I’ve recently finished reading Rob Bell’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About God” which, in my mind, is not only a brilliant title for a book, but a brilliant book as well. In it Rob uses three words to describe God:
Using just these three words, and in typical Rob Bell style, he manages to communicate deep theological issues and profound spiritual truths in a way that is relevant, clear, and compelling.
But this blog is not about the content of the book – rather the author himself. What I find fascinating is that very little Rob says is breathtakingly new, neither is it completely wacky or fundamentalist. And yet, at least in Christian circles, it seems you either hate him or you love him. And you must choose one or the other. I even know of a church where the pastor told the congregation they are not allowed to read any of Bell’s books for fear of being “led astray”. What the what?! That sounds more like Nazi Germany to me. Certainly not the Church – a place where faith and doubt can be wrestled with, and where it is safe to ask questions.
And that’s really what I love most about Rob Bell: his willingness to ask big questions, and to be OK with not having all the answers.
Now that’s not to say I necessarily agree with everything he says, but that’s the beauty of it – you don’t have to. In general I find him incredibly humble in offering his insights, and he’s often the first to admit he could be wrong or have totally missed the point. I think Rob also has an uncanny ability to cut through the bullsh*t that surrounds so much of religion these days, and get to the real heart of the matter. The thing behind the thing.
So why then do so many hate/fear/criticise Rob Bell?
Perhaps it’s because we like to have black and white answers. Answers we can control and that fit nicely into our predefined theology or ideas about God. Perhaps it’s because Rob has a wonderful ability to rub up against and irritate religious people far more than irreligious people (kind of like Jesus!). Perhaps its because he challenges the status quo. Perhaps it’s simply because we’re afraid of questions we don’t have all the answers for.