Book Review (aka my 2 cents): Love Wins by Rob Bell

The Marketing Campaign
The viral marketing campaign for Love Wins was simply brilliant. It should be studied by any marketing student looking to market a product. I don’t know how intentional everything was, but it worked, and I hate the fact that it did. I saw the Rob Bell “trailer” video on a friend’s Facebook page, watched it, and then re-posted it. It generated a really interesting discussion on my page, and I knew that I “had” to read the book to have an informed opinion. It wasn’t a choice for me, I had to read it. Some of my friends re-posted that video on their pages. Other friends Tweeted about it. I read blogs about the book from people that actually had never read it, based on heresy about the book. I knew I had to read it, so I bought it.

The Book
Much of recent postmodern deconstructive writing is like an employee who constantly criticizes everything management does, but when given a management opportunity, declines it, because he doesn’t want to be the guy being criticized. It is much easier to point fingers than to come up with solutions. This book falls into this trap at times. It points fingers at Christians and the church, but fails to propose an alternative solution, other than well, love wins.

Love Wins is a book of questions. If my beliefs are solid, they should be able to weather a barrage of questions. But Bell mostly lets his questions drop off into thin air. He grazes issues like eternal damnation, judgment, heaven etc., and avoids voicing an interpretation by asking questions. Why doesn’t Bell take a stab at answering some of his questions?

On the other hand, do we avoid many of these questions because we’re scared we don’t know the answers? Do I really 100% know what heaven will be like? Or hell? Or who will be where for all of eternity? Is it better to live in sheltered naivety that never asks the questions everyone is thinking anyways, or should we as Christians challenge each other by pondering age-old questions, in a challenging and introspective manner that acknowledges we actually don’t have every answer? Job and his friends questioned many topics such as justice, fairness, and judgment, but God answered them with questions. Jesus answered many questions with questions. Questions are a reality for Christians, and our quest to answer those will take our entire life, and the life after that.

God is infinitely complex, and if I think I can summarize God in a few sentences, confine him to my own mind, and mold Him to whatever I want Him to be, then I am turning myself into a God. I might as well just build a golden calf to worship. If God is God, then there should be an infinite number of questions about Him. We’re finite humans; He is an infinite God.

Bell is a brilliant writer. He has a unique rhetoric style that is easy to understand and flows like a stream through the woods of complexity. But he is more poet than theologian. More David than Paul in his writings. If you are looking for a simple “3 keys to avoiding hell and going to heaven” type of book, this isn’t it. Read it if you want to be challenged, angered, humbled, and awestruck at how much we don’t know about God. Bell’s questions can scare us, or they can help us go back to the Bible and study deeper to try to understand them. If that was Bell’s intention, then it worked on me.