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Source: (consider it) Thread: Rob Bell's "What is the Bible?" - anyone else read it?
Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by moonlitdoor:
quote:

posted by Cliffdweller
Bell is speaking to them in ways that are meaningful and help make that bridge into a faith that is deeper, more thoughtful, more honest and real.

Can I ask where you think the depth, honesty etc come from ?

From my perspective Rob Bell's ideas are quite pessimistic rather than optimistic. Suppose there isn't much divine inspiration in the writing of scripture or in church tradition. What do we have to fill in the gap, to make up for what we have lost ?

My answer is nothing. Beyond where scripture and tradition take us, we cannot go, so if they don't take us far, we have little to offer the world.

The answer which Martin60 seems to favour, that we fill in the gap with the piercing insights of our own intellects, strikes me as shallow rather than deep. Even if scripture and church tradition are entirely without divine inspiration, they are far more likely to cast some light on the nature of God than anything I might come up with.

Hmmm.

I don't think Bell is speaking to anyone but those who have an ear, whether they know it or not. And most don't, can't. Not know. Have an ear.

As for our piercing intellects ... what else is there in our three legged rhetorical minds other than logos - intellect, which gives us Trinitarian theology, neo-orthodoxy, existential theology - ethos - is it fair? - pathos - how does it feel?

I have the highest possible view of scripture, of Christ, of inspiration of scripture and tradition by the Holy Spirit. No ones is higher.

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by moonlitdoor:
quote:

posted by Cliffdweller
Bell is speaking to them in ways that are meaningful and help make that bridge into a faith that is deeper, more thoughtful, more honest and real.

Can I ask where you think the depth, honesty etc come from ?

From my perspective Rob Bell's ideas are quite pessimistic rather than optimistic. Suppose there isn't much divine inspiration in the writing of scripture or in church tradition. What do we have to fill in the gap, to make up for what we have lost ?

My answer is nothing. Beyond where scripture and tradition take us, we cannot go, so if they don't take us far, we have little to offer the world.

Well, Bell isn't really saying there isn't much divine inspiration in Scripture-- he's rather saying it isn't all divinely inspired. But the stuff where he does see God working he is holding up in a powerful way, celebrating it loudly, announcing it, reveling in it. And there seems to be quite a bit of that-- sometimes in very surprising places.

In some ways that really is elevating the work of God in Scripture. When you think of the whole thing as "God's love letter to us" and have to make the nasty stuff work with the lovely stuff, first of all, you get the weird gymnastics and oddly discordant theology that is often discussed here. But you also end of with a lot of stand-alone stories that have been turned into cute little Sunday School-ready morality plays: "Jonah reminds us to obey God. David reminds us if we trust God we can defeat giants" etc etc etc.

Like the more erudite NT Wright, Bell is looking for the big picture, not individual little morality tales. And he's finding God showing up in the midst of real human life with all it's messy, nasty, mundane, grinding, mediocrity and cruelty. In a nutshell that's I think his message: life is full of all these things-- tribalism and violence and pettiness-- but every now and then-- perhaps much more often than we realized-- God shows up and things take an unexpected turn.

I see that as an incredibly optimistic message, especially in what feels to me like a very, very dark season with a lot more of the former (tribalism and violence and pettiness) than the latter.

Which isn't to say that I'm not uncomfortable. As noted above, I was unsettled by his view of inspiration more than once-- in part because, as another poster noted, there's something about it that does seem distinctly evangelical (he speaks our dialect) and yet is changing the goalposts so significantly. Which is why I don't think his audience is Southern Baptists or anyone who is comfortably settled in fundamentalist Bibleland.

But for someone who is struggling to find something more in the Bible than just morality tales-- someone who is looking for something of God-- I think there's a real beauty here, something to celebrate. Something that holds up and celebrates where God is present.

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by moonlitdoor:

My answer is nothing. Beyond where scripture and tradition take us, we cannot go, so if they don't take us far, we have little to offer the world.

The answer which Martin60 seems to favour, that we fill in the gap with the piercing insights of our own intellects, strikes me as shallow rather than deep. Even if scripture and church tradition are entirely without divine inspiration, they are far more likely to cast some light on the nature of God than anything I might come up with.

