Wendy and I took another step in our journey of becoming Edmontonians. We joined the library, the EPL. I’ve got a neat little swipe card to sign and and take books plus they gave us two re-useable bags to carry our books home in.
I chose two books. I went first to the fiction section to see if they had any Larry Bond books. He is an author in his own right but he is also a ghost writer for Tom Clancy. I love the detail and pace of his books. Very engaging.
Secondly I went to the religious section and after ignoring the Joel Olstein section (good grief) I found a book by Rob Bell.
Rob Bell who has been a star of the Christian faith with amazing communication skills and a unique way of approaching the story of God’s love led a very large congregation until he left to pursue a more personal agenda – or at least that how it was viewed. While that and his position on marriage got many Christian leaders concerned. The publishing of his book, Love Wins, was a matter of division. Rob’s thesis, though more implicit than explicit, questioned whether there really is a hell, a place of punishment or separation from God.
He asks a great many good questions but fails to answer them himself and lets the reader come to their own conclusions. It raised enough of a reaction that Francis Chan wrote a response called Erasing Hell. There is a common fear at the moment within many Christian leadership circles that the current version of faith and belief is doing just that – erasing Hell. It’s been a popular belief for the past 25 years as revealed in various public polls that a majority of people believe in heaven while a minority believe in Hell.
Jesus seemed to be pretty consistent in his references to a day of judgement and a place of pushishment. Matthew 5:29 and 30 hears Jesus warning those listening about the danger of action that would lead to hell.
So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. v. 29
And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. v.30
Again, staying with Matthew 7:13(who wrote to a Jewish audience) records Jesus as warning his hearers about the ease of finding ones way on the road to hell.
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. v.13
So is Rob Bell the heretic that some make him out to be? I am not convinced, but I think it is wise to consider where authors sit in their teaching and world view. In the New Testament the letter to the Galatians, written by the Apostle Paul is centered on challenging the believers in Galatia ( a province) on their changed beliefs and asking them the question: what happened? you were doing so well, why are you changing your beliefs and why have you allowed yourself to be deceived or confused.
So I decided to pick up this book – copyright 2015 – and let Rob show me his theology. The first night I read 5 chapters and I can say I found nothing I would be concerned about. In fact I found his writing to be engaging, educational and insightful. He’s a good presenter in writing or in voice.
The point of this post is simply to say that reading is important and we live in a world where our attention spans are shrinking and our screen time increasing. I hope that reading books, digital or in paper, remains alive and active and people enjoy their books.
I have just read 4 books that center on the reality of socio-economic realities in the USA. So now on to something a little more soul satisfying.
What are you reading? Why?