|Jesus Wants to Save Christians
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It's about empty empires and the truth that everybody's a priest, it's about oppression, occupation, and what happens when Christians support, animate and participate in the very things Jesus came to set people free from.
It's about what it means to be a part of the church of Jesus in a world where some people fly planes into buildings while others pick up groceries in Hummers."
- Jesus Came to Save Christians
Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile A comfortable-to-read, thought-provoking work. Bell presents a critically necessary question for the Christian community. The over-dramatized, legalized, scientifically explained Jesus becomes freshly human and touchable again within the words of Bell. His work challenges the faithfully strong as well as encourages the newly found child of God. Most inspiring is Bell's easily understood language and noted, extended materials. All of this forms a comfortable pair of reading slippers to walk the road with a loving, faithful Master. ...more info
- Thought provoking
Christians who read this book need to set aside their preconceptions (about the authors, about books, about Christianity) and take this text on its own terms. Written in sort of an epic free-form poetic style (or maybe epic free-form greeting card style), the authors paint a starkly new picture of the origin, purpose and destiny of the Church. Exile and empire figure strongly in this view. My orthodoxy antennae were quivering the entire time I was reading, but at the end of the day I'm not ready to bring any charges of heresy against the authors. Stretching a point maybe, but not heresy.
The point in tension is this: The Bible, assert the authors, consistently paints a picture of God in opposition to empire, hearing the cries of the oppressed. (Fair enough). The U.S. is an empire. (Debateable). Therefore God is opposed to the war in Iraq. (This is the somewhat stretchy part). Actually, to say this book is about the war in Iraq is a gross misreading. It's about the church, the church's role in culture, and what Christianity is really all about [is it just me, or are we suffering from a glut of books on 'what Christianity is really all about' just now?]. I recommend this book as a thought-provoker and conversation starter, but as I said, leave your preconceptions at the door, please....more info
- Very Good book with appropriate title
This book is one of the better books i have read in the past few years. I have always been a big fan of Nooma, Velvet Elvis, Sex God, i even own The God's Arent Angry and Everything is Spiritual, so Bell's new book was something that i was excited to get my hands on, and i must say i wasn't let down at all.
I appreciated all of the links for human history towards the Exodus, and i couldn't agree more with the idea of The Empire, and how it is hard to get kids/adults today to indentify with Christ because they are all children of the empire themselves.
I would call this book a lighter version of "Jesus For President" by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw, whom he sites a few times in this book, as do Haw and Claiborne in their book. I think Jesus for President said what Bell and Golden are saying, just a little more indepth, but that is not to say that i dont love this book, because i do.
With Bell's three book releases thus far i would rank them (and this is hard because the three are SO different)
1. Velvet Elvis
2. Sex God
3. Jesus Wants To Save Christians
Keep it up Rob Bell, your ministry is helping shape the world. ...more info
- Delivered from the Exile of Irrelevance
If you are not inspired to live like Jesus over and above living like an American after reading this book, you either completely missed the point or have some serious issues with syncretism to work out.
That said, Rob Bell paints a beautiful, poetic manifesto (for all the reviewers complaining about how 'short' the book was, perhaps a healthy understanding of expectations coming in would have been worthwhile) that far surpasses even his brilliant 'Velvet Elvis'. Bell says so much in so few words, cutting through the heady theology and allowing Jesus to pierce the heart of His followers to wake up and 'get it'.
Bell's book is framed around the idea that Jesus is not only saving the world,
but saving US.
You and me.
From the kingdom of comfort.
From the pursuit of power.
From the priority of preservation.
From the empire of indifference.
From an exile of irrelevance.
If the Church is to regain her authority in the world instead of settling for the preponderance of power in political realms, then it will be necessary to follow the urgings of Jesus and the trajectory of all human experience (encapsulated and emulated in YHWH's deliverance of His people from bondage in the exodus)from enslavement to liberation, from power to authority, and from despairing comfort to sacrificial hope.
Jesus Wants to Save Christians is the perfect manifesto for that journey.
- Theology Aside
I finished this book last night, and I continue to hold to my stance that even if you do not totally agree with Rob Bell's theology he always brings up some very good points that are worth think about and discussing. This book is a collaborative work of Rob Bell Teaching Pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids and the former Lead Pastor of said church Dan Golden on the current exile of the Church in America.
