review: love wins.

by Mindy @ Just A One Girl Revolution on April 5, 2011

in Reviews

(source)

To be honest, despite the fact that I said I was going to do a review of Rob Bell’s latest effort Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, I was hesitant to actually write it.  Partly because I didn’t want to add fuel to the fire because there’s been a LOT of that surrounding this book, but also because I really struggled to get my head around the book.

I feel like I should preface this by saying that (for those that don’t know), I am a member of Rob’s church and have been for many years now.  That being said, it’s a church of around 10,000 people, so I come at reading this book and writing my thoughts not as a buddy of my pastor, because in all honesty, I’ve only actually met the man maybe half a dozen times.  I do come at it from someone I respect and admire.  I have immense respect for Rob and for the things he’s trying to do both in the church, but in the world as a whole.

In the book, Rob talks about the ideas of heaven and hell, not just in the “what happens to you after death” idea, but also in that we can create our own heaven or our own hell here and now.  Many Christians today believe that you have to say a prayer professing your faith in God, that he sent Jesus to earth to die for our sins, and that’s how you get to heaven.  Rob counters that idea, that it may not be so cut and dry.

What about the people that prayed that prayer in a feverish moment at church camp when they were a kid, but later renounced God?  What about the person that was abused by someone in the church?  What about the people who never have the opportunity to hear about this prayer?  Are they all going to spend eternity in hell?

Rob argues that, no they aren’t necessarily.  Ultimately, our God is a God that is full of love and kindness and grace and peace.  We can read the Bible and form ideas and beliefs off what it says, but at the end of the day, we don’t know what happens after death.  We don’t know how God works in that respect.

Not only does he talk about heaven and hell as eternal, after-death “places”, but more literally as heaven and hell here on Earth.  Christians get caught up in saving souls and getting people to heaven, but sometimes overlook what life is like here, about bringing heaven to Earth, because certainly there are many living in hell on Earth.  Isn’t it just as important to help those living in hellish situations in the here and now?

In light of this book, some argue that Rob is a universalist, a belief system in that everybody eventually ends up in heaven.  I don’t think that’s what he’s trying to say at all.

What I took away from it as heaven and hell aren’t as easy as saying (or not saying) a simple prayer and magically you’re going to be in heaven after you die.  Faith and life and God are hard and messy and complicated.  I don’t think any of us can truly comprehend who God is or how He works, I don’t care how theological or spiritual or worldly you are.  God is big and beyond what we can comprehend.  We can’t know how “getting to” heaven works because we can’t know life after death.

I’ll be honest in that I don’t know if I necessarily agree with everything Rob says in the book.  Here’s the thing though.  I may not agree with every single thing Rob says or writes, but I think that’s healthy and a good thing.  As a fan of his writing, but also as a member of his church, I think it’s important that I don’t take what he says at face value or blindly believe it all.  One thing I think Rob is so great at is not just talking about what he believes, but asking questions and getting people to think about the ideas.

I do know that I feel like I really need to read this book more than once to truly grasp everything he discusses.  He gets a lot of tough ideas and questions into less than 200 pages.

Ultimately, with some very strong opinions both supporting and criticizing Rob and this book, I would encourage you to read it for yourself and form your own opinions.  Whether you agree or disagree, it is a great starting point for opening up a line of thinking about some really, really big and challenging ideas.

For what it’s worth, I do believe from the depths of my heart that LOVE WINS.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Julia April 6, 2011 at 2:06 am

“Faith and life and God are hard and messy and complicated.” – So true.
Thanks for your review – sounds like a really interesting, albeit challenging, read.

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Cynthia (It All Changes) April 7, 2011 at 12:15 am

Thank you for your review of the book. I’ve heard both sides of the arguments but I haven’t read it for myself. I can’t wait until it comes in the library (I’m on the wait list) because I’ve been a big fan of Rob Bell and use his materials in our church.
Cynthia (It All Changes) recently posted..Butt Meets Car Seat Goals

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Kristie April 7, 2011 at 8:02 am

I downloaded it on my kindle a few days ago and have been reading bits and pieces on the bus. I really like it, and although I haven’t finished I just like reading books that challenge what I’ve accepted due to hearing it all my life. When he talked about hell and how many times it is mentioned in the Bible, I was pretty surprised. I guess I just thought it was mentioned a lot more. I grew up in a pretty conservative church division (CRC – just a little dominant in southwest MI haha) and struggled with a lot of the condemnation and suffering it seems to focus on. Anyway, just wanted to say I’m enjoying the book and am glad you gave your review on it :).

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