Rob Bell on Walter Brueggemann
In the coming weeks, we’ll feature guest posts by well-known writers, teachers, and thinkers who have been influenced by Walter Brueggemann’s work. We’re starting off in fine style, with an entry from author and teacher Rob Bell. Brueggemann’s influence is most keenly seen in Bell’s Jesus Wants to Save Christians (2008), where Bell writes about empire and the common good.
Bell is the founder and former pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grandville, Michigan, and he now spends his time writing, speaking, and working on an upcoming television series. Below are Bell’s thoughts on Walter Brueggemann.
So here’s what Walter Brueggemann does: He tells you a story. Sometimes the story is familiar at first – like you’ve heard of one of the main characters or the setting strikes a chord – but inevitably the story veers off into new territory, taking you places you haven’t been, shocking you with all sorts of things happening you never saw coming.
And then gradually it begins to dawn on you that this is a story from the Bible – either one you’ve never noticed before, or one you’ve heard a thousand times – only now it’s leapt to life and gone from black and white to technicolor and you’re rapidly realizing that this ancient story about those ancient people is actually about power and money and empire and poverty and homeland security and technology and sexuality and war and generosity and grief and doubt and exploitation and somewhere in there, somewhere in all that, you find yourself asking
‘Wait-that’s in the Bible?!!’
followed closely by
‘Why don’t the people who talk the most about how important the Bible is tell these kinds of stories?’
‘Do people realize what a dangerous book this is?’
‘If more people knew this was the Christian message they’d
probably become Christians!’
And it’s then that you realize that in telling you that ancient, obscure story about those people at that time he was really telling you a story about us, here, now, in our world, and our struggles and our grief and our hope and our need for resurrection- and that’s when you think to yourself “Man, that Walter knows how to tell a story…”