Over Thanksgiving I read through the new book by Rob Bell and Don Golden titled Jesus Wants to Save Christians. It is the first whole book I’ve read by Bell and I was honestly really impressed. I’ve always enjoyed his teaching style and that same style really shines through in his writing.
I’ll be blogging through a few of the topics that Bell and Golden cover in the book in the next few days. The book is centered around the idea of the Bible and Christianity being a narrative, and in the end it looks at how we fit into that narrative.
One key tenet to postmodernism is that things are known through story or narrative. This is different from modernity, which came to know things through logic or reason. Bell describes his book as one that studies the narrative of the Bible through a theological perspective called the New Exodus perspective (this is the one part of the book I do not like. I do not understand the idea of looking at the Bible through a specific theological perspective. Why not just let the Bible do the talking?).
Topic #1 From Oppressed to Oppressors
Essentially the entire book follows this topic through the narrative of the Bible. So Bell begins in the early Old Testament books. At that time Egypt was the enemy of Israel as it held them captive. Bell says:
“Egypt is an anti-kingdom. Egypt is what happens when sin builds up a head of steam. Egypt is what happens when sin becomes structured and embedded in society. Egypt shows us how easily human nature bends toward using power to preserve privilege at the expense of the weak.”
But as the story of Israel continues we see the tides turn in the opposite way. Instead of Israel being oppressed they become the oppressors. This is shown so clearly through the reign of Solomon. This is what Bell says about Israel and Solomon:
“In a few generations these wandering former slaves who were newly rescued from an oppressive empire have become empire-builders themselves. Solomon isn’t maintaining justice; he’s now perpetuating the very injustice his people once needed redemption from and, in the process, building a kingdom of comfort. He dines in his palace and strolls on terraces constructed by human suffering.”
Bell and Golden have essentially traced the first few books of the Old Testament to this idea of being oppressed to now bringing oppression. And I would agree this is a key part of the story in the early Old Testament books.
Tomorrow I’ll look at how God views the oppressed.