The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Rob Bell's "Love Wins"- Chapter Study


The first chapter is “What About the Flat Tire”

I’ll just put down the page # and things that stood out to me:

Pg. 2 One blogger I read counted 119 questions. That didn’t bother me. Some of them are questions I’ve had myself, such as “What kind of God is that?” regarding “the billions who burn forever” (2)

Pg. 4 The point about doing a child a favor by killing it “guaranteeing that the child ends up in heaven, and not hell, forever” (4). I had wondered if abortionists do a better job than evangelists at getting people to heaven?

Pg. 8 He talks about the “turn or burn” message. Do they represent the real Jesus? and how sometimes people leave the church because of the Christian faith they were presented and that their departure may be “a sign of spiritual health. They may be resisting behaviors, interpretations, and attitudes that should be rejected”
“Some Jesuses should be rejected… I don’t believe in that god either”

Pg. 10 Bell points out the typical evangelical emphasis upon whether a person has a “personal relationship” with Jesus while “the phrase ‘personal relationship’ is found nowhere in the Bible”. He got a lot of flak for that one @ the web.

Argh, I haven’t got my copy yet :laughing: Good idea though, I’ll join in when mine arrives :slight_smile:

Guess who else will be giving him a lot of flack for that Monday. :smiling_imp:

Good idea to do this thread, though! :smiley:

@ 10 pages of the first chapter are available on google books preview here. No rush. I think it will work better to leave at least half a week between adding each new chapter to the mix (though I have finished chapter 2 and marked some things).

Looking forward to your commentary on “personal relationship”! (JFTR, readers can find that @pg 3-4 of this thread )

Chapter 2 “Here is the New There”

about “heaven”

Rob hit home for ME with his observation on pg 25 of pastors saying heaven will be “like a church service that goes on forever” bit. Though she’s 13 now, I remember as though yesterday when my own daughter, Susy, at age 9 asked “Mom, is heaven like church? If it is, I don’t want to go! Church is sooooo boring!”

This is not intended to “review” the book at all, just discuss and compare impressions, but of all the chapters I read so far, I disliked this one the most. Struck middle aged, conservative, me as “wacky environmentalist” to claim that heaven is going to be on earth so we need to be careful of the earth. (46) Not that I am an anti-environment, but I am an elected politician and I live in a state with such oppressive environmental regulation that business has left in droves. It also struck me as binding up a burden too heavy to bear that somehow as a Christian I am responsible for “Jesus teaches us to pursue the life of heaven now and also then, anticipating the day when earth and heaven are one. Honest business, redemptive art, honorable law, sustainable living, medicine, education, making a home, tending a garden in heaven, on earth. . .”

Sorry, I have only the power of ONE and THIS earth is subject to futility and groaning (Rom 8). What will happen later is the old will pass away and all things will become new. . . And to ME, HEAVEN on EARTH is ALLLLLL about relationship- with GOD, with others.
Anyway, I was disappointed with this aspect of the chapter. It wasn’t what I expected in a chapter on heaven and it colored the rest where I found some more agreeable concepts.

Pg. 27 GREAT observation that the rich man (who went away sad when Jesus told him to sell his possessions and give to the poor) is invited to “Enter Life” HERE and NOW, not bye and bye pie in the sky. It was not about “when he dies” (29) This point on “entering life” recurrs on Pg 30 regarding Mark 9 “it’s better for you to enter life maimed”. This “LIFE” is about “THIS age, and in the age to come” (31) And

and more on this man on pg 49 “Jesus brings the man hope, but that hope bears within it judgment”
and 50 “He’s interested in our hearts being transformed so that we can actually handle heaven”

Pg 47 Embarrassing Hermeneutic gaffe IMO Here is the Bible passage from Matt 20:

Bell claims “She understood heaven to be about partnering with God to make a new and better world, one with increasingly complex and expansive expressions and dimensions of shalom, creativity, beauty, and design”

WHAT??? Where on earth is he coming up with that??? IMO, she coveted power for her sons. Her request was not some noble thing to do with remaking this world into heaven.

