I've just finished reading Rob Bell's most recent book Love Wins. While I'm not going to actually review the book here (There are plenty of decent, balanced reviews out there) I would like to offer a few thoughts on reading in general and Bell's book in particular. I think it's safe to say that Bell's book has stirred up a bit of a hornets nest in certain parts of the Christian world. I've scanned some reviews and discussion forums addressing the content of Love Wins and have to the following conclusion: Too many of us are afraid of what we read. Or to be more specific, we are afraid of reading anything that challenges our current thinking and belief system. We're afraid of reading anything that takes us out of our comfort zones.
This fear of what we read may explain some of the extreme response to Bell's book and this is really unfortunate. Without going into too much detail I found Love Wins quite interesting and engaging. As a United Church of Canada minister I disagree with some of the things he says but I find his overall approach decent and healthy. His questions and insights are challenging and thought provoking. He comes across as an extremely intelligent person who doesn't seem to be afraid of butchering some sacred cows. He may offer some strong opinions on more traditional beliefs but I don't think he crosses any lines in doing so.
Through the years I've promised myself that I would never be afraid of what I've read and I've been able to keep that promise for the most part. It's because of this promise that I have been able to read some strong and scary things. But in reading those books and articles I've always reserved the right to agree and disagree with the content. I've also reserved the right to either incorporate an idea into my current thinking and beliefs or let it go so that I can move on to something else.
I've read entire books and tossed them aside because I couldn't find anything that would help me grow or learn. I've read a lot I couldn't agree with. But even in these situations I have been thankful for the opportunity read the book and make up my own mind accordingly. We have a responsibility to read the works of people we do not always agree with. We also have a responsibility to think about what they have to say. This is how we learn and grow. This is how we mature as both Christians and thinking citizens living in a democracy.
In Love Wins Rob Bell has written an interesting and eye opening book. He's thrown his ideas into the public forum for our consideration and debate. While we can come to our own conclusions about what he writes we cannot be afraid of any of it. There's no need to be afraid of anything we read.
Read wisely. Mike Jones