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Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile

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Author: Rob Bell

Published: September 22nd 2008 by Zondervan (first published August 22nd 2008)

Format: Hardcover , 224 pages

Isbn: 9780310275022

Language: English


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There is a church not too far from us that recently added a $25 million addition to their building. Our local newspaper ran a front-page story not too long ago about a study revealing that one in five people in our city lives in poverty. This is a book about those two numbers.Jesus Wants to save Christians is a book about faith and fear, wealth and war, poverty, power, saf There is a church not too far from us that recently added a $25 million addition to their building. Our local newspaper ran a front-page story not too long ago about a study revealing that one in five people in our city lives in poverty. This is a book about those two numbers.Jesus Wants to save Christians is a book about faith and fear, wealth and war, poverty, power, safety, terror, Bibles, bombs, and homeland insecurity.It's about empty empires and the truth that everybody's a priest. It's about oppression, occupation, and what happens when Christians support, animate and participate in the very things Jesus came to set people free from.It's about what it means to be a part of the church of Jesus in a world where some people fly planes into buildings while others pick up groceries in Hummers.

30 review for Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dan Chance

    I just have finished the book and, I confess, I'm in way over my pay grade. The introduction just begins the discussion with a little story of how our misguided efforts to protect ourselves only manages to further dehumanize us and enslave us (leaving little for our known enemies to do that would be more injurious than what we are doing to our society ourselves). It really seems to be a digression from the main point of the book unless you can see it in the light of a world system doing all it c I just have finished the book and, I confess, I'm in way over my pay grade. The introduction just begins the discussion with a little story of how our misguided efforts to protect ourselves only manages to further dehumanize us and enslave us (leaving little for our known enemies to do that would be more injurious than what we are doing to our society ourselves). It really seems to be a digression from the main point of the book unless you can see it in the light of a world system doing all it can to protect itself from those it has enslaved by its greed. It can hardly be denied that those who have more than others, especially if their wealth is achieved by the underpaid (or unpaid) labor of others make natural targets for the wrath of their victims that has often led to revolutions like that of the Israelites who cried to God because of their cruel treatment and were rescued by his intervention. (99% of OUR people are basically slaves, only receiving enough to keep them HOPING that they will be able to vault into the truly privileged 1% that owns 80% of the productive assets of the world. People are beginning to cry out as the Israelies did in Egypt and God always hears the cry of the oppressed. You can and do mock them because even in their lowly estate they imitate their oppressors by what they own and do (within their credit limits).) Egypt built “treasure” cities to hold all their wealth and they built them with the labor of slaves. Ah but God delivers them and calls them to himself at Sinai for a wedding between himself and all of his people. They have been slaves so long they let their fear gain control - when they wonder if Moses has died - 1) worshiping an idol (breaking a commandment they haven’t even heard yet and 2) asking Moses to be their go-between so God won’t kill them. After the image and those who made it are destroyed. Moses brings back the 2nd set of 10 commandments. God wants them to act as beings made in HIS image but first he has to get them out of some bad habits of thinking about him and themselves (from their slave past) so he begins by saying 1) Hey! Look, there aren’t any other gods, masters or lords, so don’t venerate and obey any other creature AS god. 2) Don’t even TRY to depict what I look like because your depiction (a creation of yours) will receive the honor and praise that you should only give to ME. Want to know what I look like? Look at yourself. I made YOU in MY image. YOU are not a slave. YOU are a prince and a priest. 3) The world will judge ME by how YOU act and I will not hold anyone guiltless who dishonors me by their words or acts. 4) Slaves work every day, but you are FREE men and in recognition of this fact you must rest one day every week (just as I did when I made the world and you). You will call this day the “Sabbath” and will treat it as a holy day. Then God can begin to address how they are supposed to act in society to bring honor to his name (as a natural consequence of being faithful priests), first to those close to them then to others. Honor your father and mother, respect and obey them, so they are never forced by your rebellious behavior to bring you to the elders to be stoned to death. Don’t murder. Don’t steal. Don’t lie. Don’t desire to have/take what belongs to someone else. Don’t commit adultery. With the basics taken care of God begins to reveal his plan of redeeming all of mankind by changing the way people treat the lawbreaker, the foreigner, the widow, the orphan, the servant and the poor. Former slaves are being taught how to act so they will not become (to others) like the Egyptians were to them: haughty, heartless, unforgiving, overbearing, and cruel. Does God expect the lawbreaker to be treated with respect? Yes. Deuteronomy 25:3 “but the judge must not impose more than forty lashes. If the guilty party is flogged more than that, your fellow Israelite will be degraded in your eyes.” God fulfilled his promise, settling Israel in its land but Israel did not do what it promised Moses (and God) at Sinai. Israel took up the ways of Egypt and empire and God being true to his word, heard the cry of their downtrodden, and sent them BACK into captivity, shame and slavery first under Babylon, then Assyria and finally Rome at the time of Christ. Christ came as a servant, not as a king. He rode into Jerusalem on a gentle donkey not a war horse. His apostles didn’t ‘get-it’ until they will filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost that he was not restoring the empire of David or Solomon but though them was restoring the perfect righteousness of HIS rule in the lives of men. Once again we drifted away into a cloistered, venerated, wealthy, corrupt priesthood and blind, needy enslaved people. Some are still crying and waiting for our exodus while the Pharaohs in our society grow more powerful and wealthy. Some don’t know they are part of Pharaoh’s supporters and plan for expensive remodeling of church buildings when almost 1 in 5 of their neighbors is desperately poor. This is not good stewardship in God’s kingdom.

  2. 5 out of 5

    John

    ...I'm still kind of waiting for the substance, like maybe if I keep thinking about what I read it will be revealed to me. Perhaps I'm being a little mean, but this book, though given the honorable task of calling Christians back to Christ, attempts this by making naive and indefensible generalizations about politics and history (of which I happen to be a student) through the lens of an only less naive interpretation of the Bible (not that I'm a scholar) which quite happily leaves out things lik ...I'm still kind of waiting for the substance, like maybe if I keep thinking about what I read it will be revealed to me. Perhaps I'm being a little mean, but this book, though given the honorable task of calling Christians back to Christ, attempts this by making naive and indefensible generalizations about politics and history (of which I happen to be a student) through the lens of an only less naive interpretation of the Bible (not that I'm a scholar) which quite happily leaves out things like Jesus overturning the tables of the money-changers, seeming acceptance of slavery as a social fact, etc. My complaint also stems from something typical of Bell and other emergent-church types: pure deconstructionism/criticism without any building back up. Of course, Bell says we are supposed to have more faith and rely less on theological systems and so forth, but Bell's answers to "how do we then live, or understand God?" seem to be, "well, read the bible and look at how nice Jesus is." But EVERYONE already knows how nice Jesus is. Even Nietzsche was able to like Christ if not Christianity. Just do whatever feels good, man. If it doesn't feel good, it's not from God. This sounds like something a stuffy old man would write about the youth, but my point is that I wanted a book that would plot a course, but it really was just kind of a high-floating sermon, and fairly preachy, too. All this being said, it's a good book for someone new to these areas and will appeal to many people on the verge of becoming Christians or those who just want to find an outlet for the anger they have against the sins of the church. If I had read this 6 years ago I may have found it to be a little bit more compelling. As it is, I've been reading "the Sickness Unto Death" by Kierkegaard as I read Bell's book, and what I've found is that Kierkegaard has more lessons to teach Christians than any emergent church writer, and you can go ahead and throw the lessons of the Reformation on top of that. Kierkegaard gives a much different attitude towards people's feelings. He would ask: Where is the masculinity of Christianity, it's defiance against what people want, it's demand for perfection and honor, it's requirement of the subservience a knight owes to his king? Bell might answer: we need to present God in such a way that everyone would agree with him without any offense.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lars

