When I first heard about Love Wins, I was a bit worried.  I mean, I loved Rob Bell’s earlier work, what was this?  And then when I heard an interview where he defended the book on Unbelievable, I was incredibly impressed by the verbal tap dancing he was able to pull out to avoid answering the questions everyone wanted to hear.  Then I heard about him resigning from Mars Hill, and figured it was the end of an era.  I went to his website and subscribed to his newsletters, just out of sheer curiosity to see if he would back pedal, offer a better explanation or just fade into obscurity.  Then I got the email about his new book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God.  And I was sitting in an airport in the middle of a 12 hour layover and thought “sure…what the heck”.

Rob Bell

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I began reading it and finished it within 48 hours.  So, a quick blurb about what this book is about, why I would recommend it to Christians and Non-Christians alike and why I will probably be reading it again in the future.

First his own take on it…

“God appears to be more and more a reflection of whoever it is that happens to be talking about God at the moment.”

 This is one of my favorite quotes from the book, which is full of plenty.  Love him or hate him, Rob Bell is a masterful writer, engaging and inspirational.

Chapter by chapter, he goes through a series of single words, each of which sums up an idea he hopes to explore about God and our misconceptions of Him.

“Open, Both, With, For, Ahead, So?”

I am lax to really give away too much, but I will say that the first chapter introduces a barrage of facts about the world, from the vastness of the universe to the most minuscule elements on the atomic level.  My mind was repeatedly blown, to the point where I was annoying my wife on the plane, tapping her on the shoulder every few minutes with another “Aha!” moment.

The next chapter delves into an idea which I think is essential for all to peacefully exist in this world: balance.  Being comfortable with unknowns, and accepting that EVERY world view and perspective requires a leap of faith, not just Christianity.

I think an accurate summation of the rest of the book is trying to put the idea across that we may be wrong.  We may be working against what God truly wants in the world under the ruse of religious devotion.  He was trying to really harp on the idea of rethinking, entertaining new ideas, and not always in Attack Mode.  I will grant that taking every new idea into account is risky, but Rob Bell clearly preaches that rejecting them all because they are different is both blindly discriminating and counterproductive.

Another interesting idea he puts forward is this..

“To elevate absolute doctrines and dogmas over living, breathing embodied experiences of God’s love and grace is going in the wrong direction. It’s taking flesh and turning it back into words”

I am myself an anti-ism-ist.  I have slowly over the past few years recognized the circuitous and fragmenting nature of debates over different “isms”, and this frantic need to label every element of our belief.  And also possessing a very concrete, scientific kind of mind that loves such debates, I must take an honest step back and see if somewhere in my own past I devalued experiential evidence and with that, closed myself off to the deep, emotional, relational aspect of Christianity.

I will close with another quote from the last chapter of the book, to whet your appetite…

“Is the best future a return to am imagined pristine era when things were ideal or is our best future actually the future?”   

What follows is a very eye-opening and intriguing treatment of the Old Testament laws, the New Testament laws, and what they, in context, tell us about where God hopes to lead us.  Quite interesting indeed.

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In summary, I read a quote once related to Suggestibility, which essentially said that true intelligence is the ability to entertain an idea without accepting it.  That is the mindset I took into this book.   There are, in all of our lives, sources of information which we should ignore, and those which we should cling to.  However (brace for clique), even a broken clock is right twice a day.  Not that I say Rob Bell is a broken clock, but I hope you get the point: truth exists in the most unlikely places, and lies and half-truths fester in the places we trust the most.  An open, discerning mind will benefit greatly from this book, in my opinion, even if simply to get a better idea of what you are doctrinally against.

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