It's very common to hear talk about heaven framed in terms of who "gets in" or how to "get in." What we find Jesus teaching, over and over, and over again, is that he's interested in our hearts being transformed, so that we can actually handle heaven. To portray heaven as bliss, peace, and endless joy is a beautiful picture, but it raises the question: How many of us could handle it, as we are today? How would we each do in a reality that had no capacity for cynicism or slander, or worry or pride? (Love Wins p.50)
I'm not drawing any final conclusions about Rob Bell's ideas since I've only read chapter one, but I am challenged by this paragraph. Jesus said, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life." (John 3:36a) Note that Jesus speaks in the present tense. He says "has" not "will have." If we were not living in the reality of eternal life in the present, that is a life without cynicism, slander, worry, or pride, why do we think we will be able to live blissfully in that reality in the future? Do we think that when we die all the negative characteristics which have made up our personhood will suddenly be wiped away? I've said in more than one sermon, "the only thing you can take with you to heaven is your character." If that's true, and I believe it is, then what about those parts of our character that are not God-glorifying? What happens to them? I'm not sure of the answer, but these seem like questions worth pondering.