Rob Bell’s Atonement

Marc Chagall's "Yellow Crucifixion," which hung on Jürgen Moltmann's wall as he wrote The Crucified God.

Marc Chagall’s “Yellow Crucifixion,” which hung on Jürgen Moltmann’s wall as he wrote The Crucified God.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (a rock without internet), you probably know that I’m nearing the completion of a book on the atonement. It’s called Did God Kill Jesus?, and it comes out in March. (It’s the wrong subtitle, and the cover isn’t done yet, but you can preorder it!) I’m fortunate to have the same editor and publisher as authors I admire like Barbara Brown Taylor, Lauren Winner, and Rob Bell.

Speaking of Rob Bell, he continued his hilariously long Tumblr series on the Bible last week with a post entitled, What is the Bible? Part 72: The Question That Keeps Coming Up. He begins the post by listing five reader questions, each of which is basically asking, Why did Jesus have to die?

To that question, Rob has a two-part answer:

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Making Trouble with Tickle, McLaren, and Winner

Since I posted last week, we’ve made a couple changes to the next D.Min. cohort that I’ll be leading. I booked Phyllis Tickle to co-teach year one, and Lauren Winner and I will co-teach year three in New York City. Here’s the rundown:

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Lauren Winner Is in Prison

I’m guessing those cat eye glasses set off the metal detectors.

Lauren Winner has the semester off of teaching at Duke, but she’s teaching a seminary-level class in a women’s prison (so much for a sabbatical). Her experience in prison is changing the way that she read the Bible, as she writes in this week’s lectionary post at The Hardest Question:

Gospel Reading: Luke 4:14-21

For Sunday, January 27, 2013: Year C—Epiphany 3

I am writing this from the classroom of a women’s prison in central North Carolina. The classroom is in a trailer, kind of like the trailer in which you might have had overflow classes at your middle school.

I come here each week to teach a course on prayer. I never ask the students why they are in prison, but by now I know: some of them are here for killing abusive husbands or partners. Some are here for drug crime. Some are here for failing to intervene in a husband’s sexual abuse of their children. Some are only here for a year or two; others have been in the prison system for decades.

And here comes Jesus, quoting Isaiah, coming to proclaim freedom for the prisoners.

Read the rest: Visiting Prisons.

Why I Haven’t Given Up on the Bible

Jacob Wrestles with the Angel, by Rembrandt

When conversation on this blog turn to issues of sexuality, as it did this week with Brian McLaren’s View on Homosexuality, there are always some commenters who admit that their Christian faith has broken free of the Bible. For example, R. Jay comments,

I’m a Christian for whom the Bible is not my foundation, not my law code, not my ladder, not my pedestal. I love it dearly, but I don’t need it to know God, and I don’t need it to understand how to love my neighbor fully.

In the absence of the Bible, there is still God. And to know God does not require the Bible. Devotion to it has become the most insidious of all barriers.

Honestly, I understand how some people come to this conclusion. The Bible is a primitive book, coming out of a primitive time. Even the most staunch conservatives should be able to admit that. It is reflective of a different world than the world in which we live. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not applicable to our lives and our time, but that much hermeneutical work needs to be done to understand what it means for us today.

In Brian’s own evolution of how he understand human sexuality, he has not abandoned the Bible,

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