In Love Wins, Rob Bell explores common beliefs about Heaven and Hell and how much they are based on church tradition versus what the Bible actually says. What I love about everything Bell writes is the way he returns to the original Greek and Hebrew — not just the languages, but the thinking and culture. He is not twisting Scripture to make it say what he wants it to say — and he is certainly not a heretic. He makes it clear throughout the book that he believes Jesus is the only way to Heaven and that Heaven and Hell are very real. He is just questioning how much our own thinking and culture have played into what we consider Truth. His exegesis and hermeneutics are rock-solid, although I do believe it’s possible to come to different conclusions. His main point isn’t even about what Heaven and Hell are or who is going there, but that we focus too much on that. We use threats of eternal punishment to try and coerce people to come to Jesus. Jesus is SO much bigger than that! There is so much more to him. I’ve actually heard people comment, in talking about this book, that without the threat of Hell, why would anyone want to become a Christian? Do we really think so little of our faith?
Rob Bell also talks about how we are living in Heaven and Hell right here and now. God is timeless. He is not linear in the way we are, and our eternity is just a continuum. Heaven and Hell are ultimately about whether or not we are in relationship with him. This life is all about preparing ourselves for whatever Heaven is. If there isn’t going to be any racism in Heaven, it’s a good idea to get a head start now on stripping ourselves of our racist tendencies. If there isn’t going to be any death in Heaven, let’s start valuing life right now in every possible way.
I believe this is of vital importance, because it changes our whole message and the way we interact with unbelievers or those who are apathetic. It becomes a message of changing the world for the better, right here, right now. I believe that’s a message to get excited about!
I would like to go back and do some more study of his Greek translations for myself. I’ve heard some people say that he’s fudging it a little bit — but I didn’t do any in-depth study for myself and definitely plan to.
I don’t know if I did that synopsis justice at all. The best bet is to read the book for yourself. I definitely believe that there are surprises in store for all of us, and no one can say with certainty what Heaven or Hell will be like or who will be there. I am glad that I can trust God with those things that are completely beyond my understanding!