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What We Talk About When We Talk About God Paperback – Deckle Edge, February 4, 2014
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“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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To be honest, there was some repetitiveness from his other material placed in this book. There were at least two chapters that sounded very similar to his other book "Velvet Elvis". Nevertheless, this was still a classic Rob Bell book. It appeared to me this book was geared toward an audience that was either disenfranchised with the church and those who are seeking. There was a lot of vagueness and broad strokes. While inevitably he does point the reader to Jesus, it's not an in-your-face, Bible-thumping, way that many people are put off by, including myself.
So, while "What We Talk About When We Talk About God" is not a deep theological treatise, it does point the reader to God and Christ Jesus. And, I applaud Bell for this effort. I recommend this book for Rob Bell fans and to those who are seeking to understand who God is in ways you have never heard or understood before.
What's sad is that because of the hype surrounding Love Wins, lots of folks won't even give this book a chance. There is very little in this book that is hyper-controversial. It's a book about Bell's beliefs about God's nature. Like Love Wins, people are going to just assume that it's a lot more revolutionary than it really is.
I am very much so looking forward to walking through this book with my youth. When people say that Bell's books are not scriptural, that's just ignorant. Nearly every page has a useful and appropriate reference or allusion to scripture.
If your skeptical of this book, please just give it a chance. I recently had a student join our group who was very vocal and passionate about atheism. He randomly saw this book and ended up reading the whole thing within the span of a day. It was a spiritual experience for him (his words). Because of this book he is now openly exploring Christian faith.
To me, the book is packed with insight. Though there is as much allegory and poetry as straight scientific fact, the author never bends from his quest for fairness. It's palpable. The book is Socratic and logical and yet lyrical and esthetical. It's very deep, and at the same time light as a feather.
When reading an earlier book by this same author, I made the mistake of spending a lot of time trying to look for reasons to disagree with him. He had gotten a lot of bad press by *real religious authorities*, but frankly, I found the exercise a waste. The author has taken these blows in stride, though, rejected old stereotypes, and has put out quite a few books that at the very least get people to talking about God-things, which I think is always a great idea.