Rob Bell’s Book – Love Wins: My Thoughts


L to R: Carrie, Heather, Jake, ME, Rob Bell

There’s a lot of controversy going around about Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins”. The stirring up debate of whether Hell really exists and will people go there. I’ll admit up front I have not read the book yet. I think I want to so that I can intellectually debate it’s information. I’m not one for discussing issues blindly.

I have heard quite a bit of information from both sides of the debate, those who support Bell and those who don’t. I’ve also read through twitter how people are twisting some of the things he said and how they are giving their own reviews. Some folks have been able to read it early with the promise of not saying anything about it till yesterday.

I grew up in a church that believes the traditional beliefs of Heaven and Hell. They exist. They are biblical. And everyone will go to one or the other. I’m not a theologian nor am I a bible student to the point of getting a degree in seminary. I can’t read Greek and Hebrew and can hardly spell half of those theological words correctly.

What I do know is that Christ said Himself that He is the way, the truth, and the life and no can come to the Father but through Him. If we are not with the Father then where are we?

Secondly in Corinthians 3:4-9 Paul was rebuking the church for saying they follow a certain teacher. Are these not mere humans? It goes on to say Paul plants, Apollos waters, but God brings the growth.

If that were written today it would say something like John Piper plants, Rob Bell waters but God brings the growth. I understand that we listen and learn from “Christian greats” but God is greatest and in whom I’m going to follow. For without God, there is no growth, without God we can do nothing. Who is Rob Bell? Who is John Piper? Who is Mark Driscoll? Who is Andy Stanley? Who is Rick Warren? Who are all the other famous preachers we put on a pedestal?

Created beings!

Just like me. They follow the same Christ I follow. They worship God. I worship God. They have an eternal inheritance like I do. They have the same Holy Spirit that I do. They put their pants on one leg at a time like I do. They have received the same grace I have and in the same amount.

Who are they? Who am I?

A created being loved by the creator.

Who will I follow? Christ! Like they should be doing.

Love doesn’t win! God does! Remember love is not God. God is love. He’s also just, righteous, holy, gracious, merciful, mighty, and many more things that can’t come close to describe His richness.

I may be simple-minded and unable to understand the intricacies of God. But what I do know is He said come to me like a child. He provides the growth. In Him and through Him I find my maturity in faith.

Not through Bell, Piper, Driscoll or any other!

God wins. The last time I checked in Revelation it wasn’t love that put Satan and the false prophet in the lake of fire. Only God is that powerful!

(When I read the book, I’ll let you know if my thoughts have changed)

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About Kevin Riner
child of grace, worshiper of Jesus, husband, father, Associate Pastor of GraceLife Church, author of Faith Debugged, musician and baseball enthusiast

14 Responses to Rob Bell’s Book – Love Wins: My Thoughts

  1. Brad Rhine says:

    Well put, brother!

  2. Sarah says:

    I, too, have been following all the controversy over this new book. (Most of which has been embarrassing hype and over-reaction! I’m glad the book is out so people can actually hear what he has to say).
    And while I haven’t read the whole thing yet, and I don’t know that I totally agree with everything he’s saying, I do agree with a few things:
    First, I think “Love Wins” is just another way of saying “Love Never Fails”. When all is said and done, God’s love will conquer, in lives and in the world. And I do believe that every other aspect of God is wrapped in and motivated by His love. Ad in our attempt to live out this Christian life, it is love that will win – in our relationships and in our evangelism.
    Second, I agree with another theme I’m hearing from the book – there’s a lot we don’t know! There’s a lot of gray when it comes to what happens after death, when is the moment of “salvation”, can we “lose” our salvation, etc. And I think that the minute we pretend that there’s not a lot of gray, a lot we can’t understand, we are in a dangerous place. There’s sure a lot more to it than saying a “sinner’s prayer” and now you have “fire insurance”. :)
    I was glad to hear Rob (in the interview the other day), clarify his belief in Hell and the importance of our acceptance or rejection of Christ in this life.
    But I think that the storm of anger and controversy and the way Christians were obviously threatened by Bell apparently denying Hell – it may be exactly what he is trying to point out in this book. We are not characterized by love. And in the lives of those who don’t know Him, it will be love that wins.

    • Kevin Riner says:

      First of all Sara let me say thanks for reading my thoughts. Now…

      Although I can see what your saying and I hope to read the book soon, the major flaw I see in even preaching the philosophy that love wins is it totally negates the cross.

      By preaching “love” we are now preaching half the message Jesus preached. If it’s just love are concerned about then we can just treat each other with love and celebrate when we reach Heaven that we loved each other.

