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Showing 1-7 of 7 reviews(4 star). Show all reviews
on November 17, 2011
This is an unusual book to review in that it is a study guide to interact with in community. It's also meant to be taken one step at a time walking through questions not a fly by. So it will be interesting to hear down the road from folks who have journeyed with the material together.

Some initial thoughts:
I expected Rob Bell to use scholars to "prove" his leanings toward universalism. However, The LW Companion did not appeal to anyone contemporary who is overtly universalistic. At the end he quotes some early church fathers (and others who are hopeful universalists and one annihilationist). I found it compatible with LW in his non-committal universalism. He makes what appears to be a very strong case for it only to later claim he's agnostic: "Ultimately no one knows the answer" (pg 79). (This created for me a major tension that I will mention later.)

Rob Bell is clearly a lover of Scripture. He includes a chapter entitled "Becoming a Deep Reader of Scripture" where we are encouraged to "take in great swaths at a time" in order to see the big picture of God's Story. He cites and quotes copious amounts of Scripture throughout and even devotes an entire chapter as a step by step tutorial on how to do word studies using a lexicon, concordance etc.,

A brief overview of the book:
Bell utilizes many different voices, giving them considerable space, to fill out the vision of the Kingdom through their stories of grace and redemption. Some of the authors include N T Wright, Don Miller, Anne Lamott and Frederick Buechner. There are questions at the end of each chapter to gently help people work through their religious baggage of fear and censorship and also for working through the texts of Scripture.

The book starts out with two foundational premises: God is love and can be trusted: therefore "it's ok to think" and ask questions. (BTW, this is the opposite of Chan who chided questions as most likely arrogance and relegated the point of "God's nature as love" to BEYOND the last pages of his book...to the LAST question of his appendix!)

We are reminded that we all come to the Bible with filters, lenses and in some cases blinders. So we are challenged at the first with the question, "do we want to see"? That is, are we willing to see if we may be wrong on this? Now here is my frustration with the book. Wrong about what? He makes argument after argument how it appears that God is going to restore "ALL" (ok, hope's up) and later concedes by saying we can't really know (hope's down). So the question is if Bell is remaining agnostic on this issue what is he asking us to be willing to see? I must assume he is referring to seeing God's redemption as wider (not necessarily a guarantee for all). But most Christians secretly believe this anyway. Perhaps he means to push those farther along who are on the edge of universal reconciliation while not alienating those who are just not ready to embrace a full fledged evangelical universalist (?)

As in LW his treatment of the Kingdom was timely and prophetic. Once again he generates the passion and urgency to participate in the Kingdom that is now. Not surprisingly N. T. Wright was chosen to fill out this topic reminding us that, "the 'kingdom of heaven' is not about people going to heaven. It is about the rule of heaven coming to earth". Eternal life is sharing in the life that is God's, a quality of life which begins now. Not a linear quantity.

All in all the Companion was not quite the material I had expected but I believe it is an important addition to the conversation over the topic of "heaven and hell and the fate of everyone who has ever lived". There is much that speaks to the heart and that paints the picture a little brighter and clearer for those just exploring the idea that the Story of God may just be bigger than they have been led to believe.

One of the last questions asked in the book is "How have your views changed since reading Love Wins?" I will say briefly that LW+C brought about a leap in my understanding of and response to the call to discipleship. Instead of trying to hit the moving target of believing "this" so as to make sure I ended up "there" when I die I now see the call to follow Christ now, today (and LOVE is not a moving target). LW+C places the vision of discipleship within the overall Story of God's Kingdom using human stories to increase and empower that vision.

I hope this book will ignite a hunger to know more and to wonder: "Is the thing God is up to in the world through Jesus going to be smaller or bigger than our imagination? Is it going to shrink, or is it going to be something more expansive than we first thought? ...Does God fail? Is history tragic?" (pg 78) I pray wonder will grow into certainty within the church that God is good, that "He is loving to all He has made" and that He is "making all things new". This is the news that is truly good and the news that is an unconditional and irrevocable proclamation that, "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself...therefore be reconciled to God".

For further study of Ultimate Restoration see:
Talbott's, The Inescapable Love of God,
Gregory MacDonald's, Evangelical Universalist,
Gerry Beauchemin's Hope Beyond Hell The Righteous Purpose of God's Judgment
or godslovewins dot com: A Case for Evangelical Universalism ("Is everything sad going to come untrue?")
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on August 9, 2013
This is a good supplement to the main text Love Wins. It is somewhat repetitive, but also adds more clarity from Rob Bell about what he was thinking when writing a given chapter and it has some supplemental reading material that is useful. It serves to make clear Bell's dependence, or at least symbiosis, with N.T. Wright's theology and N.T. commentary. It was a helpful resource in leading a discussion group on the main text.
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on January 7, 2015
"Love Wins" is an outstanding book that provides a very creative way of looking at some major issues related to Christianity. I found that the Companion offered useful supplementary material concerning the matters discussed in the book.
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on September 9, 2014
I've been using the Love Wins Companion as a teaching tool for a Sunday school class at church. The material & questions are very thought-provoking and have created some great discussions.

I would definitely recommend this book if you are reading Love Wins for a class or book discussion group.
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on April 13, 2013
For those who are now on the fence for their beliefs after reading LOVE WINS, this companion helps and is good for small group studies. I recommend it .
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on January 16, 2013
Did a Bible Study using this book with its companion book. Makes you think a lot about Heaven and Hell.
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on July 13, 2015
Have not finished. great start
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