Rob Bell: Rebranding God?

But, does this lead us to posit, as Bell does, that there is a God who is "with," 'for," and "ahead" of us? It really doesn't. And this is one of the problems with this book. Modern science and philosophy may suggest that the universe is open, but they don't propose that it follows that there is a God who cares, who incarnates herself into the universe and is passionate about it.

And I say this as a Christian. Doubts about God's existence and God's loving nature are well founded. Nonetheless, the story of Jesus and the Christian narrative are piercingly beautiful. The creative act of a God who puts order and beauty into the universe creates a grand narrative. Going one step further, that this same God incarnates himself into Jesus is fascinating, but it is a story! I affirm and love this story, but Bell seems to suggest that the story and its truth are the direct result of the openness and weirdness of the universe—the same universe that modern science discovers and describes. One can imagine atheists and agnostics asking, "Why does that follow?" Well, that's a great question, and I'm not sure Bell answers it.

Thus, for me, the first half of Bell's book that describes a weird and open universe doesn't necessarily lead to the second half in which Bell paints God who is "with," "for," and "ahead" of us. I like both parts, the radical openness of the universe and the repainting of faith that so many find life-giving. The second is powered by Bell's Christian imagination and not a function of those earlier scientific musings. The Christian truth is a story, not a logical deduction. As C.S. Lewis said, "Christianity is a myth, one that is true." But this truth is a matter of faith. We are all projecting at some level; we are all people of faith. This may be a type of branding, but it is also true that some stories are more life enhancing than others. And I would argue that Bell's version of the Christian story is life giving. So perhaps, rebranding God is more true to what we do than what we would like to admit. In any event, Rob Bell does it very well.

3/13/2013 4:00:00 AM