Last week, I wrote about Rob Bell and the promotional campaign for his new book Love Wins. While a faction of Christians were skewering Bell online, because of Love Wins, I thought people should wait for the book to be out before judging it and condemning Bell as a universalist and heretic. I also thought, but didn’t say in the blog, that we should wait for Bell to speak and address some of the criticisms of his book, and theology, before trying to interpret his thoughts, beliefs and opinions.

The book is out now. Rob Bell has spoken. What do we know?

Bell denies being a universalist. However, his words and actions on the topic are ambiguous. The people that criticized Bell don’t need to back down.

Most of the interviews I’ve seen with him, since he just started making himself available to press, he dances around direct questions. Direct questions about Christianity that have easy, direct answers. Yet, he chooses to answer by not answering the questions. He’ll instead go off on a tangent, or share some story that might be related to the question. It’s like he’s trying to filibuster.

It’s nothing new. The last book I read by Bell was Sex God. My response to that book was, “Meh.” I haven’t read any work of his since then because I didn’t think there was anything substantial in the content. After listening to various interviews with him, hearing him share content from Love Wins, and having read some excerpts of Love Wins, I think I would be wasting my time to read this book cover to cover. Any interest I had in reading Love Wins, due to the controversy that stirred up over the promo, has dissipated.

I still think Bell is a good artist, speaker and storyteller. Of course, what’s the content of what’s being communicated? It’s disappointing to hear some of Bell’s responses to questions. The content is lacking.

The big winner is still HarperCollins’ and how they did a masterful job of promoting and marketing Love Wins. On Amazon’s best-seller lists right now, Love Wins is #1 on the Faith chart and #5 overall. From a marketing perspective, there’s a lot to learn about how to maximize exposure, interest and return with this campaign for Love Wins.

Instead of hitting on statements Bell says that I have contention with, I’ll post links that do a better job of addressing the issues. I’ll also embed some of the interviews with Bell here. I will highlight Martin Bashir’s interview with Bell because he presses Bell to answer the questions and not dodge them.

Tim Keller’s article The Importance of Hell
Christianity Today’s review of Love Wins
Kevin DeYoung’s review of Love Wins
Tim Schraeder’s notes from Lisa Miller’s interview of Rob Bell (3.14.2011)

Lisa Miller’s interview of Rob Bell (3.14.2011). Bell takes stage around fourteen minute mark.

George Stephanopolous’ interview with Rob Bell (3.15.2011)

Martin Bashir’s interview with Rob Bell (3.15.2011)

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