Christian Retailing

Rob Bell to address book ‘firestorm’ Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Thursday, 10 March 2011 12:16 PM America/New_York

Best-selling author Rob Bell is to speak publicly for the first time about the “firestorm” surrounding his controversial new book, next week.

The author of Velvet Elvis and presenter of the popular “Nooma” video series is to discuss Love Wins, which critics say promotes universalism, in an interactive, live streamed event Monday, March 14, at the New York Society for Ethical Culture in New York City. The conversation with Newsweek Senior Editor Lisa Miller will be streamed at

HarperOne has brought forward publication of the book—subtitled “Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived”—from March 29 to March 15 because of interest in the title. Reporting on the “firestorm” surrounding the book, CNN said that the furor centered on concerns that Bell was “heading towards universalism?a dirty word in Christian circles.”

Though he has not responded to the online debate that has ensued, in a video promoting the book on his own Web site,, Bell asks: “Will only a few, select people make it to heaven and will billions and billions of people burn forever in hell?”

Tara Powers, spokesperson for Zondervan, with whom Bell has published four books, including Velvet Elvis, and the “Nooma” series, said that the company had not been offered the opportunity to publish Love Wins. “However, if the promotional video for the book accurately reflects its contents, it is highly unlikely that Zondervan would have accepted Love Wins for publication,” she added.

Zondervan published Bell’s other books and videos “because we believed they were consistent with Zondervan’s mission statement and publishing philosophy,” Powers told Christian Retailing. “We still believe these titles are impactful with their message and positive contribution and intend to continue to publish them.” 

In his blog, Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, called the promotion of the new book the “sad equivalent of a theological striptease.”