My Scribd Review of LOVE WINS

For a special colloquium at Seattle Pacific University, I was asked to speak for ten minutes about Rob Bell’s Love Wins. As I was writing my short spiel, I recognized that I was just scratching the surface. So, I decided to write something longer. Thus, I have posted on Scribd a 9-page review of Bell’s book, focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of the book.

Click HERE.

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5 thoughts on “My Scribd Review of LOVE WINS

  1. Nijay-

    Thanks for such an even-handed and scholarly review of Love Wins. It is simply one of the best I’ve encountered and I’ve read quite a few of them, including the book length response by Mike Wittmer.

    Although I agree with your note that Bell is theatrical in his writing style and thus vague on many points, I felt as if he was at least fairly clear on salvation by way of his multiple metaphor theory of the atonement sketched in chapter five. He lays out every major metaphor from church history in an approving way, as Steve Holmes also notes over at his blog Shored Fragments. Now, does that mean that this chapter was as clear as it could have been? Absolutely not. Bell makes the interesting move here in relation to his “new” metaphor of death-life cycles derived from nature and that really has caused some people to miss the fact that prior to this he adheres to traditional atonement language and metaphor. What are you thoughts on this chapter specifically?

    I appreciated that you saw Bell was not just offering newly coined exegesis, but that for the most part, he has utilized scholarly sources to undergird his proposal. And, yes, it would have been nice if he footnoted at all instead of a short list of recommend resources at the close. Having read tons of evangelical universalist literature, I had an easier time reading his work and at the same time a more frustrating experience as well. It was easier because I knew the arguments he was attempting to make; it was more frustrating because he was vaguely making them without robust substantiation.

    If, anyone is interested, “The Evangelical Universalist” by Gregory MacDonald as well as “The Inescapable Love of God” by Thomas Talbott have more exegetical, philosophical and theological depth and cover much of the same ground. You can also check out Yale philosopher and Christian universalist, Keith Derose’s online work at: http://pantheon.yale.edu/~kd47/univ.htm

    • Randy,

      Great thoughts. I appreciated the same things about Nijay’s review. So many people have just brushed him off as someone who has not done his homework; but I have never believed that to be the case.

      I have just finished reading (and reviewing on my blog) “The Evangelical Universalist”; and you are correct. That book has much more depth and insight, and MacDonald does a much better job than Bell has done (though, assuredly, Bell was writing for a different audience).

  2. Nijay,

    Thank you for your review. It was definitely one of the best reviews of the book that I have read. You made some strong points to the effect that Bell is pushing the salvation issue into the after-life and thus taking the emphasis off of the here and now. These were very thoughtful and I agree that there is a danger in this.

    At the same time though, it appears to me that Bell’s primary focus (as I have seen in some interviews about the book) is to bring the emphasis back to the here and now, in light of the fact that those who adhere to a doctrine of eternal torment tend to over-emphaize the afterlife; as if the gospel was primarily about what happens after one dies.

    Also, I think that he is concerned that a doctrine of eternal torment skews the overall picture of God as loving, merciful, and forgiving, which is actually what motivates people to trust in Him. If people are focused on whether or not they will go to hell after they die, then they will not be focused upon the God who loves and forgives unconditionally so that they can live life eternal and abundant now.

    I am wrestling through these issues a lot; and they are difficult. I think that there are sound arguments on both sides (though I do not agree with ET, I’m more of a conditionalist). We don’t want people to think that they can live how they want now and that it will all be okay after they die, but we also want people to trust that God will never cast them off, that His love will never fail, and that His ways are best (and I think that ET actually works against all of these things).

    Thoughts?

  3. Dr. Gupta,

    I think we might have had classes together at GCTS. I graduated with a ThM in 2005.

    In any event, I wanted to coment on your review of “Love Wins”. I liked you review for the most part. I actually liked Bell’s interpretation of the Rich Man and Lazarus. I think asking Lazarus to dip his finger in water and bring it to the Rich Man’s tongue seems like something a servant would do, it sounds demeaning to me.

    Also I think Bell would argue with you about the role of the church after death. Bell could argue that God is simply trying to stop people from being punished at all by preaching the Gospel here on Earth.

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