In this post I want to explain why I would write a review of Rob Bell’s latest book, What Is The Bible. In a following post I will do the review. So why do a review of Rob’s book? Focus on the negative? Emphasize our differences? Waste time debating instead of making a real difference in the world? Point the finger of blame at a guy instead of having a cup of coffee celebrating friendship with him? Nit-pick over theological fine points instead of unifying on common ground? NO WAY! Nobody wants to be THAT guy!!
Instead, truly, I’d rather sit down and have a good conversation with Rob over at Winan’s sipping an Americano. He’s put a lot of effort into helping people see what the Bible is all about. I’d like to add my efforts. We all should be about helping people get everything they can out of the Bible. I’d like to thank Rob for putting his thoughts into a book. Hey, when you do that, you open the door for lots of dialogue. What is the Bible opens the door to discuss really big questions lots of people are asking and we should all do our best to guide people to good answers. After all the Bible is the most important book in the history of the world. Everybody should want to be THAT guy! I do.
I have some concerns about his thoughts in the book and I have some positives to highlight. The space I give to the concerns will be bigger than the space for the positives because I think redirection and warning warrants it. This is highly important since we’re talking about the most important book in the universe that tells people how they can know God, make a difference in the world, and go to heaven when they die. I think everyone agrees with that – right. But I also want to be up front that the space given to my concerns in no way means I think Rob is a bad guy, that I really just want to yell at him. Rob is a great thinker, creative, and loves people. Honestly, I’d really just like to hang out with him a lot. Of course if we did, then we would end up talking a lot about the most important book in the universe and how to help people get the most out of it. I know he would agree with that.
As a matter of fact, that’s the positive I see in Rob’s book. He’s a great writer, easy to read, very thought provoking. I have no doubt that even those least familiar with the Bible will be compelled by his book to want to read it more. In spite of all my concerns, if more people are led to read the Bible by this book, I’ll be happy. I want everyone to read the most important book in the universe.
Rob, great job of probing the obscure details to help people see a richness in the scriptures like they’ve never seen before. Reading you has made me want to study harder. In several ways, your book has urged me toward being a better preacher and teacher of the Bible. I like how you focus on the humanness of the Bible. Getting at the reason why the words were written, originally, opens our minds to grasp the real meaning. Also the historical context and the cultural nuances woven into each writer’s unique expressions; picking up these details makes the reader see the life brimming within the text. I like how you open people’s eyes to those things.
I also like how you focus on the here and now aspects of the Bible. This book calls us to see our identity in Christ and live it out now, right here in this broken world making a difference in the lives of our neighbors. And it’s about revealing the unfathomably deep covenant love of God for people here and now. Now more than ever the world needs to hear about that love. These things are to be applauded since they really might cause more people to read the Bible.
Honestly, though, for the guys I’m discipling, those who are new believers and those who are not yet trusting Christ, I would not recommend this book. Rob says things about the Bible that I find to be inaccurate, even disturbing. If these young guys ponder what the book says, their new-found love for the Bible would be damaged. Instead of looking to the scriptures for unwavering truth they can believe, they would walk away wondering if anything in it is real. Did those stories even happen? Did God have anything to do with the writing of the Bible? Is there really no heaven? Is Rob saying God may not be real?
Yes, the Bible was written by people. It is a human book about being human. But to lead people to believe that it is ONLY a human book, ONLY about being human, NOT about going to heaven, ONLY about life on earth, ONLY people’s opinion about God, NOT God’s actual revelation of Himself turns it into a book that really can’t do much for anybody. This is why I chose to write a review on it. There are some issues that need to be pointed out because people need to see why and how the Bible is the greatest book in the universe. They need to know they can trust the Bible with their lives and trust its main character, Jesus, with their eternity…in heaven.
So here’s what the review will look like. It will address the questions Rob’s book leaves dangling in people’s minds. Does the Bible have no authority at all? Yes, it has authority! Is the Bible only people’s opinions, not God’s truth? No, it’s all God’s truth! Did people really just make it up as they went? No, God gave them the very words! Is there no actual Satan? Yes, there is. Jesus’ death was not planned by God to save people from punishment for their sins? (Wait a minute, it sounds like this book suggests Christianity has a totally different meaning; no heaven, no hell, no Satan, no “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” no Jesus’ blood covers my sins so that I’m forgiven.) Yes, God did plan the death of His Son, Jesus, to provide atonement for sinners so they are forgiven by God and spend eternity with Him. These important matters are what compelled me to write a review.
And that will be coming soon. Keep reading and trusting the Bible!