Seminary-president’s take on “Love Wins” (in language a non-seminarian can understand!)

3.30.2011 — 2 Comments

Dr. Timothy C. Tennent has been the president of Asbury Theological Seminary since 2009. He recently blogged his 4-part review of “Love Wins”, the controversial book by Rob Bell, and had a great deal to say about the book, both the negatives AND the positives.

Dr. Tennent entitles his review, “Why Rob Bell needs to return to Seminary… and bring along quite a few contemporary evangelical pastors”


Dr. Tennent gives 5-reasons we should be wary of the theology presented in the book:
1. Rob profoundly misunderstands the Biblical notion of God’s “love.”
2. Bell has an inadequate understanding of Sin – not the little ‘s’ kind, but the big “S” kind.
3. Bell has an inadequate understanding of the Kingdom of God.
4. Bell’s solution exalts Christ’s work on the cross, but in the process sacrifices or ignores major themes in Scripture.
5. Bell drives a wedge between the ontological (theoretical) necessity of Christ’s work and the epistemological (scientific) response of explicit repentance and faith.

Some great quotes from Dr. Tennent’s review:

Perhaps we need a recall and a re-tooling of a largely Christendom trained clergy to a clergy better prepared for a post-Christendom world which desperately needs a robust gospel, not a domesticated one. Bell has been listening to the church and to the culture and he has insightfully diagnosed that the church is theologically anemic. Bell is saying, in effect, “Houston, we have a problem…” and for that I applaud him.

The entire premise of the book is to declare that God’s essence is “love” (which Bell states repeatedly). However, Bell never actually describes the biblical and theological relationship between God’s joyful engagement with the human race and God’s justice upon which the very gospel he celebrates is declared.

…Bell understands that we all sin, but he doesn’t seem to comprehend that we, as a race, are part of a vast rebellion against God’s holiness. Without Christ we, as a race, stand under condemnation and desperately need a divine rescue.

Bell’s argument is that you may, indeed, belong to a different religion, such as Islam, but it is Christ who saves you. You may be a practicing Buddhist or Hindu, but God is counting your faith as faith in Christ. It is a sort of Christocentric pluralism known as inclusivism and serves as a kind of half-way house between exclusivism and pluralism.

  • Peter Heck

    Hey Stevan! Great to see this post. Been hearing a lot about Bell’s book – and what I was hearing had me pretty concerned about how many are following him down a dangerous path. After reading these quotes, I’m gonna check out the full review by Dr. Tennent. Thanks, and hope all is well with you.

    • Stevan

      Peter! Great to hear from you, friend! It’s been a while (well, almost 10-years, I’d say!) Good to see that you’re doing well and I’m having a blast catching up with you through this morning!