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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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48 Responses to 1025

  1. Pingback: Supersized church? | connexions

  2. FrPaulB says:

    cf “The McDonaldization of the Church” by John Drane

  3. goodfield says:

    Do you want that large? :-)

  4. JF says:

    And if you don’t like what Father Ronald McDonald has to say, you simply go to another church down the road and worship the Burger King of Kings.

  5. Kim says:

    hahahahahaha, thats a brilliant cartoon :lol:
    Also v thought provoking – what is it exactly that people want from church? and is it the same as God wants? I can’t get past the verse that says people will know we are the disciples of Jesus by how well we love one another. Eek

  6. Tiggy Sagar says:

    We should be helping one another in practical ways – not standing in pews singing and focusing on our emotions in relation to God or how holy we can become or expecting supernatural miracles.

  7. theres always plenty of McCheese to be had in church …

    love love LOVE this.

  8. Hazel says:

    Well said, Tiggy

  9. subo says:

    wicked, & a powerful cartoon

  10. Dawn says:

    i think maybe Rob Bell belongs to that church……… :P

  11. Robin says:

    It’s a kind of broad brush criticism that everyone can feel smug about because you can simply aim it at the “other” group.

  12. Robin says:

    Just to expand on my vague comment a bit :)
    For me it sort of tugs at the idea that church is supposed to be hard. That real church challenges you and tells you things you don’t want to hear because you’re a bad person and you need to shape up. A church which is telling you that you’re doing ok and that you’re fabulous must surely be false and useless and simply telling us what we want to hear.

    A recent example – i’ve been engaging the leadership in my church recently about their belief that women should not serve as elders – one of their responses was that “it would really easy just to say yes and allow women to be elders, it would connect us better to our surrounding culture and not be such a cause of division – but when following God’s Word it’s not meant to be easy”. So, because it’s hard, because it’s “counter-cultural” they believe it must be right. If they let it go then they would simply be giving people what they want – just like the cartoon.

    So it’s easy to point at another group/church/opinion and say they are taking the easy option. But i’m not so sure that the dogged pursuit of the lonely, narrow, twisted path to righteousness is always the right one, sometimes Jesus is simply standing at the door and knocking :)

    Ummm… something like that.

  13. linus says:

    Why do you think that, Dawn? he obviously isn’t telling you things that you want to hear.

    Tiggy, are you saying this because you feel that the church is not helping you with practical issues? I’m sorry if that’s the case =[ Is there anything that we as an asbo community can do to help, despite our geographical remoteness?

    Robin, yes. The most helpful question i’ve ever been asked in a Bible study is “in what ways are we like the pharisees in this passage?” Its always easy to look at an issue or look at the Bible and assume “i am right about this”. Its much more instructive to look at an issue and look at the Bible and ask “in what ways might i have got this wrong?”

  14. subo says:

    like the comments Robin, linus Tiggy.

    and curious the church opts of ‘not following the world’ over women speaking, when theirs a clear biblical president for this, and yet loads of area’s they seem to want to follow – like amplifying the guitars, – which was unheard of in biblical times

    it struck me though the other day, just how much the church swallows Freud & Jung, – and sidelines our heritage. for instance there are many spiritual giants in church history, who found useful ways of addressing mental distress, and yet we choose to elevate the above mentioned – who both rejected Christian thinking, and ignore centuries of proven ways of working. I guess if find this especially irritating as Freud’s work is so hypothetical, & he rejected his critics

    I guess I think it’s as a direct result of Freud’s work, that the church has become uncomfortable with ‘compunction or penitence’, and yet hear anyone speak who’s found the holy spirit lead them to this experience and they say they feel happier

    again, Paul talked at length about bearing with each other, not valuing your self more highly than another and coming alongside each other at times of both celebration and of loss – and yet we’d rather look up our Myers-Briggs Personality Indicators (an off shoot of Jung’s ideas) and defend our right not to mature into a broader understanding of being human (am I being unfair to the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicators, here?)

    then, to come full circle, I heard a non Christian acclaiming Rob Parson’s parenting books, as just being so useful – unaware of their Christian underpinning

  15. Forrest says:

    Re: the idea of {quote rearranged}”church which is telling you that you’re doing ok and that you’re fabulous and simply telling us what we want to hear.”

    And how is this different from one might call the “high self esteem fad” in education today?

  16. Forrest says:

    Of course “the church” is going to tell the people what they want to hear, that’s how the church stays in business.
    –> What we need to change is the people and what they want to hear.

  17. Robin says:

    @ Forest – aha i see, so you need to make them want to hear what you want to tell them, sneaky :)

  18. Dawn says:

    @ Linus.

    I find Rob Bell’s stuff to be litle more than pop psychology with a few rather loose bible “references” thrown in. I call it fairy floss theology, it tastes nice, but too much, or try to live on it and it will make you sick and weak.

  19. Forrest says:

    A saying which should be one if it ain’t – “Preachin’ is simple, alls ya got to do is jus’ preach like you was Jesus.”