    If you are not inspired to live like Jesus over and above living like an American after reading this book, you either completely missed the point or have some serious issues with syncretism to work out. That said, Rob Bell paints a beautiful, poetic manifesto (for all the reviewers complaining about how 'short' the book was, perhaps a healthy understanding of expectations coming in would have been worthwhile) that far surpasses even his brilliant 'Velvet Elvis'. Bell says so much in so few words, If you are not inspired to live like Jesus over and above living like an American after reading this book, you either completely missed the point or have some serious issues with syncretism to work out. That said, Rob Bell paints a beautiful, poetic manifesto (for all the reviewers complaining about how 'short' the book was, perhaps a healthy understanding of expectations coming in would have been worthwhile) that far surpasses even his brilliant 'Velvet Elvis'. Bell says so much in so few words, cutting through the heady theology and allowing Jesus to pierce the heart of His followers to wake up and 'get it'. Bell's book is framed around the idea that Jesus is not only saving the world, but saving US. You and me. In America. From the kingdom of comfort. From the pursuit of power. From the priority of preservation. From the empire of indifference. From an exile of irrelevance. If the Church is to regain her authority in the world instead of settling for the preponderance of power in political realms, then it will be necessary to follow the urgings of Jesus and the trajectory of all human experience (encapsulated and emulated in YHWH's deliverance of His people from bondage in the exodus)from enslavement to liberation, from power to authority, and from despairing comfort to sacrificial hope. Jesus Wants to Save Christians is the perfect manifesto for that journey.

  4. 4 out of 5

    whichwaydidshego

    I think this is probably a lower rating than it deserves, but I read it directly after another book of his which was positively impacting. Also, I am reading this many years and deep revelations (for Mr. Bell) after having written it. Good insights,though. I just think both he and I have moved farther down the path. I do wish I would have found this earlier in my journey - I would have known I wasn't alone.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Once again, Rob Bell is crossing the line of the conservative, American Christian mindset. And once again, I can only imagine the militaristic agenda he denounces will undoubtedly be aimed at him from within the Church. That's why I love this book (and it's Biblical, providing a good slap in the face to dissenters).

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    Wow! This is a book that every American Christian needs to read! I've read some reviews that "complain" that this is really just a written sermon, and, while I agree, I have to ask why that's a problem. Sometimes we need to be told, shown, reminded, "preached to" about what's important. That's what this book does. If the majority of Christians acted on the sermon in this book, Western Christianity might (would?) regain the credibility it has almost completely lost over the course of the past 40 o Wow! This is a book that every American Christian needs to read! I've read some reviews that "complain" that this is really just a written sermon, and, while I agree, I have to ask why that's a problem. Sometimes we need to be told, shown, reminded, "preached to" about what's important. That's what this book does. If the majority of Christians acted on the sermon in this book, Western Christianity might (would?) regain the credibility it has almost completely lost over the course of the past 40 or 50 years when it decided to forsake its mission and instead pursue political power at all costs. The subtitle of this book is important, but may be lost on the majority of Christians who don't realize that the church IS in exile. My only concern with this book is that many Christians will perhaps mistake it as a "WE can save the world" manifesto; it might be perceived as incorrectly arguing that all we need to do is work hard for social justice and the world will be bright, shiny, and new again. Of course, we can (and MUST) make the world better for the oppressed, but the only final and perfect solution is Christ's return. I'm not saying that this book is arguing AGAINST this point, but rather that it doesn't really make it. And the book is correct in implying that too often Christians don't act as Christians are commanded to do because of our "laissez faire" attitude that all we have to do is wait for Jesus to come and fix everything.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ben Zajdel

    Second time reading this, still good, still surprisingly relevant.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin Elliott

    I had never read this book before, but a lot of what Bell is getting at here feels like it could've been written for 2019 instead of 2008 when it was published. Very insightful.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Phil Whittall

    Jesus wants to save Christians is Rob Bell's (he of the Noomas and Velvet Elvis) third and probably most substantial book, co-authored with Don Golden from World Relief. Its subtitle 'A Manifesto for the church in exile' neatly encapsulates the heart of the book. Church shouldn't be about empire and in the USA it is. Church should be about the mission of God which is calling people and creation out of exile (slavery to sin) and into the new reality of God's purposes. The book isn't long, 181 pages Jesus wants to save Christians is Rob Bell's (he of the Noomas and Velvet Elvis) third and probably most substantial book, co-authored with Don Golden from World Relief. Its subtitle 'A Manifesto for the church in exile' neatly encapsulates the heart of the book. Church shouldn't be about empire and in the USA it is. Church should be about the mission of God which is calling people and creation out of exile (slavery to sin) and into the new reality of God's purposes. The book isn't long, 181 pages and only slightly more words. As ever stylishly produced, the cover is definitely intriguing. There's lots of white space because Rob writes in an interesting way, that is supposed to make you pause and realise how important that last sentence really was. Which after a while, gets a bit annoying and to my mind eventually just seems a bit pointless. Overplay your hand and a great writing device just seems to be a bit gimmicky. But these quibbles aside this book has greater substance than his previous two and will no doubt continue to polarise opinion. Republican Christians I imagine are not going to like his sincere questioning of America's use and misuse of power. Reformed Christians are not going to like the lack of wrath as Bell describes the atonement and so on... Firstly, because the first section is telling the story of the Bible this feels a more deeply scriptural book, there's lots of scripture here. This is good, we're engaging with the text. The arguments will be about interpretation. There are some interesting connections made that I'm not sure about, do the 3000 saved on Pentecost in Acts really mirror the 3000 killed after the Golden Calf incident? Was the gentile Luke really that clued in? Not sure, but it's an interesting idea. Bell seems to see Jesus as our great representative, so his blood reconciles, rescues and redeems, it does when we trust in it, save us from exile and slavery to sin. But there's nothing here on justice, holiness etc... The two dominant themes are exodus & exile and Eucharist. The Church should be on an exodus to a new reality, calling people out of exile. The Church as the body of Christ should be broken and poured out for the poor and the needy of the world. Remember the poor and don't be seduced by the empire. As a call to be involved in the needs of the world this book works well and on that level I commend it. As a retelling and subverting of a story that gives churches rights and standing in the Empire, I applaud it. Sentences like “The authority that the church has in culture does not come from how right, cool, or loud it is, or how convinced it is of its doctrinal superiority” hit the mark and do so often. But I just wonder if it's all been done better elsewhere. Shane Claiborne attacks empire with more verve and bite, NT Wright informs us of exile and exodus with greater depth and insight, Ron Sider calls us out on poverty with greater authority. This is a good book, if you don't know that God cares for the poor or your teenagers are a bit too self-obsessed then give them this. It's cool enough and punchy enough and short enough to work. But as a manifesto it lacks real depth - there's not much on practical application here, no stories to get us thinking, no actions to follow other than to 'hear the cry of the oppressed and do something' which is helpful only to a point. It could have been so much more.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Longfellow

