When most people hear the word bible, it elicits a variety of responses from “it’s God’s word” to “why would anyone care about that old book? Is it even true?”
And then when some folks hear the name, Rob Bell, it elicits a similar range of responses. “He’s a heretic, too liberal and progressive” to “he’s brilliant.”
I picked up Rob’s latest book, What is the Bible? How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can transform Everything, and I think it’s excellent. Rob has written a book I believe all people will find helpful and (at least) intriguing concerning the collection of ancient texts we call the Bible, and how it affects our lives. It’s written in such an easy, coversational tone that you hardly realize you’re covering this particular subject.
I’m three-quarters of the way through and thought I’d share some of my favorite quotes from it to whet your appetite.
Incidentally, some of these very themes are ones I’ve written about in my book, too, just not in this particular context. I guess it’s why I find it so encouraging.
Here are some excerpts:
…you don’t have to believe in God to read the Bible…the Bible is filled with people wrestling and struggling and doubting and shouting and arguing with this idea that there even is a god, let alone some sort of divine being who is on our side. If you have a hard time swallowing the god talk you’ve heard over the years, great–this book is for you, because these are exactly the kinds of things the writers of the Bible are dealing with in their writings…
Restoring, reconciling, renewing…they’re consistent and persistent in their claims that what God is up to in the world involves putting everything (all things) back together as it should be. Your broken heart? All things. Poverty? All things. Abuse? All things. Racism? All Things. Fractured relationships? All things. All things, All things. All things.
…First, he tells them who they are. Then, he tells them what to do. Why? Because the Jesus message is first and foremost an announcement of who you are. It’s about identity, about the new word that has been spoken about you, the love that has always been yours…
…Is there something bigger going on here? Yes. Abraham is being invited to trust God, to believe that God is good and has his best interests in mind and will be faithful to him even if Abraham makes a mess of things…
We entrust others to God because if we don’t, we will inevitably deal with our anxiety and worry and fear by trying to control and manipulate them…
Religious people have been very good over the years at seeing themselves as us and seeing people who aren’t a part of their group as them. But in this story, the dude who sees himself as us is furious because of how chummy God and them have become. He’s so furious, he’d rather die than live with the tension. (Bell referring to the story of Jonah.)
Which takes us back to the fish: it’s easy for the debate about the fish part to provide a distraction from the tensions of the story that actually have the capacity and potential to confront us and disrupt us with the kind of love that can actually transform us into more mature and courageous people who love even our enemies.
That’s just a sample of the thoughts Rob draws from reading the Bible, and he does a brilliant job of walking the reader through how we can also study the old letters with far more intention than most of us currently do.
If you’re interested in ordering it, click here. I get a small commission if you do so through the link, so thank you for helping me cover the costs of keeping up the blog.
Now I’m curious: do you read the Bible? If so, do you read it to check it off your to-do-list? Or do you interact with it, extrapolate the original meaning, the overview, and then the minute details to see what the author may have been trying to address?
Do you even care about such an old book?
There’s no judgment here either way.
Would you find a book like Rob Bell’s interesting?
Comment below or on Facebook. I always love to hear from you.
Have a great week, full of better thoughts!