“The Rob Cast” is a weekly podcast presented by Rob Bell. Rob is many things. He’s an ex Pastor at Mars Hill Church, a ‘Mega-Church’in the US. Rob became controversial when his book “Love Wins” firmly positioned him as a proponent of the ‘Universalist’ branch of Christian thought; that is, that all, without exception, will be saved. This was too much for those who like their Hell, be it good old fashioned ‘eternal torment,’ or those who take to the ‘annihilationist’ position. That is, you don’t get tortured for ever if you reject the Gospel. That would be barbaric! You instead get ‘executed’ or snuffed out to nothing if you reject the Christian God. Liberals today, huh?
His podcast is notable because it is a treasure trove of fresh, clear thinking, and is the kind of resource that will open up new horizons to you if you let it. Rob has studied the Talmud and the Jewish faith and its lore and has connected it with his Christian faith. He communicates some of what he has learnt, and it is truly illuminating, and led me to buy a copy of “Everyman’s Talmud.”
The podcast also has guest speakers and guests, and is informed by other passions of Rob’s including diving, and his experiences of being a husband and parent.
Everyone will find something here to inspire them or get them thinking, if but they keep an open mind.
Rob has his catchphrases and mannerisms, that someone recently observed you could base a drinking game on, including the repetition of “so good.”
The podcast is stripped down, just Rob or Rob and his guests speaking, and it’s all the better for that. So good.
‘Being Christian’ is an ideal short book on the main themes of Christian life, Baptism, Bible, Eucharist and Prayer. It is written in a lucid style that draws deeply from considerable learning, and a life spent teaching and practising the Christian faith, and provided leadership in the worldwide Anglican communion.
As such it is a great read for everyone from the jaded Christian long on the road of Faith, to the sceptic exploring Christian thought, to those newer to the faith who are looking for an accessible and compelling introduction to the most vital areas of its practice, which would include those taking ‘communion classes’ for admission to the full Eucharist.
With Baptism Rowan Williams explores what it means to be immersed in God and Jesus and what he has done, to be fully swamped and immersed with it, and to come up again into the world with what it means to live a baptised life.
In his section on the Bible the writer guards against a simplistic literalism or anxiety of the historical veracity of the detail, to stress that what God wants to do with the scriptures is ask us ‘where are you in these stories? What would you do in these situations?’ And he also encourages us to read the Old Testament in the light of the New, and how the Old has reached its fulfilment with the new.
On the Eucharist Professor Williams explains what it means to take Holy Communion, and where in scripture it has its roots, and what it meant to Jesus and his first followers, and how Jesus used meals and hospitality to help usher in the Kingdom, and how Communion continues that process. He stresses how the Eucharist is an invitation by God to be at his table, He wants to be with us, to abide with us, and what that means for how we see our fellow Christians or fellow people.
On Prayer he stresses the centrality of the Lords Prayer, and some work on early Christian teachers on the Lords Prayer and what it means to prayer.
As someone who struggles with their faith, and a frequently jaded member of the Anglican Church, I found the book enlivening and refreshing, and there was a lot that was new and useful to me.
Whether you are sceptic or believer, new or old to the faith, I cannot commend this bright, sharp and focussed work highly enough