    Jesus Wants to Save Christians is a well-chosen, provoking title which accurately hints at its central focus, which is that in many ways the church—and particularly the church in America—has lost sight of what it means to live life in the way Jesus charged us. Beyond this, however, Bell and Golden appear to have written a testimony intended for an audience beyond Christians: even simple contextual points that are familiar to most Christians are observed and their relevance explained. This easy-to Jesus Wants to Save Christians is a well-chosen, provoking title which accurately hints at its central focus, which is that in many ways the church—and particularly the church in America—has lost sight of what it means to live life in the way Jesus charged us. Beyond this, however, Bell and Golden appear to have written a testimony intended for an audience beyond Christians: even simple contextual points that are familiar to most Christians are observed and their relevance explained. This easy-to-read, thesis-driven book spends its first chapters looking at the repeating cycle of exile and redemption throughout the Bible. The repeating elements the authors draw our attention to are quite important to their purpose, which is (in part) to look at the whole narrative arc of the Bible as one unified and self-referential story. And they do a good job: an awareness of the intent of the writers of both the Old and New Testaments consistently shows; the text is neither difficult nor time-consuming; and the book is worth the time it takes to be awakened to or reminded of the connections Bell and Golden emphasize and the significance of these connections regarding the divine plan for humanity. The second thrust of the book focuses on the angle that the cycles of exile and redemption occur within the context of the power of “empire” over groups of oppressed peoples. Currently, America fits quite obviously into the category of empire and, consequently, participates broadly in the oppression of many peoples and groups. The church, however, has a message of redemption for these oppressed peoples and groups. This message cannot be delivered from the position of empire; the only way to deliver this message is to become “weak,” to stand beside those who are oppressed, to live as Jesus lived, “broken and poured.” We, the church, are Eucharist.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cornell

    Where was God when I lost my job? Where was God when my father died? Where was God when my son got sick? One of the most cliched answer to this question is "where He was when His Son was crucified." That answer is true, those who give it mean well, but it is often inappropriate and may come off as very insensitive. In "Jesus Wants to Save Christians", Rob Bell calls Christians to live out the mission they have been saved for. He argues that the best and most effective way to live out the Christia Where was God when I lost my job? Where was God when my father died? Where was God when my son got sick? One of the most cliched answer to this question is "where He was when His Son was crucified." That answer is true, those who give it mean well, but it is often inappropriate and may come off as very insensitive. In "Jesus Wants to Save Christians", Rob Bell calls Christians to live out the mission they have been saved for. He argues that the best and most effective way to live out the Christian mission is in the context of a church. We shine brightest in community. God has ordained that His ministry to the world is primarily through His church, the church that He created and commissioned and empowered after the resurrection of Christ. Where is God when it hurts? God is in His church, using the human hands of its members to bind up the hurting wounds. He has saved us and equipped us to reach out for the lost and the least and the oppressed. Where is God when hunger strikes? God is in the hearts of the Christian "haves" that lend their food to the starving. God is in us, and working through us, His church, to challenge and change the world for His glory. Although Bell addresses the role of the church in the world tangentially, his message hits home with impeccable precision. Jesus wants to save Christians... from complacency and apathy and aloofness to the great commission. We have not just been saved for evacuation to heaven at such future day, we have been saved for the redemption of the whole creation beginning now. The whole cosmos groans for the "church" to be revealed, for the Christians to BE what they claim to be. This is a good read. All reservations about the current Rob Bell considered.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Graham

    Bell has the best of intentions, just like Peter Rollins or Brian McLaren or any number of other progressive theologians. But the substance just isn't there. All three of them write books that basically amount to "God is love and Jesus is good and we should imitate them by loving others." Which, great. But not only do they almost never get more rigorous than that, they actively overlook huge swathes of Scripture to make their points. I was waiting the whole book for Bell to try to square his mess Bell has the best of intentions, just like Peter Rollins or Brian McLaren or any number of other progressive theologians. But the substance just isn't there. All three of them write books that basically amount to "God is love and Jesus is good and we should imitate them by loving others." Which, great. But not only do they almost never get more rigorous than that, they actively overlook huge swathes of Scripture to make their points. I was waiting the whole book for Bell to try to square his message of a God who is constantly on the side of the oppressed with the horrific genocides described in the Pentateuch. Much to my non-surprise, he never does. Never even touches on that part of the Bible. That's just inexcusable. It's intellectually dishonest. This is why liberal Christianity never would have worked for me. I love the goals of the people who practice it, really. And if it makes them better people that's great for them. But it requires in many cases such dire cherry-picking that it may as well just be tearing whole books of the Bible out and throwing them away in order to contort a book filled with clearly immoral passages into a moral worldview. A lot of this, I'm sure, is that this book just isn't intended for me. I'm a posthumanist atheist, which is a completely separate paradigm from Bell's intended audience. But god, it's frustrating.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brad Poel

    Just minutes after the arrival of Thanksgiving Day 2008, this book serves as a reminder of one thing I’m especially thankful for this year. Egypt. My wife and I lived in an “Egypt” for a large portion of 2008. I arrived in Egypt unexpectedly. I had no idea that I was headed there. Yet I am glad that I did not know. For had I known, I may have changed course, only to arrive there at a later date. Early on, I resisted Egypt, as if in denial of its existence or of my residence there. A time later, I Just minutes after the arrival of Thanksgiving Day 2008, this book serves as a reminder of one thing I’m especially thankful for this year. Egypt. My wife and I lived in an “Egypt” for a large portion of 2008. I arrived in Egypt unexpectedly. I had no idea that I was headed there. Yet I am glad that I did not know. For had I known, I may have changed course, only to arrive there at a later date. Early on, I resisted Egypt, as if in denial of its existence or of my residence there. A time later, I accepted. God wanted me in Egypt for this season. As painful and fearful as it was. He taught me so much while living there... Uncertainty. Certainty. Faithfulness. Provision. Contentment. Trust. Unity. Recently, God brought my family and I out of Egypt, out of our bondage. For this I am extremely thankful. Yet, while I am thankful for His deliverance and a new season—a new Jerusalem—this book has taught me to remember Egypt. I want to live in the freedom of deliverance from Egypt but with the memory and awareness of my life in Egypt. And so this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for Egypt. Jesus wants to save [me] from...forgetting my Egypt.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Shaun

