just-about Mid Season Report

October 30, 2012

it’s just about the middle of the NFL regular season and it’s been… odd. it’s been wild. it’s been a little weird.

Romo and the Cowboys are, well, Romo and the Cowboys. they’ll win a game and look good and lose a game and look bad.

the Chargers… horrible. their last two games: up 24 nothing on Denver and lose the game; the Browns only score 7 points on them this past Sunday and they lose by one.

the Texans… i may have slept on the Texans a little. i still want to see more. they got crushed by the Packers.

Steelers… they seem to be turning it on.

49ers… look good… when they’re not playing a team that runs it down their throats (Vikings, Giants).

Patriots… in the mix. a couple bad losses. struggled against the Jets, who appear to be done.

Falcons… i don’t think so. i need to see them play someone really good. they might be for real.

my just-about mid season record is 71-47. not too shabby.

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“God is Love” – Love Wins – God Wins

October 21, 2012

a friend of mine recently reflected on Rob Bell’s book Love Wins. it made me rethink and revisit the book, hell, and the conversations that we Christians have had since even before Love Wins was published. the timeline is interesting. it was being slammed before it came out because of its subtitle.

below are two links. they’re reflections that were posted on theRubicon. below the two links is a piece i wrote that hasn’t been posted anywhere. it’s copied and pasted from a Word document so the format is different from my usual blog posts. 

check it out. tell me what you think.

http://therubicon.org/2011/05/what-the-hell_1/

http://therubicon.org/2011/06/what-the-hell-part-two/

What The Hell? (Part Three: The Good, The Not Bad, and The Ugly)

     Rob Bell’s latest book, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, And The Fate Of Every Person Who Ever Lived, started incendiary debate and conversation before the book was even published. After it was published, the heat of debate only intensified. People across the Christian world were asking and wondering about Rob Bell’s theology; is he advocating universalism? Is he a heretic? What the hell is wrong with Rob Bell?

     There have been three books published since the release of Love Wins. Two of them are explicitly response books to Bell’s work and one is a book on the topic of hell in general that seems to also be in response to Bell’s work, although it does not engage Love Wins to the extent of the other two. One of the books is good; one is not bad; and one is just plain ugly.

THE GOOD

     God Wins: Heaven, Hell, And Why The Good News Is Better Than “Love Wins” is by Mark Gali, senior managing editor for Christianity Today. God Wins sets the gold standard for a response book. Gali engages Love Wins in a respectful and healthy manner. While he disagrees with portions of Bell’s work and thinks Bell does not go deep enough at other points, he never attacks Bell personally or professionally. In fact, Gali rarely refers to Bell. He refers to Love Wins. In his introduction he writes: “I need to be clear up front about one thing. This is not a book about Rob Bell or Rob Bell’s theology. (That is why in referring to ideas in the book, I do so in terms of what Love Wins says, not what Rob Bell believes.) This is a book that uses Love Wins as a starting point to talk about key theological issues…”

     God Wins helped me understand a few things better and actually helped me appreciate Love Wins more. Reading these two books together is a great exercise and a wonderful way to engage the topic of hell and eternity.

THE NOT BAD

     Erasing Hell: What God Said About Eternity, And The Things We’ve Made Up is from Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle. I am a big fan of Chan’s work. Crazy Love and Forgotten God are two wonderful books. I had high hopes and expectations for this book; especially with the title. The title seems to set up a very engaging and deep discussion of hell. The end product is less than that. The book is not bad, though. I just expected more. The body of the book does not live up to the title.    

     Here are a few points/things that came to mind while reading Erasing Hell

                        – On page 50 the authors say “…the Old Testament doesn’t say much about hell.” The Old Testament says absolutely nothing about hell. The OT talks about eternity and punishment and an afterlife; nothing about “hell,” though.

                        – In chapter two, the authors want to highlight Biblical notions of hell and they want people to think Biblically. They quote a lot of non-Biblical texts in this chapter though to help make their points about hell. Why?

                        – The authors are actually quite petty on page 56. Check it out for yourself. Christ clearly did not use the words “garbage dump.” On the other hand, he clearly did not use the English word “hell” either.

     The best part of the book is the appendix “Frequently Asked Questions.” It’s great for study and group discussion; excellent stuff.

