Thursday, September 14, 2006

WIR -- Velvet Elvis

By Rob Bell. Great book. I agree whole-heartedly with his point below, but very few conservative Christians do. I've literally been "boo-ed" at presbytery for making this point. I'm learning to tread more carefully, though.

From page 68.

The ultimate display of our respect for the sacred words of God is that we are willing to wade in and struggle with the text -- the good parts, the hard-to-understand parts, the parts we wish weren't there.

The rabbis even say a specific blessing when they don't understand a portion of the text. When it eludes them, when it makes no sense, they say a word of thanks to God becuase of the blessing that will be theirs someday. "Thank you, God, that at some point in the future, the lights are going to come on for me."

The rabbis have a metaphor for this wrestling with the text: The story of Jacob
wrestling the angel in Gensis 32. He struggles and it is exhausting and tiring, and in the end his hip is injured. It hurts. And he walks away limping.

Because when you wrestle with the text, you walk away limping.

And some people have no limp, because they haven't wrestled. But the ones limping have had an experience with the living God.

I think God does know what he's doing with the Bible. But a better question is, do we know what we're doing with the Bible?

4 Comments:

Blogger nickg said...

To me, there is absolutely nothing that is one iota controversial in the quote you gave from Bell. In fact, in my experience the point is almost taken for granted. I wonder if there is a general difference between people who grew up as Christians, having a high view of Scripture all their lives, and those of us who were brought to faith later in life, maybe even after a time of antagonism to the Scripture. I know you are in the former category, Willy, so it's not necessarily the rule, but it could be a factor in some cases perhaps.

All that said, what did you think of the book as a whole? I guess you said, "great book," but any more detailed thoughts? I haven't read the whole thing, but I read it for a while when I was hanging out at a bookstore one time. Honestly, I wasn't that impressed. I even remember having a fairly significant reservation about some particular point, though I can't remember now what that was.

Along the same lines, I haven't been that impressed with Donald Miller either. He's definitely a good writer, better than Bell, I think. But my overall impression has been that he's just okay. And I approached both Bell and Miller with good will. I expected and wanted to like their work. Maybe my expectations were just too high because everyone says how great they are.

Thoughts?

1:21 PM, September 14, 2006  
Blogger W Sofield said...

nickg,
great points. my experience in presbytery was like this . . . I asked an ordination candidate this question, "Can you tell us a part of scripture that you have wrestled with and you wish it were not part of the Bible . . . or a part of the Bible which you honestly struggle with how it fits with some other part of the Bible . . or doesn't seem to fit with your theology." As soon as I finished speaking, the presbytery erupted with "No!" and "Boo!" The chairman told the candidate, "You don't have to answer that."

1:37 PM, September 14, 2006  
Blogger W Sofield said...

I like Rob Bell, but he is a much better speaker than a writer. I like his book because I can hear his voice and his expression.

I hope a better writer comes along to help us along, but until that happens, I like Bell (and McLaren and Driscoll, etc.) a lot.

I think the value of Bell is his ability to take huge concepts and put them on the low shelf with good illustrations. He's not saying anything new, he's just a good communicator. He's not innovative, he's just a good communicator.

1:40 PM, September 14, 2006  
Blogger nickg said...

"the value of Bell is his ability to take huge concepts and put them on the low shelf with good illustrations."

From what I remember of the book and his preaching, I think that is right on. And that IS very valuable.

2:21 PM, September 14, 2006  

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