>The Evangelical Alliance in the UK has published a review of Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins. The review of the book also includes a response in which the Evangelical Alliance presents its position on the nature of hell.
Below is an excerpt from the book review written by Derek Tidball, a member of the Evangelical Alliance:
Love Wins is full of confusing half-truths – and each of those words is important!
Love Wins contains truth. It’s true that “the indestructible love of God is an unfolding, dynamic reality” and we’re all “endlessly being invited to trust, accept, believe, embrace and experience it”. Much of what he says about the cross is straight out of the Bible. His criticism of some evangelicals for their superficial and misplaced judgmentalism rings true. He’s right: biblical teaching on heaven and ‘the age to come’ is misrepresented if all it does is encourage some to boast, “I’ve got a ticket to heaven”. The Bible presents Christ’s work as much wider than the salvation of a few individuals. It is about the restoration and renewal of a fallen creation. Eternal life doesn’t start “when we die but is about a quality of life lived now’. Amen to that. But I learned that in the Brethren Assembly where I grew up, many decades ago! There are many ‘Jesuses’ being spoken about and it’s vital we get the authentic one and not one of our own creation. All this and much more is true.
Love Wins however only presents half the truth, which is disturbing to those who believe in the other half of the truth. Old Testament verses are strung together which speak of God’s grace triumphing over Israel’s sin and that their punishment will have a ‘sale by’ date. But he never mentions repentance in this connection as the prophets do, nor the fact that it was a remnant restored to the homeland. His teaching on hell ducks some hard issues while firing out a lot of questions of his own. God’s wrath, and his holiness, is touched on only very inadequately and insubstantially. He says the sacrificial understanding of the cross belongs to a primitive cultural world we no longer inhabit, so he sidesteps a key understanding of the cross. He assumes that people will come round to accept God’s love in the end, and doesn’t see why death is the irreversible cut-off point. But why does he think people will ‘repent’ after death when they haven’t done so before? He uses some parables that appear to fit his argument but ignores others and uses them all in a somewhat interesting way.
Read Tidball’s review and the Evangelical Alliance statement on the nature of hell here.
I have not read Love Wins yet, but when I do I will publish my own review of the book.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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