Rob and Kristen Bell to release egalitarian marriage book

American pastor and author Rob Bell and his wife Kristen are to release a book on marriage, which has already been held up as an alternative to Mark and Grace Driscoll's 'Real Marriage'.

Said to "transform how we understand and practice marriage," the Bells' book, 'The Zimzum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage', will be released in October.

'Zimzum' is a Hebrew term which they describe as "where God, in order to have a relationship with the world, contracts, creating space for the creation to exist."

"Zimzum is the dynamic energy field between two partners, in which each person contracts to allow the other to flourish," they say. "Mastering this field, this give and take of energy, is the secret to what makes marriage flourish."

The Bells' egalitarian appraoch is likely to be compared to the Driscolls' popular book, which takes the view that men and women "complement" each other, but have distinctly different and prescribed roles.

Bell has faced criticism in the past for 'Love Wins' – a book which took a less traditional view on heaven and hell.

The questions he raised in that book led many to believe he now holds a universalist position.

Bell has also further distanced himself from traditional evangelicalism by coming out in favour of same-sex marriages. In 2012 he left Mars Hill Bible Church, which he founded in 1999, to persue a career in Hollywood. This autumn he will be touring with Oprah Winfrey.

US Anabaptist preacher Kurt Willems has welcomed Bell's latest book on his Patheos blog, writing: "Many of us have been hoping for a Christian marriage book that is "egalitarian" in nature for a long time...I find myself optimistic – but, I have not read the book so I don't want to jump the gun either.

"My guess is this book will be the much-needed alternative to the Dricoll's 'Real Marriage'."

'The Zimzum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage' is published by HarperOne, and is out on October 28.