Richard Mouw on “Love Wins”

From Cathy Lynn Grossman at USA Today:

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.”

I think this quote from Mouw portends the shape of the coming debate. Bell’s book begs the question of whether or not universalism is within the bounds of orthodoxy. Mouw says yes, and I’m sure a number of others will join him.

Watch closely those who rally to Bell going forward. There is a real dividing line here, and I don’t think that is all bad (1 Corinthians 11:19). For evangelicals, there can hardly be a more serious question. I hope and pray that very few will follow Bell to the wrong side on this one.

19 Responses to Richard Mouw on “Love Wins”

  1. Sandgroper March 14, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    They all come out of the closet, eventually. This is good, as the deception can be exposed for what it really is.

  2. John March 14, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    Denny, if you get a chance, compare your description of Bell’s “cloudy universalism” to Mouw’s “cloudy inclusivism” in his book, Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport, chapter 8. In it Mouw lays the groundwork for much of what Bell has now taken to the extreme.

  3. Derek March 14, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    Richard Mouw has tipped his hand. He is not interested in a framework of true orthodoxy against false orthodoxy. He is interested in a new orthodoxy that he perceives the world and/or liberal religious folks will accept.

  4. Jeff Miller March 14, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    I agree. I hope the dividing line will be understood correctly. It should not be a division between “new tradition” and “old tradition”. It ought to be the more difficult division between “tradition” and “the word of god”. I noticed that Rob Bell embraced an evolutionary approach to “Christian Doctrine” when I listened to “Velvet Elvis”. It seems he is now attempting to play a role “its” evolution. I hope this will provoke a more careful approach for many who call upon the LORD.

  5. LarryS March 14, 2011 at 3:56 pm #


    Isn’t the 1 Cor text a quote from the Cor-church that Paul uses sarcastically – or a sarcastic comment Paul is aimed at the Corinthian’s disunity at Table? With respect, I think you may be using the sentence out it’s context.

    The factions within the Corinthian Church made a mockery of the Lord’s table. There is so much in-fighting going on in the Corinthian community that Paul write’s in v.20 it’s not even the Lord’s Table anymore when they gather.

  6. Pastor Matt March 14, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    Bell spoke to Mars Hill Bible Church about the book last Sunday for a few minutes. I have posted the video on my blog.

  7. Thomas Newell March 14, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    It really is to bad to see the president of a once great seminary speak with such shallowness and unkindness toward those who hold to orthodoxy.

    If the best Mouw can do is create a caricature of those he disagrees with as being filled with “stingy orthodoxy” and want to see many people go to Hell, than I fear evangelicalism will continue on its march to oblivion.

    Shame on you Mr. Mouw. I can only imagine what men like Ladd and Fuller would have said.

  8. Thomas Newell March 14, 2011 at 7:02 pm #

    You can watch Bell speaking about the book right now.

  9. T March 14, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    “I hope and pray that very few will follow Bell to the wrong side on this one.” Is this what it coming to? Drawing up sides? I don’t think Bell is trying to amass an army for a fight. Others, though, seem to always look for an opportunity to make an enemy…

  10. Wyeth Duncan March 15, 2011 at 1:56 am #

    Dr. Mouw’s comments are very unfortunate. I think there already is a dividing line within present-day evangelicalism; and it is popular pastors, like Bell, clearly preaching false doctrine, who will help make plain where that dividing line falls. Sadly, I think the chickens of shallow 20th-century evangelicalism are coming home to roost.

  11. Jeff March 15, 2011 at 9:02 am #

    Didn’t Colin Ferrell’s character on “Minority Report” go to Fuller Seminary – sometime in the 2040s?

  12. Mark Pertuit March 16, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    I’m shocked about Mouw! That’s awful!

  13. taylor April 10, 2011 at 2:37 am #

    he is not a universalist. geeez – read the book more closely.

    ps –

  14. Sandgroper April 10, 2011 at 3:41 am #

    Too many questions from Bell for my liking, & too many references to heathens like Ghandi etc, despite his video comments.

  15. Oh-Jay Lackmon-Bay April 10, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    he is not a universalist. geeez – read the book more closely.

    That’s debatable. He at least leaves universalism aopen as a possiblity. However, he most certainly IS an inclusivist which means he is NOT a Christian.

  16. yankeegospelgirl April 10, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    Honestly, Bell’s universalist leanings alone wouldn’t bother me nearly so much if they weren’t wrapped up with so many other fuzzifications of key doctrine over the years. The cross is “a symbol,” and the resurrection has somehow turned into “resurrection,” not to mention the fact that the virgin birth got bumped down the list of priorities somewhere along the way. Not good at all. And don’t get me started on how he brings politics into the whole thing. Geez, and the emergentists think WE’RE political…

  17. Oh-Jay Lackmon-Bay April 10, 2011 at 6:31 pm #


    Here’s my thing–I can stomach someone wishing that God would save everyone. That’s an attitude that is good to have. I wish that God would work saving faith in the heart of every human being. And if I got to heaven and found out that He had done that and that everyone was saved I’m not going to complain.

    Of course, the Bible says that is not going to happen and as sad as it is to think there are people who are going to be in hell because they rejected the gospel, that is the truth that scripture reveals.

  18. yankeegospelgirl April 10, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

    Yeah, I agree that it’s a denial of some pretty clear scriptural teachings. It’s just that I consider the dismissal of the virgin birth’s significance at least as bad, if not worse, even though for some reason it didn’t excite nearly as much hoopla. It’s funny: Now people are going, “WOW this guy is a nut,” and I’m thinking, “Uh, yeah, he’s been a nut for quite a while, but hey, better to find that out later than never…”

  19. Oh-Jay Lackmon-Bay April 10, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

    I hadn’t even heard of the oxygen thief until a few years ago but yeah, he’s always struck me as “plumb off” as we say in my neck of the woods. 😉

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