Many of the readers of this blog may not be aware of who Rob Bell is or why I say he gets under people’s skin. Let me explain.
Rob Bell is the teaching pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has written several books that have irritated people to no end. Critics of his first book, Velvet Elvis, claimed that he denied the Virgin Birth of Jesus (he didn’t). In his second book, Sex God, he was supposedly attacking the traditional view of marriage (he wasn’t). His third book was entitled, Jesus Wants to Save Christians (and he does, often from themselves!).
Just run a Google search on Rob, and you will find people either in love with his way of thinking or convinced he is the Antichrist. There seems to be no middle ground.
Next Tuesday, Rob’s most recent book entitled Love Wins hits the shelves, and his publishers sent out this promotional video that has the internet community all atwitter.
Christians everywhere watched this video and/or read a pre-review by a guy named Justin Taylor, who based his thoughts entirely on the editor’s notes on the book. People are decrying Bell for being a universalist – for believing that there is no hell and that everyone gets to go to heaven.
Rob has certainly created a buzz for his new book, and I have no doubt that it will be his best selling book to date because of it.
But let’s be honest. What did Rob actually say in this video? He doesn’t say anything. All he does is ask questions – good questions. We don’t really know what his answer will be, and at least one guy who has actually read the book insists that Bell does not come across as a universalist and affirms the basic tenets of Christian doctrine.
It is all very confusing, and unfortunately even the publication of the book won’t clarify much because a lot of people have already made up their minds and will only read the works of the pundits instead of reading the book itself.
Rob gets under people’s skin because he questions things we don’t like to question. He forces Christians to think, and unfortunately there are an awful lot of believers in this world who want to just accept things as they are given to them – without any critical thought or questioning. I can’t speak to Rob’s motives, and I often don’t agree with his conclusions, but I love the process.
We should absolutely being asking good questions of our faith. Why shouldn’t we? Our faith claims to originate with the work of the Spirit of God himself. If Christianity doesn’t stand up to honest questioning, then our claim of supernatural origin would certainly be tenuous, wouldn’t it?
Odds are good that I will buy this book. I usually get Rob’s books on audio because I can’t read his freestyle prose on the page. I’ll probably do some more posts on the book and consider what Rob has to say. I hope you’ll come back and check it out.