Like so much of Rob Bell’s work, What We Talk About When We Talk About God is really a sort of sermon: accessible, full of anecdotes, and with a clear persuasive thrust. The content, too, is what we might have expected. When We Talk About God shows Bell drawing on his whole back catalogue of tours, films, and books, now synthesising it more explicitly for a post-Christian audience. Bell has spent most of his career dismantling dualism and ‘escapology’ in Christian circles, and he now goes to work on its equivalent in wider Western culture. Read more
Posts tagged ‘book review’
The Gospel-Centered Woman is Wendy Alsup’s third book (first, second) and a return to practical theology. How does theology get behind the polite smiles and Conservative Christian Values to hurt, brokenness and depravity? Wendy’s contention is that it is the gospel alone that equips us to bridge this gap. The truths of the gospel are a comfort to men as well but ‘there is also a particular balm to women that meets us in the woundings tied specifically to our gender.’ Read more
In 2010 we hosted a debate for our theological college: Will the real Mars Hill please stand up? The debate invited the audience to compare and contrast two well-known American megachurches and the leaders behind them, Rob Bell and Mark Driscoll, whom we saw as representing powerful and differing forces in American Christianity — check out the comparison chart Dave Hughes produced for the debate. For us as Australian students, American Christian culture is often novel and foreign, yet also strangely influential — a source of both familiar comforts (Chris Tomlin) and bizarre terrors (Joel Osteen!). It also seems like a hyper-coloured version of the fate of Christianity that we’re witnessing in our own Western context, even though Australia has gone further along the post-Christian road.
And so we continue to watch for developments. Although I’ve written about Rob Bell here a few times, I’ve not followed his work especially closely, but I’ve certainly been interested in his motivations, methods and audience rather than simply his content (which is all that seems to matter to some critics!). James K Wellman’s short book, Rob Bell and a new American Christianity, takes all this into account. It’s an unusual mixture of anecdotes about Bell plus summaries of his work, interspersed with sociological categories and commentary. Wellman takes us chronologically through Bell’s life and work, surveying his preaching, publications, tours, and films (including Nooma). It makes for a good overview of Rob Bell, but also an accessible spiritual snapshot of America today. Read more
Katie, a med student, has been feeling torn between the profession she’s studying and the spiritual needs she sees around her: ‘People say they’re meant to line up, but I’m struggling to see how that works!’
The answers she’s looking for haven’t been all that easy to find, and we’ve seen a similar story with many university students. ‘Faith and work’ has become a hot topic, says Tim Keller, but I suspect it’s still pretty unknown to many Christians here in Australia. Our pulpits are not known for reflecting on the workplace regularly, consistently or deeply. Our university student groups are not known for giving students more than a catch-all preparation for their future professions. We focus on many things — community, charity, evangelism, healing, discipleship — but how well are we tuned into the weekly world inhabited by most Australians?
And in my evangelical circles, we’ve got a tendency to speak about the workplace as if it’s good for little more than ‘evangelistic conversations’, or earning money with which to support ‘gospel work’ — because those are the things of ‘eternal value’. With phrases like these, we divide the world into all sorts of halves: Sunday/Monday, word/deed, sacred/secular, clergy/laity, earth/heaven.
In Every Good Endeavour: Connecting your work to God’s plan for the world, Keller quickly cuts beyond this with a more full and fruitful vision:
If the God of the Bible exists, and there is a True Reality beneath and behind this one, and this life is not the only life, then every good endeavour, even the simplest ones, pursued in response to God’s calling, can matter forever.
In my last post, I argued that The Hunger Games is nothing new – but that’s a good thing! Young adults need texts like this and they ought not to be censored for early high school readers. In this post, I want to address some specific concerns about the novel. There are a number of articles floating around on the internet. Most of the objections are picked up in this one.
As far as I can tell, there are three main complaints against The Hunger Games and I want to address each in turn and why I think each is actually a reason to engage with the novel. Read more