Book Review: “Love Wins” by Rob Bell

Rob Bell, author of Velvet Elvis, has produced a masterful treatment of the subject of hell and heaven from the perspective of God’s unfathomable and limitless love.  I read this book in one day!  Bell hits on all the main issues that Christians struggle with in the debate over heaven and hell.  How could God create billions of people only to save a relatively small handful of them?  Bell’s thesis is that God’s love wins in the end.  While he stopped short of endorsing universalism, keeping the door open for one to reject God’s love forever, the book was the best down-to-earth explanation of the universalist arguments that I have seen in print so far.  Most books on the subject tend to treat the subject from a scholarly theological perspective, but Rob Bell is a master of explaining things almost in a story-like manner. Continue reading

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Book Review: “A Generous Orthodoxy” by Brian McLaren

This is my first book review.  I know that, technically, there is a certain way to write a book review starting with an introduction, general overview of the book, strong points, weak points, and finishing with a summary and conclusion (or something like that).  Instead of all that, I’m just going to tell you why I loved this book.  How’s that?  LOL!  You see, book reviews on the Christian Independent are going to be more like journal entries than technical book reviews, because I’m past the point of reading books simply for theological information.  I’m interested in transformation.  I did the whole “stuff my head with knowledge” thing and that ends in stale orthodoxy.  It’s ironic that those words flowed off of my fingers, because that is the opposite of what Brian McLaren is aiming at in this book.  He’s trying to get at something deeper than theological systems.  He’s trying to get at a way of life (one that includes beliefs) that is generous.  He contends that the dichotomy that exists in our thinking between orthodoxy (right beliefs) and orthopraxy (right practice or living) should not exist.  We should live out our beliefs in a generous way that transforms us, others, the community, and, ultimately, the whole world.  Believe me, I’m doing a grave injustice to Brian by writing this review, because I cannot capture the beauty of what he is proposing and directing us toward in any way that can fully articulate his thoughts.  You’re going to have to read the book yourself. Continue reading

Post-Evangelical: The Journey Explained

Every once-in-awhile I go back and read old posts in order to see the evolution of my own thought, among other things.  Recently, I went back to this post and reread what I wrote concerning evangelical Christians and why I no longer considered myself one of them.  This blog post has received the most hits of any article I’ve posted in the nearly two years this website has existed.  It has had, literally, hundreds of views since its posting in January of 2009.  I have to admit that I was a bit uneasy rereading that post.  Not because of anything I said in particular, but because of the tone.  I strive on this website to not post things that I have not let “settle” for awhile in my mind and emotions.  Clearly, that post was written in a time of high frustration with my evangelical friends in the Christian community.  The critique was a bit harsh, but not dishonest.  I don’t necessarily take back anything I said, but I do wish I had given it a little more time before I abruptly posted something that was highly emotional for me at the time.  I’ve written two posts under the series title “The Mind of the Christian Independent” which I hope have added some clarity as to my current method, but I wanted to offer this piece as a more mature version of the “Why I am no longer an Evangelical Christian” post.  I wanted to take a more level-headed approach to explain where I stand in relation to my former theological tradition.  The label I use for this position is post-evangelical (see the book review posted along with this article which will give you a fuller context for the thoughts expressed in this piece).  There has been a certain evolution in my definition of myself since leaving the evangelical community for good in 2008 and now that I’ve had more time to meditate on things (and realize the aforementioned article was more of a rant), I offer this article as a more full-grown explanation of my frustrations and spiritual journey. Continue reading