    This book presents a great challenge to the Christian church, particularly the Christians that live in America. The book has a great Biblical theme in discussing the history of God's people through the Exodus/Mt. Sinai, Jerusalem, and Babylon. The theme is a cycle of God's people who suffer oppression, are then delivered by a merciful God, then become arrogant and turn away from God, and then suffer oppression again as God brings judgment. The challenge today is which land are we living in? Sina This book presents a great challenge to the Christian church, particularly the Christians that live in America. The book has a great Biblical theme in discussing the history of God's people through the Exodus/Mt. Sinai, Jerusalem, and Babylon. The theme is a cycle of God's people who suffer oppression, are then delivered by a merciful God, then become arrogant and turn away from God, and then suffer oppression again as God brings judgment. The challenge today is which land are we living in? Sinai? Jerusalem under Solomon? or Babylonian captivity? Although the book does not provide a lot of answers it certainly points reader to the Lord and his Word. The book challenges the Christian to consider what he/she does with his money. Do we really need expensive cars and big houses, while so many people live off $2 a day? Do we really need multi-million dollar expansions to our church facilities, while so many people in our cities are living off the street? Should we really rely on government for our security and build more bases and grow the military or should we solely rely on God? Overall this is a quick read that invokes powerful questions and leaves the reader to pursue their own opinion.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Curtis

    I've read most of Rob Bell's books and this is my favourite. Using the work of Tom Holland as a foundation, Rob and Don lead readers through the cycle of Egypt, Sinai, Jerusalem and Babylon, drawing so many connections throughout the Scriptures I was astounded. How have I never been shown these before? There is clearly a metanarrative at work here and I find Holland's frame of the New Exodus as a strong motif (among others) for understanding it. The dominant question throughout is, 'will those wi I've read most of Rob Bell's books and this is my favourite. Using the work of Tom Holland as a foundation, Rob and Don lead readers through the cycle of Egypt, Sinai, Jerusalem and Babylon, drawing so many connections throughout the Scriptures I was astounded. How have I never been shown these before? There is clearly a metanarrative at work here and I find Holland's frame of the New Exodus as a strong motif (among others) for understanding it. The dominant question throughout is, 'will those with power use their blessing and influence on behalf of others, or will they fortify their own position?' The church, as Christ's body, must continually remember and be reminded that we are called to pour out ourselves on behalf of the oppressed because it is the character and action of our Lord and Saviour. The church is many things, but it must primarily be about embodying Christ to and for the world in which it lives. This work is a simple and understandable introduction to this call for us today.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Fisher

    A quick read with a solid theme. There were times in the book that the author belabored the point a little too much, but overall a good book. The epilogue was the highlight. I would definitely recommend that!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Adriana

    His best book yet. The whole thing blew my mind, page by page. Brilliant, Inspired, Mind-Blowing. Rob Bell asks the question others are afraid to. He really gets it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tyler

    Too much to say about this one...You just have to read it for yourselves!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rod

