For some, this is an entirely new perspective on God. Many of the popular images of God are of a warrior, a creator, a judge, a system of theology, a set of absolute truths, a father, the writer of an owner's manual.
But a lover?
Rob Bell, sex god, p. 97
I'm not really sure where he says this is such "...an entirely new perspective on God". I would guess most Christians have had some idea of it. I don't think it's helps Bell's argument that what is likely the most well-known verse in the Bible begins "For God so loved the world...". And certainly the imagery of the Church as a Bride has been popular.
Of course, such imagery of God as lover has it's dangers, as do ones like God as judge (which dangers emergents are not charry about pointing out and even exaggerating). I think Bell falls into one of those danger, the one of the great kindly Grandfather in the Sky, who gets a little testy at times and does wish the kids would play nice together, but knows they have it tough and is ready to look the other way when all's said and done.
I suppose that is what he's saying in places like this, a few paragraphs later.
This raises questions about what is at the base of the universe. What, or maybe we should say who, is behind it all?
A list of rules?
A set of beliefs, which you either believe or you don't, and if you do, you're in, if you don't, you're out?
A harsh judge and critic, who's making a list and checking it all the time?
Who is at the base of the universe?
Well, I guess we could ask "What the heck does that mean?" Still, I guess we can guess what he's aiming at, even if the expression is a bit...
Anyway, as in John 1, "All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made".
So, we have the Word, Jesus, and the One by whom all was made. We then have all things being made by God. I think there is another verse in the Bible that says that He holds all things together.
Ok, so we have God as this central, foundation figure.
But what does that mean? What do we know about God? What can we know? How can we learn, if that is possible?
If we look to the Bible (which I recommend doing) to learn about God, we see many things about Him.
We can find lists of rules.
We can find things He commands us to believe.
We can see Someone who does judge, and sometimes harshly. We can sometimes find Him giving lists of the sins of some people.
This is why I think Bell is falling into one of the dangers of the imagery he is favoring here. Especially in his disparaging of "A set of beliefs...", he seems to being saying that beliefs are not so important (perhaps something like his trampoline analogy from Velvet Elvis).
The imagery of God as lover may have its benefits--one can find it in Isaiah and rather notably in Micah. But it is far from alone among the imagery used in the Bible for Him, and to isolate it or make it the main one while disparaging and discarding the others seems rather unwise to me.