“The Whole Thing is a Temple” – Rob Bell’s talk. here. now



It is finally arrived!  The epic talk given by Rob Bell at the Progressive Youth Ministry conference this past February in Dallas, TX

I wrote a post a few weeks back about Rob’s memorable and almost magical presentation, but now you can actually watch it for yourself.  *See the YouTube link provided above


Enjoy and feel free to post thoughts, comments, or questions (which I am confident Rob’s talk brings up and he commends!)




On Rob Bell…broken foots and deep mysteries

Who begins a talk about the mysteries of the cosmos with a story about a broken foot and a Polish jack-of-all-trades miracle worker?

Rob Bell does.

In my last post, which was a review of the Progressive Youth Ministry Conference, I ended by alluding that Rob Bell spoke, without giving much print to him.


Truth be told, Rob was indeed the featured “celebrity” speaker, the reason why some choose to attend the conference and for many the highlight of the weekend.


For ten years, much of my youth ministry teaching and pulpit preaching drew ideas and insights from Rob Bell’s books and Nooma videos.  I have always appreciated his thoughts and admired his way of communicating.  I know he has received a bad rap by a sub-sect of more fundamental Christians, but I still applaud his vision and was very happy to see him invited to come and speak at this year’s conference.

In classic Bell fashion, he cleverly crafted a story that helped illustrate how every question (and relative answer) always lends to another question…with a set of answers that inevitably lead to more questions..  Etc.. etc.

Every question and answer leads deeper down into mystery.

One of the basic premises of his talk was the view that all discoveries of humanity thus far, have actually done little to make sense of the human experience and emotions involved.  Scientists becomes theologians the moment they exclaim “Wow” at some wonder they observe. Similarly we become theologians when we experience something profound that no discovery can address.

To Bell, the world will always need those who can create spaces for people to share in the unexplained mysteries of life.  The human experience is rife with raw emotions that cannot be simply explained or rationed away.  These emotions and longings draw us inextricably together in ways that modern science (such as quantum entanglement) may beginning to now realize.

The posture for people of faith towards the advancement of the sciences should be an openness without fear that it will limit our view.  Rather, all discoveries and “truth” should be claimed and celebrated as an expanding of God’s presence in the cosmos and our particular lives.

This mindset does indeed enhance, rather than inhibit, our sense of the inter-connectivity of everything and that the presence of God does permeate in all, through all and with all.  This seems to concur with the ancients view of God and Jesus’ own beliefs.  The great religious traditions have a beautiful role to still play in the world, but too often focus on creating (and then defending/protecting/expanding) their own particular “temples” i.e. institutions, buildings, doctrines, denominations, creeds, etc..

The challenge, Rob offered, is for church to build up the temple in order to inspire others but not to focus on the temple…rather tear it down and let the Divine flood into the world.  This does not insinuate that God’s presence and activity is not already permeable throughout the cosmos, but rather how often people of faith believe that it somehow exists and operates almost exclusively within particularities.   The Jews certainly believed that to be true with the Divine and the Temple.  Jesus came onto the scene and radially revolutionized that concept in many ways, one of which was his conversation with a woman at a well:

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Sadly, many Christians have continued this false dichotomy and almost dualism by insisting that God can only be found, understood and experienced through very specific (and often limited) means.  This may include one’s particular creed, denomination, theological view, style of music, method of baptism, etc. etc.. etc…

What if….

What if the whole thing is a temple? 

Everything and everywhere.  The heights and depths.  The earth and the heavens.  The past and the future.  Those of homo-sapien origins and perhaps those of extraterrestrial existence?

It seems to me that if this were true, it would expand God’s majesty and beauty, while at the same time enhancing the importance of every aspect of life.  No more would the sacred -secular divide exist, which appears to be what Jesus desired and ushered in.

Well, every question leads to other questions, so I will ruminate on this idea for some time but am glad that Rob came to not only entertain us comically, but also enlighten us theologically in brilliant Bell fashion.


