Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The God Who Smokes

I've been reading The God Who Smokes. I work in the library preparing books for shelving by putting their labels on, their pockets in, and then doing any cover applications and targeting. It's an easy, stress-free job for the most part. Before Christmas break, I had done a set of books that had that title in it, and I was curious. I kind of thought it would be a lot like Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell, a book that I read, got a little bit out of and thought the rest was garbage.

The entire premise of Velvet Elvis, besides God loving us, the emergent church being the only truly Gospel oriented movement, and other such tripe, is that there are some paintings out there that should be painted over, changed, and moved around. Such paintings are cliche, and are changed to move with the times. Bell questions whether or not the Virgin Birth, Real Presence, and a host of other doctrines are really necessary to our Salvation. Velvet Elvis left a bad taste in my mouth. Some of what was said was okay, but most of it was questioning the truths of all Christianity from the time of Christ onward. I happen to believe what is set forth in the Apostle's Creed, which is pulled from much of the Apostle's writings. . .and he was ripping that apart.

So, I picked up this book with it's somewhat jazzy looking cover thinking I was in for much the same fare. You're probably asking why I read that crap at this point. I like to stay up on current trends within the Christian (or not so Christian) church these days, just so that I can be informed when or if I have friends discussing such topics.

But, so far, two chapters in, it's different. It says that Rob Bell goes too far by using the repainting metaphor, and that rather than a Velvet Elvis, Christianity and Christology is more of a Rembrandt. Take out one brick, start poking holes anywhere, and the whole thing falls apart. Now, I'm only two chapters in. I'm fairly certain this man doesn't support any liturgical order in church, but it is very interesting to find a man who grew up fundamentalist say that doctrine is important - that you can't just trash everything.

Rob Bell's approach to Christianity may is sort of like the brick in the wall theory. If you take one brick out, the wall won't fall down, it won't destroy your faith . . . but is it a good idea to keep poking holes?

To quote:

"Rob queries: Would the entire wall of Christianity fall down if we found out Jesus had really been the product of a secret liason between 'Larry' and a Jewish maiden? What would be lost if that brick were removed?

As one notorious, testosterone-drenched thirty-something pastor put it: 'Not to mention the incredible disrespect of this question to the Mother of Jesus, if we take that brick out, well . . . we would lose - Jesus.' (Pause for effect.) 'I went to public school, and I know that."

Hmmm . . . We'll see how the rest of the book goes.

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