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CIU Professor Responds to Rob Bell’s Controversial Book

April 08, 2011

By Abbey Shoemaker

CIU Student Writer

The book “Love Wins” is causing a stir in the evangelical community.  It’s written by The Rev. Rob Bell, the founding pastor of Mars Hill, a rapidly growing mega-church located in Grandville, Mich. near Grand Rapids.    

A Columbia International University chapel featured a critique of “Love Wins” given by CIU theology professor Dr. Larry Dixon, and included some self-examination for the student body.  Of CIU’s five core values, two were mentioned in this chapel.  Evangelical Unity – extending fellowship to as many as possible while excluding as few as possible – was evaluated in light of the core value of the Authority of Scripture.

Dixon, who is the author of the book “The Other Side of the Good News,” addressed the student body on the difference between having a critical mind and a critical spirit.  Admonishing students, faculty, and staff alike, Dixon noted the importance of a careful study of Scripture when reading “Love Wins.” 

Dixon pointed out several things about Bell’s book for which he was grateful: Bell’s courage in taking on such a critical issue, the passion he displays in his writing and the picture he paints of the abundant life believers in Christ can experience.  Quoting extensively from “Love Wins,” Dixon also highlighted what he says appears to be a case for universalism in Bell’s book.

The primary focus of the chapel message was not aimed at Bell or “Love Wins,” rather it was an honest look at the implications of universalism, and showing that universalism is not justified biblically.

Dixon said that Bell advocates remedial rather than a retributive view of hell where judgment has a point, and consequences are for correction. 

“That basically means that God is not punishing the sinner forever,” Dixon said.  “Hell is a kind of school in which everybody graduates.” 

Chapel ended in a time of prayer for Bell, for the CIU family to seek wisdom in response to Bell and his book, and for a holy boldness in sharing the gospel with the whole world. 

After chapel, Dixon met with 85 students over lunch who peppered him with questions.  

“I’m glad we are free to talk through tough issues here,” said CIU junior Stephanie Livesay.  “I want to read ‘Love Wins’ and see for myself what Bell has to say, but I will read it carefully, like Dr. Dixon said. 

Dr. Larry Dixon’s complete critique is available on CIU’s “Mission of God” blog:

http://missionofgod.posterous.com/love-wins-or-jesus-rescues.  Or hear the chapel message at: http://feeds.feedburner.com/ciupodcast.