Love Wins :: Rob Bell Interview

Posted by | March 14, 2011 | Notes | 80 Comments

Author, pastor, and innovative teacher Rob Bell presents a deeply biblical vision for rediscovering a richer, grander, truer, and more spiritually satisfying way of understanding heaven, hell, God, Jesus, salvation, and repentance. The result is the discovery that the “good news” is much, much better than we ever imagined.

On March 14, 2011, Lisa Miller, author of Heaven, interviewed Rob Bell about his new book: Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.

Below is the video and notes from my  live blogging of the webcast.

Watch live streaming video from lovewins at

Opening Remarks

  • I believe that God is love.
  • I believe that Jesus came to show us this love, to give us this love, to teach us about this love, so that we could live in this love and extend it to others.
  • The first people who heard this message responded with, “well that’s Good News.”
  • I believe our world desperately needs Good News.
  • When you hear the word Christian, what words come to mind?
  • Do you immediately think, “the people who never stop talking about God’s love for everybody!”
  • Or, do a number of other images and associations come up?
  • There are moments when we have to return to our roots.
  • We’ve lost the plot along the way.
  • We need to return to the simplicity that God is love.
  • I never set out to be controversial.
  • I don’t think it’s a noble goal.
  • God doesn’t honor people when they set out to be shocking, dangerous or provocative.
  • My interest is in what’s true, where is the life, where is the heart and what inspires.
  • If that stirs up things, that’s something that I accept.
  • What compels me is the conversation.
  • People have been conversing about what matters most for centuries.
  • In the Bible through laments, poems, and psalms people are conversing and passing along fragments, ideas, and words of encouragement, conviction, hope and love.
  • Our gathering together is something that is ancient and holy when we gather to engage in the conversation about what matters most.
  • My new book is one more voice in the conversation.
  • Every voice matters when we talk about the things that matter most.
  • I’m not saying anything new.
  • I celebrate it.

According to polls 81% of Americans believe in Heaven. 70% of those believers think of Heaven is a real place. Is Heaven a real, geographical location?

  • Heaven is a real place.
  • I believe it exists.
  • Rob sat with a man dying of cancer who said, moments before his last breath,”If only people knew…”
  • Peace and joy in the stillness and calm is available here and now.
  • We bump against this reality all of the time.
  • Is there a place with streets of gold? That has more to do with cartoons than anything.

Is Heaven somewhere on a map? Is there a secret door to get there?

  • Jesus turned the whole discussion upside down.
  • His first-century Jewish worldview insisted that God is interested in restoring and renewing this world.
  • God made this world and said it was good.
  • The fundamental story it upholds is Jesus saying, “let your Kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”
  • It speaks of a real place where God is but also as Heaven and earth are always becoming one.
  • Opposed to how we get there, He focused on how we bring there, here.
  • How do we bring up there down here?

If Heaven is something that happens at the end of time, another dimension that touches us on earth, where are the souls of people that have died?

  • The assumption is because physical bodies are buried that they are in some ways disembodied.
  • We have soul, essence, etc but they are nevertheless real, conscious, alive.
  • Others say we are asleep but will be awakened someday.
  • There’s endless speculation of what happens.
  • It’s very important to not turn your speculation into dogma.
  • We have no video evidence.
  • I believe in Heaven, I believe it’s real, I believe it’s intermingled to this reality and yet separate in some sense.
  • Our longings are typically for things that exist.
  • Enjoy mystery and speculation, but don’t drift into dogma.

You have been accused of being Universalist, thinking everyone is allowed to go to Heaven. Buddhist, Hindus, Jews, atheists, etc, all get to go to Heaven. Are you Universalist?

  • No.
  • No, if by Universalist you mean that there’s a giant cosmic arm that sweeps down and scoops every one in regardless of their wanting to go there or not.
  • Love is about freedom.
  • Love is about choice.
  • If by Universalist we mean love doesn’t win, that God co-ops humanity, that violates the laws of love.
  • There will be all sorts of people with all sorts of backgrounds with all sorts of labels.
  • Heaven will be full of surprises.
  • Jesus told all sorts of stories saying that so many who might be in will be out and so many people who are out would be in.

Define what gets you in.

  • I begin with the reality of Heaven and hell right now.
  • Greed, injustice, rape, abuse… we see Hell on earth all around us all the time.
  • I begin with these realities here and now.
  • We see lots of people choosing Hell.
  • We see opression. Tyranny. Dictators using their power to eliminate the opposition with bullets, guns, and fire.
  • We create our own hell… others of us live in the aftermath of someone else’s.

I’m an Atheist that gives to the poor, helps the old lady across the street, gives to charity, etc. Will I go to Heaven?

  • The essense of grace is Jesus saying, “left to your own we are all in deep trouble… we’ve made a mess of this place… we are all sinners… none of us have clean hands.”
  • The essence of the Gospel was “Trust me, I’ll take care of it.”
  • Jesus is unbelievably exclusive… He says I’m the way the truth and the life.
  • He’s also fantastically inclusive… I’ve got other sheep, there will be a renewal of all things, I will lift up and draw all people to myself.
  • Jesus is inexclusive.
  • What happens for followers of Jesus… His exclusive claims come at the expense of His other claims.
  • How it all pans out it God’s job.

This concept has offended some people that call themselves more Orthodox than you. There is something that does offend me and it is what you just said… that Jesus is the mechanism through which we all get to Heaven.

  • In the Torah, when Moses strikes the rock and water flows from the rock, that was a beautiful story for people who were thirsty and were told that through Moses, God provides water.
  • Paul said that water was Christ.
  • Paul speaks of Christ who was the word of God… who was animating force of the universe.
  • Paul broadened it wide and offered no commentary.
  • Paul says, “God has been rescuing people, redeeming people for thousands of years…”
  • The Bible itself creates all sorts of space there.
  • The Christian would answer that question, “When they get there they will find out it was really Jesus…”
  • It’s a great question and it’s most important for a Christian to be incredibly gracious and generous.
  • Jesus came to show us the way. He showed us how to embody love, grace, compassion, generosity, and hope.
  • Jesus said very divisive things but also said very inclusive things.
  • Jesus is a paradox.
  • He bears tremendous tension.

Do creeds matter in terms of getting to Heaven?

  • Creeds are helpful for lots of people because they take a confession of faith and put it in a succinct form.
  • There is great life there.
  • You also have other stories that are all over the map.
  • Ill: The men lowering their friend through the rooftop and Jesus said, “Your faith has saved you.”
  • Faith can take many different forms and expressions.
  • People received, affirmed and experienced grace in many different forms.

