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Monday, September 26, 2011

Book Review: "Hell, Rob Bell, and What Happens When People Die"

TITLE: Hell, Rob Bell, and What Happens When People Die
AUTHOR: Bobby Conway
PUBLISHER: Colorado Springs, CO: Multmomah Books, 2011.

This is another book fired against Rob Bell's controversial book, Love Wins. Conway is a pastor passionate about the gospel and biblical truth. He admits right from the start that he 'didn't have to write this book.'  Beginning with his reasoning for writing his rebuttal to Rob Bell's book, he assures readers that what he writes is not against Rob Bell as a person. Instead, the book is about addressing the errors pertaining to biblical truth. He is deeply concerned about Bell's theology that seems to suggest a kind of salvation that is 'so deep and so wide' that all in hell can have heaven (12).  He argues his main point:

"And hell matters. It matters to God because it's where His justifiable wrath is poured out on unrepentant sinners. And it should matter to us because people who don't know about Jesus or are confused or misled about Him are dying every day. The greatest way to love people is not to ignore hell but to become burdened extroverts in telling others the truth - that Jesus has provided a guaranteed way to avoid hell. Not harsh or condescending extroverts on hell, but loving, broken, humble extroverts that speak honestly about the horrible reality of hell. We need to speak up. " (19)

Conway then launches into explicitly stating what hell is according to the Bible. In contrast to Bell's indirectness and fluffy theologizing, Conway is direct, sharp, and clear. He points out 5 major errors behind Love Wins. Firstly, Bell reshapes God into man's image. Secondly, Bell makes the gospel more palatable to human eyes, making it as inoffensive as possible. Thirdly, Bell fails to reconcile God's glory with God's wrath. Fourthly, Bell makes the mistake of elevating love above all other attributes, making love into a 'god' in itself. Like Mark Galli,  Conway also declares that God Wins.

"So it's not that love wins, or justice wins, or holiness wins, but that God in all his perfect attributes, wins! Yes, God wins!" (54)

Finally, Conway accuses Bell of having a confused theology that misleads more than guide.

My Comments

This book is thankfully brief, simply because much have already been said about the contradictions of Love Wins. I like the clear manner in Conway's writings which makes the book easy to follow, point after point. I appreciate the understanding manifested in Conway's explanation, that amid the hard biblical facts, lie soft human questions. Frequently, Conway will offer an insight about the struggles of a reader wanting to see the best of God, and the best of man.

Released as an ebook makes this book more widely available to an audience that is increasingly Internet savvy, with little time on their hands to read thick compendium of arguments. This book gives a good summary in easy to understand format as to why Love Wins has moved away from traditional understanding of Scripture, especially heaven and hell.

If there is a critique, I think while this book is very clear on the doctrines of heaven and hell, in contrast to Love Wins, it may unwittingly be stepping into the domain of mystery, where there are no easy questions or answers. This is where I stand with Eastern Orthodox's preference toward Apophathic theology. I will prefer to entitle the book as: "Why I disagree with Love Wins" or something pertaining to disagreeing with Rob Bell's theology, leaving aside the details of heaven and hell to God alone.

Ratings: 4 stars of 5.


This book is supplied to me free by Multnomah Books and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. The comments offered above are freely mine.

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