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What We Talk About When We Talk About God Hardcover – March 12, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 192 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Bell is at the forefront of a rethinking of Christianity in America.” (TIME)

“[Bell is] one of the most influential Christian leaders in the country.” (The New Yorker)

“One of the country’s most influential... pastors.” (New York Times)

“Time and again, Bell challenges the reader to be open to surprise, mystery and all of the unanswerables contained within the ‘wide stream’ called Christianity.” (Christian Century)

“Behind Bell’s easy-to-read approach is a deeper sensibility, a heavier theological hand, than in any of Bell’s previous works. . . . This book will be a welcome breath of fresh air in a spiritual haze.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Twenty years from now, we may look back from a radically new evangelicalism and see Rob Bell at the center of the shift. . . . Bell has never been afraid to push the envelope on what we know–or think we know–about God.” (Relevant Magazine)

“What We Talk About When We Talk About God challenges conventional notions of God as an otherworldly divine being set apart from humanity, opposed to science and insistent on a conservative interpretation of the Bible. Instead, Bell argues that God is more clearly perceived during moments like, well, surfing.” (Orange County Register)

“Rob Bell’s new book is good news for people who want nothing to do with religion. However, it may be even better news for those of us who are deeply committed to the faith but see that religion is way off track.” (Mennonite World Review)

“With a smattering of pop culture references and bits of humor, Bell makes an argument that will appeal to believers looking for more rational conversations about God. . . . Bell’s fans will find much to ponder and enjoy.” (Library Journal)

From the Back Cover

How God is described today strikes many as mean, primitive, backward, illogical, tribal, and at odds with the frontiers of science. At the same time, many intuitively feel a sense of reverence and awe in the world. Can we find a new way to talk about God?

Pastor and New York Times bestselling author Rob Bell does here for God what he did for heaven and hell in Love Wins: he shows how traditional ideas have grown stale and dysfunctional and reveals a new path for how to return vitality and vibrancy to how we understand God. Bell reveals how we got stuck, why culture resists certain ways of talking about God, and how we can reconnect with the God who is with us, for us, and ahead of us, pulling us forward into a better future—and ready to help us live life to the fullest.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (March 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062049666
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062049667
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (192 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,361 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Rob Bell's new book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God, is a mind-blowing, life-transforming observation of the world in which we live. It is about everything (literally!), from the space between atoms to the vastness of the universe to the distance between our hearts.

It is very, very good. 

But, sadly, it sure to be very, very controversial.

For example, Chapter One ("Hum") sets the stage:

"This book, then, is deeply, deeply personal for me. Much of what I've written here comes directly out of my own doubt, skepticism, and dark nights of the soul when I found myself questioning - to be honest - everything. . . what I experienced, over a long period of time, was a gradual awakening to a new perspective on God - specifically, the God Jesus talked about."

I can just see and hear Rob's critics now. "A new perspective on God," they'll say. "Why? The old perspective has worked just fine for thousands of years!"

Then, Rob reveals the purpose of his new book:

 "This is a book about seeing, about becoming more and more alive and aware, orienting ourselves around the God who I believe is the ground of our being, the electricity that lights up the whole house, the transcendent presence in our tastes, sights, and sensations of the depth and dimension and fullness of life, from joy to agony to everything else."

And then he shares the three words he considers the backbone of the book: With, For, Ahead.

"With...because I believe God is with us because I believe that all of us are already experiencing the presence of God in countless ways every single day."

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
How does he get away with this?

This is the question I ask myself whenever I pick up a Rob Bell book.

Imagine the original book proposal sent to his editor at HarperOne. Did it sound like this?

Dear Mickey,
I would like to publish anther book with you now that I've moved out to L.A. That last one just went viral, didn't it?! Anyway, tell me what you think. Nothing high tech or fancy on this one. All text in the book will be 14 point font san serif, with big margins. Use that pulpy paper I like. Instead of indented paragraphs we'll just drop a line like most blogs I'm reading recently. The full text of the book will be about the same length as a long piece in The New Yorker.

The book is about God, and it won't have any big words at all, or fancy terminology... until it does, like when I use the German word Grenzbegriff in one chapter, and then the mostly untranslatable Hebrew term kavod in another chapter. But no one will notice, because I will have won them over with my simple and approachable breathless language (you know, like the way I talk in all of those Nooma videos).

I promise
to make
of lists
and format
some paragraphs
like this.

All kinds of people want to talk about God. They really do. This book will sell. It will also make a difference in people's lives. Here's my outline for the book, kind of like the table of contents.

It will be
and So.

These are the words that will shape how I talk about God in this book.

Now that's what I'm talking about.

What do you think?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
'What We Talk About When We Talk About God' is a logical, electrifying presentation on rethinking of Christianity in America. Bestselling author, teacher and public speaker, Rob Bell discusses the perception and understandings of God in relation to a growing number of people who encountered disappointment and failure, as he describes how tradition has had its downside in changing the way people once believed. Pastor Rob Bell explains why many came to a complete halt, why culture has not properly contributed to positive feelings, and how we can turn our lives around for the better. In addition, the author explains that many may not realize it, but they have a problem with God. The reasons for the problem is that many believe that there's a great possibility God has changed. However, as the Pastor points out, does reality show that we have changed instead? Furthermore, the author delivers intriguing stories of experiences people have had to highlight the complexity of life, and feelings people had, when God was left behind. Most important, Rob Bell challenges the reader to answer his questions, encouraging us to find other ways to talk about God. He portrays a gradual awakening to new perspectives on God as he shows us ways to become more connected. In conclusion, the author reveals new and vibrant ways of how to reconnect, showing a new path to a better future as he gently reminds us of the crucial importance of open-honesty and compassion. This celebration for the love of God will indeed open up new doors to spirituality as we renew hope and faith. Motivating, refreshing, and beautifully written. Highly recommended!
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