I like Rob Bell. I really do.
I bought, read and enjoyed Velvet Elvis.
I bought, read and mostly enjoyed Sex God.
I got Drops Like Stars from the library, read most of it, but got tired if it quickly.
I skipped Jesus Wants to Save Christians. The name bugged me and I was not willing to stop reading what ever it was I was already reading.
I recently got Love Wins from the library and am reading it now.
There is no doubt the controversy is justified. There is also no doubt that the book is designed to create controversy and to get people talking.
And boy are people talking.
People far smarter than me (and some of them a bit ruder than me) have reviewed Love Wins. Some have been helpful, some have not. There are links at the bottom of this post if you are interested reading what others have said about Love Wins.
My review, however, will be rather specific. My review will be limited to Love Wins and Infant Salvation.
I plan to post one review per chapter, starting with the preface.
While the Preface to Love Wins starts with a bang in the context of hell (Who knew what you were taught was all wrong and way too mean?) and salvation (Who knew that none of us really knows how to be “saved” or even what “saved” really means?), there is no specific mention or illusion to Infant Salvation.
I would suggest, however, that the Preface does address the emotions and frustration I have felt while wrestling with a biblical understanding of Infant Salvation.
Rob Bell writes:
I’ve written this book because the kind of faith Jesus invites us into doesn’t skirt the big questions about topics like God and Jesus and salvation and judgment and heaven and hell, but takes us deep into the heart of them. (page ix)
Some communities don’t permit open, honest inquiry about the things that matter most. Lots of people have voiced a concern, expressed a doubt, or raised a question, only to be told by their family, church, friends, or tribe: We don’t discuss those things here. (page ix)
My hope is that this frees you. There is no question that Jesus cannot handle, no discussion too volatile, no issue too dangerous. (page x)
I wholeheartedly agree.
God is not afraid of your emotions.
He is not afraid of your questions.
He can even handle your anger and your doubt.
I have tried to talk about my concerns, my doubts, my frustration and most of the times they are met with cliché responses or disapproval. Most of the time people (especially pastors) simply say, “Of course your son is in heaven!”
If only the answers to my questions were that simple.
As the controversy surrounding Love Wins shows, the idea that someone can “go to heaven” without knowing God is a hard pill to swallow.
What is Rob Bell saying that I am not saying?
I do believe in Infant Salvation. I believe my son is with God even now, even though he never believed.
Maybe I should go easy on Rob Bell and Love Wins.
It is my desire that this can be a place where you can grieve, question, vent, and grow. Instead of running from Him, run to Him – draw near to Him. He can take it.
While I do agree with what Rob Bells says about asking questions and addressing doubts, I do not agree with the way he argues.
For example, in trying to show that his view is not really new (or wrong) he writes:
And then, last of all, please understand that nothing in this book hasn’t been taught, suggested, or celebrated by many before me. I haven’t come up with a radical new teaching that’s any kid of departure from what’s been said an untold number of times. That’s the beauty of the historic, orthodox Christian faith. It’s a deep, wide, diverse stream that’s been flowing for thousands of years, carrying a staggering variety of voices, perspectives, and experiences. (pages x-xi)
First, slavery and mass genocide (think Holocaust, Rwanda, etc.) have been taught, suggested and even celebrated. That doesn’t make them right or good.
The converse to his main point has also been taught, suggested and celebrated.
Both cannot be right.
Anyway, this starting argument style is sloppy logic at best, and at worst misleading.
Second, while it has been discussed in “orthodox” Christianity, he leaves out that it has also been rejected again, and again, and again as being contrary to what the Bible teaches.
A dark understanding of Infant Salvation is brought up in Chapter 1, What About the Flat Tire?, and will be the topic of our next post.
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Until next time, here are a few other reviews, comments, complaints about Love Wins: