Love Wins, by Rob Bell

While in Bangkok some years ago I suddenly realized that the taxi I was in was taking me in the wrong direction. There was nothing wrong with either the vehicle or the driver, just the direction. It proved to be a difficult task, with language differences, to communicate the need to turn around. The driver was sure that he was taking me to the place I kept naming. I was pretty sure he was not.

So it is with the church. It has often been absolutely sure, adamantly so, that it was leading us in the way of the Lord, only to periodically discover that it was not. Admitting error and then attempting to shift a millenniums old institution onto a new course has never occurred without passionate resistance, less than Christlike recriminations, and tremendous suffering. It seems as if most folks would rather continue to believe the possibly erroneous, than to face the certainly painful.

Rob’s discussion about the nature of God, the way of love, and ideas of heaven and hell confront the church with the need to reconsider it’s direction. The hullabaloo this book, Love Wins, has created in raising these questions – though not novel – were certainly predictable. The author raises, from one perspective, unnerving questions that shake the foundations of our current beliefs. From another perspective, Bell invites us to rethink God in excitingly refreshing ways that may well deepen our faith.

What if our traditional understandings of heaven and hell have evolved from wrong premises? What would happen if we re-examined our beliefs in the light of a loving God rather than an angry God? Is there really an afterlife place of eternal, conscious torment for those who missed the opportunity to place their faith in Christ? Does the Bible really teach that heaven is someplace else and that life here is all about getting there?

Is it possible to be a committed Christian, yet hold beliefs about heaven and hell with the caveat that confesses, ‘but I might be wrong’? Does the length of time something has been believed, or the number of people who have believed something, or the fact that undeniably intelligent and faithful Christians have believed something, guarantee that something to be true? If your faith is unreservedly placed in the Person of Christ rather than in the teachings of your particular ‘church’, you will be blessed by this conversation. Rob tackles a difficult subject, yet eloquently engages the reader with his characteristic style that is both delightful to read and easy to comprehend.

You are already in the taxi. Take a gander outside the window and see if you are going in the ‘right’ direction. If not, don’t be afraid to engage the driver for a course correction.

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One Response to “Love Wins, by Rob Bell”

  1. Which Afterlife?

    In his new book “Love Wins” Rob Bell seems to say that loving and compassionate people, regardless of their faith, will not be condemned to eternal hell just because they do not accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.

    Concepts of an afterlife vary between religions and among divisions of each faith. Here are three quotes from “the greatest achievement in life,” my ebook on comparative mysticism:

    (46) Few people have been so good that they have earned eternal paradise; fewer want to go to a place where they must receive punishments for their sins. Those who do believe in resurrection of their body hope that it will be not be in its final form. Few people really want to continue to be born again and live more human lives; fewer want to be reborn in a non-human form. If you are not quite certain you want to seek divine union, consider the alternatives.

    (59) Mysticism is the great quest for the ultimate ground of existence, the absolute nature of being itself. True mystics transcend apparent manifestations of the theatrical production called “this life.” Theirs is not simply a search for meaning, but discovery of what is, i.e. the Real underlying the seeming realities. Their objective is not heaven, gardens, paradise, or other celestial places. It is not being where the divine lives, but to be what the divine essence is here and now.

    (80) [referring to many non-mystics] Depending on their religious convictions, or personal beliefs, they may be born again to seek elusive perfection, go to a purgatory to work out their sins or, perhaps, pass on into oblivion. Lives are different; why not afterlives? Beliefs might become true.

    Rob Bell asks us to reexamine the Christian Gospel. People of all faiths should look beyond the letter of their sacred scriptures to their spiritual message. As one of my mentors wrote “In God we all meet.”

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