In case you have somehow missed the stir, there is a Pastor of a big church in Michigan (Rob Bell) that wrote and released a book about heaven, hell and the fate of every person who ever lived. It is called "Love Wins". It has caused a huge stir mainly because of Bell's unusual (not necessarily unbiblical) theology of heaven and hell. Because of the supercharged topic and the radical view Bell shares, the book is under scrutiny and, as a result, flying off the shelves (earlier this week it was #5 on Amazon charts). Bell has been interviewed by numerous news channels and has been trending in social media for the last several weeks.
Now for the more detailed version of my personal review. In this post, I will share what I liked. In the next post about the book, I will share what I didn't. So, what I liked:
1. His poetic writing style.
2. I really appreciated the pages of stunning questions that Bell lays out in Chapter 1. Read about that HERE in my blog earlier this week.
3. LOVED Bell's chapter on heaven entitled "Here Is the New There" and I will give it more airtime than the other parts of the book. His perspectives on heaven were consistent with both the Bible and my spirit's sense of God's plan for us. Really, it is quite simple. Most of the Christians that I know (and many of you reading this right now) believe that heaven is somewhere else in some far away high up place---and it will be beautiful like nothing you have ever seen with gold streets and a gate that Peter is standing at, etc. Many think that we will evacuate out of this terrible place into a better place somewhere else--these are our ideas, not the Jesus' of the Bible. In one quote the author says that "eternal life is less about a kind of time that starts when we die, and more about a quality and vitality of life lived now in connection to God." Bell sums up the Biblical picture of heaven with these words...and it is quite different than what I hear at EVERY funeral I have ever been to..
Jesus consistently affirmed heaven as a real place, space and dimension of God's creation, where God's will and only God's will is done. Heaven is that realm where things are as God intends them to be. On earth, lots of wills are done. Yours, mine and many others. And so, at present, heaven and earth are not one. What Jesus taught, what the Prophets taught, what all Jewish tradition pointed to and what Jesus lived in anticipation of, was the day when heaven and earth would be one. The day when God's will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. The day when earth and heaven will be the same place. This is the story of the Bible. This is the story Jesus lived and told. As it's written at the end of the Bible in Revelation 21: "God's dwelling place is now among the people."
4. I have found this to be SOOOO true:
It often appears that those who talk most about going to heaven when you die talk the least about bringing heaven to earth right now, as Jesus taught us to pray: "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." At the same time, it often appears that those that talk the most about relieving suffering now talk the least about heaven when we die.
5. Hence, I have also found this to be stunningly correct:
Often the people most concerned about others going to hell when they die seem less concerned with the hells on earth right now, while the people most concerned with the hells on earth right now seem least concerned with the hell after death.
6. Contrary to mass criticism stating such, I do not find Bell to be a Universalist. I love how people talk before they think-- or read! Not!
7. Also, contrary to widespread report, Bell uses scripture constantly. It is all throughout the book. Loved that! (However, how he handles some of them, along with the ones he conveniently leaves out were troubling. More on that later.)
8. Bell addresses heaven in chapter 2 and hell in chapter 3. It seems to me that that bulk of the rest of the book was fairly safe as it unpacked the intense and indescribably love that God has for people-- and his desire to save and restore ALL of what he has made.
9. Overall, I love how good Bell is at inviting readers to question old perspectives and consider new ones. Look, unless you enter into this book with an anti-Rob Bell agenda, which many are, you will easily learn that the main theme of the book is not about the subtitle, but the main title. The heart of the book is CLEARLY about the indescribable and unbelievable love that God has for you and me more than what happens after we die...which Bell is clearly much less concerned about than what we are doing NOW to make Jesus' dreams come true.
Coming soon....to be fair....I must share what I did not like. L8R...
PS- I really like my friend Brandon Jones perspectives on the book. He has posted multiple times. Check him out HERE!