As a Wesleyan I think there's more value here than what you're suggesting (whether that's what Martin is suggesting, I could never say).

Wesley famously adds "experience" to Scripture, tradition, and reason. But he always sees experience as something that confirms faith, rather than something that creates doctrine. In fact, rather than "experience" the word Wesley uses-- "experimental religion"-- really fits. We form our doctrine-- our theoretical set of beliefs-- from Scripture and tradition and reason. And then we "test it out" in real life. We act on what we believe, and we see what happens. I think of the way my beliefs about prayer, for example, have been shaped and deepened by my experiences of both answered & unanswered prayer.

This I think fits well with what Bell is doing. You look at Scripture with the assumption that it is the story of a particular people group in a particular place & time, living life like people do, in which God sometimes shows up. And so as you read it, that's what you're looking for-- and you're able to see how it resonates with our own experience-- both our experiences as tribalistic, vengeful people but also our experiences of how God breaks into that with grace and truth and light that lifts us out of that fruitless cycle of violence. It's our own experiences of God in the world that help us see the things in Scripture that "don't fit"-- that are odd or out of place-- and therefore just might be places where God is doing something new.

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mr cheesy
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I think what Bell is doing is that he's identifying problems that people experience - and which they can identify with when he talks about them - and is finding ways to talk about them that he thinks are interesting, unusual and/or shine an unusual light to offer an unexpected solution.

Part of the language he is using to do that is the bible. My observation is that not everyone who hears what he says will be turned on by the biblical references. I'm not sure he's really that bothered, he seems more interested in discussing the points that he sees reflected in the bible passages rather than the bible passages themselves.

Hence the tumblr account was more-or-less "lets talk about bible ideas for people who hate religion" and the podcast is more-or-less "here's an interesting idea I've discovered in the bible, let's talk about it and how it might help you".

It does at times feel a bit like he is engaged in some kind of spiritual personal development project with his readers (but hey, that's basically what modern Christianity is largely doing anyway isn't it?) and it sometimes slips into cheese or branding or a sales pitch.

But on the other hand it often feels and sounds real. Much more real than many other "famous Christians" do when they speak. When Bell talks about being depressed and burned out and feeling like he wanted to jack the whole religion thing in because of the experiences he had with a mega-church, it feels like a conversation and a perspective rarely heard.

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I think what Bell is doing is that he's identifying problems that people experience - and which they can identify with when he talks about them - and is finding ways to talk about them that he thinks are interesting, unusual and/or shine an unusual light to offer an unexpected solution.

Part of the language he is using to do that is the bible. My observation is that not everyone who hears what he says will be turned on by the biblical references. I'm not sure he's really that bothered, he seems more interested in discussing the points that he sees reflected in the bible passages rather than the bible passages themselves.

Hence the tumblr account was more-or-less "lets talk about bible ideas for people who hate religion" and the podcast is more-or-less "here's an interesting idea I've discovered in the bible, let's talk about it and how it might help you".

It does at times feel a bit like he is engaged in some kind of spiritual personal development project with his readers (but hey, that's basically what modern Christianity is largely doing anyway isn't it?) and it sometimes slips into cheese or branding or a sales pitch.

But on the other hand it often feels and sounds real. Much more real than many other "famous Christians" do when they speak. When Bell talks about being depressed and burned out and feeling like he wanted to jack the whole religion thing in because of the experiences he had with a mega-church, it feels like a conversation and a perspective rarely heard.

I think this is precisely correct-- and why he will resonate so strongly with some, completely alienate others, and still others will be disturbed in a very good way.

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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by moonlitdoor:
quote:

posted by Cliffdweller
Bell is speaking to them in ways that are meaningful and help make that bridge into a faith that is deeper, more thoughtful, more honest and real.

Can I ask where you think the depth, honesty etc come from ?

From my perspective Rob Bell's ideas are quite pessimistic rather than optimistic. Suppose there isn't much divine inspiration in the writing of scripture or in church tradition. What do we have to fill in the gap, to make up for what we have lost ?

My answer is nothing. Beyond where scripture and tradition take us, we cannot go, so if they don't take us far, we have little to offer the world.

