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Love Wins

Christian J - March 30, 2011

I love a good family fight. Grievances get aired, pain is expressed and, hopefully, questions are answered and wounds healed – from those we love most. In-fighting can be a good thing. So I’ve watched with interest, the swirl of conflict surrounding Love Wins, a new book from Rob Bell.

For those not familiar with Pastor Rob, there’s more than one place to read about his background and impact on American Evangelicalism. From my own perspective, he’s a daring young pastor from Michigan, a gifted communicator, aggressively devoted to Jesus and the Bible and not afraid to challenge the traditional concepts of Reformed theology. I get the sermons from Mars Hill (Bell’s church) each week via podcast because he teaches from the Bible like no one I’ve ever heard. He asks questions and addresses issues that resonate with a non-traditional Christian like myself. Make no mistake, Bell has deep roots in Evangelicalism but his place in the community has recently changed forever.

The controversy started with a video and a tweet. As a precursor to Bell’s forthcoming book, he posted the following video.

Shortly after the video aired, John Piper (grandfather to the Neo-Calvinist movement) sent the following message via twitter: Farewell Rob Bell

It was on.

You see, Rob Bell has been walking on thin ice for some time now (not that he’s noticed or cared). Some Evangelicals would associate Bell with the Emergent Church of Brian McLaren and others. Conservatives like Piper have been predicting the eventual down fall of the Emergent strands for some time now. For some this was the last straw.

Why does this matter to me? Well, to put my cards on the table, I’ll say that I’ve been an Evangelical watcher for some time now. I find the movement absolutely fascinating – warts and all. But, besides my anthropological motives, I have to admit that, learning about the faith of the various Christian traditions is a hobby – and does a great deal to enrich and inform my own faith in Jesus and His gospel.

Why should this matter to Mormons? Mormons actually have a great deal to say about the after-life. Not that Evangelicals care, but the rest of the world might. For example, D&C 19 holds one of the greatest doctrines of the Restoration:

I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name. Wherefore—

Eternal punishment is God’s punishment.

Endless punishment is God’s punishment.

Yet, people still think Mormon’s are sending coffee drinkers to “hell”. Its our own fault. Bell is, primarily, posing questions to a Protestant audience. My hope is that Mormons can ask the same questions of themselves. In the process, I would love to see Mormons challenge, discuss and celebrate their own beliefs about Hell and punishment.

Anyway, I recently bought Love Wins and started reading it this week. I hesitate to say the words “book club” in this space, but would really like to take you all along for the ride. Patheos has already named it as a book club selection. Follow the link to find extra information about the book, including just about every relevant review out there. I will post some main quotes from the book along with a summary of each chapter – every few days. Buy the book – don’t buy the book, its up to you. It should be fun.


  1. Truth comes in many packages,but can eventually be traced back to our heavenly father.WAYNE W. DYER has many thoughts that I agree with and my bishop of the past would call him a dry Mormon.Thing is he is not a Christian,but I don’t think that nullifies his teaching on love for fellow man and self.God speaks to all his children ,just differently according to where they are spiritually.Hartman Rector said we should read from all good books from which truth is found.

    Comment by marv thompson — March 30, 2011 @ 10:12 am

  2. Thanks CJ. I’ve been meaning to read this book, so I’ll look forward to your posts.

    Comment by Mark Brown — March 30, 2011 @ 10:13 am

  3. for anyone interested at amazon
    Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived by Rob Bell (Hardcover – Mar 15, 2011)
    Buy new: $22.99 $11.98
    31 new from $11.36 6 used from $12.65
    Get it by Thursday, Mar 31 if you order in the next 6 hours and choose one-day shipping.
    Eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping.

    Comment by marv thompson — March 30, 2011 @ 10:21 am

  4. I’ve been listening to evangelicals like Matt Chandler for a while and I really like a lot of what he says. We can learn from these people. Chandler’s video “Jesus Wants the Rose” should be required viewing for instructors of youth in our church or any other.


    I like Rob Bell’s take because he asks questions that need to be asked. When he describes seeing an artistic rendering of Ghandi on which someone had placed a note saying “Reality check: he’s in hell,” his reaction is what most people feel. When he says that as a Christian, you don’t have to believe that all Buddists are going to hell, he gives relief to a lot of people. As Mormons, we certainly find ourselves more attuned to his brand of Christianity and it’s nice to see people arriving at these same conclusions.

    Comment by MCQ — March 30, 2011 @ 6:14 pm

  5. interesting controversy, indeed.

    I am curious to see how his take on “damnation” matches with our theology.

    Comment by Dr. Horrible — March 30, 2011 @ 6:55 pm

  6. “Jesus Wants the Rose!” That was so powerful to me. I had a similar experience as I read and digested Believing Christ. I recognized that I was not Celestial material. When that story about the man who said the same thing to his bishop, I loved the bishop’s response. “Well none of us are celestial material, welcome to the club” I feel there is something in the Mormon church (perhaps elsewhere too) that somehow we think we have to be as perfect as we can then, we can go to heaven.

    There is a balance of truth, I don’t know how to make sure it is communicated to everyone except by the power of the Holy Ghost. Must we do all we can do? Yes, but don’t discourage yourselves. Start with doing one thing or stop doing something you shouldn’t be doing. Pray with all the energy of your heart that you might be filled with the love of God. That you might have a change of heart or are born again. That you have no more disposition to do evil.

    Make covenants with God through his authorized servants. Enjoy the blessings that come from publicly and permanently declaring your devotion to Him. Enter a marriage like relationship with God. Enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    Then the joy comes. God will condemn no one that is honest of heart. Those that are honest of heart will put their effort into becoming the sons (and daughters) of Christ. Yet it is His grace that carries us from initial step to every scraped knee to the ultimate day of glory when we receive our reward for qualifying to the highest blessings of God.

    Comment by Rich Alger — April 1, 2011 @ 11:44 am

  7. Sometimes I click through the evangelical channels on TV and I sort of drink up the ones who teach hope. As I’ve said many many times, I wish we had more “evangelical” experiences in our meetings.

    Comment by annegb — April 24, 2011 @ 8:46 am

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