Friends: I’ve been working very hard recently to evaluate Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived (HarperOne, 2011). I believe this book raises a lot of serious questions with which Evangelicals must grapple.
My evaluation of Bell’s book is entitled “Farewell, Rob Bell:” A Biblical Response to Love Wins and will be available from Amazon soon. This is not a Bell-bashing book, but a careful consideration of his major thesis that God’s love will eventually “melt every heart” and all will be saved.
There is really nothing new in Bell’s book. His perspective is called universalism and appeals to the emotions. How could God eternally punish anyone? What about those who have never heard? Bell refers to a young man who committed suicide, dying as an atheist. When Christians say he died with no hope, Bell’s response is: “NO HOPE? That’s our message? NO HOPE?”
Bell refuses to acknowledge that death ends all opportunities for salvation. Instead, he argues that God will take as long as he needs to — even eternity — to bring all into His family.
Some would argue that it is a generous position to believe
that God will never give up on any of us, that He will use as much of the after-death state that He needs to, to turn the screws tighter and tighter until we all come to salvation.
Let’s suppose for a moment that Bell is right — that God will have all eternity to persuade sinners (of their own “free” will) to turn to Christ and believe. Three questions occur to me:
1. Does that not make “decisions” for Christ irrelevant in this life? This was the point being made by Martin Breshir in his interview of Bell. Bashir gives his own take on Bell’s book: “You’re creating a Christian message that’s warm, kind, and popular for contemporary culture. . . . What you’ve done is you’re amending the gospel, the Christian message, so that it’s palatable to contemporary people who find, for example, the idea of hell and heaven very difficult to stomach. So here comes Rob Bell, he’s made a Christian gospel for you, and it’s perfectly palatable, it’s much easier to swallow. That’s what you’ve done, haven’t you?” (TO BE CONTINUED)