Ben Witherington has really outdone himself this time, with one of the most thorough book reviews I have come across of Rob Bell and Dan Golden’s new book, Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile.
I’m a huge “fan” of Rob Bell’s teachings and writings, and have even had the privilege of hosting him at UCLA on his Sex God Tour a year and a half ago. So I have definitely been waiting for this book to arrive, especially since the topic is so important and I think many are fearful of tackling it. I look forward to reading the book, but for now enjoy a couple of quotes from Witherington’s review, and then read it in its entirety:
But let the buyer beware— anyone brave enough to take on and milk the All American sacred cows of greed and sex are bound to get to some other nice little non-controversial golden calves like ‘Christians and politics, or Christians and war’, or Christians and social justice, or Christians and the oppressed and the poor– right? Right.
The book begins with a retelling of the tragic tale of Cain and Abel which gives the authors the opportunity to suggest that this story is about all of us—somewhere East of Eden, trying to build a city and a civilization outside of Paradise and in a fallen world. Ain’t it the truth. But this book is especially about the indigenization of human falleness in America particularly, and how our behavior as an Empire, in some ways much like the Roman Empire, is a particular manifestation of what is deeply wrong with human society, something which is more like the behavior of Cain, than Abel.
One of the roots of the problem in America is pointed out at the very outset of the book is put in these terms—“A Christian should get very nervous when the flag and the cross start holding hands. This is not a romance we want to encourage”(p. 18). Indeed, if pushed far enough it becomes a form of idolatry, the ultimate fallen behavior. And of course Bell and Golden are right. When you are spending a trillion dollars in Iraq and untold billions here in America for Homeland In-Security, and invest 50 billion in one plane with helicopter features as a ‘better weapon of mass destruction’ and of course it still is not making us safe, indeed it makes us feel less secure in many cases not more, isn’t it time to ask—Is fear or faith dictating our dominant national behavior in such matters? What’s wrong with this picture from a Christian point of view? At least Bell and Golden are brave enough to ask the right questions about all of this, even though doubtless they are going to be slammed as unpatriotic, rather like Jews were by the Roman Empire when they refused to worship at the altars of the Emperor cult.
I love that last line, “At least Bell and Golden are brave enough to ask the right questions about all of this, even though doubtless they are going to be slammed as unpatriotic, rather like Jews were by the Roman Empire when they refused to worship at the altars of the Emperor cult.”
It is amazing to me that when we question American values and political party loyalties we are questioned as being unpatriotic or ungrateful…even if at the cost of sacrificing our values as Christians. My friend is right, “We are often more American than Christian.” Thank God for those who call that into question.
Check out their website Jesus Wants to Save Christians.