The chapter closes with more of what I was anticipating in a discourse on heaven:

plus the very end of the chapter that Jason quotes here

Just read that passage to my husband he said “He’s an artist not a theologian"but he agreed its not correct. In context of this account, Jesus takes the opportunity to straighten out the disciples about greatness in HIS Kingdom " 24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” Matt 20

So, I read Jason on Chap 2 and he didn’t mention the gaffe (and his thread is locked so I can’t comment there). I finished the book last night, and that gaffe about Matt 20 is the worst thing in the book, IMO. It undermines Rob’s credibility. But perhaps that’s just with anyone who has any familiarity and respect for the Biblical text to begin with (such as conservative evangelicals)? Anyway, I’m disappointed that one of the people he listed who read and made comments on the drafts didn’t catch it (and the other more subtle gaffe my husband caught @ the rich man & Lazarus in the Hell chapter). The people like my husband, died in the wool fundamentalist seminary graduate, will instantly dismiss Bell when they see him handle a passage so poorly. That disappoints me.

The rest of the book gets stronger IMO. Definitely worth reading and gifting to others (besides died in the wool fundamentalist seminary graduates). He has much scripture- well used- in there which speaks of God’s love and grace for everyone and the wonderful GOOD NEWS (as compared with the bad news “gospel” which leaves one in a constant state of cognitive dissonance).

I stewed about why the left wing environmentalist, social gospel type perspective of heaven which I take away from Chapter 2 bothers me and misrepresents and shortchanges “heaven”:
Because it reminds me too much of fundamentalist “culture war” christianity.
We’re out to change THIS world, instead of entering into His Kingdom.
It’s politics and social action instead of being transformed through intimacy with God as Christ is formed within me.
It’s works, burdensome, hoops to jump through.
It doesn’t communicate the return to the Garden of Eden state- reconciled with God, walking and talking with Him, feeling His love, acceptance, approval.

Tsk tsk. Rob Bell’s “heaven” is all of this responsibility on your shoulders: “Honest business, redemptive art, honorable law, sustainable living, medicine, education, making a home, tending a garden in heaven, on earth. . .”

NOT! "MY yoke is easy and my burden is light. you will find rest for your soul. . . "

:laughing: I was so busy complaining about some other things, I missed that one myself! :laughing:

I’m sure his point was supposed to be, at first, simply that this is more evidence of people believing ‘heaven’ was going to be ‘here’ and not somewhere over ‘there’. Then he got… exuberant. :wink:

As your husband said, he’s a preacher not a theologian. As Rob himself has said (on the Doug Paggit show for example), he isn’t a theologian and has no desire to ever be one. Which, like most other preachers who take this route, doesn’t stop him from trying to do theology anyway–even over-against other teachers and preachers. sigh.

I wish I could rewrite his chapter to keep the good things (of which there are many) and either eliminate or reform the inanities (of which… :wink: )

Okay, on this I feel obligated to defend Rob: he very explicitly isn’t talking about doing these things instead. If we aren’t going to be concerned with doing justice in this world, to the extent God empowers us to do so, then we aren’t being good stewards now. That puts us in the category of the guy who buried his talent / wrapped up and hid his mina.

George MacDonald says somewhere in his Unspokens (followed by Lewis afterward) that it’s natural for us to wish to rest and to do no work when we are exhausted and have no energy; but in the day of the Lord to come we will have all the energy and life we need, and even more than we need so that we can share this with each other and with the world God made. Lewis notes that this is the same as infinite rest, reached by a positive instead of a negative route: being filled full of life to overflowing. (Orgasmically so, one might say. :smiley: A metaphor also occasionally found in scripture, OT and NT both, though obscured a bit in NT English translation.)

Too bad he didn’t have someone like you on his editing team. I agree, the book would be improved by some more “critical” editing than it got.

On the orgasmicity of heaven. Yep. There’s a story to Susy’s question (which I mentioned above). Here’s a blog entry:

As far as Heaven goes, I’m looking forward to tending a bit of garden myself. :laughing: There is much in Heaven I wish to do, to learn, and to experience.

