Challies, Rob Bell and the Kind of Love that Really Wins

9 Mar

There was an explosion of blog posts following Justin Taylor’s response to the promotional video for Rob Bell’s upcoming book, “Love Wins”. Since then I’ve been waiting for one particular review. Today Tim Challies posted his reflections on the book.

I’m not chasing controversy or provide Bell with further publicity. I think Challies’ review is worth reading because it provides a biblical examination of “Love Wins” . This is important as it is propagating a dangerous heresy and it will undoubtedly be read by some of your Christian friends.

“Love does win, but not the kind of love that Bell talks about in this book. The love he describes is one that is founded solely on the idea that the primary object of God’s love is man; indeed, the whole story, he writes, can be summed up in these words: “For God so loved the world.” But this doesn’t hold a candle to the altogether amazing love of God as actually shown in the Bible. The God who “shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8), who acts on our behalf not so much because His love for us is great, but because He is great (Isaiah 48:9, Ezekiel 20:9,14,22,44, 36:22; John 17:1-5).” Challies

Read Challies’ full review

Other useful posts on the topic

Desiring God: The Fairytale of Universalism

Phil Dunwoody: Keep an Eye

Denny Burk: Rob Bell Outs Himself

Challies: What I’d Have to Deny to Deny Hell

Take Your Vitamin Z: Rob Bell, Hell and Our Tendency Towards Idolatry

“And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” 2 Corinthians 11:14–15


27 Responses to “Challies, Rob Bell and the Kind of Love that Really Wins”

  1. Tori March 10, 2011 at 7:33 am #

    Has anybody read the book yet…?

    It isn’t released until March 29th!

    In the promotional video, does Rob Bell actually STATE anything? Listen close…. It’s all questions! Questions that people actually ask all the time…

    So give it a chance. READ it. See how Rob Bell answers the questions. And then, if you still aren’t happy, have a moan. At least it’d be justified.

  2. James March 10, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    Sorry, I should have made it clearer in the post but the reason I have waited until now was so that I could read the review of someone who had actually read the book.

    Challies has read an “Advance Reading Copy of the manuscript that was provided specifically for review purposes.” He quotes from it extensively in the review.

    For example this is taken directly from “Love Wins”:

    “What Jesus does is declare that he,
    and he alone,
    is saving everybody.
    And then he leaves the door way, way open. Creating all sorts of possibilities. He is as narrow as himself and as wide as the universe.
    People come to Jesus in all sorts of ways.
    Sometimes people use his name;
    other times they don’t.”

    Read the review for yourself, and the book if you want to, but from Challies review and quotations it seems apparent that Bell denies an eternal hell. To deny it is to deny the Gospel.

  3. Tori March 10, 2011 at 3:43 pm #

    “From somebody else’s reading of a few chapters”. Yeah, I read his review.

    I just think people need to reserve judgement until they themselves have read the actual book, before jumping on somebody elses bandwagon…

  4. ConnorQ March 10, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

    With respect Tori, I don’t know if the guys at Challies read the whole of Bell’s book or not. However, although it would help for completeness I don’t believe that you have to read a whole book to be able to make a judgement on its accuracy and helpfulness.

    I have not read the whole of the Qur’an but just the few select verses that I have read are enough to show me that the Qur’an teaches lies.

    Likewise I have obviously not read Bell’s book but from just a few quotes from his book (like the one James quoted above) I can say with confidence that “Love Wins” teaches heresy.
    No matter how good and how true the rest of the book is, any book that claims to be Christian but proclaims salvation outside of Christ MUST be warned against, that level of error is just far to high to be reconcilable.

  5. Tori March 10, 2011 at 7:22 pm #

    I think I’d need to read that quote in context to decide whether that was Bell’s conclusion.

    Just as verses in the Bible need to be read in context to glean their whole meaning.

    Imagine just reading Matthew 5:22 without knowing what the context or surrounding verses were…

    “And anyone who says “You fool!” will be in danger of the fires of hell.”

  6. ConnorQ March 10, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

    Yes of course quotes must be take in context but I think that quote was large enough to see the context. Clearly Bell is stating his opinion on how people get to heaven (through Christ, but there are many different roads you can take to get there and you dont have to know it is through Christ as long as you get there)

    I see no way that that could possibly be correct in any context?
    With the Matthew verse, because it doesn’t tell us who was called a fool and why that is so bad, so we should ask: Who is he saying ‘you fool’ to? and why?

    But with Bell’s quote it is quite clear what he is saying, It is a stand alone statement.

    I think to truly take the quote in context would be to look at Bell’s theology. Given the way Bell twists and distorts scripture ‘like his father Satan’, and given he rejects the infallibility of scripture. I think it is beyond doubt (and surprise) that this quote means how it reads.
    The whole purpose of his book and ministry is to question and draw people away from biblical orthodoxy, how could that possibly be a good thing?

