The End is Here: Love Wins Ch. 8
The end is here. This is the conclusion of my review of Rob Bell’s Love Wins but by no means is it the end of my theological journey on what the Bible says about the afterlife. Bell raised some thought provoking questions that I honestly don’t want to deal with but I know I need to struggle through.
Chapter 8 in review
Bell begins his last chapter telling about his conversion experience as an elementary school student where he prayed “the prayer” with his parents. Though there is a temptation to deconstruct earlier experiences like this and discount them, Rob cautions against this first response. He explains, “Whatever words you find helpful for describing this act of trust, Jesus invites us to say yes to this love of God, again and again and again.” Bell also talks about the importance of repentance and dying to ourselves so that we can be alive with Christ now. Our focus should be on being alive with Christ and his love now, instead of focusing totally on living with Christ in heaven.
“Whatever you’ve been told about the end–the end of your life, the end of time, the end of the world–Jesus passionately urges us to live like the end is here, now, today. Love is what Jesus is, love is why Jesus came, and love is why he continues to come, year after year to person after person,” writes Bell. God’s love for us should transform how we live our lives now.
On a more humorous note, the last line in the whole book is, “…that loves wins.” The title of the book is “Love Wins” and yet for some reason the editor missed this crucial error right at the end of the book. Oops! I guess we all make mistakes 🙂
Is this book really about Hell?
Now that I have come to the conclusion of Love Wins I honestly can say the book is less about Hell but more about salvation and how we sell the story of the Gospel. Growing up in the church bubble, I know first hand how Christianity is “sold,” especially to children. There is such an emphasis on Jesus saving us from the torment of Hell and saying a prayer so that we can be rewarded with an eternity in Heaven. This selling of the Gospel focuses on our selfish desires and I firmly believe this is not the Gospel story. This is what I think Rob is really talking about in his book. It is less about whether there is a Hell or not and more about the content of the Gospel story.
Maybe part of the reason students are leaving the faith in college is because they were never taught the real Gospel story. They were taught that they needed their golden ticket to Heaven and taught nothing else about following Christ. They were never taught about the grand unfolding story that God wants us to play a role in. They were never taught that God loves us unconditionally yearns for a close relationship with us.
I really think this book is critiquing the way that some Christians sell the Gospel story and scare the hell out of people. The decision to follow Christ should never be motivated by the fear of Hell. As Rob writes, “The good news is better than that!” The tough part is that those who need to hear this message are so caught up with arguing with Rob about his possible beliefs on Hell.