I just picked up my copy of Rob Bell’s new book “What we talk about when we talk about God”.
I have read 3 pages so far.
I know already I am going to love it. In fact even before I read a word I knew I was going to love it. It’s because Rob Bell wrote it and I love his ideas about God and can hand on my heart say that his book “Velvet Elvis” changed everything for me in regards to thinking about God, Jesus, faith, Christianity, life. Everything.
I am unashamedly as people on the internet like to call us a “fanboy”.
After his previous book “Love Wins” was released he came under a lot of criticism for his ideas in it about God. Some even saw fit to declare that he was now sitting outside of a ‘normal’ Christian faith.
After Love Wins finally found my bookcase, after weeks of reading and re reading it, I decided that the idea of God that Rob Bell portrayed was the right one and his ‘fundamentalist’ critics who tweeted and blogged their disapproval were missing out.
Then I read this tweet from Michael Gungor last night,
My definition of “fundamentalist”: A person of any belief system that holds his belief in a destructively arrogant and rigid way.
There in 140 characters was the truth that I had denied about myself but really deep down knew was true all along. I am a fundamentalist.
Think about it. I have a belief system that says so much of what some theologians or writers say about God is old fashioned, anarchic and depressing. I have decided to not read some of their stuff because my own thoughts are more reliable about God’s character. This has prevented me from understanding God better and ultimately led me to lose out.
I’m right and they are wrong.
Which means I am not open to the reality that I may be wrong.
That so much of the time I am wrong.
If I truly believe like I do that so much of what Christian tradition has revealed to us about God, isn’t even close to what He is like; and if I believe that the good news that we think we understand is so much more better and beautiful than we can grasp, then I have to be open to the idea that my ideas about God are smaller than He actually is.
This is why I am excited to read Rob’s new book.
Not because Rob Bell wrote it and he doesn’t get anything wrong, but because he is inviting us into looking at what we really mean when we talk about God and how we may have got it so wrong in the past.
In the present.
And inevitably will do in the future.
To see past our prejudices against other Christians and sometimes to God himself.
Now you may be thinking, well what if some people get it so wrong that it is harmful?
Do you mean harmful in the way we tell gay people that they are going to Hell?
Or Harmful in the way we tell women that they aren’t good enough to lead our churches?
Or how about this, harmful in how we used to kill people if they didn’t believe that the Earth was flat, because it is ‘biblical?’
Those ones? Because I can’t see how we can do more damage than we already have.
One way we can change that is by starting with ourselves, with admitting we are mostly wrong about who God is anyway. That if you are wrong then I am wrong.
Then we may start liking each other more. We may start being open to each other more. This could have massive implications for church and for family (actually the same thing), and for life. Then when people look at Christians they don’t see bickering and hatred to each other. They will see love even when we disagree (not if we disagree but when)
And that is hopeful. That is a God and a faith that most people can be interested in.
But of course I could be wrong and you may disagree. And that’s fine. I still love you. Because maybe words like love, hope and compassion will become what we are associated with.
And then maybe, just maybe if that happens,
That’s what people will talk about when they talk about God.
“I know already I am going to love it. In fact even before I read a word I knew I was going to love it. It’s because Rob Bell wrote it and I love his ideas about God.”
It’s worth considering that Rob Bell’s ideas about God are just that… Rob Bell’s ideas about God. No man’s ideas about God that come from within, that emerge from our sensibilities and emotions and imagination are trustworthy. God’s self-disclosure is much more trustworthy and solid than Bell’s ideas about Him and the Bible is a much better read than anything he has written. I’ll stick with it.
You’re spot on James. That’s something that Rob Bell always says himself. Thanks so much for your comment
Much like Mark Driscoll’s ideas about God are just his ideas. Much like Francis Chan, Tony Jones, John Piper, Bono, John Kostenberger, Pope Francis, Marcus Mumford, me, you, and Paul Robinson. All of them are our own ideas based on individual experiences, interpretations, and understandings of scripture, humanity, life, the world, etc, etc. I think there are two important questions in all of this… Where is Jesus in it all? and what is the fruit of these ideas, understandings, and teachings? How does the fruit taste?