Author and speaker Rob Bell is set to release a teen version of his book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived nationwide next month.
In a promotional video created for Love Wins: For Teens, Bell explains that the book is designed to teach youth that God is the life of the party, rather than the one that spoils everyone’s fun.
“What do you believe about God?” he begins. “Is God somewhere on a cloud with a long beard, making a list of no’s?”
“For a lot of people, when you mention God, the first thing they think of is, ‘Oh yeah, God shuts the party down,'” Bell continues. “But when Jesus talked about faith, when Jesus talked about God, one of the dominant images He uses again and again is that of a party.”
He explains that Christianity is not about saying no; it’s about saying yes.
“It’s not about long lists of regulations and things you can’t do” Bell says. “It’s about saying a giant ‘yes’ to the world. So what you believe God is like really, really matters. It shapes you and it forms you in a thousand different ways.”
While the promotional video does not necessarily underscore the book’s central theme of misconceptions about Hell, Bell’s summary on Amazon reveals this aspect.
“What if the idea of Heaven and Hell that we have been taught is not, in fact, what the Bible teaches?” he writes. “What if Jesus meant something very different by the concepts of Heaven, Hell and salvation from how we’ve come to understand them?”
Although the original release of Love Wins achieved best-seller status, many others who read the publication expressed deep concern about Bell’s teaching. Reviewer Elliott Nesch notes that even in the preface of the book, he laments that “a staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in” Hell. Bell then asserts that such a belief is “misguided and toxic.”
“[I]s this belief truly misguided and toxic or is it the truth? Why is it that a staggering number of Christians believe that only a ‘select few’ will be saved while many will be damned? Because Jesus said so,” Nesch states, pointing to Luke 13 and Matthew 7.
He decries Bell’s universalist insinuations that all men will be saved.
“Rob Bell asks, ‘Will all people be saved, or will God not get what God wants?'” Nesch notes. “Bell likens God not getting what He wants to failure. Bell goes on to say that ‘God does not fail,’ obviously implying that all people must go to Heaven.”
“To Rob Bell, if Hell is real, then God is ‘terrifying, and traumatizing, and unbearable,’ and ‘can’t be loved.’ To Bell, the whole idea that ‘God will punish people for all of eternity for sins,’ is an ‘unacceptable, awful reality,’ Nesch said. “Thus, Bell is exchanging Biblical reality for his own reality, and teaching a god of his own image.”
“Bell is operating under the fear of man and not the fear of God,” he concludes.
The book is already among the top five religion and spirituality books for teens on Amazon.