The point and ideas that Rob and Dan make in this book are clear and simple enough that I do not want to ruin it with a shoddy summary but I do encourage you to read this book. Bell is known to sometimes make links and correlations between New and Old Testament that are sometimes thin at best. And there are a few of those, also in one biblical reference he confuses Philip the Evangelist with the Apostle Philip, but small little things like this do not take away from the fact that Rob Bell & Dan Golden bring forth some very interesting ideas that can really make you reevaluate what you think your position in the world is.
There are people who love everything Rob Bell writes or speaks about, they will enjoy this book. There are people who hate everything thing Rob Bell writes or speaks about, they will dislike the book and probably find hundred's of things wrong with it. Then, there are those of us to listen to Bell, and agree with him on some things and disagree with him on others. I get the feeling that is the kind of reader or listener he enjoys the most. Bell & Golden don't ever claim to have everything right, but they do want to ask questions and encourage people to think and do. If you read this book with an open and without preconceived notions this book should deliver that for you.
I,m not sure about all that is in the book,but it is thought provoking and insightful. I think there is much more than we have understanding of but we must be careful not to accept another man,s explanation and seek truth from the Holy Spirit....more info
- spot on
new exodus understanding of scripture
well thought through
points to some great resources for further study
even - spoken from a the perspective of man who pastors a diverse church community - soldiers and the non-violent, mohawks and the gray hairs, conservatives and liberals.
- most importantly - Jesus is put front and center....more info
- NOOMA in Print
If you like Rob Bell's NOOMA videos, you will like the way this book reads. Bell has a great way of relating scripture to real people in a way that makes sense to us. Jesus Wants to Save Christians is the tale of how God's people keep turning from Him and finding themselves in exile from Him. Are we in exile now? Are we about to be? How and when will God lead His bride (the Church) back to the New Jerusalem? The book will make Christians who are a little too comfortable, a little too lazy, a little too self-righteous remember what Jesus did for us and what we are supposed to do in return....more info
- Bell Gets you thinking
Bell always has a way of taking a passage that I've read many times before and show a perspective that I never considered. I read just to see what revolutionary thought he is headed to. God Bless you Rob Bell!...more info
- Jesus wants to save paper
To be honest, I have tried to like Rob Bell's work many times without much luck. That's probably a bad way to start a review.
I'm not a Bell-basher, but I'm not a fan either; I understand his appeal, but it doesn't appeal to me; I have been to his church, I know some people there, and I like them and have enjoyed worshiping at Mars Hill.
Many who haven't read Rob Bell's books are at least familiar with the phenomenally successful series of short films called Nooma (which are quite good). Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile is the third of his provocatively titled books - the previous two being Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith (my review) and Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality.
If you've ever heard Bell speak, it's easy to hear his voice when you read his books - his pacing, pauses, and emphases are communicated well by the format of the text. The size and outside cover designs are clever and appealing, making them nice books to be seen with.
In Jesus Wants to Save Christians Bell uses the motif of exile to illustrate the condition of God's people at present and in times past, drawing parallels between the two. Exile, by Bell's definition, is "when you fail to convert your blessings into blessings for others... [and] when you find yourself a stranger to the purposes of God."
Bell wisely recommends that, "a Christian should get very nervous when the flag and the Bible start holding hands. This is not a romance we want to encourage." And adds: "For a growing number of people in our world, it appears that many Christians support some of the very things Jesus came to set people free from."
He does excel at delivering a concise synopsis of Old Testament Biblical events, but beyond that and into his interpretation of the events, I found little of value. The book does not deliver on it's promise.
In describing the new covenant Bell says: "No more fear, no more terror, no more thunder. That was the old way, the former thing, the first covenant." In this new covenant, "the truth will be so deeply etched into people's consciousness that they will naturally do the right thing." There is a common thread in Bell's work, one that is the cause of some accusations that he favors Universalism. There are certainly overtones of that soteriological view and it would be nice to hear Bell explain his thinking on the matter a bit more.
