First of all, IF you have the cahones to write a book that’s going to address Hell, titling it “Love Wins” is a smart way to go. Props, Robbie, props.
Bell’s book put the Evangelical community into uproar over the possibility that he might be a Universalist (gasp–an “ist”!), which is a $7 word to describe the belief that all people will be able to go to Heaven some day, regardless of whether they followed/believed in/had a relationship with the correct God. Christ followers, on the whole, believe that there is a Hell that nonbelievers will spend time in. The nature and length of this differs from denomination to denomination.
So, to the book. Bell does a masterful job of painting this picture of why the Hell question can get murky and overemphasized by Christ followers. While I believe in Hell*, it is one hell of a question that I’m not super stoked to have to think about or deal with. Having said that, Bell knocks it out of the park by showing us how difficult the problem of Hell is for people to wrap their minds around. He raises the same hard questions that people who don’t accept this belief ask. I think Christ followers really do need to wrestle with these questions. Why do we give babies a hall pass if they die before the “age of accountability” but not good people in the sticks that don’t know anything about this Jesus God-man? Or, better questions that Bell asks: Why doesn’t Jesus tell us what prayer to pray that makes it obvious to God and self that a spiritual birth has taken place? Why do so many different people seem to get saved in almost random ways when they encounter Jesus, like the centurion who sends a servant to ask for Jesus’ healing touch? (He asked over long distance—the dude must have worked for an American manufacturing company.) Or the four buddies who lower their paraplegic friend through a roof to get to Jesus? Jesus tells the centurion’s servant that his request for Jesus to heal his son is what saves the centurion. Jesus tells the paraplegic that his friends’ faith saved him. Not a sinner’s prayer in sight. No “personal relationship” wording appears.
There are good answers to these questions, I believe. But, I’m not writing a book on this. I’m certainly glad to journey with Rob Bell as he throws down with this topic, though.
Stoked to continue reading. Let’s see how deep this rabbit hole goes. (And, did Bell dig himself into it? Hmmm….)
*Please don’t judge me until we can have a lengthy conversation or 22 about this topic. A blog just doesn’t do justice to this kind of issue.