    Sorry everyone, but this was so annoying: I gotta give it one star. WHY? Because Rob Bell doesn't seem to know what a Christian is. And I have no idea what Don Golden knows - or why he put his name on this? Is it possible for me to write a polite review lovingly pointing out the issues I had with this babble? I'll try. My patience has been pushed to the limit (Yes, this was my third Rob Bell book as well). Honestly, I do love Rob's complete waste of space in his pages - makes me feel like an ambit Sorry everyone, but this was so annoying: I gotta give it one star. WHY? Because Rob Bell doesn't seem to know what a Christian is. And I have no idea what Don Golden knows - or why he put his name on this? Is it possible for me to write a polite review lovingly pointing out the issues I had with this babble? I'll try. My patience has been pushed to the limit (Yes, this was my third Rob Bell book as well). Honestly, I do love Rob's complete waste of space in his pages - makes me feel like an ambitious bookworm just tearing through his mostly empty pages. I get my hackles up everytime Rob fails to show a Bible verse or source. He throws a little number up instead and then expects us to run to the back of the book... and when we get there: Tada - there's a Bible reference but seldom the actual verse... so after I run to my Bibles (and also my MESSAGE translation, just in case Rob is being all trendy hipster Starbucks Youth Pastor Kool). Seriously buddy, there was so much blank square footage on these white pages you could have printed half the Bible. Hmmm, makes me think you really don't want people seeing the abused context of your verse manipulation. I just noticed I have a copy of R.C. Sproul's book: Saved From What? on my desk. I immediately noticed that R.C. shows just about ALL of his Bible reference verses --- right there on the FREAKIN' PAGE! What. an. insane. idea. It. just. might. work. --- "Whoops! Am I failing to be polite already?" --- The weird thing is: Bell's book has potential. Turning the Israelite Exile into a running theme that applies to us today was a very creative idea. I wouldn't agree that it's a Biblical idea. But fun to think about. Does Jesus want to exile us one more time? Or a few more times? Rob likes that idea - as long as he doesn't have to deal with a Heavenly kingdom that isn't here at the moment. What would Rob ever do in a Kingdom with no poor or abused people? My guess is: Rob will be having a huge "hippy Love-In" protest at the gates of Hell. Saved from What??? God apparently. (Thanks R.C.. Your awesome!) I must have marked over a 100 passages in this Social Gospel pamphlet. Pretty much everytime Bell brings up a Bible issue to force his point with a metal shoehorn of liberalism. So here goes: Inner booklining quote (pg. -01) "Once justice is seen as the thread woven into the fabric of Biblical history the whole Bible becomes much clearer. Justice is the issue when God redeems Israel from the pharaoh. Justice is at the heart of the Sinai law and justice is what Israel must show the world as a Kingdom of Priests." Are you sure Robby? Absolute justice or liberal "feel-good" justice? Godly justice or just take from the rich and give to the poor justice? This is the beginning of the major flaw with this whole book: Bell leaves out the other half of the story. Real Godly justice would have placed ALL sinners and abusers in Hell. (that's all of us: Pharoah, Israel, Rich, Poor, Moses, even the talking donkey perhaps). The Bible story isn't about Justice - that would be horrifying. It's about Truth, Love, Mercy, Grace, Redemption AND WRATH. I thought of 100's of Bible stories Rob needed to deal with to fully prove his point: He DIDN'T. I don't think Rob likes the idea that Jesus is our eternal KING. "WHAT?!" A monarchy with one guy in charge? What about democracy and all those liberal votes? Who gets to decide how best to restrict those literal Bible embracing Conservative Fundi's (with their Big Church Buildings) and their bigotry against women's rights? But that's okay - nobody really understands Rob's concept of a Heavenly eternal Kingdom - especially HIM. I wish Rob Bell would write a book called: All the Things About the Bible That I HATE. I wouldn't even have to review it - People wouldn't have to labor so hard to comprehend where Rob is going with his Bible chopping politics. If I wrote a book like this one: In order to be scholarly - I would send it to Rob's worst scholarly enemies (perhaps John MacArthur or James R. White) and find out what I need to do to really prove my points. My guess is Bell sent this to Arch-Bishop Desmond Tutu and got it back with his Gold stamp approval, still in the plastic wrap of course. (same as Tutu possibly sending his "God Is Not A Christian" book to Bell). Neither one of them are known for their thorough understandings of the Bible or basic research. Bell quote: (not even page 1). "to wake up to our calling, to be saved in all of the ways that matter most." What ways are those Rob? Do you mean like when Jesus said: "Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20) What? That verse doesn't mention poor people and oppressive powers of the empire - not even a complaint about Rich churches only offering one soup kitchen. Revelation 21:27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. WHat?! What about Poor People being shameful and deceitful??? Surely they'll enter it. Definitely NOT those Pure Rich people (endless curses on them). And that's the BIG FLAW with this book: There's just enough truth in it to be totally Useless and dangerous. Rob's title was dishonest propaganda: "Jesus Wants To Save Christians" This book isn't about saving anyone. It's about political comfort as Rob see's it. It isn't even really about Jesus or the Bible: it's about liberal politics and humanism. Sure we need to look after the poor and the oppressed - the Bible mentions that many times. But Rob doesn't like the idea that there's a Bigger Issue that Jesus mentions ALSO: Our very Souls. This entire Book is Rob using Jesus as a political tool to force his empathy for the poor. That's sad. ______________ (pg. 16) "These slaves are rescued from the oppression of Egypt." Rob thinks this is his home-run issue. Anyone being oppressed is a slave - and God demands we free them. But what happens when you rescue slaves: they simply go on to oppress others. Same as what happens when poor people become rich - they go on to horde their wealth selfishly. So is this what God is really about: Someday, maybe, if He's lucky, he might just get a society that is free and equally blessed (but not TOO blessed, that would be a big fat sin) with some kindness sprinkled on top? Slavery isn't a salvation issue. Notice that God rescued HIS people. Abraham's covenant children. And they sinned AS they were being rescued. God had a specific JOB for them - more so than a freedom and liberty. ________________ Interesting bit about the Queen of Sheba visiting Solomon: Rob says this PAGAN queen from far away with a different culture comes to see Israel's Justice. (pg.29) "A queen from the land of Sheba comes to visit Solomon. She's from far way, from a different land, from a different kind of people, with a different religion. And she wants to know more about these people and their king and their God in Jerusalem - Wasn't this what Sinai was all about?...What impresses her most about this God of Solomon's is that this God is the God of the oppressed. This "Pagan" queen from a foreign land understands what God is up to with these Jews..." Rob didn't do his homework: She's not really from that far away (Southwest tip of Arabian Peninsula) She may be a descendant of Abraham through his second wife Kenturah. She also may have visited to negotiate a trade agreement. She knew of the LORD of Israel. She was a very rich leader with servants as well. But this story proves? God is good. Solomon knows it, Queen of Sheba knows it. Nothing in this Royalty discussion really deals with the poor and oppressed - OR SLAVES. 1 Kings 10: 1Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to test him with hard questions. What are these questions? WE don't know. But we do know: 1 Kings 10: 4And when the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, 5the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, their clothing, his cupbearers, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the LORD, there was no more breath in her. They were both FILTHY RICH AND SUCCESSFUL AND POWERFUL. 1 Kings 10: Queen of Sheba says, 9"Blessed be the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel! Because the LORD loved Israel forever, he has made you king, that you may execute justice and righteousness.” 10Then she gave the king 120 talents of gold, and a very great quantity of spices and precious stones. Never again came such an abundance of spices as these that the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon. I too appreciate that part about Justice and Righteousness. God Bless them both. So how did this affect the Slaves and Poor in their kingdoms? We don't really know: Sure didn't stop slavery or heavy labor. Just for fun: Imagine 2 rich and powerful leaders from Alabama and Southern California (about 150 years ago) getting together - both religious, giving huge gifts to each other, both owning slaves, both speaking of justice and righteousness. Are these really different scenarios? Are these people really horrible Christians that need to be saved by Jesus? For some silly reason: Rob thinks so. (pg. 31) "This is the same Lord who sets slaves free, correct?" Well, Yes and No. ( Romans 6:18) and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:22) But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. I have yet to meet a liberal who lovingly looks forward to becoming a Slave Of God. (I sure do!) Here's a fun bit of the Bible: Right from Jesus (Luke 4) 25But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27And there were many lepersa in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. I bet Robby is filled with wrath as well. If HE were God (or a prophet) he would... Probably think like Peter the Apostle: Matthew 16:23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” ________________________ (pg. 37) "God is searching for a body, a community of people to care for the things God cares about." Ummmh, I'm not touching that one. That's just weird and Cultic. David Koresh would applaud (while he's shooting at the FBI and burning his followers buildings) (pg. 38) "They became indifferent to God and to their priestly calling to bring liberation to others." Liberation? To others? Like the Canaanites perhaps? Or Jericho? Deuteronomy 20: 17"But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the LORD your God has commanded you, 18so that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods..." We have to be careful with the word "Liberation". It never means we are liberal towards SIN or detestable things. But good thing Israel had an ARMY to LIBERATE all these people. Just like GOD SAID. __________________ Rob gets maybe a bit blasphemous here: (pg. 51) "By the rivers of Babylon, the prophets began to imagine a God who is bigger than the narrow, tribal God of their Jewish heritage." Depends on what you define as their heritage? I could maybe say the same of Rob Bell's god - simply arranging chairs on a sinking ship - all about some daily comfort. I don't think Rob is much interested in the NEW NATURE that Jesus and Paul speak of (OR Christ's Robe of righteousness). Ephesians 4:24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Rob seems to want a more pleasant surrounding for our common OLD nature. I don't hear him speak much about Holiness or Righteousness before God. ______________________ (pg. 81) "If evil always takes some form of violence, then more violence isn't going to solve anything." (pg. 99) "What he's against is religious rituals that replace the freedom, the liberation, brought by Christ. When people are manipulated with guilt and fear, when they are told that if they don't do certain things they'll be illegitimate, judged, condemned, sent to hell forever-that's violence." Our Savior is NOT a pacifist. OR against sending people to HELL for not doing certain things. Matthew 26:53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. John 18:36 Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place." Revelation 19 19And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army... were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh. ___________________ (pg. 84) "In Jesus day, people could read, study, and discuss the scriptures their entire lives and still miss its central message." YES, like Rob bell does in all his books. It's supposed to be ALL ABOUT JESUS! But Robby makes Jesus ALL ABOUT US and our precious liberty and rights. I could go on and on reviewing this - but there's not enough space. So here's my ending bits: Should we hate Big Churches and Military like Robby does? Big Churches often achieve Big Things for God. (and they create our economy and jobs) Big military protects our big freedoms. And I love this comment by John the Baptist (Luke 3) Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” (pg. 178) "Jesus wants to save us from making the good news about another world and not THIS ONE." Rob really hates the idea of: (Isaiah 65) 17“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. (Revelation 21:1) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. Sorry Rob, "THIS ONE" - is not what we need to dwell on. Something better is coming. John 14 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. When reading the Bible - be sure to read the WHOLE THING. Not just the parts Bell underlines to justify his political humanism. At this point: I'm not even sure if Jesus Wants To Save Rob Bell?

