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fist pump tuesday: love wins

March 16, 2011


This week’s FPT is a rather singular focus and one that is close to my heart. (It is also a day late, as my internet gave out yesterday.) As a fair number of you might have heard, a little book came out this week called Love Wins. This book was written by the pastor of my church, Rob Bell, and as such, I feel a communal connection to it. I’ve been attending Mars Hill for almost 4 years and have been a Covenant Member for 3 of those years. I am a deeply invested member of the community and I truly love being a part of it. I have met God in so many ways that I never had before and feel a deepness in my love and connection with Him as a result.

Now, this book has caused quite a stir for many people, good and bad. I’m not here to proclaim it prophecy or falsehood. I actually haven’t read past the preface yet, so my thoughts on this will not be lengthy or very deep. While I can’t speak fully on the book’s thoughts or theology, I did want to do two things with this post:

  1. Provide some resources for people who want to know more.
  2. Fist pump to Rob and to all people (not just Christians) who are willing to have an open and honest conversation about God’s love and what it means for us through the person, redemption and salvation of Jesus Christ.

From what I’ve heard around the interwebs and around town, this book has ruffled the feathers of a great many people, from its very open proclamation of God’s love and what that might mean when it comes to heaven and hell. Some of this feather-ruffling comes from viral lies that are whooshing around (he’s a universalist! he doesn’t believe in hell! — neither of which are true); some of it is actually credible. I’m sure there will be things in the book I don’t agree with, because as it is, I don’t follow Rob or Mars Hill, I follow Jesus. Mars Hill just happens to be the community in which I strive to do this; Rob happens to be the pastor.

There are many others much more qualified than I who are having really interesting conversations about this, like Matthew Paul Turner over at Jesus Needs New PR, Rachel Held Evans (she’s had several great and thoughtful posts about it), Greg Boyd and Jason Boyett (also several posts, a few of which are kind of hilarious).

Because that’s what this is — a conversation. That’s what much of the Bible and, in fact, Jesus’ teachings were. Conversations, questions, doubts and thoughts designed to push us forward into God’s love, into understanding the wide implications of it, and to be so moved and challenged by it that it affects how we live and treat our neighbor. I think back to a statement Rob actually made in a NOOMA a few years ago — “God loves you exactly as you are and loves you way too much to let you stay that way.” Sometimes God’s love does give us a warm, fuzzy feeling of communal humanity and other times, it’s a light shining on the parts and pieces of our lives that we’d rather not look at or address. Love may win, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt sometimes.

In the end, I don’t think the conversation is about all of us getting to a place where we all agree 100%. If people are holding out for universal agreement on all these questions…well, good luck. I’m more interested to hear people’s stories, to see how God’s love can change someone, to see how it’s changing me, to understand better what heaven and hell look like here and now, as well as in the redeemed earth Jesus seeks to bring back.

This isn’t a post to approve or bash anything. It’s mostly a fist pump that this is something that’s getting people to talk about the love of God — because really, in the end, that’s what it’s all about. If we are going to talk about anything, I’m glad it’s that.

Rob’s Interview with Newsweek’s Lisa Miller
Mars Hill’s FAQ and Resources

Fist pumps? Thoughts?

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Jamie permalink
    March 16, 2011 9:38 pm

    I think it’s a shame that when these conversations come about, from people who are just people and may not fit into one created mold of Christianity, there follows a storm of criticism for not subscribing to the “right” stream of thought within Christianity. Or maybe that’s just what I feel sometimes… :-) Barbara Brown Taylor writings, by the way, = excellent.

  2. March 16, 2011 9:47 pm

    I just ordered the book off of Amazon! Two birds with one stone, I am presenting on him and Donald Miller (and all things “Emergent”) at an undergrad research conference in April, and I am just so so so excited for Rob’s message.

    I think there are a lot of people who will read this book with a negative bias, and I will question how many of those people will actually read the book. I hope to hear more of your thoughts!

  3. March 17, 2011 11:39 am

    I didn’t realize you went to his church, Caroline! I’ve been wondering what the people of his congregation have made of all the to-do. I too am glad that the conversation is being furthered in some realms and dismayed by those who wish to stay with more rigid definitions of faith.

  4. Dave Neiss permalink
    March 18, 2011 8:32 pm

    Great balance and elegantly stated. My copy is on the way.

  5. Johanna permalink
    March 21, 2011 10:34 am

    I agree with Uncle Dave..very well put.

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