Rob Bell on Turn the Other Cheek


Sound pretty good to you? Now compare this with the obvious context of Matthew 5:38-48:

 You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.  And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.     

 Yet another illustration of where extra-biblical, social research trumps the obvious meaning of the text. Good thing God preserved Rob’s sources as well as the Biblical text, or else the true meaning of the Sermon on the Mount would have died with its original time-period.  

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  1. #1 by Justin on March 2, 2008 - 2:31 pm

    I think that this clip has been taken WAY out of the context of Rob’s point and sermon (clearly cut before and after by whomever posted it on Youtube). Even posting this clip and then commenting on whatever he’s teaching is irresponsible. I’m sorry but it’s true. I would like to see the full sermon or at least hear it (what’s the name of it, there might be a podcast?)!

    Also, I love how many people who take a literal interpretation of the Bible says this: “the obvious meaning of the text.”

    What may be obvious to some is not always obvious to others. What does that even mean, “obvious”? The “literal” meaning? The “face value” meaning? It seems to me that Rob is trying to give historical background (in the form of a visual illustration) to this passage. I don’t think that there IS an “obvious” meaning…at least not to us. What if Jesus used his body to illustrate what he’s saying here? That wouldn’t be translated in a WRITTEN format well.

    The truth is that what may seem “obvious” to one may not be obvious to another. What may seem obvious to us today about this passage (or any passage for that matter), may not be what was obvious to the original audience. We read a part a passage like this and claim our interpretation is the “obvious” one without taking into account the customs and traditions that WERE obvious to the audience…yet we (all of us not a personal attack here) claim to have the “obvious” interpretation.

    I’m not being mean or attacking you on this. I don’t mean the irresponsible comment harshly, just that taking another person’s words (or video selection in this instance) out of context (which many bloggers do), and building a case (ANY case) for or against the chosen portion is irresponsible to a person’s readers. A person can’t get away with that in an academic setting in papers… or at least they can’t in my experiences and shouldn’t be able to in any academic setting, so why do smart people lower their blogging standards? It is something I’m trying to keep myself accountable for also, so please don’t see this as ridicule or talking down, or whatever…just asking a fair question here.

    I’m taking up for Rob here it seems, but honestly, I see it in the blogosphere all the time, and would take up for anyone. If I saw that someone had taken your words out of context, I would question them too, and let you know about it. If I were to take your words out of context on my own blog, then I would hope that you would kindly call me out on it so that it can be corrected.

    So again, the obvious is not so “obvious”, everything is interpretation (even the literal interpretation), and I don’t think that you are fairly representing Bell in this post. If you had the full context, and then had a beef with his theology, then by all means…

    with much peace and love,
    justin

  2. #2 by clearly on March 2, 2008 - 2:54 pm

    Justin, you are entitled to strongly disagree with me. However, I am entitled to strongly disagree with Rob. I have listened to many of his sermons, etc. I don’t have to read everything he has said or written to speak responsibly. Were you there?

    Rob uses his extra-biblical sources to “cast light” upon the text. However, his interpretation (based on how he uses those sources), in my opinion, actually undercuts Jesus’ entire argument. When the text seems to be saying one thing and the extra-biblical sources seem to suggest something else, we really have an easy interpretive choice.

    Jesus is not teaching that we should make our our enemies recognize that we are equal; that is completely against the spirit of the whole Sermon on the Mount! Read the rest of scenarios – He is telling us to be willing to give up our rights, to allow people to beat us around if necessary.

    Read the end of 1 Peter 2. That’s what Jesus did.

  3. #3 by Justin on March 2, 2008 - 11:25 pm

    “Jesus is not teaching that we should make our our enemies recognize that we are equal;”

    I am still not convinced that was the POINT Bell was trying to make. Again, if we had more to go on, perhaps I could see that you’re right… but yes we are both entitled to our opinions. I too have read A LOT of Bell (for and against), as well as seen him live, and listened to his weekly podcast. I ‘m not sure I can agree that he’s abusing extra-biblical sources. Again, everything is interpretive.

    you said, “that is completely against the spirit of the whole Sermon on the Mount! Read the rest of scenarios – He is telling us to be willing to give up our rights, to allow people to beat us around if necessary.”