  20. Dawn says:

    How does that play out practically?

  21. phew, thanks Dawn, i though it was just me getting irritated with Rob Bell

  22. markk says:

    and yet jesus said that his yoke was easy

  23. Dawn says:

    easy compared to that of the pharisees, where there were so many rules and regulations to keep.

  24. Dawn says:

    @ TreeHouseBooks,

    i had to put the latest Rob Bell book down before i threw it at something…………

  25. jonbirch says:

    haha! what is it exactly that rob bell has done to elicit such dislike and anger? he’s a decent bloke, isn’t he? preaches love thy neighbour, doesn’t he? he’s no todd bentley, is he?.. not exploiting or using anyone, is he, or claiming miracles that are not true, like bentley or hinn? some of the comments here have a sort of prejudiced ring to my ears. he says things i do not agree with, therefore he warrants my disdain and anger… when really there are a million injustices in the culture around us in GB and the states that our anger and passion would be far better pointed towards… the real enemy. does it matter that bell’s theology is different to yours? what is it which is so disgusting to you? i had less anger on this blog over todd bentley and his claims of people rising from the dead, less anger over the palestine/israel situation. i don’t understand the fuss. bell is just saying what christians have said for centuries… maybe not in american culture i suppose.

  26. si smith says:

    maybe the problem with rob bell is not so much him, but the hype that surrounds him? i think that’s the problem that i have with the whole rob bell phenomenon. what he’s actually saying quite good, i just have an instinctive reaction of suspicion about the packaging and the way it’s being sold back to us… but maybe that’s the culture he comes out of. agreed that there are many more important things to get upset about… ;-)

    [will you be at GB this year jon – really missed you last time…]


  27. Robin says:

    I loved Bell’s latest book – the Rob Bell “Package” makes me cringe and his pricing model annoys me – i wish he’d give more things (or anything) away for free – but i imagine that’s cultural. Otherwise i find his approach to tackling issues and talking about god wonderful, enlightening and embracing :)

  28. jonbirch says:

    si and robin… yes, you have both mentioned the one thing that annoys me about the rob bell ‘thing’… i was going to mention it before (but thought it got in the way of the point i was wanting to make). the marketing, the hype, the advance fee… i guess that’s just the american way, but it is annoying. people have been saying what rob bell is saying for centuries… no real need for a new book. to be honest there are a million books out there on all sorts, filled with great stuff and rubbish that no one is reading anymore. surely there are enough books in circulation now to not have to chop down anymore trees! :-) btw… hope you’ll get a copy of ‘asbo jesus’ when it comes out soon! :lol:

    si… not sure re. greenbelt. i have a ticket, but not travelling well right now. i will have to see. it would be great to see you too. :-)

  29. jonbirch says:

    what about if people had a point to make, rather than writing a new book for the money, they actually pointed people towards the books that they got the stuff from in the first place. or am i being naive? :-)

  30. si smith says:

    not naive, maybe idealistic :-)

    part of the problem for me, and this goes back to the original cartoon i think, is that we are always on the lookout for the ‘thing’ – the new thing the solution to all our problems the way to make it all work the way to do church that will make everything all right – but it doesn’t exist. not where we’re looking for it anyway. i wonder if we haven’t sold out to a modernist, capitalist mindset – little industries have risen up around promoting and shoring up Church cultures, when actually christ was about something much more revolutionary and liberating…

    not that i’m doing much that’s revolutionary or liberating either, if i’m absolutely honest…

    [be great to see you at GB – i genuinely did miss bumping into you last year… hope that you do make it, and if you do, that you can get down to the hub as we have some cool stuff planned for in there this year :-) ]

  31. Robb says:

    Hope you make it to GB Jon, it would be nice to have another pint ;)

  32. subo says:

    don’t know, maybe i got Rob Bell wrong, i just find his stuff comes across like those judgmental self help books, pretending to offer you strength whilst listing hypothetical faults and failings – & he does talk a load of babble, – without the empathy of lived experience

    i think lots of folk who hold their faith dear, from all different faiths, get irritated with someone who mixes their beliefs with a load of hot air. as AP said ‘stop getting Bond wrong’

  33. subo says:

    - come on ASBO ites, where’s the defence, what’s good about Rob B?

  34. Dawn says:

    the thing that i found with Rob Bell was that in his latest book, he “quoted” alot of BIble without saying where it came from, there was no referencing so you can check with the bible, what he was putting forward. this flashes warning bells to me. Usually his books have lots of footnotes giving the bible references. if a preacher doenst seemingly encourage you to follow along in the bible when they are teaching, by telling you where they are teaching from, it can seem like they have something to hide.

    he also asks many leading questions, and while he doenst directly state taht he doenst believe in hell/judgement, he certainly leans that way in the questions he asks.

    he is well spoken, has a good personality for leading and dealing with people, but his “theology” doesnt match up with what the bible says, he takes alot of scripture out of context, and twists it to make his points sound valid. He says “nice” things, that make you feel good, because that’s what you want to hear.

    the gospel, yes it is wonderful news, its all by grace. but that also offends people’s pride, they want to be able to do something to earn salvation. we want to think that we are good enough in some way, but we arent. we are all sinners, deserving of God’s wrath, but by his grace he saved us, not because of anything we’ve done or can do.

