Rob Bell’s Talking about God

I’ll be honest with you: I’ve tried to get into Rob Bell’s Love Wins multiple times, but his writing style always defeats me. I’m used to a much more formal style, and his loopy, rambling presentation always throws me. Judging by this promo for his upcoming book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God, I’m going to have the same problem again:

It starts out okay, with him talking about how the god concept doesn’t work for many people, but that many others have some emotional or esthetic experience that convinces them that there’s another level to reality. I don’t get the jump – why does a profound experience triggered by an outside event mean that there has to be more than the subject and the trigger? – but I suppose that’s why I’m in the first category of people.

But after the first few sentences, he goes into his writing process, which sounds horribly disjointed. He shows off some of the books he’s read in preparation. There’s a biography of the band Oasis and a book about Coldplay, which makes no sense and doesn’t fill me with hope for the book he’s writing. He ends by giving a quick sketch of his thesis, which is basically a summary of the god concept that I got from Spong and other progressives twenty years ago. Haven’t we made any progress since then?

There’s an old saying that the problem with talking about God is first talking – conveying real information rather than meaningless deepities and pseudo-profundity – and then God – the real God, and not an idol, or the contents of your imagination, or what you want God to be. I’m not convinced that Bell has a handle on either problem.

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