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.
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.