By challenging Bell's allusions to Universalism, one is put into the position of having to answer questions like "Are you saying you DON'T want everyone to be saved?" That is not the point here. Of course everyone (except the most extreme hyper-Calvinist) DOES hope that all will be saved, but likelihood of this goes against numerous passages of scripture. Some will spend eternity separated from God; Bell would do well to mention this more often in his teaching - not as a gleeful condemnation, but as a plea for repentance.
The text on the back cover says the following:
"There is a church in our area that recently added an addition to their building which cost more than $20 million. Our local newspaper ran a front-page story not too long ago revealing that one in five people in our city lives in poverty. This is a book about those two numbers."
That claim is not substantiated in the pages of JWTSC; it would have been a much better book if it had.
The tone and scope of JWTSC reminds me of two other titles I read. Neither one sold me completely on its thesis and both are secular in orientation, but they challenged my preconceptions more effectively. So if a vibrant screed against the culture of excessive consumption and affluence is what you're after, you're more likely to be inspired by reading Naomi Klein's No Logo. or Kalle Lasn's Culture Jam: How to Reverse America's Suicidal Consumer Binge--And Why We Must....more info
- Blown away again!
Once again Rob Bell has rocked my world with his insights and wisdom. This book is challenging and controversial, but I feel it is a very necessary read for Christians in a nation with great power and responsibility in the world today. Bell faces the issue of responding to our world as followers of Christ amidst the swarm of patriotism and nationalism head on. Are we Americans who happen to be Christians, or are we Christians who happen to be Americans? Are we a light unto the nations, or are we another empire like all empires throughout history?...more info
- jesus also wants more cowbell
I tend to be a fan of Rob Bell's whenever I run across his work. Most are familiar with the NOOMA video series, and the many times I have been asked to give my opinion regarding them for use by various churches and small groups I have responded in the affirmative. Further, I think that Rob Bell's previous book efforts have been, though not without fault, very good reads. Having said that, I believe that the content he offers here is a solid statement and challenge for the church. This is by far his best book so far and should be read and discussed by church leaders and laity alike. (And, yes, the blocks on the cover are pretty cool and you should have to figure it out for yourself. . .)
In the opening chapter, Bell/Golden propose a reading of the story of Scripture in such a way that Exodus (the book and event) is understood as the beginning. This does not discount Genesis, but rightly sets forth the notion that the biblical story is one of exodus for the oppressed. Further, he sets forth the story of Israel in the context of four geographical locations: Egypt, Sinai, Jerusalem, Babylon. These four locations work to demonstrate the arc of Israel's storyline as an exodus motif - the enslavement, exodus, empire, exile.
Chapter Two addresses the Babylonian exile and the emerging hope of a return and restoration for Israel. The reading here is faithful to the biblical text and the context of Second Temple Judaism. Much of this chapter is given to the prophetic voice which was present during this time period, emphasizing the hope for those oppressed over and against the imperialism which dominated the political scene. Chapter Three then turns this hope to the fulfillment found in Jesus. Again, I am impressed with the presentation and detail of historical motifs emerging from the Second Temple period in Bell's discussion. This "David's other Son" idea is developed well in the context of messianic expectation.
Of note with these two chapters, however (and this has been mentioned elsewhere and was particularly striking during my read-through) is that Bell barely interacts with any secondary literature on the topic. His perspective has obviously been influenced by perspectives such as N. T. Wright, yet Bell/Golden never acknowledges nor interacts with such writing in his book. This is a major disappointment for me, and almost displays a lack of concern for academic rigor. I'm not asking him to present a doctoral dissertation here, but some credit and interaction would be quite fruitful.
From this point, Bell/Golden covers the movement of the gospel in the early church (Chapter Four). Here he demonstrates the cultural significance of its outward movement, and the radical shift from the Judaism of this period to the universal message of salvation found in the church.
Chapter Five bounces from Revelation's message of kingdom against anti-kingdom (christ against anti-christ) into our modern world. I appreciate his statistics regarding the reality of poverty in the world and the sharp pain that is felt in war. While his biblical reading is quite accurate, his perception of current events demonstrates a few large holes in understanding the nature of recent history. Interestingly, this lack only amounts to a few paragraphs and the book could have easily been written without them. But they are present nonetheless. His provided possible 'american' responses to those who oppose our country (119) are hardly the only perspectives which could be given and are, quite honestly, reductionistic within the context of his argument. But this (believe it or not) is a minor quibble, because Bell/Golden refuse to decry America simply for who it is, yet is honest enough to point out its faults as they are revealed by Scripture.
