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On Rob Bell and Hellgate 2

March 28, 2011

I haven’t had a lot of time to read lately, but I’m about a quarter of the way through Love Wins (for my thoughts on the controversy about the book, see my first post). I’m trying to take my time through it so I can post a helpful review when I’m done. And its definitely an interesting book. So far I’ve found little to dislike – I just finished the chapter on Heaven (Chapter 2 – Here is the New There), and liked it a lot. While I don’t plan to do this with every chapter, I thought I would post some quotes that I found particularly helpful or interesting.

“Heaven, for Jesus, was deeply connected with what he called ‘this age’ and ‘the age to come.'”  (30)

“One of the most striking aspects of the pictures the prophets used to describe this reality is how earthy it is. Wine and crops and grain and people and feasts and buildings and homes. It’s here they were talking about, this world, the one we know – but rescued, transformed, and renewed.”  (34)

“And so they spoke of a cleansing, purging, decisive day when God would make those judgments. They called this day the ‘day of the Lord.’ The day when God says ‘ENOUGH!’ to anything that threatens the peace (‘shalom’ is the Hebrew word), harmony, and health that God intends for the world.”  (37)

“How we think about heaven, then, directly affects how we understand what we do with our days and energies now, in this age. Jesus teaches us how to live now in such a way that what we create, who we give our efforts to, and how we spend our time will all endure in the new world. . . . Around a billion people in the world today do not have access to clean water. People will have access to clean water in the age to come, and so working for clean-water access for all is participating now in the life of the age to come.”  (44-45)

“Jesus teaches us to pursue the life of heaven now and also then, anticipating the day when earth and heaven are one.”  (46)

“So when people ask, ‘What will we do in heaven?’ one possible answer is to simply ask: ‘What do you love to do now that will go on in the world to come?'”  (47)

“What Jesus is insisting with the rich man is that certain things simply will not survive in the age to come. Like coveting. And greed. The one thing people won’t be wanting in the perfect peace and presence of God is someone else’s life.”  (49)

“What we find Jesus teaching, over and over and over again, is that he’s interested in our hearts being transformed, so that we can actually handle heaven. . . . Jesus calls disciples in order to teach us how to be and what to be; his intention is for us to be growing progressively in generosity, forgiveness, honesty, courage, truth telling, and responsibility, so that as these take over our lives we are taking part more and more and more in life in the age to come, now.”  (50-51)

“According to Jesus, then, heaven is as far away as that day when heaven and earth become one again and as close as a few hours.”  (55)

There’s some really great stuff in this chapter. Of course, I would encourage anyone reading this post not to jump to conclusions based on these quotes – its still important to actually read the book before drawing conclusions about it. But so far – and he hasn’t really talked about hell at all yet beyond asking some excellent, thought-provoking questions – I’m enjoying it.

It is also worth nothing that in this chapter he is drawing a lot on N.T. Wright’s fantastic book about heaven and the afterlife, Surprised by Hope. If you’re at all interested in the topic, I can’t recommend Wright’s book highly enough.

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From → Faith

3 Comments
  1. i loved it. really. i mean, before i read it i said a quick prayer and God had the heads up to tell me if it was nonsense or not. he didnt. i also wasnt looking for the controversy, i just wanted to see what it was about. i thought it was fantastic. there were 2 places where i thought, “i cant go there right now without really re-evaluating a lot of what i think.” but other than that, it was a good read. in the end it made me want to be a better person, it has struck up lots of conversation, and made me think. all in all, a recipe for a good book. i have one lady at our church who is reading it, she is not really a christian at all but i feel like this book is just the thing she needs to open her world to closer to Jesus. so, not for nothing, but i dug it.

  2. essnyder permalink

    Have you read Donald Miller’s post on Love Wins? You should.

  3. Jake Christian permalink

    Justin – Love hearing your thoughts about the book, and glad to hear you liked it. I’m still working through it, but I’m enjoying it so far.

    Neil – I have seen Miller’s post. Not exactly helpful. But funny. 🙂

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