  20. 5 out of 5

    Abby Stevens

    I've really wrestled with many things in this book. It seems to me that the overall message Bell and Golden are sending is good--but there are moments in the book that made me stop and reconsider everything they'd just said. There were some leaps in logic that I wasn't able to get totally on board with. Just like Velvet Elvis, I think this is a book to which I'll return to chew on some more. Until then, I'd recommend it to the critical thinking Christian who isn't afraid of the questions it leav I've really wrestled with many things in this book. It seems to me that the overall message Bell and Golden are sending is good--but there are moments in the book that made me stop and reconsider everything they'd just said. There were some leaps in logic that I wasn't able to get totally on board with. Just like Velvet Elvis, I think this is a book to which I'll return to chew on some more. Until then, I'd recommend it to the critical thinking Christian who isn't afraid of the questions it leaves behind. HERE'S A BLOG I POSTED WHICH DELVES MORE DEEPLY INTO MY "ISSUES" WITH THE BOOK: So. This book has me feeling pretty ambivalent about some of the ideas presented. I like Rob Bell's style and approach . . . most of the time. And then there are these moments when I'm just tripping along, reading and agreeing, and all of a sudden he makes what appear to me to be HUGE leaps in logic. And because I've been in agreement thus far, I'm afraid that I missed more of them than I noticed. I came out of this book feeling like I had been manipulated into agreement rather than persuaded, and I really hate to be manipulated. Also, some of the theological, doctrinal, and spiritual "leaps" he makes make me . . . uncomfortable. Which, granted, is NOT always a bad thing. But very often he makes an irrefutable statement, uses some "if THIS, then THIS" logic on it, but when I look at where he landed from where he started, I see these small . . . holes? I don't know how to describe it, adequately. Basically, I have to think, "Yeah, this is ONE possible conclusion you could draw. But it's FAR from the only conclusion, and it may not even be the BEST conclusion." There's something far deeper that concerns me, and it's not unique to this book, but there's a passage that illustrates quite nicely the idea/attitude that worries me. "Imagine how dangerous it would be if there were Christians who skipped over the first-century meaning of John's letter and focused only on whatever it might be saying about future events, years and years away. There is always the chance that in missing the point, they may in the process be participating in and supporting and funding the various kinds of systems that the letter warns against participating in, supporting, and funding. That would be tragic. That wouldn't be what Jesus had in mind. That would be anti-Jesus. That would be anti-Christ." [pg. 134:] Here's what worries me about that passage. First of all, what apparently is being communicated here is the idea that, without complete understanding of Scripture, its history, its origins, its original audience, its original word meanings, its original structure, its original syntax, etc . . . that you cannot possibly correctly understand Scripture. It also is apparently communicating that if you miss those things, you're somehow connected to . . . the spirit of the anti-Christ. I am not saying that those things aren't good, worthy pursuits. I think they are. But I read the above passage and I think, "What about the Christian in China who is lucky just to have access to a page of the Bible? Who has NO access to additional learning or study? Who couldn't possibly study all the nuances of Jewish history, the linguistic nuances of the Bible, or the cultural implications? What about that guy? Are you honestly telling me that his reading of Revelation (which is the book to which Bell is referring) will lead him to the anti-Christ because he understands it at face value? How arrogant. How . . . immature. To assume that only upon extensive study and examination can the true meaning of Scripture be revealed and honored in our lives? Foolishness. Please understand, I'm not saying that study is bad. It's really, really good. It can unlock understandings that can take us deep into the heart of God. But the idea that we cannot possibly be "true" Christians until we understand all those other things, or even that we will not be "good" Christians, or "the right kind" of Christians, is just . . . false. We still read Shakespeare, don't we? And people who have NO deep education or understanding of the man, his work, the delicate nuances or the balance of his word play, his life and times, Elizabethan theater, or anything of the sort--they still watch, enjoy, understand, and learn from his plays. Do they get as much out of it as someone who has done the extensive studies? No. But do they entirely miss the point? Do they completely fail to understand anything? Is it useless and pointless for them to experience Shakespeare without the extensive studies (and therefore understanding)? No. Shakespeare's plays still do their work, even when we miss the little stuff. And Shakespeare wrote for his immediate audience, only. He was not my Creator God, who knew even before he ever inspired a single word of Scripture that, not only would Isaiah, and David, and Jesus, and Paul be reading and understanding his words, but so would I. We're talking about an author who meant for his words to be read by people of all ages, races, cultures, and generations. We're talking about an author who sits with each of us as we read his words. We're talking about an author who speaks to each of us as we read his words. Who interprets for us. Who releases revelation and understanding as his words enter the heart and mind of people who read with a genuine desire to seek him. And if the rest of Bell's premise--that the Bible is the literature of and for the little guy, the marginalized, the obscure, the oppressed, the beaten down--if it's really for that guy, then the above ideas are elitist, at best, and down-right Pharisitical at worst. You can't start out by saying that the Bible is all about being anti-empire and then say you can only truly understand it if you're a product of said empire and have enough education and resources available to you so that you are capable of understanding it. I think it's good to study and unpack Scripture. I think it's worth it to do so. But I do not believe that missing what the original readers would have seen can, in any way, lead to the conclusion that it is somehow "anti-Christ." Let me close with one last thought: I understand that Bell might be making a point that I am intentionally ignoring. That's not my focus. What bothers me is that he feels like it's okay to go to this extreme to make that point. (I would also like to clarify that this is not something that I've found exclusively, or even predominantly, in Bell's work. I've seen in all over, in many places and expressed in many ways. And like I've already said, I tend to like Bell's ideas and his style. I'm not trying to discredit him personally or theologically. It's just that I think too many people read stuff by church leaders like him, and swallow it whole, without really thinking about it or comparing it to the Word, and I think that's the most dangerous thing we can EVER do with the words of men.)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    Rob Bell Book Tour #3 Jesus Wants to Save Christians is Rob Bell's third book (he co-authored it with Don Golden, the Vice President of World Relief) and is a bird's eye view of the Biblical narrative. Using the "New Exodus" framework, Bell shows how the Christian God is a God constantly "hears the cries of oppressed" and seeks to rescue his people from bondage. Honestly, this is a pretty great book. If you've ever been confused and bored when reading the Old Testament, Jesus Wants to Save Christi Rob Bell Book Tour #3 Jesus Wants to Save Christians is Rob Bell's third book (he co-authored it with Don Golden, the Vice President of World Relief) and is a bird's eye view of the Biblical narrative. Using the "New Exodus" framework, Bell shows how the Christian God is a God constantly "hears the cries of oppressed" and seeks to rescue his people from bondage. Honestly, this is a pretty great book. If you've ever been confused and bored when reading the Old Testament, Jesus Wants to Save Christians will give you a framework to see old stories with fresh eyes. He traces Israel's history from Egypt (slavery) to Sinai (marriage/covenant) to Jerusalem (empire) to Babylon (exile/slavery again). The book cranks into overdrive when it starts examining the United States in light of the Old Testament's warnings against Empire - and it's pretty convicting stuff. This is a great primer for those who fall into the trap of Christian Nationalism. At the end, Bell shows how the Church is designed to to Christ's ambassador to a broken world, stepping up for the oppressed and marginalized in society. If you frequently read books that revolve in Bell's orbit (or N.T. Wright's, for that matter), nothing here will be new. But, given the book's brevity (it clocks in at 180 pages) this would be a perfect book to loan out to a friend who is grappling with how to reconcile God's Word with politics and social justice, or is just struggling through the Old Testament. Next on the Rob Bell Book Tour is his infamous 2011 bestseller Love Wins, or The Book Spawned a Thousand Angry Blog Posts & Tweets and Led to Bell's divorce from the evangelical community. Buckle up.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Matt Fisk

