Doug Groothuis states the central problem with Rob Bell’s book

Dr. Doug Groothuis was asked to serve on a panel discussion of Rob Bell’s new book “Love Wins”.

He wrote an outline, and posted on his blog. (H/T Doug)

Here’s the core problem he found with Bell’s book:

4. Bell seems to advance three propositions in Love Wins

a. Everyone is saved: God wants all to be saved; God gets what God wants.

b. Everyone is not saved. We can refuse God’s love.

c. We don’t know if everyone is saved or not.

5. These statements are inconsistent with each other; they cannot all be true

I am not sure why anyone is reading this book – it’s logically inconsistent. And whenever you ask Bell questions, his stock reply is to ask you questions back without answering. He makes an assertion, you point out how he contradicts the teachings of Jesus, and then he says “I don’t know, do you?” or “do you long for everyone to be saved?” or “do you know if universalism is true?”. These are verbatim quotes from his debate on the Unbelievable show. It is so bad that I listened to the first 30 minutes and just quit. I would rather listen to Christoper Hitchens – at least he is clear about what he believes. Rob Bell makes John Dominic Crossan sound like Hugh Ross.

5 thoughts on “Doug Groothuis states the central problem with Rob Bell’s book”

  1. I think that’s the whole point of the “dialogues” that Bell and people like him participate in: they ask enough questions to lose what the first point even was. The idea is that if you don’t remember what you were talking about that you won’t need to have any answers.

    Both my wife and I have read Love Wins (mainly to hope to answer any questions or concerns that may arise from others and certainly not because we believe it; my wife has to review a lot of non-fiction Christian literature for work) and I realized that there’s no way to understand anything that he says because it’s rapid question after rapid question and none of it comes to a concrete answer. It’s very annoying.

    Not that this is extremely important, but notice that Zondervan didn’t/wouldn’t publish this book as they did with his previous books (Harper Collins published this one). It’s pretty bad that Zondervan, who publishes a lot of less conservative literature, wouldn’t even put their name on it.


  2. I haven’t read the book but I have read a few reviews. It seems to me that Bell’s style of asking questions without really expecting an answer and to avoid giving an answer himself, fits well with the post-modern mind set. There is no truth, and even is there is, no one would be bold enough to state it for fear of offending someone who chooses not to believe that particular “truth.” Its so much more stylish to have a conversation without stating anything at all. Style, being non-offensive, and helping someone else to think about issues (without coming to any conclusion, since there aren’t any) is what life is all about. If that is Bell’s goal, it seems he is accomplishing it well. This makes it easy for all the readers to “deconstruct” this book by reading in to it whatever meaning we want.


    1. If you listen to him on the Unbelievable show, he seems to be asking the questions to imply nasty things about what Jesus says and about the character of orthodox Christians who beleive Jesus. In other words, he asks questions as a way of establishing the meanness of Jesus. I am not sure why he takes that view instead of trying to accept what Jesus says and then asking why Jesus might say that. Rob Bell seems to think that he should be more interested in pleasing people who find the words of Jesus unpalatable than in pleasing Jesus by explaining and defending what Jesus said. Perhaps by studying the issues in a more scholarly way he would find the arguments and facts he needs to explain Hell, as J.P. Moreland does in “The Case for Faith” by Lee Strobel. Is Rob Bell better than J.P. Moreland? J.P. Moreland has a Ph.D in philosophy from USC and has debated atheists. Somehow, I think the answers are there to be found by those who defend Jesus’ view. Rob Bell is just not interested in finding the answers. He would rather reinvent the gospel to make people like him than to get a Ph.D and know how to give a reason to defend the gospel.


  3. 1. God wants all to be saved
    2. God gets what God wants
    3. Therefore everyone is saved

    I’ve come across this before, except rather than asserting that everyone is saved, the conclusion was “I pray everyone is saved.” This prayer not only included those of us who are alive, but those who are already dead. This person refused to say that everyone is saved, but when pressed he would go back to the two premises as if they implied the logical conclusion that everyone must therefore, be saved.

    Premise 2 is the problem. It completely circumvents free will and negates personal accountability to God, which is the dominant theme throughout Scripture. It puts an unwarranted stress on the meaning of “want,” assuming that if God wants something, then it will be so, when it can also mean that God is expressing his desire for others to take a specific course of action as an act of their own free choice.


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