Questioning the Evangelical Equation – Reviewing Love Wins Ch. 1
So it continues. I am reading another book from Rob Bell, the preacher from the heart of Michigan and the so-called heretic of evangelicalism. The thing that I like about Rob Bell is that he is willing to ask questions about issues and beliefs that are fundamentally important. He is not willing to just believe what he is told and repeat it back.
I want to review each chapter of his new book “Love Wins” and take it slowly as I try to understand his thought processes. I don’t want to rush through the book trying to find out if he really is a universalist. I want to let it percolate in my mind and simmer on the ideas in light of Scripture.
So here are some of the interesting ideas he raised in chapter one as he questions the core principles of what evangelicals would call conversion or salvation. He writes about how evangelicals are focused on people coming into a relationship with Jesus Christ through some sort of prayer accepting Jesus into their heart.
Bell writes, “This raises even more disconcerting questions about what the message even is. Some Christians believe and often repeat that all that matters is whether or not a person is going to heaven. Is that the message? Is that what life is about? Going somewhere else? IF that’s the gospel, the good news–if what Jesus does is get people somewhere else–then the central message of the Christian faith has very little to do with this life other than getting you what you need for the next one. Which of course raises the question: Is that the best God can do?”
Bell also brings up the point that if it is a prayer that we pray, then is it really grace after all or just something that we do. He ends the chapter by giving illustrations from Jesus’ ministry where he makes statements about the forgiveness of sins and what saves us that don’t necessarily gives us a clean picture of how this happens.
The first chapter is full of questions about salvation that I know get some people angry right out of the gate. But they are important questions. They are questions that poke at the deceptive marketing of some Christians and the manipulative tactics of some preachers to feed their egos by getting people to “pray the prayer.” I saw this in youth ministry far too often. I “prayed the prayer” as a six year old because I got the hell scared out of me at some Sunday School class.
Followers of Christ we are better than this. At the end of chapter one I can say that Rob Bell has some very valid points that I hope people listen to. Unfortunately those who need to hear these questions probably didn’t buy the book or if they did buy it, just skimmed to find the proof texts that showed that Rob Bell is definitely a universalist heretic.