    If you’re only willing to read one Rob Bell book, read this one. Anyone who has rejected him wholesale because of “Love Wins” is really missing out on this short powerhouse of a book. The first few chapters is a recap of the grand over-arching story of God and his creation, his people, and the world he is trying to build. If you’ve listened to the BEMA discipleship podcast the first few chapters will be very familiar. To sum up, the authors urge Christians to live a life of “eucharist” in Greek If you’re only willing to read one Rob Bell book, read this one. Anyone who has rejected him wholesale because of “Love Wins” is really missing out on this short powerhouse of a book. The first few chapters is a recap of the grand over-arching story of God and his creation, his people, and the world he is trying to build. If you’ve listened to the BEMA discipleship podcast the first few chapters will be very familiar. To sum up, the authors urge Christians to live a life of “eucharist” in Greek meaning thanksgiving but if you break it into its parts “eu” meaning good and “charis” meaning gift. God has given good gifts and Christians are meant to be good gifts to the rest of the word. Not to be superior in terms of doctrine or religiosity but in justice for the oppressed, relief for the needy, and love for all. One of the quotes that stood out to me was something like, if you think we need to get rid of all the old people who don’t get this or are overly religious or we need to get rid of the young people who don’t care about doctrine, you’re wrong. The idea was that the point of the church is to bring blessings or good gifts to the entire world. Not just old, young, rich, poor, religious, or not. That challenges me but makes so much sense. A great book for a simple, powerful, and (in my opinion) not controversial call for Christians to be a blessing to the world.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlin

    As always, Bell's unique way of conveying deep theological messages in such simple and direct ways makes any Rob Bell book a must read for those wanting to get a broader picture of the cultural and historical context of the Bible. The message that stood out to me was this continuing cycle of slavery, exile and redemption; historically and today. Not only that, but our urgent need to remember our enslavement and the enslavement of others, whatever that may look like. The minute we lose sight of t As always, Bell's unique way of conveying deep theological messages in such simple and direct ways makes any Rob Bell book a must read for those wanting to get a broader picture of the cultural and historical context of the Bible. The message that stood out to me was this continuing cycle of slavery, exile and redemption; historically and today. Not only that, but our urgent need to remember our enslavement and the enslavement of others, whatever that may look like. The minute we lose sight of that, we lose sight of our call, and our God. Our story is about a cry and someone else listening, and may we find ourselves on both ends at some point. "Jesus wants to save us from shrinking the gospel down to a transaction about the removal of sin and not about every single particle of creation being reconciled to its maker."

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ricky Balas

    It has been a while since I read this book (and the other two Bell books I'm adding to my 'read' shelf), but I remember enjoying them at the time. I don't think I'm ready to revisit them quite yet, but I suspect my analysis may have changed some with maturity (last read in my late teens early 20s and now a decade later, I am married with kids and attending a more traditional Anglican church rather than the charismatic evangelical one I use to be in). Bell has become a controversial figure since It has been a while since I read this book (and the other two Bell books I'm adding to my 'read' shelf), but I remember enjoying them at the time. I don't think I'm ready to revisit them quite yet, but I suspect my analysis may have changed some with maturity (last read in my late teens early 20s and now a decade later, I am married with kids and attending a more traditional Anglican church rather than the charismatic evangelical one I use to be in). Bell has become a controversial figure since I picked these up and my lens of his writing would likely be influenced by that. However, the books did leave some impression and so I will rate them a little lower than what I suspect I would have rated them in 2008-2010 and a little higher than what I would probably rate them today if I reread them.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jake Harris

    It’s interesting to read this now, in 2018, 10 years after its publication, and see where Bell was coming from. America is still in the wars Bell decries here; we are still as enamored with our view of American exceptionalism as we ever were; and progressive Christianity has mostly stayed the same. I kept waiting for the larger point to be made, but the crux of the book boils down to: America is the Empire, live like Christ by seeing Christ in others and be revolutionary. Was a nice read though. It’s interesting to read this now, in 2018, 10 years after its publication, and see where Bell was coming from. America is still in the wars Bell decries here; we are still as enamored with our view of American exceptionalism as we ever were; and progressive Christianity has mostly stayed the same. I kept waiting for the larger point to be made, but the crux of the book boils down to: America is the Empire, live like Christ by seeing Christ in others and be revolutionary. Was a nice read though. The most interesting passages came from the chapter where Bell contrasts the Jesus of Nazareth with the Christians of American Suburbia.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    written in 2008, I didn't read this until now (2017) and it remains troublingly relevant. Each chapter is written as a sermon, which can be easily devoured in one modest sitting. Insightful, to the point that stories I've known my whole life suddenly had angles that I hadn't noticed before. Don't let the naysayers have their way; this book highlights Bell as a compelling, thought-provoking, and hardly-at-all controversial preacher for the modern day. A favorite quote: "The church is an organizati written in 2008, I didn't read this until now (2017) and it remains troublingly relevant. Each chapter is written as a sermon, which can be easily devoured in one modest sitting. Insightful, to the point that stories I've known my whole life suddenly had angles that I hadn't noticed before. Don't let the naysayers have their way; this book highlights Bell as a compelling, thought-provoking, and hardly-at-all controversial preacher for the modern day. A favorite quote: "The church is an organization that exists for the benefit of nonmembers" (attributed to others, but new to me).