The final chapter ("Blood on the Doorposts of the Universe") is simply brilliant. Bringing together the themes which have been developed throughout the book, Bell/Golden call the church to be the church in light of the story of Scripture and the kingdom of Christ. Building on the concept of Eucharist, his aim is to show how the church is called to be the presence of Christ into the world by bringing the fulfillment of hope, peace and the new humanity.
Finally: I, too, am tired of overly-used white space in the book. This may have been cool and interesting once (kind of twice), but is really just becoming annoying. The only redemption on this is that I didn't really have much time to read this book and was happy to see pages with ten words where there could have been fifty. But even then, it wasn't redemptive.
- Very thought provoking
I picked this book up on a whim and have been really moved by it. It is a very easy read - as a previous reviewer stated - lots of short lines. I think, however, it is the kind of book that will speak to Christians who are troubled by the perception that the established Church is showing too much interest in maintaining the staus quo. It speaks to people who may feel discarded and disregarded by what they see as the traditional church. I think it may strongly speak to people who did not grow up in the Church or who believe that Christianity is supposed to be radical.
I only read a chapter at a time. It is the kind of book I like to ponder before moving on to the next chapter. I thought the End notes were great....more info
- Five Starr
Once again Rob Bell hits the nail on the head with his latest book about Christianity and the church. Five stars....more info
- letdown after Sex God
While I enjoyed this book and enjoy almost anything written by Rob Bell, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed by this book. I have read Rob's second book, Sex God, many times. It is full of underlines and notes and I can honestly say that it made a huge impact in how I live my life as a follower of Christ. While Jesus Wants to Save Christians was a good book and enjoyable, it did not leave me with the huge impact that Sex God did. Still worth the read though. ...more info
- Rob is my Rabbi
Rob had a way of getting you involved in the story of the scriptures and it feels like your there and he does this in the book, he makes you think and think about things that you might not think about otherwise. Its hard for a man near 30 (me) to learn to question because as a society we tell kids to know facts and not understand whats going on behind the story and definetely dont ask questions and wrestle with issues. I loved the book and I loved the questions this book raised....more info
- Three cars, four flat screens and 840 million hungry people
I stumbled upon Jesus Wants to Save Christians A Manifesto for the Church in Exile just after it came out in October 2008. I purposely didn't buy it then...couldn't get past the thought that Rob Bell was being an elitist blowhard in publishing a book with such a condescending title. The last thing American Evangelicals need is another book to wave in the faces of unbelievers saying "see, He wants to save us." As if the crap fiction of LaHaye and Jenkins that pollutes bookshelves nationwide isn't enough. Gram taught me, though, to never to judge a book by its cover. In the case of Jesus Wants to Save Christians, I should have listened
First a little background. Trashy Pop Culture has perverted Evangelical Christianity. American Christians have, over the past 20 or so years, slowly bought into a Wealth and Health Gospel that says Jesus wants their wallets fat and their waistlines bulging. Preachers who espouse this Pseudo Gospel entice the weak and gullible to give a little money, say a prayer and poof the magic Genie will be at their beck and call. Health and Wealth Power pastors have helped to turn a proactive gospel of bringing the kingdom of heaven down to earth into a commodity, a hotel of comfort, a religion of sit quietly, tithe, and one day you won't be left behind. As this attitude permeates the Evangelical Culture, a Gospel of good news to the poor becomes an impotent, insular self help program led by men and women who've helped to cast their congregations into what the authors call a state of exile.
Exile, the authors state, "isn't just about location; exile is about the state of your soul. Exile is when you fail to convert your blessings into blessings for others. Exile is when you find yourself a stranger to the purposes of God."
