today.Our focus, as Christians, should be on Christ's love, the gift of his grace and to be in relationship with him today. It shouldn't be on who "gets in" and who doesn't. If that's our focus, then we're missing the point and we're missing out on a whole lot. Ultimately, it doesn't even matter what you believe about heaven and hell, because love wins.
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Rob Bell sure knows how to create a stir! Like Jesus turning over the tables of the moneychangers in the Temple, Bell has turned over some hot-button doctrinal issues held by the evangelical (and specifically the neo-Reformation) world. I’ll confess: I stopped reading Bell after his second book because I realized I had already read most of the cited works in his bibliography. I bought this one because of the Twitter war the promotional video launched.If you want to take a short cut and find out just what he believes about Heaven and Hell (and the fate of every person who ever lived), Mars Hill Church has written a nice little two page FAQ.If you’re an evangelical Christian who wonders what all the fuss is about, here’s the issue: Rob Bell suggests that God could allow people a chance to repent after death. That’s it. That’s what all the exaggerated zeal is about.If you only stick with the summaries, you’ll miss something. That would be a bit like asking for a bullet list of points from one of Jesus’ parables because you’re more comfortable with lists than narrative. Rob Bell excels at narrative. The entire book reads like a long Nooma message.I would encourage anyone concerned about heaven and hell to give this book a read. Don’t just read it to pick apart Bell’s theology, either. Ask God to reveal himself to you as you walk through the various chapters. Whether you agree with him or not, we Christians all have something to learn from each other.
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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?
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Mikhail Bakhtin, a Russian scholar, says that when we speak or write that the words we use have meaning to us that comes from the groups to which we belong, our culture, and that those who are reading or hearing those words spoken hear or read them with the meaning that they bring from their groups, their own culture. I did not see Love Wins as the heresy that others believe it to be. Rob Bell has taken passages from the Bible and followed them back to the original time in which they were written, the original language, and the original culture. While there are some things that he says that I don’t necessarily think he proves, I think he brings up some excellent questions. One of those questions is; If as Christians we are to prepare for our life in Heaven, then would that mean that our entire life on earth is to be spent preparing for another place? Bell says, “What you believe about the future shapes, informs, and determines how you live now.” Bell says, “ Jesus brings a social revolution, in which the previous systems and hierarchies of clean and unclean, sinner and saved, and up and down don’t mean what they used to. God is doing a new work through Jesus, calling all people to human solidarity.” However he admits that there are questions that cannot be answered. Traditional Christianity often teaches that God is loving one moment and vengeful the next, but if we accept Jesus then we will “ be saved”. Bell says this subtly teaches us that Jesus rescues us from God. He makes the statement that a gospel with the key message is don’t sin, avoid hell runs the risk of reducing it to something that is “just for humans”. Bell says that we have the responsibility to be careful about making negative judgments about eternal destinies of others for as he points out, even Jesus said “I did not come to judge, but to save the world John 12: 47. Just for the record, I would like to point out two things that I was told about Bell’s book, that he says we can do anything we want to because there is no hell. In reading the book I discovered neither of these things are true. Bell says that what we spend time and effort on will all endure, and that a “proper view of heaven” will give us more desire to engage with this world to improve it. As for hell, on page 79 he says, “ There is hell now, and there is hell later, and Jesus teaches us to take both seriously”.
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I do not agree with all of Rob Bell’s theology but he articulates his beliefs well and roots his ideas in his interpretation of the scripture. I wished that he had included footnotes to back up some of his claims and this may be the biggest problem with Love Wins. Without documentation it is difficult to figure out where Bell is drawing some of his biblical conclusions from. Love Wins is a good beginning and got me to think about traditional theological concepts in a new light. Whether you agree with Bell’ theology or not, Love Wins should be read simply for its willingness to challenge thousands of years of biblical interpretation.
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Written in Bell's typical fashion, this book was a rumination of a Christian's belief of Heaven and Hell and where we're all heading. Bell asserts Grace over Works. It was an easy book to read, but he could have made his point quicker. I was a little put off by the never-ending series of questions in the first chapter. Overall it earned a three-star rating because of the style and conclusion.
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Once again Rob Bell delivers an imaginative and refreshingly honest take on some of the big questions that people have about some of the ways in which followers of Jesus tell the story of their faith.This is a book that is not afraid of questions, and which presents a range of answers from different orthodox Christian viewpoints. These viewpoints are presented accessibly and with vigour, and usually with a generous balance.Bell's knowledge and presentation of Biblical themes is generally compelling and helpful, however in some areas I felt that Bell was inconsistent in his approach to scripture, especially the Old Testament. At times he is keen to emphasis the literary and historical context of verses, and at others seems to skate over it. For instance he cites examples of OT verses which refer to God restoring Israel (a category) and seems to apply them to all individuals within that category.I was glad to read this book, as it gave me some imaginative ways to engage with the concept of hell, and reinforced for me the reality of the Kingdom that is breaking through, a Kingdom that I love and want to see more and more of. It also challenged me to consider God more carefully that I may represent God more truly and love God more deeply.
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Even though I don’t agree with everything the author says or believes (I’m even more heretical than he is, and take things more metaphorically than even he does), I really loved this book and found myself agreeing with most of what he had to say. I found it to be a brilliant example of our need to reclaim our faith in a God of love, written in a casual, personal, and easy to read style that in its simplicity touches on matters of deep spiritual significance.The author touches on some of the points that other Christian authors I have read have as well – the concept and translations of and for hell, the meanings of aion in reference to our idea of eternity, the idea of heaven/hell also being on here on earth, etc. – things each and every Christian should at least consider, even if they reject them in the end.
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Someone once said that there will either be a lot more people in heaven than you expect or a lot fewer. This book is about why there may be a lot more people there than many Christians expect. Bell rejects the "turn or burn" attitude that many take and focuses on God's love and desire that all might be saved. This book seems to be one that people either love or hate, judging from the reviews on Amazon. For that reason I gave it 2.5 stars because there is a lot to love about Bell's concern for God's love but also much to hate in his unwillingness to proclaim Jesus as both savior and judge. In Bell's perfect world there would be no one left to judge because all would finally (at some point after death even?) accept God's love and live under his lordship. However, that is not the picture given in Scripture and Jesus will return and judge both the living and the dead.
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