  7. Tori March 12, 2011 at 9:33 am #

    I think that the last two lines are the ones that you have an issue with.

    But they’re the last two lines – what if he explains what he means in the next sentence?

    I’m going to read it, I think.


    And then see what I think.

    I think lots of people are against Rob Bell on principle anyway, and so that opinion is going to taint their view no matter what. But that’s not what I’m complaining about here. I just wish people would leave off condemning what he has to say until they have read it.

    Ps. How do you know that’s the purpose of his book?

  8. Steelo March 12, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

    “It’s all questions!”

    “..Some folks claim that the video cannot be critiqued because he’s only asking questions. Maybe he’s just trying to sell books? Maybe he’s just messing with us and in the book he will sound much more orthodox?

    As to the former question, it doesn’t matter if it’s meant to be promotional, devotional, or confrontational, the fact is he’s teaching. And false teaching of this depth and breadth needs to be addressed…

    Love Wins can be the second coming of Jonathan Edwards and it still doesn’t change that what was communicated in the video was untrue to the Scriptures, inconsistent with historic orthodoxy, belittling of the cross, deceiving to unbelievers, and a tragic distortion of God’s character.”

  9. ConnorQ March 12, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    Well I agree with the first 2 lines, none of the rest.

    “is saving everybody.”
    – disagree (that is surely enough to show Bell is a universalist)

    “…Creating all sorts of possibilities. He is as narrow as himself and as wide as the universe.”
    – disagree (again he practically says out right ‘all roads lead to God’)

    “People come to Jesus in all sorts of ways.”
    In the context is is quite clear that Bell is NOT meaning ‘in sunday school’ or ‘in a worship service’ or ‘from reading the bible’ or those kind of outward means, hes talking about: ‘through the teachings of Muhammad’/ ‘”through mystical spiritualism” ect.

    and obviously the last lines as well.

    “and every spirit that does not confess Jesus, is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world” 1 john 4:3

    There is simply no way at all to reconcile these statements with the gospel. They are at complete odds.

    Your right im against him on principle, because he has previously said the the bible is NOT the perfect word of God and you can get to heaven without taking Jesus as your savior. How could I possibly accept anything else he says, he is an ememy of Christ. How could I go looking to someone for teaching about the Christian faith when he denys its very foundations! If you believe the bible is the word of God and he doesnt why would you listen to what he has to say about it? You woulden’t read a book by an Imam about the way to salvation and seek to learn from it, because you are not on the same page, you have no common ground. So it is with Bell. He rejects the word of God what common ground do you have?

    I dont know you Tori, I dont know what kind of preaching you prefer or what, but I think you have to be honest, you have to give up trying to defend the enemys of Christ and say Rob Bell is a heretic the stuff he teaches is not biblical, he is a false teacher.

    Eve’s first mistake was to engage Satan in conversation, she knew who he was, she knew he is an enemy of God, she knew he was a liar, and yet she allow him to try and explain himself. You know what happened because of it.
    That’s how I know the purpose of the book. Satan’s purpose in his seemingly innocent question to eve was to maker her doubt and question God. So it is with Bell, his questions are purposed to cause doubt over the being of God and his plan for salvation

    There are many false teachers around today and please please listen to me now, I say this in love. Please do not read it, do not engage the serpent in conversation, say with John Piper: “Farewell Rob Bell.”

    “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.” 2 Peter 2

    “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” Mat 7

  10. ConnorQ March 12, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

    wow sorry about the length of that

  11. ConnorQ March 16, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

    This might clear things up:

  12. James March 17, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    I’d agree Connor. I was hesitant to do a blog post on this issue at all. Lots of other people have written better responses and that is why in the end I simply linked to Challies. I’m not interested in using this blog to take potshots at other believers over issues that don’t really matter but this video shows why what Rob Bell is promoting matters intensely. What he is saying isn’t merely asking questions or going on some “journey” of discovery. This is an error of hell in two ways. Firstly, Bell is wrong in that he denies the existence of hell. Secondly, this is a lie from the pit of hell designed to rob God of the glory he deserves. It is impossible to sincerely hold the beliefs that Rob Bell is proclaiming and to be a Christian.

    Here’s another good article entitled “Seeing God’s Providence in the Rob Bell Firestorm”.

  13. Daniel Ritchie March 19, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

    I learned recently that Martin Bashir is a Christian, who goes to Dr Tim Keller’s church in New York. In the link below he discusses the above interview; thank God for such an intelligent man working in the media, who can see through the sophistries of Mr Bell. However, he does make a good point in seeing Mr Bell as a victim of evangelicalism, rather than simply a villan. Enjoy listening to this interesting discussion:

  14. Tori March 20, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    We could spend all day quoting articles.

  15. ConnorQ March 20, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

    To quote that article:
    “Mars Hill affirms that Jesus is the only way to inherit salvation, how exactly that happens, however, is a matter of mystery that we do not claim to have all the answers to. As Rob says after quoting Jesus,
    “What he doesn’t say is how, or when, or in what manner the mechanism functions that gets people to
    God through him”

    I think the order, manner and mechanisms of salvation is clearly, if it is not how can we ever answer questions like ‘How can I be saved?’

