Archive for March 2011

Is the evangelical church going to toss out C.S. Lewis?

He is definitely one of the great, author, theologian, thinker, philosopher. Lewis is mostly known for the Chronicles of Narnia but in the protestant church many have read Mere Christianity and a handful have ventured into his great discourses on theology like The Problem of Pain and The Great Divorce. My personal favourites are his science fiction books: Out of Silent Planet, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength, stashed full of beautiful symbolism and theology.

I have noted before that Rob Bell is merely paraphrasing C.S. Lewis when he talks about Hell and it seems that finally more people are picking up on this.

Philosophy professor Jeff Cook (featured on Scot Mcknight’s blog) states that the issue is not about what Rob Bell is saying but how he is saying it ….

But that’s just it. The debate over Love Wins is not actually a fight about doctrine. It is about angst caused by different cultures and philosophical precommitments. It’s about language and how we articulate what is real. It’s about the acceptance or rejection of postmodern ways of expressing what is most vital to us. It is about two cultures crashing together like a cold and warm front and causing a storm. Sure Rob is throwing theological hand grenades in that trailer and on the back cover, but as he rightly says in the intro to Love Wins, he’s not claiming anything new. We would be wise to pursue the real dialogue—the more important dialogue—at hand in American Christianity. We need to openly converse about postmodernity and modernity, their effect on doctrine, andespecially how Christians who assume very different epistemologies can actually champion each other instead of drawing pistols every time they disagree in this new century.

So is the church tossing out one of the greats because they do not like the way Rob Bell markets or teaches what he believes in? Or are we going to engage in the dialogue, embrace our brothers and journey towards the truth together?

Confrontation or Conversation

Had I known that this was going to be such a dissenting issue I might have stayed away, I say might because I do not know that in the end I could have stayed silent on such an important issue as Gods grace and love. Our corps (which is still in it’s infancy as a church plant) is built on this understanding of Gods grace and love.

What really gets me is that with his book, Rob Bell makes a contribution to an ongoing conversation. He really isn’t saying anything that has already been said by the likes of Brennan Manning, Wayne Jacobsen, Marcus Borg, N.T. Wright, Brian Mclaren, Eugene Peterson, Jay Bakker and notably C.S. Lewis. But suddenly the evangelical beast has awakened and instead of entering into the conversation demands to know where you stand on the Rob Bell issue.

I agree with the image of God that Bell is portraying, I am not sure I agree on the specifics of Bell’s Hell. However, in the polemic debate that does not matter; You are either for Bell or against heresy. The conversation is thus silenced within the ranks of the “orthodox” evangelical church. If you want to stay in the conversation you must move out into the wild, outside of the box, outside of organised religion.

What if I want to discuss this? What if I want to be able to think outside the box even though I live inside it?

Yet another post related to Rob Bell's Love Wins

So I am having a Conversation with Peter Baranowsky on Facebook about Love Wins and I am getting duly frustrated. I am probably not frustrated with Peter (whom I respect and love) but more so with the position that Peter and many of his fellow evangelicals have taken against … Against Rob Bell, against Emergent thought or whatever is the heretical flavor of the month.

I fail to understand why some people see it as their divine appointment to tell people who is wrong and who is right. Who is in and who is out. Why do we need to rail against Rob Bell or his book? Why can’t we passionately state what we are for, what we love, what our perception of God is. Why is it so important to tell people what isn’t instead of pouring all that passion and power into illuminating what is!

Why do we as Christians feel we need to tell other people that they are wrong and waste precious time on this instead of telling people what we believe or what we love. The good news, is a message of hope and love. It is definitely not a message about what or who is wrong.

I do realise the irony in me writing a post telling all those people that they are wrong for telling people that they are wrong. But I think most of all I am venting my frustration over the lack of love, compassion and willingness to embrace, to include in the name of him who embraced and included us all.

 

Love Wins

Here are my chapter by chapter reviews of Bells book Love Wins.

