Review - Rob Bell, “Love Wins”

If you frequent the blogosphere, you’re probably glad to see the recent controversy surrounding Rob Bell subside. I know I am.

But amidst the aftermath of Love Wins’ release, I had the privilege (?) of reviewing the book in the May edition of my denominational magazine, the MB Herald.

You can read my review here - “Heaven and Hell, Here and Now.”

I’ll admit, I was a little nervous publishing my opinion on what has become such a polarizing issue. I didn’t anticipate so much prayer going into a book review! Likely I’ve pegged myself in some way - Bell sympathizer? Evasive? Fair? Unfair? We’ll see. There isn’t a comments function for the online version of the article, so it will be hard to gauge people’s specific response (maybe that’s a good thing!).

But the process got me thinking about the role of pastoral ministry. In particular, the public nature of being a church leader. Prior to my life as a pastor, my wife helpfully reminded me that there are times when I’ll have to make up my mind on issues. Leadership rarely happens on the fence. Wise words from a wise woman!

And so I offer my review of Love Wins tentatively, yes, but also confident in my assessment of the book. I don’t want to get caught solely trying live up to others expectations (or perceived expectations at least). For the review, I wondered, what will happen if I’m not critical enough of Rob Bell? Or overly critical? I tried not to let this sway my opinion. It was my book review after all.

I also think good leadership is more than authoritative opinion. If I reflect on leaders I admire their lasting influence usually relates not to their ability to provide authoritative answers to difficult questions, but how they lead others through the transformative process of answering these questions for themselves. Christian leadership, then, is about whole-person discipleship not just authoritative opinions. I wonder what would happen if people could read Bell and others through this leadership grid?

Hopefully my review is seen as but one voice on the journey of faith and life as people wrestle with the reality of heaven and hell, here and now...


Anonymous said...

Hi David, to me a book review succeeds -- is a "good" review, that is -- when I have a sense at the end of reading the review what the book is about, what the author's thesis is, that is (I'm talking non-fiction, of course), and something of the author's style. When I sense a respect of the author and a wish to understand what the author wanted to do in spending months, maybe years, writing this book. (A recent MBH review became controversial when the reviewer rushed to critique before reporting what the book was about.) Further, it's a "good" review when there's some thoughtful placement of the book against other ideas on the topic, and then perhaps a question or two that will give the reader some thoughts about what they may want to think about reading the book, or whether in fact they will want to read it. By all these counts, IMO, you did excellently -- so good job on a "good" review!

David Warkentin said...

Thanks Dora! Your encouraging review of my review means a lot!

I like how you outline the purpose of a book review. Addressing subject matter respectively seems to have been missed by many in their response to Bell, and is a timely reminder.

Kurt Willems said...

David, I am an MB in the USA. I hope that the Christian Leader will consider publishing your review. Charitable. Clear. Excellent. Thanks for your thoughts!

David Warkentin said...

Hello Kurt,

Thanks for the kind words! Glad to connect the MB dots!

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