According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Love Wins - Small Group Discussion Guide

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Love Wins
by Rob Bell

Love Wins coverReading and Discussion Guide

Chapter 1: What About the Flat Tire?

  1. Before reading this book, how did you think of heaven and hell?
  2. Do you believe God invites us, even welcomes us, to discuss and debate the big questions of faith, doctrine, and the Bible?
  3. What messages have you heard about who goes (or how many go) to heaven? Or about how God can be both loving Father and Judge?
  4. Of the questions Bell raises in this chapter, which did you experience as raising issues you have had before or issues you would like to discuss more?

Chapter 2: Here Is the New There

  1. Bell remembers his grandmother’s painting of heaven as a floating, glimmering city. What is your vision of heaven? What factors have shaped this vision?
  2. How does the perception of our lives and our church change when we think of heaven as a restored Earth rather than as a faraway place?
  3. If Jesus consistently focused on heaven for today, why do we so emphasize heaven after we die?
  4. Bell describes the Christian life as our preparation to become the kind of people who can dwell in heaven; how does this reorient how we shape our lives?
  5. What is the connection between our understanding of heaven and how we live our lives?

Chapter 3: Hell

  1. See again the painting on page 20, where hell is represented as a dark, ominous abyss. How do you imagine hell? What factors have shaped this vision? Has your concept of hell changed over time and if so, how?
  2. What changes in how you think of the gospel when hell is seen as perhaps temporary or time-limited?
  3. What do you think of the idea that hell might be for correction rather than as punishment?
  4. If the purpose of hell is for correction, then what do we think happens in hell?
  5. If we remove the threat of punishment in our presentation of the gospel, why might someone be interested in the good news?

Chapter 4: Does God Get What God Wants?

  1. Do you believe human life is tragic or is it a romance?
  2. Do you think an all-powerful loving God would allow the vast majority of human beings who have ever lived to suffer eternally? Why or why not?
  3. Do you think God would say to someone trying to repent, “Sorry, too late. You had your chance”?
  4. As Bell shows, the Bible does not spell out all the details of what happens after we die. What might be God’s purposes for not explaining everything and, instead, promising that we will be “surprised”? Why do you think various church traditions have spelled out exactly what will happen?

Chapter 5: Dying to Live

  1. How would you describe to others what Jesus accomplished on the cross and how it affects us?
  2. How meaningful to you are some of the words the Bible uses to describe Jesus’s work on the cross—sacrifice, atonement, justification, redemption, victory?
  3. According to Bell, how does Jesus’s death and resurrection relate to the basic pattern of life, death, and rebirth we witness in all of life?
  4. What changes if we accept a more “cosmic” or “grand” understanding of Jesus’s accomplishments and goals?
  5. Why do Christians so often focus on questions of who is in and who is out of heaven?

Chapter 6: There Are Rocks Everywhere

  1. When you hear stories of people experiencing Jesus or a divine presence, how do you react? Is your tendency to believe them or not? Have you experienced God directly in this way?
  2. In what sense do you think was Jesus in the rock Moses struck to get water?
  3. How does seeing Jesus above all religions and cultures change how we approach people of different religions and cultures?
  4. With this expanded view of Jesus, where might be some new places and ways we see him today? How does Bell’s view of Jesus change how we explain the gospel to others?

Chapter 7: The Good News Is Better Than That

  1. What story do you think God is telling you about yourself?
  2. When you describe what you believe, what picture of God do you think others perceive?
  3. Do you believe God is fundamentally for you or against you? Have you ever found it difficult to love God?
  4. If the gospel is mostly about “participation” and not about “entrance,” why would this, as Bell argues, open us up to joy, happiness, and even throwing a good party? What role has joy played in your Christian life?
  5. Bell claims that there “is a secret deep in the heart of many people, especially Christians: they don’t love God” (p. 176). He says that some people have a distorted view of God where they think Jesus rescues us from God. Have you witnessed or experienced these feelings or thoughts?

Chapter 8: The End Is Here

  1. Bell recalls the moment from his childhood when he decided to be a Christian. How have your early experiences of faith shaped your current faith life? What do you think of your earlier spiritual experiences today?
  2. How does our spiritual outlook change when we think of God’s invitation to us shifting from where we will go when we die to a relationship right here and now?
  3. If your heavenly life begins now, how might that change your life, your goals, your focus, and your everyday life?
  4. What do you think it means to trust God’s love?
  5. Why do you think Jesus so emphasizes the urgency of deciding today, now?
  6. Do you believe that “love wins”?


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