Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Love Wins?

There has been a lot of discussion about the trailer for Rob Bell's newest book. Most of the discussion is not favourable. Watch the video, and we'll continue after the jump.

So? What did you think?

I understand why some people are upset. He asks some hard questions, and presents some uncomfortable thoughts. I'll admit I cringed a little when he talks about Jesus rescuing us from God.

But after watching the video again I don't think that's what this book is about. I think it's about us adding extra requirements to the Christian faith, and how as a result of these extra items on the "checklist of faith" we miss the point. I doubt a christian publishing company would put out a book that claims there is no hell, or that everyone gets to heaven; ideas that go against what we read in the Bible.

Keep in mind the purpose of this video is to make people talk, and to sell more books. In that case: mission accomplished.

I think we should wait before we crucify Rob Bell... at least until March 29th and we read the book.



  1. Thank you.

    Sometimes it's embarrassing to be a Christian. The preemptive-bashing/boycotting bandwagon is one of those times.

    Rob Bell's my brother in Christ. I haven't read his book. There's a very good chance that I'll be challenged by growth-encouraging ways. And even if I do disagree with what he's written, it doesn't give me permission to call him names, condemn him to hell, and encourage the body of Christ to self-destruct as we bicker over whether or not Jesus loves Bell. (He does. A lot.)

    No wonder people think Christians are messed up. We are.

  2. Hey AJ ... good thoughts.

    I think this whole storm has brought up some great talking points about how Christians should deal with disagreements in doctrine ... how do you respond to public figures making public announcements? We see in the NT church calling people out publicly was cool (Gal.2:11-14; 2 Tim.2:15-18) but where do we draw the line on how this is done ... how do we do this properly? Not doing anything isn't good (and not loving at all) but name calling and jabs aren't great either.

    The book will hopefully clear up some of the confusion caused by the brilliant marketing video. When it comes out if he actually is teaching universalism it will be interesting to see how the Christian community responds.

    Grace and truth can be a tough balance!

    oh and not to nitpick but one little correction: Harper Collins Publishing is not a "Christian Publisher".

  3. Hey Eric,
    I appreciate the nitpicking. Perhaps I should say a Christian distributor?

    Either way, I'm sure there are some people that keep Rob accountable.

  4. I read "Velvet Elvis". It is one of the few books that MAKES me pursue Jesus, so based on that book, and his Nooma video series,I am a Rob Bell fan.

    I've talked to several friends (pastors) who claim Rob doesn't believe in Hell. Where do they come up with this stuff? Until I hear it for myself, I'm a fan. I don't take people's word for much.

  5. I read your blog entry about this book Bendy.
    I think anyone or any book that "adds" requirements to to the christian faith is treading upon dangerous ground.
    If being a christian or getting to heaven requires more than just believing in Jesus, then we have no chance of getting there.
    Not having a hell, diminishes Christ's sacrifice, sending everybody to heaven turns his sacrifice into a "general" life line. That it self blows up John 3:16.
    Rob Bell is treading on some dangerous ground.
    The word reminds us with one of its last versus, and I'm paraphrasing... Dont change anything in this book. Do not add or take away.
    I think that is pretty self explanatory.
    Keep up the good work Bendy. I just found your blog, and I'm pretty sure I'll keep reading it.
    If you want, I have a micro-blog at It's not as in depth and thought provoking as yours, right now. But just like the title says, its about hanging out with me in Alberta.
    Take care my friend, can't wait to see photos of your offspring.

  6. Christianity as it is practiced today is the result of two thousand years of exegesis by a variety of Christian communities in a variety of circumstances. (see The Biography of the Bible by Karen Armstrong amongst other books).

    If you read about the historical development of what we call scripture today, you would be surprised to see that Rob Bell is not so controversial after all even if he did believe in a bit of universalism. If the central doctrine of christianity is love then there are many people out there who are "christians" and living a "christian life" but simply not subscribing to our particular interpretation of a book written and re-written by man. It would be quite strange to hear someone from another religion (lets say a Muslim or a Hindu) condemn mother Teresa to hell because she does not believe their doctrine. Now flip that around and see how funny it sounds to condemn Gandhi or the Dalai Lama to hell because they don't believe that the son of god died on a cross to save them from their sins. All three gave of themselves to help others. They did and do so tirelessly. They "loved" their fellow man..... are their actions meaningless because their dogma was "incorrect"?

    The fact that scripture is man-made (and I mean all of it.... Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc...) does not diminish its power or importance but it should allow us to think beyond the words we see on the page. We need to see those words in their special context. Who wrote them? When did they write them? What were the circumstances?

    In the most basic level, the words themselves do not hold the same meanings they did when they were first written because language has changed and scripture has been translated....This is obviously a long discussion but I'm intrigued to read Rob's book and see just what he has to say.

    You would be perhaps surprised to know that similar discussions take place in other religious communities when someone pushes our status quo understanding of faith and religion. If we stifle such discussions we will never grow and never truly learn to love one another. Though it seems like a small thing, this inability to love all of humanity and treat them all equally, is the root of much of the injustice we see in the world today.

    Where everyone sees exclusivity, choose to see similarity. Study other faiths like you would study for a college course, read about it from apologetics and historians and you may be surprised to see that our faith traditions are not so exclusive after all. Nobody has the answer but everybody is looking for it and that is the point.