As a growing portion of American Evangelicals decide whether to buy a third car or purchase a fourth flat screen, "3.5 billion people in the world live on less than two dollars a day, 100 million children are denied basic education, 4,500 people today will die of aids, and 840 million people will go to bed hungry tonight because they can't afford one meal." Bell & Golden argue that these statistics aren't meant to incite guilt within believers, rather recall a little story/theme of the bible, Exodus.
According to Jewish scriptures, the ancient Jews were in a literal physical exile. Slaves in Egypt whose lives were brutal beyond belief, they cried out for justice like the blood of Abel and in His timing, the story says, God came through Moses. The authors follow the progression of these rescued Jews through their deliverance to Sinai. Their journey continues to Jerusalem where, through Solomon, they again became slaves in their own empire, eventually ending upon the shores of Babylon physically and spiritually lost.
In Babylon the prophets began to speak of a coming son of David who'd lead them on a new exodus, a "Prince of Peace" who'll "reign on David's throne upholding it with justice and righteousness." This messiah, would fulfill the promise of Genesis that one would be born who would crush evil forever. Jesus, Christians believe, was the promised Prince of Peace.
In his first sermon on the scene, Jesus quotes Isaiah 61:1 and states clearly the purposes of God He has been sent to fulfill:
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners.
To proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
Why has the church strayed from this, the true Gospel? Amongst other things, the authors reason, because her people have forgotten the various Egypts from which they were rescued. Exodus, they say, plays out not only as a story of a people long ago, but a spiritual reality that echoes in people's lives every single day. All people have their Egypts: "addiction, suicidal thoughts, anger, rage...prejudice, hate, envy, lust, racism, ego, dishonesty." They continue, "at the center of the Christian experience is crying out in our slavery and being heard by God," being redeemed through Jesus, led to Sinai where we find our purpose and identity," being "invited to join the God in doing something about our broken world" which "always involves hearing the cry of the oppressed and then acting on their behalf."
There's a sentence in the book's epilogue that sums up the entire manifesto: "Jesus wants to save our church from a kingdom of comfort, the priority of preservation, an empire of indifference, exile of irrelevance." This isn't a book with which the Church can pat itself on the back. It's a reminder of the spiritual desolation believers once knew. It's a challenge to see how broken the world is and how much God, to those who believe, has blessed their lives. It's a simple yet powerful meditation on bondage and liberation that describes a new exodus by which the Church can again become relevant. It reminds Jesus' modern day followers that the Kingdom is at hand and that it needs revolutionaries of peace and love ready to answer the cries of the oppressed. Ingesting it with an open mind and an open heart is sure to challenge and inspire, if not provide perspective on where the Church find herself and where she's called to be.
- A spirited double challenge to radicals and status-quo-ists alike
I would love to meet the new hires at Zondervan. First they publish Shane Claiborne's subversive first book, The Irresistible Revolution, in 2006. Then in 2007 they release the fantastic The Books of the Bible, with refreshingly provocative book intros and formatting (these things matter to some of us). And earlier this year they released Claiborne's downright incendiary Jesus for President, an Ellul-draped tour de force of counter-imperial theology and story.
Now, The Z has published the latest from Rob Bell and Don Golden (hereafter just `Bell', sorry Don) - Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifseto for the Church in Exile. Things seem far from business-as-usual at the Newscorp/Murdoch-owned business of usually conservative publications. And though some radicals are using their about-face to shame these authors for lining the coffers of the heartless heart of the Christian-Industrial Complex, it's at least as deserving an opportunity to thank God for using even the Mouth of the Beast to invoke the revolutionary Spirit of Jesus around the world.
And invoke revolution it does. Bell shatters our conventional flannelgraph treatments of the First Testament. More than a homiletical goldmine of manly stories to prooftext contemporary empire-building, to Bell the story of Israel is one written as a critique of empire from a "below-empire" perspective about God's anti-empire people who, despite exile, still only want empire. The story starts in Egypt, visits Sinai, settles in Jerusalem, and is carried away to Babylon; this is a storyframe Bell later uses to jam the church into. Obviously, there's a lot of missing gaps in Bell's Brueggeman-soaked abridging of the First Testament, but these gaps are filled in as the book progresses.
