I’ll be honest: I’m tired of this repeated, irrelevant behaviour from Christianity. But,there’s hope.


rob-bell

I have never met Rob and Kristin Bell. I have enjoyed some of his books and his videos. I find Rob’s approach to Christianity refreshing He likes to question, challenge and make people think.  Not only that, he strikes me that he has an optimistic view on live. I imagine Kristin is the same.

I imagine that it was this behaviour that led him and Kristin’s interview to reflect these statements in their interview with Oprah Winfrey.

One of the oldest aches in the bones of humanity is loneliness. Loneliness is not good for the world. Whoever you are, gay or straight, it is totally normal, natural and healthy to want someone to go through life with. It’s central to our humanity. We want someone to go on the journey with.”

Rob Bell

Oprah Winfrey asked, “When is the Church going to get that?”

Rob Bell said: “Lots of people are already there. We think it’s inevitable and we’re moments away from the church accepting it.””I think culture is already there and the Church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense, when you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who are your brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles, and co-workers and neighbours, and they love each other and just want to go through life with someone.”

With that, the internet exploded.

Perhaps it was Kristin’s pragmatism that had her state this.

“I think there are a lot of people who as they see culture moving, their response is to dig in deeper and hold their ground.”

Was she ever right.

In one of many articles from the Christian newspaper world, Christianity was, quite frankly, disappointingly predictably, up in arms by the above comments from Rob and Kristin Bell. That the church is “moments” way from embracing the idea of same sex marriages.

Click here for one example.

Christians over the internet have proclaiming the end is near with this statement. They have proclaimed their place and reminded you who belongs and who does not in their church. And reminded you again that if you are one of “those”, you will not be included in God’s church. There may be some that accepts “them”. But they are not really one of “us”. They aren’t the “Biblical” church.

Biblical. Interesting word.

Here are some of the “Biblical” tweets and Facebook comments I have read today.  Read them, and take a moment to read some Biblical responses to them.

“Why don’t Christians realize that Rob Bell walked away from Christianity a long time ago and thus it doesn’t matter what he says to Oprah?”

Judge not, lest you be judged Jesus said

Former “Pastor” Rob Bell Goes Full Blown Apostasy – Says the Church Should Embrace What God Calls An Abomination.

“Love your neighbours” Jesus said

Rob Bell, village idiot, global false teacher.

“Love your enemies” Jesus said.

And as a reminder, who can forget when certain Christian leaders, subtly or blatantly, depending on your perspective, encouraged  people to stop feeding children in third world because World Vision was willing to hire people in same sex marriage. One even bid them “farewell”. They cancelled sponsorships in droves.

“Feed my sheep” Jesus said

“Truly, I tell you whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me” Jesus said.

You can attempt to translate and twist them however way you want. But the response from Jesus is straight forward.

Meanwhile, while you continue to scream “abomination” from your moral superior  and privileged porch, it is noticed that you refuse to align with “them’. You refuse to bake cakes for “them”. You ignore homeless, bullied and even suicidal kids that you refuse and reject from your church.

It is noticed that you think that you are better than “them”

Your catcalls, insults,and condescending behaviour is becoming irrelevant. Your us vs them approach is irrelevant

What is relevant is what has been relevant all along. People.  People of all shapes and perspectives working together to strengthen our village. Our community.  Realizing we don’t have all the answers, but questions on how everything works in this world. Instead of us vs them, it’s simply us.

Working together to fix the oldest ache in humanity’s bones. Loneliness.

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An Open Letter to say Thank you to Donald Miller, Brian McLaren, and Rob Bell.


On February 18, 2014 this article http://www.christianitytoday.com/parse/channel/comments/allreviews.html?id=116670&type=article was written in Parse Leadership Journal. The title is The Strange Yet Familiar Tale of Brian, Rob, and Don.

The Article is written Anglican Pastor Kevin A. Miller and identifies Donald Miller, Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, three of the most influential Christian thinkers in the last 10-15 years. In a nutshell, and you can certainly read this for yourself, he seemed to put some blame on these three for their influence and questioning of some of current issues within Christianity. As a matter of fact, Miller recently wrote a post called I Don’t Worship God by Singing. I Connect with Him Elsewhere which you can read here http://storylineblog.com/2014/02/03/i-dont-worship-god-by-singing-i-connect-with-him-elsewhere/ Not surprisingly, instead of examining what Miller actually has to say, many in the evangelical church  have done the disservice of questioning Miller’s faith. (Even though the Guy they claim to follow had a conversation about judging)

To his credit, McLaren wrote a very gentle and kind response http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/q-r-you-rob-bell-don-miller-and.html

I admit to be one of the many that in some way, shape or form, have been impacted by Miller, McLaren, and Bell. I feel that this is in a positive way. The way I express my views on Christianity in some ways, come from understanding their thoughts. So, this Open Letter is a letter of thank you from me to them. Maybe you resonate with what you read.

Dear Don, Brian, and Rob,

You don’t know me, but my name is Kevin. I live in Calgary, Alberta Canada. I’m assuming you know Calgary. Donald, I remember seeing you speak in Edmonton for a conference a couple of years ago. Brian, and Rob, I don’t know if you have come this way, but you should. I am one of many that can say they were positively impacted by your words, and your thoughts.

I know what you are asking. How? Great question and glad you asked. Let me tell you stories.