      I have preached till I’m blue in the face and have also witnessed that other pastors are starting to see the downward trend that love is the only attribute of God. We can’t get hung up on one attribute and forget all the others.

      God is just, righteous, merciful, gracious… ah you read my blog. With this message that I perceive Rob Bell is bringing is a strong foundation for contemporary Christians to continue to build on that’s leading us away from the FULL gospel of Jesus Christ.

      There is more to God than love. We can’t forget that. We can’t afford to throw out the qualities of God and lay stake on one!

  3. Valerie Lancaster says:

    Hey Kev,

    Here’s also an interesting FAQ response from the Mars Hill community.

    http://marshill.org/love-wins/

    p.s. I don’t think the sentiment “Love Wins” is strictly only using the one characteristic of God. I think the phrasing is more expansive than the literal English assumed here…In my veiwpoint, I see “Love Wins = The Gospel Wins”. Great post cuz!

    • Kevin Riner says:

      Thanks cuz for the link. I’ll check it out when I get some time.

      On the thing you disagree with me, that’s cool. The best I can tell so far and from the many people I talk to there is a standing problem that we have forsaken all othe characteristics and attributes of God because love is easy to handle. That’s why in most worship songs these days you can take Jesus out and replace him with your spouse or boy/girlfriend and it’ll still make sense.

      The pendulum has swung too far to the love side. I think the phrase stands alone and means exactly that. Love is all we need!

      Were missing out on too much if this is all we want of God.

  4. Brad Rhine says:

    Sarah, I agree that there is much that we don’t know. There is certainly much that I don’t know, that’s for sure. But while there is a lot of gray, there are also truths that we gather from God’s word.

    Love is definitely one of God’s main attributes, but we need to remember that it was out of that love that He crafted His divine plan for our salvation, a plan that included the brutal death and sacrifice of His only Son, so that we might be saved.

    If Bell is right, then why do I need a Savior? What do I need to be saved from? You’re right, Kevin: it negates the cross, and the cross is absolutely central to Christianity. Without the cross, there is no hope.

  5. pastorcarlo says:

    Good post Kevin.

    I think that Bell’s take on Hell is actually the smallest issue. The big issue is that he is ultimately denying the power and importance of the cross. He also does some serious gymnastics in his interpretation of some of his proof texts. I believe that Love Wins because God is love. And God demonstrated that love for us via the cross (Rom. 5:8, Jn 3:16 etc). I believe that scripture clearly shows that Jesus saves us from the present hell AND the hell to come. Bell focuses on right now and throws away the future because as he says “it’s all speculation.” He doesn’t deny that it is important to follow Jesus. What I think he is saying is that it’s not really necessary.

    Where he and I disagree is that what I call faith, he calls speculation.

    By the way, you don’t have to read a playboy to know that it is porn. It’s okay to take someone else’s word on it. I’ll read the entire book (Love Wins) soon. I’ve already read quite a few excerpts and seen several of his interviews on the book. I’m sure that buried beneath what I believe is straight up heresy, there are still some good points that he makes.

  6. Ted says:

    I too have not yet read the book but I have listened to some of Bell’s interviews and read several reviews.
    One of the best things about this book is that it will generate dialogue. People will be asking themselves what they really believe. There will be lively conversation.
    For me, a major point of issue is that if what Bell says is true then Jesus didn’t have to come to earth at all. If everyone goes to heaven then there is no reason to accept Jesus or to follow anything in the Bible. Jesus came to earth to give a way out of the consequences we had established for ourselves. God gave us the ability to choose and honors our decision even if it breaks His heart. Decisions come with consequences and if we decide not to trust the bible, if we choose not to follow Christ, if we choose not to believe then we will have also chosen the consequences.
    The truth is that there is a literal hell and there is a literal heaven and we choose which way to go.
    And if love rules the universe then please explain to me the horrific things we see on the news every day.
    We weren’t told to “speculate” on the word of God. The Word of God is not a cafeteria where you get to choose what to believe. You either take it all or none of it. We are to hear it and accept or not. You don’t get to change it to fit what you want to believe. The so called “gray” area is why we operate in faith. It takes nothing to believe what you know.
    One of man’s problems is that he always wants to try to figure things out. To answer all the questions. To know everything. That sounds familiar.

    • Kevin Riner says:

      Ted thanks for your comment and thanks for reading my blog. I would agree that it will open up dialogue. I’m not really sure if it’s a healthy dialogue as I have already experienced in conversation some who are totally misled by his assertions.

      It will be interesting to see how this plays out in time.

  7. Pingback: Pastoring A Family « Riner family's Blog

  8. Pingback: Love Wins (Rob Bell) – Review, Commentary, and Further Study. | Dave Enjoys

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