Scot McKnight reviews
Rob Bell’s Jesus Wants to Save Christians
“The most important thing that will come of Rob Bell’s newest book, Jesus Wants to Save Christians, is that Christians will be given an approach to reading the Bible that both makes sense of the Bible and makes sense of the world in which the earliest Christians lived. I’ll sum it up with five “E”s. But I will stake a claim on this: this is Rob Bell’s best book to date.
If you’ve read any of Rob’s books or heard him speak, what do you think are his most importance insights and contributions?
First, Rob suggests the “first” book in the Bible — and here he is not talking about the first book in pages — is Exodus and the big idea of that book, the “Exodus,” is the Bible’s own presentation of what God is up to in this world: hearing the cry of the oppressed and liberating them through an “exodus.” He traces this theme through the whole Bible, and of course he finds important echoes in the opening of each Gospel: the way made straight for the Lord. This image from Isa 40 is the new exodus theme of Isaiah.
Second, those who are liberated, because they are fallen sinners, turn their situation into power and oppression and become once again like Egypt (another “e”). Egypt stands for bricks and power and money and oppression and turning away from God. Rob, swiping a generative idea of Walter Brueggemann’s (The Prophetic Imagination), sees the return to Egypt or the rise of Egypt in Israel in Solomon’s aggrandizing of power and money and military might. So, Egypt dwells in each of us and it is the prospect that fidelity alone can avoid. … “
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Jesus Wants to Save Christians.
Hardcover. Zondervan. 2008.
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The Internet Review of Books reviews
John Caputo’s What Would Jesus Deconstruct?. http://internetreviewofbooks.com/apr08/what_would_jesus_deconstruct.html
” … Caputo admits, “We cannot know what Jesus would do in such an entirely different world as ours,” but he does propose that “he would deconstruct a very great deal of what people do in the name of Jesus, starting with the people who wield this question like a hammer to beat their enemies. My hypothesis is that the first thing that Jesus would deconstruct is WWJD itself, the whole ‘industry,’ the whole commercial operation of spiritual and very real money-making Christian capitalists.”
We are “haunted,” Caputo says, “by the unnerving prospect that one day Jesus will drop by, unannounced.” And yet he does drop by, is always arriving, or in deconstructionist terms, “always already arriving”:
From time to time the figure of Jesus, or fragments of his figure, appear here or there in individual lives, showing up sometimes in people who burn with a prophetic passion, sometimes in people of inordinate compassion and forgiveness. When this happens, we are likely to mistake such people as mad or weak, which in a sense they are—mad with the folly of the cross, weak with the weakness of God.”
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The Clarion Review overviews
the fiction and “Christian Humanism”
of Flannery O’Connor.
“… O’Connor’s iconographic fiction was drawn out by the challenges to Christian orthodoxy that she felt compelled to answer. And “Parker’s Back” in particular helps us to understand where and on what grounds she parts company with the fundamentalist religion of the South—a religion that on various occasions O’Connor said she otherwise stood beside as a Roman Catholic in opposition to the secular mind. Ironically, modern fundamentalism doesn’t take the Incarnation seriously enough. It limits the limitless God to the written word and denies his presence in the physical creation. Sarah Ruth completely fails to detect God’s presence in the drama that unfolds around her. She is unable to see the image of God in her husband and does not comprehend his participation in the suffering of Christ and redemptive victory on the cross. Could this be because she is a Christian gnostic? O’Connor leaves Sarah Ruth no better off in relation to God and humanity than the secular people she abhors.
On another occasion, Flannery O’Connor penned these words about her art which crystallize in her characteristically homely way her remarkable incarnational and humanistic vision of life. ‘Fiction,’ she said, ‘is about everything human and we are made out of dust, and if you scorn getting yourself dusty, then you shouldn’t try to write fiction. It’s not a grand enough job for you.’ Now that is a lesson not limited to writing but applicable to the whole of living.”
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