Love Wins: Book Review (aka Cliff Notes Analysis)
On Goodreads, I gave Rob Bell’s book Love Wins three stars. I might have given it 2.5 if I had the option.
I went through a detailed chapter-by-chapter analysis (but not as thorough as I would’ve liked to be!) outlining some of the issues I had in the book. Let’s see if it’s possible to recap:
Preface: Raises more questions than it answers, book has no notes, footnotes, endnotes, or bibliography. Further reading doesn’t cut it.
Chapter 1: Questions about heaven and hell that are set-up for the rest of the book.
Chapter 2: Heaven is a place on earth. God will eventually redeem and restore this broken world.
Chapter 3: Bell says Gehenna was really the city dump in Jesus’ day. Not a spiritual place of eternal torment. Bell says people can still reject God in the afterlife but leaves the door open for eventual repentance. He introduces an idea similar to purgatory in Catholicism. Then he says everyone will eventually be reconciled to God.
Chapter 4: Bell asks: Does God get what God wants? What is it that God wants? “‘God wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth’ (1 Tim. 2).” Bell says contradicts himself in this chapter by saying that yes, some people believe God gets what He wants through eventual universal reconciliation and restoration but that God’s love allows for the freedom to reject him if someone wishes to do so. He adds that people don’t need to believe in the traditional doctrine of hell to be a Christian and that people can assume there’s a chance for repentance in the future.
Chapter 5: Bell tells his readers that Jesus dying on the cross and rising again the third day was a very beautiful thing. Don’t mar this beauty with nasty talk of eternal exclusivity via the traditional view of hell.
Chapter 6: Bell says that (since Paul says that) Jesus was present in the rock that Moses struck to give water to the Israelities, so Jesus is present in anywhere or anything. He also puts forward the odd idea of reverse universalism which posits that Jesus is present in all paths (ie, Jesus can be Mohammad for Muslims, Vishnu for Hindus, or nirvana for Buddhists).
Chapter 7: Using the template of the parable of the prodigal son (or the two sons), Bell says that we will all be at a party/celebration (heaven) and we can choose to exhibit negative attitudes and vices (hell) during the party if we want to. We can reject the Father’s love.
Chapter 8: Bell reminds his readers that people can miss out on rewards, celebrations, and opportunities and that love wins.
(And no, I would not have been able to do the summary above had I not done the analyses first.)