The answer which Martin60 seems to favour, that we fill in the gap with the piercing insights of our own intellects, strikes me as shallow rather than deep. Even if scripture and church tradition are entirely without divine inspiration, they are far more likely to cast some light on the nature of God than anything I might come up with.

I find this surprising, as when I was a Christian, I found the various mystics very rewarding, people like Traherne, Eckhart, de Caussade, etc.

And there are plenty of people outside Christianity who seem to have some kind of insight. One of my oldest friends died recently and he was a Sufi, and being with him was a kind of God-intoxication. I don't think these things are intellectual at all. I'm not sure that God is all that fussy about where his largesse is distributed. I suppose for some Christians, he is?

[ 26. October 2017, 14:59: Message edited by: quetzalcoatl ]

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mr cheesy
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I often wonder what Western Protestant Christianity would look like if it had taken a lead from Kierkegaard rather than Jonathan Edwards.

We had an available model where questions were more interesting than answers; where we reveled in the idea that there were different perspectives and different challenges to our thinking; that sometimes the "wrong thing" was worth thinking about; that things were not straightforward and that sometimes life is contradictory and inexplicable.

But instead Evangelicals blew it in favour of having "acceptable" and "unacceptable" correct answers to any given theological or life question - which sound more-and-more correct the louder the view is expressed.

I suppose that is why Evangelicals read Jonathan Edwards and his ilk and rarely read Kierkegaard.

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quetzalcoatl
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How many of them read the Buddhist sutras?

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I often wonder what Western Protestant Christianity would look like if it had taken a lead from Kierkegaard rather than Jonathan Edwards.

We had an available model where questions were more interesting than answers; where we reveled in the idea that there were different perspectives and different challenges to our thinking; that sometimes the "wrong thing" was worth thinking about; that things were not straightforward and that sometimes life is contradictory and inexplicable.

But instead Evangelicals blew it in favour of having "acceptable" and "unacceptable" correct answers to any given theological or life question - which sound more-and-more correct the louder the view is expressed.

I suppose that is why Evangelicals read Jonathan Edwards and his ilk and rarely read Kierkegaard.

And it must be said: Edwards is also a lot easier read than Kierkegaard. Which is probably the appeal-- but also why he (Edwards/ rigid Calvinism) so often takes you down the wrong road.

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Jengie jon

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Which Edwards? Early or late?

Early is deliberately easy to read and intended to be persuasive.

Late is not.

With the ejection of Edwards from the Church in Northampton he rejected the persausive eloquence that had boosted the numbers in the Congregation and some at least believe there was a rethink in his theology as well.

Jengie

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mr cheesy
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I don't care, I was talking about his over-simplistic thinking of the whole "Sinners in the hands of an Angry God" stuff in contrast with Kierkegaardian philosophical questioning stuff.

Very possibly Jonathan Edwards is a bad example (or not the origin amongst Evangelicals) of the tendency I'm referring to, but I couldn't think of someone else to cite off-hand.

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cliffdweller
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Tangent alert: one of my favorite authors, Brian Zahnd, just wrote Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God

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Golden Key
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cliffdweller--

Wow, re the book title. Well done!

I didn't know, 'til the Ship, that Edward's view of God as an extreme (and justified) sadist might have changed. ("Sadist" is my term.)

Hopefully, he's smiling at the book title.
[Cool]

[ 26. October 2017, 20:04: Message edited by: Golden Key ]

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moonlitdoor
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Thanks to Cliffdweller for an interesting and thoughtful reply, especially at the time of the morning it was written ! I will have another read with those points in mind, though at the moment I find it difficult to know how one decides which parts to consider inspired other than in a way which presupposes the bible was intended to be read particularly in our own generation. The things that seem out of place or surprising surely vary from age to age and place to place.

In reply to quetlzcoatl, I wasn't at all intending to discount the idea of inspiration in mysticism. But to me that presupposes inspiration in scripture and/or tradition. At least in terms of Christianity it would seem to me odd to suggest that the scriptures were just the product of human thought, but God did inspire some specific mystics.

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Martin60
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What about 40 generations' time?

