I caved into all the hype. We’ve been hearing about it for months. When you turn on your TV, you hear about it. It’s all over Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
No, I’m not talking about the royal wedding. I’m talking about “The Voice,” NBC’s new singing competition that premiered last Tuesday. Even as I type this, a commercial for it just came on. Thanks to NBC, I feel like a victim of marketing. My life was saturated with commercials and promos, and I felt like my soul would be incomplete if I did not watch “The Voice.”
Honestly, I thought it would be better, but it was enjoyable.
I felt the same way with Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins. For weeks, it was impossible to check my Twitter feed and not find something related to the release of Love Wins. There were newspaper articles about it, blogs criticizing it, and news reporters challenging it. There was so much hype and controversy that I just had to read it.
Honestly, I thought it would be better; but it was enjoyable. Sound familiar?
I appreciated Love Wins because it challenged my beliefs of heaven, hell, God, and salvation that I have held onto for about two decades. Bell makes very interesting points, and, to my surprise, he backs them up with dozens of scripture references. There were several instances where I would think, “I’ve read that verse hundreds of times, and I’ve never thought of it that way.”
From my understanding, the basic theme of this book challenges the widely accepted (and possibly True) belief that when we die, some of us will spend eternity in Paradise with God, and the rest will spend eternity in Hell with Satan. Bell reasons that, given the nature of God as He is described in the Bible, eternal punishment does not bring Him glory.
“Restoration brings God glory; eternal torment doesn’t. Reconciliation brings God glory; endless anguish doesn’t. Renewal and return cause God’s greatness to shine through the universe; never-ending punishment doesn’t” (108).
These words – restoration, reconciliation, renewal, and return – are found several times throughout this book in references to the present age and the age to come (after death). He brings up the argument that we all have the ability to choose to accept God’s love that will bring the four R’s into our lives, both now and after death.
Wait, we have the ability to choose even after death? Bell points out that we do.
“If we want isolation, despair, and the right to be our own god, God graciously grants us that option. If we insist on using our God-given power and strength to make the world in our own image, God allows that freedom…If we want nothing to do with light, hope, love, grace, and peace, God respects that desire on our part, and we are given a life free from any of those realities” (117).
He goes on to say that by resisting God’s love that we, in turn, create our own hells:
“God is love, and to refuse this love moves us away from it in the other direction, and that will, by very definition, be an increasingly unloving, hellish reality” (117).
Ultimately what it boils down to is that we have the power to choose. Will we choose to return to God to be restored, reconciled, and renewed; or will we continue to wallow in a pit of our own sinful desires?
God wants us to return to Him – to His love. It is Bell’s argument that we all will…eventually…now or in the age to come.
And love will win.
Have you read Love Wins?
How did it challenge your beliefs?