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God Wins: Heaven, Hell, and Why the Good News Is Better than Love Wins Paperback – July 19, 2011
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From the Inside Flap
Rob Bell's book, Love Wins, has generated a national conversation about ultimate issues, such as the nature of hell, heaven, and the ultimate destiny of humankind.Yet, the book has also created unnecessary confusion. God Wins is a response to the provocative questions Love Wins has raised. Mark Galli, in God Wins, will explore the important questions that are left unasked and the issues left uncharted. Mark shows how Love Wins is not enoughand there is even better news for our world.God Wins will have a small group discussion guide with relevant Scripture passages in the back of the book.
From the Back Cover
Does a loving God really send some people to hell?
Love Wins has sparked a national discussion about the ultimate fate of human beings that has gotten people asking a lot of questions. InGod Wins, Mark Galli, senior managing editor for Christianity Today, examines the various questions raised by the bookLove Wins . . . and what the Bible says and doesnt say about these issues. Mark maintains that Love Wins isnt deep or rich enoughand that there is even better news for humanity. God Wins. This book explores the biblical concept of what God Wins means, and compares and contrasts that idea with the issues raised in Love Wins. With a small-group discussion guide featuring relevant Scripture passages,God Wins is perfect for both individuals and groups seeking clarity concerning these crucialand eternalquestions.
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In this 2011 book, Galli critiques young megachurch pastor Rob Bell's book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. He observes in his Introduction that while Bell's book is peppered with questions that get at the heart of some of the most theologically troubling issues in the Christian faith, "Unfortunately, Bell's answers are difficult to grasp."
Galli defends our right to ask questions of God, but advises that we shouldn't take our questions too seriously, because (citing the example of Job) "apparently God doesn't take them too seriously." (Pg. 12)
Galli finds Bell's arguments in the chapter on Hell to be "the most incoherent in the book." (Pg. 94)
Conservatives may be upset when Galli suggests that the Bible doesn't say much about the exact nature of hell: "fire? darkness? conscious torment? annihilation?" (Pg. 111) He affirms that we are never to make judgments about who is in hell, yet admits that we are simply not told how God deals with people such as Hitler and bin Laden---for example, "whether bin Laden got a last-second chance to repent, as did the thief on the cross." (Pg. 112)
He argues against the concept of annihilation on the grounds that once a human being has been created in the image of an eternal God, he or she "cannot be uncreated by anyone." (Pg. 127) (This argument may not be persuasive to some evangelicals, of course.)
Finally, Galli asks that we accept the "apparent contradictions" of God's love and justice, since there are other "contradictions" (e.g., how Jesus could be both human and divine) that we have learned to accept in faith. (Pg. 148-149)
This book (along with Michael Wittmer's Christ Alone: An Evangelical Response to Rob Bell's "Love Wins") is an excellent counterpoint to Bell's thought-provoking book.
That's when Galli discusses how Zechariah, upon being told by Gabriel that his wife would give birth to their son (John the Baptist), wondered: "how can I be sure this will happen?" Considering he was a man of advanced age, and his wife up there in years, too, it was a legitimate question. But Gabriel silenced him for daring to question. Made him MUTE until his son would be born.
Galli doesn't seem to find any of this strange. It's in the Bible, after all - therefore, it must be true. It seems he misses the point entirely that those who would seek to read Love Wins are looking for some answers to Christianity BESIDES the ones that Galli rehashes - that it is not for us to question, but to obey.
Galli is correct, however, that some of Love Wins' arguments are not particularly cohesive. In that sense, Bell would have been better off dismissing Biblical passages that were incongruous with universalism, rather than stretching them beyond capability to make them fit into that worldview.
The author, Mark Galli, is an editor at Christianity Today. He is well versed in the subject matter. He certainly displays a loving attitude in his response to Bell. If anything is wrong with 'God Wins' it may be that the author is a bit too willing to see the good side of Bell's book and is a bit soft in his criticism. In spite of that, this book is worth reading.
Whereas Bell's book pushes a universalistic (and unscriptural) view of heaven and hell, Galli does a good job of making a Scriptural case for his views. He understands that Bell's book portrays a completely unbalanced view of God (all love and no undertanding of God's holiness).
I would say that this is a must read for anyone who has read 'Love Wins' and it is a good read for anyone else.