And so we have come to the end. I should probably take a moment to apologize for not making my self-imposed deadline of May 6, 2011. It was foolish on my part to think I could finish this in such a small time frame. Nevertheless, the end is here. This final chapter entitled, The End is Here, wraps up Love Wins with an impassioned plea from Bell. There are no new surprises, no verses, no redefining of terms, only an appeal to consider what has been said. Bell anticipates cynicism and skepticism from his readers; rightly so. In like manner, I too am going to summarize and make a plea in the final chapter of this review.
At the beginning of this review, I said that no matter how gentle I try to be, this review would inevitably come across as a swing at the man, Rob Bell. You will have to be the judge over whether or not that actually happened. I have done my best to keep the gloves up and keep my comments about the man tied strictly to what he has written in his book. If anyone who reads this review thinks I have personally attacked Rob Bell, I assure you it was not my intention. My only intention here was to draw attention to the false teachings that Bell is espousing in Love Wins. Bell is a husband and father, from all appearances a likeable guy, and a very intelligent guy, but his theology concerning salvation and hell is dangerous and has the potential to lead many astray.
What Bell is ultimately doing is undoing everything the Scriptures say about God being our righteous Judge. In all of Bell’s talk about God’s love, he conveniently forgets God’s justice. What readers witness in this book, is not only a redefinition of a few Greek words and a reinterpretation of a few verses here and there; but it is a wholesale discounting of vast portions of the Bible, Old Testament and New Testament, which speak of God’s wrath against sin, his justice, and most importantly of the propitiation that Christ did for us on the cross. Bell elevates God’s love above all other character traits in God’s personality. In effect, this elevation of love has exalted love to a god status and made love an idol.
I do not care how much Bell protests; he has hijacked the exclusivity of Christ. If Gandhi, a Hindu, made it into heaven, why do we bother evangelizing? Why did Jesus commission us to make disciples? If Jesus can be found in all other religions, then why are we risking our lives by going to dangerous places to bring the Gospel? Why did the apostles ultimately die for their faith? If Bell is right, we should simply leave people alone because eventually they will discover Jesus because there are “rocks everywhere” where people can find Jesus.
I do not want to be guilty of oversimplifying Bell’s argument in Love Wins. The truth is that he has put a lot of thought into this book. He did not just write this one rainy Saturday when he had to stay inside instead of going to the park. It is evident that he has poured his intellect into this book. Bell is a master of the question. He asks many, many good questions in this book. His passion in this book is born out of a desire to see people come to know Jesus and experience the love of God. That is noble and should be commended. But for all of the great questions Bell proposes, there are scarcely few Biblical answers. Even though it is wrapped in a cool presentation, a cool looking dust cover, and presented in contemporary language, it is still heresy. People who spread heresy have a name: heretic. This is not the dark ages or the inquisition. We do not burn heretics at the stake (nor should we have ever). But what we should do is make people aware of their heresy. Pastor Mark Driscoll once said in a sermon that the church is not in the business of rehabilitating wolves; rather we are supposed to shoot wolves. Wolves are in our midst for one purpose; to destroy the flock. Rob Bell is a heretic; a wolf. Rob Bell should be expelled.
In the remote possibility that someone from Mars Hill Bible Church ever reads this review, I beg you, find yourself a new church home where the Gospel is preached without alteration. God is love. This is so true. But God is more than just love. He is also just. This is why Jesus had to die. God has to punish sin. If the perfect order of things is to ever be reestablished, sin has to be judged. Jesus came and took the sins of those who would trust him, upon himself and absorbed, exhausted, endured the full wrath of God upon sin. Those who believe upon him and receive him as Lord will never have to endure God’s wrath. But those who reject Christ will endure the wrath of God because their sin remains with them. This is the Gospel. Is God’s wrath eternal? Answer this: Is God’s love for his Son eternal? A rejection of an eternally and infinitely loved Son, demands an eternal and infinite punishment. Yes, God’s wrath is eternal. Hell is forever with no possibility of parole.
How is that loving? Hell is not about love, it is about justice. God’s love comes through in that he chose to save anyone at all. God’s love is displayed in that he sent his Son, Jesus, to die for people who did not deserve a second chance. No one in the history of humanity deserved a chance at redemption. God should have wiped us out the moment Adam and Eve ate the fruit. But in his love for us, he set into action a plan to redeem us. Hell is what is just. Jesus is what is offered and he is the ultimate and perfect expression of God’s love. Does love win? You bet it does. But here is the question Bell conveniently avoids. Does justice prevail? Absolutely.