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

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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.


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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 (313 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #203,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Rob Bell is a bestselling author, international teacher, and highly sought after public speaker. His books include The New York Times bestseller Love Wins, along with Velvet Elvis, Sex God, Jesus Wants to Save Christians, and Drops Like Stars. At age 28 he founded Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan, and under his leadership it was one of the fastest-growing churches in America. In 2011 he was profiled inTime Magazine as one of the 100 most inuential people. Rob is also the featured speaker in a series of spiritual short lms called NOOMA. Currently, he is working with former LOST producer Carlton Cuse on a television series and will be releasing a new book in 2013. He and his wife Kristen have three children and live in Los Angeles.

Customer Reviews

Rob Bell always makes you think.
One of the most enjoyable and thought provoking theological books I've read in a long time.
As a scientist and a Christian I would highly recommend this book.
Nathan Sather

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

173 of 187 people found the following review helpful By Just Bill on March 12, 2013
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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106 of 124 people found the following review helpful By JR. Forasteros on March 12, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
What We Talk About When We Talk About God (WWTAG) is the first book Rob Bell has written since Love Wins blew up the internet. Since then, Rob has stepped down from his position as Lead pastor at Mars Hill, the church he founded, and moved to the Los Angeles area.

Writing book reviews is always tricky. But when Rob Bell writes a book, that review is even harder because you almost have to write a review about Rob himself before you can talk about the book. Well, I'm not going to do that. I'm going to stick to the book itself. If you like Rob, you'll probably like this book. If you don't like Rob, I doubt you'll like it. This review is for people who are more interested in God than Rob Bell.

WWTAG launches conversations about God into the twenty-first century.

Rob opens by acknowledging a problem many in the Church are afraid to face: for many outside the Church (and a growing number inside, too) the way we talk about God feels at best stale and outdated and at worst dangerous and primitive. Rob asks if God can keep up with the modern world.

The question is rhetorical. Rob immediately confesses that the God he finds in the Old and New Testament Scriptures, the God revealed in Jesus, isn't behind us somewhere, trying to keep up. Rather, God is ahead of us, calling us into a better future.

Rob uses the story of Jacob dreaming of a ladder to Heaven. When Jacob wakes, he confesses that God was there even though he didn't know it. The story reminds us that

God hasn't changed; it's Jacob who wakes up to a whole new awareness of who - and where - God is.

How do we talk about God in the wake of Modernity?

Rob offers three concepts: God is with us, for us and ahead of us.
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90 of 112 people found the following review helpful By Clint Schnekloth on March 22, 2013
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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