DeYoung’s Review of Bell’s Love Wins

Kevin DeYoung has a thorough and devastating review of Rob Bell’s book Love Wins.  It’s well worth the read — though it’s lengthy.  I read it late last night and I’m still processing it.  But here’s a couple paragraphs to chew on and share your comments.

“So why do I say Bell is a universalist if he believes in hell? Because he does not believe hell lasts forever. It is a temporary “period of pruning” and “an intense experience of correction” (91). Bell’s hell is like purgatory except his “period of pruning” is for anyone, not just for Christians who die in a state of grace as Catholicism teaches. For Bell, this life is about getting ourselves fitted for the good life to come. Some of us die ready to experience God’s love. Others need more time to sort things out. Luckily, in Bell’s scheme, there is always more time. “No one can resist God’s pursuit forever because God’s love will eventually melt even the hardest hearts” (108). Bell does not believe every road leads to God. He is not a moral relativist. You can get your life and theology wrong. Heaven is a kind of starting over, a time to relearn what it means to be human. For some this process may take a while, and during the process their heaven may feel more like hell. But even those who get everything wrong in this life, will eventually get it right over time in the next life. In Bell’s theology, ultimately, everyone will be saved. If he’s right, most of church history has been wrong. If he’s wrong, a staggering number of people are hearing “peace, peace” where there is no peace.

What’s wrong with this theology is, of course, what’s wrong with the whole book. Bell assumes all sorts of things that can’t be shown from Scripture. For example, Bell figures God won’t say “sorry, too late” to those in hell who are humble and broken for their sins. But where does the Bible teach the damned are truly humble or penitent? For that matter, where does the Bible talk about growing and maturing in the afterlife or getting a second chance after death? Why does the Bible make such a big deal about repenting “today” (Heb. 3:13), about being found blameless on the day of Christ (2 Pet. 3:14), about not neglecting such a great salvation (Heb. 2:3) if we have all sorts of time to figure things out in the next life? Why warn about not inheriting the kingdom (1 Cor. 6:9–10), about what a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31), or about the vengeance of our coming King (2 Thess. 1:5–12) if hell is just what we make of heaven? Bell does nothing to answer these questions, or even ask them in the first place.”

What do you think?

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Martin Luff says:

    I have just finished reading “Love Wins” -well worth the read.

    My conclusion? DeYoung’s review is somewhat one-eyed…

    Seems like David Fitch agrees, commenting as follows:

    “Sorry Kevin, I know you mean well but when you do a 20 page review that largely argues out of an incredibly narrow view of orthodoxy with little to no appreciation for history before the 1920′s”

    http://www.reclaimingthemission.com/the-rob-bell-fiasco-why-we-cant-have-this-conversation/

  2. Martin Luff says:

    Jeremy

    Finished reading ‘Love Wins’ earlier today – and enjoyed it :)

    Not sure I agreed with everything Bell writes – but it was challenging and has certainly got me thinking.

    Having read the book – and also DeYoung’s review – I am not sure we were reading the same book – or maybe we were just reading it through different glasses :)

    Looks like David Fitch agrees with me, as he writes on his blog:

    “Sorry Kevin, I know you mean well but when you do a 20 page review that largely argues out of an incredibly narrow view of orthodoxy with little to no appreciation for history before the 1920′s, it comes off as defensive and parochial.”

    http://www.reclaimingthemission.com/the-rob-bell-fiasco-why-we-cant-have-this-conversation/

    Blessings | Peace

    Martin

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