Jesus Wants to Save Christians (1)

JWTSC.jpgBell, Rob and Don Golden.

Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto for the Church in Exile

Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008. Pp. 224. Paper. $19.99.

Amazon | CBD



With thanks to Chris Fann at Zondervan for this review copy!

Bell and Golden tell us in the introduction to the introduction that this is a “book about a book” that “follows the narrative of the Bible.” [p. 8]  I’m going to review this a bit differently than I have any other book.  I’m simply going to show you my notes and expose you to my thoughts as I read through this volume.  As you read, you’ll be reading my actual thoughts, like literaly, the thoughts I thunk as I read this book.  Seriously, these aren’t polished book review thoughts, they’re raw thinking thoughts.  The kind of thoughts that you think before you edit them in your mind to speak through your mouth.  Get it?  Got it?  Good.  I’m like the narrator of this “book about a book [that] follows the narrative of the Bible.”  So without further ado, here goes nothing… or… something… or… might be both… or… neither… [Note that all page numbers refer to the advance reader copy I was sent; I don’t know if there were any changes made to the published hardcover edition.]


Ooh… UPS truck… Please be for me, please be for me!  Wope, he’s pulling in front of the house… is he… yes!!!  He is!  He’s walking up the driveway… Sweet!!!  Small package, who’s this one from?  Zondervan.  Ahh, this is the one Chris was talking about.  God I hope Bell isn’t the emerjerk that I expect him to be.  Let’s see.  What’s up with this package?  Why is it giving me trouble opening i… ahh, there we go.  Hmmm… weird cover.  Reminds of of the graph paper we used to use in school.  Might as well crack it open and start reading it.  Well, hold on… I should post about it first.

[Informs RDTWOT readers about the book]

Alright, let’s see what this is about.  An introduction to the introduction?  That’s just stupid.  Okay, it’s a “book about a book,” I get that.  The Bible is a “narrative,” check.  That seems to be a very popular buzz word these days… “narrative,” “narrative,” “narrative.”  It does roll off the tongue.  I wonder if it will lose all its meaning if I keep saying it over and over.  Anyway…

Oh no, “shout outs.” These guys are trying to show us youngins how cool they are.  That’s annoying.  Just say thanks, what’s wrong with that?  I hope the whole book isn’t filled with such dork-like pseudo-coolisms.  Alright, the real introduction.  Let’s see what they have to say.  Hold on a second, Rob BELL and Don GOLDEN?  That’s a strange coincidence… that’s like the reverse of the Golden Bell diner.  Man I hate that diner!  Why are they so expensive?!!  Alright, focus Nick, read, read, read!

“Air Puffers and Rubber Gloves” huh?  What’s that about?  I guess I’ll find out.  Uh oh… they begin by talking about the “first family” being “dysfunctional” [p. 12].  I can already see where this is going.  Why does he start with Cain and Abel and not Adam and Eve?  That’s weird.  They sinned first.  Isn’t that the beginning of the dysfunction?  Okay, Cain went out “east of Eden,” so what?  Adam and Eve did too (Gen. 3:24).  Oh God…

The writer, or writers, of Genesis keeps returning to this eastward metaphor, insisting that something has gone terribly wrong with humanity, and that from the very beginning humans are moving in the wrong direction. [p. 13]

Uhh… metaphor?  How?  Oh, (t)he(y) doesn’t explain that… big surprise there.  What about the Magi seeing the star in the EAST (Mat. 2:2, 9) and following it to young Jesus?  Was that the wrong direction?  Didn’t Jesus say that his coming would be like the lighting that flashes from the EAST to the west (Mat. 24:27)?  Jesus must have been starting out in the wrong direction, huh?  Let’s grab the concordance and see what other east verses there are.  Ahh, Numbers 3:38, the tabernacle was towards the EAST.  Wrong direction, must’ve been.  Job 1:3 huh?  Job was from the EAST.  We all know how he was going in the wrong direction, what, with his blamelessness, uprightness, and fear of the Lord.  Ooh, Zechariah 14:4, it’s messianic!  The messiah is going to touch down on the Mount of Olives?  In the EAST?!!  Alright, I’m convinced… Golden’s and Bell’s “metaphor” doesn’t hold up.

Oh boy, an analogy.  So Bell is in the airport and he gets stopped and put into an “air puffer.”  Okay, it’s supposed to make him feel safe and at the same time violated?  I don’t get it, what’s his point?  Now he’s talking about the news… and back to the air puffer… now back to the news… wow!  He’s going to keep doing this, isn’t he?  Yup, back and forth, forth and back.  Oh Jesus, what did Chris get me into?  What’s his point?!!  I know he has to have some kind of point, doesn’t he?  Oh… I see.  The news says that “American forces are now occupying [a] Middle Eastern country until peace can fully be realized within its borders.” [p. 17]  Yeah, okay… and?  Ahh… I see, “Jesus was Middle Eastern man who lived in an occupied country and was killed by the superpower of his day.” [p. 17]  So we’re like the superpower who killed Jesus!  The Church is like the dysfunctional Cain who killed Abel and America is like the world superpower who killed Jesus.  I get it, and I HATE it!!!

