So, I just got done reading Rob Bell's book "Love Wins". This is one that i had bought a while back and have really wanted to get to, so a couple days ago, i decided that i wasn't going to put it off any more..
Immediately after reading it, i felt inspired. It was kind of one of those "wow. that was a great...book?" The interesting thing is that after reading it, I didn't feel like I had learned a lot of doctrine or that i had been instructed. Instead, I felt like I had been challenged to stop and look again at how i actually act as a Christian.
In the book, Rob poses the question "are we going to believe our story about our lives or God's story about our lives?" I think this is the basic question when thinking about Christian living. it's not about the rules and how good or right about things i can be, but instead it is simply "will I live into the person that God says I am, or will i continue to go on being the best person that i can come up with?"
A challenging question to say the least, but so important when one makes the decission to be a disciple of Christ instead of a "Christian" or "small-town church practicioner" as one Pastor Lyman Bowling has said.
Bell is definately a pastor/preacher before he is a theologan. This is seen throughout the book in the form of his passion for the people. He doesn't write with the condescending tone of one who has it "more figured out" than everyone else and then is dutifully enlightening all of us. Instead, he longs to show people how God is, bottom line, Good and loving and because of that and the fact that he is God, Love wins in the end. Bell shoots to open peoples eyes to the misconcepts they may have held about God and the lie that Jesus saves us from an angry God. I love his words in the last chapter: "Love is what God is, love is why Jesus came, and love is why he continues to come, year after year to person after person." God is a pursuant of us which is why Jesus comes. To hold the distortion that God is the punisher and Jesus is the sympathetic one is just not going to work; because, its not the truth.
Immediately after this book came out, there was a lot of stir about what Rob Bell says about Hell. Francis Chan even went all the way out of his way so as to write a book called "erasing hell" as a reaction to Bell's book. I haven't been able to read all of it yet, but I mention this just to say how big a stir this caused. As you can imagine, then, i was anxious to read that particular chapter. When i got to it, however, I was a little let down in that i didn't find anything I didn't already believe to an extent. Bell definately does not claim a universalist stance; in fact, he affirms that Jesus is indeed the ONLY way, truth and life. I cannot really say too much about the details since he never outright says "here is my personal doctrine on hell". because that was not his intention as a pastor. Instead he adds this chapter in order to affirm that "yes, there is a result when you choose against God's will and God's truth about you. That result is exclusion from experiencing God for eternity.
I especially like his chapter about a real heaven in which it is not the fluffy clouds and white robes. I have recently said "Heaven should not be a goal for a Christian unless Heaven is strictly defined as eternal face-to-face experience with the Creator-Father". I think this falls well in line with what Bell is advocating. When we reduce salvation to a ticket in, we miss the point completely.
I could say much more about the book and all the things i liked about it, but I don't find much point. So, I want to leave you with this: Go get the book and read it. it's like sitting in on an amazing sermon. it convicted my heart to evaluate what i think of myself and if i truly live into what i claim i believe about God. Read the book and be challenged to remember that God is, at a base level, love and that in the end, Love Wins.