     Erasing Hell is worth reading. It does not engage with Love Wins as much as God Wins, but that may not have been the goal. It is a worthy read on the topic of hell.

THE UGLY

     Michael E. Wittmer wrote the book Christ Alone: An Evangelical Response To Rob Bell’s “Love Wins.” If God Wins sets the gold standard of response books, Christ Alone shows how-not to write a response book. Sadly, this is what one would expect from a capital E Evangelical. Wittmer misquotes and takes Bell out of context. His tone takes on a more arrogant and attacking mode as his book goes on. He simply promotes a conservative-evangelical framework of hell and tries to discredit Rob Bell. 

     With that being said, however, there are snippets of useful material in this book. On the whole, though, it’s not as good as the other two, especially God Wins.

Final Thoughts

     If only read one of these books make it God Wins; it’s the best of the three.

     Hell, if you want to use that word, is an important topic. Eternity, punishment, the afterlife; these are all important topics. Let’s remember, though, that we are finite creatures trying to understand and articulate the greatest mysteries of life and death. Let’s be humble, open-minded, and respectful. Let’s be honest: we do not know for sure the particulars of these topics. We do know for sure, though, that God is love. God wins. Love wins.


Jesus: Pure and Simple

October 16, 2012

Wayne Cordeiro is the founder and senior pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu, Hawaii and the author of Leading on Empty, The Divine Mentor, and his latest book, Jesus: Pure and Simple.

2 Corinthians 11:3 sets the stage for this book and Cordeiro’s thoughts. the Apostle Paul wrote: “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (New American Standard Bible).

Jesus: Pure and Simple is well written. it’s encouraging, edifying, and a delight to read.

it’s part autobiography, part theology, part spiritual growth.

there are questions at the end of each chapter for reflection, in a group or for individual use. Jesus: Pure and Simple would make for great conversation in a Reading Group and could be used nicely in Bible Study.

great book. read it.

“Book has been provided courtesy of Bethany House and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourtie bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”


RED LETTER REVOLUTION

October 16, 2012

Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said? was written by best-selling authors and Christian thinkers Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo. they’re the Lennon and McCartney of Red Letter Christianity.

Red Letter Christianity is concerned with paying particular attention to the words spoken by Jesus Christ in the New Testament. a lot of Bible will have Christ’s speech in red letters. hence, Red Letter Christians, Red Letter Christianity, Red Letter Revolution.

the red letters of the New Testament are challenging. they also speak to a lot of areas of life; explicitly and implicitly. Claiborne and Campolo touch on a number of issues and faith and life in three main sections of the book.

Part 1: Red Letter Theology

Part 2: Red Letter Living

Part 3: Red Letter World

the book is a series of dialouges. reading the book is like sitting in on a conversation between Claiborne and Campolo.

it’s great. it’s a must read for the Church today. too often Christianity gets used for political and social reasons outside of authentic Christian faith. get back to the red letters. get back to the words of Christ.

this book is dedicated “To all of us, young and old, who want a Christianity that looks like Jesus again.”

*Full Disclosure: I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson through “Book Sneeze.” They give free books to bloggers for honest reviews.*


GRACE

October 4, 2012

GRACE: MORE THAN WE DESERVE, GREATER THAN WE IMAGINE is the newest book from Max Lucado. it’s wonderful. grace is a topic i never tire reading/reflecting about. grace is a topic we could never talk too much about. grace is a fundamental truth of Christianity that we need to shout out, live out, and give out to all; every child, woman, and man on the planet. we all need grace. sometimes, we need to let God shout it out to us.

Lucado is a gifted storyteller and writer. he weaves short stories and reflections together with Biblical texts throughout GRACE. it’s a treat to read. it’s an excellent reminder of God’s grace and how that grace moves among us as individuals and as the Body of Christ.

grace is so, so important. grace cannot be overstated. it’s vital.

Max Lucado joins John Newton, Bono, and Philip Yancey as my favourite writers on grace. whether it’s the lyrics of a song or hymn, or the written word on the page, if it’s exploring and reflecting on grace, i want to hear it, sing it, read it. i want to live it.

“Book has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourtie bookseller from Thomas Nelson, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”