Radical Orthodoxy?: A Review of "Rob Bell and a New American Christianity"

Professor Wellman argues that Bell may be the bellwether of a new American Christianity. What does that mean for American Christianity? Maybe most importantly, it means a "repainting" of faith so that it focuses less on the hereafter and more on the here and now, more on living faithfully in this moment for this moment. The goal of Bell's Mars Hill Church was to make disciples who make disciples, and these disciples are participants and partners in the Kingdom of God. As Wellman notes,

Bell centers his spiritual and religious ideas on the power and motivating force of the kingdom of God—Jesus' central focus. Bell uses the metaphor of the kingdom as the key to his incarnational theology, suggesting that Jesus is God's Son in the world who inaugurates and introduces his followers to the kingdom of God, which is a dynamic reality in the present moment and not only as promise that is to come. (144-45)

As Wellman notes, these teachings are not unique (readers of N. T. Wright and those Mainline Protestants, of which I am one, have long believed in the centrality of the Kingdom of God) but they are so radical yet attractive to many that Bell does seem to be a prophet of progressivism who could help reshape American Christianity away from fear and toward faith. What Bell offers and this book so well presents is a new orthodoxy, radical to some, but for many a more faithful way of following God.

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11/15/2012 5:00:00 AM