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Number of Pages: 200
Vendor: Tyndale House
Publication Date: 2011
|Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 X 1.00 (inches)|
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Beyond Smells & Bells: The Wonder and Power of Christian LiturgyMark GalliParaclete Press / 2008 / Trade Paperback$11.99 Retail:5 Stars Out Of 5 4 Reviews
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Erasing Hell: What God Said About Eternity, and the Things We've Made UpFrancis Chan, Preston SprinkleDavid C. Cook / 2011 / Trade Paperback$8.99 Retail:4.5 Stars Out Of 5 35 Reviews
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Galli begins by very charitably stating his purpose is not to critique Bell personally but to scrutinize the position he states through the lens of Scripture. He then takes a careful and considerate look at the major points of Bell's thesis and holds each point up to the truthful light of God's Word. The results are then left to the reader to decide.
The over-arching picture that emerges is one of simplicity. Galli very often is forced to point out that while Bell has not stated anything that of itself is heretical, he has also not given a full scriptural answer to the questions he raises and seeks to answer. In fact, Bell has reduced the message of salvation from a message of the good news that God has displayed His glory by accomplishing what mankind could never accomplish to a message that places God at man's disposal. By reducing the message of the gospel, Bell reduces the display of God's glory, minimizes the work of the Holy Spirit, and elevates man's role in salvation. In several short chapters -- I read the book in two sittings -- Galli presents a brief yet thorough synopsis of salvation that is every bit as compelling and easy to understand as many of Bell's essays and lectures. It is not the subject matter that is difficult to grasp, it is Bell's coverage of it that is insufficient.
Galli is as quick to point out where Bell is spot-on correct as he is to highlight errors or oversights. The book comes with a discussion guide that would prove beneficial to small groups studying the matter together. The appendix on charitable discussion is a great summary of what Galli has done in his book. The book is a great real-life application of those brief paragraphs.
The final conclusion, according to Galli, is that the winner is a Who (God), not a what (love). It is God who wins. I could not agree more. I commend this book to anyone interested in the subject of salvation, anyone who has already read Bell's Love Wins, as well as others who -- like me -- have not read Bell's book. Galli does a wonderful job bringing the Bible to bear on a subject that is of vital importance now to all believers. Charles Eldred, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
ronmCanadaAge: Over 65Gender: male4 Stars Out Of 5A well thought out reply to "Love Wins"December 18, 2011ronmCanadaAge: Over 65Gender: maleQuality: 5Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4Uses a logical and rational approach in his argument against the doctrinal issues raised by some of the points in Rob Bell's book "Love Wins" and presents his treatise well. I would recommend reading both books in tandem.
bookwomanjoanOak Harbor, WAAge: 55-65Gender: female4 Stars Out Of 5a conversational answer to Love WinsOctober 25, 2011bookwomanjoanOak Harbor, WAAge: 55-65Gender: femaleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4"This is a book that uses Love Wins as a starting point to talk about key theological issues..." (xviii)
Love Wins is full of questions. Galli starts out by distinguishing questions. Questions driven by faith and those driven by self-justification can be very similar. "God is pleased with the former, but not so pleased with the latter." (4) We think pretty highly of ourselves and our questions. Galli notes, on the other hand, that God frequently doesn't even bother to answer questions posed to him by biblical characters.
Love Wins is "ultimately thin and sentimental," Galli says. "It does not communicate the gravity, the thickness, the mystery of God." (18) He suggests we begin with God, transcendent, One who sits above us in the heavens. He commands, we obey.
Galli truly does use Love Wins as a stimulus to discuss theology. He spends much of his book speaking theologically on various topics. In that sense, this book is not specifically an "answer" to Love Wins. It is a good review, however, of the theology of sin, forgiveness, the incarnation, atonement, and the resurrection. He does note where Love Wins falls short of the accepted (by evangelicals, historically) understanding of those doctrines.
Galli's book reads more like a conversation rather than a theological text. He likens the theology contained within Love Wins to that of nineteenth-century liberalism yet notes that it is "boldly orthodox on a number of doctrines that nineteenth-century liberalism denied." (56)
He points out a problem in Love Wins with respect to salvation. The entire discussion in Love Wins is that the human will is free, autonomous, and able to choose between alternatives. It assumes the will is not fallen, that it needs no salvation, and that it doesn't even need help. "This is not the biblical picture of humankind but the Enlightenment picture, which turns out to be fantasy." (71) Instead, we are trapped in our sin. Only God can liberate our wills. That happens through the work of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. That is the gospel.
He takes issue with a distortion of the gospel in Love Wins, "a near-perfect example of works-based righteousness." (82) He thinks the lack of context of Jesus' work, "will likely create serious misunderstanding." (84)
Galli gives a brief overview on the Bible's teaching on hell then addresses the misunderstandings of it in Love Wins. He writes, "The discussion about hell and judgment in Love Wins hinges on a problem about what God is like." (101) But the discussion goes off on the wrong course and is a distortion of the true Christian story. "Time and time again, where Love Wins attempts to retell the biblical story, it results in a serious misrepresentation of the real story." (106) Galli points out several cases of "creative exegesis" in the book. He says, on some points "the book is quite misleading, and in some cases, misinformed." (118)
On the title of Bell's book, Galli says love requires a free response and, according to Love Wins, "freedom is defined as the ability to choose to do good or evil. ... Love wins, then, because even if people reject God, God lets them retain their freedom, which is the highest expression of God's love." (131) As Galli notes, in this theology, what really wins is freedom of choice. "Love Wins exalts that very American virtue to the highest place, making free choice the human value upon which our destiny is determined." (131) In this theology, people get what they want. Galli says this is opposite biblical teaching of a sovereign God. It is God who accomplishes the work of salvation, Galli writes. God wins.
Galli admits that this biblical view of salvation means we will have unanswered questions. "The apparent contradictions of God's love and justice are in fact two sides of one biblical paradox." (148) There are perplexing questions, but we put our trust in God.
Galli has included an extensive study guide. He notes that Love Wins has stirred up a renewed interest in the key doctrines of the Christian faith. He has created a discussion guide for readers to find what Scripture has to say on these issues.
Galli has also provided a list of books for further reading and an essay on how to charitably engage those with whom we disagree.
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