Donald, it was the book Blue Like Jazz. I have to admit, I was a little cynical about this book. The reason was because, many people liked it and my friends would call me against the grain. However, when I read this book, the words that still sink in for me were this.

“I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn’t resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theater in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes.

After that I liked jazz music.

Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.

I used to not like God because God didn’t resolve. But that was before any of this happened.” 

It started to sink in for me and it was beautiful. I appreciated the honesty and the reflection and continued to read. I will also remember your story about going to a carnival and personally apologizing for the actions of Christianity. In the back of my mind, I knew we needed to do that, but was too afraid to say it. It was because people would question my Christianity.

I moved on to other books like A Million Miles and a Thousand Years. I took it with me on a travel to Vancouver. I loved the honesty. 

Brian, for you it was two books in particular. The first was a New Kind of Christian. I loved the characters, the deep issues handled with integrity. Issues like cancer, questioning your faith, changing your approach to faith. I was impacted by how my Christianity was about us vs them instead of simply, us. 

The second was  A New Kind of Christianity. The questions about how we read the Bible, how we view Jesus, God and sexuality. Quite frankly, your questions were far ahead of the times. Because many are comfortable with the Blue eyes and handsome Jesus that is portrayed as a super hero. Not the one, we see in Scripture. I love questions, I love asking and reflecting on things. That book was inspiring too me.

And Rob, Rob, Rob. I remember taking a bus from Calgary to Seattle reading Velvet Elvis. I remember reading the section on how you thought the Bible should be interpreted. I thought to myself “You are right!”. I decided to read that section in a group I led. Needless to say, it was met with resistance. However, it created quite a conversation which I liked. Your books made me think.

The other thing is you made me think about God. Your video The Gods Aren’t Angry still impacts me to this day. The quote that sticks with me is this

“If you are repenting because God wants you to do something, you are bargaining with the wrong kind of god.

It helped me realize my distorted views on this god I call God. I’ve been repenting from that ever since.

This is just a small sample size of your impact. However, in a day where it seems so easy to critique from afar as all three of you have been so often, I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for being honest. Thank you for asking questions. Thank you for your deconstruction and construction.

I’m one of many that have needed to hear it.

 

Agree or Disagree: We need to change how we talk about God.


This is a promo video for Rob Bell’s new book. The book is titled What We Talk about When We Talk About God. The book will be released March 19, 2013.

Now I suspect at this point, some of you might have one of three responses to this. They will likely be.

A) Who’s Rob Bell?
B) Rob Bell has another book! Cool, I like him!
C) Oh great Rob Bell has another book! I don’t like him.

For those who do not know Rob Bell has been a polarizing author for many years in the Christian scene. He was a Pastor and a founder at a church called Mars Hill in Grand Rapids Michigan. He has since moved on from that. In 2011, Times magazine named him one of 100 most influential people in the world.

Some of his books and videos you might have heard of. He wrote books like Velvet Elvis, Sex God and Jesus Wants To Save Christians (Co wrote with Don Golden). He also produced a video series called Nooma which you might have seen.

In 2011, Bell created a controversy for many in the Christian world with his book Love Wins. Specifically, the promo video started the controversy when he questioned if Ghandi was in Hell. This created a tweet that was sent by conservative Christian leaders John Piper, Mark Driscoll and Justin Taylor that said “Farewell Rob Bell”.

When I say that Bell is polarizing, there are different levels on this. On one hand, you have people who strongly dislike his view. Conservative Christians have accused him of being “unbiblical” and a “false teacher”. On the other hand, others have found him refreshing. He has opened the door for some questions that many have had for some time. The problem is they haven’t been comfortable in many forums to express it.

Perhaps one of Bell’s strength is he has the ability to listen. Since I never met him, I don’t know about his personal listening skills. But, reading his books, he seems to have an uncanny knack to hear the culture around him. He has a sense and a feel of the culture, church or outside, and feels their concern.

I’m intrigued by the conversation he will start with this book discussing God. Now the very mention of the name God, I imagine there is 3 general reactions to that.

A) There is no God. Does not exist.
B) The Bible is clear there is a God. And it is clear, the nature of who God is.
C) I possibly believe there is a God. I was taught about God in church when I was a kid. But I’m confused about who God is. He seems really cruel in the Old Testament. But Jesus was really cool and nice. If Jesus was God, that is really confusing.

While I know some of you are strongly in the A) Camp or the B) Camp, I also know many have sat in the C) camp for sometime. You have heard messages about God, about His wrath, His anger. And while the preacher’s intent was may have been to teach that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”, you just were turned off. Maybe you heard that there are certain people group’s are going to a “lake of fire” because of who they are. You find that thinking confusing because these people can’t help it. This leads you to ask if this “God” is really that loving at all.

On a deeper level, you may have had some deeply personal stuff happen too you. It has confused you, as you have prayed and stayed faithful and your prayer wasn’t answered. You went to someone of faith, and you got a simple cliche answer that affected your view of God. And you might be angry or disappointed.

So is it time that we change how we talk about who this God is? For many, the debate has been His existence. For many it’s about how we need to follow exactly what He says. If you are not doing that, you are in trouble.

Is there, or does there need to be a change of how we talk about God? Some would say yes. God, or if you will, the idea of God, is much more complex then we imagine.

What do you think?