In search of some backup materials for Bible study, I trekked across to Koorong at West Ryde, arriving on a weeknight at around 7pm. As usual, the place was eerily quiet: the best sellers were the usual suspects, with an ever increasing number of prosperity-based titles present.
These days, when I’m surrounded by Christian books, it’s usually in the library at my bible college, and so the books are generally fairly conservative in their outlook (there are plenty of titles available from less mainstream authors, but the overall sense of the library is one or orthodoxy). At Koorong, you’re just as likely to see books or DVDs on the end times, on how God will give you a tonne of money, or see the grinning face of an airbrushed American preacher on some topic of dubious interest.
Yet still I go back: you can’t fault Koorong for convenience – for long trading hours, easyish parking, and for having a lot of books in stock.
I was there to pick up a couple of nooma DVDs, to get a better idea of what kind of material Rob Bell has on offer: it’s been recommended to me as a way of getting discussions started on a Bible Study night.
The DVDs are very slick, and well made. Each one is a 10-12 minute sermon on a particular topic. The bible is mentioned, a verse or two are explained, along with some Hebrew or Greek word from the verse, and the viewer is, at the end, encouraged to walk away encouraged in some way.
What did I found troubling with them? There’s not really much gospel there: they don’t say much about what it means to be a Christian. (When I asked some wiser-than-I Christians about it, too, this was their reservation with his teaching).
A couple of articles I was pointed to help flesh out what it is that Bell teaches.
An article in the (UK) Times Online explaining some of the conservative reaction to Bell, and a couple of others.
Review of Bell’s book Velvet Elvis.
I think there’s some use in these DVDs, even for evangelicals, but you’ll want to think it through quite carefully before showing it to your group.