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Jengie jon

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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I don't care, I was talking about his over-simplistic thinking of the whole "Sinners in the hands of an Angry God" stuff in contrast with Kierkegaardian philosophical questioning stuff.


You are basing your ideas on a skilled theologian on a sermon written to produce conversions through rhetorical devices in a poorly lit church to the public crowds who came to see the performance.

WOW!

Not only that you are comparing it with the entire oeuvre of an apologist too overworldly liberal elite of late German enlightenment.

Jengie

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Snags:

I also don't think [Bell's] written the book for anyone in particular, as such. He's just written a book. Given Bell's status within US evangelicalism he's unlikely to be marketed hard into that group; he's basically been chucked out in the cold by the gatekeepers of purity years ago.

When asked, authors often say they have no particular audience in mind when writing a book. But publishers certainly do. They need to know who's likely to buy it, so they can market it appropriately.

From what's been said above, this book is likely to appeal to disgruntled evangelicals (and especially Americans) above all; and I note that Bell went on a book tour around the Bible Belt, which surely wasn't an accident! As I said earlier, the good thing for writers like Bell is that while evangelicalism may be a problem, at least it provides a steady supply of 'emerging' evangelicals who might buy your book!

That doesn't mean that little old ladies in a Herefordshire URC chapel wouldn't find the book interesting if their minister mentioned it in a sermon. But they're unlikely to buy it, and the publishers surely realise that.

IMO, a book like this either has to create a controversy or fulfill a felt need if it's going to sell well. I don't think a MOTR English churchy setting is the right place for either of those things to happen.

Age is surely a factor. The average English Anglican, Methodist or URC churchgoer is over 60 years old (over 65 for Methodists), and has seen this sort of thing before. Most were in the church in the 1960s and 70s, when liberal theologies were in the ascendant. If they weren't completely sold then, they probably wouldn't be now. The most radical among them might've wanted things to go further, but they're not the ones who'd be in the vanguard of change now, even if they did read Bell's new book.


quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Rob Bell is mates with Steve Chalke, I don't think there is more than the width of a piece of paper between them theologically.

OK, well that's interesting. I didn't realise that Chalke had gone in the same direction.

The question that remains is whether the theological radicalism that these highly skilled, dynamic and visionary men have to offer can be wholeheartedly adopted and implemented by less gifted church leaders, or by those who don't benefit from such amenable social and demographic conditions, without simply hastening the decline and demoralisation that has already occurred.

Of course, numbers aren't everything, but they do impact on a church's ministry.

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fletcher christian

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Orthodoxy labelled as 'theological radicalism'. Well I never.

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Jengie jon:
You are basing your ideas on a skilled theologian on a sermon written to produce conversions through rhetorical devices in a poorly lit church to the public crowds who came to see the performance.

WOW!

Well, I'm talking about those who think that the this-is-that mindset is what is distinctive about Evangelicalism and how that has impacted down the ages rather than alternative models.

quote:
Not only that you are comparing it with the entire oeuvre of an apologist too overworldly liberal elite of late German enlightenment.

Jengie

Mmm. Or possibly I'm comparing it with the greatest Protestant theologian who ever lived, who happened to be Danish and against the liberal religious authorities and elites of his day and happens also to have had a completely different concept of what the religion meant from virtually everyone else before or since.

It seems rather simplistic to dismiss it as German liberal enlightenment apologetics, but I suppose that's just another easy way to reject any thinking which goes beyond the norm and outside of the Evangelical straightjacket.

[ 27. October 2017, 09:24: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by fletcher christian:
Orthodoxy labelled as 'theological radicalism'. Well I never.

Most pew-dwellers such as myself are not theologians. So if what Bell teaches is authentic and orthodox Christianity then ministers and theologians need to find a way of engaging the 'vast majority' of churchgoing or church visiting Christians whom he claims have got the wrong end of the stick.

Perhaps the problem here is simply the age-old clergy/laity divide.

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fletcher christian

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Posted by Svit:
quote:

Perhaps the problem here is simply the age-old clergy/laity divide.

