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What We Talk about When We Talk about God

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  5,163 Ratings  ·  609 Reviews
Rob Bell's bestselling book Love Wins struck a powerful chord with a new generation of Christians who are asking the questions church leaders have been afraid to touch. His new book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God, will continue down this path, helping us with the ultimate big-picture issue: how do we know God? Love Wins was a Sunday Times bestseller that create ...more
Paperback, First, 208 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by HarperOne (first published January 1st 2012)
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J.R. Forasteros
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What We Talk About When We Talk About God (WWTAG) is the first book Rob Bell has written since Love Wins blew up the internet. Since then, Rob has stepped down from his position as Lead pastor at Mars Hill, the church he founded, and moved to the Los Angeles area.

Writing book reviews is always tricky. But when Rob Bell writes a book, that review is even harder because you almost have to write a review about Rob himself before you can talk about the book. Well, I’m not going to do that. I’m going
...more
Jake
May 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I am done trying to explain Rob Bell books. It's impossible.

I am also done recommending Rob Bell books because I am somehow personally hurt when someone else doesn't like him - his writing style, his theology, his extreme comfort with ambiguity.

Whatever. I love him.

WWTAWWTAG was about 48 hours of sublime exploring and thinking about god. He pulls in many themes close to my heart - a reckless love for people, comfort in seemingly paradoxical things, questions that can only have mysterious answ
...more
Justin DeVantier
Mar 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
Way back when there was a man named Rob Bell. He released a book on the Christian life called Velvet Elvis. The book was poetry but not always the best theology. It was an easy read but made many of us young jaded evangelicals want to pursue Jesus again.

Four books later Bell has seen his fame rise and fall. Just like Mclaren it seems Bell has fallen in love with rhetoric and publishing deals. Bell, to his ace is a brilliant and gifted communicator. But that is where the positives end.

To put it
...more
Greg
Jun 04, 2013 rated it did not like it
Wow... this guy is dangerous. His writing just tickles our fleshly ears because he makes God sound just so... well... loving. But the problem is that Bell completely ignores the holiness of God, and the justness of our Creator. He twists scripture to fabricate his own version of God that is flat out heretical. BEWARE of anything this guy writes.
And for anyone that is still on the fence about him and his whole "hell isn't gonna last, and in the end ALL will be saved because God is just that lovi
...more
Jen
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Whether you're an atheist, a Christian, or anywhere in between, YOU need to read this book. Bell's healthy dose of skepticism towards the "Christian culture" will strike a chord no matter who you are and what you believe. Perhaps you are the one who believes that the whole concept of God is ridiculous. Or a crutch. Or a denial of science. You need this book. Maybe you are the one who believes in the God of Abraham, the God of the Old and New Testaments. The God that created and destroys and love ...more
Brandan Roberston
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
About the Book:

New York Times bestselling author Rob Bell, whom the The New Yorker describes as “one of the most influential Christian leaders in the county,” does for the concept of God what he did for heaven and hell in his book Love Wins: He shows how traditional ideas have grown stale and dysfunctional and how to return vitality and vibrancy to lives of faith today.

Pastor Rob Bell explains why both culture and the church resist talking about God, and shows how we can reconnect with the God w
...more
Tim Callicutt
Mar 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Many critics jumped at the chance to denounce Bell as a heretic after the release of his last book (somewhat unfairly, I felt), and because of this they often missed the point Bell was trying to make. Bell wasn’t attempting to destroy the idea of hell – he was just trying to make it more ambiguous.

That’s where this book comes in. Here, Bell tries to do the same with the nature of God. And unlike Love Wins, Bell’s case here is more convincing.

The fault with Love Wins was Bell’s assumption that t
...more
Matt Valler
Mar 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If Carlsberg did books about God...

I've just finished reading this latest offering from Rob Bell, an American Pastor who, if you've not heard of him, was one of TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people 2011. And it's his best work yet, by far...

Rob Bell's marketing machine like to portray him as a controversial figure and describes this book as an 'explosive follow-up to Love Wins', his previous book in which he challenged traditional Christian ideas about heaven and hell. But that's all just
...more
Taylor Storey
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic Book. Short and sweet (4 1/2 hours of an audiobook--I listened to it in 2 sittings, a flight and a bus ride). I was hoping he would get at his title "what we talk about when we talk about God" and he does. Lots and lots of good metaphors (and some cheesy ones, but ok). Super readable too-- Accessible, accessible accessible! The audiobook is read by Rob Bell and I couldn't love the execution more. It will be a good day when I read this book again.

The theme I understood from this book re
...more
Dustin
Mar 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: christian, y-2013
I'm shocked. I have always loved Rob Bell's books. I was so excited about this book that I drove to Nashville on a school night just to hear him present on the book and I stayed for the book signing.

