Rob Bell :: Love Wins Q&A

Last night I had the opportunity to hear Rob Bell speak at a small church in Winnetka, IL. This is part of his tour for his new book Love Wins. It wasn’t what I was expecting though. He came out and just started taking questions. It was a very unique experience. Below are my notes from the Q&A.

Rob Bell is the Founding Pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church. He graduated from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, and Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He and his wife Kristen have three children and live in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

He is the author of Love Wins, Velvet Elvis, and Sex God, and is a coauthor of Jesus Wants to Save Christians. He is also featured in the first series of spiritual short films called NOOMA.

Love Wins Q&A

Has Hell inspired you to be creative?

  • There is a part of us that longs for the world to be made right.
  • As a pastor I see all types of hell all the time. The distinction is when someone says that God can’t wait to send you there.
  • The heart of the Gospel is that God is for us. God is for you.
  • So many people have in their mind that God hates them.
  • I have no answer for the actual question. :)

What can we do for you? You have taken a lot of heat recently, how can I help?

  • You just did. I’m actually not aware of what you’re talking about. :)
  • I’m just trying to make something that is in my heart.
  • When someone is really upset about my book, then the book probably isn’t for them.
  • The question, wrestling, the ache, you find it in so many places in Scripture. The scriptures contain this discussion, they contain questions.
  • In our world today, it feels as though so many people in faith have lost the ability to ask questions, and discuss.
  • When someone gets really upset about something I’ve said then thats fine.

How do I share Christ with my friends?

  • Well firstly, you have your story, you have experienced the resurrected Christ who has saved you.
  • Your actions is a thousand times more powerful than anything you will ever say.
  • Secondly, we see hell around us all the time. So those who say they don’t believe in judgment, is actually wrong. There is injustice all around us. There is a longing in all of us to make things right.
  • When your friend acknowledges that there is something wrong with the world, then that is affirming that they already have this in them.
  • In Acts 14 Paul tells asks these people, who is it that you think fills your stomach with food? i’m here to give you a name for that.

Can you boil down the core controversy of your book, and how you have responded to that?

  • The core controversy is, don’t review a book that you haven’t read.
  • Why do the biblical writers, when they speak of Jesus, they speak of it affecting all things everywhere? Something is going on with him as big and wide as the cosmos. It makes people jittery because

Why are you speaking at a smaller venue?

  • Because in this venue, you and I can talk.

When is Ghandi’s second chance?

  • When it comes to the question of the second chance, a lot of people have said a lot of different things.
  • Some have said eventually it happens.
  • Some have said, no we get this lifetime only.
  • Some have said, immediately when you die, you get a second chance.
  • The Christian tradition has handled lots of different ways to answer this question.
  • After death it is all speculation.

Is there an author that has inspired you?

  • C.S. Lewis
  • Quantom Physics

Do you think if people reject God, at some point in time can people choose God?

  • If you look around the world, you see people choosing to do nasty things. We should long for heaven.

How has this affected your church? How do you prepare your leaders of your church for a book like this?

  • What is important for our community to be able to hold the idea, and to hold Rob.
  • Leadership read the final manuscript before it went out.
  • We prepared resources online for our community.
  • This book actually comes out of how we live life together.
  • Sometimes people think its the church’s job to think for them.
  • No, you think what you want, you figure it out.
  • In our culture, tension is something to be resolved. Are you this, or are you this?
  • The really courageous thing is to take a stand for both, and to say, can we handle this tension? Isn’t there a Christ that unites us both.

Have you noticed that you are getting more resistance from the people with the mindset of “hell, fire, and brimstone”?

  • When you have a huge culturally encoded faith, then you have a large number of people that were brought up in that, and they have found that it didn’t work for them.
  • But when someone else comes along and puts some different language to it then they understand it better.
  • Everyone is interested in a fresh insight on Jesus.

You talk about God being big enough to get everyone in the end, but in Matthew Jesus talks about if you repent and follow him then you will be saved, so how does God win everyone back, but at the same time Jesus says “this, this, and this, and you will be saved”?

  • I think we need saving from bitterness, and anger, and greed, and all of this. We need saving, and I believe Jesus saves.
  • His word is immediate and urgent.
  • If there is infinite peace, joy, and calm that comes from the creator of the universe, and being in conscious communion with your maker, you don’t want that later, you want that now.
  • His parables are urgent, immediate callings.
  • In the book I put you right in the tension of Jesus’ immediate call to trust, and the love of God for everyone, and if you lose either of those, then you either say “nothing matters”, or you end up with a whole series of problems with us as people judging whether people are in hell.
  • I am not going to resolve the tension, because it is not my job. I don’t know what is going to happen.

Is it possible to resist God’s love and grace continually, and where would you go if you were to resist it?

  • That is a great question.
  • What if I were to give you a really straightforward answer, and tell you how long you would be there.
  • That is a great question.
  • He is making a reference to C.S. Lewis “The Great Divorce”.
  • I have the same exact questions, and the answer is, I don’t know.

Is it an important distinction to call yourself a Christian?

  • I use the word Christian, and I call myself a Christian, because I need a path.
  • When I read the Gospels, we see that the first Christians were called followers of the way.

Is it okay to be a follower of Jesus and ask the question, did Jesus really have to die for God to love all of us?

  • In the New Testament, we find lots of different explanations for what happened on the cross.
  • Some people in the bible find a sacrificial account.
  • Others say, the problem is with death. On the cross Jesus defeated death.
  • Some say, it is about peace.
  • What the people are doing is putting it in language that their culture would understand.
  • Do I think we need saving? Yes.

What inspired you to want to bring this subject to light in 2011? What is the thing behind the thing?

  • My wife who is much smarter than I am. She calls herself the rudder. She asks, “What is God like?”
  • My understanding is that Jesus came to show us what God is really like. But it is very hard for us to trust.
  • Until our conceptions of the divine are fundamentally altered, we are in trouble.
  • God’s holiness is absolutely crucial, but Jesus dines with tax collectors and prostitutes. He hears people’s cries.

What do you say to people who are looking for a perfect church?

  • If you find a perfect church, don’t join one, because you’ll ruin it.
  • Where 2 or 3 are gathered, you have something going on.
  • If you find people who are hungry for something you are hungry for the Christ will be present there.
  • You may find a community in the most unexpected place.

How has the Catholic church influenced your walk with the Lord?

  • Our church grew quite quickly. It became awkward for my wife. She is introverted. She started going to a dominican center for classes, and it absolutely changed her and transformed her.
  • It transformed my understanding of the eucharist.
  • Some Catholics actually sometimes say to me “I think your Catholic.”
  • “The Holy Longing” – book you should read

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