No, it's a couple of decades (possible three decades at a push) of a swing among clergy and laity to the extreme right matched by political patterns in society and cultural swings. In Northern Ireland it has always been there as long as I have been alive (more than three decades) in the church but never the majority opinion. The Free P's and the various Gospel Halls would have been places where it would have been tied to a majority and often very politically and socially motivated.

There is anything whatsoever new about what Bell et al are proposing in their writings. Christianity has never claimed that its scripture was dictated by God, but approaches to scripture are only one part of the problem we now face. I think you place a finger on ignorance and this is a big part of it, but it is not the only factor. However, blaming clergy for ones' own ignorance is another form of clericalism - they can't do the work for you. We live in a world and in a part of the world where education is easily accessed and largely free. But again, I don't see either of these things as the main issue. To blame clericalism is a lazy argument. I am more and more convinced that there are a large percentage of people who would rather see the church shut entirely than be forced to love its neighbour. When the church sees love of the neighbour as 'radical' something has gone very, very wrong.

[ 27. October 2017, 11:18: Message edited by: fletcher christian ]

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quetzalcoatl
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fletcher christian - where are you saying that the swing to the extreme right has happened? Do you mean in evangelicalism globally?

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fletcher christian

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I think it is globally, yes. It would be wrong to say that it was only in one place when the world seems to constantly want to stagger towards fundamentalism. In many respects Islam has managed to get further down the road than Christianity. The advancement of fundamentalism has been rapid and eased by the social instability and inequalities many experience. I think there is every chance that Christianity will travel the same route, but as yet I don't think we see the danger on the horizon and we lack that same raw experience.

For clarity's sake, I'd suggest it isn;t even only confined to what we might classify as 'evangelicalism' but I used that term seeing it was the topic of the thread.

[ 27. October 2017, 11:48: Message edited by: fletcher christian ]

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quetzalcoatl
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Well, it can be seen in the US, where many evangelicals voted for Trump. I don't know enough about other countries really, even the UK.

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mr cheesy
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Going back to Bell for the moment, I think we can tell a lot from the people he interviews on his podcast and that he calls friends. These include movie executives, musicians, businessmen, political strategists, comedians and philosophers. Of those loosely described as religious, he is on good conversational terms with rabbis as well as Ched Myers and Pete Rollins.

The latter, I'd suggest, offer a theology that is markedly different from the sureties offered by Evangelicalism.

I genuinely don't think he is friends with Pete Rollins just so he can say "look how great I am, I hang around with people who don't even believe in God*.." but because he thinks he (and his audience) has something to learn from them.

* which is an exaggeration, but clearly Rollins doesn't talk about the divine in standard linear Evangelical ways

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Martin60
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Aye, he seems to be a Belfast backstreet bardic genius on whom Tillich's existential theological mantle has fallen.

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Love wins

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
Going back to Bell for the moment, I think we can tell a lot from the people he interviews on his podcast and that he calls friends. These include movie executives, musicians, businessmen, political strategists, comedians and philosophers. Of those loosely described as religious, he is on good conversational terms with rabbis as well as Ched Myers and Pete Rollins.

The latter, I'd suggest, offer a theology that is markedly different from the sureties offered by Evangelicalism.

I genuinely don't think he is friends with Pete Rollins just so he can say "look how great I am, I hang around with people who don't even believe in God*.." but because he thinks he (and his audience) has something to learn from them.

* which is an exaggeration, but clearly Rollins doesn't talk about the divine in standard linear Evangelical ways

One of the many issues with fundamentalism is it's focus on "purity" which leads to an unwillingness to listen to voices outside the tent. Harold Ockengae, first president of Fuller Seminary (no bastion of liberalism) illustrated it with a description of a fundamentalist and a secular humanist walking in a garden. The secular humanist points to a flower and says "that's a pretty rose". The fundamentalist hears "that's a not-made-by-the-triune-God rose". The notion that a Catholic, an academic, a scientist, a liberal, a Muslim-- or (gasp) a gay man might have something meaningful or interesting to teach them is outside the realm of possibility.