    I think that a foundational part of this teaching (in context with or without extra-biblical sources) is about how we treat others, esp. those we are in disagreement with. I think that pacifism is the point and foundational theme! (I think that it’s shown in Jesus’ whole life example and ministry). When someone strikes us, we don’t strike back…. not with fists….not with words. We offer the other cheek! In your words, we must be willing to “give up our rights, to allow people to beat us around when necessary.” Yet you are quick to ATTACK Bell, emergent, etc…. because they have differing views from you. Yet their views don’t harm you.

    I say that, not to criticize, but to ask several honest questions that I can’t seem to get a satisfactory answer for from many people.
    1) WHY?
    2) What does it TRULY accomplish?
    3) What would happen if you didn’t?
    4) And how can you justify calling others to arms in light of what you yourself have said is the “obvious” in this passage?

    Again, I’m not being critical, I thought perhaps you would be able to dialog on these questions. If not, feel free not to approve this, I understand. (Since we’re on the topic of Bell, I’ll use his analogy) I simply don’t understand why people spend so much time defending their walls against people who are not really attacking their fortified position to begin with. If you (and by “you” I mean anyone) don’t like Bell’s message, or Paggitt’s, or Jones’, etc… they aren’t forcing you to accept it. Yet we defend our walls as if they are. I don’t agree with everything Bell says, but when I don’t agree with him, I don’t spend my time attacking and defending…I just move on!

    Sorry if that sounds harsh… (I truly worry about the tone someone reads into this). Read it as a fragile old man saying it with a childlike voice. No sarcasm or attack. I respect you views….I’m just hoping to understand better the questions I have.

    thanks for your time,
    justin

  4. #4 by clearly on March 3, 2008 - 7:53 am

    I don’t have a lot of time for interaction right now Justin, nor do I feel the compelled to defend this aspect of my blog to you at this time.

    However, I think you are acting in this way because you are in an emotionally charged state concerning Rob at this time. Please go back and read my post again. It was not an “ATTACK” as you called it.

    Furthermore, your understanding of the Sermon is diametrically opposed to what I heard on the YouTube video. The whole point of the Sermon is that the kingdom is unlike what the Jews were expecting/wanting. They were expecting geo-political reign where they enjoy restoration and finally receive just treatment. They wanted talk of overthrowing governments and getting rid of the Romans. Jesus wanted to them to learn that glorification comes after a period of suffering/hardship. This was modeled in his life as he went to the cross for our sins.

    Rob’s point about making people recognize our equality and the over-all context of the message are mutually exclusive.

  5. #5 by Phil Miller on March 3, 2008 - 8:34 am

    I can’t watch the video right now (well, to be accurate, I can’t hear it on this computer), but I’m pretty sure I know what it’s about. Rob seems to be saying the same thing the Shane Claiborne says in “Irresistible Revolution” and Walter Wink says in “The Powers That Be”. It makes sense to me when I read it.

    Jesus never says we have to be doormats. He says we resist in the opposite spirit. We don’t return violence for violence. Jesus clearly wasn’t always passive. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is saying that people who were viewed as almost non-human have value in the Kingdom. God values people who were left behind by both the Jewish religious establishment and the Roman juggernaut.

  6. #6 by Justin on March 3, 2008 - 10:20 am

    “I don’t have a lot of time for interaction right now Justin, nor do I feel the compelled to defend this aspect of my blog to you at this time.”

    Ok, no need to defend…just asking questions hoping for honest dialog. For the record, I am not “emotionally charged” about Bell… I honestly don’t care who it is, just using this post as jumping point. Sorry to waste your time. No need to respond. I won’t attempt to dialog with you again.
    thanks

  7. #7 by clearly on March 3, 2008 - 10:42 am

    “I won’t attempt to dialog with you again.”

