I spent a great night in Indianapolis last Friday night in order to attend Rob Bell’s close-to-final-stop on his speaking tour, The Gods Aren’t Angry.
Rob discussed ancient religions and how the altar mentality gained prevalence, and how easily the act of giving to the gods became viciously circular. Inevitably, once you decide that what happens in this world is because of the anger of an outside being, the act of giving is used to greater extremes in order to make the god happy again. This, in the ancient world, deteriorated into self mutilation and child sacrifice.
Probably the most riveting piece of the talk for me was his retelling of the story of Abraham and his son Isaac. When Abraham is ordered by God to go sacrifice his son to Him, Rob asks, why doesn’t Abraham ask
Why? Why doesn’t Abraham ask
How? It seems that Abraham already knows the drill. Bell posits that this is because the gods of the day would all, at one point or another, demand infant sacrifices from their followers. Perhaps Abraham saw this as the next inevitable step in his relationship with this new god. Abraham didn’t get it.
In many interpretations and tellings of this story nowadays, we see Abraham depicted in this story having a model faith, willing to go as far as to&elip;Right? Instead, this paints the picture that Abraham is a very spiritual person who has been going down the wrong road. Even now, while following this new god, he is seeing things in the wrong way. Now, when God stops him just before he kills his son it takes on a new light. God provides, the scripture reads. God provides. And now there is no need to sacrifice that way. That’s the old way.
Do you sometimes feel you aren’t giving enough stuff? If you are you’re thinking like a caveman. The new way, the way proposed by Jesus, is a way of self sacrifice. This new sacrifice is about giving of yourself to others.
There was a lot to what Bell said. I couldn’t say much about it without taking away from what was said. A lot is written about Bell online, so search if you would like to find more. I’m already looking forward to the next time I get the priveledge of hearing Bell speak.