years ago a book called ‘Velvet Elvis’ came out by this new kid on the block, rob bell, and everyone was reading it and telling me it was the greatest book ever and blah blah blah… i eventually got hold of it [was going thru my phase of taking my time to rush to trending books] and read it and didn’t particularly dig it all that much – it was ok and there were some moments but it didn’t really grab me…

then i heard Rob Bell was quite closely linked to brian mclaren and i read one of his books and didn’t dig it much at all and heard some stuff about him and his views on hell and some other stuff and really didn’t like what i heard and so kinda wrote him off a bit and included mister bell in that…

but then i saw a Nooma video or two and i got hold of his follow up book ‘Sex God’ which i really did enjoy and especially the chapter on women and submission [which i still hold today is one of the best explanations and understandings of it and my beautiful wife Val who was totally unamped with that bit in the Bible really dug what rob bell had to say and ‘got’ it a lot more] and i watched two of his movie preaches – ‘The Gods aren’t angry’ and ‘Everything is Spiritual’ and really enjoyed those and so gradually i have become a lot more open to rob bell’s stuff and enjoy a lot of what he has to say.

so i woke up this morning to find that he is trending and for all the wrong reasons. he has a new book coming out [note not out yet, so yes people are writing hardcore opinions about a book they for the most part haven’t read!] called ‘Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived’ and it comes with a promotional video which you can watch here which seems to be gathering a storm of controversiality and comment from christians the world over [slash americaland]

i haven’t read the book yet [as haven’t most of the people who are making definitive statements on why the book is so evil] but i enjnoyed the video and completely get why it would make people concerned about what Rob might say in the book, but still read the book before making definitive statements. Apparently John Piper’s response was a ‘Farewell Rob Bell’ Tweet with a link to the article, whereas Josh Harris [well-known author of “I kissed reading books before i commented on them goodbye”] also had some words to say [for some reason the link is not working or loading on my computer but try and see if it works for you]

another quite negative review is by a guy called Justin Taylor (no, not our Justin Taylor) which you can read here

and then finally i found a more positive review from someone who had actually read the book [as a book seller they got an advance copy] and their thorts you can find here.

i think the bottom line is that sometimes being well-meaning is not enuff – i remember a few years ago when a pastor in the eastern cape sent emails to a bunch of people warning them about some local pastors who had read and preached positive stuff about ‘the Shack’ another controversial’ish book that had come out – turns out he had not read it either but was a self-proclaimed expert on its content [which, having read the book and then his email rant i can tell he was completely not except perhaps in the area of missing-the-pointness]

so what is the bottom line? looks like rob bell got some great advertising for his new book and it’s something i will definitely look out for – but the bottom line is a little gem hidden in thessalonians which reminds us to ‘test the spirits. hold on to the good. avoid every kind of evil’ [1 thessalonians 5.21] – whether it’s rob bell or me or your pastor or the book you’re reading or sermon you’re downloading, we are urged to test what it says against the bible and if it holds up, the embrace it and if it doesn’t, then discard it… do the same with this one… but the whole public rob-bashing that is going on [in the name of love, hm] may be just another example of christians publically slating christians while non-christians are sitting back and watching and asking, “so you’re wanting us to join this party?”

go team.