As a practicing Christian, I like to read Christian literature to help with the growth of my faith and I am very lucky that my church has it’s own book club to help me with this. In April, we read The Death of Western Christianity by Patrick Sookhdeo, although I was unable to make the club’s meeting to discuss it, it was still an important read for me. Next up to read was Love Wins by megachurch pastor Rob Bell.
In Love Wins, Bell ambitiously addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith: hell and the afterlife. In doing so he challenges many long-held beliefs and tries to answer some big, troubling questions, which have long troubled millions of Christians – troubled so deeply that in many cases they have lost their faith. For example, would a loving God send people to eternal torment forever? I would say no and so does Bell, who with searing insight, puts hell on trial with the hopeful message of eternal life doesn’t start when we die, it starts right now and that ultimately, love wins.
Bell, as an author, pastor, and innovative teacher, uses his considerable bible knowledge and charisma to present his distinctive thoughts on heaven, hell, God, Jesus, salvation, and repentance. Personally, while I didn’t agree with everything, I did find Bell’s arguments refreshing and thought-provoking, but I could also see how his ideas have courted controversy in more orthodox Christian quarters. In particular, his thoughts on no fiery pit of hell or heaven in the clouds, and instead we can start building heaven right here on Earth and there are people living in hells of their own making right now, rang very true to me.
There were other ideas that I found difficult to get my head around completely. Now the reason for this was two-fold: 1. Bell is offering up some pretty big, radical ideas, but also 2. the style Bell uses isn’t always the easiest follow. In his passion, he loses himself in longer, racing sweeps of detail, which gives us swathes of ideas and evidence to process. While – in stark contrast – he also uses bullet point style lists of short, sharp words and phrases, which hit home his key ideas. Both are great techniques if you are on board and keeping up with him, sometimes though I got a little lost in it all and found I needed to go back and re-read sections.
Overall, I thought Love Wins was an in-depth, insightful examination of some of the more challenging aspects of the Christian faith. Many of Bell’s ideas chimed with my own inklings and others really got me thinking! My group will be meeting later this month and I think this is shaping up to be a very interesting discussion. Good read.
Have you read this? Have you read anything else by Rob Bell?