This isn’t a critical review of Love Wins. There’s enough of those on the Internet; even Mars Hill has issued a response to some of the questions posed by the book.
Instead, I want to help you decide whether you should invest the time (and money) to read it
- To answer the question: Rob Bell is not a universalist. At no point does he affirm that everyone will go to heaven, regardless of whether they have faith in Christ. Bell at no point states that everyone will eventually come to faith in Christ, either in this life or the next, and by so doing empty hell of its occupants. Bell’s Calvinist critics owe him an apology, but given their eagerness to bid him “farewell” before the book was even published, I wouldn’t be surprised if one wasn’t forthcoming.
- If you’ve read C.S. Lewis, then you’ve sort of already read Love Wins. You can almost smell traces of The Great Divorce on this book’s pages. If you’ve read either that classic work by Lewis or even The Last Battle, then you’re not going to be surprised by what Bell has written.
- This isn’t a full-blown survey of the different views of hell. If you’re looking for an academic resource on how Christians throughout the ages have explained what happens to people after they die, this isn’t it.
- The second half of the book is better than the first. I didn’t read anything in the first four chapters that I hadn’t read in other (and better written) books. (Again, I’ll point you to Lewis’ The Great Divorce, as well as Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright.) In my opinion, the book picks up steam when Bell explores the meaning of the cross and resurrection. From there, Love Wins is a great read.
- It’s not worth $22.99. To my everlasting consternation, Bell avoids the usage of paragraphs in his books, which means it looks like a full book but it doesn’t contain the full content as one. If you’re trying to save money but still want to read Love Wins, I’d recommend waiting until you can combine enough coupons at Barnes & Noble. You could also go for the e-reader version, which is usually cheaper than the printed one. Or, you could wait a while for Love Wins to enter the bargain bin.