Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pr. Rob Bell's Revision

Rob Bell, evangelical pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, MI, is making quite a stir with his new book, "Love Wins." I hope lots of people read his words. I hope they come to his side of the old Christian debate about the nature of salvation and the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. 
While I haven't read his book, I know what it contains. It contains much of what I have been taught, studied, preached, written about and believed about God's intention for the human world through the life, ministry and death of Jesus.

In my words, it's less about the details of certain parables and teachings of Jesus about hell and suffering, and more about the nature of God being grace, love and welcome to us sinners. We are all helpless without the love of God. And once we experience that love, Christianity is not so much about right belief anymore. It's about living with freedom, forgiveness, and using our lives to help and heal the world. To care about the kingdom of God. Now.

A gospel of grace is centered in a large understanding of God, a God who created and loved this world so much that God was compelled to enter into our human experience, live among us, and suffer for our brokenness and violence toward one another. This is how we see Jesus. A God who is interested in relationship with us now, today, not just in life after death.

It's the amazing grace of this faith that sends me out into the world to serve. Not fear of death. Not fear of God's judgment. Not some sense that I have "it" right and those poor (fill in the blank) don't.

I'm happy that this young, bright, Fuller Seminary educated pastor can reach so many with a perspective that seems radical and new. It's nothing we dull, old, boring mainline preachers, teachers and believers haven't been saying for decades.

Welcome to the wider mainstream of Christianity, Rob. We're glad to be in your company. Perhaps tthe American mainline and evangelical churches can be renewed and with this next generation be a force for community, service and healing like never before. One can only hope.