The essay at the back of The New York Times Sunday Book Review belongs to Lauren Winner this week, and she gives her take on the book (and author) that everybody and their mother is giving their take on these days–Rob Bell’s “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.” In her article, “An Evangelical Pastor Opens the Gates of Heaven” she calls Bell a “theological troublemaker” (nice phrase, right?), who “speaks an evangelical idiom.”
“Bell challenges the notion that heaven is just an ethereal spiritual state we anticipate during our earthly lives,” Winner writes. “Heaven, Bell argues, is both the “age to come,” when God will dwell with people and injustice will be eradicated, and our present experience of peace and love.”
And while “Love Wins” is causing enormous controversy among some outspoken evangelical folk, it’s vastly appealing to many, perhaps even most:
“[T]he brisk sales of Bell’s book suggest that many Christian readers, even some evangelicals, find his formulation worth pondering,” Winner goes on. ““Exclusivity on the other side of inclusivity” offers them a way to navigate tensions within the Bible, which also includes passages indicating that one can at least hope for the salvation of all. . . . And it offers them a way to hold on to Jesus’ particularity in a pluralist world, a world in which wondering about the eternal fate of, say, a Hindu is not an abstract question but a question about your college roommate.”
Check out the Time Magazine cover story from last week–Jon Meacham’s “Pastor Rob Bell: What if Hell Doesn’t Exist”–if you haven’t done so already.