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Rob Bell on Universalism, Orthodoxy


Between continuing coverage of the earthquake aftermath in Japan and The Bachelor finale, about 6,000 people tuned in online tonight to watch Rob Bell discuss his upcoming book Love Wins to a crowd in New York City.

Bell answered some questions from Newsweek's Lisa Miller about heaven, hell, Jesus, God, indirectly responding to questions raised on Justin Taylor's blog that suggested he is a universalist. Skip to about minute 14 in the video below for the hour-long video of the event.

"Click here to view the video."

Watch live streaming video from lovewins at livestream.com

Taylor's post has about 30,000 Facebook "recommends," where readers who click the button add a link to the article on their personal Facebook pages, a small indication of the traffic generated over the discussion. Several authors, bloggers, tweeters have weighed in on the debate, so here's a brief round-up attempt:

Reviews so far include Tim Challies, Kevin DeYoung, Denny Burk, and CT's Mark Galli. More reactions come from Roger Olson, Mark Driscoll, and Margaret Feinberg.

Tim Schrader has a nice point-by-point summary of Bell's interview tonight, including:

Are you Universalist?


No, if by Universalist you mean that there's a giant cosmic arm that sweeps down and scoops every one in regardless of their wanting to go there or not.

...Your book has been, even before any one read it, criticized as being heretical. What's so controversial?

Other people could answer that better than I could.

I think that grace and love always rattle people.

Do I think that I am Evangelican Orthodox to the bone? Yes.

USA Today's Cathy Lynn Grossman has updated quotes from Taylor and Rich Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary.

Now that he has read all 200 pages, Taylor is even more convinced of Bell's errors. "Whether you like it or not, the Bible presents true teaching and warns against false teachers, even those who look like great people," says Taylor, digging at Bell's highly stylized videos circulating online and among churches coast to coast."

But Richard Mouw, president of the world's largest Protestant seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary based in Pasadena, Calif., calls Love Wins "a great book, well within the bounds of orthodox Christianity and passionate about Jesus.

The real hellacious fight, says Mouw, a friend of Bell, a Fuller graduate, is between "generous orthodoxy and stingy orthodoxy. There are stingy people who just want to consign many others to hell and only a few to heaven and take delight in the idea. But Rob Bell allows for a lot of mystery in how Jesus reaches people."

CNN's Eric Marrapodi reported last week on Bell's split with his former publisher Zondervan.

Bell's split from Zondervan came in part over this new book. "The break with Zondervan was amicable," Tauber said. "In the end the president of Zondervan made the decision. The proposal came in and they said, 'This proposal doesn't fit in with our mission.' "

Zondervan would not discuss its relationship with Bell but released a statement...

Tauber said when he got the call that Bell's new book was up for bid, HarperOne jumped at the chance.

"There were at least four or five major publishers that were involved in bidding for this book," he said. When pressed for financial figures of the deal, he said, "We're talking a six-figure deal for the advance, but I can't say more than that."

If you watched tonight's interview, how do you think Bell did? Will you buy Love Wins?

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