One thing that is certain about Bell and his book: This book will sell a lot of copies. A lot.
I remember when I was in high school (not that it was that long ago) hearing Bell for the first time in the Nooma video, Dust. I was mesmerized. I would go on to actually see several of the videos in youth group. I also read and discussed Velvet Elvis with mysmall group. We all know about the trampoline and the brick wall. (Perhaps this was a precursor to what has been said (or not said, which is really saying something) recently.)
But what I do know is that we will all be buying this book. Either for those that love Bell and will embrace his teaching, or those that love him and will set this to the side, or shake the dust of their Rabbi from their feet. Then there will be those of us who are stuck reading the book because our friends, family, and flocks will be picking up the book. Emergent or Emerging or however you find it best to nail the Jello to the wall, Rob Bell has a large voice in Evangelicalism (however you might nail that Jello to the wall as well). Its much like the Shack, or 90 minutes in Heaven, or like all those other books that find their ways on to your positive and encouraging radio station. This book has already caused a stir in Evangelicalism. Don’t believe me? Get on twitter or venture into the realm of online bloggers. (Justin Taylor’s post is worth reading, and you can view the video there.)
Is Bell a Universalist? I’m not sure. It sure seems to look that way from the video about the book. Time shall tell and on the 29th of March we will all have our copies and find ourselves blogging again. I pray this work of Bell’s even if it proves to be unorthodox will be of good providence of God to advance his kingdom. It calls for orthodox teaching on the exclusivity of the gospel, the doctrines of Heaven and Hell, regeneration, justification, evangelism, and one can keep going with things that need be addressed in light of Universalism. For this I am thankful. Time shall tell. Blogs will be posted. Harper Collins will be glad they published the book. Bell will probably get more attention than ever. Attention will be drawn from the media. The media will draw attention. Praise be to God in all of this the gospel will be proclaimed and truth will still be truth.