Yes, he is the Pastor of what has been called “the fastest growing church in America.”
Yes, his video series is captivating and visibly stunning.
Yes, his unique preaching style is charismatic and attention-grabbing.
But do we need to believe everything he says?
Actually, the flood of media attention began prior to the book’s release as it spurred an onslaught of controversy in some religious circles.
Why would there be controversy about a book which in the title itself shares a message of love’s valiant ability to conquer all? Perhaps it’s the fact that within the pages of Bell’s book, he shares his understanding on the concepts of heaven and hell in such a way that caught many people dead in their tracks.
Now I must admit, I went out and purchased Bell’s book the day it was released and read it that evening. It is a quick read, and definitely a book that allows for, if not demands, a closer second read as well. However, it isn’t necessarily that which Bell shares in his words that compels me to speak on the book. It is the vast array of conversations that are occurring around the book.
As various blogs and YouTube videos emerge touting Bell as everything from a saint to a heretic, a variety of theological perspectives emerge as well. I sit back, reading these blogs and watching the videos and find a smile growing on my face.
It’s not that I was enjoying the majority of what was being said about Rob Bell, I was simply enjoying the conversation.
I’ve recently noticed in our weekly Bible Study (Taking the Bible Seriously, But Not Literally) that there is a strong desire, an evident hunger to encounter the Scriptures and get to know Jesus better.
But the desire that is stronger yet is that of being in dialogue, having conversations and sharing perspectives.
What Rob Bell has provided is an avenue for those conversations. He has opened a door for many who have held a distinct tension in their theology between the concepts of heaven and hell. And he is getting people talking.
Isn’t that what we should be doing? Not simply Christians talking with Christians … We should be having ongoing interfaith dialogues, allowing us to hear other viewpoints, share our own and learn from the experience.
Rob Bell’s book isn’t about heaven and hell. It’s about opening doors to conversation and keeping them open. Let the conversations continue.