Second part of my thoughts on Love Wins. Love Wins: Other Thoughts will come next week sometime.
What I didn’t like about Love Wins
While I touched briefly upon Bell’s talk regarding a personal relationship with God, he also makes the argument that a personal relationship with God isn’t even found in the Bible. Well this is kind of awkward Bell, because it certainly is. Maybe not the exact phrase personal relationship with Jesus is in the Bible, but the idea certainly is. What did Adam and Even have with God? What did Abraham have with God? What about Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, or Elijah? What about the word covenant? Doesn’t it mean something personal to both parties? I don’t think Bell was insinuating that God isn’t personal since he tends to talk very much about this in his other books, but for the sake of his argument Bell kinda oversteps and implies this. If Bell was trying to make the point that there is more to salvation than this idea of a personal relationship with God, I think there are better ways to do this rather than “the problem, however, is that the phrase ‘personal relationship’ is found nowhere in the Bible.”(10)
Bell takes many(if not all) of the verses he discusses at face value. Prophets saying that everyone will be in Heaven(34, 99), Jesus giving water to Israelites in the desert(143), Jesus explaining that everyone will be saved through Him(155), and many many others. Now, I’m not saying that some, or all, of these verses could, or even should, be interpreted as Bell does(I don’t know). But from what I’ve heard from many different friends studying in seminary or comparative religions, ancient languages are always a challenge to translate. Where it says ‘everyone’ could also mean ‘a lot of people’, or it could very well mean ‘everyone’. On top of that, what if the author was writing metaphorically? Then where it says ‘everyone’ could very well literally mean ‘everyone’ but the author meant ‘a lot of people’ instead. I’m not asking for a thesis on each Bible verse and what its implications are, but I would love to hear more about the text especially when your book is under attack for being heretical. It is also not only flippant but inaccurate to say Gehenna is merely the town dump — it is a metaphor for divine judgment. Sure it was a metaphor for an undesirable place the Jews knew in their present day, but Jesus wasn’t just talking about the local trash pile…For this reason, I thought many of this arguments less then compelling. What good is a Biblical argument that you back up with flimsy verses?
Not much elaboration in key statements. Multiple places Bell states something and then carries on using it as a basis for the rest of the chapter or idea. He does this in a couple different places, one in particular that struck me was talking about multiple(if not infinite) chances to repent to God. In my head I was thinking, “Whoa, wait up. Where did this come from?” I’ve never really heard it discussed much in a Christian setting so I was interested in how Bell thought about it. Too bad because you won’t get any elaboration about it in this book.
And connected to that last point, my one major problem with the book: What the heck do you believe Bell?!? Maybe its just not in the spirit of the book, but the book contains absolutely zero arguments for any particular theological position. I love Bell’s parade of ideas and questions, but give me some content to chew on please!
As you can see, much less things that I didn’t like than I did like; but my desire for content is pretty big so I saw that as quite a large problem…
Check out my other thoughts on Love Wins