  27. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Cantrell

    This is essential reading for Christians, and that's pretty much all I can say. Okay, I can say more. But only a little. This book is full of viewpoints that will be offensive to many (most?) humans who belong to a "mainstream" or traditional church. And these viewpoints *should* be offensive, because they are offensive in the way that Jesus of Nazareth was offensive to the people of his time who thought they had life, the universe, and everything completely figured out. More like this, please. Al This is essential reading for Christians, and that's pretty much all I can say. Okay, I can say more. But only a little. This book is full of viewpoints that will be offensive to many (most?) humans who belong to a "mainstream" or traditional church. And these viewpoints *should* be offensive, because they are offensive in the way that Jesus of Nazareth was offensive to the people of his time who thought they had life, the universe, and everything completely figured out. More like this, please. Always.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Z. J. Pandolfino

    The world is on fire. And Rob Bell and Don Golden want Christians to care. Jesus Wants to Save Christians compels Christians with instantly accessible prose and apt Biblical references to consider both the social aspect of their faith and its roots in Hebrew Scripture. Rob Bell and Don Golden point toward four distinct historical periods – the Israelites enslavement in Egypt, their covenant with God on Mount Sinai, their subsequent prosperity in Jerusalem, and their catastrophic exile in Babylon The world is on fire. And Rob Bell and Don Golden want Christians to care. Jesus Wants to Save Christians compels Christians with instantly accessible prose and apt Biblical references to consider both the social aspect of their faith and its roots in Hebrew Scripture. Rob Bell and Don Golden point toward four distinct historical periods – the Israelites enslavement in Egypt, their covenant with God on Mount Sinai, their subsequent prosperity in Jerusalem, and their catastrophic exile in Babylon – in an effort to contend that God carries people out of oppression and offers them hope in new human solidarity. In doing so, the authors make a point to assert that Hebrew Scripture is not irrelevant for Christians today by specifically highlighting the relationship of the Hebrew people with God throughout the Old Testament. Bell and Golden are particularly fond of the prophets and, throughout their narrative, cite passages from Isaiah and Jeremiah that, despite the contextual circumstances in which they were written, are immediately refreshing and applicable when considering poverty-related hardship. The authors do a fine job of bringing all of this back to the incarnation in Jesus and what his ministry truly means for the marginalized and oppressed of this world. For over a century now, progressive theologians have tried time and again to redirect Christianity’s obsession with individual moral failings and call attention to social sin and structural violence. Jesus Wants to Save Christians reignites this controversial theological endeavor that has stirred heated debate inside the Vatican and between Protestant denominations. Bell and Golden draw heavily on thinkers like Walter Rauschenbusch, pioneer of the social gospel movement in the early twentieth century, and Gustavo Gutierrez, the Catholic liberation theorist who vigorously fought against oppression in Latin America. Their assertion that God is defined by action on behalf of the oppressed distinctly echoes Catholic social teaching and the preferential option for the poor. One must admire Bell and Golden for attempting to bring this message to American evangelicals so often consumed with those individualistic values intrinsic to free market capitalism. They forcefully and persuasively argue that evangelicals need to worry more about injustice in this world and less about who gets into the next one; that we need to aggressively combat the institutions and systems that perpetuate inequality and poverty-related hardship; that faith consists of having hope that things can in fact get better so long as we work toward bringing about the Kingdom of God here on earth. For many Christians in the United States today, these are radical, leftist claims that undermine fundamentalist values and teachings. Nonetheless, Bell and Golden boldly persevere with their message throughout Jesus Wants to Save Christians, constantly grounding their arguments in Scripture and the teachings of Jesus. Most importantly, Bell and Golden contend that Christians’ spiritual convictions ought to engender political efficacy. Spiritual discussion, they boldly claim, is not consigned to church communities and youth groups. Jesus Wants to Save Christians is, therefore, a diatribe against empire, gross military spending, poverty-related hardship, income inequality, food insecurity, and a plethora of other social justice issues. Bell and Golden even level criticism at the Bush Administration and its handling of the Iraq War. For them, the God of the Bible works on behalf of those least advantaged in society and calls Christians to do the same. Don’t be fooled by the title; Jesus Wants to Save Christians is undoubtedly political in nature. While it does not delve into the complex philosophical problems posed by bringing one’s religious convictions into the so-called political sphere, its authors confidently assert that anyone who believes in Jesus should care deeply about poverty, famine, and human suffering. Currently, Bell finds himself in the crosshairs of furious evangelical Christians who insist on the exclusive nature of Christianity and despise his recent partnership with Oprah Winfrey. Despite religious degrees from Wheaton College and Fuller Theological Seminary, mainstream evangelicals continue to question the former Mars Hill pastor’s understanding of the Bible and his identity as a Christian. Conservative religious thinkers often charge liberal theologians like Bell with making the Gospel more palatable to modern audiences. They argue that these so-called liberal progressives want to water down the Christian message so that it might fit their particular political leanings. Yet Jesus Wants to Save Christians arguably challenges us far more than any individualistic interpretation of Hebrew Scripture or the Gospels. It necessitates that we radically rethink how we are complicit in the suffering and death of people across the world. It calls on us to transform our oppressive and domineering social institutions in ways that may seem unfamiliar or even undesirable. It makes proponents of laissez faire capitalism uncomfortable. One can therefore understand why so many American evangelicals dismiss Bell and his teachings out of hand. Jesus Wants to Save Christians calls us to bring the Kingdom of God back down to earth. And that will be really . . . really hard to do.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gary Webber

    An absolute must read. It made me beautifully uncomfortable and encouraged many unspoken feelings I've had about western Christianity and the church. It is a quick read, and even if you do not agree with all of the books application, it would be hard to argue the theology, which will then draw you back to the very uncomfortable application you may not agree with. This book should come with a warning label for those who may like and want to keep their mainstream consumer oriented Christianity.

  30. 4 out of 5

    G. Lyons

    Slavery. Exile. Empire. Doorposts... I hear less about this book than the others, but this one was/is by far my favorite. The title is likely more than enough to keep some people away from this book, and that's a shame. This is a well-researched book by Bell and Golden, providing lots of facts and context to supplement their overall message. Loved this challenging book. 5/5 stars

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