Book Review: What we talk about when we talk about God by Rob Bell

Rob Bell, author of Love Wins, has recently published a new book entitled, What We Think About when We Think About God. Those who are regular readers of my blog will recall that when Bell published Love Wins I wrote a four part blog series exploring what I liked about Bell’s book and, mostly, where I felt the book contained serious errors. In his earlier book, for example, Bell misunderstands the Biblical teaching regarding God’s love. Bell exchanged the biblical teaching of God’s covenant love with a highly sentimentalized view which played heavily to popular cultural views regarding love which are then imposed on God. Further, Bell has an inadequate view of sin and has, it seemed, abandoned in both books any vestige of the doctrine of the Sin nature. Several other key doctrines are ignored to the peril of his argument. Finally, Bell misunderstands the biblical teaching regarding the kingdom of God, rejecting a kingdom which has been inaugurated but still awaits final consummation. I rehearse his earlier difficulties only because several of those difficulties still seem to plague Bell. I don’t want to be uncharitable to Rob Bell, but since he is a best selling author and has been hailed by the New York Times as “one of the most influential pastors in America” he deserves both our prayers and our rigorous scrutiny. Nevertheless, I devoted several blogs which also commended Bell for much of his analysis. In the end, I wished he had the courage and theological depth to write a book entitled, Holy-Love Wins – that might have gotten us all closer to the mark. Bell seems to offer little to no resistance to the worst errors of tired old Protestant liberalism. Indeed, the adage by Richard Neibuhr about liberal Christianity is certainty true of Rob Bell’s writings: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”[1] But that was then and this is now, so let’s move on to Bell’s latest work which will likely also become another best seller.
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