Rob Bell’s new book “Love wins” landed on my desk a few months ago and I made notes as I read it so here they are:
He makes three points in the preface. First:
“A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance of anything better. It’s clearly been communicated to many that this belief is a central truth of the Christian faith and to reject it is, in essence, to reject Jesus. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.”
I wouldn’t put it quite like that but I think I may be one of the “staggering number of people”. Although phrases like “a select few” and “no chance” somehow distort what I would see as the biblical picture, Jesus did teach that many take the wide road to destruction and few find the narrow road to life:
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (ESV) Mat 7:13-14
Surely he didn’t mean by that that all will find the narrow road given enough chances?
In his second point in the preface Rob affirms the value of questions as people ask a lot of questions in the bible:
“There is no question that Jesus cannot handle, no discussion too volatile, no issue too dangerous.”
That is true, although the questions of the Pharisees are not always put in a good light.
Third, Rob says that nothing in the book is new. It’s all part of the:
“deep, wide, diverse stream” of orthodox faith that has been “carrying a staggering variety of voices, perspectives and experiences”.
While there is merit in being able to point to others who hold your view through history it is not evidence for truth, more a check for error. If no one has thought of it, you’re probably wrong. Various heretical views on the trinity have a good historical pedigree. But I need to be careful here, maybe as I read this preface I’m being a bit picky because of all the controversy surrounding the book. I need to give it a fair read. Next, onto chapter 1.