This is a second post exploring chapter one of the book Love Wins by Rob Bell. The chapter (“What about the flat tire?”) aims to set the tone for the rest of the book and Bell’s is dead-on. In Bell-like fashion he introduces a series of probing questions asking his readership to think deeper about the issues at hand. For example, on page 2, he says:
“Of all the billions of people who have ever lived, will only a select number ‘make it to a better place’ and every single other person suffer torment and punishment forever? Is this acceptable to God? Has God created millions of people over tens of thousands of years who are going to spend eternity in anguish?”
The point of the rows of questions is to get you to think about the larger questions like: What is heaven? What is hell? Who goes to heaven? Who goes to hell? Who decides? Those are the larger questions at hand. Bell is concerned that some people equate certain rituals and rites as THE process for getting into this place called heaven. So do you say a specific prayer to get there or do you get baptized or does someone get baptized for you when you die which brings another question of where do those people go when they die? All of these questions Bell introduces yet, and a big yet at that, he offers (at this point) no real answers. On pages 6-7 I think Bell is on to something when he says that the problem with people who want to be “somewhere else” (escapist view of heaven) when they die is that leaves less concern about what we are doing right here and right now. For instance, those who believe in leaving the world and going to heaven could care less about creation-care (environmental concerns, reforestation, etc.) because at the end of the day (or time) God is going to destroy this world and take us all up “somewhere else.”
Let me pause here and say that I believe this is too broad of an assumption on Bell’s part because there are many people I know who believe in creation-care who also believe that God will destroy this earth and start with a new one. An analogy may help: Why sweep the floor if it is going to get dirty again? Well, because it makes things better and you treat the floor because it has been entrusted to you. I believe Bell is making broad assumptions at this point however, he does point to a deep issue that I believe we need to be concerned about: If God will destroy this earth then why should we bother taking care of it?
Bell also introduces the McLaren-like idea that people have been purporting different types of Jesuses all of which must be rejected. I agree with Bell if what he means is that the Jesus that needs to be followed is the Jesus that comes from Scripture which comes from careful exegesis.
In the end, chapter one I thought was helpful in asking questions that perhaps we have ignored or, worse yet, we have assumed we understood. Bell is right in that our eschatology informs our ecclesiology, christology and our soteriology.
What did I just say?
Bell is right in that what we think about life after death effects how we are the church but also it affects how we believe we get in the church. Tough chapter…but filled with a bunch of answer-less questions…but a good chapter.
 Rob Bell, Love Wins (New York: HaperOne, 2011): 2.
 Ibid., 5.
 Ibid., 7-9. See Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007): 141-47.