The trajectory of that story, Bell insists, is the prophetic cry for a New Exodus, a Way forward out of exile and into God's possibilities. He and Golden masterfully weave many strands of yearning, frustration, and hope from Israel and bring them to the only focal point one can expect: King Jesus. If you think you've seen this done before -- hasty references to scattered prophecies that Jesus fulfills -- then sit back and hold on. Jesus' fulfillment of Israel's story is rarely captured with such elegance, fresh insight, and poetic dance as Bell gives us.
Bell's New Exodus theology of the cross isn't new, but with Jesus Wants to Save Christians in particular it is a welcome and compassionate entry into today's roaring atonement battles. Before Bell and Golden is the raging sea of conservative evangelicals splashing about the personal, purity, and penal aspects of the cross. Behind them, the bustling army of emerging-church scholars and bloggers waving their "It's Social Too, Dammit" swords high. Their New Exodus way of telling the story creates a path through the waters that, to cut the army/sea metaphor off there, all parties can find themselves travelling on.
And that's where the revolution is launched. This robustly biblical New Exodus story reveals that God is always on the side of the oppressed, and through the cross of Jesus Christ is always working to exodus us out of those oppressions. Jesus is the new Moses, leading his children out of the ways of empire, of death, and of sin itself. We as the church are tasked with continuing to be God's counter-imperial people, being called out of the empire and into the kingdom. Jesus wants to save Christians... from empire.
Bell sharply points out that this means we'll all find ourselves alongside some pretty unlikely people in this Exodus Way. We're family now, going through these waters, and that means churches have got to overcome class, political, racial, and ideological differences as they go. Dumpster-diving anarchists and gun-toting Republicans are in it together now, this big strange family. Bell is convinced that it won't do for us to avoid each other. No, he seems to say: the Eucharistic vision is all about joining together in our sufferings and weaknesses. Jesus teaches us that the anarchist and the Republican needs one another, and that the world in particular needs them both. The world needs them not under those labels, though, but as the very Body of the Christ, broken and poured for the world.
This book's great contribution to the church is a two-fold challenge: a revolutionary revival-like summons to status-quo Christianity, and, I believe, a gentle ecumenical subpoena to the fringe/emergent/radical church.
Bell upsets status-quo Christianity by insisting that Jesus isn't done saving them yet: their imperial ways are colliding like nails with the cross of the Lord. Granted he dosen't say it quite that snottily, but he also doesn't beat about the Bush. Bell's is a heartfelt and inviting summons for the American church to repent and be saved from the Empire, ere they find themselves in exile once more.
If Bell and Golden's snazzy book only offered that, they'd only be reinventing the wheel in an ironic marketplace gnoshing glibly on all things radical. Particularly in their final chapters, they pair their subversive flair with a fine, subtle challenge to those of us already on the Exodus Way out of the empire: Christ's body so needs you, and you them. This New Exodus thing, to Bell, is too big to just let the ersatz Guevaras and fauxhemians through. The real revolutionary cries out to God for all of God's people to be saved from this sin, death, and empire. Grander and deeper than the enclave-spirituality of some radicals, Bell hearkens the new conspirators (neo-monastics, Jesus radicals, emergent, etc.) to a love and compassion that bleeds for Iraqi and American alike. It's a love that subverts the Empire's social filing system which would segregate us looneys from the rest of the herd. In the economy of God, the revolution to the revolutionaries still turns out again to be revolutionary against the empire.
(originally written for JesusManifesto.com)...more info
- Bell speaks to the heart of the matter
Whether you are someone exploring your beliefs or if you are a Christian looking for the next level of understanding, Rob Bell is a wonderful author. He's smart, funny, strong in his beliefs w/o being "churchy." And really engaging. Makes you want to move to Michigan so you can go to his church. I also recommend his nooma videos. excellent stuff.
He especially speaks to people who want to have faith and practice their faith, but who see the flaws and problems inherent in churches. and he articulates his views in a modern, conversational style. he's..for lack of a better term...cool. No pretense. no flash and dazzle. Just here's what's important, and you should pay attention to it.
