Rob Bell, God's Love & Evangelicalism

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What is the end of the teaching that God loves everyone?

[The following article was published in the Grand Rapids Press on April 14, 2011. In it, Engelsma demonstrates that the false doctrine of universal salvation is merely the logical development of the false doctrine of a universal love of God for all men.]

God's love can't be defeated

The opposition in Grand Rapids to Pastor Rob Bell's book, 'Love Wins', surprises me ('Past couple of weeks 'most painful', pastor says', Press, April 6).

The reason for [Rob Bell's] doubt about eternal punishment is his conviction that God loves all humans and desires to save them all. His argument is simple: Those who are loved by God will not perish. The title of the middle chapter of the book is, 'Does God Get What He Wants?'

If the premise is right (God loves all humans), the conclusion is sound - and orthodox (there is no hell).

The love of God cannot be defeated. As Pastor Bell puts it: 'Love wins'. As the Reformed faith puts it: 'The love of God is sovereign'.

The day I am convinced that God loves all humans without exception, on that day I become a universalist - a very bold universalist.

Most of those opposing Bell share his conviction about the universality of the love of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

But they condemn his conclusion.

For them, the love of God fails.

This is worse heresy.

David J. Engelsma,
Professor of Theology, Emeritus
Protestant Reformed Seminary,
Grand Rapids

For further reading on the biblical teaching of God's love, how it always saves and how it is not for everyone, see
'God so loved the world...' [Pamphlet]
'God is Love' [Speech]