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What We Talk About When We Talk About God: Faith for the 21st Century [Paperback]

Rob Bell
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Feb 2014

Rob Bell’s bestseller ‘Love Wins’ tackled subjects church leaders have been afraid to touch. Now he asks the biggest question faced by any Christian: how do we know God?

Although 2000 years of Christendom has seen huge changes in our broader understanding of our place in the world, belief remains rooted in archaism and tradition. Rob Bell believes we need to drop our primitive, tribal views of God and instead embrace the God who wants us to reach the potential within us; people who understand their universe of quarks and quantum string dynamics, but who recognise our fundamental need for stories of heroes and sacrifice and profound longing for a guiding force larger than ourselves.

‘What We Talk About When We Talk About God’ will reveal that God is not in need of repair to catch him up with today’s world, so much as we need to discover the God who goes before us and beckons us forward. A book full of mystery, controversy, and reverence, ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About God’ promises not to disappoint.

Frequently Bought Together

What We Talk About When We Talk About God: Faith for the 21st Century + Love Wins: At the Heart of Life's Big Questions + Drops Like Stars: A Few Thoughts on Creativity and Suffering
Price For All Three: 19.77

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: William Collins (4 Feb 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007556187
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007556182
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.6 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 22,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


“When I first started reading it, I was highlighting my favorite passages, but then I realized—what’s the point? I’ve marked every page! What We Talk About When We Talk About God is what I mean by a “super soulful” book. It just wowed me.” Oprah

“Wonderful, winsome material for someone who is confused about God.” Christianity Magazine

“Fascinating, fresh… hugely readable and extremely challenging.” Good Book Guide

“There’s something different about Rob Bell… We should pay attention to this book”
Chine Mbubaegbu (Threads UK)

About the Author

Rob Bell is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling
book Love Wins and was the Founding Pastor of Mars Hill Holy Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He speaks to sold-out audiences across the world. He and his wife Kristen have three children.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If Carlsberg did books about God... 11 Mar 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've just finished reading this latest offering from Rob Bell, an American Pastor who, if you've not heard of him, was one of TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people 2011. And it's his best work yet, by far...

Rob Bell's marketing machine like to portray him as a controversial figure and describes this book as an 'explosive follow-up to Love Wins', his previous book in which he challenged traditional Christian ideas about heaven and hell. But that's all just piffle. It's not explosive at all. But it is brilliant.

What We Talk About When We Talk About God is a book from the deep heart and sharp mind of a Pastor who has spent 20 years deeply involved in the lives of real people. It's a book about what life is really like - scientifically, emotionally, physically, philosophically - and how our words about God either make sense of, or undermine, that life.

It has all the trademarks of Bell's awesome communication prowess: the witty anecdotes, the clever metaphors, the ancient words that get under your skin. And the tempo that speeds you up and slows you.

Right. Down.

But all this is in service of something that you feel is bursting out of his body. A belief that God is so, so good, and full of life and love and freedom that the whole world simply cannot contain it.

And that we experience that life and love - that God - every single day. But our words - our freighted, weary words about God - lock us into a language about God which keeps God away; like a watch-maker pouring over the springs and cogs in front of him, unaware of the many ways in which time shapes his life.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply truthful 19 Mar 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is probably Bell's best piece of written work and ranks for me alongside his 2010 DVD show "Everything is Spiritual", which had a theme which in many ways set the scene for this book.

One of the big criticisms of Rob's previous book (by those who actually read it, not those who just assumed it carried a theology that differed to their own, and was therefore heretical), was that it carried too many open and unresolved questions. Personally I think that style was quite right for Love Wins, as with matters of eschatology all you can do is ask questions. For this work those readers will be pleased that Bell does nail his colours to the mast. He proposes a way of thinking about God (mostly a blend of Tillich and Process theology for those who like their theology pre-labelled) that is more deeply grounded in the Biblical witness than those modern propositional assertions that his opponents are so fond of.

The real power of this book is that it does theology for people who don't do theology. He leads the reader through a mixture of stories, questions and thought experiments that take us into a deeper awareness of what we think about God, without resorting to teaching people the language of technical theological jargon to do so. In this he is supremely talented as a communicator and wonderfully acts as a humble guide on a route through this terrain to the novice. He does this in such a way as to sugggest "I have been thsi way a few times and the view from around that corner is amazing, but I'm not so proficient that I don't need to be careful of my own footwork and bearins from time to time." The perfect guide for such mountain-work.

