Yesterday I posted regarding the conflict over Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins. The book has been released, and Kevin DeYoung has posted a thoughtful, well-researched review. DeYoung is the co-author of Why We’re Not Emergent, By Two Guys Who Should Be, yet his review is notable – as was the book – for any personal invective, while at the same time refusing to apologize for strong language:

“it is possible that I (like other critics) am mean-spirited, nasty, and cruel. But voicing strong disagreement does not automatically make me any of these. Judgmentalism is not the same as making judgments. The same Jesus who said “do not judge” in Matthew 7:1 calls his opponents dogs and pigs in Matthew 7:6. Paul pronounces an anathema on those who preach a false gospel (Gal. 1:8). Disagreement among professing Christians is not a plague on the church. In fact, it is sometimes necessary. The whole Bible is full of evaluation and encourages the faithful to be discerning and make their own evaluations. What’s tricky is that some fights are stupid, and some judgments are unfair and judgmental. But this must be proven, not assumed. Bell feels strongly about this matter of heaven and hell. So do a lot of other people. Strong language and forceful arguments are appropriate.”

Give yourself some time to read the review, because it is lengthy. DeYoung breaks his analysis into seven areas: Bell’s view of traditional evangelical theology, history, exegesis, eschatology, Christology, gospel, and God. While the controversy preceding the release of Love Wins has focused on the accusation that Rob Bell has slid into universalism, DeYoung suggests that the greater worry is Bell’s Christology:

“Most readers of Love Wins will want to talk about Bell’s universalism. But just as troubling is his Christology. Bell has a Joseph Campbell “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” view of Christ. Jesus is hidden in various cultures and in every aspect of creation. Some people find him and some don’t. Some call him Jesus; some have too much baggage with Christianity, so they call him by a different name (159).

Bell finds support for this Christological hide-and-seek in 1 Corinthians 10. This is where Paul calls to mind the Exodus narrative and asserts that the rock (the one that gushed water) was Christ (1 Cor. 10:4). From this Bell concludes, “There are rocks everywhere” (139). If Paul saw Christ in the rock, then who knows where else we might find him (144)? Jesus cannot be confined to any one religion, Bell argues. He transcends our labels and cages, especially the one called Christianity (150). Christ is present in all cultures and can be found everywhere. Sometimes missionaries travel around the world only to find that the Christ they preach was already present by a different name (152).”

DeYoung’s review certainly shows that there are some important questions that must be answered about Bell’s book. My hope is that those questions can be asked in an atmosphere which reflects Christian love.

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