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Rob Bell and a New American Christianity Kindle Edition
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This is not only a wonderful read, Wellman sets a solid bar for future critical studies of Rob Bell's work.
Wellman himself is clearly a superb thinker. He masterfully categorizes and comments just enough in this text to give it a driving feel. Wellman's expertise of American Christianity in general comes through and consistently serves the purposes of this study by showcasing Rob Bell's work in context in relevant and even-handed ways.
If you gravitate at all towards Bell's perspective or are looking for a solid introduction, Wellman has done you a great service here.
Anyone who has read Bell's books can understand the interest in him. He proposes concepts and courses of action that, while seemingly in agreement with Jesus' teaching, are a stretch to breaking of many Churches' present day dogma. Professor Wellman, not only has read Bell's books, he has interviewed both Bell, and a number of his previous congregation at his huge (but primitive by mega-church standards) Mars Hill Church, which is located in a rundown Indiana Mall. Wellman, in professorial style, first tells us what he is going to say in a fairly comprehensive preface; then tells us, bringing in Bells parents and coworkers, and starting with his life as offspring from a well off lawyer's family (Father appointed a Federal Judge by Reagan). Finally, Wellman tells us what he has told us and adds a useful summary of Bell's philosophy.
Starting as a conservative Christian, rock band leading high school musician, Rob Bell attended the conservative Wheaton College, but became gradually broadened in this outlook, and then attended the more liberal Fuller Seminary in California. As Prof. Wellman describes, after Bell started his Mars Hill church, as a talented performer and speaker with a fearless and humorous side, he several times built huge congregations, then lost thousands on such issues as the Iraq war, abortion, homosexuality, Heaven and Hell. Telling it as it is - or at least as he saw it - to large crowds, some cheering, some jeering, took a toll on Bell, and he left Mars Hill to spend some time in Ireland, and, as Wellman then describes, took his version of the Truth to Hollywood, where he now, at 52, hopes to eventually light a fire under a much larger audience than the 10,000 or so he inspired at Mars Hill.
Prof. Wellman, in conclusion, summarizes Bell's position (as well as it can be put in words) as one who firmly believes in the teachings of Jesus (over and above the dogma of organized religion) and further believes these teachings should be put into actions, instead of just words. So far, many are offended, but millions agree. A good, well written, well documented book for both the religious and non-religious.
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I am ready to read the sequel and ready to give to such a balanced passion