So, March 15 has come and passed. Rob Bell’s book is out in stores and will undoubtedly do very well in the marketplace. If you’ve kept up at all with the book reviews, blog articles, videos, and interviews, Rob Bell is certainly not telling us something different than what we viewed in his promotional video. There are 3 sad, overarching truths that stand out to me in this whole debate: 1) the gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ coming to earth to live and die to rescue his covenant people from the wrath to come – has been watered down and even blasphemed, 2) many will read Bell’s book and will be led astray from the Christian faith, and 3) Rob Bell, if he truly believes these things, worships an entirely different god than the God of the Bible.
There have been many pastors who have commented already. I’ll yield to them to give appropriate feedback on the book. Hopefully you find the resources below helpful. If you read any, hone in on Kevin DeYoung‘s review. I’ve taken some excerpts from that review and posted them below:
On Bell’s view of penal substitution:
“Bell categorically rejects any notion of penal substitution. It simply does not work in his system or with his view of God. ‘Let’s be very clear, then,’ Bell states, ‘we do not need to be rescued from God. God is the one who rescues us from death, sin, and destruction. God is the rescuer’ (182). I see no place in Bell’s theology for Christ the curse-bearer (Gal. 3:13), or Christ wounded for our transgressions and crushed by God for our iniquities (Isa. 53:5, 10), no place for the Son of Man who gave his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45), no place for the Savior who was made sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21), no place for the sorrowful suffering Servant who drank the bitter cup of God’s wrath for our sake (Mark 14:36).” – Kevin DeYoung
On Bell’s view of postmortem salvation:
“What’s wrong with this theology is, of course, what’s wrong with the whole book. Bell assumes all sorts of things that can’t be shown from Scripture. For example, Bell figures God won’t say ‘sorry, too late’ to those in hell who are humble and broken for their sins. But where does the Bible teach the damned are truly humble or penitent? For that matter, where does the Bible talk about growing and maturing in the afterlife or getting a second chance after death? Why does the Bible make such a big deal about repenting ‘today’ (Heb. 3:13), about being found blameless on the day of Christ (2 Pet. 3:14), about not neglecting such a great salvation (Heb. 2:3) if we have all sorts of time to figure things out in the next life? Why warn about not inheriting the kingdom (1 Cor. 6:9–10), about what a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31), or about the vengeance of our coming King (2 Thess. 1:5–12) if hell is just what we make of heaven? Bell does nothing to answer these questions, or even ask them in the first place.” – Kevin DeYoung