You are hereRob Bell Likes His Art Chocolate

Rob Bell Likes His Art Chocolate

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By Virgil - Posted on 04 February 2009

ROB BELL is the coolest pastor in America. As he probably wouldn’t want us to say, the founding pastor of the mega Mars Hill Bible Church has been hailed as “the next Billy Graham.” He travels the country, speaking with live sheep as props (okay, maybe only once). His two bestselling books—Velvet Elvis and Sex God— have raised eyebrows and challenged minds. But the relationship between faith and art is one of his most visible passions, and he joins Patrol contributor Jake Dockter for a revealing, only slightly philosophical conversation.Jake: To start with some little definitions: what is art?

Rob: I would begin with the understanding that God has left the world unfinished, and so, in Genesis chapter 1, this creation poem is about trees that are created to have the ability to create more trees. So, to me an authentic spirituality begins with the premise that we co-create the world with God. The world is not done, and that all of action is essentially rooted in creativity. Any way in which you contribute to the ongoing creation of the world you are in fact, in some form or another being creative and so then I think the question from there becomes “what is art?”

And I would argue that art is simply the creating within the particular medium, free of any utilitarianism. So a business person creates for the purpose of making profit, a product, providing goods and services. Art, specifically like the fine arts, music, sculpture, dance, spoken word, is the manifestation of that creativity in a form that is free from any pragmatic needs. So this painting just exists, beauty is its highest goal, as opposed to food that actually feeds us. A degree of art and creativity is in food, but it has a larger function. To which song is just a song. It may convey truth, it may have lyrics that are rooted in some particular world-view a person is trying to further express.

I think we must have art because it reminds us that God is not always a pragmatist. Because our world wants to turn us into slaves, everything is about how hard you work so you can create something so you can buy something so you can make something, so you’re back in Egypt. That’s the defining story of the Bible: people who are enslaved in Egypt, and their whole use is that they are a machine and they’re used by pharaoh to build stuff. So to me we need the artist to remind ourselves that God is not always a pragmatist. I love this passage in Job where God is like, “HAVE YOU CONSIDERED THE STORK?” It’s beautiful poetry about a God who gets off on things just cause they are and that to me is central to any sort of living, breathing spirituality is going to be plenty of room for things that don’t have any purpose other than their own beauty, design and order.

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chrisliv's picture


Pretty nice article.

At the very end, like most state-incorporate, federally-regulated, licensed clergy-persons, he strains at a gnat while swallowing a camel, I think, by failing to include THE STATE here:

"As far as people who are in systems that don’t work, like a religious system or a church, then you have to leave it. Because it’s destructive and it’s not supposed to be."

Of course, that's just my take.

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

EWMI's picture

God deliver us from Rob Bell. His sideshow style self centered freakdom is an outward display of the filth and grime that that the church has fostered in this age of greed. The mega churches cannot collapse and perish fast enough. We need to return to the strong local church.

My Prayer:
Dear Lord, forgive me for my weakness, but I can't feel anything but rage and disgust for this so called ministry. If I am wrong, please give me the grace to love and understand.

Virgil's picture

Al, expand on this a bit...I understand the problem with a megachurch, but are you suggesting that everything Bell is saying is filth and grime?

tom-g's picture


Amen brother!


chrisliv's picture


Al, if you don't like the message, I suppose you can shoot the messenger.

I'm not even familiar with Rob Bell, but as far as the article is concerned, I can dig the idea of accepting things for their intrinsic nature, like Humanity, Art, Music, etc., without the added label or false dichotomy of "Christian" this, and "Secular" that. But, like I said, he doesn't go far enough for me, regarding the proverbial 800 pound gorilla in the room.

As for Rob Bell being the next "Billy Graham", who cares!

Of course, as a Christian Anarchist and a Preterist, to me, Billy Graham's Message and Gospel was almost exclusively an Pie-In-The-Sky-After-You-Die one, which simultaneously promoted blind obedience to the rule of Satan (World System or State), and neglected the living in Christ's fully-established Kingdom, on Earth, just like it is in Heaven, in the lives of people's one and only earthly existence.

Very sad, if Rob Bell is just another "Billy Graham".

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

plymouthrock's picture


What do you believe the 800 lb. gorilla to be?


chrisliv's picture


I intended it to mean the STATE, of course.

Peace to you,

plymouthrock's picture

Just making sure! ;)


MiddleKnowledge's picture

You guys are too funny...

Life14all's picture


Hey brother. I like chocolate and I just so happen to dab a little in the arts so drum roll please..............................

Introduce me to Rob "Billy the Kid" Bell:)

Jim K.

btw..."Billy the Kid" is the title of the caricature I'll be doing of him after I finish my next masterpiece.


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