Do you get to Heaven because God is mysterious, great and supernatural, or do you get to Heaven because of your works?

  • I think that at the core of faith is trust.
  • I would use the word childlike very intentionally.
  • We need a childlike trust that God is good… ultimately we are OK.
  • That is a simple, beautiful pure thing that can be complicated ferociously by all sorts of intellectual categories.
  • Out of the experience and awarness that life is a gift… out of that gratitude you naturally want to share it with the world.
  • You’ll do good deeds, not for what you get, but out of the awareness of what you’ve already gained.
  • How can you not respond with works?

Your book has been, even before any one read it, criticized as being heretical. What’s so controversial?

  • Other people could answer that better than I could.
  • I think that grace and love always rattle people.
  • Do I think that I am Evangelican Orthodox to the bone? Yes.
  • Orthodoxy is a wide stream.
  • There’s a religious compulsion to narrow.
  • The vibrant, real historic Christian faith is very wide and leaves lots and lots of room for varying perspectives.
  • It’s very diverse and wide, that’s part of it’s strength, life and vibrancy.
  • That’s why it’s so beautiful.
  • Evangelical means “Good News”… it should be a buoyant, joyous hopeful thing.
  • People who want nothing to do with Christianity should say what we are talking about and what are doing in the world is Good News.
  • We need to reclaim that.

St Augusten in the City of God wrote about what our bodies are like in Heaven. He was tormented by this question because so few people believed in resurrection. What do you think our bodies look like in Heaven?

  • I am so deeply shaped by the perspective of heaven being here on earth.
  • My consciousness is shaped by a restored, renewed earth/Heaven.
  • In the resurrection accounts, Mary thought Jesus was a gardener, pointing back to the Garden, Genesis.
  • People who spent years with Jesus couldn’t recognize Him.
  • They didn’t realize who it was until He spoke or broke bread.
  • There’s an essence that transcends our physicality.
  • There’s an essence to each one of us, how that manifests itself in physicality… who knows?

Resurrection is central to the whole thing. Your physical body joins your soul in the renewed Heaven and earth. Resurrection is the hardest part because we don’t get how it works.

  • This is why the dicussion is so great, interesting and compelling.
  • Resurrection says that this world matters.
  • God has great value for this world and has a great desire to alleviate the suffering in this world.
  • Resurrection is about the affirmation of goodness of this world.
  • It affirms that this world is good.
  • It was created for our enjoyment.
  • It’s an effort and rescue through Jesus to reclaim all of this.
  • This has everything to do with how we live in the world.
  • It’s not about evacuating this world for another.
  • Resurrection is a belief and hope in restoring this world.

Resurrection is so central to faith. NT Wright said in the Bible resurrection means the body and coming back to life from the dead.

  • Sociologically, large groups of people don’t generally have massive changes in their belief instantaneously.
  • Something happened with Jesus.
  • In our modern, scientific, closed world the things that happen have to be able to be measured.
  • The resurrection confronts our world with wonder, mystery, and miracles.
  • Miraculous things happen. Deal with it.

Questions from the Audience:

If I were an atheist and didn’t want to go to Heaven and be with God, would God force me into Heaven?

  • God is love.
  • Love demands freedom.
  • God gives us what we want.
  • For people who want nothing to do with peace, joy, reconciliation and peace… God will give you what you want.
  • I see people make unbelievably destructive choices.
  • When it all gets laid out you can see that the choices you make are awful.
  • The hardness of the human heart makes no sense.
  • People cling to a destructive path.
  • It is a fundamental mystery of the human heart.
  • We see that around us all the time.
  • We assume that choice, ability, option, etc continues on into the future.

This is an important conversation for us to have. How can this conversation happen in an inter-faith environment?

  • There is a common good we all long for.
  • We all agree on certain things.
  • Example: peace making.
  • At the heart of the Christian faith is Jesus, who talked about service.
  • The ultimate impulse Jesus keeps bringing up isn’t about getting people to believe what you believe or doing what you want them to do, it’s how do you serve others.
  • What does the world need?
  • What do people of other religions need? How can you serve and bless them?
  • Our task in the world is to serve.
  • Jesus was far more interested in us being humbled by our service than by us trying to prove why we are right.

What would you do with Matthew 7?

  • The things in life that matter take incredible intention.
  • It’s about the power of intention and devoting yourself to something or somebody.
  • Broad is the path… there are many ways things can unravel.
  • For life to work takes extraordinary intention… a narrow way.
  • It’s choosing to commit to devote yourself to something and to persevere.
  • “The saint is the person who wields the one thing.” – Kierkegaard
  • In this passage, Jesus speaks of all the different ways we lose the plot in what it means to be human.
  • Jesus lived in a political climate that said the way to win is to pick up a sword and fight the Romans.
  • Jesus challenges us to reclaim what it means to be a light in the world.
  • Jesus’ teachings work at all different levels… they are fundamental truths on how the world works, they are very clear warnings, teachings and guidance that were to real people who were in a real place with real struggles.

Is there a Hell? If not, does that take anything away from the cross?

  • I actually think there is hell because we see hell every day.
  • We can resist and we can reject what it means to be fully human… good, descent, and compassionate.
  • Yes, I think there is.
  • We have that choice now and I assume we have that choice on into the future.
  • Yes.

Is God love [in action] or is God an actual person? Does saying “God is love” remove Him from being a real being?

  • At the heart of Jewish understanding of the world God is 2 things…
    • God is both a Divine being, separate from Creation.
    • God is also moving and present within history.
  • In the Old Testament in Exodus, King David, etc … we see real people in real places in real times encountering the Divine.
  • God is at work in history.
  • The Christian understanding came out of the Jewish understanding  and says that God at work in history and came among us.
  • God in search of man – God pursues people in history.
  • The experiences you’ve had when you sensed when you weren’t alone or something seemed like more than a coincidence… that’s God with you.

If we lose the concept of Hell, what does that do to the motivation for Christian mission?

  • It’s absolutely crucial that we come face to face with the power of our choices.
  • We can choose the way of compassion, the way of forgiveness, the way of generosity.
  • Or we can choose other paths and those have very real consequences in the world.
  • This is absolutely crucial.
  • In terms of the Great Commission, Jesus says, “Go and make disciples, baptizing [or immersing] them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit…”
  • There’s one way of seeing that as immersing them in this trinitarian community.
  • Go out and announce this Good News to people.
  • Proclaim God’s love, proclaim God’s rescue effort in the midst of creation, that God is pursuing people.
  • And invite them into your community where they can experience the love of God as it is shared and passed around and extended to each other.
  • At our church we often talk about the Good News is better than that.
  • There is a story being told in human history, Jesus invites us into the story and then to share the story with others.
  • That’s absolutely at the center of it.
  • The real challenge for Christians when it comes to witnessing and evangelism is, “do you actually think this is a great story?”
  • At Mars Hill they have classes where people sit around talk about their story.
  • Let’s talk about what you’ve been through.
  • Let’s talk about the hell you’ve been through and what happened when you encountered grace.
  • A couple who experienced a number of miscarriages started a group for couples who want children but are having problems.
  • The stories of when God’s grace meets people in extraordinary despair and suffering is a beautiful thing.

