Rob Bell, founder and pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grandeville, Michigan, ignited a firestorm of controversy with the release of his book, Love Wins. It seemed that Rob had the audacity to ask some tough questions about heaven and hell that the evangelical community had determined settled. The response was to immediately condemn not only the book but the author as well. "Universalist!" they cried. One noted theologian even seemed to dismiss Rob out of Christianity altogether with his tweet, "Farewell Rob Bell."
So you know what I did?
I read the book.
And then I read it again.
Because I didn't find anything offensive or shocking about it.
Sure, there are ideas that I'm uncomfortable with. But I don't think it hurts me to have to rethink those things to be sure why I believe what I believe. And Rob brings up some hard questions that I've often wondered about myself. And I like that he doesn't pretend to know all the answers. I like that he believes Jesus is big enough to handle the tough questions. I love the God he describes--expansive, mysterious, creative and loving. A lot of times I think the God the church presents to the world is too small. Sometimes it feels like the church is telling the world that they have God all figured out. "Ok, here's how it works. Do a and don't do b, c, d, and e and God will do x for you." I don't want a God that humans can put into a formula. And I don't think the world does either.
So, the bottom line is this: I liked the book. I liked that it made me think. I liked that it made me want to search out the Truth for myself rather than blindly accepting others' interpretations of truth. Most of all I loved that it made me want to know God better.