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Rob Bell Oozes II

July 5, 2007

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Another question and answer from the interview of Rob Bell in The Ooze.

As a pastor what would you say to someone who has become disillusioned with organized church or what they have seen of Christianity?

I would wager that the things that most turn them off are the things that most turn Jesus off. There is not one instance in Jesus’ teachings where he gets angry with somebody who isn’t a follower of his or someone who doesn’t love God. His anger is always for religious people who claim to speak for God but live in another way. So if you find hypocrisy absolutely revolting so did Jesus. If you find people who think they are the moral police of culture repulsive, so did Jesus. If you find people who are ready to throw stones at the next sinner very hard to take, so did Jesus. And if you think that people who use Jesus to accumulate political power, to coerce people to live according to their laws, well Jesus had a problem with such things as well. I would say that your anger is shared by Jesus. He’s angered by all the same things.

The truth is it is hard for people to feel that someone doesn’t like them. The truth is often we are masqurading around with a dishonest false self, that we have invested so much energy into, that we can’t let that facade fall. “If people don’t like the way I do things…or me… then they can just go to Hell”. I’ve heard that said, even heard that or something very close said from a pulpit. That often happens it seems when tradition becomes a lens that we see Jesus through. Instead of looking to what He says, said, did. We defend our traditions.

Now swirling around this is people claiming that Rob Bell isn’t even a Christian. That he denies things that he doesn’t. Beliefnet had a interview on the day that Sex God came out where Rob said the following:

As different as the pure white cover with small orange-and-gray lettering may be to book publishing, much of what is inside “Velvet Elvis” seems just as radical. You seem to suggest that Christians need to be open in their understanding of the virgin birth or even praying before meals. What’s behind this?

Well, I affirm orthodox Christian faith. I affirm the Nicene Creed. I don’t think I’m doing anything terribly new. Central to authentic, historic Christian faith has been the searching and struggling and doubting… the people who are considered the heroes of the Bible have deep, kind of ache-of-the-soul questions before God.

And then talking about things like the virgin birth and prayer-and I actually do pray before meals-but these are discussions we have all the time with each other over theology and faith.

When friends are together generally late at night you get to talking about what you are really wrestling with. I don’t think I’m saying anything that people aren’t talking about or discussing.

You talk in the book about the “big Jesus.” Tell me about the big Jesus that you know and how that differs from “small” or “smaller Jesus” or even “eentsy, beentsy, microscopic, teeny, weeny, little Jesus” out there.

For many people the message of Jesus was presented as an individual message of salvation for their own individual sin: “Jesus died for you.” I affirm that wholeheartedly, but in the scriptures, its scope goes in the opposite direction. It begins with the Jesus who dies on the cross and rises from the dead. But as the New Testament progresses, you have writers saying that “by his shed blood he is reconciling everything in heaven and on earth.” Peter says in Acts, “He will return to restore everything.”

So it is a giant thing that God is doing here and not just the forgiveness of individuals. It is the reconciliation of all things. It is the putting back together of the whole universe how God originally intended it to be. One way to look at it is that the message is an invitation into God’s giant, global universal purposes that “I” actually get to be a part of.

I’m trying to get the focus where the first Christians seem to have had the focus. It is easy for it to become a very selfish thing-“look what I’ve got”-as opposed to “by the grace of God look at this amazing thing that he’s been inviting people into for thousands of years.” And that is quite an awe-inspiring, amazing thing.

As I have heard him say, we are down with the Billy Graham, Jesus died for you thing. But at the same time we are down with Martin Luther King, Jr. and believe that God wants Justice as well.

Both/and not either/or.

I’ll save thoughts on churches buildings next time.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 5, 2007 9:57 pm

    the building part was my favorite part of the interview….can’t wait to hear your take…

  2. Susan permalink
    May 15, 2008 5:40 am

    we all need to understand the personal salvation message but it isn’t where it ends, only the beginning! an every day occurrence rather than a drive by the building once a week, huh?

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