You say Hell is based on bad choices. We choose to not help the poor, we choose to lie, not help the homeless, etc. It seems to me there’s another Hell, too. The Hell not of your own nature. Bad things happen. Heaven has historically been a way out for people who are in a hell not of their own choosing. It’s a radical reversal of justice. Can you talk to me about Hell or Heaven without an issue of choice?

  • How much great art has come from that longing?
  • This longing for a better world or for some other place is a human ache that has been with us since the beginning.
  • Most of our thinking about Heaven has come from our hope that this isn’t it… that there’s more than this reality.
  • We long for rebirth and rescue.
  • We hope for something that breaks this thing we are in.
  • We see this across traditions.
  • We have a tradition that says nature is out of whack.
  • We live in the midst of a creation that is groaning.
  • Something is profoundly wrong and we are desperate for justice, for restoration and for somebody somewhere to do something about this.

Can God be both loving and just?

  • Yes.
  • There has been a human longing and desire for God to fix the world.
  • No more greed, no more exploitation.
  • There’s been a human ache for  justice.
  • At the heart of the Jewish and Christian understanding is the longing for a day…Day of the Lord, Judgement Day, etc.
  • You also have this side-by-side of God’s endless affirmation that God wants everyone to be saved.
  • Psalm 22 – all people will be at the great banquet.
  • There’s a possibility of every single person being rescued.
  • There’s also a longing for justice.
  • They sit side-by-side.
  • The Western mind is very black or white.
  • The Hebrew mind and the Scripture is OK with these things being true.
  • At the end of the Bible there is a picture of city… a renewed, restored city, Heaven and earth come together, God dwelling amongst people.
  • There are people not in it. Those are those who choose to lie, murder, etc.
  • The writer adds that there is a gate in the new restored city that never shuts.
  • There’s no resolution. It just sits there.
  • We need to let it sit there, side-by-side.

What is your concern if we ignore this and stop this discussion?

  • The fundamental way that millions of people were told about Jesus was that “God loves you, God has a wonderful plan for your life, God loves you so much that He sent Jesus because God wants a relationship with you… and all you have to is accept, trust and believe. If, tonight, you reject what I’m saying to you right now and are hit by a car on the way home, God would then have no choice but to punish you eternally with torment and fire in Hell.”
  • God would, in that split second, become a totally different being.
  • If there was an earthly father who was like that we would call the authorities.
  • My experience as a pastor answering real questions from real people is that lots of people have really, really toxic, dangerous, psychologically devastating images of God in their head.
  • Images of a God who’s not good.
  • My experience is that lots of people go to church, sing the songs, tell the story, etc but have profound ambivalence about God.
  • We can discuss it, but at its core… people have a view of a God who is terrible that they can’t even imagine being loving or wanting anything to do with.
  • What’s really behind the question?
  • It’s important that we talk about this.
  • When people talk about Good News and Jesus people don’t believe that God is really good.
  • For whatever reason God being good is such a fresh, radical new idea.
  • Many people need a new rewiring of their heart and mind.
  • Ultimately, it’s simple.
  • We want people to experience Good News.
  • We want people to experience love.
  • We don’t want people to live with these negative images and messages they have been sent about God, what life is about, etc.
  • I’m not a theologian or scholar, but I know there is Good News and I’ve seen it in action and that’s something worth talking about.

About Tim Schraeder

Tim Schraeder is obsessed with all things social media. Having worked with some of the world’s largest churches and para-church organizations, he served as an evangelist for social media with a knack for connecting people and spreading ideas that matter. He’s been a consultant and coach as well as a sought-after speaker and author who helped write the book on communication and social media for the church. Today, Tim is passionate to help businesses and organizations connect, engage, and build loyal followers across all forms of social media. He is a die-hard Chicagoan who can be found in any neighborhood coffeeshop that has free wifi.

  • Tom Roepke

    well done tim! great work. blessings!

  • Rodney Hunt

    Many of the answers to the questions are very ambiguous and I guess (from his answers) that is what he likes, he doesn’t seem to want to be dogmatic. I am thankful that the teaching of the apostles and gospels is much clearer on these subjects.

    • Tim Schraeder


    • Len Wilson

      Personally, I am comfortable with a little ambiguity. I just read this morning from John’s gospel, chapter 16, where Jesus plainly states to the disciples that he speaks in analogies and ambiguities because we cannot handle the truth. We cannot fully know these questions. Paul affirms this in 1 Corinthians 13. Mystery is okay. If Rob Bell admits that he uses analogies and doesn’t know the full answers, then what is wrong with this? It is intellectually honest and humble. Our Western minds want things to be so black and white, so filled with theological knowledge. Our Eastern brothers and sisters are familiar with the concept of being emptied, ready for the Holy Spirit to fill us.

      • Richard Hong

        I think we’re all comfortable with some ambiguity. But I get the feeling that Rob’s ambiguity doesn’t stem from *us* being unable to handle the truth – I don’t think *he* can quite handle the reaction that would come if he flat-out said what I think he means. I attended his “Poets, Prophets, and Preachers” conference in 2009 and his last talk of the conference struck me as that of a person who was deeply insecure, easily wounded, and takes all criticism very personally. I think Bell is heterodox in many areas – we probably all are to some extent – but he isn’t willing to be someone like Marcus Borg or John Dominic Crossan, each of whom embrace being outside of orthodoxy, yet write incisively and provocatively about Christian faith. Until he has the courage to take a definitive stand, he won’t actually have a lasting impact.

        • Clark Frailey

          I too attended the “Poets, Prophets, and Preachers” conference in 2009 and yet I had a wholly different experience with our final session. For the first time to me, Rob became more than a two-dimensional “character” in Nooma videos and podcasts. He opened up about his pain, failures, and success. He shared the thought that those of us in ministry are not alone.

          While he was not original (I’ve read several similar good books and attended Pastor’s Conferences for years that echo this sentiment.) he definitely took a moment out from the rest of the conference to show the human side of ministry. Something that was original was the way this conference ended. When we took the offering for the pastor being fired for simply attending the conference near the end and Rob stood at the front and embraced every single person that desired to speak to him for a moment…that was original, unique, and touching.

