Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rob Bell's Love Wins

I don't know if I'll get around to reviewing Rob Bell's controversial book Love Wins. As most of you probably know, he's accused of universalism (the view that everyone goes to heaven/will be in the kingdom of God).  He has provided a target for those who have had a gnawing feeling that younger Christians have no real sense of hell.  In a video, Bell has explicitly acknowledged belief in hell.

They're calling it neo-universalism and I believe it is a clear cultural trend especially among younger Christians.  Bell is simply capturing the trend and giving opposition a target.  If there proves to be demand, I can still read through the book later, but since Scot McKnight has already done it, I thought I would pass on his review for now:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9

One word to Wesleyans.  Because we are a heart-oriented tradition, we often let others do the thinking for us.  In good frontier spirit, we even make fun of scholars and are suspicious of education. We are thus very prone to the influence of those outside our tradition who tend to share our social values.  Because so many of us are social conservatives, many have a tendency to jump on evangelical Calvinist trains without even realizing what we're doing.

So let's be very clear here.  Bell is far less extreme for a Wesleyan-Arminian than he is for an evangelical Calvinist.  Since McKnight is Arminian, his review is much more balanced than a lot of the stuff we're hearing out there from evangelical Calvinists.  I've never viewed Bell as a serious authority on anything, but his spirit comes much closer to the Wesleyan-Arminian tradition than John Piper or Mark Driscoll's does.


Stan said...

Ken, you hit on something I've been thinking for quite awhile that much of the emergent stuff is really a reaction against Calvinism. They would find themselves very comfortable in the WA camp. I haven't read the book, but there is a wide gap between universalism and letting God be the arbiter of His Son's saving work on the cross. As for hell, Leonard Sweet posted a great piece a month ago on the "neccesity" of hell (my words)

Ken Schenck said...

I've wondered this about some of the rhetoric you hear about God being a model for child-abuse by sending his son to die on the cross. Is this sentiment really responding to, say, Piper's view of things rather than to the way, say a Wesleyan-Arminian (WA) might understand the cross?

James Gibson said...

I agree that Bell's most strident critics are Calvinists and that Bell's real objection is to the idea of double predestination, not hell in general. I have read the book and my problem with it is its sophomoric theology and weak exegesis. Bell wants to be NT Wright, but he is out of his league.

Josh Wiley said...

I have to agree with James, some other pastors and I have been discussion some of the thoughts and questions raised by the book. Bell has a tendency to only use part of an image from a parable or the first part of a verse with out addressing the second. While his individual conclusion may not itself be wrong, He leaves many things with out follow up or explanation. I do appreciate the pastoral tone of the book though. Bell did not seem to want to write as much of a theological treatise as a pastoral (almost evangelical) work. There are some major theological themes missing (i.e. glorification) but the book has inspired me to search for answers to the piece that are missing.

Timothy said...

wait, Driscoll is a Calvinist?! ;-)

Ken Schenck said...

Nijay Gupta provides a similar critique of John MacArthur's review of Bell's book. Nijay, a Wesleyan-Arminian, argues that MacArthur's review is actually less Christian in spirit than Bell. Again, how many Wesleyans use MacArthur's material and don't know enough to realize he comes from a different theology than we do?

Sacred Outfitter said...

Hey Ken, thanks for sharing your thoughts here. I am looking for the Wesleyan/Arminian Response to RB's book, Love Wins (beyond Scott M.). I have read the entire book and have formed some opinions. I have also read much of the "Reformed" Camp's response, but have not seen a strong stand one way or the other from the Wesleyan camp.

Do the W/A's believe RB redefines the Gospel in Love Wins?

Do the W/A's believe in Universalism? RB sure opens this door in the book and in interviews even if he says he is not a universalist.

BTW-I have roots in both camps.

I would love your thoughts! Thanks!