    I did not really see any of your posts as attempts at dialogue, which is fine. They seemed more like lectures on why I shouldn’t write about my theological concerns with Bell and others.

    My comments about not having a lot time really had to do with the business of the morning and had little to do my viewing your questions “as wasting my time.”

  8. #8 by clearly on March 3, 2008 - 10:45 am

    Phil.

    Try to get a chance to listen to the video. I am trying to point out what I believe is a prime example of the misuse of extra-biblical sources.

    If a source suggests one thing about the culture and the context of the Scripture suggests that Jesus’ point really has nothing to do with the cultural point read in the extra-biblical source, then why read it into the words of Jesus?

  9. #9 by Phil Miller on March 3, 2008 - 10:56 am

    If a source suggests one thing about the culture and the context of the Scripture suggests that Jesus’ point really has nothing to do with the cultural point read in the extra-biblical source, then why read it into the words of Jesus?

    We read into the words of Jesus all the time – we have to. Jesus didn’t live in a cultural bubble. It only makes sense to try to understand His words in the complete cultural context in which they were originally spoken and written.

    As far as extra-Biblical sources, I don’t see what the problem is as long as we don’t hold them above Scripture in some way. They are actually quite helpful in giving us more of an idea how people actually thought and lived in the times that Scripture was written.

    Here’s one example I can think of off hand. Would Reagan’s words “Tear down this wall” mean anything to us if we didn’t understand the historical and cultural context they were spoken in? We would have some idea, but we could easily take them to mean something else entirely.

  10. #10 by clearly on March 3, 2008 - 11:23 am

    “We read into the words of Jesus all the time – we have to. Jesus didn’t live in a cultural bubble. It only makes sense to try to understand His words in the complete cultural context in which they were originally spoken and written.”

    Yes Phil, I’m not an idiot.

    What I am saying is that while the Scripture is inspired, extra-biblical sources are not. There are markers within the text that lead us to understand his words as well; we are not completely dependant upon extra-biblical sources for our understanding of the text. If the extra-biblical sources seem to imply something that does not agree with the overall aim of the Sermon on the Mount, then I reject the extra-biblical source or at least believe that it does not provide an accurate backdrop for the words of Jesus.

  11. #11 by Phil Miller on March 3, 2008 - 11:34 am

    Dave,
    Well, I wasn’t meaning to imply you’re an idiot. I’m sorry if that’s what you thought.

    I guess I just don’t agree with you that what Bell is saying somehow goes against the other points Jesus is making on the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus isn’t saying that we just allow injustice and bend over and grab our ankles. He’s saying we don’t fight back using the world’s methods. Whereas the Roman Empire was based on holding power over others, Jesus’ Kingdom was based on serving others and not chasing after power.

    There is a way to fight back and still love our enemies. The problem with using violent means is that it dehumanizes both parties eventually. Jesus is showing people a way that when lived out will show we are all human and God’s creation.

  12. #12 by M Bizzle on March 3, 2008 - 2:45 pm

    I am still fairly unsure about Bell and what exactly he is teaching, but in this instance (based on what I have heard in the excerpt) I see a problem with his logic. The text is clear that its talking about establishing a choice to react in hate or in love, but the focus is on the man offended, not on shaming the aggressor! We cannot change those who attack us, but it says later in the passage what we should do, “…pray for those who persecute you.”

    I disagree with him assuming that this what the passage ment when Jesus goes on to explain in specific detail the purpose of the message. My major beef with Bell’s position on this is that he is opperating on an isolated occasion in scripture to support this. Please show me where Jesus places high value on shaming those who are in the wrong. Jesus ministry was not focused on shaming people into repentance but rather providing the opportunity for self-examination of sin in light of his grace and truth. We are to be messangers of the truth not messangers of shame. (2 Cor. 5:20) God has left the condemning up to his Word and the law to bring people to the place of guilt. (1 Tim 1:8-11) if our objective as Christians is to “shame” someone into respecting a human being, then shame on us for being so arrogant as to take the role of scripture and the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that convicts and brings about conviction of sin. (1 Thess 1:5, 5:8, Rom 5:16, 5:19)

    *I agree with Mr. Bell that shame should be experienced if you are disrespecting man (and this disrespecting God. Gen 1:26), but this was never what Christ taught, that his followers should shame people into personal conviction, that is why he provided the law, personal conscience, Holy Spirit conviction, we must testify to these things and make clear that scripture is the base, not our own personal misgivings.

