The Taser's Edge

Love Wins (HarperOne, 2011) by Rob Bell–Part I of III

I love reading books because some Christians are talking about them. It’s one of the best perks of being a pastor. Harry Potter, The Da Vinci Code, The Shack. Even (a while back) I Kissed Dating Goodbye.

And I hate feeling the pressure to read books some Christians talk about: Left Behind, random Christian-branded self-help crap.

Rob Bell’s newest falls in both camps. People are angry, and I don’t particularly care about what they’re angry about. But I had seen one of Bell’s videos (The Gods Aren’t Angry), and although only somewhat drawn in by the message, I was blown away by his communication skills. Watch it, and you will be too.

Earlier this year, Love Wins dropped like a bomb with a beautifully (but not in the ick-slick way of some megachurchness) produced video, and the shock waves rocked the Twitterverse for a couple days thanks to a blogpost pushed by John Piper.

Rob Bell is an evangelical pastor that many evangelicals don’t like. For years, they’ve felt like he’s been squishy on some fundamentals (and I use that word purposely), but they had nothing really to get him on. Until now! Without reading the book (as you can see if you clicked through to that blogpost), they began to label Bell a universalist. Once again, however, there is still basically nothing to nail him for…at least from the perspective of evangelical theology.

The first half of the book (preface and chapters 1-3) are definitely the strongest. Here, Bell works hard and with great talent to help his readers explore the Biblical imagination of the breadth of God’s embrace of all things. Sometimes his exegesis is spotty (although I think he knows this, and is trying to push the envelope), but his main points come out well. And it’s totally uncontroversial to someone who has read C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce (or, at least, I haven’t yet heard about John Piper tweeting that Lewis is apostate).

As a review in one sentence, “Love Wins is what The Great Divorce could very likely have been, if C.S. Lewis were a gifted American hipster pastor instead of a gifted stodgy Oxford don.”

Part II begins now…