Love Wins: At the Heart of Life’s Big Questions by Rob Bell

A brave book, shocking for traditional Evangelicals! Rob Bell dares to question our understanding of God, heaven, hell.

This is ’empirical theology’, picking out impressions of God’s character and plan from the Bible, rather than expounding specific passages. In fact, he points out that by emphasizing specific pet texts many believers end up with a very lop-sided view of God and the Gospel (and others with a different but equally lop-sided view; see p. 16f).

He presents several traditional ideas about heaven (ch. 2) and hell (ch. 3), claiming that they are not essentially places or states we end up in after death, but present-day experiences, depending on whether or not we accept God’s offer of love and acceptance (“God’s retelling of our story” p. 170).

For me, the most impressive part is chapter 7 – the story of the loving father and his two sons, who both believe false stories about themselves and therefore about their father; they can’t trust his unconditional love for them.

A powerful point is his question how a gracious, loving God, who goes to all lengths to offer salvation to everyone, can suddenly become a “cruel, mean, viscious tormentor who would ensure that they had no escape from an endless future of agony” (p. 173-174) when an unbeliever dies.

He doesn’t explicitly teach universalism (which is what his critics accuse him of), but if biblical heaven and hell are primarily this-worldly experiences, it changes the perspective on ‘eternal’ (= aionic; referring to a particularly intense experience, p. 58) life or the “life of the age to come” (ch. 2).

One thought on “Love Wins: At the Heart of Life’s Big Questions by Rob Bell”

  1. Nice to read a not totally negative post about the book. It’s been on my Kindle for months but I haven’t read it. Rahel did and we had some discussions which would have been more interesting if I had too.

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