So I had a rare treat last night in that I had the opportunity to hear Rob Bell speak about his new book Love Wins at Belmont University. I had every intention of taking notes but for some reason I was drawn to his speech in a way where taking notes seemed a bit superfluous. Besides, the way Rob Bell speaks makes it hard to take notes since he tells a captivating story from start to finish. This was the first time I have heard Bell speak (in person) and I was impressed. In his speech he basically gave snippets of ideas he expressed in his book (which I will address in forthcoming posts) and then fielded questions for about 20-30 minutes. I was interested in the Q&A because of a couple of particularly engaging questions I thought were helpful. The first question (which was one of the last questions asked) was asked by a lady in this manner (I am paraphrasing):
“When I told someone I was reading your book they said I was a universalist and I really did not know what that means.” [It was not really a question but the question behind the statement was, “Are you a universalist?”]
Rob did a great job answering as he said: “You are probably like me and
thought, ‘Yes I do belong in this universe!'” He broke it down into some categories where he said “there are some who say that everybody gets in and the problem I have with that are the Nazis.” But then he really did not answer the question all that well but made a good statement about defining universalism articulately.
A second question asked by another lady was essentially this:
How do you, Rob Bell, love your enemies considering all of the criticism you have received in the past couple of weeks?
At the heart this was what I wanted to hear because I read the book and already knew what he believed. His answer was powerful. He shared that the past couple of weeks (“Quite honestly” to quote him) has been difficult for him personally. He said it has been “the most difficult two weeks of his life.” Pretty powerful for a man who has seen a lot of brokenness. But, he said that the brokenness he experienced allows him to form a response in a way in which he too can help people in their own brokenness. I was amazed. Rob Bell, like you and I, is a human being.
Whatever you say about Bell and other authors you may or may not disagree with is irrelevant because at the end of the day they are fellow people created in the image of God. In reading all of the posts, blogs and updates about Bell I have encountered few people who share concern about him personally and that question seemed to provide hope for people like me.
It was a great evening and I was blessed to be there. As Rob signed my book I also leave you…
Grace and Peace