Dear Brothers and Sisters at Maranatha Bible Church,
A number of you have asked me for my thoughts on Rob Bell’s latest book Love Wins. Since the book came out this week, the blogosphere has been buzzing with posts and comments about it. Many reviews have been written in the last few days and I would encourage you to read them to gain a greater understanding of the issues in this book. Specifically, I want to point you to the following reviews since these men have addressed the issues accurately and biblically:
Review by Ligon Duncan: http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2011/03/speaking-seriously-and-sensiti.php
Review by Kevin DeYoung: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2011/03/14/rob-bell-love-wins-review/
Review by Denny Burk: http://www.dennyburk.com/revising-hell-into-the-heterodox-mainstream/
Also, since his book denies that hell is a place for those who reject Christ and a place where they spend an eternity receiving God’s wrath against their sin, let me direct you to an excerpt from a sermon I preached on hell from Revelation 14:9-11 (see link to the article “A Biblical Understanding of Hell from Revelation 14″ below).
Finally, having read his book at the very same time I have been preaching through the Gospel of John’s account of Christ’s death, I cannot help but mention that my greatest concern with his book is that it essentially negates the need for a substitute who takes the wrath we deserve. If all people eventually get to heaven whether in this life or the next and if God’s love eventually overcomes every person, then why the need for a substitute? Why the need for Christ to become the perfect lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world? Why did Christ lay down his life and become a curse for us if everyone ultimately winds up in heaven anyway? Having been immersed in the glories of Calvary for the last few weeks and been overwhelmed with the wonders of the cross where Christ made payment for my sin, I find Bell’s rejection of the need for penal, vicarious substitution deeply disturbing. This amounts to nothing short of ripping the heart and soul out of the Gospel. Christ was wounded for our transgressions and was crushed for our iniquities so that we can be forgiven, can enter into a relationship with the Father, can hope for the splendor of heaven, and can avoid the torments of hell. To essentially say that there was no place for a Savior who was made sin for us and no place for a substitute who propitiated God’s wrath against our sin is to strip the Gospel of its wonder and rob Christ of His greatest work on our behalf. Among the many errors in Love Wins, this is the greatest!