Edgeman: Rob Bell in LA

Edgeman: Rob Bell in LA October 5, 2016

I just watched a beautiful film piece on Rob Bell in The New Yorker Presents, Amazon Series, #8 (the part on Bell starts at around 15 minutes into the film). It interviews Bell and describes the building of his ministry, his leaving the church, and the continuing progress of his ministry in LA. I loved it. I have described Bell as an “Edgeman.” In my book, Rob Bell and a New American Christianity, I wrote:

The quality of Bell’s consciousness and his experience of this sense of timelessness and transcendence is so much a part of his rhetoric across his life and ministry. This potent taste and sense of the divine in the midst of his life resonates in every part of his life course, in college, seminary and ministry—a palpable feeling that God’s spirit tracks his own.

The quality of Bell’s consciousness and his experieRobBellnce of this sense of timelessness and transcendence is so much a part of his rhetoric across his life and ministry. This potent taste and sense of the divine in the midst of his life resonates in every part of his life course, in college, seminary and ministry—a palpable feeling that God’s spirit tracks his own.

Victor Turner, an anthropologist who studied African shamanic figures, aptly captures how Bell embodies a certain type of religious figure, “Prophets and artists tend to be liminal and marginal people, ‘edgemen,’ who strive with a passionate sincerity to rid themselves of the clichés associated with status incumbency and role-playing and to enter into vital relationships with other men in fact or imagination.”

As an “edgeman,” Bell follows the mystical feelings in his heart, wrenched out of a system that he can’t relate to, and in love with the man Jesus, who he takes as his “edgeman,” standing against the system—whether it be the religious system, a political system or a social system.

I think this movie does a beautiful job of showing him riding the wave of “good news” as he moves forward into the great wide open—honing his own way, willing to offend and live in a liminal space. Grace and peace, Rob, as you seek and proclaim good news in new places.


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