Friday, April 14, 2017

Simple Book Review: "Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived" (2011)

Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived (2011)
by Robert H. Bell Jr. Trust

Rob Bell, author, speaker and former pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church is a controversial figure. He ignited many evangelical fundamentalists (maybe you!) when he questioned traditional theological constructs surrounding heaven and hell. I like to read controversial books from controversial authors such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Eugene Peterson, Brian McLare, etc. I’m agree 100% what they said and taught, but I would like to explore possibilities. I, too, like to question ‘standard’ Christian doctrines and theology.

Bell writes this book for two reasons #1 For those who have problem with “some version of the Jesus story” that cause them to “would never be a part of” it; and #2 For those who have “big questions about topics like God and Jesus and salvation and judgment and heaven and hell.” “I believe the discussion itself is divine,” Bell reasoned, “Abraham does his best to bargain with God, most of the book of Job consists of arguments by Job and his friends about the deepest questions of human suffering, God is practically on trial in the poems of Lamentations, and Jesus responds to almost every question he’s asked with… a question.

Rob Bell first questioned about what we mean by “be saved” or “born again”, our ideas of heaven (not ‘somewhere’ there, but ‘here’ and ‘now’) and meaning of ‘eternal life’ and  ‘forever’ in the Bible. Then he discussed about hell by giving examples of church websites that declare that ultimately billions of people will spend eternity apart from God while others will be with God in heaven forever. “Is history tragic?” ask Bell, “Have billions of people been created only to spend eternity in conscious punishment and torment, suffering infinitely for the finite sins they committed in the few years they spent on earth?” Big question.

I like this one: “Many have heard the gospel framed in terms of rescue. God has to punish sinners, because God is holy, but Jesus has paid the price for our sin, and so we can have eternal life. However true or untrue that is technically or theologically, what it can do is subtly teach people that Jesus rescues us from God… Let’s be very clear, then: we do not need to be rescued from God. God is the one who rescues us from death, sin and destruction. God is the rescuer” (read again this last sentence). Simply put, in this book, Rob believes in the end God does get what He wants [to saved everyone, the world], that Good News is better told than just going to heaven or suffer in hell, and that loves finally wins.

Three things that I doubt Rob in this book, maybe I put it in three questions: #1 You talk about love and a bit of justice here and there, what about God’s holiness and God’s wrath mention in the Bible?; #2 I still don’t get the real picture of what heaven and hell is supposed to be like, what do you mean by “heaven and hell, here, now, around us, upon us, within us”?; and #3 Rob, why Jesus have to die on the cross? What He had accomplished?

I simply love his examples, nontechnical language, and many Bible quotations to support his statements (no matter how true or untrue, in context or out of context). This book make me think of my own theology and how I live my Christian life now. Book that make you think is simply a good book!


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