  13. #13 by Justin on March 3, 2008 - 6:39 pm

    Phil I agree with your point about what Bell is saying. That’s why I am asking for a broader context than this short clip.

    I didn’t think you were implying anything about Clearly being an idiot in the same way that I was not implying anything negative. I don’t understand the defensiveness here! I TRULY was trying to engage in conversation, and kinda resent the comment, “I did not really see any of your posts as attempts at dialogue, which is fine. They seemed more like lectures on why I shouldn’t write about my theological concerns with Bell and others.”

    I never said that a person shouldn’t express their thoughts, I have honest questions about which I was hoping to dialog. I don’t lecture others, that would be very arrogant of me. I’m sorry that the questions bothered you.

    Phil, I think you make some good points. I can’t see Bell teaching something contrary to a loving/humble attitude with this (or any) passage. That would not only seem contrary to this passage, but also contrary to all of Christ’s life and teachings.

    Thanks for adding your thoughts.

    my best to both of you!
    justin

  14. #14 by Nicole on March 4, 2008 - 4:51 am

    Justin said:
    “Yet their views don’t harm you.”
    “1) WHY?
    2) What does it TRULY accomplish?
    3) What would happen if you didn’t?
    4) And how can you justify calling others to arms in light of what you yourself have said is the “obvious” in this passage?”

    1. Why. Well, I know for myself, and probably for Clearly, it is the concept of fighting against false teaching. This clip is a good example of taking an obvious statement, compounding the issue with some other context, and coming up with a new take on the passage. I think RB is saying “Jesus is teaching that we should make our our enemies recognize that we are equal” because that is what RB said in the video. Truth is truth. What happened to “I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E”?

    2. It brings to light what is being taught. If I am concerned that so, so many people are being led astray, because they lack a sure doctrinal foundation, than I think it is important to bring to light what is really being taught.
    “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” Matthew 24:24 – I think that the gospel that leads many away is but a shade off the truth, but it is enough to be a wrong path….

    3. People will go to hell.

    4. Defending the faith, and taking a stand on doctrinal truths, is different than not turning the other cheek….

  15. #15 by Phil Miller on March 4, 2008 - 8:18 am

    I think I need to back up a little here. I guess I’m confused as to why what Bell is saying here is portrayed as going against the whole of Jesus’ teaching elsewhere. Clearly, Jesus did a lot of stuff that went against societal norms. He let prostitutes clean his feet with their hair, he touched lepers, and he went to tax collectors houses. He treated outcasts as equals. During the Sermon on the Mount, he was probably talking to a lot of poor and broken people.

    Like I said before, I read this interpretation from several sources, and it actually makes a lot of sense to me. Just because it is different than the common line, it doesn’t mean we should just disregard it.

    As far as the shame thing goes, I think that as Western Christians we don’t realize how big of a role shame played in Jewish culture in Jesus’ time. Whereas we tend to think in terms of guilt and innocence when we talk sin, a Jewish person would think of shame and honor. If they sinned, they brought shame to themselves, their family, and God. So when Jesus exposed the Pharisee’s sin, it would have been a very shameful thing. The reason the cross was such a horrific way for Jesus to die wasn’t mainly the fact that it was so painful and tortuous, but the fact that it was publicly humiliating. It brought great shame upon the crucified and his family.

    So a lot of what Jesus did was saying that who society says should be ashamed, will really be honored and those who society honors will be ashamed unless they repent. He turned everything on its head.

  16. #16 by Raquel on March 4, 2008 - 11:50 am

    Woah.

