Well, Rob Bell’s at it again. You might recall that a couple of years ago Rob Bell caused quite a stir when he published Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. At that time Bell moved away from the historic Christian doctrines concerning the afterlife, and embraced a sort of universalism that he claimed wasn’t really universalism.
Love Wins made him a truckload of money, but it cost him his pastorate. Not even his own “emergent” congregation could countenance this departure from the faith. If you’re interested in the last days of Rob Bell at Mars Hill, then check out this article from the New Yorker.
Now, he’s releasing a new book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God, which I’m sure will make him another truckload of money. His publisher posted the trailer for the new book (I still don’t understand why books need trailers) on YouTube earlier this week. He seems to have learned his lesson from the Love Wins fiasco. The trailer for that book, actually hinted at the book’s theme, bringing instant condemnation from pastors across America.
This new trailer, on the other hand, hides the theme of the book. What’s the book about? Well, Rob had a notebook full of questions about God and the cosmos and everything. These questions include an Italian monkey. Enlightening. So he had to do a bunch of “research” on God. “See! I read books!” Somehow I doubt the Bible was in that drawer of books. And then he had to make notecards, with insightful themes like, “boom box, snail, volume, further, closer.”
Am I the only one who finds this trailer to be self-indulgent? He’s trying too hard to maintain that mysterious hipness. Italian monkeys and boom box snails. He wants us to think that he’s so deep. Actually, he’s just confused, but many consumers can’t tell the difference between depth and confusion. The crowd that he’s appealing to doesn’t want truth; they merely want the appearance that they are seeking it.
The first hint of what the book is about comes at the end. “God is not behind us, dragging us backwards into some primitive regressive state. God has always been ahead of us, pulling us forward into greater and greater peace and integration, wholeness, and love.” Here Bell disparages the “faith once delivered unto all the saints.” Bell will tell us new things that the prophets and apostles didn’t understand.
He’s a new prophet. He speaks words of peace. He speaks words of integration. He speaks the words of an Italian monkey.
UPDATE: Here are my thoughts on his latest trailer.