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What We Talk About When We Talk About God

Rob Bell is a New York Times Best Seller, he is most famous for Love Wins, and Velvet Elvis, Rob is also the former senior pastor of Mars Hill in Grand Rapids Michigan and in 2001 he was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time magazine. Now with his new release, What We Talk About When We Talk About God, it’s clear that Rob Bell isn’t going away.

And that’s a good thing.

The world needs Rob Bell.

There is something about the value of life that makes it heavy and significant. There are “heavy” and “precious” moments in life. We realize this when those closest to us brush death, or when we meet new life. Life is heavy and significant, but it is also small and precious. We get it, but we kind of don’t.

Why is this?

Maybe it’s because all of life is profoundly mysterious. In his book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God….

WWTAWWTAG? No, too long. How about just TAG? Ok…?

In his book, “TAG,” Rob adds voice to the discussion we all have about God and his existence or non-existence. Are we a sum of our biology? Or is there something more? Is science right? Is the entire world an accident? Christians would say “No” that this thing called “God” is responsible, but that answer sounds too…. archaic.

Is God still a valid answer?

How God is described by Christians strikes many today as being mean, primitive, backward, and at odds with science.  Science has discovered a “rightness” to the world. Science has always represented order. You can look at science. You can write science down on paper. But Rob Bell points out that when we take a closer look (perhaps at a sub atomic level) even science is profoundly mysterious. We live in a really weird world.

The world may not use the word “God” when they talk about life, but many still intuitively feel a sense of reverence and awe in it.

Could we all agree that there is more to life than science? Do we live in a world where we know it all? Probably not, but one day we will.

Possibly.

But isn’t that faith?

Christians are often described as people of faith, but don’t we all have faith?

In his book, Rob uses relative language to talk about God. He uses the words with, for and ahead (and you know they’re important because the font is bolded).

God is with us

God is for us

God is ahead of us

For a long time the traditional way to talk about God has been that God is far away on a cloud with a beard, but that image doesn’t work for us, because people are very aware that there is something wonderful and sacred here on Earth. After all, the Christian story is about a God who came here…. to be with us.

You might also hear about all of the things that God is against. God’s book is a giant book of “NOs” and restrictions. God doesn’t want you to have any fun. God doesn’t want you to enjoy your life. God wants to restrict you from being… you. But the Christian story is about a God who actually frees slaves, breaks chains and a God who actually destroys irrelevant laws. The Christian story is “pro-you.” God is for human flourishing.

Plus, like we said earlier, the idea of God seems so distant and back-in-time. If you say that you believe in God, then “smart people” look at you like a puritan or a  space alien. The idea of God seems like a cave painting. The idea of God seems like an Oldsmobile. But the Christian story is about a God who goes on ahead of us. Don’t we all feel that “tomorrow” is going to be better? Sure, we don’t have a cure for cancer now, sure people are hungry today, yes, there are people who are slaves today, but tomorrow things will be better.

Right?

God says one day, people will “beat their swords into plows.” In other words, the Christian story is that one day… the world will get better. God has a future for us and he desperately wants us to get there.

TAG is a wonderful book that reads easy like a friend and is filled with Rob’s wonderful stories and anecdotes. This book is certainly for those who question the whole “God thing” but who admit there is something more. This book is for Christians who are desperate for a new word. This book is for people who loved Velvet Elvis and for people who hated Love Wins.

Rob Bell has written a book for us, and he isn’t going away.

And that’s a good thing.

Thank you to Harper One for providing me a free copy for a fair and honest review.

* since I wrote this, Craig Adams posted a terrific blog on Rob’s Book and in his review, I found a quote that I whole heartily agree with..

Rob Bell’s books are not theological books in that style. They are popular presentations of the Christian faith aimed at spiritual seekers, interested persons, as well as to those who in one way or another have been burned by evangelical Christianity.

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