Rob Bell is back. After his wildly popular debut, VELVET ELVIS, Bell tackled the unmentionables in SEX GOD. Now he’s issued a manifesto in his latest book, JESUS WANTS TO SAVE CHRISTIANS. Written with Don Golden, it claims to be a book of theology or the story of God, and it fulfills this promise by putting some of Bell’s take on God on display in an engaging way.
The book begins by proposing that we read Scripture in such a way that Exodus (the second book of the Torah) is understood as the beginning. While Bell does not suggest this to ignore or discount Genesis, he proposes that the biblical story is one of exodus for the oppressed. Then he leads readers through a historical and geographical journey of God’s people from Egypt to Sinai to Jerusalem to Babylon, drawing rich comparisons between ancient days and practices and today. Along the way, he reminds readers that what happened in the Bible is not just something describing people long ago, but people today --- yes, even us. If a polite dinner conversation is supposed to skirt issues like religion and politics, then Bell clearly missed the memo. He dives into both --- tackling issues of the modern church, politics and the unhealthy behavior that accompanies living in a nation that has been given so much.
Bell addresses all kinds of issues, from oil dependence to stockpiling wealth to the number of people on anti-depressants. Clearly, something is amiss in our society and culture, and its presence can be found in the church as well. But the standout chapter is actually the final one, “Blood on the Doorposts of the Universe,” in which Bell weaves together the themes of the book and invites the church to walk in its fullness. Circling the idea of Eucharist, he shows how followers of Jesus are meant to bring the presence of Christ into the world.
The book’s weakness is its length and layout. Bell has always been the leader of the pack when it comes to the one-word paragraph.
But he’s fallen prey to an unappealing habit in his latest book.
and drag it
leaving readers to feel they’re
Like a boy who found a new favorite toy and it’s the only one he wants to play with, Bell uses this haphazard literary device so many times throughout the book that it becomes exhausting to this reader.
Despite this weakness, JESUS WANTS TO SAVE CHRISTIANS is a great discussion starter that undoubtedly will lead to many healthy conversations as well as confirm the outward focus that is stirring throughout the church today.
Reviewed by Margaret Oines on November 13, 2011