Rob Bell - "Love Wins" Dialogue (Part 2)
This week, I’ve been pressing further into Rob Bell’s ‘Love Wins’ and have been appalled with his distorted doctrine. The more I read his controversial best seller, the more I disagree with the message. Combined with his Monday night session at the Curb Center, I’ve started to wonder if Bell has crossed into the ‘false teacher’ category.
After digesting his heaven and hell ideologies, Bell appears to twist scriptural truths to satisfy an attempt to create a universally appetizing gospel. But this stance is a total 180° from Christ’s approach. Jesus never bowed down to gratify what the Pharisees, Sadducees, and all other religious owls wanted to hear. In each circumstance, he stood firm and stayed connected to the flow of God’s heart. Although Bell provides stirring questions and a solid analysis on God’s compassion, any positive output is overridden by his covert defiance concerning the cross’s significance.
In a world marred by indifference, partiality, stubbornness, rebellion, and disobedience, it’s no question that the lost and backslidden will love to hear a prominent voice declaring the absolute possibility of every man’s place in heaven regardless of an acceptance or denial of Christ as Lord and Savior. As I will mention later, this seems to contradict the Good News Christ brought during his ministry tenure. Although Bell acknowledges free will, his idea of freedom tarnishes God’s justice and wrath, often misconstrued to be detached from His love. With very few references to the cross in the book, one must carefully dodge Bell’s warm, seemingly relativistic tones. In cunning fashion, he sheds a new angle that falls eerily close to the false belief that multiple ways lead to heaven.
With Easter looming, it’s good to ask yourself: What was the point of the cross? What does it mean to have eternal life? Yes, the extremist, old school evangelical mindset of Jesus’ death satisfying the anger of God is not the right spiritual position. But swinging to the other side of the pendulum is not any better. One must read between the lines and absorb what Bell is indirectly implying and not implying. God’s incredible love for mankind overcomes all that hasn’t measured up to his perfect standards. Within God’s infinite love is a respect for each man’s free choice. Yet, that free choice doesn’t produce freedom if one is living in sin and bondage. One must remember the huge chasm between free will and freedom.
If people who aim for holiness end up at the same ballpark as those who deliberately forsake it, how is genuine love being shown? Think of a parent not punishing his/her child, using the excuse that one day they will grow up, become an adult, they will realize what is right and wrong automatically, and everything will become handy dandy. No! That’s crazy talk.
One note before I continue. Bell loves to criticize all existing fake portrayals of Jesus. While I agree that the church at large has misrepresented Christ, this in itself cannot be used as a ‘last resort’ excuse as to why salvation does not occur. I submit that there are numerous examples of true Jesus being shown all over the world every day.
Back to the cross…
The best testimony to grace is the cross; the highest example of reconciliation is the cross. To replace its value with a feel-good, ‘must not disappoint anybody’, wishy-washy Christianity is pure tragedy. The Bible is infallible. Thus, breaking it down to the point of rearrangement and regurgitation to fit personal customs is wrong. Let’s remember that even before Jesus died, he spent three years preaching the Good News – how he was the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). No one can come to the Father, except through Him. If people deny Christ out of disbelief or lack of desire, a wedge is ultimately established. What has triggered this theological firestorm in recent weeks is the idea that God’s love, which "demands freedom", will pluck people out of hell and into the safe refuges of God’s celestial paradise, assuming some admittance of error takes places along with a declaration of faith (Honestly, I am getting a huge headache writing this, because I feel as if I shouldn’t have to be writing it).
On a more positive critique note, capturing the semantics of hell proved to be a personal point of interest in Bell’s investigation of eternal realities. But this can impress only to a certain extent. The key lies in the interpretation, application, and commission of God’s perfect Word. And frankly, this is where Bell misses the mark. He employs misleading filters on Christ-centered dogmas laden with the potential to guide many to actual truth. Instead, many recipients of Bell’s message around the world are sharing in naive smiles.
The merciful heart of God and the spiritual afterlife have never been dull subjects. But the frightful unthinkable is starting to emerge within so called ‘Christian arenas’, and I’m afraid of people accepting a God and theology so whacked, it fuels what Bell mentions as hell on earth (hell that can be experienced before we die). If a Christ-centered message encourages fleshy persistence, the message must be questioned. Integrity must be fought for.
Let’s remember the times, guys. The New Testament foretells an uprising of false teachers in the last days (2 Peter 2:1-3, 1 Timothy 1), which I believe we have already entered into. I don’t believe Bell is out for himself, but I strongly consider his theology to be a sundry blend of unbiblical ideas and catered palatability. I am worried that salvation lines will become increasingly blurry for those not anchored deep enough in a relationship with God.
Finally the bottom line: By seeking to take the fire out of hell, Rob takes the fire out of holy pursuits and the healing, redemptive power of the cross. I am not saying every word is linked to a lie, but I am saying that before reading Bell’s new book, a prayer for discernment would be very wise.