One of my personal joys this past spring was doing a group on Facebook to read through and discuss Rob Bellâ€™s Love Wins. When I did the sums/reviews of each chapter, I tried to be as fair as possible and understand what Rob was saying. After reading it, digesting it, and taking time to discuss it with others, I wanted to give a few short attempts at my comments. So to start with, here are five of my own likes or appreciations about the book. [please note: these comments donâ€™t presuppose you have read the book].
1. This is a beautiful book, sometimes brilliantly written, and it drives toward a passionate invitation to look (again) at love in Jesus. Rob invites us to trust a good God of love: â€œwe are loved, a new word has been spoken about us, a new story is being told about us.â€
2. Love Wins breathes Jesus and the gift of grace. Donâ€™t discount this â€“ the deepest stream here is relishing the Godâ€™s gift of human life in this world, lived here and now in light of the life to come.
3. Love Wins is better at heaven than it is at hell. The book is at its best when tackling â€œheavenâ€ (Here is the New There, ch. 2) and driving us back to a better early Christian view linking life now with the life to come. It continues that drive into the chapter on Dying to Live and There Are Rocks Everywhere. It is a less good when it addresses â€œhellâ€ (Hell, ch. 3) â€¦ but more on that below.
4. Remember – or at least, try to think about – the purpose and the audience. Iâ€™m guessing Love Wins probably wasnâ€™t written for someone like me. It comes from a pastorâ€™s heart and I think itâ€™s aimed at both those who have turned off or hurt by the evangelical church and those who wouldnâ€™t give it (or its Jesus) a first look based on its reputation. It addresses the very real questions that lurk in many hearts, questions some are afraid to ask because they have a tendency to deconstruct both methods and maxims (read ch.1 to get the feel for this â€“ it leaves you in pieces).
5. Love Wins is meant to start a conversation, not finish one. Or at least, I think so. Rob says up front that heâ€™s saying nothing new. I believe him on that one and recognize many voices behind his, and he points you to other sources if you want to dig deeper. Donâ€™t take it as a definitive statement, and donâ€™t expect him to show his work â€“ this kind of popular book wears a lot of its learning lightly. So take it as a challenge, go back to scripture, read widely, and donâ€™t be afraid to open the box and see whatâ€™s inside.
Did you read it? If so – what do you like or love or appreciate about it? I would love to know …
Up tomorrow: some reservations and questions.