    (Did Phil just compare Rob Bell to Jesus???)

    Phil, I encourage you to reread what you wrote.

    To me your argument can, essentially, be taken like this : because Jesus (THE SON OF GOD) taught the people how to truly live out the Christian life, when Rob Bell teaches a new doctrine, it’s acceptable and worthy to be trusted.

    Does that make any sense whatsoever?

  17. #17 by Justin on March 4, 2008 - 1:00 pm

    Nicole,
    I just wrote a longer note that thanked you for your honesty and willingness to try and converse. somehow when I hit submit the page came up and it wasn’t on there! I apologize!

    Thanks for not coming across as defensive or arrogant. I truly respect that, and I respect your opinions.

    My new questions are this:
    If the message of Christianity is a) God loves us and we are to love him, and b) we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, then:

    1) If I were to teach something that you (a person) disagrees with, then what message does it send to others not in the faith when we spend our time bashing each other? I think we both would say that we want to move people towards knowing and following Christ.

    2) How do you know that your “truth” is the right truth? I CAN’T know that what I understand as “truth” is indeed Truth. I can say that because my theology (what I perceived to be “truth” at one point) has change over the years. That happens as we get older, and life events change our beliefs.

    3) people would go to hell if you didn’t fight against “false prophets”? I don’t get that one at all… I would think ANYTHING that moves people closer to knowing and following Christ would, in turn, move them closer to God, which, again in turn, is further away from hell. I guess my question is, aren’t we all false prophets in some ways? I’m sure that just because I BELIEVE God to be such a way, and teach that way, that doesn’t make that true. God is Truth, not what we think about God. I’m sure we’re all misguided somewhere…I mean if we completely KNEW all about God and how he works, well that would defeat the purpose of faith.

    4) I wonder what we sometimes find more important when we “defend the faith”. I am asking these questions to myself too, and please don’t read that I’m accusing you of anything…I don’t know you and have no right (and that would be very unloving)… but it seems to me that (and this is why I wanted to dialog) “being right” has become more important that “loving one another as Christ has loved us”. I think that happens on all sides. I feel like it has happened on this blog, in this post in particular… but not from you. What are your thoughts on that. I know I can be guilty of it! That’s why I’m asking questions, not trying to argue.

    Please know I hold in great respect your answers and your view. I am not trying to put you down, or debate you in any way…again, just some questions that up until now, no one wants to answer without hostility! Thanks for taking the time to interact.

    Phil,
    I think that you have a lot to say on this. I feel more along the lines that you do about the clip/interpretation. I still don’t think that there’s enough there to make a judgment (wait…we aren’t supposed to judge?) call on. I highly doubt that the point of Bell’s message was that Jesus taught we were all equals if we turn the other cheek, now let us pray….amen!

    Your discussion on the cultural differences is valid, and I’m sorry that your comments are not being given proper consideration. I think you make some valid points for us to think on!

    thanks again
    justin

  18. #18 by Slim on March 4, 2008 - 7:14 pm

    Quick thought for those of you who claim that this isn’t the main focus of Bell’s presentation:

    Even if we don’t know what is the main point of this message or sermon or “biblical interpretation,” I think the key to remember is that he completely misses the point of this passage. Was Jesus’ message really “make someone acknowledge the fact that they are disrespecting you?” I say no. In all my quarells with my younger brother, I have never once struck back or given thought to how I was going to strike back so as to tell him I’m better than he is, and I know his thoughts were equally not the same.

  19. #19 by clearly on March 4, 2008 - 7:39 pm

    Justin, I am sorry if my first post made it sound like I did not want dialogue on my blog. Your initial questions called much of the content of my blog into question. That being said, I don’t have internet access at home and it was a busy work day. So, it was really a matter time and not a matter of willingness, as other threads reveal that I usually welcome a debate. I’m sorry that I came across as though I were being short with you.

