God Is “Fundamentally
Beyond Words, Phrases And Forms”
In What We Talk About When We Talk About God, Rob Bell intrigues us with a perspective that seems to flaunt both religious and scientific tradition. Not just religion and not just science but both. Not the basics of either system, not the validity of either and certainly not God.
Tradition he implies, is restrictive whether it be science or religion. Both run on well worn conversational tracks that leave huge gaps in the dialogue and Tradition’s natural tendency is to ignore the questions glaring out through those gaps.
For example, Rob mentions several scientific observations that contradict established theory and makes one wonder just how precisely nature can really be defined.
- Time is relative. It’s consistency is a persistent illusion.
- Every nine years our bodies are renewed – the material our bodies are made of literally becoming the substance of other bodies and things – but in spite of that you still remain you.
- He quotes Jeffrey Kluger who says scientists are now “grappling with something bigger than mere physics, something that defies the mathematical and brushes up – at least fleetingly – against the spiritual.”
Rob also points out a few religious ideas that don’t add up.
- The statements religious people make that imply God is somewhere else, rather than everywhere, and shows up on the odd occasion to do some particular person a favor.
- The modern religious idea that leads one to think that “spiritual” describes only non-material, non-tangible objects. It only applies to things not in this world.
- The tendency for religious people to oppose peace, causing trouble in the process.
Both sides say and do things that don’t make sense.
But to be clear, Rob isn’t vying with tradition, he’s just trying to fill the gaps.
And again, like his other books, particularly Love Wins, he makes us think.
Be warned though. Rob isn’t trying to prove anything absolutely or make you agree with him. In fact, his ideas, though clearly illustrated, point more to the inability of humans to box truth in. Truth, like God, may be immutable but our ability to know it all, understand it accurately and articulate it exactly is in question. Read more
Filed under: Book Reviews, Divorce, Personal Development
Life After Divorce
Naked Divorce for Women won’t help you avoid a divorce or provide legal advice for getting one but it will help you get over one. In a word this book is about recovery.
The title is telling. Divorce is stressful not only because it is hurtful, inconvenient and demoralizing, but also because it leaves one feeling exposed and exposure is the particular sensation that Adele illustrates well throughout her book. She bravely bares all in an attempt to help others navigate the climb from the chaos of divorce to the order of recovery. Her writing isn’t coldly clinical. It is personal.
But don’t get the wrong idea. This book, though it targets the pain, doesn’t encourage anyone to live in it. Instead, Adele highlights individual responsibility before and after the divorce: responsibility, that is, for the failed marriage and the recovered life. Self-pity, bitterness and revenge are understood but not encouraged or entertained.
Though Adele writes from a woman’s perspective and for women going through divorce, the principles she lays out are drawn from her background in change management and are good for managing any kind of transition. They can apply to both genders too.
She writes broadly covering many related issues: hormones, friends, family, work relations and more but at the core of the book is a 21 day program for recovery which emphasizes diet, physical exercise and the importance of maintaining a balanced routine, among other things. But don’t worry. She doesn’t take an extreme approach to dietary regulations. You only need “limit” coffee and chocolate, not eliminate them.
Adele’s program brings immediate relief but it isn’t a quick-fix or a laid-back approach. The 21 day program involves a commitment of 90 to 120 minutes each day during the week and a bit more time on the weekend. The program is described as a cocooning process that enables transformation from a troubled, out of control state to a more settled and focused you.
21 days may seem like a long time but as Adele points out, compared to the scope of an entire life, 21 days is only a small part. Read more
Why A Marriage
Should Never Be Saved
At The Expense
Of A Life
New book, In Defense of Divorce, defends divorce from traditional religious ideas, extenuating the guilt and reserving emotional energy for solving practical issues going forward.
The book explores such questions as:
- Is divorce a sin or a solution?
- Has religion over influenced public opinion on marriage, divorce and remarriage?
- Did the Old Testament allow divorce?
- What did Jesus teach about divorce in Matthew chapter five?
- Does God really hate divorce?
- How did Paul judge divorce matters?
Ennis Pepper, the author, experienced divorce first as a teenager when his parents broke up and later through other family members and friends. As a minister he witnessed the haranguing troubled couples experience when considering divorce and the rejection should they get one. And with a Bachelor of Biblical Studies degree and more than 25 years ministry experience he is able to address this topic confidently with both a biblical and practical perspective.
Get a Kindle Reading App for any device (PC, Mac, Smartphones, Tablets) here
Most people think of divorce as something to shun, not defend, so Ennis’ book title raises questions at the start. And since the divorce rate is reaching all time highs there is no indication that the general population lacks the courage to initiate a divorce so why bother defending the issue? Read more
“Love Wins” now has a Study Guide for individual use or group discussion.
Shouldn’t Faith Produce Works
Shouldn’t Religion Encourage It
In his book, Love Wins, Rob Bell mentioned several things Christians should do. Many of those “do’s” involve social, charitable, environmental and ecological activities and he was accused of teaching salvation by works because of it.
A first reading might give that impression but once you get over the initial “whaaaat?”, and you’ve had a chance to investigate further you realize Rob said nothing of the kind.
In fact, he made it quite clear that salvation is strictly a unilateral proposition. God’s part only, no human part required, except of course, repentance and faith.
A couple of quotes to wet your appetite: Read more
“Love Wins” now has a Study Guide for individual use or group discussion.
What Influences the Shaping of Character?
Good question and to answer it, following is a list of eight things that influence a person’s character but understand this. These things only influence character, they aren’t the final word on who you are or what you become. They combine to form the melting pot in which bad qualities are brought to the surface and hopefully replaced by the good. You are defined by your responses not fate.
I raise this issue because Rob Bell in Love Wins suggests there is no immediate transformation at the moment of death from the flawed you to a perfectly complete and better you. The implication is, character continues to develop following death, so whatever character development you shirked in this life will be faced in the next.
Therefore, focusing more intently on developing character now – in this life – may be more important than convention suggests. A look at each influence can give us insight on what to expect and how to respond. The first item to consider is:
Divine Decree, aka, God’s Will.
I hesitate to use the word “Decree” because it is associated with a predetermined, unbending, never changing plan formulated for and imposed on every individual but God’s will, though unchanging, does flex. God does have a plan for each person’s life but it is not detailed to the nth degree and isn’t comprised of every thing that happens to you.
God knows every time you stub your toe – actually before you stub it – but He doesn’t plan these things. They happen, we react, He uses them.
God’s will is firm but not imposed. It is perfect but our ability to follow it is not. His will is constant while we waiver back and forth as the following illustration shows. God’s will must be ratified by human choice. Each person chooses to leave it or pursue it but God doesn’t force it down your throat or manipulate you into following it. When we make plan-warping mistakes God is smart enough and powerful enough to work around it.
Although specific in many ways, God’s will is also general. That is, it applies to everyone in the same way. For example, every person is to love his or her neighbor equally and must cherish THEIR married partner only.
The important point to remember is: Read more