Truth Wins: a Response to Rob Bell's Book, "Love Wins" (Ryan Oberhellman)

Rob Bell’s new book “Love Wins: a Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived” hits bookstore shelves this week, and is receiving major attention from both fans and critics alike. In a recent interview on MSNBC, Bell expounded on his philosophy behind the book, and his comments are nothing short of controversial. Many (including myself) are claiming that Bell has drifted into major theological error in regards to the Christian faith. I’d like to offer my analytical response to this particular interview, as well as Bell’s short promotional YouTube video for his book, and offer some of my thoughts on how the Church should respond to Rob Bell.

Bell’s biggest mistake is that he begins with his own thoughts and presuppositions about the nature of God, rather than first appealing to God’s own self-revelation found in the scriptures of the Bible. Bell said, “I begin with the belief that when we shed a tear, god sheds a tear. I begin with a being that is profoundly empathetic, and stands in solidarity with us.” (BTW: I have chosen to spell “god” with a lower-case when quoted by Bell to express the fact that the god he is referring to is not the God of the Bible, as I will demonstrate later in this article). The major theological error here is that Bell has first created an image of what he thinks god is like from his own imagination, and then proceeds to apply various portions of scripture to his interpretation of god (of course, avoiding the parts of scripture that contradict his presupposition.) This is idolatry – plain and simple. Bell has exchanged the God of the Bible for a god he has created out of his own imagination. Rob Bell’s god is no different than a novelist’s creation of a fictional character in a story. The truth is that God is not an abstract concept open to private interpretation, or a multiplicity of potential viewpoints and perspectives. God is an objective being who has objectively revealed His divine nature and character to us, first in the form of written word, and then in the form of the man, Christ Jesus. Therefore, man is in error when he rejects God’s own self-revelation, and subjects God to his own interpretations and perspectives. Imagine if the medical field used this approach in their practice while we entrust the lives of our families to them: If you go in for a check-up, and the doctor says to you, "Your test results have returned, and you may or may not have a problem." A bit puzzled, you then ask him, "Well, do I have a problem, or don't I?" The doctor replies, "Well, it all depends on how you define terminal cancer. There's so many different perspectives, interpretations, and ways of looking at it." I certainly hope that we would not trust our lives and the lives of our families to a doctor who refused to believe in the objective reality of terminal cancer! Revelation of God comes from God – not man. Approaching the nature of God by saying, “I think God is this…” or “I think God is that…” rather than saying “The Bible says God is this…” doesn’t just open the door for interpretive error and theological misconception – it kicks the door completely off its hinges, and throws a welcome party for false doctrine and heresy to move in and make themselves at home! False doctrine and heresy lead to false conversions which create people who believe themselves to be saved Christians, but are not. How tragic would it be for someone to falsely believe that they are a born-again Christian on their way to heaven, only to find out upon the day of their death that a false prophet lied to them, and they were dead in their sins the whole time!

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Read the entire article at "God, Gospel, and Believer"