What Not Enough People Are Saying About Rob Bell’s “Love Wins”

Everyone is talking about Rob Bell’s controversial forthcoming book (out 3/15/2011), Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. It is a polarizing book on many levels.

For the same reason you have to gaze at the scene of an accident as you drive by, I was quick to click on Tim Challies’ and Aaron Armstrong’s review of Love Wins. I wish more people were interacting with their thorough review, rather than block quoting it with a “read the rest” link at the bottom.

Challies and Armstrong do more than merely say, “Bell is wrong, and here are the Bible verses why.”

More people need to talk about stuff like this:

“Understanding what Bell truly believes and what he is truly seeking to teach can be a battle. The reader will find himself following many rabbit trails and arriving at several dead ends. It seems that where Bell’s arguments begin to break down, he simply walks away instead of pursuing consistency and logic. This book could not stand the rigors of cross-examination. It has little cohesion, little internal strength.”

We are in an age where logical consistency matters less and less. Since our technologically advanced minds have short attention spans when it comes to sound arguments, authors like Bell can get away with asserting conclusions that are illogical at best, or blatantly untrue at worst.

Bell’s book ought leave a bad taste in people’s mouth, not only because it is wrong theologically, but also he constructs his arguments illogically.

What can pastors do to help their people expect sound arguments and learn how to wade through them? Here are three things that come to mind immediately. I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.

1. When you explain a passage during your sermon, work conjunction-to-conjunction, so that people can see the author’s argument develop.

2. Stop proof-texting your points in sermons. Show why what you are preaching fits with the passage.

3. Preach the logic of the gospel: 1) God is holy and demands that we be perfect, 2) we aren’t perfect, 3) Jesus lived the perfect life we couldn’t live (fulfilling God’s demand), 4) Jesus died the death we deserved to die (satisfying God’s wrath and demonstrating his love), 5) so that we who trust in Jesus’s work can be counted righteous even as he is righteous. 6) The Holy Spirit cleanses us of our sin now, and 7) we will be made completely perfect when Christ returns.

Bell’s book will be a test for how well we are preaching the gospel. If they dig what he says, we need to evaluate our teaching and preaching. If they recognize its shortcomings, we can say a quick prayer of thanks to the Lord, and then get back to work.

Don’t forget to read the rest of Challies’ and Armstrong’s review.