But... wow. This book... I'm worried about Rob. This book opened me up to his personal experience. Here is a man who is very bitter following the poor reception of Love Wins. Bitterness flows through the book. In fact, it seems to be reshaping his theology too. He now intends to accept pretty much e
...more
Blake Atwood
Mar 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Here are four ways to know you're reading a Rob Bell book: Discussion of Hebrew words? Check. Exposition of Old Testament context? Check. Vague, hopeful ruminations on Christianity? Check.
Single.
Word.
Sentences?
Check.

For as many books as he's written now, Bell has developed a distinctive style and voice, one that both preaches to a growing and restless choir within Christianity while simultaneously revolting its more conservative members.

In What We Talk about ... , Bell uses small words to convey
...more
Stephanie
Sep 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Note: I compiled a Goodreads shelf of all the books mentioned in the bibliography of this book. Enjoy!

---------
I loved this book. I've read most of Rob Bell's and this was by far my favorite. Surprisingly, the first section is all about quantum and astrophysics. But his point is that the more we learn about about science and faith, the more overlap there are between the two fields.

This is not a theological book. Nor is it a tough philosophy read. It's more like a consolation of faith and scienc
...more
Nora
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I first heard Bell speak about the content of this book when I listened to a talk he gave at some Christian school in Tennessee (maybe it was a seminary). It sort of reminded me, the whole book, I mean, of the first section of Mere Christianity--reaffirming how God is a part of all of our lives, that there is not one person on earth who doesn't interact with God (whether they know it or not). Obviously, this is not a book for everyone, especially atheists easily triggered to anger by the mention ...more
David
Mar 25, 2013 rated it liked it
I have read all of Bell's books and have enjoyed and been challenged by each one in different ways. My reading life has been in a bit of a dry season, so it was with great anticipation that I started this book. The first four chapters were a letdown for me, seemed mostly re-hashed material from "Everything is Spiritual" and previous work (not that I didn't benefit from that material, it was just not fresh for me).

Fortunately for me, chapter 5 follows chapter 4, and chapter 6 follows 5, as chapt
...more
Hayley DeRoche
Dec 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
**UPDATED AT THE END**

Imagined back-and-forth between Bell and his publisher:

Bell: *sends email attachment with completed manuscript* Here ya go!
Publisher: Rob, um, well...we were kind of hoping for a *book*, you know? Like we talked about?
Bell: What?
Publisher: This is barely 100 pages, Rob. We need it to look a little more substantial is all. Can you double the length and get back to me?
Bell: 'K!

*20 minutes pass*

Bell: *sends email attachment with completed manuscript* Here ya go!
Publisher: ??
Be
...more
Ben
Apr 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Brilliant. Rob Bell challenges the intellectualism of the Western Church by explaining that, when we focus on knowledge about something we are missing the point; it is the experience of that something, or someone, that we should seek. It is within this context that Bell says, "To elevate abstract doctrines and dogmas over living, breathing, embodied experiences of God's love and grace, then, is going the wrong direction. It's taking flesh and turning it back into words" (149).

Unfortunately, some
...more
Tom LA
Apr 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
The author's intent is clearly very positive, and I loved the book for that inspiring energy, but, based on what I was looking for, this was not the book for me. The theologic reasoning doesn't even scratch the surface of the main themes around "God" already handled centuries ago by the great spiritual thinkers, not only Christian ones like the Fathers of the Church, but Muslim and Hindu too. After reading "The experience of God" by David Bentley Hart, I have to be honest, this felt like drinkin ...more
Trey Nowell
Dec 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A pastor I think that is very progressive for this day and age. I think many would actually enjoy his views and non judgmental attitude with the way he writes. A breath of fresh air when you are looking for someone talking to the average person about God and how to live life.
Elizabeth
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
5 stars, with caveats and context. I’ve got a lot of thoughts and there are a lot of layers to my impressions, many of which I won’t unpack here, so this won’t be super articulate.

I tried reading this book a couple months ago, and had to put it down. I couldn’t stand Rob Bell’s writing style or tone or maybe even his personality. I went in biased against him as a white male mega church ego centric preacher dude, and so it’s no surprise I couldn’t get past the first page or two.

But something abou
...more
David
I haven't read a Rob Bell book in years and I forgot how wonderful a writer he is. I've always appreciated Bell's work and the primary reason I stopped reading his books is price - he got popular enough that his books never crept down in price! Of course, that's the publisher...but anyway.

I created a new shelf just for this book. The thing is, lots of Christians find Bell dangerous and even a bit scary. I know people who shudder when they hear his name (though they admit they haven't read his bo
...more
Jordan Kalt
Nov 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Decent book from an excellent communicator, but coming between "Love Wins" and "What is the Bible?" it's his weakest in recent years. I don't particularly buy most of his arguments for the existence of God, but the way of "seeing" God (and ourselves, for that matter) that underlies this whole discussion is very good.