    You say:

    My new questions are this:
    If the message of Christianity is a) God loves us and we are to love him, and b) we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, then

    I believe that this is understanding of Matthew 22:38-40 really speaks of the crux of “the law and prophets” and not Christianity per se (although Christianity is the continuation of true Judaism). I believe that your reduction of Christianity is false for the following reasons beyond the contextual one listed above:
    1. If we were to reduce the message of Christianity to a point a and a point b, would it not need to include the gospel? i.e. the truth about man’s sin and the only way we can be reconciled to God?
    2. We cannot properly love God or neighbor apart from #1.
    3. The Bible talks so much about pointing out false teachers, about separating from those who walk disorderly. Your assumption is reductionistic and leads us to a false conclusion. You assume that there is no place in Christianity for pointing out errors of doctrine, etc., when in reality the NT is full of such texts.
    4. If I truly love my neighbor, I will tell him when he is holding unbiblical positions. What we believe has implications for both our quality of life now and our destination for eternity. I have tried to express my concerns with Bell to Bell, but his church does not send my emails to him. Maybe Joe Martino could give him a message for me.

    2) How do you know that your “truth” is the right truth? I CAN’T know that what I understand as “truth” is indeed Truth. I can say that because my theology (what I perceived to be “truth” at one point) has change over the years. That happens as we get older, and life events change our beliefs.

    Ah but Justin, insomuch as you can know the meaning of the text, you can know that you know truth. John wrote an entire epistle (1 John 5:13) so that we could know that we have eternal life. I know that Jesus was born of a virgin. I know that God created the World. There is no life experience that will bring me to another conclusion. Secondary doctrinal matters (I hate that phrase because it makes it sound as though some doctrine is not important)…those are another story. For instance, my position on the church’s relalationship to the New Covenant has slightly changed in the last year. However, the fact that I am saved based upon the blood of the New Covenant is a truth that I know is true regardless of my life experience.

    I am out of time; I hope this helps you see from where I am coming.

  20. #20 by Justin on March 4, 2008 - 8:44 pm

    I do see and thanks for taking the time.

    Again, I am in full respect of your ideas. I am glad to see that you’ve tried to contact Bell… I think that’s perhaps a more Biblical way of dealing with your disagreements with his teachings. I’m sorry he won’t call you back, or visit your blog.

    Yes, the greatest commandment view of Christianity is technically reductionist, but I think it is at the same time, all encompassing! If you truly believe the best thing for your neighbor, is to keep them out of hell, isn’t that loving them? I believe that it IS what following Christ boiled down to. Not something small and easy, but something simply stated, but so deep that 2000+ years later we still haven’t grasped it.

    I guess my other (rhetorical) questions would be,
    how does someone deem some things more important than others? This includes Bible passages, extra-biblical sources, and even doctrines. I think one reason we spend so much time “defending our faith” is because it has become too complex, too legalistic. In all honesty, what we usually are trying to defend is not our “faith” (we believe what we believe and no one can take that away from us), rather we spend our time defending our religion and all the structure that goes with that. I throw out there that being a disciple and being a “Christian” may not always be the same thing. I don’t really believe that Jesus wanted to start a new religion…but that’s simply my beliefs, take it or leave it, it doesn’t have to be yours.

    You say, “you can know that you know truth”. But in all honesty we can’t. That’s the very definition of faith….of belief…. of hope. I know that a lot of emphasis in the last century was placed on “knowing” and “knowing that you know”. Those who practice Islam have a saying, “If Allah wills.” A non fundamentalist/extremest Muslim will never say “yes, I KNOW I’m going to paradise”. But I will live my life by my beliefs and ‘If Allah wills,’ then he will deliver me into paradise”.

    That’s a very BIG faith to say “I don’t know, but I trust God’s sovereignty.” I think that as Christians there’s a lesson to be learned in there…not about salvation perhaps, but about declaring our own beliefs as the “will of God,” without doubt. I’m speaking to myself as much as anyone. It’s human nature to want to KNOW. Why do you think I ask so many questions? I think that proclaiming we “know” seriously bullies the Biblical understandings of grace. So I ask, why do we have to “know”? Why can’t we seem to want to trust God more?