I think that a major point in the “earthiness/garden/hereness” of Heaven that Bell is trying to point out is that there is activity and satisfying labour or fruit-bearing in Heaven. Adam was made, and set to work tending Eden. There is a difference between “drudgery” and “work”. As for environmentalism; it is a form of stewardship, in my opinion.

For Heaven though, I and my heart-mate (take that anti-marriage/romance in Heaven theologians! shakes fist defiantly) will do much together, which may include sex after all, of some type of romantic encounter between those who are true-love bound. But that is a different discussion (which I might bring up soon). :laughing: I just wanted to use a touchy (no pun intended) subject to point out how “unchurchy” it will be, but how wholesome and fulfilling (like any happy relationship) it will be.

But, for myself I intend to learn how to make jewelry, play an instrument, sing, sculpt, and I’m very much looking forward to being a much better painter, and being far more creative. Also looking forward to reading Tolkien’s latest works, I’m pretty sure he’s been busy up there for a while lol, I don’t think he’d stop writing. And also George MacDonald, pretty sure he’s got some good faerie tales going on. Looking forward to writing myself.

And last but not least; my private tea with Jesus, and of course, with my beloved heart-mate. :smiley:

So yeah! Pretty sure Heaven isn’t going to be a drawn out church service. I’m looking forward to far too much for that to be so. :wink:

Hi Lefein,

I thought you were a single young man? I really enjoyed your take on the Two Trees; did you see my comment over there? I also observed how you treated the young ladies on the “preaching” thread on FB (Joyce Meyers). You are a quality young man and will be a wonderful husband someday.

Don’t want to get into the “sex in heaven” topic, though you might be interested in this recent thread at Jesus Creed. The Mormons would agree totally with “sex in heaven” (they think we get our own planet to populate and rule). As someone who has had a long and very painful marriage, (though I enjoy sex), I’m glad Jesus told the Saducees that there will be neither marriage nor giving in marriage in heaven. And think of the poor muslim women :frowning: See this 48 second YouTube about “HEAVEN”. I think we are “as children” in heaven and heavenly intimacy is vastly more satisfying than the earthly shadow. Also there is the imagery that I am the Bride of Christ, which makes Jesus my husband, right? And Jesus nourishes and cherishes me now. :slight_smile: Its not bye and bye pie in the sky. Rob Bell wrote the following in “Sex God” and AMEN to it:

and this:

As for heaven being “on earth”, I agree with Rob that heaven starts here (though Rob’s version of heaven in Chapter 2 seems more about “works” within earthly institutions than about communion). Paul talks about “being caught up to the third heaven”. It’s about communion and intimacy with God and revelation from God, not about “works” of environmentalism. I do agree that God gave work in the Garden and work was good, but both my husband and I have been “workaholics” and the Lord has had to deliver me from thinking its all about “works” whether they be right wing “works” or left wing “works”.

In imagining future heaven, I can’t imagine we’ll be earthbound. Why did God create such a vast universe with all those galaxies? Perhaps we’ll be able to fly and planet hop? (Like “Chronicles of Narnia”)

here are Scriptures testifying the presence of the kingdom of heaven/God on earth:

Lol yes, I am single. But as far as I can help it (while battling with an unfortunately sinful mind) I look forward to the future as though it were the present. :slight_smile:

Thank you for the encouragement, and bless you. ^^

Well, sex in Heaven was mostly the catch-all expression for “the unexpected, and unchurchy joys” that I believe will be present. :laughing: I am not so concerned with the actual ‘sex’ in Heaven, rather than the greater intimacy between two people that isn’t “shared with the whole world”.

But I shall look at the links, they might prove interesting. :slight_smile:

I don’t imagine we’ll be earthbound workaholics, but there will be ‘stuff to do’ in a huge universe not in the sense of chores, or duty. But in the sense of satisfying work. :slight_smile: Exploration, and documentation for example is work, and there will I think, be plenty of geologists and botanists and zoologists in the World to Come.

Have to get on with this. I want to pass the book along to friends. :slight_smile:

I decided this is the wrong spot for this thread.

The discussion resumes with Chapter 3 here