Rob Bell has a new book coming out called Love Wins. I haven't read this book but I know about it from what some people in the evangelical world have said about it, and apparently Rob Bell is now a universalist. I say "apparently" because the people who have written about Rob Bell's book haven't actually read the book.
John Piper tweeted "Farewell Rob Bell" and linked to an article by Justin Taylor where Taylor admits:
I haven’t read the whole book yet and was hesitant to say something based on the publisher’s description (which usually isn’t written by the author). But this video from Bell himself [link] shows that he is moving farther and farther away from anything resembling biblical ChristianityAnd then point 4 on his update to the original article Taylor has said:
I highly doubt that this is a mere marketing stunt or that Bell is merely asking questions or playing Devil’s Advocate. If it turns out that the full book is diametrically opposed to his publisher’s description and to the conclusions he wants you to reach in the video, I will make that clear on this blog.
Josh Harris also tweeted and linked to the same article by Taylor and then posted a follow up blog saying:
Many people have challenged me for tweeting my dismay over Rob Bell's new book when it hasn't been released yet. I think the content of his video alone is concerning enough to be challenged. But I will read the book and if it contradicts the publisher's description and the content of the video I will rejoice and I will apologize to Rob for jumping to conclusions. (At which point I hope Rob will forgive me and also thank me for helping to make his book a best-seller.) Honestly, I would loved to be proved wrong and look stupid on this one.
What I think is that their judgements about Bell might be a bit premature. I think these guy would humbly apologise if they are wrong, but why pounce on the guy based off a teaser video or a publishers description about the book? Surly it is possible to hold your judgement until you have actually read the book before you label the guy a universalist... isn't it?
Kevin DeYoung also blogged about Hell and Rob Bells book but he gives me the impression that some of his judgement about Bell is on hold:
I am eager to read the book, not to pick a fight (though sometimes we need to fight, and this is one of those times), but because a book like this from a prominent pastor like this needs a response, many responses. We should be thankful for the clarity, but saddened by the content.
I have read one of Rob Bell's books and I wasn't overly impressed, but I think we should give the guy the benefit of the doubt until we have actually heard what he thinks, rather than what the teasers say about the book. You know the idea of waiting for the other guy to finish speaking before we pounce on them. I think someone once said something about being quick to listen and slow to speak...I think the bible also says something about Christians having a patience character...
If it turns out that Rob Bell holds that Hell is empty and everyone who has ever existed goes to Heaven, then sure label the guy a universalist and even a heretic (by which I am using in the tradition sense of the word, which doesn't apply to someone like Richard Dawkins, as Dawkins isn't part of, nor claiming to be part of the Church).
If anything Bell might sell some more books, which is kinda what the publishers wanted in the first place... which again should make you think about their agenda for the blurb and teaser trailer that sparked this whole debate in the first place...
Update (2nd March)
Kevin DeYoung has weighed in again in Two Thoughts on the Rob Bell Brouhaha saying that Bell says enough in the promo video as it is possible to make a point by asking questions (which I do agree with).
The upcoming Gospel Coalition conference is now going to have a special session with Don Carson on universalism, exclusivism, the love of God and heaven and hell as kinda a response to this book (remember it isn't out yet).
Al Mohler has commented on his blog wondering if Justin Tylor was too early to comment but he says the publishers blurb is enough to nail Bell on.
Christianity Today has also written about Rob Bell's Upcoming Book on Heaven & Hell Stirs Blog, Twitter Backlash on Universalism and links to some others who have commented.
ABC Religion have quite a good article on the people behind the situation and a little bit of a focus on the poor guy who's twitter name is @RobBell (not @RealRobBell). There are some points between praxis and doctrine that I might differ with...