Oh well, gotta keep reading.  Well, no, I don’t actually.  I’ll pick it up later.


To be continued…


24 thoughts on “Jesus Wants to Save Christians (1)

  1. Nick, “Golden Bell,” that’s good!

    Me too, Matthew, I love this type of review. The initial responses are quite kool.

    There’s a place for narrative theology in this whole matrix of theology.

  2. These guys are trying to show us youngins how cool they are. That’s annoying. Just say thanks, what’s wrong with that? I hope the whole book isn’t filled with such dork-like pseudo-coolisms.

    This is how I always feel when I see him (Rob Bell). I can’t take much of it. I’d hate to see him dance.

  3. Hah! I love it! Keep them like this and I’ll actually read your book reviews on those boring Trinity books ; )

    BTW Bell’s not the first one I’ve heard mention the East motif in Genesis. I think I might have seen John Walton discuss this in is Genesis commentary or maybe it was in a lecture I heard. But whatever.

    Great review!

    Bryan L

  4. Bryan: Boring Trinity books?!! Blasphemy! Well, ok, Grenz’s was boring and Giles’ sucked, but other than that they’re all wonderful! And I can see a bunch of eastward movement throughout Genesis (and the Bible), but I don’t think we get “East = wrong direction” from it.

    Brian: You got that right! The other two just made the first one (which was great on its own) part of a sub-par trilogy. And I don’t know if Jesus entered through the Eastern gate, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did.

  5. Are they saying the East motif is something throughout the Bible or are they just saying it’s something that shows up in Genesis to signal wrong movement or movement away from God?


  6. Bryan: They’re using Genesis as the example of eastward movement and from there applying it to mankind throughout history as moving in the wrong direction. This book is full of such applications. And sometimes they just make stuff up, like write after the bit I quoted above they say:

    God asks Adam, “Where are you?”

    And the answer is, of course, “East.”

    East of where he’s supposed to be. East of how things are meant to be.

    Uhh… that’s the answer? Where? How? Why? Let’s just say that Bell and Golden can be hermeneutically frustrating at times.

  7. I’m glad to see Rob Bell has encouraged you to experiment with your writing style a bit. I look forward to receiving my own copy soon and posting my own thoughts.

    I actually saw the book in the store today and would have bought it if it weren’t already in the mail from Amazon. 8)

  8. Yeah that kind of stuff would drive me crazy. That’s pretty much why I don’t read Christian books written for popular audiences. They drive me crazy even from respected people like Scot McKnight. It’s rare that I read a popular level book and enjoy it (John Goldingay’s “Walk On” was probably on of the last)

    Bryan L

  9. As I read your post this morning, I have the vice presidential debate on in the background. When I got to Jeff’s comment, Palin gave a ‘shout out’ to some elementary school children. I guess she’s trying to show how cool and hip she is, too!

    Looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts, Nick (and yours as well, Nathan!).

  10. Bryan: Amen and amen.

    Will: Exactly! I’m voting for McCain without doubt, but the Palin thing has been about appealing to people who want a woman in office in some capacity and people who think McCain is too old and ugly to be president. It’s a marketing strategy.

  11. If East is bad, then I guess West is good.

    Sounds like Horace Greeley and Led Zeppelin got it right!

  12. Re: your comments on the “east”

    Surely these wonderful authors have a point in that the EAST is a movement away from God and his ever interpenetrating covenant of efficacious grace. For example: If one were to remove the S from EAST then what they are left with is EAT. It is common knowledge to any and all enlightened individuals that S is the universal symbol of the serpent. Although the text doesn’t state such explicitly, we can safely speculate that the serpent in Bereshit’s narrative slithered (or possibly walked before the loss of its limbs) from the EAST into the center of the garden of Eden where Adam and Chavah patiently waited to be tempted. Notice what the serpent tempted them to do: EAT. The serpent which is represented by the S was every much a part of their EATing as they were, hence we can only conclude that the EAST represents disobedience, reptilianism, and an otherly movement in a direction diametrically opposed to the triune family of continental grace.

  13. Jürgen: Nice to have you commenting over here! By the way, is your name pronounced with a J sound or a Y sound?

    While I find your proposal fascinating, I can’t say that I agree. Seems a bit too speculative, and certainly there’s more than a little reading into the text there, wouldn’t you say? ;)

  14. hahaha…. jurgen hauerwas!! nice exegetical insights there… but notice also that EAST is an anagram of SATE – no doubt an early nickname for Satan… further confirmation of its sheer evilness.

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