Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Love Wins--prelimary review

I just finished reading Love Wins by Rob Bell. It was a quick and satisfying read. Rob addresses each mention of hell in the Bible (or so he says--I have not yet personally double checked to make sure), talks about the original language that has been translated as hell in modern versions of the Bible, and discusses how the original recipients of the letters of the New Testament would have understood the content. (an essential ingredient that seems often left alone rather than embraced in churches) He voices many of the same questions, doubts, and seeming contradictions that I have wrestled with for a long time. He points us back to the Bible for the answers.

Many who read this book will be surprised and probably skeptical to learn that the idea that God's love will be so appealing to all people, that they will ultimately choose God is not a new idea, but rather a very old one. Rob did not make up some politically-correct version of heaven and hell for this book.

As I said a few posts ago, the concept of ultimate reconciliation of all to God is not new to me. I've had years to get comfortable with this, though maybe had not been able to have 100% confidence in it. Love Wins gave me new and beautiful things to think about, not only about hell, but about heaven, Jesus, God, and how to more fully be a part of bringing the world more of God's goodness and love.

There was a point toward the end of the book where I felt like things were getting a little murky, but I appreciate the Rob was not trying to give us every single answer since not all things can be known by us. He embraces the mysteries and unknowable things and leaves room for us to not know all the details. To me that is far more honest than cooking up a bunch of details that we just can't know right now.

I would recommend this book to anybody who wonders about heaven, hell, God, salvation, or how to live life. Even if you think you won't agree, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how much you do get out of the book.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Love Wins, page 111

Whatever objections a person might have to this story,
and there are many,
one has to admit that it is fitting, proper, and Christian to long for it.
We can be honest about the warped nature of the human heart,
the freedom that love requires,
and the destructive choices people make,
and still envision God's love to be
and more compelling
than all of that put together.
To shun, censor, or ostracize someone for holding this belief
is to fail to extend grace to each other
in a discussion that has had plenty of room
for varied perspectives
for hundreds of years now.

~Rob Bell in his book Love Wins

Sadly, what I have seen so far in the online discussions anticipating this book, is that many Christians have no grace at all for anyone who wants to explore the possibility of a bigger, better, and more beautiful GOOD NEWS than most of us are familiar with. I have seen people labeled heretics and false teachers for these beliefs. And most of all I have seen that many, many people seem to love the concept of hell for others and are full of vengeance and hate for non-believers. Which is exactly the sort of thing that causes people to flip their proverbial bird at the concept of being a Christian. And why shouldn't they? Who would want to be like that? Jerk on Earth for an eternity with all the other jerks? No thank you.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Love Wins, page 45

It often appears
that those who talk the most about
going to heaven when you die
talk the least about
bringing heaven to earth right now,
as Jesus taught us to pray,
"Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

At the same time,
it often appears
that those who talk the most
about relieving suffering now
talk the least about heaven when we die.

~Rob Bell in his book Love Wins

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Love Wins, page 8

Do you know any individuals who grew up in a Christian church
and then walked away when they got older?
Often pastors and parents and brothers and sisters
are concerned about them and their spirituality
--and often they should be.
But sometimes those individuals' rejection
of church and the Christian faith they were presented with
as the only possible interpretation of what it means to follow Jesus
may in fact be a sign of spiritual health.
They may be resisting behaviors, interpretations, and attitudes
that should be rejected.

Perhaps they simply came to a point
where they refused to accept the very sorts of things that Jesus would refuse to accept.

~Rob Bell in his book Love Wins

Friday, March 25, 2011

Reading Love Wins

I've never been on the big Rob Bell bandwagon like so many people I know. I think he seems like he's trying too hard to look cool and edgy, and that grates on me. His Nooma videos didn't interest me and I didn't think they were awesome. Velvet Elvis did speak to me, though, and gave voice to my developing beliefs that there had to be a more reasonable way to understand the Bible than much of what I had been exposed to in my life.

Now, we have Love Wins. You've probably heard about it, because people have been screeching about it all month, even weeks before the book was even available to read. What interested me about this book was the subject matter of hell, and the fact that apparently Rob was going to say some things that would challenge the mainstream notions of hell. I started learning some new and interesting things about hell years ago when my friend's husband actually left his pastorate in the Free Methodist Church after becoming compellingly convinced that ultimately God will save all. He wrote a book and it gave me a lot to think about, and gave me a hope that God is bigger and better than most believers would like to let Him be.

So, I'm not a newcomer to the idea that hell might just not be eternal, and that when we learn that Jesus paid it all, it really means ALL. I'm looking forward to digging into this book. So far there are excellent thoughts and he brings up many of the same doubts and questions that I have had for so long. Hopefully I'll manage to circle back around and share my thoughts on it here.