When Rob Bell's controversial 'Love Wins' came out, pretty much everyone I knew got on the 'Rob Bell is a heretic' band-wagon. There were shirts and caps and mugs with Rob Bells face and a big red cross through it. Bumper stickers were printed en-masse saying "Rob Bell is not my homeboy". People went cray-zee.
The book was controversial because Rob Bell was challenging the idea of Heaven and hell that the church has come to believe. He believes that people still have an opportunity to go into Heaven after they die. Bell does well to argue his point, and while I myself am not a universalist, I found his point-of-view refreshing, challenging and very interesting.
Here is what I think:
- Rob Bell is not a heretic. He raised an age old question, one that was and should be debated throughout the Church's history.
- People's reaction to the book really told us a lot about Christians, and how badly Christians want all 'the other people' to go to an eternal torment.
- Maybe God is more gracious than we think. When NT Wright was interviewed about 'Love Wins' he said "I'm not a universalist, but perhaps God is." And I think that is something important to ponder.
- Don't go around putting bumper-stickers on your car about hating Rob Bell if you haven't read the book and actually bothered to study what the writers of the Bible thought of hell. It gets a bit awkward when you realize that the Hebrews (for the most part) didn't believe in an after-life.
Anyway, those are just my thoughts. Whether you agree with Bell or not, it would certainly be a wonderful universe if Love were truly to win.