I liked Velvet Elvis and Sex God. But this book really speaks to me and motivates me to examine my life and live it better today than yesterday. Makes me thankful for what I have and give me encouragement to do something meaningful w/ it. You won't be disappointed w/ it. ...more info
- Good read, but just scratches the surface
I am a Rob Bell fan. After hearing Rob and Don share the pulpit at Mars Hill I am a Don Golden fan as well. This book follows in-line with the rest of Rob's work (writing, preaching, and NOOMA video). Rob and Don continue their message of social justice and the Christians part. Good stuff, and a much needed reminder. It's about time someone of faith deals with politics, even taking on the current administration. I am tired of Christians taking one side only. A side that I believe is wrapped in self comfort and attitudes of superiority. I did want to see this book go a bit deeper in content. I felt that they left some illustrations half done and chapters not completed. That's why I gave it an average rating. I didn't get bored with the book, but I was not compelled to read it all in one night like his previous works. I will say that an average rating for Rob would be a 5 star rating for most other authors! Can't wait till your next book comes out....more info
- Makes you angry
I didn't like hearing some of the things Rob Bell said in this book. It made me uncomfortable,offended and at times angry,but I must say in a good way. Much of what is taught in main stream evangelical churches is very little of what Jesus Christ taught. Why do many Christians seem no different than the world around them. In Ron Siders "The scandal of the evangelical conscience" he states that the divorce rate of "Christians" mirrors that of the non-evangelicals--what's wrong with this picture? Like Shane Claiborne,Brain McLaren and the aforementioned Sider, Rob Bell is trying to persuade us to read the manual a little differently and determine what we could be doing better. If this offering doesn't make you at least a little uptight and uneasy then somethings wrong....more info
- Had to stop reading
I read Velvet Elvis and loved it. Looking forward to this book but after a couple of chapters I had to stop reading. Why? He totally distorts what the Old Testament is saying. But here's the caveat...I'm not a Bible scholar and I don't even "trust" the Old Testament. But when Rob ignores that the OT states that GOD wanted the Hebrews to totally destroy the inhabitants of the Promised Land we have a problem. Why? Because Rob has based his whole foundation on his belief that God, in the OT, heard the voice of the oppressed (in Egypt) and that the Hebrews ultimately forgot the lesson of their Exodus and became oppressors themselves. And here's the ultimate irony for me...I wish Rob's version was THE Biblical version. But it's not. So I won't waste time reading something that he is basing on scripture. His message is good. His attributing it to God using selected verses from the OT doesn't fly with me. I'll try reading the rest but not because Rob has proved anything to me scripturally in his first chapters.
Plus reading it I feel like I'm back in elementary school being talked down to.
Glad others are enjoying it but can't give it more than a 1, possibly a 2. ...more info
- Liberation theology 101 for the internet generation
This book provides a good, very accessible summary of the Bible and its message from a "liberation" perspective. It tells the story of Israel in terms of slavery, liberation, and the temptations of empire leading to a new exile and slavery in Bablyon. The authors see Jesus as a different form of liberation from the Roman Empire, a liberation that is intended to escape the pitfalls of worldly empire under Solomon.
Fast forwarding to the present, Bell and Colden have a blunt message for Americans: the United States in an empire whose actions must be seen in parallel with Egypt, Babylon, and Rome. We're the bad guys, and Jesus wants to save us Christians.
This is tolerably close to my own reading of the "big picture" in the Bible, so it didn't strike me as novel (and I found some minor errors along the way). For many religious Americans, I suspect it would be shocking, even scandalous. All the more reason to read it!
Much of the text is written in the style of a sermon. If you're reading the book, it often helps to imagine it being spoken because
there are sentence fragments
saying the same thing twice,
before Bell and Colden move to a new idea.
You might enjoy that style, or you might find it annoying. Just know that it's an important part of the book. It also makes the text a lot shorter than the number of pages might lead you to expect.
The book's production values are clearly meant to be modern, even "hip" or "cool" (to use two unhip, uncool words), but I found them distracting. The book has green-edged pages and some green pages. The font is distracting, even hard to read. There's a pseudo-font that the authors use throughout the book - - look at the picture of the cover, and you'll see, I'm sure, that the white blocks spell out the title of the book in this pseudo-font.
