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Love Wins
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Book Review – Bell, Rob. Love Wins. Harper Collins. New York, N.Y. 2011

Reviewed by Ron Aguilera

Over the last few years, Rob Bell, pastor at Mars Hill Bible church, has been increasing in popularity. He has become known for his growing church, books, videos, speaking tours, and his unconventional thinking. So, when his latest book, Love Wins, came out I decided to pick it up.

This book got considerable attention and reaction before it was even released. I heard people talking about it, arguing over it, on blogs and on TV. Then, I saw the April 25 Time magazine cover titled “What if There’s No Hell? A popular pastor’s best-selling book has stirred fierce debate about sin, salvation, and judgment,” and I began to understand why. On top of that, some of my Adventist pastor friends have been talking about how a number of scholars and pastors of different faiths have been having discussions on the topic of universalism (the big theme of Bell’s book). So I decided to read it for myself.

I’ve read Rob Bell’s previous three books and I have found them thought provoking. He often makes some excellent observations, but his theology, use of scripture, and writing style, has gotten poorer. His writing style is often repetitious, to the point where it was hard to finish this last book. But, most of all I often chuckle at some of his irrational conclusions. In this book, his poor use of scripture and out of context (proof text method) scripture use, has led him to some different conclusions.

In Love Wins, Bell paints a picture of a god who is loving, but not holy or just. He does not believe people need to hear the gospel, repent of sin, and receive Jesus to enter this life-giving relationship. Instead, everyone gets to go to heaven. In his version, God’s love is lifted up, which I love, but there’s no discussion about God’s holiness, justice, and judgment.

I think Bell most controversial statements in his book is this: “No one can resist God’s pursuit forever…God’s love will eventually melt the hardest heart.” Hence the title message: love wins. He makes the argument that every person who has ever lived be saved. .Hmm…interesting thought. I can see why this is so controversial. How do we reconcile this we believe?