If Love Wins, How Come Earthquakes Happen?

Rob Bell, author of the controversial book Love Wins, is doing the news show/talk show circuit. I saw him on ABC yesterday, only to find out that he also appeared on MSNBC, and apparently the video of that latter interview has gone viral.

I can understand why. Martin Bashir, the MSNBC interviewer, asked pointed theological questions Mr. Bell struggled to answer. His talking points on the ABC appearance had to do with the kingdom of God being here and now, while people can create a hell for themselves because of their hateful attitudes and actions.

All of which does not address Man’s eternal destiny or God’s role as a judge or where He is in the midst of the suffering so poignantly playing before the world in Japan.

Tell the father who watched helplessly as his family washed out to sea that Love wins. Tell that to the nine-year-old who watches the bodies of his parents unearthed from the rubble that had been his home. Tell the people fleeing the radiation cloud that Love wins.

God wins, that is a fact. But the idea that in the here and now, love conquers all, seems naive.

The fact is, ever since sin entered the world, God never promised that love would win here on earth. Rather the opposite. He said the ground would be cursed and Man would survive by the sweat of his brow. What’s more, Man would die because the wages of sin is death. And in the here and now Man must grapple with this knowledge of good and evil, deal with Satan, and live with gender conflict. (See Genesis 3.)

Love wins?


Love wins because this world is not all there is.

Love wins because God didn’t abandon or forsake fallen Man.

Love wins because God so love the world.

Love wins because Jesus bore the sins of the world.

Yet, just as surely as Love wins, God will not be mocked.

Sadly, Rob Bell wants to make a case for love winning because Man can make a better world for himself here and now rather than the hell of hatred so many have locked themselves in.

This way of looking at heaven and hell sounds so good, but is so incomplete. And hurtful to the people who had no control over the shaking earth or surging water.

Their hope, according to Mr. Bell, is his speculation that after death they will confront Love and be won to Him. Never mind what the Bible says.

How can we not shout out to the watching world that God gives a greater hope because His Son took on the suffering due sinners, if only we believe? How can we cry peace, peace unless we make it clear that Jesus is the only source of peace?

Undoubtedly, the conversation about Love and heaven and hell is just getting started. It’s important and relevant and necessary. But if the hard-hitting MSNBC interview is any indication what is coming, I hope we all find a good Solid Rock on which to stand. 😀

Published in: on March 16, 2011 at 7:14 pm  Comments (13)  
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  1. I get what you are saying here, but I am not so sure that Rob Bell is arguing that love is winning right now either. I think he would say to your post that his gospel is better than yours because eventually, in the end, everyone will repent and be saved. So Bell can tell anyone not to worry because ultimately all of their loved ones who were lost in the earthquake and tsunami will end up in heaven because they will eventually trust in Christ and everyone will be saved.

    Further, I think that Bell would argue where you say that Jesus bore the sins of the world, that Jesus will actually saved everyone in the world from their sins and everyone in the end will actually believe.

    So his question is, I think, isn’t that more likeable, more pleasing for us, that eventually God’s love will bring everyone to faith and repentance?


  2. Have you read the book yet? I’d like to read your full, thoughtful review on it.


  3. Thanks for linking to the interview. This is fascinating…



  4. Why is it that our natural desire is for everyone to somehow end up going through the pearly gates? It might seem to suggest that we are more loving than the God who would not. Or it might suggest that we don’t know ‘holy’ or ‘justice’. It might mean we want to indulge our flesh now, without a judgment later. What’s wrong with that hope?

    Earthquakes speak otherwise.


  5. Thomas, a lot of what I wrote was based on the ABC interview on Good Morning America with George Stephanopoulos, the video that did not go viral. Mr. Stephanopoulos pretty much gave Mr. Bell a pass to elaborate on his talking points.

    I haven’t read the book yet, but I suspect it has more to say about how we are to treat one another than it says about heaven as the place God is preparing for those who love Him and hell as the place He has prepared for punishment.

    In other words, despite the subtitle of his book, I think Mr. Bell is de-emphasizing the “eternal destiny” message of Scripture. His focus, it would seem, is on us loving and forgiving and accepting our neighbors.

    He said he does have a chapter of his book about hell.

    A chapter?

    Clearly, he’s saying something other than what one might expect if he has so little to say about something Jesus brought up with some frequency.



  6. Bram, as I mentioned to Thomas, I haven’t read the book yet. I’d like to, but I’ll have to wait until it comes to a library near me. I have no intention of paying money for something I believe to be in contradiction of Scripture. Unfortunately, I think all this controversy is probably selling books fast enough to boost Love Wins to the top of the NYT best-seller list.

    Luke, I think the interviews are interesting, too. If you watch the one I linked to in the comment to Thomas, you’ll see how different Mr. Bell was — more relaxed, more focused, more on point with his message. In the MSNBC interview, Martin Bashir, I believe, led him into waters he wanted to avoid.



  7. Bob, you’ve sussed out my point exactly — earthquakes and tsunamis, floods, famines, volcanoes all speak of God’s power that is beyond our control. We are in such danger because we look to science to explain it all and generate “save the planet” campaigns, as if we can manipulate these elements we don’t really even understand.

    In reality, we should be on our faces before God, repenting. And we Christians should be there too, in awe and worship, thanking Him for His mercy that found even me.



  8. Becky,

    Judge the work, not your suspicions. This is creeping up the strawman meter I’m afraid. If it’s worth devoting so much time to criticize, It would be worth the $10.99 to send it to your Kindle.

    I think it’s possible that Rob is crossing a line. But if so, and which one we won’t know until we’ve heard him out. And the book is the message, not the 2 minute interview excerpts with setup questions.


  9. Bram, just one point in response to your final comment: “Two minute interviews with setup questions” give the opportunity for the specifics of the gospel which Mr. Bell failed to articulate. People often “discuss” many facets of the Word, but there is just no arguing that you accept Jesus Christ as the doorway to God IF you’re a Christian. If you’re something else, then you can be passive about this life, the next perceived one, eternal destiny(s), and anything else in religion(s). If you’re a Christian, you know you’re a sinner who’s going to die. You have your lifetime, however long or short, to accept Jesus and His sacrifice to get yourself to heaven. Game over when you’re dead.


  10. Bram, before I could spend the $10.99 (really? for a 200 pp book?) I’d have to spend the $159 (or whatever they’re going for these days) for a Kindle. 😉

    I don’t believe I have to read his book, though, to comment on what he said publicly in his promotional video, interview on GMA with George Stephanopoulos, ans interview on MSNBC with Martin Bashir. He’s voicing his views for public consumption. I can disagree with what he said in those venues.

    However, you might be interested in reading a review by someone who actually has read the book – a blogger who has many positive things to say about Rob Bell.



  11. Love does win….as God is love and He will in the end judge all men by and through Jesus Christ. Just as certain people will believe unto righteousness others will be hardened in their sins and die unrepentant. there is absolutely zero biblical evidence that would suggest that ” hearts will be melted ” in the eternity that must come to us all in death.

    the rich man was neither repentant in His attitude towards a just God nor towards Lazarus who he neglected in the here and now. He even accuses God of not having provided enough proof for Him to have believed….utter rubbish as the reply is ” even if one would come back from the dead they would not believe…”

    well one did come back from the dead and He will rule and reign over all creation…His love will win and it is a pity that some will find themselves on the outside of it.


  12. Luther, well said! Thanks for your comment.



  13. […] reminded me of the interviews I heard with Rob Bell when his book Love Wins first released (see “If Love Wins, How Come Earthquakes Happen?”). He made much of the fact that Jesus said the kingdom was near, was within, and he ignored any […]


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