This could be a great book for the right audience. I'd love to see how it would go over in a high school religious education classroom....more info
- A cop-out
He had me going at first, but making the "Empire" case stretched Bell's credibility too far. Bell presents lots of facts, but facts aren't always the truth. Bell ignores the need to face evil where it rises and joins a long line of apologists who inspire the fear and hopelessness of those who rely on their own powers rather than God's....more info
- Jesus wants to save Christians
A brilliant manifesto from one of God's leaders of the Church today. Written with clarity and a depth of knowledge, God's passion for what his people are to be like should stir the hearts of many Christians in America. Bell offers great historical perspective and interprets world events in light of the revelation of God the Son, Jesus Christ. A book to be very familiar with and any follower of Jesus shouldn't be without....more info
- rob's best book yet
rob bell's newest book (his third) is his best one yet, i believe. his main premise is that the bible should be read as the story of exile and reconciliation. and he traces this storyline throughout the narrative arc of scripture. peppered with the storytelling that rob is known for (stories from scripture, stories from jewish midrash, and modern day stories), the book wanders through the old testament - starting with "the first book of the bible: exodus" - and into the new, with more and more implications for "our current exile" as the book progresses. it's a deeply theological book, but extremely accessible. it's a "framing" book for followers of jesus, seeking to understand the story of god and how we fit into it. rob doesn't shy away from taking jabs at the "empire" we live in, the spiritualization of violence and oppression, or the mindset of american christianity. i doubt sarah palin would like this book.
personally, i tire quickly of rob's single-sentence paragraphs, found in strings on most pages. it's a neat literary device to use occasionally. but it grows old for me.
but, other than that minor issue (which readers of other rob bell books will certainly recognize - maybe he's attempting to write in twitter boxes of 140 words or less?), this is a profoundly good book that will certainly impact my thinking from here on out.
here are a few choice sentences that captured my imagination:
jesus wants to save us from making the good news about another world and not this one.
jesus wants to save us from preaching a gospel that is only about individuals and not about the systems that enslave them.
jesus wants to save us from shrinking the gospel down to a transaction about the removal of sin and not about every single particle of creation being reconciled to its maker.
jesus want to save us from religiously sanctioned despair, the kind that doesn't believe the world can be made better, the kind that either blatently or subtly teaches people to just be quiet and behave and wait for something to happen "someday."
- A Strong Summary of Majory Themes of the Biblical Story
Rob Bell's latest, Jesus Wants to Save Christians, dives into the great story of the Christian faith. Beginning with the Exodus all the way through Revelation Bell and co-author Don Golden show how God has consistently been at working hearing the voices of those who cry out, bringing rescue to those in exile, and preparing all of humanity for the entrance of his Son.
The book is packed with historical and cultural information that opens up the Biblical story and puts it in context. I think it might be Rob's strongest book yet, though they have all been amazing. It's definitely worth picking up and experiencing....more info
- I am a H-U-G-E Rob Bell fan....
I need to to prelude this with the following: I think Rob Bell is on fire! I love his messages - I can't wait until Tuesday to download them and I hope to one day make the "pilgrimage" to Mars Hill to see his church in person.
Now with that said, the book, well....eh. It's ok. Rob has passions and knowledge as evident by his word studies, but the book is scattered and to be honest, hard to keep focused on. THe book is written with sometimes one word per line and if you are a fast reader, you will find yourself constantly flipping pages as there are only 20 or so lines per page. This book could have been slimmed down to a thick pamphlet.
But the message is relevant and perhaps I am the wrong audiance he writes to....more info
- Jesus-Relationship Not Religion
This is another fantastic book by Rob Bell. He looks at the narrative of scripture and sees God at work through history. This book is highly recommended....more info
- factory reject
The book I recieved was bound upside down, which was a let down. I lost a lot of trust in Amazon....more info
- not a wise buy
christians should stay away from rob bell products and teaching. He is media savvy and appeals culturally to this generation, but if you listen carefully His teaching is laced with things that subtly call into question and every now and then blatantly undermine the foundational core doctrines of our faith. ...more info
- One of the best three books I've read this year
This is the only book by Rob Bell that I've ever read and I thought it was terrific. This book and "The Shack" by Young and "Reimagining Church" by Viola have been the best three books I've read this year. All of them have changed my thinking about Christianity and church in a big way and for the better....more info
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