          What you perceived as deeply insecure and being easily wounded I experienced as someone that “gets” what ministry is about and the pain that goes along with the calling. I found something in Rob Bell that I didn’t expect to find when I touched down in Grand Rapids – a real pastor. Someone that doesn’t live up to their “rockstar” billing. In my couple of interactions with him I gathered that he’s a nerd that loves Jesus.

          I’m not here to defend Bell or his views – neither he nor his perspective need anything like that from the likes of me. However, it’s incredibly unfair and uncharitable to imply he’s being less than truthful about his position or that he cannot handle criticism. I walked away from Grand Rapids feeling refreshed and had a renewed sense of fellowship with those in very different ministries than my own. In your opinion he won’t have a lasting impact, I would say he already has.

          • Bb

            Agree that he has a lasting impact. Which is why these debates are so critical, so important. Rob Bell has an impact. It is worth fighting for lost souls that he will not impact them the wrong direction.

            But what direction? Is there such a thing as direction. What is north? What is south? They are dogma . . .

          • Richard Hong

            Well, we just had different impressions. I left the conference informed well by the teaching of Shane Hipps, inspired by the energy of Peter Rollins, and disappointed by Rob Bell. A part of it is the classic danger of opening up personally in the pulpit – what some will perceive as openness and authenticity, someone else will perceive as putting the attention on oneself. But I stand by my claim that he is being less than fully truthful, which I believe is echoed by the comments here and elsewhere that he seemed to duck the questions. Perhaps it is right to correct me by saying that I am being uncharitable about why he is doing it, because indeed I don’t know what’s going on inside his head. But I think he disrespected the questioners last night and evaded giving direct answers.

          • Zanna

            It is my experience that people often have considerable difficulty with the openness of others because they are not naturally willing to be open and vulnerable themselves. But we need this in the church! For so long Pastors have been put on a pedastool- it seems that they have all the answers and no real problems while the rest of us mere mortals in the congregation continue to struggle and feel we could not even get close to them. Having a pastor be open and honest about his/her failures, willing to wrestle through issues that we all encounter in our walk with God and readily concede that they don’t have all the answers is refreshing and healthy. Rather than make the rest of us uneasy and lose faith in them, I believe it should empower us to follow suit recognising that we are all in the same boat. I also believe it gives the whole church the opportunity to grow- we can no longer sit in our pews, hear a nice little sermon and be on our way. It challenges us, sometimes rubs us the wrong way and causes us to really question what we believe and why we believe it. Hopefully Rob’s questioners will be inspired to think about things differently and keep seeking the truth.

      • jonathan Keck

        Agreed. Things are complicated. I have a hard time imagining that all of these things can be pinned down, especially when we realize that out God is far beyond our understanding!

  • Elgin Combs

    Yes. It is disappointing that he won’t answer clearly. I still ask the same questions today as I did when I read Velvet Elvis. Does he believe that faith in Jesus is the only way to Heaven? Does he believe that Jesus died on the cross and literally rose again? Does he believe in a literal hell? Does he believe that people who do not live with Christ as their savior will be damned for eternity, separated from God?

    • Nick Anneler

      I think the part that is even more sad is that many people, mainly conservative evangelicals, are looking for what Rob didn’t say rather than what he said. I am not the only one to point this out, I think that N.T. Wright pointed it out about a series of books that he wrote, but he said, in summary, “It’s getting to the point that regardless of the subject material or text, an author or teacher is having to say everything that they affirm in a book or text rather it fits or not.” N.T. Wright said this about his first book in a series where the critic accused him of not believing in or referencing the resurrection of Jesus. This is astounding becasue the third book in the series is almost 700pages of talk concerning the resurrection.

      And if we are honest the only thing that “conservative” “orthodox” “evangelical” “christians are looking for Rob Bell to say is, “I believe people who haven’t confessed Jesus with their mouths before they die (regardless of how they live) will burn forever.

      THAT is pitiful to think that the only thing people are wanting to hear is an affirmation of God eternally tormenting souls.

      There is SO much beauty in what he says about Jesus, infact affirming that Jesus is the one that gives life, that reveals this God, that rescues, redeems. He draws out of scripture a Jesus who didn’t just come to live for a transaction. I like that Rob brings the words of Jesus, exclusive and inclusive as he said, and other images of scripture (like a gate in revelation that stays open) that appear to have tension for us hear and now and that one day will be clear for us.

      Let us remember that even the apostle Paul said, “Now we see through the glass dimly…”

      • Joey Darwin

        I am looking for Rob to say that “people who haven’t confessed Christ will burn in hell” because without that the message of “those who do confess Christ will be eternally united with Him in heaven” is meaningless. Losing hell does take away from heaven, marriage is an incredible theme used for our relationship with Christ and Rob Bell is stating that Christ will eventually let everyone into the marriage bed, not just the bride, this does not sanctify our relationship but muddles it.

      • Brent Wise

        Nick, You bring up “the gate in revelation that stays open.” That intrigued me when I he said that last nite, and a went back to read over Revelation 21.

        Rev 21:22-27 says: “22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

        The two verses above ‘never shut gates’ speak of the light/glory/splendor of God. Two verses after it speaks of God’s holiness and the inability for anything impure to dwell with Him.

        In ancient times, the gates of a city were closed at night to keep out agressors. Maybe the focus of verse 25 is that there is no night, not that people can come and go as they please.

        • res2

          I think the gates being open refers to God’s final victory at the end of the ages and that peace will reign forevermore. No sin, no death, no hell, no devil, no fallen people, only complete victory resulting from Jesus. Just as Eden’s gates were once open and then were closed b/c of man’s sin, so the gates of “Eden” have been reopen like they once were. And man and God communed in the garden, in a creation both enjoyed, in a land flowing with milk and honey.

      • Elgin Combs

        You’ve got me pegged. I am most definitely looking for Rob Bell to say that he believes (or doesn’t believe) that those who don’t confess Christ as Lord and believe that he died and God raised him from the grave will be eternally separated from God. We can’t interpret Rob’s writings or ideas without understanding where he is coming from. If he is writing “Love Wins” from the mindset that God will reconcile everyone to himself, then he is writing from an extrabiblical context. If he is writing “Love Wins” from the understanding that Jesus is the only way to God the Father, then he is writing from a biblical context. This matters a lot. The difference is significant, because he can’t believe one thing and truly teach another. His beliefs directly influence his words. He is so ambiguous that he seems to want to bring confusion. God does not bring confusion – someone else does.

