Obey Rob Bell In His Most Recent Sermon: Give It Up For Me

So today I got an email from HuffPo notifying me that they’d published my Time To Get Your Clark Kent On? So I went to look at it — and there I saw, in the little Twitter box HuffPo has right above the comments to any blog post, that @candicewilkins5 had tweeted:

Loved hearing @realrobbell quote one of my faves @johnshore in last Sunday’s @marshillorg sermon …Woot woot! :)

“Top-notch tweet, Candice!” thought I.

So … yeah. If you go here on the Mars Hill site, you’ll see how you can listen to Rob’s July 3 sermon. About 80% into that sermon, he says, “There’s a brilliant writer named John Shore … “, and then he quotes … um … well, this, from my post Is Hell Real? What Are We, Six?:

If while wandering around the inside of an art museum I come across a door that’s solidly locked shut, what do I do? Well, if I’m emotionally immature, I might wrestle with the door’s handle, or maybe fall to the floor and try to peer beneath it. I might throw a tantrum because I can’t get into that locked room. I might squat beside the door, fold my arms, and determinedly try to imagine everything inside the room. There are all kinds of ways I might waste my time outside that door.

But if mature, I will simply assume that those in charge of the museum know what they’re doing, and for whatever reason don’t want people going in that room. And that would be good enough for me. So I would turn away from the door, forget about the room, and go back out into the museum, where all that wonderful art was waiting to enlighten and inspire me.

Then Rob tells everyone to “give it up for John Shore!” And they do because they have to because he’s the boss of them.

No, but everyone’s real nice.

Man, I should join that church! Who knows how long I could stay there before they kicked me out? Probably months.

Anyway, thanks to Rob Bell (author, in case you just beamed in from Mars Jupiter, of mondo-bestselling Christian game-changer Love Wins) for his kindness toward my work. (And thanks to Candice Wilkins for alerting me to that kindness; I swear, if it wasn’t for my cyber-friends, I’d have no idea at all about anything that goes on anywhere, ever.) Rob’s also called me “awesome,” and “a brother from another mother,” but whatever. It’s not like I keep track of these things.

Mr. Bell: if you happen to read this, I just want you to know that one day, when I get rich and famous, I’ll totally forget that you ever did anything for me at all.

Hey, man: life’s a You Know What. And then you die.

And what happens to anyone after that? God only knows.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • tana

    “Man, I should join that church! Who knows how long I could stay there before they kicked me out? Probably months.”

    LOL

    Bell is right – you are a brilliant writer.

    Please try to not forget the little people. ;)

  • Mike

    Hi John – I read almost every post you put up and went to the Mars Hill web site . . . . . just to see what it was about.

    I’m curious if you know a lot about this particular church? My initial impression is that it is one of those “big box” churches with the rock music, instead of traditional hymns, a sermon that is more of a motivational talk, and lots of hugs, backslapping, and “I’m praying for you”. When I see those headings like “our values” and “our beliefs” on a website, it just gives me “the willies.”

    I admit, after I was initially turned off by the speaker’s opening lines, I didn’t get much further.

    My question is this (and this particular church may not condemn the entire LGBT community): how do YOU reconcile in your own mind a group that commends you for your work yet is in total conflict with what you believe and write about in your blog?

    I can’t bring myself to go into a place like this, being gay and all, and just want to slap those kind of people silly and tell them to stop being so judgmental! Or am I the one being judgmental?

    What’s your take?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Thanks, Mike. So, I am not aware of Mars Hill being “in total conflict” with what I believe and write about, so I’ve never had to deal with that problem at all. I barely know anything about Mars Hill. I know I like Rob Bell; I tend to like people who like me and champion my work. But … is there something about Mars Hill you think I should know about?

    • DR

      I’m confused, I’ve read a lot of church sites and I see a lot about their mission, their theology, their values. I’m not John but I’m not seeing anything they stated is contrary to what John’s posted – did I miss something? (I ask, only because I sent a good friend to this church who is gay and I’d love a heads up if I’m sending him into an environment that isn’t going to work for him, so details would be helpful).

