Jesus Wants to Save Christians: Learning to Read a Dangerous Book

Jesus Wants to Save Christians: Learning to Read a Dangerous Book

by Rob Bell, Don Golden

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“Bell and Golden trace redemption from Genesis to Revelation...[delivering] a tough message the American church needs to hear.”
Christianity Today

“Equal parts prophetic warning and call to action, Jesus Wants to Save Christians exhorts Jesus’s followers to sacrifice their comforts and hear the ‘cry of the oppressed.’”
Grand Rapids Press

In Jesus Wants to Save Christians, Rob Bell, the New York Times bestselling author of Love Wins joins with Don Golden, Christian activist and vice president of World Relief, to call upon the church to break from its cultural captivity and challenge the assumptions of the American Empire. Bell, whom the New York Times calls “one of the country’s most influential evangelical pastors” and whom Time Magazine named one of the most influential people in 2011, is a pioneer in the movement seeking new Christian expression, and anyone who has ever questioned their faith or is those looking for answers they cannot find in their own church’s standard teachings will discover a new creed in Bell and Golden’s provocative and spiritually enlightening work.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062125842
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/24/2012
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 517,958
File size: 728 KB

About the Author

Rob Bell is a New York Times bestselling author, speaker, and spiritual teacher. His books include Love Wins, How to Be Here, What We Talk About When We Talk About God, Velvet Elvis, The Zimzum of Love, Sex God, Jesus Wants to Save Christians, and Drops Like Stars. He hosts the weekly podcast The Robcast, which was named by iTunes as one of the best of 2015. He was profiled in The New Yorker and in TIME Magazine as one of 2011’s hundred most influential people. He and his wife, Kristen, have three children and live in Los Angeles.


Grand Rapids, Michigan

Date of Birth:

August 23, 1970

Place of Birth:

Lansing, Michigan


B.S., Wheaton College, 1992; M. Div., Fuller Seminary, 1995

Read an Excerpt

A Manifesto for the Church in Exile

By Rob Bell Don Golden
Copyright © 2008

Rob Bell and Don Golden
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-310-27502-2


The first book of the Bible ... Exodus?

Well, yes, and, of course, no.

No, because the first book of the Bible is Genesis. At least when a person picks it up and starts reading from the "in the beginning God created" part.

And yes, because many scholars see Exodus, the second book of the Bible, as the book in which the central story of redemption begins - liberation from Egypt.

Egypt, the superpower of its day, was ruled by Pharaoh, who responded to the threat of the growing number of Israelites in his country by forcing them into slavery. They had to work every day without a break, making bricks, building storehouses for Pharaoh.

Egypt is an empire,

built on the backs of Israelite slave labor,

brick by

brick by


But right away in the book of Exodus, there is a disruption. Things change. And the change begins with God saying:

"I have indeed seen the misery of my people ..."

"I have heard them crying out ..."

"I have come down to rescue them ..."

"I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them ..."

A God who sees and hears. A God who hears the cry. The Hebrew word used here for cry is sa'aq, and we find it all throughout the Bible. Sa'aq is the expression of pain, the ouch, the sound we utter when we are wounded.

But sa'aq is also a question, a question that arises out of the pain of the wound. Where is justice? Did anybody see that? Who will come to my rescue? Did anybody hear that? Or am I alone here?

Sa'aq is what Abel's blood does from the ground after he's killed by his brother.

The Israelites are oppressed, they're in misery, they're suffering - and when they cry out, God hears.

This is a God who always hears the cry.

This is central to who God is: God always hears the cry of the oppressed.

The cry inaugurates history. It kicks things in gear. It shakes things up and gets them moving. The cry is the catalyst, the cause, the reason that a new story unfolds.

But God in this story doesn't just hear the cry. God does something about it. The exodus is how God responds to the cry.

Think about your life. What are the moments that have shaped you the most? If you were to pick just a couple, what would they be? Periods of transformation, times when your eyes were opened, decisions you made that affected the rest of your life.

How many of them came when you reached the end of your rope?

When everything fell apart?

When you were confronted with your powerlessness?

When you were ready to admit your life was unmanageable?

When there was nothing left to do but cry out?

For many people, it was their cry,

their desperation,

their acknowledgment of their oppression,

that was the beginning of their liberation.

When we're on top, when the system works for us, when we are capable of managing our lives, what is there for God to do?

But the cry - the cry inaugurates redemptive history. These slaves in Egypt cry out and God hears and something new happens. Things aren't how they were. Things change.

These slaves are rescued from the oppression of Egypt.


In the Bible, Egypt is a place, a country, a nation where the story begins. But it's much, much more. To understand how central Egypt is to the flow of the biblical story, we have to go back to the introduction to the Bible, to the garden of Eden.