        The Gospel is simple, yes. It is all about love. But it is also clear.

        • Natalya22

          Dear Elgin..With all due respect, why does your going to heaven, have to be dependent on someone else going to hell? It sounds a bit like that to me in your statement.. A clearer reading of what Rob is saying is that we DO all have choice…it is just that, as St. Paul writes, “we see thru a glass darkly”, meaning perhaps the way and will which the Lord Jesus Christ choses to reveal himself to each person is a mystery—not for all of us to understand. That choice may come at different times for different people, perhaps even at the moment of, of the moment AFTER death. That doesn’t mean you or I or other’s shouldn’t struggle to know God NOW. It DOES mean, we dont’ KNOW all of God’s one does.

          Jesus is a paradox, in the sense that, as Rob writes, he is both INCLUSIVE and EXCLUSIVE. That is the mystery of our faith. I am not defending Rob’s book, as I have not yet read it. HOWEVER, I am so puzzled by why so many people seem SO outraged when faced with the concept of a merciful and loving God, whom we can NOT PRESUME to speak for. God is GOD. He saves whom HE will. I am much more comfortable with the ambiguity and the love. With all due respect. The paradox that Jesus IS the only way, but that when many arrive they will see that they actually DID know Jesus. This concept isn’t a difficult one for me, but it is for some of my brothers and sisters in Christ. We can agree to disagree, but most importantly, we must show Christ’s love for each other..and leaving the ticket taking into heaven up to our most gracious and merciful Lord. God bless..

          • Elgin Combs

            There is no ambiguity when it comes to knowing Jesus. No one will say out of surprise, “Wow. I guess I did know Jesus.” The Bible is extremely clear about this. It is appointed for us to die once, and then the judgement. Not to die once, then be reconciled to God, and then the judgement. The Bible is also clear that if we die without ever believing in our heart and confessing with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and God raised him from the dead, we will not be saved. The Bible is incredibly clear.

            On one hand, it is God’s will that none should perish – but he gives us the choice – the opportunity – to have a relationship with him or not to.

            It seems that Rob and the like think that our works produce our faith. This is not true. Our faith is what produces our works. People can do good works and never have a relationship with God. They could give up their life to serve others until the day they die, but if they have no relationship with Christ, they don’t inherit eternal life. The Bible is incredibly clear.

            My “going to heaven” is not dependent on someone else “going to hell.” My “going to heaven” is dependent on my relationship with Christ. Someone else’s “going to hell” is dependent on them not having a relationship with Christ. I’ll say it again – the Bible is clear.

            Rob is about as confusing as they come – and I don’t see how that honors God.

          • Jason

            “The Bible is also clear that if we die without ever believing in our heart and confessing with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and God raised him from the dead, we will not be saved. The Bible is incredibly clear.”

            No, that’s NOT what the Bible says. It says “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, then you will be saved”.

            It DOES NOT say the inverse of that, which is what you’ve written, Elgin. And they potentially mean two very different things. Going only off what the Bible says in this passage, this can (again, CAN) be viewed as one means of ensuring salvation. Is it the only specific way? We just don’t know.

            What we do know is that this is one means that is specifically mentioned to achieve rightness with God. Are there other ways? Perhaps. We don’t know. We need to operate within the sphere of what we do know, and allow for the fact that there may be other ways/means that Jesus allows people to come to the Father through Himself.

          • Elgin Combs

            Actually, the inverse means the same thing, when you look at the totality of scripture. Do I need to reference every scripture that refers to Jesus being the only way to heaven? I will, if it will be of any help to you.

        • Amy

          Amen! God is not a God of confusion, but he brings clarity of mind and peace to the soul. The Word of God is Truth. Truth is very important. Truth is what sets us free. I feel so sad for the woman who interviewed him and asked such a direct question and received such a vague answer. As “offensive” and painful as a truthful answer would be to her (a truthful answer bathed in love and grace), we must give the Holy Spirit space to do His job. We share the truth, and then we allow the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of truth – to open the eyes of the heart. Each person has a choice. We either choose receive the good news or not. We, not God, choose Heaven or Hell.

          “The Gospel is simple, yes. It is all about love. But is is also clear.” Yes!

  • Chris Meirose

    Bell could clear all this up in about 10 seconds by simply affirming Christ’s own words. But Bell chooses not to. I don’t think that is by accident. Especially not now when he’s been directly called out on this issue. He can easily lay it to rest. I double dog dare him. But he won’t. Sad.

  • Scott Smith

    A LOT of things bugged my during this interview/show. He didn’t ask questions – he told stories. Even when the questions were very pointed, he evaded them. The woman interviewing him was not a Christian. This was ridiculous. She didn’t understand the issues at stake. I’d rather have had a proclaiming Christian – whether emergent of fundamentalist – in her seat.

    My biggest beef is this: In my eyes, as a pastor, Rob failed miserably. He was a good communicator, an engaging speaker, a respected author – no doubt about this. But he had the attention of thousands and he dodged questions and blurred lines. I never heard him say “cross” or “resurrection” (in reference to Jesus’ literal bodily resurrection). I never heard “died for sins”. Lots of platitudes. Lots of feel-good. No gospel.

    • Dan

      didnt jesus tell stories when people asked him questions?

      • Scott Smith

        Sure. But Jesus told stories that illuminated the issue. Rob’s stories obfuscate it. Jesus’ stories always pointed to the answers. Rob’s stories lead to more questions.

  • Dan O’Day

    Outstanding summary!

  • Chris Rouse

    I’m waiting until I get my copy of the book this week to make any claims one way or the other. He makes a lot of statements that on first-read come off as flippant or seem like he’s avoiding the statements. But when I re-read many of those, I suddenly realized some deep truths behind his statements. I haven’t had time to watch the entire interview yet, but it does appear to still be available online so I’m going to watch it when I can this week.

    I think there’s a lot more to this whole thing than we’re expecting. Rob Bell may not have intended to cause a controversy, and without a couple of specific posts, there wouldn’t have been one to this point. I think we’re going to find that he doesn’t answer a lot of questions or really get to any defined answers, but instead is going to trigger a new wave of discussion on the topic of heaven and hell. I don’t know that Rob Bell even intends to actually answer those questions directly; I think he wants to explode those questions and make us–you, me, everyone–sit down and re-evaluate our own beliefs.

