Posts Tagged “rob bell”

We all make assumptions.

Often we don’t even know we are making them. We think that the world is a certain way and that things are as they are. We have been taught things. We have absorbed other things.

Yesterday in class we watched a couple of TED talks from a few years ago. They both address some of the assumptions we make about how the world is.

Hans Rosling talks about what we think versus what the data actually tells us.

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Rosling’s exposure of what the data really tells us has all kinds of implications for how we address some of the huge problems of poverty and disease and drought and famine. I wonder if policy makers have noticed?

One thing I noticed the other day was Rob Bell talking about Galileo.

Picture Galileo, standing there on top of the Tower of Pisa, about to drop two
weights off the top. The weights are the same shape, but one is heavier than
the other. Which will land first?

Obviously the heavier one, because that’s what people had been taught
for 2000 years. How could it be any other way?

And so Galileo drops them, and they land at the same time, because that’s
how the world actually works. This kind of thinking was, of course, radical and
revolutionary and it got Galileo into all sorts of trouble.

The mind blowing part? No one before Galileo had bothered to actually
do the experiment. They just believed what they’d been taught…

Rob gets a lot of stick for asking uncomfortable questions and not always giving answers. I like that about him. I like that he says things and leaves you to think about it. He doesn’t assume that his answer will be your answer.

Which brings us to the next TED talks… Sir Ken Robinson talking about schools and creativity and finding the thing you are passionate about. He also talks about how we are educating children for a world that doesn’t exist anymore.

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Knowledge is provisional. Until Galileo dropped the weights off the tower of Pisa everyone ‘knew’ he was wrong. He also proved that the Earth orbits the Sun. He got in bigger trouble for that.

This week scientists have discovered that ‘dark matter’ isn’t what they thought it might be because a new telescope has helped them see the formation of galaxies and it doesn’t work like they thought it would.

Today (23 Sep) scientists are reporting that they have measured neutrinos moving faster than the speed of light, something thought to be impossible. If it is true then our whole understanding of the universe is pretty much wrong… Again.

How do you live in a world like that? A world where nothing is certain?

It’s odd because that is the world we live in but we are happy to believe that things are certain and fixed and unchanging, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

I wonder how many assumptions we make about our lives, our faith, our church, our relationships, our understanding of how things are and why?

They say that ‘assume’ makes an ‘ass’ of ‘u’ and ‘me’.

I think they (whoever that is) might be right.

But that might be an assumption… because everything you know is wrong.

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I like questions.

I think that’s why I like process.

Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins: At the Heart of Life's Big Questions is out soon in the UK and the interwebs have been alive with comment, question and criticism.

Yesterday Rob did a question and answer session where he admitted that for him the questions are really important.  Perhaps more important than answers, especially as we won’t know the answers about heaven and hell until we’re dead!!


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I wonder what spaces we give to big questions like this in our communities?

Questions inspire me.  I love hearing people talk about ideas and questions.

What’s your favourite question?

Does anyone want to run a one day conference filled with great speakers and big questions?

Seriously.  Actual answers (preferably ‘yes’) below.  Please.

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I have a question.

It might be Rob Bell’s question too but I don’t know because his book isn’t out until the end of March.

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Actually I have lots of questions but I’ll try to keep to this one:

How does grace work with heaven and hell?

Let me explain my problem.

God loves us.  It doesn’t matter what we have done, God loves us.  Or have I missed something?  And does that make me a universalist?  And is that a bad thing?

Does God only love us if we say sorry or we acknowledge His existence?  Or does God love everyone?

You see I read the story of the prodigal son and I see that the father loved his son, even before he had a chance to say sorry.  He loved him every day he was gone and what the boy had done didn’t make that love any less.

But then I read that God loved the world so much he sent his son and that I need to believe in him to have eternal life.

And those things seem to be at odds with each other.

Or are they?

Is there a limit to God’s grace or not?  I hope not for mostly selfish reasons.

I have questions about the nature of ‘heaven’ and ‘hell’ too but I’ll keep those for another day…

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jesus_cheI’m working on a sermon for Sunday.  A couple of things have been swirling around my brain for a while.

The first is Shane Claiborne’s ‘Jesus for President’ stuff where he talks about the revolutionary kingdom.  The subversion of the Gospel of the Caesars and Mark’s mocking of Caesar in the way he depicts the Crucifixion as a coronation.

The video I posted of Rob Bell sharing his thoughts on the Good News echo these thoughts.

So that’s where Sunday’s sermon is going.  The kingdom of God is a subversive revolution.

I remember the fuss about this picture of Jesus depicted as Che Guevara, the revolutionary who was a key player in the Cuban revolution.  People were genuinely outraged.  I hope it was because they wouldn’t associate Jesus with violent revolution but I have more than a sneaking suspicion that people just don’t see Jesus in the revolutionary role.

So, what do you think?  was Jesus ‘meek and mild’?  Or is there more to this Gospel than that?  Is the Gospel political?  Is it a call to subversive living?

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I’ve just finished reading Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell.  I know it’s taken me a while to get round to this but I’m kind of glad I waited because I think I’m probably in a place now where it makes more sense to me that it might have when it came out a couple of years ago.

The book is full of gems.  For me, Bell’s engagement with the Jewish Jesus is illuminating and helpful but the line that struck me most was:

If it’s not good news for everybody then it’s not good news for anybody.

His explanation is that if person X starts to follow Christ that should be good news for the Muslim next door or the Hindu across the road because person x will be a better neighbour.

I’ve asked the question ‘What difference does it make to the world that we follow Christ?’ in a few sermons over the past months.  I think Rob Bell’s observation gives at least a place to start looking for an answer.  The Good News isn’t just Good News for us.  It should be Good News for the people we live with, the people we work with, the people we share our street with, the people we meet and all the people we come into contact with.

The lectionary for this week is Matthew 25: 31-46 (the sheep and the goats/i was naked, hungy, sick, in prison) and in his Chocolate teapot for 28 Nov Roddy Hamilton has posted some thoughts:

There is no way Jesus intended to start a church. Nothing he did was designed to grow a great institution that has fought over how many angels you can get on a pin head, the colour of cups in the cupboards and who should be allowed to use them, should the minister raise three fingers representing the Trinity during the benediction, should we stand for the bible, what should be the balance of hymns between traditional and contemporary etc, etc, etc. You can add to the list as you feel the need.

All Jesus did was tell folk there are forgotten folk in the world and there ought not to be, there are people who starve and there shouldn’t be, there are folk imprisoned in memories and pain and guilt and marriages and illness who should rather be free to life fully, there are people who can’t afford clothes for their own backs let alone their children’s backs and that is a shocking thing to let happen. Sort it.

The principle is dead straight forward. This is quite simply all there is to do as a church, a nation, a company of people, an individual. Here, and rarely anywhere else will you find Jesus. He never said he’d be found among those who wanted pews or those who didn’t, those who wanted everything sung with the organ or the piano, those who wanted Moody and Sankey or those who wanted John Bell.

But he did say, if you want to find me, look among the poor.

Which bit did the church fail to understand?

My answer? All of it.

We, the church, the supposed people of God, the followers of Christ, have forgotten that the Good News should be Good News for everyone.  If it’s not Good News for everyone then it’s not the Good News Jesus was talking about.

Any thoughts?

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