Before the Review of Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins”

March 16, 2011

Before saying anything else:

I read Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins”. It was mildly entertaining.

I read it all the way through in one day. I have pneumonia and I’m confined to bed.

Rob Bell writes this way

In one line paragraphs.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to review the book. But I am going to review the people reading it.

So, I venture a few glances at all of those who will be criticizing him in the next few weeks, months and years. There are several diverse groups that will not like this book.

1. Modernists: To a post-modern person, a modernist is someone who likes to reduce the complex interactions between men and other men, or God and men, to a system of rules and principles. If you like your theology systematized, neat and tidy and all fitting together, you won’t like this book. It is messy. It careens from stories to scripture to poems to questions back to stories. At the end, you aren’t left with answers but, possibly, with better questions. A modernist hates that approach.

2. Reformed Theologians: The best known of them all, John Piper, said it succinctly: “Farewell Rob Bell.” By that, I assume he means Rob Bell is no longer someone he wants to dialogue with. “Love Wins” takes issue with most of the core beliefs of Calvinism. He strongly disagrees with Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace and Total Depravity…in fact, there’s not much left of the classic TULIP when Bell is done with them, so you can’t expect a Calvinist to react otherwise. Though, to be honest, the Calvinist will appreciate how much he believes in Unconditional Election and Perseverance of the Saints. In fact, to Rob Bell, the Love of God will eventually win over everyone.

3. Universalists: A universalist believes that everyone will be in heaven, or saved, or both. I have read reviews from three of the country’s most prominent universalists and they all have issues with this book. They think Rob Bell is riding the fence and not taking the inevitable road that all universalists must take. They don’t like the book because it doesn’t draw enough conclusions they can endorse. In many ways, universalists are wonderful Modernists; they like their universalism in neat tidy categories. As I said before, Bell’s book is a messy concoction.

4. Non-believers: I have a feeling that “Love Wins” was written for people who want to follow God but have been turned off by traditional views of hell. Ironically, I don’t think this book will appeal to that group. First, it is not a simple read. In order to turn the doctrine of hell on its head, Bell utilizes some tricky theological and hermeneutical approaches that will confuse a non-believer. Second, many non-believers won’t agree they have the problems with God that Bell thinks they do. Many will end up being confused or angry by the time they finish this.

5. Joe Average Church Attender: As with the non-believer, Joe Church-Attender doesn’t know fancy theological nuances. But he does know some legitimate questions when he sees them. This may be the group that will like this book. People who are tired of poorly drawn answers to deep questions about heaven and hell may gravitate to Bell’s approach to the subject. However, though Joe Average will enjoy Bell’s questions, he may find the book tedious because of its complexity.

6. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (if he were still alive): He would like the book. Why?

One sentence paragraphs.

He invented them.


  1. Please review the book. Thanks, Jill

  2. I will only review it if I can pick out some things in the book that a 1,000 other reviewers have ignored… stay tuned.

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