Tuesday, March 22, 2011

LOVE WINS. (a chapter-by-chapter discussion)

I thought it would be appropriate and fun to go chapter-by-chapter through Rob Bell's newest book, Love Wins, and discuss it with you guys. It's received a lot of criticism. For a lot of folks, what he's proposing and writing about is grounds for heresy.

What this is NOT, is a place to call and label people and ideas heretical. That's not what I'm going for. I'm also not just trying to build up Bell or this book. Rather, I want to critically analyze the ideas and questions being proposed.

Ok, onto chapter 1...

Chapter 1 - What About the Flat Tire?

Bell does what he does best in Chapter 1, ask questions! He asks tons as it pertains to salvation.

How is one saved?
Is it a free gift?

That's what most evangelicals say, that the gift of salvation is free (its what has uniquely set Christianity apart from other more works-based faiths). But then we typically follow that phrase up with, "then all you have to do is..."

And this list is usually part (or all) of the following:
be baptized
say the sinners prayer
follow the commandments
serve, give, live like Christ, etc.

Bell goes through lots of scriptural examples of people being "saved" via numerous means. Belief, child bearing, baptism, who you know, marriage...the list goes on and on.

So apparently its not just one, form-fit, check this box and your in, method.

And even when Jesus is asked directly by a rich young man, he doesn't give him a straight answer. Jesus answers with more questions.

So is it a mystery?
Is it (salvation) only for some to know & obtain?
Just how powerful was the Cross?

I assume we'll get into those questions as we proceed.


That's what I gathered from Chapter 1. It lived up to Bell's preface - that it wasn't going to be anything new - that all of these ideas have been wrestled with and asked from the beginning of time.

I hope you'll engage and lets chat more about what's being said and the implications of its ideas and questions.



Chad said...

I find this "list" to be confusing. As biblically speaking, I don't see the bible making such claims as a need for baptism or any particular prayer, etc. Only by truly accepting Jesus' gift of being our ultimate sacrifice on the cross as our means of redemption. That's it, old testament, new testament, THIS is the covenant.

Ross Christopher said...

I agree, the list is confusing. But in most evangelical churches we say, Christs death & resurrection is a free gift, that there's nothing we can do to gain God's salvation. We then follow it up with, "so all you need to do is walk down the isle, say a prayer, believe it to be true, etc" i think the "list" is different depending on the church you know/experienced.

the bible though is also not as clear as "truly accepting Jesus' gift of being our ultimate sacrifice on the cross as our means of redemption" as you put it. that's why Bell laid out all of the different passages that show how "salvation" took place - it was vastly different for all kinds of people.

there's really no summation, other than its probably not as black & white as we'd like to make it out to be...

thanks for the discussion!


Angelina said...

I think John 3:16 clearly states what saves you:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM shall not perish but have eternal life.

I don't think it gets any less clear than that. There shouldn't be any "confusion." Its pretty black and white. The Bible doesn't use shades of gray, its blunt. Which seems to be an issue for a lot of people so we use gray to make it easier to swallow.

Ross Christopher said...

I agree that John 3:16 presents 1 way of salvation, but to cherry pick scripture is not healthy either. I would argue that the scriptures, and God's nature are far more gray than B&W.

Belief is most definitely 1 way of salvation, but the bible also tells of these other avenues:

Luke 7
Luke 18
Luke 23
John 3
Luke 20
Matthew 6
Matthew 7
Matthew 10
Luke 19
Mark 2
1 Corinthians 7
Acts 22
Mark 1

All tell of various methods/avenues for salvation - seems very gray to me - but not in a "Jesus won't just answer the question" kind of gray..its gray, because its bigger than you or I can even begin to imagine!

Thanks so much for the dialogue.


Phil and Lacy said...

Good stuff, Bub. I'm glad you're having this dialogue. Can't wait to get a copy of the book.

doc misterio said...

One thing I do believe is that everyone has the right to challenge theology. That's the way it was for more than a thousand years after Christ... Sometime in the early to mid 1900's Questioning theology became "dangerous". Or at least that's what it seems like.

Someone somewhere just like me who hated that there were too many things to consider thought it would be great to systemize theology and so it happened... They probably didn't mean harm nor could they see that doing just that might be the worst thing to happen to theology since Jesus fucked it up all those years ago.

CarlRenie said...

Ross, Your response to Angelina's reference to John 3:16 with a list of "gray" saving scriptures lost credibility with me after I re-read Luke 7. There is nothing in Luke 7 which counters or obfuscates John 3_16.

Ross Christopher said...

Luke 7:1-10 is all about one being saved by another man's faith. the salvation wasn't granted only to the centurion that believed, but his subordinate. (a sort of social salvation)

hope that clears up the Luke 7 reference.