    We are saved “by grace you have been saved through FAITH”

    so none can be saved without faith. We also know that; “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”

    There will be no faith in heaven or hell because we WILL then SEE Christ in his kingship. Well will believe but not as a ‘conviction of things not seen’ but as a very visible reality. Hence none can be saved after death.

    Bell, however says:
    “Those who reject the invitation experience a
    purifying “fire” of judgment in hell, yet there is hope”

    Jesus did in fact address this issue, look to his parable of the rich man and Lazarus:
    “between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.”
    – Luke 16

  16. ConnorQ March 20, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    * is clear
    *We are saved THROUGH FAITH:

  17. ConnorQ March 21, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    **I think the order, manner and mechanisms of salvation are clear, if they are not…

    Apologies for my terrible spelling and grammar.

  18. Tori March 21, 2011 at 11:42 pm #

    Can I clarify – your point is that we are saved through faith?


    Or is your point that there is a “mechanism” to becoming saved… a set way of praying/’inviting Jesus into your heart’?

    Whole other barrel of fish…

  19. ConnorQ March 22, 2011 at 1:17 am #

    By “order, manner and mechanisms of salvation” I was meaning the processes that come under the title ‘order of salvation’, The steps that God has decided to use in our salvation ie. Effectual Calling, Repentance, Justification, Adoption, Sanctification, Regeneration ect.

    Through the means out lined in scripture ie. preaching the word.

    Yes my main point is, we are saved through faith and there is only faith in this life not the next. We can only be saved in this life, once it is ended we face judgement where our eternal fate will be pronounced and there will be no escape from hell once it come upon a soul, there it will stay for eternity to take the punishment for its sins against the infinitely perfect God.

  20. Tori March 22, 2011 at 7:35 am #

    Did God specifically write that exact order in the Bible?

    (Insert Book, Chapter and Verse) “quote”

    Because all that you’ve said IS in the Bible, just in a bunch of different verses… And so some people could argue then that the exact order and ‘processes’ aren’t necessarily exact.

  21. ConnorQ March 22, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    The processes I mentioned are as you said all clearly described in the bible. Romans 8:29-30 sets out the order of some of the steps but not all, there is some debate on what order the steps come in but I believe that they can be clearly put into a definitive order using biblical wisdom and discernment. The bible dose not always emphatically declare truths in a single passage but they can be deduced from other doctrines and multiple passages, no one can for example give : (Insert Book, Chapter and Verse) “quote” to prove the trinity from a singular passage.

    But we can for certain say alot about salvation and the way in which it works out. The bible says much more than what Bell gives it credit for.

  22. Tori March 22, 2011 at 6:00 pm #

    Exactly why the Trinity and salvation are mysterious things that nobody can quite explain or understand…

  23. ConnorQ March 22, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

    That is not a correct inference, just because a doctrine is formed on the back of multiple texts not a singular one does not make it necessary incomprehensible.

    There are indeed mysteries within the details God’s plan of salvation, and if Bells issue was with the order that a few of the process take place in, or about aminor detail in adoption, that would be understandable. Bell however is not raising an issue with the dubious placement of a work of grace within ‘the order of salvation’ rather he implies that we can know nothing about this order and how people are redeemed.

    What his article says is really; ‘People are saved through Jesus that is all we can know about that’

    But back to what I made clear was my main point, how can you reconcile Bells view that people can be saved after being sent to hell with all the bible says about the nature of hell, God’s punishment of his enemys and restoration of his people?

  24. Tori March 22, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

    And back to my main point – I’m going to actually give Bell a break, read his book, and see what his viewpoint actually is.

    Then I can decide whether I think it matches with what I know of God.

  25. ConnorQ March 23, 2011 at 12:56 am #

    Well ok, but I suspect Rob Bell’s arguments will be based more on ‘longings and desires and wisdom and insights.’ than a honest complete exposition of scripture.
    So, I humbly suggest that as you read the book, you also listen to John Pipers sermons on Heaven&Hell, so that you will have at the front of your mind what the bible says about hell and you can then weigh Bells arguments against Scripture and “examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;” 1 Thess 5

  26. Tori March 23, 2011 at 7:40 am #

    Just as you are against Rob Bell on principle, I too am against John Piper. So, no thank you, I will read the book with my own open mind, and my own relationship with God.

  27. ConnorQ March 23, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    Ok, just make sure you test it against the perfect standard of complete scripture, And let us know what you decide.

    Yours, Connor

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