That theme of listening to outside voices comes up a lot in the book, and is one of the most meaningful themes IMHO:

quote:
Jesus said his Father is always at his work. This is an excellent assumption for us to live with as we go about our lives. The divine is always at work. So when someone you don't recognize from outside your religion, family, or tribe shows up with bread and wine and maybe even a blessing, it may be the Most High God, giving you what you need, blessing you, reminding you who you are and why you're here. (p. 149)


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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by fletcher christian:
Posted by Svit:
quote:

Perhaps the problem here is simply the age-old clergy/laity divide.

No, it's a couple of decades (possible three decades at a push) of a swing among clergy and laity to the extreme right matched by political patterns in society and cultural swings.

The popularity of Bell would suggest that many churchgoers are rejecting 'the extreme [theological] right'. Moreover, church decline is occurring in the USA as it is elsewhere in the West.

Conservative churches are making some gains, but not overwhelmingly. Rather, they're losing members less rapidly than the more moderate churches. This gives them a greater share of the Christian pie, but not any great 'swing' in wider terms.

quote:

There is anything whatsoever new about what Bell et al are proposing in their writings.

I presume you mean there's nothing new in their writings. AFAIUI, you're right, and I've said so above.

The question is why, according to the OP, we still have a 'vast majority' of Christians who are barking up the wrong tree, despite all this incredible knowledge that's available to them.

Your answer is that too many of us (i.e. Snag's or Bell's 'vast majority') are just too lazy. We sit on our bums in church and don't engage our minds or do anything useful in the world. Is that what our clergy really think of us?

quote:

I am more and more convinced that there are a large percentage of people who would rather see the church shut entirely than be forced to love its neighbour. When the church sees love of the neighbour as 'radical' something has gone very, very wrong.

I didn't think the OP was addressing a lack of love so much as a lack of sophistication in terms of reading the Bible. I can see that love would be a part of this, but not entirely. You don't need to be theologically advanced to love people, do you? If so, Christianity probably isn't a very user-friendly religion for most of us plebs!
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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
quote:
Originally posted by fletcher christian:

I am more and more convinced that there are a large percentage of people who would rather see the church shut entirely than be forced to love its neighbour. When the church sees love of the neighbour as 'radical' something has gone very, very wrong. [/b]

I didn't think the OP was addressing a lack of love so much as a lack of sophistication in terms of reading the Bible. I can see that love would be a part of this, but not entirely. You don't need to be theologically advanced to love people, do you? If so, Christianity probably isn't a very user-friendly religion for most of us plebs!
Agreed-- that was a huge leap.

I can see where he's going, though, even if the segue was less than smooth. The religious right seems to have come to embrace what has been recently called "casual cruelty"-- a particularly odd stance for a group that loves to brag about being so passionately "pro-life", yet seem to be embracing policies that could only be called "pro-death".

And perhaps it does have something to do with biblical literalism, which requires one to try to find a way to accommodate the harsher portions of the OT with the ethic of love found in Jesus' teachings. This can lead to things like hyper-Calvinism and Edwards' Sinner in the Hands of an Angry God mentioned above.

otoh, Svitlana is right that historically there have been plenty of Christians who endorsed a "high"* view of inspiration yet managed to also demonstrate deep and even sacrificial love for others. The progressive social justice movements coming out of the 2nd Great Awakening would be just one example.


*yes, I know. I'm happy to use another term to describe the difference in the views of inspiration if someone will suggest an alternative.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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Martin60
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Just be as literal with the harsh words of Jesus, Paul, John and there's no problem.

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Love wins

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:

I suppose that is why Evangelicals read Jonathan Edwards and his ilk and rarely read Kierkegaard.

I doubt if many of them read *really read* Edwards at all.

Basically evangelicalism is moving away from any kind of reflective impulse, and as a result those who might have formerly been within the Pale are now outside.

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Martin60
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Evangelicalism has in itself run out of intellectual road, like all literalist, historical-grammatical, 'high' view, conservative, fundamentalist religions; rather it is revealed as a naked emperor. Just insane words looking for a story like a bad dream. Utterly insane, arbitrary words. To itself. And like the trash talk of Trump, it does it no harm at all. That's just fine. Chthulu is Lord.

Is what I want to say.

But of course, I won't.

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Love wins

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fletcher christian

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Posted by Svit:
quote:

Is that what our clergy really think of us?