    I read a good post somewhere recently that said our basic mental pictures and beliefs of hell are all shaped by Dante’s “Inferno”. I would agree that what I think about heaven and hell have largely been shaped by literature and entertainment and not by my own study on the subject. I’ve simply taken it at face value that if you believe in God you go to heaven with it’s shiny streets and endless supply of sweet tea, and if you don’t believe in God (or reject God), you’ll go to hell and pretty much burn for eternity.

    But what if heaven isn’t that and hell isn’t that? What if there really is more than just shiny streets and mansions for everyone in heaven and fiery pits of lava in hell? (Hmm, I wonder where I left my giant ‘H’ button to wear for those heretical questions?)

    • Tim Schraeder

      great thoughts, Chris. like you… i’m holding out to read the book, although based on the event tonight i’m not sure there will be much clarity there.

    • Joey Darwin

      One thing many people are leaving out of the equation is that first and foremost he has a responsibility to God to proclaim the gospel of Christ, not the musings of Rob Bell and that as a Pastor of a church and simply as a christian he is accountable to his congregation and to Christ to combat any controversy that takes away from the gospel. If people are wrong about him and what he is saying he needs to be bold, not evasive and creative. If he is being heretical than he needs to be called out publicly, Christ did not take the Pharisees out behind the temple and talk with them, he did it openly in front of the very people they were preaching a false gospel too.

    • res2

      I kinda think of the TV program “Lost” in connection with those type of heaven questions… it could be just about anything. And hell could be too. “Lost” made a pretty could statement about a lot of that.

      • res2

        Just to be clear I’m not saying there is a Purgatory after death. I’m just saying that heaven has reconciliation in it after death and that LOST made me think of that stuff whatever the “mechanism” is (thot I’d throw that in there since everyone seems to love that word lately).

  • Rick Howerton
  • Jim Gray

    Thanks bro,you rock.

    • Tim Schraeder

      thanks for the opportunity!

  • Tim Schraeder

    ha! thanks!

  • Bspinler

    I think there’s plenty to be discouraged about in what he said without worrying about what he didn’t say. But who has time to address it all? One comment I found particularly interesting was something about not having video evidence…and being dogmatic….I can’t remember the exact wording. But it’s hard not to hear him saying that now my biblical faith is dogma fueled by speculation.

    I wish the young lady who asked the question about Matthew 7 would have pressed more specifically about how “few find” the narrow gate rather than letting him ramble on about just the broad and narrow aspects. That’s where the real difficulty comes for someone with a universalist view. I have a hard time believing any intellectually honest person can come away from that verse with a perception that the bible promotes any flavor of universalism.

    Having said that, I guess I would have to expect a muddy Yoda style musing to that as well that would leave me equally puzzled. I hope he’s right about what he says since then we’re all ok – but if he’s not…yike.

    BTW – why did Jesus have to come and die anyway?

    • Angie Rines

      I was the young lady! And believe me, if I had the microphone still in my hand, I would have asked a thousand more questions!!!

  • Frikkie van der Merwe

    Yep, very ambiguous! Jesus spoke in parables and stories to teach his disciples, yet He was also very clear concerning the Truth, concerning heaven and hell, salvation and God’s wrath. He offended people because He spoke the truth plain and simple. I’m willing to follow Him and His example – no matter how unpopular that makes me…
    Thanks for the post – this is just as relevant an issue in South Africa nowadays!

  • Mitch Krebs

    Nothing about the cross.

  • Bruce Walker

    There “Good News”. The rub is that if there is no bad news there really isn’t any good news, Its just news.

  • Bob Young

    It sounded to me like Rob took the opportunity to turn almost every question into a discussion of the good news of the kingdom of God. He used the interview as an evangelical platform rather than a theological debate where he clarified all his points. And I’d much rather him proclaim the good news to the watching world that get into esoteric arguments over dogma. Thank God for Rob Bell!

    • Clive McKegg

      Absolutely agree. I thought he presented a compelling view of the gospel – and what a great platform having him interviewed by a Jewish journalist who has written a book on heaven!

    • Terry

      In your opinion Bob, what was the good news that Rob Bell preached exactly?

  • Bb

    I wish it were not so, but his answers remind me of a politicians . . .

    The lady asked him directly, “I’m an Atheist that gives to the poor, helps the old lady across the street, gives to charity, etc. Will I go to Heaven?”

    No real answer for her . . .

  • @kylereed

    well done.
    And thanks for doing all of this. I will probably come back here and read this a couple of times

  • Todd Strain

    tim, thanks for your great notes for this event and others. very useful.

  • Evan Courtney

    Last night frustrated me, that he didn’t directly answer the questions, but then again that’s Rob.
    He is always wanting you to rethink what you belief. Not so that you don’t believe the truth, but so that you discover it for yourself, and just don’t take a sunday school teacher or pastor’s word for it.

    All of the sermons and books I’ve read and listened to of Rob’s, and even my visit to Mars Hill, MI; I’ve always have been challenged to follow Jesus closer and share my faith with others.

    • SuperStar

      Right on!

  • Casey Tygrett

    I think we all would have been really frustrated talking to Jesus too. He answered direct questions with stories…”Who is my neighbor?” “Once there was a man…”

    How evasive…I’m not saying Rob IS Jesus, but Rob is following a pretty good precedent.

    • Brian Duncan

      Yes, but when Jesus went into a story, the story had a point. He didn’t end in something illusive and evasive. He ended with a point. Rob isn’t doing anything of the sort.

  • Tim Albert

    The end of this kind of sums it up to me – ‘I want her to experience the good news’ – ‘ I know there is Good News and I’ve seen it in action and that’s something worth talking about.’

    what is the good news? Is it not that while we were still sinners (whose good deeds – the greatest of good deeds – are as filthy rags) Christ died for us. I so often put God’s sovereignty in a box with these questions Rob Bell is posing. Not that they shouldn’t be asked or discussed, but I think Kevin DeYoung mock – poses some better ones in response:

    What if the things you’ve heard recently are not the truth about Christianity? What if the warnings in Scripture are real warnings? What if God is purer [and holier] than we thought, we’re worse than we imagined, and hell is as real as the nose on your face? What if the “only way” means the only way? What if God is glorified in salvation and judgment? What if the God of love and the Father of mercies is also a righteous Judge, a holy Sovereign, and a conquering King?

  • Jmclain

    Slipped off the deep end. Man i really like him too. “The vibrant, real historic Christian faith is very wide and leaves lots and lots of room for varying perspectives.” How do you reconcile this with 13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.Matthew 7:13

  • Loswhit

    Dude. That is a lot of freaking typing. Props for that.

    • Tim Schraeder

      Haha… it’s what I do! Gotta hustle!

