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July 25, 2013 / compassioninpolitics

Quotes from What We Talk about When We Talk about God by Rob Bell

“Science does an excellent job of telling me why I don’t have a tail, but it can’t explain why I find that interesting.

Science shines when dealing with parts and pieces, but it doesn’t do all that well with soul.

It can do a brilliant job of explaining how we and other species have adapted and evolved, but it falls short when ti comes to where the reverence humming within us comes from.

When I’m talking about God, I’m talking about grenzbegriff kind of faith that sees science and faith as the dance partners they’ve always been, each guiding and informing the other, bringing much-needed information and insight to their respective levels of hierarchy. To see them at odds with each other is to confuse levels of hierarchy, resulting in all sorts of needless debates, misunderstandings, and terrible bumper sticker.

I say all of this about science and faith because when I’m talking about God, I’m talking about the source of all truth, whatever label it wears, whoever says it, and wherever it’s found–from a lab to a cathedral to a pub.”

–Rob Bell from What We Talk about When We Talk about God, p. 75

“It’s all–lets use a very specific word here–miraculous. You, me, love, quarks, sex, chocolate, the speed of life–its all miraculous, and its always been.”

–Rob Bell from What We Talk about When We Talk about God, p. 79

“Take faith, for example. For many people in our world, the opposite of faith is doubt. The goal, then, within this understanding, is to eliminate doubt. But faith and doubt aren’t opposites. Doubt is often a sign that your faith has a pulse, that it’s alive and well and exploring and searching. Faith and doubt aren’t opposites; they are, it turns out, excellent dance partners.”

-Rob Bell from What We Talk about When We Talk about God, p. 92

“To be precise as possible, then, I imagine you’re like me in that you regularly find yourself having experiences that point past themselves to a larger reference point, to something or somewhere or sometime or someone beyond the experience itself in its most basic essence….

The ancient Hebrews, it turns out, had a way of talking about these experiences we’ve all had, those moments when we become aware that there’s more going on here, moments when an object or gesture or word event is what it is and yet points beyond itself.

They believed that everything you and I know to be everything that is exists because of an explosive, expansive, surprising, creative energey that surges through all things, holding everything all together and giving the universe its life and depth and fullness.

They call this cosmic electricity,
this expressed power,
this divine energy
the ruach of God.”

–Rob Bell from What We Talk about When We Talk about God, p. 105 – 106

“The question, then,
the art,
the task,
the search,
the challenge,
the invitation is for you and me to become more and more the kind of people who are aware of the divine presence, attuned to the ruach, present to the depths of each and every moment, seeing God in more and more and more people, places, and events, each and every day.

First, what our experiences of God do at the most primal level of consciousness is jolt us into the affirmation that whatever this is, it matters. This person, place, event, gesture, attitude, action, piece of art, parcel of land, heart, word, moment–it matters.”

–Rob Bell from What We Talk about When We Talk about God, p. 110

“The ancient Hebrews had a word for this awareness of the importance of things. They called it kavod. Kavod originally was a business term, referring to the heaviness of something, which was crucial in weights and measures and the maintaining of fairness in transactions. Over time the word began to take on a more figurative meaning, referring to the importance and significance of something.”

–Rob Bell from What We Talk about When We Talk about God, p. 112

“The Greeks had a word for this sense of forward movement, purpose, and direction–they called it telos. The telos of something is its point, its purpose, where its headed, what its doing, and where its going.

This is why we love stories, their loaded with telos. They are not static but dynamic realities, heavy with potential and possibility. In a story, something happens, and then something else happens after that, leading somewhere. That’s how stories work.

When we talk about God, we’re talking about that sense you have–however stifled, faint, or repressed it is–that hope is real, that things are headed somewhere, and that that somewhere is good.”

–Rob Bell from What We Talk about When We Talk about God, p. 121

“Admitting demands honesty.
Admitting requires a ruthless assessment of our condition.
Admitting is what happens when you’ve hit the wall,
when you have no energy left to pretend,
when you’re done playing games,
when you no longer care what other people think,
when you’ve come to the end of yourself,
when you’re ready to embrace the truth that you need
help, and that on your own you’re in serious trouble
because you’ve made a mess of things.”

–Rob Bell from What We Talk about When We Talk about God, p. 138

“And so when I talk about God, I’m talking abou the Jesus who invites us to embrace our weakness and doubt and anger and whatever other pain and helplessness we’re carrying around, offering it up in all of its mystery, strangeness, pain, and unresolved tension to God, trustin that in the same way that Jesus’s offering of his body and blood brings us new life, this present pain and brokenness can also be turned into something new.

The peace we are offered is not a piece that is free from
depression, or
It is peace rooted in the trust that the life Jesus gives us is deeper, wider, stronger, and more enduring than whatever our current circumstances are, because all we see is not all there is and the last word about us and our struggle has not yet been spoken.”

-Rob Bell from What We Talk about When We Talk about God, p. 146


Leave a Comment
  1. Wade Bearden / Jul 26 2013 3:44 pm

    Interesting quotes. What were your thoughts on the book? Would you recommend it?

  2. Nathan Kets / Jul 26 2013 8:35 pm

    Sure. I think Rob Bell has to be read with a critical eye. I think he says things for provokation. I think he sees himself as an educator in some respects who wants to stretch the audience.

    As I recall there was certainly a post-modern orientation I recall in reading the later half of the book. I agree with some of that–but I think it has to be contextualized. What now? Or whats the other side say that helps provide some balance?

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