Doesn't add a lot to the worldview landscape if you've read the other two aforementioned titles. Still a worthwhile read especially if you like Bell.
Louis Fritz v
Apr 24, 2013 rated it liked it
At first, when I heard Rob Bell was coming out with another book, I was apprehensive given my distaste for Love Wins and its presentation of more what ifs than genuine thoughts or research to direct the reader to follow. Yet, when I watched the Podcast for his newest text, I was please with his comments and had to download the ebook for myself right away.

Right away, the reader can see a distinct difference between this and Love Wins as the text is promoting a theology crafted through the simple
...more
Rosemarie
Nov 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book was great!

A very unique look at God from a very neutral perspective - people across faiths can enjoy it.

Rob Bell was a part of Oprah's 'The Life You Want Weekend' that I attended this fall and his talk was one of the best of the whole weekend. That is why I got this book.

Oprah believes, and so do I, that "there is no life without the spiritual life." We all have a spiritual component to us as humans and to deny that is to deny part of our very humanness!

I can see why Oprah likes Rob B
...more
Steven Fouse
Dec 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion, favorites
Rob Bell tackles the most important, least asked question that humans face: what is God like? The answer to this question shapes not only how we see God, but how we see ourselves and those around us and how we choose to act. It's a question we need to ask more often, and Rob tackles it well here.

The Good: Rob is one of the few writers that can write about God or what it means to follow Jesus in a way that makes me think, "I've thought that for a while now, but I've never seen those ideas in prin
...more
Charles Dean
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spirituality
A couple caveats before I get to the real business of this post – reviewing Rob Bell’s most recent book What We Talk About When We Talk About God.

To like or dislike a book is not an endorsement/rejection of a person. I can like a book by someone I generally disagree with and vice versa. I don’t believe in theological “guilt by association.” Someone told me years ago that I shouldn’t be so public about which books/authors I read. I think that’s ridiculous. In fact, maybe we should only read books
...more
Steve
Mar 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Rob Bell writes the same way he speaks, therefore the tone and voicing is unmistakenly his own, which is warm and familiar. He is not a professional theologian, but rather a pastor that has read and studied deeply even looking at concepts of God that fall outside of traditional Christianity. This fact pleases some and riles others, usually those of the Calvinist persuasion. I enjoyed the book well enough but couldn't help thinking that Bell wasn't trying to convince the reader that God exists as ...more
Kelly Hager
Odds are pretty good that this review isn't necessary; you already know whether you want to read this book or not. For me, I've been feeling a bit at loose ends, and I remembered that I had bought this and never read it (and, since Rob Bell is always pretty inspiring to me, I hoped that maybe it would work some magic).

There are a lot of good points to take away from this book, but the one that resonated with me the most is the idea that we all view God differently (which is obvious, right? Becau
...more
Charles
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
I can't believe I'm giving Rob Bell two stars, but despite the horrible physics, the crossless theology, and the utter failure to base his argument on the actual text of Scripture, the writing is decent, rhetorically speaking.

However, the content is satanic. Bell makes assertions based on the Hebrew and Greek text that are unsupportable by the text of Scripture. His primary error is that he misses the tree for the forest, and he's looking at the forest from such a high vantage point that he does
...more
Hye Sung
Apr 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book quite a lot, despite theological disagreements that aren't worth getting into. (Read it for yourself and you will understand.) Many parts of this book were inspiring and drew worship out of my heart. I usually cannot stand Bell's writing style but I started appreciating how he writes. It helped me digest what he was saying at the proper pace.
Tylor Lovins
Mar 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Those interested in the concept of God
Rob Bell’s new book, What We Talk About When We Talk About God, a play on Raymond Carver’s collection of short stories, and short story, entitled What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, and Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami’s memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, is a book about the word ‘God.’ Specifically, Bell hopes to clear the ground of, what he sees to be, misunderstanding, not only in the fundamentalist Evangelical dialogue about God, but also the secular conversation a ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #87: What We Talk About When We Talk About God by Rob Bell 2 5 Sep 16, 2013 11:49AM  
What is your take on Rob's view of God? 2 29 Jun 26, 2013 08:53AM  
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Rob Bell is a bestselling author, international teacher, and highly sought after public speaker. His books include The New York Times bestsellers What Is the Bible?, What We Talk About When We Talk About God, Love Wins, as well as The Zimzum of Love, Velvet Elvis, Sex God, Jesus Wants to Save Christians, and Drops Like Stars.

At age 28, Bell founded Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan, and under hi
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“The peace we are offered is not a peace that is free from tragedy, illness, bankruptcy, divorce, depression, or heartache. It is peace rooted in the trust that the life Jesus gives us is deeper, wider, stronger, and more enduring than whatever our current circumstances are, because all we see is not all there is and the last word about us and our struggle has not yet been spoken.” 25 likes
“Take faith, for example. For many people in our world, the opposite of faith is doubt. The goal, then, within this understanding, is to eliminate doubt. But faith and doubt aren't opposites. Doubt is often a sign that your faith has a pulse, that it's alive and well and exploring and searching. Faith and doubt aren't opposites, they are, it turns out, excellent dance partners.” 23 likes
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