Why would it be clergy thinking of laity that way? Can laity not think of laity that way or clergy think of other clergy that way? I think you've missed the point I was making in order to make it fit your hobby horse.

quote:

I didn't think the OP was addressing a lack of love so much as a lack of sophistication in terms of reading the Bible. I can see that love would be a part of this, but not entirely. You don't need to be theologically advanced to love people, do you? If so, Christianity probably isn't a very user-friendly religion for most of us plebs!

The OP may not have mentioned this specifically, but it is part of the overall picture. I'm not sure what you think 'theologically advanced' might be or where you got such ideas from, but to me theology is as much doing as thinking and for those who engage in any way with Christianity they are part of the activity of theology. Again - and granted I might be picking this up wrongly - but you seem to want to twist the conversation to your particular junket of clergy/laity divide by using terms like 'plebs'. That's fine if you want to talk about that but I just wanted to make sure you understood that this wasn't actually what I was posting about nor what I was thinking when I posted.

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'God is love insaturable, love impossible to describe'
Staretz Silouan

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by fletcher christian:
Posted by Svit:
quote:

Is that what our clergy really think of us?

Why would it be clergy thinking of laity that way? Can laity not think of laity that way or clergy think of other clergy that way? I think you've missed the point I was making in order to make it fit your hobby horse.


The clergy/laity divide may be a bit of a hobby horse of mine - although I'm hardly thrusting it all over this thread and taking us on a wild tangent with it!

Yet the truth remains that it tends to be the clergy (especially in mainstream denominations) who are trained in this theological awareness that you and the OP feel that the 'vast majority' of Christians lack. Bell (and Chalke) trained for the ministry. The other figures mentioned on the thread have been noted theologians.

All I'm asking is, if all these religious specialists aren't passing on this standard, normal and in your opinion not particularly 'advanced' theology on to the people who freely attend their churches week after week I do find it reasonable to ask why. It's a question that far more knowledgeable (and sometimes more liberal) commentators than I am have discussed, for example in this book.

Especially in a context where church decline has been dramatic, it makes sense to ask if our clergy (and other religious specialists) are being used in the most effective way. And just to make it clear, I want our church leaders to succeed, because that's surely of benefit to our churches! Whether conservative, liberal, moderate or whatever, I believe it's good if a church can meet the needs of an available constituency.

Of course, the most conservative of Christians aren't necessarily interested in this sort of thing at all. Why would they be? Yet as I've said above, from among their number comes a steady stream of eager listeners for Bell's message. His skill has been able to express familiar material in a format that ordinary people can swallow. But I understand that his ministry is now churchless, so it's still hard to say what his work means for institutional, grass roots religion. John Robinson's very popular 'Honest to God' faced similar institutional challenges, so I understand.

These are the issues that are of interest to me, but I accept that they may mean very little to those whose main concern is the visibility of conservative evangelicalism in the USA, Northern Ireland, or Leicestershire, etc.

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Martin60
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The answer, SvitlanaV2, lies in the homophobic theology taught in the seminaries of the RCC, CoE, etc.

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Love wins

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SvitlanaV2
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Ah. I did wonder if that was the long and short of it.

Both of those denominations have a high percentage of gay clergy, AFAIUI. Lack of candidates means that'll continue. The question is whether changing the official policies will benefit the institutions in a pragmatic as well as a theological sense, because ISTM that major institutions always take the pragmatic view over the ideological one.

Not sure if that takes us into DH territory. Nor if Bell's book discusses the problem in much detail.

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Martin60
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I'm amazed SvitlanaV2. We agree that this is the litmus test? The pivot? It all hinges on the hermeneutic that Steve Chalke has re-exposed, that the 'high', historical-grammatical, plain, conservative, universal, timeless homophobic 'view' of holy, sacred, word of God scripture, is utter and complete, risible, intellectually bankrupt, third rate bollocks.

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Love wins

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fletcher christian

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Posted by Svit:
quote:

All I'm asking is, if all these religious specialists aren't passing on this standard, normal and in your opinion not particularly 'advanced' theology on to the people who freely attend their churches week after week I do find it reasonable to ask why.

