I join the plethora of bloggers and tweeters who are discussing Rob Bell and his soon to be released book Love Wins in order to point people towards some more thoughtful responses to this soon to be released book.
The stir that the book's video blurb, publishers comments and fiery twitter attacks have caused is nothing short of sensational. The book now sits at number 18 on Amazon's bestseller list. What's most incredible is that the book hasn't even been released yet. Basically no one has read it and yet everyone has an opinion on it and is not afraid to share it.
Sadly I'm reminded of an article that appeared on the satirical website Lark News in 2008 about Christians preparing to be offended by a soon to be released Eminem album.
Here are some links to some more thoughtful responses to Rob's book. You'll easily find the other opinions. After the links I'll make a few comments myself.
From Tom on Being the Body who has actually read the book, but doesn't want to give too much away.
From Scot McKnight on Jesus Creed, as fine a New Testament scholar as you could hope to find. Author of some of my favourite books, Fasting, The Blue Parakeet and most recently One.Life.
Sarah Pulliam Bailey on Christianity Today. Also covers the hilarious tweet responses from @robbell who is a web designer in England rather than @realrobbell author or Love Wins.
Jason Boyett of O Me of Little Faith who pushes back at John Piper and some of the neo-Calvinists. And also David Sessions of Patrol who does the same.
From This Side of Sunday.
Finally Jarrod McKenna at Religion and Ethics has some good thoughts.
Here are my thoughts...
1. I am familiar with some of the commentators linked to above but not all. Read with discretion. Which should be common sense to all of us as we endeavour to walk the Way of Wisdom.
2. I've nothing but appreciation and admiration for Rob Bell and have enjoyed and been blessed by his writing and teaching for the last 4 years or so. That's not to say I've agreed with everything he has ever said, but essentially I find he's on the mark.
3. When it comes to hell, it is not a topic that has been discussed and signed off on in any of the church creeds, the Athanasian Creed does mention perishing. It is a topic full of mystery that every generation has questions about which needs to be looked at again and again. There is room within Christianity to differ in your opinion in regards to what hell is or isn't, much like there is room to differ over the time frame and means in which God created the universe, the time of Jesus return and other such issues. This doesn't mean any old opinion is valid. We still need to do due diligence with the text. Still though scholars have reached different conclusions for centuries.
4. We can't simply dismiss questions in regards to hell has having been sorted and throw a scripture or two at our young people to back an opinion up. As Scot McKnight says, the approach to this generation is not to denounce their questions, which often enough are rooted in a heightened sensitivity to divine justice and compassion, but to probe their questions from the inside and to probe thoughtful and biblically-response resolutions. We need to show that their questions about justice and God’s gracious love are not bad questions but good questions that deserve to be explored.
5. Hell is a big deal and we need to understand the options (not in order to simply pick one) but so we can all, once again, go back to the Bible, to our church traditions, and study all over again – as if for the first time – what to believe. (Paraphrase of Scot McKnight).
6. Better to read the book first, then study some more, then come to come conclusions.
7. Let's not be afraid to have to ask big questions, wrestle with big questions, and explore big questions.