Rob Bell has, pardon the pun, turned up the heat on the internet with his latest release entitled, Love Wins. The blogosphere is all abuzz. You can read a summary of the concerns of Bell’s latest book, HERE and a balanced review of the book, Love Wins, HERE. Justin Taylor delves a little bit deeper into Love Wins and examines Bell’s use of Martin Luther’s words at his blog on the Gospel Coalition website. I’ve posted a few paragraphs below, please click through to read the rest of his excellent article.
One of the surprising points in Rob Bell’s Love Wins is that Martin Luther is cited as being open to second-chance salvation after death. Bell writes:And then there are others who can live with two destinations, two realities after death, but insist that there must be some kind of “second chance” for those who don’t believe in Jesus in this lifetime. In a letter Martin Luther, one of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation, wrote to Hans von Rechenberg in 1522 he considered the possibility that people could turn to God after death, asking: “Who would doubt God’s ability to do that?”
Again, a good question.
And so space is created in this “who would doubt God’s ability to do that?” perspective for all kinds of people—fifteen-year-old atheists, people from other religions, and people who rejected Jesus because the only Jesus they ever saw was an oppressive figure who did anything but show God’s love.
This is a good illustration of the difficulty that will face reviewers of this book. It’s easy to make a claim, but it takes time and effort to explain why the claim is wrong and to demonstrate the actual truth of the matter. To be sure, Bell’s misuse of Luther is relatively minor compared with, say, his handing of Scripture (which is among the worst I have ever seen in a published book). But it’s still instructive to work through even an offhand claim like this.