I have decided to jump on the Rob bell bandwagon. There is a lot of buzz about Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins. You can watch the promo here.
Despite being someone who appreciates Rob Bell’s ministry, especially his Nooma videos, I will admit some alarm bells went off. However, I will withhold judgment until I read the book and the comments in their full context. Still, I will say that Rob Bell is talented at challenging people and saying things in a way that make them rethink why they believe what they believe.
Some people have already jumped to the conclusion that Rob Bell is now a universalist and a heretic. Challenging thoughts on hell does not make that necessarily true. Many still think of hell as an eternal torture chamber run by sadistic demons, an idea that is completely unbiblical.
One of the things that really is getting people upset is the questioning of whether Gandhi is in hell. Is this universalism or salvation by being good or is it questioning people’s confidence that they have a comprehensive list of who is in heaven and who is in hell? Do any of us know if Gandhi called out to Jesus in his last moments?
Finally, Rob Bell is not the only person who has suggested that heaven will be bigger than many of us assume. Dallas Willard in his book Knowing Christ Today, advocated the wideness in God’s mercy idea that there are people who are saved without consciously being Christians.
Do not get me wrong, Rob Bell might be a total heretic. But I suspect that he is trying to do two things: 1) create the current buzz and interest in his book, and 2) get people to actually think through these ideas. I will read and review the book when it comes out and I will not hesitate to call Bell on any unbiblical assertions. But I would also like to encourage people to withhold accusations of heresy until the book comes out and we can read what he says in full context. Finally, I will leave you with this thought. If they had blogs in the first century, I wonder how many would condemn the Apostle Paul for never speaking of hell.