Chapter 1: So far Bell is asking all the right questions. The questions we have all asked or wanted to ask, or perhaps been told not to ask depending on our particular church culture. They are uncomfortable questions, that will fill you with dread, if your faith is built on being absolute certain about your fundamentals. Maybe the questions are so uncomfortable because we are afraid it might be true…

Chapter 2: Heaven. Bell describes heaven as Eden restored, Present elsewhere and future here. Bell describes a heaven that both comforts and confronts. A message of transformation to make us ready to handle heaven.

Chapter 3Hell. While Bell mostly describes hell on earth here and now, he in no way denies the reality of hell in the now or in the age to come. He does however redefine the word eternal to mean an age or an intensity of experience.

Chapter 4 - Does God get what he wants? Scripture tells us that God wants everyone to be saved, does God get what he wants or do we get what we want? Bell gives us an optional universalism. Everyone can be saved and will be given as many chances as it takes to make it happen. But in the end it is our choice.

Chapter 5Dying to live. Bell gives an overview of the different metaphors used for what happened on the cross, emphasising that the cross is not a small personal victory but a cosmic event that can never be just about sin and forgiveness but about the redemption and restoration of the whole cosmos. We need to enter into the death of the cross to find the resurrection life with Christ.

Chapter 6There are Rocks everywhere. Bell goes on to paint a picture of Jesus as the incarnation of the divine word, a Jesus that has been active and present in our world since creation and that is still active and present, alive and well everywhere even outside of the Christian church, even within other belief system. Jesus is the only way to God and Jesus is everywhere!

Chapter 7The good news is better than that. Bell asks the question if the difference between heaven and hell could be the difference between trusting our own interpretation of events or trusting God’s retelling of our story. He does so by looking at the parable of the prodigal son. Bell states that it is all about trust, trusting Gods retelling of our story but ultimately trusting God.

Chapter 8The end is here. Your choices matter and Love wins!

 

I love my kindle

Have you ever loaned a book to someone who take ages to return the book? Have you ever loaned a book to someone who never returned it? Have you ever had someone you don’t really know ask to borrow a book and you hesitated to loan it in case you wouldn’t get it back?

Enter Kindle. I have been wanting to read “Switched” by Amanda Hocking for a while and today I happened to see on the kindle-lending group on goodreads, that there was someone there who had the book and lending was enabled for it. An email and an hour later I have received the book on my kindle loaned to me by someone I have never met or talked to. Why would someone I never knew loan me a book?

Well kindle loans are for 14 days and then the book automatically returns to the owner, pristine and perfectly preserved.  Problem solved.

Love Wins and Naked Spirituality

What a brilliant day! When I logged in to my mail account I see that my preorder of Rob Bell’s much disputed book “[amazon_link id="006204964X" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Love Wins[/amazon_link]” and lo and behold Brian Mclaren’s new book “[amazon_link id="0061854018" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]Naked Spirituality[/amazon_link]” was autodelivered to my [amazon_link id="B002FQJT3Q" target="_blank" container="" container_class="" ]kindle[/amazon_link].

I have been looking forward to these for so long, It will be a good week!

Loosing my religion

I used to love the song: “loosing my religion”, I don’t know the words, I guess I never really heard the lyrics apart from the actual title. I like the idea though, I like the idea of loosing or giving up my religious views in search of what is real, what makes sense and what is true.

It is interesting to note that for this deconstructive phase to happen, you first need to have religion (as you cannot loose, what you do not have). Once you have it though, once you have been infected with religion, once you have ordered and boxed in your God experience, it seems that God and any genuine searching for God, works towards breaking the boxes of that organised religion.

Peter Rollins states that the Christian experience s found walking with Christ who in the garden of Getsemane gives up everything for God and then later on the cross Jesus gives up everything including God. In the moment Jesus shouts “My God, my God why have you forsaken me”. It is in that existential crisis, in that dark night of the soul (to borrow the expression from St John of the cross), that the christian experience is to be found. It is only on the other side of giving up once religion that Christ can ressurect and come to dwell in the midst of us. Not to be illuminated but to illuminate all of life by the glorious light that love gives.

It is in this position, when love is real and in the midst of us, that many of our former religious hangups become meaningless and very ordinary actions like sharing a meal or sharing an embrace becomes illuminated, sublime and transcendent.

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