Excerpted from JESUS WANTS TO SAVE CHRISTIANS by Rob Bell Don Golden
Copyright © 2008 by Rob Bell and Don Golden. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents INTRODUCTION TO THE INTRODUCTION....................P007
CHAPTER TWO GET DOWN YOUR HARPS....................P051
CHAPTER THREE DAVID'S OTHER SON....................P075
EPILOGUE BROKEN AND POURED....................P171

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Jesus Wants to Save Christians 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
Tom_B More than 1 year ago
Most of us know at least a few "bible stories." But precious few people in our modern times have ever endeavored to understand the bible as a complete narrative. I have studied new exodus Theology for years now and I think Rob did an excellent job presenting it in the medium he had (for another short example of this read "Jesus for President" by Shane Claiborne). I teach part time, and my students and I read the bible this way (as a narrative not as broken stories) it usually takes a year or more of regular reading, studying, and reflection to really dig into the whole biblical narrative. But here Rob presents it in an accessible way that helps to put the pieces together. In the end Rob's point, and its a good one, is that we need to adjust our lives to match our theology, NOT adjust our theology to match our way of life. I hope you find the time in your busy life to listen for God as he tries to call you out of the culture of comfort you currently live in. Grace and Peace
mickimac More than 1 year ago
As always, Rob Bell questions the traditional and uncompromising beliefs held by many modern Christians. So often held hostage by the difference in doctrines between different Christian denominations, today's Christians have much to gain by reading Rob's thoughts on the real message and mandate given to us by Christ: show compassion to all. Rob challenges Christians to go beyond the walls of their church and follow this mandate, the only true way to follow Jesus. He always insists on cutting away all the details that keep us apart, presenting in simple words the real message of the New Testament.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book
Guest More than 1 year ago
The content puts a fresh perspective on the Bible and its core purpose. Bell is a theological poet and uses word imagery that really impacts biblical perspective. Worth the read, plus at least one or two more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be very enjoyable. Bell takes the reader on a journey of Empires, Oppression and ultimately Exodus. I love how all the insight provided into the traditions and customs of the Jewish people during both the days of Moses and Jesus and how it affects what is written in the Bible, it makes so much sense. Of course, the story doesn't just focus on past events, but places the focus on the present and what the churches responsibility is according to the scripture towards the poor and oppressed. It's an easy read, but once you finish, you'll be both inspired and challenged in your faith.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The content is very good. The author outlines the bible; makes it easy to understand and gives his own insights. Well thought out and put together in a very comprehensive manner.
JerryDePoyJr More than 1 year ago
Rob Bell's prophetic exhortation calls the Church to return to her original calling: to make disciples of the Resurrected Christ... This book challenges the reader to pledge allegiance to another Way, and to remember where we came from; exile to liberation. - Jerry DePoy Jr.
mcarmen-naples More than 1 year ago
It is a wonderful book, you will be thinking about .... for days and days ! It is also a great book for a book club discussion.
deusvitae on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A confessed New Exodus attempt at understanding Christianity and its situation in the modern world.There is much that is good in this book; the New Exodus perspective is certainly useful and a lens through which to see Scripture and the work of God in the world. Envisioning the Bible as providing a critique of civilization and empire, always having a view to the nomad and the oppressed, is most valuable. Revising views of Revelation is quite necessary, yes. The critique of America and its policy is quite prophetic. The call for Christians to change their conduct is laudable.But it is a lens, and to absolutize it to the point done in the book causes its own set of problems. Yes, Sinai, Jerusalem, Babylon, and Egypt are paradigmatic for many reasons. But the answers are not as cut and dry as presented in the book. Egypt is an oppressor, yes, and an image of the world; and yet Egypt was a place of rescue for the Israelites at first and would serve as such again for Jesus. Babylon is the world empire opposed to God, but how many Jews in the Dispersion remained in Babylon and served God there, seeking the general welfare of the city? And did not Paul attempt to take the Gospel itself into the new Babylon, Rome? That Solomon sinned is undeniable; the trends the book lists for him are also true; and yet Solomon is not portrayed as negatively in Scripture as this book portrays him.Theology is complicated; we do best to remember that God is far beyond us, and Scripture presents different sets of images and paradigms. They are useful, beneficial, and valuable for understanding, but not one of them is sufficient to stand on its own as THE way of understanding everything. The New Exodus theology as elaborated here is no different.Egregious Biblical error to note: the association of the Philip of Acts 8 with Philip the Apostle of John 1, and speaking of Philip the Evangelist as if he was from Bethsaida and was Philip the Apostle, when Acts 8 and 21 make it clear that the Apostles stayed in Jerusalem when this Philip went out preaching, and that Philip the evangelist was one of the seven of Acts 6, likely Hellenistic in background, and ended up in Caesarea, just as Acts 8 indicates. Since much is made of the connection between Bethsaida and this Philip the Evangelist, a connection not made in Scripture, this should be noted (and hopefully corrected in future editions).As a way of looking at Scripture through the New Exodus perspective, the book has value. But don't take it too far.