    • http://www.heresyofthemonth.typepad.com/blog Bill Sergott

      Hey all. First of all, Mike, I hear the underlying fear in your comment, and it makes sense to me. I know, as a pastor, a lot of super fundamentalist churches have co-opted that hipster, theological language. They are in hiding, so people will check them out, only to spring on them with judgment. I have heard from lots of people who checked out my church that they were nervous because of exactly that. My church is a really safe place for people, but I use that value and mission language (mostly because of lack of other language). I wouldn’t even kick out John Shore, who would clearly be going to Hell (if there were such a place), mostly just for rattling the cages of fundamentalists. That can be really scary, when you don’t know who to trust. I listen to a lot of sermons online, but Rob Bell is one of the few that I listen to every week. He is not leading a Contemporary Mega-Church full of anonymous, judgmental people. I have a lot of friends in the GLBT Community, and I would feel very safe about sending a friend there. The only thing they condemn is judgmental attitudes, themselves. They are very loving, and Bell teaches real theology. He is very generous and grace-filled in his orthodoxy. For what it’s worth, if you live in the Grand Rapids area, I think you could find a safe home there.

      • DR

        This was such an insightful comment. Thank you!

  • Mindy

    Kudos to you – brilliant is right. :)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Thanks, Mindy. But … um … people now write me hoping YOU guys will advise them as much as they do to read what I might have to say about their concerns.

      I’m getting over it, though.

  • peet

    As someone who has been ushered out of more than one church, you don’t know how much this: “Man, I should join that church! Who knows how long I could stay there before they kicked me out? Probably months.\” made me laugh…

    • Fairy

      Did you actually get kicked out of churches, John?

  • http://mrhackman.blogspot.com Andrew

    There is also a common mix up with Mars Hill church by Rob Bell and Mars Hill church by Mark Driscoll. People go to the Driscoll site and see that the Pastor there is a neanderthal and a homophobe, and get it mixed up with Bell.

    • DR

      Yes! I’m from Seattle originally and I’m very familiar with this church. Add misogynist to the list.

  • kristen i

    Aha and he did chose such a good quote from that post. So glad he did so more people can read your writing. Truly!

  • Mike

    To respond to John and Bill:

    I live in Michigan. The Grand Rapids area, and generally the west side of the state, typically are much more conservative, both in religious and political beliefs, so the location alone makes me suspect . . . . . combined with that “mega-church” stuff.

    The fact that the Mars Hill church in Michigan doesn’t actually come out and say words to the effect of “welcoming and inclusive” (key words for the LGBT community) translates into “you’re not welcome here”.

    If there actually is a mega-church that is open and welcoming to everyone, I’d love to see it. So, I guess I shouldn’t be judging books by their covers. So . . . . . thanks for opening my eyes! :)

    • DR

      Mike, your comment was important, if only for us to consider what is really behind the semantics veil and the music, etc. and confirm what the theological fine print is for ourselves. Thank you.

    • Fairy

      @Mike, Yes, the west side/SW side is decidedly more conservative than many other places (but at least you’re in GR and not Zeeland!). What about Unity churches? They aren’t mega (you’d have to get Marianne Williamson for that) but they will be welcoming of ALL.

  • http://findingthebliss.wordpress.com Mike Wise

    I have a general question that I actually just asked on my Facebook wall. Why is it that a church has to advertise themselves as “welcoming” and “inclusive” in order for people to know they are both welcoming and inclusive? I mean should those two things be any churches default setting? If for some reason those aren’t the default settings of any given church then that pretty much makes it a church not in line with the savior they claim to worship right? Cause Jesus welcomed anyone who came to him and turned no one away.

    • Diana A.

      Indeed! It is sad that churches have to actually specify themselves as “welcoming” and “inclusive” rather than that being a given. Unfortunately, Christianity has long been corrupted and dominated by those who are rule-oriented rather than love/spirit-oriented. I’m not sure that will ever change, but I hope I’m wrong.

  • renee

    check out the unitarian universalists, baby! first time i found a church i really love.


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