    Rob Bell preaches a different “gospel”, which is no gospel at all.

  35. jonbirch says:

    thanks robb… i would like to see you too. x :-)

  36. jonbirch says:

    what is the different gospel he preaches, dawn? genuine question.

  37. Dawn says:

    he says, though not directly, that there is no judgement, and that in the end love wins, everyone can choose heaven after they die. taht is not biblically supported.

  38. Dawn,
    (1) I’ve just flipped through my copy of ‘Love Wins” and there are Bible references when he quotes passages form the Bible.
    (2) It’ s not that Rob Bell says everyone can go to heaven after they die. He is talking about this life and choosing to make it ‘heaven’ or ‘hell’. See his comments on the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15 if you need the Bible reference)
    (3) You say his views are not ‘biblically’ supported. That implies that the Bible is internally consistent, which it isn’t.

  39. Dawn says:

    most of the bible passages he refers to arent referenced, a few, but most arent.

    and the part where he talks about the rich man and Lazerus, he talks about moving between heaven and hell.

    his view that hell is not real isnt biblically supported. Hell isnt just here on earth.

  40. Robin says:

    Rob Bell’s book didn’t come out of thin air, he didn’t just dream it up. It’s based on a lot of other thought and teaching and biblical discovery. To say “isn’t biblically supported” only really means that it doesn’t match up to your view of the bible – it certainly resonates with mine. The gospel you mentioned is exactly what Bell is preaching – his point, more than anything, is that our sin doesn’t defeat God. That God’s plan is to save the world, not just a tiny proportion, he wants to pull everyone to himself – why do we believe that he’s incapable of doing that? The book is not a weighty theological study, it’s much more of a conversation, touching on issues and sharing stories and experiences – personally much more useful to me. He brings no defined answers but rather asks questions and offers directions and, for me at least, gets me to ponder and look beyond the book to see where this path can lead. It’s not a book of answers. If you have a traditional view of heaven and hell – sheep and goats – in and out – life and eternal torment then you are going to find Bell rubbing you up the wrong way because he doesn’t accept that paradigm. He and many other thinkers are drawing on historical interpretations that view the “afterlife” differently, making it more immediate, more relevant, less mechanical, more dangerous and for me more true to the whole text. Maybe the one question that comes from the book for me is why do we find hell so important – a concept that’s so vaguely described, so casually used, and misdirected in the bible – we make it into the defining characteristic of Christ’s mission. I find myself feeling that we need it because we desire punishment for some people – some people are BAD and so should get what’s coming to them. I believe God’s justice is far far greater than ours and the one who invites us to love and forgive our enemies would be a fairly crappy deity not to do the same. Something like that :)

  41. Robin says:

    @jon – naivety – probably yes. As a musician I could simply point you to the songs and albums that influenced me so that i wouldn’t have to produce anything. But i think that my music contains those influences within it and so brings those to light, hopefully in a good way, and let’s me share my interpretation of those influences. I imagine writing is similar……. plus i write music partly because i want people to go “cool, you’re music is fabulous, i like to sleep with people who make good music” and imagine writers are similar :)

  42. jonbirch says:

    from what i’ve heard (i’ve not read the book), bell is really saying nothing new. very clever theologians who know the bible better than all of us here have been arguing and debating these things for years. what resonates with me is the redemption of all things, which is wholly biblical and ignored completely by the conservative evangelical church. i believe it’s the reason why this same enormous part of the church has had nothing to say about the environment, turning farm land to desert, wrecking the rainforest, nothing to say about consumerism, child labour etc. but gets over excited about pointing out the perceived sins of others and making moral judgments and finger pointing. in the bible, the stewarding of the world is not optional and yet you’d never know it from this part of the church’s utter compliance with all things harmful to it. if i were rob bell, living in the culture he does, i would like to think i’d be challenging the scary worldview of the church around me. the possibility of all things being redeemed and brought back to relationship with god is thoroughly correct, it is in fact what the biblical story is. and the idea of ‘love wins’ being a bad thing staggers me. we should be wanting love to win, shouldn’t we? we should be believing that love can win and joining in loving the world back to life, shouldn’t we? we should love the creation as the bible says, shouldn’t we? otherwise, what’s the point?

  43. Robin says:

    jon – the answer is YES! :)

  44. jonbirch says:

    thought so. :-)

  45. Robb says:

    If I didn’t have a pile of 20 urgent must read books on the shelf in my office I’d go to amazon and buy his book. For some reason I don’t feel compelled to jump into the teacup and experience the storm.

  46. Dawn says:

    good idea. the only reason i read it was so i knew what people were talking about.

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