Life has been so incredibly intense in the last month that I'm really not altogether sure where to begin. I wish I could say that I had read fifty books. But I can't. I can't say that. I think I read four.
My job is absolutely swamping my life at the moment. I am purposefully choosing not to get into details at the present time, but let's just say it's a lot of overtime and a lot of exhausted nights. Which is why I haven't read a whole lot.
I DID, however, read Rob Bell's book. For those of you who follow me on facebook, you will know that, yes, I commented on it without reading it. I could defend that position all day with statements such as, "If Rob Bell didn't want us to believe that he thought everyone was going to heaven, how do you explain that video?" I could tell you that, really, I'm commenting on the fact that a well known pastor purposely confused millions of people in order to sell a book. But instead of doing that, I'm going to tell you what I thought about the book itself and move on.
"Love Wins" begins as, basically, a rant. Rob Bell is obviously very upset with the evangelical world and their point of view that a loving God would send people to hell for an eternity. He comments for an entire chapter on a picture that his grandma had hanging in her house depicting people walking on a cross across a chasm in order to reach heaven. Ignoring what this painting obviously means (which is that Christ laid down his life so that the gap between us and God could be crossed), he instead focuses on the small number of people entering heaven and the fact that heaven looks stupid to him.
He goes on to write a chapter about heaven, in which he insists that heaven is here and now as well as in the beyond. He discusses hell then, saying that it's our choices that basically bring us into our own personal hell, not a literal hell of flames and gnashing of teeth. Then he writes for five chapters about how great God is for not making us go to hell. That is, basically, the extent of his writing.
Anyone who is a die-hard Rob Bell fan will surely disagree with me on this, but I would submit to you that this book is nothing but Rob Bell's fantastical ideas about how he wished the Bible worked. He blatantly ignores parts of the character of God (remember how God used to open up the earth and swallow people down in it? Remember the time that God drowned everyone in the world except for eight people and some animals?) and chooses to highlight, instead, the parts of God that he finds palatable. This, my friends, is idolatry, plain and simple. If you love God, you have to love every bit of Him, even the parts that you do not understand. If you think you have to understand God or that you do understand God already, then you think way too highly of yourself.
He lists the places in the Bible where Hell is mentioned, insisting that it is almost never mentioned, even though he makes several references to it. Jesus, especially, mentions Hell. In fact, he mentions Hell more than Heaven. He wanted to make sure that everyone understood that it was a real threat to them. He was concerned that they just weren't getting it. And, in listing all the reasons that Hell doesn't really exist in the literal sense that we think of, he neglects many of the primary scriptures which lead the rest of us to the believe that Hell is real and some will spend eternity there (ex. when Jesus discusses that narrow is the gate that leads to salvation and very few will enter by it, but wide is the gate that leads to destruction.).
I could go on and on about the logical fallacies in Rob Bell's book, but I won't. I do, however, want to end with this. If you have not grappled with the idea of Hell, then you just haven't dwelled on it long enough. It's an awful thought that is most definitely hard to reconcile with our miniscule ideas of justice. I definitely respect that Rob Bell has a right to grapple with these and he has a right to publish his conclusions. I am saddened beyond measure that he picks and chooses the parts of God that he can understand. Because he is defintely missing out on a great experience with a Creator beyond what we can imagine. A Creator that does, indeed, give us a choice and who sacrifices what he wants (perfect communion with all creation) in order to give us the free will to choose whether or not we will serve Him. What a marvelous Savior.