  • Bb

    I have wrestled with that kind of thought before . . . and truth be told don’t always have a good answer. Except He (Jesus) seemed to allude that things were only hidden for awhile, or purposefully from those not ready to believe, or it was not His time yet.

    I hope His time is now here and that things don’t need to be shrouded in such mystery anymore. Seems like clarity is called for. Does anyone leave Bell’s books or talks with rock to stand on, or more like shifting sand. (please excuse the mixed contexts). Or are they?

  • Clive McKegg

    I love his heart. He feels for those who have been unnecessarily put off the gospel. For those who have trouble stomaching him put aside your preconceptions for while and just watch and hear Jesus. Read Luke and see how much Jesus sides with the people from the wrong side of the tracks, especially the religious tracks.

    In my opinion there are bunches of people put off Christianity by our insistence that we use certain buzzwords of must hold to pet doctrines that aren’t even that scriptural but just happen to ‘flavor of the century’. Why do we get so insecure when people embrace mystery and use stories that are open-ended? Jesus did this stuff and people thought he was being evasive: “tell us plainly – are you the Christ?”

    I don’t know if he’s got all his doctrine right. I struggled with “the gates are always open”. But his heart is for people and I admire him for having the guts to stick out his neck and make a stand and force us to think – and to NOT make dogmatic pronouncements but to have the courage to leave it open for discussion.

  • Natalya22

    As a (Very falliable) Eastern Orthodox Christian, everything Rob Bell is saying goes along with what I have learned in my church life, Sunday school, camp life, etc. It gives me comfort, it gives me hope. It makes SENSE, clearly. The gift of universal redemption, (NOT Universalism), for all–Our loving God, whom we can not completely hope to understand–his car crash many times has that been used to make people afraid, and Rob is right, the TOTAL nature of God would change in that scenario. Well said, Rob Bell..I don’t personally understand how this could be offensive to anyone in anyway..I love his line..the paradox of Christ–exclusive and inclusive. God is love. I can’t WAIT to read this book.

  • Tgriffith

    Is Rob Bell about to become irrelevant or will his message resonate with a new generation of Christians? Your comments and thoughts would be welcome and appreciated!

  • SuperStar

    These summaries were very close to his exact words. Tim S. captures the essence and that essence is that Rob sounds like an evangelical who does not allow his evangelical presuppositions to control his understanding of the Bible. Well, at least as much as that is possible.

  • Guest

    Jesus spoke only in parables to fulfill what was prophesied about Him in the Old Testament. He also used them as a way to ensure that those who listened and understood were truly listening and understanding, fully seeking Him and not just passively following Him. Matthew 13:10-17

  • Ryangear

    Thanks for posting your notes. I link to your site in my blog

    Rob is continuing a conversation that has been going on in Christian communities for 20 centuries. I’ve been blogging about it for several days. Rob is simply asking questions, and there is a group of very conservative, perhaps even fundamentalist, Christians who can’t handle questions, tension, thinking, etc.

  • res2

    Rob’s audience check is just his way of catching his breath and thinking through what he wants to say. His vague answers miffs the Pharisaical audience that want public statements verifying their faith. Rob is doing his Jesus thing to the masses and wishes to minister to them and not to the Pharisee crowd.

  • Anonymous

    Overall I like the board’s comments as it keeps things in perspective about Rob. My several concerns would be the following:

    1 – I’ll have to do some more homework on liberal Protestantism’s incursion into the evangelical ranks. My guess is that its seamless and we participate in it alot from our personal faith expressions to our liturgies and minitries. For me it stops when it detaches from spiritual realities and talks about our faith in terms of itself rather than as a historically grounded Resurrection event. Otherwise, intropection, social solidarity, Jesus as a man and a person, etc from Bultmann, Scheilmacher (sp?), Theilleck (sp), etc have all been duly embraced over the past 100 years in modern evangelic fashion even as it hated on it 100 years ago.

    2 – Today’s contemporary society wants peace and love and that’s what Rob is giving them while softening up the hardcore stuff to make it initially welcoming. Yet he still preaches all the hardcore stuff but not as publically as he would in church. I say right on while noting that when he’s preaching the word in church its both humbling and convicting.

    3 – Another concern are the irate Calvinists roaming the evangelic media, presses and boards and beating up on him. Here is an opportunity to show solidarity and promote our faith in new and interesting ways and the mainstream is just killing him. Of course, the media is working its best to make us tear into one another as I witness on the MSNBC interview. (btw, I’m a Calvinist, orthodox and prob a progressive evangelic if there is such a thing, more emerging than emergent). But I’ve grown tired with people bashing and judging.

    4 – Hermenuetic, hermenuetic, hermenuetic is the other major buzzword that needs to be nailed down as we continue to redact Jesus and his message for today. Keep it contextual, historical, grammatical, etc and resist the urge to culturize and subjectivize it. I know Rob likes to skate between the creases here and so are we as we try to (post)modernize our faith. But keep in real and keep it inbounds.

  • Williamd Simpson

    This is Rob Bell at his best…
    Today’s Blog…

  • Joe

    I prepared some Scripture for us to read and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us unto all truth.

    I. What is Humanity’s Condition? Does God have wrath for violating His Justice?

    John 3:16-20 – 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
    18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

    Romans 3:9-20 – 9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.
    10 As it is written:

    “ There is none righteous, no, not one;
    11 There is none who understands;
    There is none who seeks after God.
    12 They have all turned aside;
    They have together become unprofitable;
    There is none who does good, no, not one.”[b]
    13 “ Their throat is an open tomb;
    With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;[c]

    “ The poison of asps is under their lips”;[d]
    14 “ Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”[e]
    15 “ Their feet are swift to shed blood;
    16 Destruction and misery are in their ways;
    17 And the way of peace they have not known.”[f]
    18 “ There is no fear of God before their eyes.”[g]

    19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

    Romans 1:18-31 – 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
    24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
    26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
    28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality,[c] wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving,[d] unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

    II. Will God demonstrate His justice with eternal punishment in a lake of fire, upon death? And what is it like? Who goes there?

    Matthew 25
    31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy[c] angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
    37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
    41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
    44 “Then they also will answer Him,[d] saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

    Revelations 21:8
    8 But the cowardly, unbelieving,[e] abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

    Mark 9:42-27
    42 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 44 where

    ‘ Their worm does not die
    And the fire is not quenched.’[d]
    45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— 46 where

    ‘ Their worm does not die
    And the fire is not quenched.’[e]

    47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— 48 where

    ‘ Their worm does not die
    And the fire is not quenched.’[f]

    III. What is the Gospel? How did God show mercy? What is repentance? How are we to be saved?

    Acts 17:30-32
    30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
    32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” 33 So Paul departed from among them. 34 However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

    Luke 13:1-5
    1 There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

    Acts 2:21
    21 And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.’

