I feel weird writing a book review for Love Wins when so many great leaders and famous pastors have done the same thing.
Some hate it, some love it, some tolerate it… certainly this book will not be labeled so quickly.
If you have not read it, but are reading the reviews to decide if you should, I fear that the only way to know if you’ll find it useful is… if you read it. The only reason I would steer you as a reader from a book would be that I thought it contained dangerous or heretical teaching; and I don’t. Nothing in this book will alter your salvation or change your faith or standing with God. In the end, Rob’s book is about love and I believe so is God.
I have read this book from cover to cover, and I read each word carefully and took it in, I didn’t skim it and jump to conclusions, I acted as though the author was there in the room with me and we were having a conversation. I read the book slowly over time and allowed the words to sit with me and last, I talked with others about what I read to have a sounding board.
I doubt those who have given this book such a low review have done the same.
Deservedly, they probably know scripture better than I do, or at least the “ammunition verses” to use in situations like this – but as a pastor myself – and having been in conversations and ministry like Rob has, I know that a conversation like this – is important.
When I read some of these reviews I find myself saying, “Rob never said that.” Many have jumped to their own conclusions and because words carry such weight and can be loaded with bias and history, we sling them like rocks or stamp them like labels without so much as a care.
And even though I do not think I have ever typed a negative word about Rob in the past, there were two aspects of the book I disagreed with (notice I did not say Rob was “wrong”).
The first is, Rob suggested that perhaps after death, people will get a second chance to go to Heaven. Yes, they will go to Hell, yes they will have chosen it, but perhaps God will bring them before judgment once more (Matt 20:1-16). Some have called this “univeralism” however; Rob does not believe that God will “pull” all into Heaven as universalists do.
Rob squarely indicated that he believes there are those that will choose hell forever. Do I think there are second chances after death? No, I don’t… but the bigger question should be… does God? I can’t dictate in my personal theology what God should or should not do in judgment. He is the judge and I am not.
Maybe Rob is a “post-modern Universalist” and perhaps it is time for words to carry new meanings.
What does the bible say? “One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus is Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11). The scriptures say “every” person will bend the knee in worship and that “every” mouth will make a confession of faith. What does that mean? It certainly does not sound like “Hell wins” does it? Because right now, most Christians believe Hell wins. We believe two-thirds of the earth will go to a place of torment, fire and punishment. We believe that a loving forgiving God will send millions and millions of people to eternal torment simply because they never said the sinner’s prayer (a prayer not found in the bible). But if “wide is the path that leads to destruction” (Matthew 7:13) how can we in the next breath say, “I know the end of the story (meaning the bible) and Jesus wins.”
Jesus wins if the majority of the world goes to Hell?
How is that winning?
I guess it’s a back handed win by having the “last word” with a giant “I told you so” as you slam dunk the naysayers and doubters of the world into the universe’s largest barbeque pit.
Second Rob indicated that Jesus is the “mechanism” that each of us goes to heaven; however it is uncertain how that mechanism works. As Christians we have claimed that “confession” is the “key” that unlocks the “Jesus code” and allows sinners to enter paradise, but do we always believe that?
If a two month old baby dies, we say that the little one is now “resting in the arms of Jesus.” Why? Did the baby make a confession of faith? No, but we sometimes bend the rules don’t we? So the question then becomes… does God? Does God bend the rules for the lost tribe in the deep dark Amazon forest who have never heard the name of Jesus? Will Jews who faithfully read the torah and pray to YHWH go to Heaven? Will nominal Jehovah’s Witnesses go to heaven? A staunch Christian would love to say “no” but in the end… aren’t they God’s rules?
Personally I believe a knowledge of Jesus and a willingness to follow him are required for salvation – so here is another area my beliefs don’t align with Rob’s … but… as far as we know there is no “video evidence” of Heaven, Hell or eternity. It is not up to us to steak a flag in the sand and demand that eternity has to be exactly the way we dictate. If Ghandi is standing next to me in Heaven, I am not going to storm into God’s office and demand that he be deported.
Rob believes that in the end Love Wins and that yes… God wins.
But is that heretical?
Is it so bad to believe that God’s grace and love and forgiveness will extend to my enemy? Is it so wrong to believe that Heaven will be filled with people from every race, language and nation (Rev 5:9)?
Rob’s intent was so that this book would start a discussion, not an argument. Rob wanted people to talk with openness about God’s love and to perhaps find new ways to talk to those that have so many questions about a loving God who allows “good people” to burn forever. Certainly Heaven and Hell are not as “simple” as we make them out to be, and most definitely we can not just “dismiss” these questions with a three word tweet.
Read my review of What the Hell
Read my review of Erasing Hell