D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

Warning–Religious Based Post (Rob Bell, Love Wins, and Christian Pirates)

Thursday, April 28, 2011 11:10 PM

I try, I really try, to keep this blog as much about technology and as little about other topics, but honestly its too annoying to try and keep multiple blogs. So, here we are.

As you can tell by the title, this will be a religious-based post. If you’re not down with that, that’s kewl…please view another of the fantastic tech-themed posts on my blog or on another GeeksWithBlogs contributor’s blog.

Rob Bell.

Rob Bell is the pastor of a church in Michigan. I actually used to mock Rob Bell because (sorry Rob) I kinda thought his NOOMA videos for youth groups were a little cheesy. Regardless, Rob’s put out some fantastic books from what I understand, but none have caused the controversy as his latest book, Love Wins. As is the case here in 2011, we have trailers for books, so if you have no idea what I’m talking about, please watch this:

You’re either thinking “Interesting…”, or you’re screaming at your monitor “HERETIC! BLASHPHOMER! TOOL OF SATAN! UNIVERSALIST”. That seems to be the general sentiment on the blogosphere, publications, facebook, and twitter. In fact, do a search for #RobBell on Twitter and you’ll get an idea of how this book has sparked discussion, debate, and ignited passions within the Christian community.

I’m not going to get into a review of the book here, mainly because I’m not done it completely yet, but I did want to comment on a tweet posted by Chris Rosebrough, who goes by @piratechristian. He states:

#RobBell 's ideas regarding the afterlife in #LoveWins are as pointless as a baseball game where no one keeps score & everyone is a "winner"

Many have re-tweeted this, I’m assuming out of agreement. This concerns me on a number of levels.

For one, while the twitter name is a reference to “Christian Pirate Radio”, it does evoke weird imagery. I mean…a Christian pirate? Can you *be* a pirate, but still be Christian? Pirates tend to do things like pillage, rape, make people walk the plank, shoot holes in other ships, horde money…not very Christ like. I mean, could you be a Christian Nazi? I mean, don’t *do* all those bad Nazi-ish things, but still be like “Hey, I like to dress in those kewl helmets and long coats while yelling BLITZKREIG out of my Toyota Echo!”?

Ok, brevity aside, what about the actual tweet. In many churches, you find this today: preaching that you must accept Christ and live properly, lest you be thrown into hell when you die! That’s right, your entire eternity is determined in 60 – 80 years (30ish if you lived a few hundred years ago). Churches organize event after event in a bid to “save souls” and ensure as many hear about God’s Word before they croak. I find Pirate’s suggestion that there are winners and losers interesting since many churches believe that if you “accept Christ” (in whatever that looks like at your church) before you die, literally *seconds* before you die, then you’re good…regardless of what you did in life. So in a sense, everyone does have the capability to be a “winner”.

But what Capt. Blackbeard is bringing up is this idea that there are good people (Christians) and bad people (non-Christians) and those that go to heaven are the winners and those that don’t are the losers…like a game of baseball. Sometimes you play the full 9 innings, sometimes you play 1 and get rained out. As long as you’re on the winning side of the scoreboard by the time the game ends.

And this type of thinking is what I have such a problem with. To talk in geek terms here, if we dilute being a Christian to whether we have the “HasAcceptedJesusIntoHisOrHerHeart” bit flipped to True, then we lose all engagement of the bigger picture…the real zest that following Jesus can bring. Jesus didn’t come to Earth to setup a way to organize His sheep. He came so that we’d be able to do away with the old ways of atonement, recognize that we have a new path to God, and begin to *live* in that knowledge. It’s not about score at that point, its about understanding God better and living a life He wants us to live.

When I was a kid, growing up Catholic, my parents would take me to church and I’d go to confession. I felt like I had to come up with something every time, because I wasn’t perfect and there *had* to be something I had done to tick God off. So for a few weeks the priest heard me confess over and over again to saying the F-word to my classmate Tyler (sorry Tyler). The sad reality is that churches today preach this type of guilt-fuelled message every Sunday – that we must lay barren our faults and bad deeds and beg for forgiveness, plead for mercy, ask for atonement.

Third Day, the popular Christian group, wrote a song call ‘I Don’t Know’. It’s a song about the Prodigal Son, the story in the Bible of the son who takes his inheritance and leaves – spending it all and being left with nothing. He goes back home, hoping that his father will have a spot for him as an employee. He’s embarrassed, he’s broken, he’s embarrassed, he’s scared.

Cannot find the words to say I'm sorry
Don't know how to show you I was wrong
Wasted all that you had given to me
Now I'm left with nothing and no one
And I find it's my fault
I'm the only one to blame
For the tears and the pain

All my life has lead to this decision
To return and ask you this one thing
And if I had one chance or if a million
Would it ever be enough for me
To explain what I've done
Now I know that I was wrong
Will you hold me again

I don't know what I can say
Or would it matter anyway
'Cause I don't know how you could still forgive me
For all that I have put you through
Is there anything that I can do
I would give my life to find your mercy
What will it take until you forgive me?

But the next part of the song is the punch:

Oh Lord, will I find that you have already
I don’t know

The thing is, Biblically we do know. We do know that God has. And as in the Biblical story, He greets us as we come up the road, puts a robe and a ring on us, and prepares a huge feast.

It’s not about winning and losing. It’s not about who gets into heaven or hell. It’s not about rules and regulations. It’s about communing with our creator. It’s about living in a way that He intended us to live.

Funny, in Rob’s book he talks about the idea of heaven being created on the Earth now, not just in the future. That could be a reality, but only if we committed ourselves to acting Christlike instead of focussing on hitting as many home runs and as little errors as possible.

Love does win…but for some reason, we think we still need to put points on the board. So while the Pirate continues to focus on winning the game, I’m going to enjoy living my life and seeing what God has planned.

Shiver me timber.


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