Others have noted that it is a pretty short book with few words on each page. You'll read it in a few hours, and then a few days later be itching to have another journey through its pages.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who is this God you speak of? 14 Mar 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am loving this book so far. The movement towards a 21st Century understanding of God and what that means and what we need to do with old and outdated ideass and norms is an ongoing discussion. But this book is a great addition and wonderful starting point for those who are on this journey or thinking about starting it.
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very disappointed with this book. Seems to have cynically exploited the success of "love wins" by churning out some rehashed stuff that says very little as soon as he can once the furore created by love wins has died down. Was looking forward to this book after reading and re-reading love wins - don't think I finished it and cannot remember anything from what I read. Perhaps 2 stars is a little too kind.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sank into my Spiritual Bones 7 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am writing this many months after reading the book. It is telling that, although specific details don't remain in my 60-year-old brain, a basic mindset does, and that mindset is helpful to my ever-questioning, sometimes perishingly frail faith.

On the one hand, I don't want to be a spoiler and detail this basic orientation I drew from the book -- I want to encourage people to read it for themselves. Bell is an engaging writer. He draws examples and knowledge very broadly -- from the whole contemporary world around him (from personal and family incidents to stuff right out of People magazine). And he draws very deeply -- from his impressive (at least to me--I don't read Greek or Aramaic and haven't gone to theological college) biblical scholarship. He is funny (in a sort of Seinfeldesque way). And he eschews a lot of religion-speak/ jargon that makes assumptions that an increasing number of people don't buy into.

Thus my spoiler alert: Stop reading this review now and get the book yourself to see the delightful way Bell weaves disparate bits of contemporary life and biblical scholarship into the basic elements that I found spiritually sustaining.

The most important thing I keep coming back to from the book is its contention that by looking at the grand overarching picture conveyed by the Bible, you can see a larger truth than is contained within its individual parts; namely that there is a directionality in the way God has been revealing truth to (and through) humans over time. God's truth has interacted with human history and evolution in a great arc toward love and good.

So, for example, there was a reason that in the Old Testament justice was considered to be "an eye for an eye.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars but I was disappointed after reading Rob Bell's book 'Velvet Elvis'
Probably an enlightening read for some, but I was disappointed after reading Rob Bell's book
'Velvet Elvis'.
Published 1 month ago by Kathleen Cavanagh
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, not his best
Rob Bell is a good communicator - his NOOMA videos are usually worth watching with thought-provoking themes. Read more
Published 12 months ago by J. Mann
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound truths in an apparently flippant style.
This book takes you on an immense journey through time and space (both infinitely small and infinitely great) and through the possibilities of God; but does it all in words laid... Read more
Published 12 months ago by J. Aidley
5.0 out of 5 stars This book could save Christianity
I am passionately sure this book and its core message that God is WITH us and FOR us and AHEAD of us is the message that the jaded masses disillusioned with God and Christianity... Read more
Published 13 months ago by DaveC
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensible, provoking and surprising
A must for those seeking a Christian faith that meets the demands of contemporary culture. Unashamedly up to date. Essential reading
Published 13 months ago by royaldocks
5.0 out of 5 stars More of the same (in a good way) from Rob Bell
I think this is probably his best work so far. Not saying anything that Christian writers haven't said before, just new for the more evangelical traditions. Read more
Published 14 months ago by RevDitch
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
Big Rob Bell fan - this doesn't change my opinion
much to think about and much to stimulate
challenges many of my traditional views
Not sure I agree with everything... Read more
Published 14 months ago by daryl
5.0 out of 5 stars Aspects of God's character
Rob has once again written a fantastic book.
He takes various chapters to write about God's character and what it means as we walk with God on this journey. Read more
Published 14 months ago by cavaliertoby
5.0 out of 5 stars As usual, Rob Bell cuts thro' the religion and gets to the truth
clears all the traditional church jargon that puts most people off, challenges us out of our 'false' comfort zone and into the real comfort of a relationship with our wonderful... Read more
Published 14 months ago by sharynh
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
Rob Bell's books are so easy to read. I found this book very interesting and helpful. I would recommend anybody to read it
Published 15 months ago by George
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