What’s Wrong with Rob Bell?

The evangelical reaction to Rob Bell’s 2011 book “Love Wins” was pretty remarkable. All sorts of counter-books were released and every variety of statements were made. Some said their farewells to Rob Bell. Others questioned his “dangerous theology.”

What seemed strangest to me about the evangelical response to Rob Bell was its implicit rejection of the love of God. Does God desire the salvation of everyone? Francis Chan’s “Erasing Hell” answered “no.” Some of the response may be due to the contemporary resurgence of Calvinism, which includes belief in an “infallible decree” of “double predestination” that leaves one arbitrary group consigned to a self-made hell and another equally arbitrary group destined for eternal well-being in heaven. (Notably, one of the Twentieth Century’s hugest names in Reformed (Calvinistic) theology is Karl Barth, who rejected the infallible decree and with it the standard Calvinistic model of double predestination. But this is a tale for another time.) Calvinistic evangelical orthodoxy demands a silent submission to God’s heavenly slaughter-bench.

What I want to say is this: If evangelical leaders condemned Rob Bell for trying to make sense of a God of tangible goodness and genuine love, then do evangelical leaders really understand the Christ whom they claim to follow?