Reviews of Rob Bell’s Love Wins

We’ve given a lot of coverage to Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins this week, and though it’s starting to feel toxically oversaturated, the issues Bell’s book has brought up have justified the attention. Before we finally move on, here are some of the reviews of Love Wins from across the interwebs and beyond.

Kevin DeYoung (Pastor at University Reformed Church), God Is Still Holy and What You Learned in Sunday School Is Still True: A Review of “Love Wins” : “…there are dozens of problems with Love Wins. The theology is heterodox. The history is inaccurate. The impact on souls is devastating. And the use of Scripture is indefensible. Worst of all, Love Wins demeans the cross and misrepresents God’s character.”

Mark Galli (Christianity Today), Rob Bell’s Bridge Too Far: “If there is a criterion driving these distinctions, it seems to be based on what Bell thinks contemporary people can swallow. I couldn’t see any other criteria at play. Given the complete lack of quotes from any other writer or tradition, one is led to the unfortunate conclusion that what makes one extraordinary biblical claim a time-bound metaphor and another literal truth is that Bell says so.”

Timothy Tennent (President of Asbury Theological Seminary), Why Rob Bell needs to return to Seminary… and bring along quite a few contemporary evangelical pastors: “Rob Bell is not just telling us we are sick, he is providing a remedy, a prescript for the theological malaise we are in.  He may not be aware that his “solution” is not new, but dates back to at least 1963 and the writings of Karl Rahner.  Nevertheless, for many evangelicals who avoid any books with footnotes, Bell’s “solution” will be received like a fresh new “third way” between a highly caricatured, mean-spirited “exclusivism” and an unbridled, relativistic “pluralism” which levels the playing field between all religions.  The question is this: Is Rob Bell’s prescription worthy of wide dissemination in the church?  Should I commend it to our seminary students preparing for ministry today?  The answer is a resounding no. ”

Denny Burk (Associate Professor of New Testament at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), Revising Hell into the Heterodox Mainstream: “Bell has launched out into a heterodox, unbiblical accounting of sin and judgment, the cross and salvation, heaven and hell. He pictures a God without wrath who would never create a place of eternal conscious punishment for the wicked. No one needs salvation from God’s wrath; they only need to be rescued from themselves. No one needs to have conscious faith in Jesus Christ in this life to find salvation in the next. While Bell does not want to be labeled a universalist, this book does more to advance the cause of universalism at the popular level than any book I have ever seen.”

John Mark Reynolds (Associate Professor of Philosophy, at Biola University), Bell, the Book, and the Candle: “Old books like the Bible require rigorous exegetical skills or they end up saying what we wish they said. Bell’s god ends up looking suspiciously like Rob Bell, never a good sign in a theologian. Bell’s god will not take “no” for an answer. Like some cosmic lounge lizard, He follows you for eternity until you give Him a sympathy date.”

Michael Horton (Professor of Theology at Westminster Seminary), Bell’s Hell: A Review by Michael Horton, Part 1: “Are all of God’s attributes subservient to his love? And does God’s love demand the salvation of everyone? If you answer yes to both, then you’re inclined to agree with everything else in Rob Bell’s Love Wins. I say this because traditional views of God, salvation, heaven and hell are not really challenged through argument but are dismissed through a series of rhetorical questions that caricature conclusions that most Christians have historically maintained on the basis of looking at the relevant passages.”

Albert Mohler (President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), We Have Seen All This Before: Rob Bell and the (Re)Emergence of Liberal Theology: “H. Richard Niebuhr famously once distilled liberal theology into this sentence: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” Yes, we have read this book before. With Love Wins, Rob Bell moves solidly within the world of Protestant Liberalism. His message is a liberalism arriving late on the scene.”

Russell Moore (Dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), The Blood-Drained Gospel of Rob Bell: “And that’s where the scandal of Bell’s revision of hell and the scandal of Bell’s diminishing of blood language come together. Blood means judgment…. In order for people to see Christ, they must see sin and, yes, judgment. In order to see justification, you must also see justice. If you drain the blood out of the church, all you are left with is a corpse.”

Darrell Bock (Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary), Rob Bell on Hell (Part 1): Often what is raised is correct, but the implications drawn from it struggle to match what undiscussed elements actually show…. So far, his reading does not take us where he thinks it does. Why? It is because key elements of the readings on these topics are not addressed or noted. Even a defense like that McLaren raises, that these texts are hard and can be read in a variety of ways will not work when certain parts of the topic are ignored or are underdeveloped.”

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