Rob Bell's latest book, Jesus Wants to Save Christians (Zondervan, with Don Golden), is his most substantive yet. It's nothing less than a holistic, biblical theology of salvation—written, paradoxically, in Bell's typical sentence-fragment style. CT senior managing editor Mark Galli sat down with Bell, founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to probe him on some of the more striking statements in his book.
You say that "something has gone terribly wrong with humanity." What do you mean?
I was born in 1970, a child of the Enlightenment. We put someone on the moon. We'll figure out cancer soon enough. Look what we can do. And yet more people than ever have died in the last 100 years from bombs. So, we have been taught, give Steve Jobs enough time, and he'll come up with something.
At the same time, Rwanda, 1994—we didn't step in there. Then Darfur—didn't we learn? So we have this profound sense of empowerment coupled with a profound sense of disempowerment, and I think you have a lot of people with a profound sense of angst.
You say, "Jesus is leading all creation out of the land of violence, sin, and death." You've added the word violence to the Pauline "sin and death." Why?
The myth of redemptive violence—Caesar, peace, and victory—is in people's bones so deeply, we aren't even aware of it. You crush the opposition, that's how we bring peace.
Early in the biblical narrative, one brother kills the other brother. In the arc from Genesis 4 to Genesis 11, there is a growing epidemic of violence. It's almost like the writers are saying, "Look at this." It's like cracks on a windshield. A pebble hits your windshield, and it just cracks and cracks.
I'm getting my son a video game ...