Firstly, I never mentioned 'advanced' theology - you did! I stated it was not un-orthodox which is quite a different thing from what you suggested. But I'm struggling to get my head around your thought process. Who is stopping you accessing and doing theology? You speak of it like it is some sort of esoteric knowledge guarded by secret priests.

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'God is love insaturable, love impossible to describe'
Staretz Silouan

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SvitlanaV2
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You're arguing that orthodox theology (as proposed by Rob Bell) is perfectly normal, not 'advanced'.

I'm arguing that if it's perfectly normal, then it should be incorporated into the life of the church, and experience of worship, not treated as something that individuals might go off and encounter on their own, if they want to - even though their clergy rarely even suggest that they should....

Yes, anyone can go and buy a book (assuming they have the money, the appropriate education and bookish inclinations. Not all Christians are so blessed). But if this material is so essential to Christian love, as you say above, it's curious to me that such knowledge isn't encouraged and supported by the Christian community as a whole.

Some people learn by hearing stories, by looking at images, by hearing someone explain things to them, by practical example. This is where the input of the Christian community, especially the most educated members of that community, would be invaluable.

But if you really can't understand what I'm trying to get at here then I don't think there's much more I can say to you. It's probable that we mix in very different church circles, and simply have very different experiences. Which is fair enough.

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fletcher christian

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Posted by Svit:
quote:

I'm arguing that if it's perfectly normal, then it should be incorporated into the life of the church, and experience of worship...

You live in a curious bubble somewhere because in every place where I have lived clergy have rarely stopped harping on about this very thing.

quote:

...not treated as something that individuals might go off and encounter on their own, if they want to - even though their clergy rarely even suggest that they should....

I don't think I'm following that first part. Reading a book is normally a solo activity. And who are these clergy that defy their congregations to educate themselves or implicitly imply they should not? Are you talking a global pandemic among clergy here?

quote:

Yes, anyone can go and buy a book (assuming they have the money, the appropriate education and bookish inclinations. Not all Christians are so blessed).

You don;t even have to go and buy it. Many places in this part of the world have public libraries. It's amazing what is freely accessible online too these days. And what is this nonsense about 'appropriate education' and 'bookish inclinations'? I can understand that if you were illiterate reading a book might be a problem, but surely you aren't suggesting that people should have such an elite form of education that someone can then come and tell them when they have reached an acceptable to standard to read a certain book?

quote:

But if this material is so essential to Christian love, as you say above, it's curious to me that such knowledge isn't encouraged and supported by the Christian community as a whole.

And it isn't where you are? It is where I live and have lived. It's not some weird esoteric knowledge locked away by crabby priests draped in black hanging round the back of some dark cathedral.

quote:

But if you really can't understand what I'm trying to get at here then I don't think there's much more I can say to you.

Oh, if only that were true.

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'God is love insaturable, love impossible to describe'
Staretz Silouan

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by fletcher christian:
Posted by Svit:
quote:

I'm arguing that if it's perfectly normal, then it should be incorporated into the life of the church, and experience of worship...

In every place where I have lived clergy have rarely stopped harping on about this very thing.


So there's no problem, is there? The clergy harp on, the people listen, and are knowledgeable. The 'vast majority' of Christians are OK, and Rob Bell doesn't have much work to do, except in the Fundie Bible Belt.

At least we've got that sorted!

[ 29. October 2017, 15:23: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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fletcher christian

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I know a good Gnostic priest who could cut you a deal on some esoteric theology. It's good stuff and he'll give you a little for a large outlay and throw in some church statistics and dodgy internet links too that you could use later. Just say the word [Biased]

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'God is love insaturable, love impossible to describe'
Staretz Silouan

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
You're arguing that orthodox theology (as proposed by Rob Bell) is perfectly normal, not 'advanced'.

I'm arguing that if it's perfectly normal, then it should be incorporated into the life of the church, and experience of worship, not treated as something that individuals might go off and encounter on their own

Possibly. In practice I suspect it tends the theological 'range' that a particular church manifests outwardly. It's kind of hard to shoehorn 2000 years of thinking into 2 hours on a Sunday.
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