    John 14:6
    6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

    1 Corinthians 15:1-19
    1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
    3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.
    9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
    The Risen Christ, Our Hope

    12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

    John 1:12-13 – 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

    Romans 6

    1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
    5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

    15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
    20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    IV. What is the Great Commandment? What is the Great Commission?
    Matthew 22:36-40 – 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

    37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    Mark 16:15-16 – 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

    Matthew 28:18-20 – 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore[c] and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.[d

    Romans 10:14-16 – 14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

    “ How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,[h]
    Who bring glad tidings of good things!”[i]
    16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “LORD, who has believed our report?”[j] 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

    V. Resurrection and New Heaven?
    John 14:1-3
    1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions;[a] if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.[b] 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

    1 Corinthians 15:50-56 – 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”[g]
    55 “ O Death, where is your sting?[h]
    O Hades, where is your victory?”[i]
    56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
    58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

    Revelation 21
    1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John,[a] saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
    5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me,[b] “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
    6 And He said to me, “It is done![c] I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things,[d] and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving,[e] abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

    9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me[f] and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”[g] 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy[h] Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. 12 Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13 three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.
    14 Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names[i] of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16 The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. 17 Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. 18 The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

    22 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it,[j] for the glory[k] of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. 24 And the nations of those who are saved[l] shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.[m] 25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). 26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.[n] 27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes[o] an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

    • res2

      Thanks! You put a lot of work into this. Lots of verses to pray through again.

    • Alex Sloan

      Scripture is open to interpretation. I appreciate your effort to look this up, but IMO just throwing scriptures out there is not necessarily enough. I am sure you believe the scripture speaks for itself. I believe the scripture will speak, but only when we allow our own experiences, traditions and reason to make sense of it.

  • Tim Schraeder

    I just took notes from the interview, the above aren’t my own thoughts … I just simply provided space to show what Rob said in his interview.

  • Crossroads Pastor

    Most of Rob’s proof in the interview came with sentences prefixed by, “I think…”. Is that supposed to carry more weight than Scripture? Jesus spoke clearly about salvation and eternal damnation. It sounds as if Rob’s version of John 3:16-18 (NIV) would go something like this, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that… whoever…shall… have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world…. Whoever…. is not condemned…”
    Does Rob have the authority to redact God’s Word? Hmmmm…. probably not.
    As a pastor I constantly encourage the congregation to compare everything they hear, including my sermons, with Scripture to see if it’s true or not for the Holy Scripture is the Truth, the Whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. So, please, please, please if you are inclined to read Rob’s book, please compare it with God’s Holy Word to see if it lines up or not. If it does, accept it as subordinate to the Word. If not, reject it outright.
    “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” – Galatians 1:7-9

  • Elgin Combs

    Rob Bell interviewed on MSNBC by Martin Bashir :

    • Dllwatkins

      This is exactly it right here, all the way to the end.

  • Guest

    Rob Bell isn’t doing what so many Christians are doing. He isn’t limiting God. The Bible clearly says very few things. Those things that it does “clearly say” were passed down through generations of oral traditions before being put to paper, by man. Sinful, fallible, well-intentioned, but easily tempted man. The Bible is God’s story, and it ends before the end. God is not containable, not limited, not fallible. If God wants to change the rules, he can. No man, living or dead, (sans Christ) knows with certainty of where you go when you die. Yes, the Bible gives us guidelines, even rules, but in actuality, no man is certain. If Bell wants to proclaim that the Bible isn’t 100% clear, he may be right. I want to know the truth. Everyone wants to know the truth. The truth is there is only one way to know without a doubt: die and see what happens. “You were saved by grace through FAITH,” (Galatians) not knowledge. Faith. No one knows. I mean no disrespect to anyone.

  • fufanuer

    He doesn’t really answer the questions. He just dances around the issues. He’d make a great politician.

  • Andrew Mercer

    What I like about this interview is how Bell (consistent with his style and personality) has me sit with the discomfort and anxiety that comes from the depth and implications of what he is saying. It would be easy for me to dismiss him for not answering the questions directly or giving me the concreteness and certainty that I crave. Instead, though at times a bit awkward, Bell shifts the responsibility to think, explore and discover onto the viewer (me). I’m used to hearing lectures which this is not, I take this as an invitation into a deeper conversation, one in which I’d like to be a part of!

    Thanks Tim for taking such great notes and summarizing his interview so well.


  • Elgin Combs

    HERE IS AN INCREDIBLE REVIEW OF “LOVE WINS” by someone who read the book!

  • Dan

    How many people commenting on this have actually read the book?

    I have and I think a lot of your questions can be answered within the book, so for those who are criticising the book even before you have read it, I would highly recommend you do so.

    Rob clearly states in the first chapter he believes in the cross and the resurrection of Jesus.

    I don’t understand people who don’t like Rob Bell.

    He is clearly only interested in doing good works, with people, within his community and around the world. What is wrong with that?

    It makes me laugh that “Christians” are the ones getting annoyed with other “Christians”

    And again Rob points this out in the book, why would people want to join the faith, if it appears that all Christians do is criticise one another.

    And Rob also states in the book that “he doesn’t know everything”, obviously he doesn’t, because if he did he would be god, all Rob is doing is offering his thoughts and findings, and he states in the book, that the stuff he mentions hasn’t been said before, so he isn’t actually offering anything new.

    Finally the thing that seems strange to me is it that most Christians who have a problem with this book are focusing so much on discrediting this book that they are not doing what Jesus has told us to do. Which i personaly think is very silly and dangerous thing.

    • Jchoura

      Well put!!

  • Cath

    Love wins…and so does truth. The days are over when being Christian can be defined as going to church and quoting scripture; putting God in a box and denying love to those who differ…
    God is so much bigger and so much more loving than we are…deal with it. Thanks Rob Bell for breaking out of the box and speaking truth.

  • Rcap238

    Everyone can abide by Gods Words but who’s interpretation is correct?
    I can’t stand bible bangers that can not ever think outside the box
    and only interpret “God’s Word” to push a specific agenda or to scare
    people to attend their “church” and give them money. It’s funny how these
    big time pastors live in these million dollar homes cruising around town
    In high end cars etc. Where did all that money come from? I can preach
    A few hours a week for that kind of coin.

  • dennis

    Everyone that tells me they know, I doubt. Everyone that tells me that they ultimately don’t know, I can believe. Life is prayer, live a good one.

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