"All words are symbols that represent unspeakable realities. Which is also why words are magical." (Donald Miller tweet)

Monday, March 28, 2011

not the devil

Well ... I read it.

I read the whole thing today, cover to cover.

Stopped in the middle to wash the dishes that I didn't wash the other night.

I read it with more than the usual measure of criticism too.

Looked up the Scriptures he quoted to see if they said what he said they said.

Scribbled notes and questions in the margins.  Highlighted things in yellow.

Here's what I thought. Every now and then I thought he pulled a little Scripture out of context. But not nearly as much as another popular author whose work I strongly dislike. And not in hugely important ways.

Chapter 4 - the most controversial one - I wish he had included some references or sources to back up his statements about Martin Luther, Origen, Clement of Alexandria and the rest of the boys.  But because he didn't, and because my own really quick search online of the Luther stuff seemed to suggest that Bell was maybe stretching the meaning a bit, I got irritated. I wasn't as irritated at what he was saying. I was more irritated that he wasn't backing it up. I wanted to know why he was saying what he was saying. But really, that was only a couple of pages' worth. By the end of the chapter, I was mostly OK with him again.

Did I agree with every single thing he said? Of course not. I probably wouldn't agree with everything you say either. Some days I disagree with myself!

But by the end of the book, I was cheering inside. Because at the end, he was telling the story in the Bible commonly known as the Prodigal Son, and here's what he wrote:

Our badness can separate us from God's love, that's clear.

But our goodness can separate us from God's love as well.

Neither son understands that the father's love was never about any of that. The father's love cannot be earned, and it cannot be taken away.

It just is.

And if you know me at all ... you know that's the kind of statement I can get on board with.

Verdict:  Rob Bell. Not the devil. Even with the hipster specs.


Dwayne said...

Great summary! I read it last week, in two sittings. Whatever the outcome, love wins.

vjc said...

Glad you got to read it and glad you shared your thoughts. Glad you're generous enough to overlook the specs. Also glad you write in the margins :)

It sounds like most books - thoughts to be assessed, a potentially new point of view and certainly something to take away. It's on my list (albeit WAY down there).

chRistine said...


Geoff Breen said...

Awesome... Quote of the week
"Did I agree with every single thing he said? Of course not. I probably wouldn't agree with everything you say either. Some days I disagree with myself!"
Love it!!!!

Patti said...

Geoff! hi :)

Bob said...

Finished it yesterday
Loved the part about the prodigal son
I would love to use this book to do a small group - lots of discussion material :)

Patti said...

Yup, that would DEFINITELY be interesting discussion.

M. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Derbecker said...

It's an election year. The devil's far too busy to be writing books.

Patti said...

touche, derbecker. :)

Reg said...

I haven't read LOVE WINS but have watched interviews with Rob Bell and my sense is that his understanding hasn't caught up to his revelation and/or conviction.

Although the LOVE WINS message is new to his prime and large audience (evangelicals, emerging church, younger seekers) it isn't new and has been articulated by many over the years.

Because the LOVE WINS (reconciliation of all) message contradicts the doctrine of hell as taught and understood by much of xtndom, it is viewed as a threat to the establishment and those who espouse the LOVE WINS message come under attack.

I would suggest that before anyone picks up or throws any stones they should do 2 things. First, do a study of the word all as used in 1 Cor 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all will be made alive.

Secondly, for a masterful study on the subject I would suggest reading Preston Eby's series entitled THE SAVIOR OF ALL which can be obtained on his website for free. http://www.kingdombiblestudies.org/tablecontents.htm#Savior