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The Giant Story

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By Virgil - Posted on 22 April 2009

Rob Bell's latest book, Jesus Wants to Save Christians (Zondervan, with Don Golden), is his most substantive yet. It's nothing less than a holistic, biblical theology of salvation—written, paradoxically, in Bell's typical sentence-fragment style. CT senior managing editor Mark Galli sat down with Bell, founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to probe him on some of the more striking statements in his book.You say that "something has gone terribly wrong with humanity." What do you mean?

I was born in 1970, a child of the Enlightenment. We put someone on the moon. We'll figure out cancer soon enough. Look what we can do. And yet more people than ever have died in the last 100 years from bombs. So, we have been taught, give Steve Jobs enough time, and he'll come up with something.

At the same time, Rwanda, 1994—we didn't step in there. Then Darfur—didn't we learn? So we have this profound sense of empowerment coupled with a profound sense of disempowerment, and I think you have a lot of people with a profound sense of angst.

You say, "Jesus is leading all creation out of the land of violence, sin, and death." You've added the word violence to the Pauline "sin and death." Why?

The myth of redemptive violence—Caesar, peace, and victory—is in people's bones so deeply, we aren't even aware of it. You crush the opposition, that's how we bring peace.

Early in the biblical narrative, one brother kills the other brother. In the arc from Genesis 4 to Genesis 11, there is a growing epidemic of violence. It's almost like the writers are saying, "Look at this." It's like cracks on a windshield. A pebble hits your windshield, and it just cracks and cracks.

I'm getting my son a video game the other day, and I'm talking to the guy who runs this video store. He's telling me that when Halo 3 came out, they had 350 people at midnight lined up outside the door. You can't believe the excitement that people have for a game in which you shoot people. Violence is just assumed. It's everywhere.
Click to read the entire interview

chrisliv's picture


I like the title of the book.

But isn't this guy kind of schizophrenic and contradictory when he seems to be condemning State Violence (and rightly so), while also saying about Rwanda that "we" didn't step in there, i.e. with official State Violence. Of course, there was plenty of public and private covert US Aid in the violence there.

And then he mentions Cain and Able. Yet God protected Cain from retribution.

Maybe I'll read the whole interview to see if I've got the full context.

But, I tend to think that virtually all Statist-Christian commentators, coming from the Left or Right, are just Statist-Idolators. And I trust that you'll all forgive me for that.

Peace be with you,
C. Livingstone

Virgil's picture

Chris, Bell didn't clarify how exactly the government would go about "fixing" things, but yes, it is troubling to see him leaning towards a government solution to these problems.

It's disturbing to see all sides involved in the conversation eventually ending up with appeals to "government" for the "doing" of Kingdom work. It's all ultimately rooted in what the Kingdom expectations are and what the nature of the Kingdom is. Bad, bad theology.

chrisliv's picture


It's helpful to know that others notice these things too.

I don't know much of anything about Bell, besides what I read briefly about him at Wikipedia today.

I mean, besides going to Fuller in Pasedena and having a big church group in the Great Lakes area, I don't detect anything remarkable or good about his Christianity, except something about supporting the facilitating of obtaining clean drinking water sources for the poor.

Otherwise, he seems to be like most other state-incorporated, federally-regulated 501 (c) 3 religious organizations.

Is Bell aligned with the so-called Emergent movement?

Is that why you posted this article, Virgil?

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

Virgil's picture

I wouldn't say that about Rob - he's had a great influence on a lot of people in the past few years, and his book Velvet Elvis has really affected me in many ways. He is still human and he has his shortcomings like all of us.

chrisliv's picture


So he's not the classical Emergent type.

Sure, he's obviously a fallible human, like the rest of us.

And I now remember that you like his Velvet Elvis book.

I'm also remembering hearing about sales of his NOOMA videos, which seem to be a spin off from his Eagle Rock days, where I remember that the Psueke VS Nooma dichotomy was often touted on TV broadcasts from there a dozen or more years ago. Of course, I always thought it was a false dichotomy, as "spirit" and "soul" are used interchangeably in the NT.

So, I'm now guessing that Bell's "draw" is that he is more innovative in his use of DVDs, writing, and didactic style than most.

And I suppose that does count for something.

Peace to you,

Virgil's picture

So, I'm now guessing that Bell's "draw" is that he is more innovative in his use of DVDs, writing, and didactic style than most.

You nailed it - he is a first class communicator, and most of the stuff he says is great; he just needs to stay out of politics and government issues and stick to theology.

chrisliv's picture

You know,

It occurred to me further, that Rob's first sentence in the interview, "I was born in 1970, a child of the Enlightenment," is a complete fallacy that he himself probably actually believes.

If Bell was born in 1770, there might have been a little validity to it.

No, Bell is obviously a "child of" American Imperialism nurtured in Communized Public School Systems.

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

MiddleKnowledge's picture

So much for the covenant context of Paul's "the sin and the death."

Makes me wonder. Is it because he denies a covenant context to "the creation"?

Tim Martin

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