The Kerfluffle with Rob Bell and “Love Wins”

By now most of you who read this blog have likely heard about Rob Bell’s latest book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. Whether you have or not, Tony Reinke over at C.J. Mahaney’s blog has posted a very helpful summary of the debate surrounding the book as well as some very helpful links to resources that deal with this essential issue.

To those who have been watching Bell as I have for the past ten years, his most recent departure from historic, orthodox Christianity is not surprising. In one sense, it is merely a repackaged form of classic Protestant Liberalism of the 19th and 20th centuries, freshly presented in a postmodern context. As such, H. Richard Niebuhr’s insightful description of mid 20th century Protestant Liberalism fits Rob Bell quite well:

“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”

My strong encouragement is that if you are using ANY Rob Bell resources (including and especially his NOOMA) videos in your ministry, you stop doing so IMMEDIATELY. I do not think we want people being drawn in by his slick marketing and hipster presentation into his heretical footsteps.

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5 thoughts on “The Kerfluffle with Rob Bell and “Love Wins””

  1. Matt,

    Rob Bell himself claims he is not a universalist. You might find this post interesting. I’m not defending Bell; I have problems with his handling of the Mishnah, let alone anything else he does. But, to say that his latest book is a “departure from historic, orthodox Christianity” is not accurate. It might be more accurate to state that he has departed from the standard North American interpretation of Evangelical Christianity in the 21st century—which isn’t the same thing.

    James

  2. James,

    I acknowledge he denies being a universalist, but I am not sure what to call someone who believes that ultimately, given enough time, God’s love wins everyone over.

    Further, I am curious to know what you mean when you claim Bell has not in fact departed from historic, orthodox Christianity. Is what he teaches consistent with the rule of faith and the creeds?

    Matt

    P.S. I agree that Bell’s handling of Jewish materials is lacking to say the least 🙂

  3. Matt,

    I don’t know what to call them, either, but would like to at least give them the benefit of their word. What do you call C.S. Lewis? He bordered on universalism. Barth denied being a universalist, but it is in between the lines of his theology.

    The link I posted does a better job than I ever could of explaining what I mean. But, just a few comments:
    Universalism has never been marked a heresy by the church see here. It has had the status of a theologoumena. Going all the way back to Origen, there have been theologians who adhere to it. Granted, in North America, it has had very little support and been heavily frowned upon, but other traditions are a bit more open to it. Personally, I think universalists are wrong, but I understand how they can get there.

    Hope that helps a bit.

    James

  4. James,

    That does give me a better sense of where you are coming from. We’re still not on the same page here, but that’s okay. It’s not the first theological issue we disagree on, and it is unlikely to be the last!

    Matt

  5. Thanks. I enjoy interacting with you; you make me sharpen/refine what I am trying to say.

    The kingdom of God is bigger than either of our views—Praise God for that!

    James

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