Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived by Rob Bell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This isn’t so much a review of “Love Wins” by Rob Bell as it is a response:
There’s a reason that in Churches and religious organizations they have a Statement of Faith or Beliefs and not a Statement of Knowledge. There is much in life for the religious person, Evangelicals included, that is taken on faith. Believing in a God that can’t be seen or touched, having faith that there is an afterlife better than the one on this earth, believing that the bible is more than just a historical account - a path for life. Belief is not the same as knowledge though and faith is not necessarily fact. I know there’s a chair supporting me right now; I believe and have faith it will continue to do just that.
Rob Bell clearly knows the difference between belief and knowledge and in this book he is continuing the dialog that others have started about how our beliefs affect how we live. Oliver Wendell Holmes said: “Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.” I think what Bell is saying holistically in this book is that for many Evangelical churches, this quote has come to fruition through their doctrine. They are so worried about saving people from an eternity in hell, they lose sight that eternity has begun and there are people living in hell already, here on this earth. Young women in sexual slavery, young mothers unable to feed their children, fathers losing sons to war, young men with substance abuse and no home. They know hell, not one in some distant future, but today.
So while people are sent off to be reached with the gospel in distant countries, some have forgotten that there are so many of the least of these right here at home. Yes, many are doing their part, but that part is not enough and not near what could be done. While collectively we spend $25 billion a year on maintaining our Churches in the U.S. , government budgets are being cut for services to the least of these so there can be lower taxes. All so we can spend money on more cars, vacations and sending people across the globe to reach the unreached instead of funding programs already in place locally to care for those in need. We spend billions of dollars to provide places to worship a God who I believe would rather us not worship and sing but get the hell out the pew and do something that makes the world sing.
Rob Bell isn’t saying anything new here and for me his beliefs are in line with his knowledge. He knows what he knows and he knows what he doesn’t know. I do think it’s important to have a system of belief, without it there would not be democracy and there would be much less justice in the world. Much more important though, is to act on what you do know. Bell I think captures the true holistic message of the bible, that justice for those less fortunate than me should be my focus in eternity. This eternity, the one started for me when I was born. There may come a day when my focus can change because justice (i.e. everyone has what they need: food, love, hope, happiness, equality) covers all. Maybe when I die, my focus will change, but I doubt it unless justice is ubiquitous. What I know is that there is not justice across this globe today and I shouldn’t spend a moment thinking about the rest of eternity until there is.
I believe that’s what God wants of me.
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