    Another example, how do we KNOW about the virgin birth? We can’t be 100% sure. But we can believe it. Yes, I know that the understanding of biblical inspiration and authority is an issue here, no need to point it out… But even if I BELIEVED that what we have in the Bible was 100% word for word out of God’s holy mouth, I still wouldn’t KNOW. It will never be more than a belief. Beliefs can only be shared, not proven. I know many have tried, and done a fantastic job at apologetically “proving everything”. But 1) there will always be holes to poke in it (because the nature of belief again is that it can’t be proven it must be believed), and 2) it has devalued many other aspects of the mystery and wonder of God.

    Along with that, my last rhetorical question is why do we find the need deep within our psyche to “know”, and then attempt to force conformity. I think that people like Bell have a lot to offer and teach us. I don’t always agree with him, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t learn from him and appriciate that he IS moving people who are far from God and Christ closer. I may not agree with you, but I appriciate the fact that you are passionate about your faith and because of that (I believe) you are moving people who are far from God and Christ closer. Final question rolling around in my heart: is that not worth anything?

    If you or anyone else responds, that’s great and welcome, but I’ve asked my questions. I’m done “talking”, I will just sit back and LISTEN now. I think that’s the most important part of a conversation: listening and respecting what others say…I hope that that has come through in my posts, I mean no harm in anything I’ve said and there is no need for anyone to feel attacked by my thoughts and questions. I’m not trying to belittle anyone…just ask…

    thanks again,
    I’ll be listening
    justin

  21. #21 by Phil Miller on March 5, 2008 - 6:20 am

    Raquel said:

    Woah.

    (Did Phil just compare Rob Bell to Jesus???)

    Phil, I encourage you to reread what you wrote.

    To me your argument can, essentially, be taken like this : because Jesus (THE SON OF GOD) taught the people how to truly live out the Christian life, when Rob Bell teaches a new doctrine, it’s acceptable and worthy to be trusted.

    Does that make any sense whatsoever?

    Well, I have no idea how you came to that conclusion. All I am trying to say is that we need to look at Jesus’ words as best we can in the original context they were spoken. Even if the standard Evangelical interpretation has told us one thing for years, we should be open to looking at an interpretation that better fits the cultural context of the passage.

    I don’t see what Bell’s saying to be that revolutionary. As I stated before, other commentators have said the same thing. Basically, the natural reaction upon being struck by someone is one of two things. Either we hit back, or we run away. Jesus is saying there’s a third option – stand your ground, but don’t fight back with force. By standing your ground, you are telling the aggressor that they have not won – that force will not ultimately win. These principles, when used, have actually proven quite effectinve when dealing with oppressive regimes.

    It’s kind of hard for most us to actually imagine living in a land where threat of force was something we dealt with all the time, but for the Jewish people under Roman rule, it was. Roman soldiers basically had free reign, and they could basically demand that people do whatever they them. If they didn’t, retribution was usually quick and brutal. Jesus’ answer to this isn’t the way of the Zealots who said “fight back”, nor was it the way of the Herodians who said “just do what you’re told”. It was something different. It was to realize that true peace was only available through His Kingdom, not the false hope of the Pax Romana.

    I guess it’s alright if you don’t believe me. All I’m saying is that to present this as if Bell is pulling this out of his butt is incorrect. A lot of scholars have made very similar points.

  22. #22 by Josh on December 29, 2009 - 11:38 am

    Nicole… I stand alone on the Word of God – the B-I-B-L-E….. is another mistake, similar to the one the Rob is pointing out in his message. To call the Bible the Word of God is a mistake and directly disregarding scriptural truth. Jesus is the Word of God (John 1) and no book or compilation of books is Jesus’ equal. Calling the Bible the Word of God is borderline blasphemy. I am not judging you or the millions of religious people who do just that ( call the Bible the Word of God ) b/c that is what has been so strongly taught in America but I felt compelled to point out that mistake. … the Bible is simply a compilation of 66 books that we call scripture.

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