A Manifesto for the Church in Exile
By Rob Bell and Don Golden (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)
Jesus Wants to Save Christians, Rob Bell’s third book, is consistent with his unique style, first unveiled in Velvet Elvis and later fine-tuned in Sex God. This installment is equally insightful and no less thought-provoking.
The subtitle, A Manifesto for the Church in Exile, provides a hint at the theme of this book, which is not readily apparent from the seemingly contradictory title. Fans of Bell’s prior work will not be disappointed—nor, most likely, will be his detractors.
Pulling four significant geographies from the Old Testament story of God’s chosen people, Bell uses them metaphorically to instruct us today: Egypt, Sinai, Jerusalem, and Babylon. In which one are you living?
The journey begins in the first introduction and gathers momentum in the second, so don’t race ahead to start at chapter one. Those who do will miss out on evocative truth, such as Bell’s recognition “that many Christians support some of the very things that Jesus came to set people free from.”
Now we have a hint at where Bell is headed with Jesus Wants to Save Christians.
Christianity isn’t just a future-focused bliss, but also a here and now reality to which we are called. “Sometimes,” notes Bell, “it takes a little pain to get us to do the right thing.” Soon thereafter, he points out that worship is service, and we are to do both: worship and serve.
After a six-chapter narrative provocation, Bell’s epilogue serves as a fitting call to action, noting that, “Jesus wants to save our church from the exile of irrelevance.” Answering this call will involve risk, discomfort, criticism, and possibly rejection.
Nevertheless, it is imperative to do so in “remembrance of him”—so that the world (and we in the process) will be changed; it is a Church manifesto.
[Jesus Wants to Save Christians: A Manifesto For The Christian Exile, by Rob Bell and Don Golden. Published by Zondervan, 2008, ISBN: 978-0-310-37502-2, 218 pages, $19.95]
Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.