jpogue on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rob Bell writes in a breezy, yet emphatic, style with structural brevity and amazing punch. "Jesus Wants to Save Christians" is Bell¿s third book, and though he collaborates with Don Golden, his concise, well-researched reasoning combined with his sometimes hilarious, sometimes profound endnotes make this work unmistakably Bell. Golden contributes his expertise on the church¿s engagement in impacting global poverty. He currently serves as an executive leader for World Relief, a Christian non-profit organization that pours millions of dollars into addressing some of the world¿s biggest crises caused by poverty.Bell¿s perspective is shaped by his insistence that the Bible be read, studied, and lived as a fluid, complete work. Not in bits and pieces. His narrative in this book, therefore, starts in Genesis and covers much of the Old and New Testaments all the way through Revelation. With a keen eye for the history of God¿s people, Bell draws some frighteningly stark parallels between the ¿empires¿ of ancient Egypt and Rome and current-day world power, the United States of America. Like the ancient Israelites, he argues that Americans are caught in exile: ¿Exile is when you fail to convert your blessing into blessings for others. Exile is when you find yourself a stranger to the purposes of God¿. (1)Armed with a plethora of shocking statistics (2) and an articulate description of the history of God¿s people, Bell shows his readers the difference between a life focused on His Kingdom¿one of service and sacrifice¿versus the world¿s view of power and security. Clearly humans¿ lust for wealth and power hasn't changed much since the days of Solomon. With a piercingly insightful look into the human heart, Bell skillfully challenges us, as followers of Jesus, to think beyond our limited earthly views and to joyfully enter into our neighbors¿ suffering as the Body of Jesus Himself: ¿Disconnection from the suffering of the world, isolation from the cry of the oppressed, indifference to the poverty around us will always lead to despair. We were made for such much more.¿ (3)This manifesto begs us to reconsider our priorities as American citizens, identifying the perils of ¿the vicious cycle of the priority of preservation¿: the futile accumulation of military bases, stockpiling of weapons and the compulsion to protect one¿s ¿rights¿. Mr. Bell invites us into a life of freedom from the bondage of self-preservation and self-sufficiency. A life that mirrors Jesus¿ pouring out of oneself in selfless acts of Kingdom love. Ever teetering on the edge of controversy (4), this author does write some things that make me shift uncomfortably in my reading chair. At times, Bell over-emphasizes the importance of humanity at the expense of reverence for the Lord. For example, in his descriptions of God¿s gift of the Ten Commandments, he writes ¿The Sabbath command should be understood as being against the inhumane labor conditions and unreasonable production demands of Pharaoh¿s Egypt. The text says that `Pharaoh¿s slave drivers beat the Israelite overseers they had appointed.¿ How beautiful, then is a God who commands these Israelites to rest each week?¿ (5) Like the other nine, this is a timeless commandment, not predicated on the specific sufferings of its recipients or a particular story in history. As my pastor, Abe Hepler, likes to say, ¿The Bible is not a story about us. It¿s a story about who God is.¿ While I found this book compelling and extremely thought-provoking, I yearned for Bell to offer more solutions, more practical ideas to break the spell of materialism. And in the end, I really felt like I had gotten a big lecture on how rotten I am as a middle-class American.(1) Pg. 45(2) "More than half the world lives on less than two dollars a day, while the average American teenager spends nearly $150.00 a week." Pg. 122(3) Pg. 163(4) See, for example, Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears, "Vintage Jesus: Timeless Answers to T
aevaughn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a powerful book. It highlights the need for Americans to be more merciful towards others and to also realize that at times we are the ones in need of grace and mercy. The only weakness I found in this book is that it is to some degree a collection of somewhat disconnected thoughts. Overall it's an excellent book to start getting one thinking about the need for social justice.
wbc3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Like Rob Bell's other books, I really enjoyed reading this one. However, like the others, I have real trouble identifiying what I liked. Further, trying to write this summary a few months later, I can't even remember what the book was about! I consider it well worth reading (and in my case, re-reading). However, I do wonder about its ephemeral nature in my thoughts...
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I thought it would be showing something interesting in point of view. And the longer I read it the less I cared to continue, so I stopped reading it.
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