Shift #7: From Facts to Experience/Encounter

“It is circumstances, not ideas, that change people.” author and Catholic priest Richard Rohr

Possibly the most significant way we can help youth notice their experiences with God is by helping them engage in real life; in real-life situations (out of the church and class room). We can then ask  them the eye-opening question- “How is God present here?

I once heard this statement:  “Facts don’t change people.  Experiences change people.”

Now, thinking back to the  Gospels and the book of Acts and the beginnings of the early church, you realize that it was individual’s encounters with the person of Jesus that transformed their life, not necessarily what they believed about him.  In fact, on more than once occasion Jesus healed someone and/or brought deliverance and restoration prior to any theological assent regarding his identity.

Here is a great story taken from the Gospel of John and serves as only one of many like it.

John 9

Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind

1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

3“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. 4As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

6Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7“Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

8His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” 9Some claimed that he was.
Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”
But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”

10“How then were your eyes opened?” they demanded.

11He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”

12“Where is this man?” they asked him.
“I don’t know,” he said.

13They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath.15Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”

16Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”
But others asked, “How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?” So they were divided.

17Finally they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”
The man replied, “He is a prophet.”

18The Jews still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19“Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”

20“We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue. 23That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

24A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”

25He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

26Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”

27He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”

28Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”

30The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. 32Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

34To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.


What is apparent from this story is that the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus, pin him down, and squeeze him into a particular theological box.  The blind man probably figured that Jesus was a prophet of some kind and perhaps gave his specific answer out of fear of the Pharisees.  Or perhaps, he really didn’t have many facts or beliefs about this man called Jesus, but he certainly knew what he just experienced. He was literally blind and now he could see, and this man named Jesus healed him!

I think in youth ministry what often happens is that we try to get students to believe certain things about Jesus before we really enable them to encounter him.  Maybe the encounter is what must predicate the belief.

In Youth Ministry 3.0, Marko uses a great analogy of a train to illustrate the difference of progression towards faith, and (ultimately) the importance of fact vs. faith.


Marko argues that in the past, facts could drive the engine of personal belief.  These “facts” would lead to a faith that was based upon those “facts”.  Experience could be helpful, but often not necessary and often declared they would get in way of true and authentic faith.  Now I understand what the writer of Hebrews says, 1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for.”

It is true that if God were to audibly speak or perform wonders and signs all the time in front of my students, it would not take a deep faith to believe in him.  So, the less amount of experiences we have, the potential is there to develop a stronger type of faith. However, a faith built solely upon facts may not be standing on solid ground.

Here is why.

Which “facts” are included as essential and who makes that call?  What if some beliefs or ideas that were considered “facts” a few generations ago are no longer held in the same light as they once were?

Imagine building a faith on the “fact” that the earth was flat and at the center of the universe?  Oh wait, most Christians did that a few centuries ago and excommunicated those who believed otherwise as heretics.

What if we are building our faith today on facts that may or may not be credible? What happens when one of those ideas comes crashing down?  In this book Velvet Elvis, Rob Bell uses the analogy of building your faith just based upon facts and likens it to building a wall of bricks.

Two things occur when Christians do this:

1) We spend a whole lot of time defending our wall, protecting it from bricks that do not belong, and trying to keep people outside (that’s what walls do)

2)  We open up the possibility of the entire wall crumbling down if one of the bricks happens to be pulled out or damaged. (kind of like that game Jenga)


Now, here is what I am not saying…Facts do not matter. They do. They are important . They are essential,

The apostle Paul writes this in 1 Corinthians 14:12-14

12But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”

So clearly, a faith built upon myths or false ideas that cannot be historical and factually proven is not going to last.  There would be no real power in that kind of faith.  The life, death, and resurrection of Christ is essential according to the apostles, as is his divinity and humanity.

One of the earlier statements of “facts” and theology believed by the early church was this:

6Who, being in very nature  God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.     -Philippians 2

15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.   – Colossians 1:15-20

These appear to be some of the earliest doctrines recorded in Scripture and clearly what we can, and should, build our beliefs upon.   Beyond these, I am just not sure what exactly is essential and what is not, and therefore constructing and communicating a faith built or driven by a whole host of “facts” can become potentially dangerous.

And you know that’s true when we see our high school students enter college and told that many of these “facts” don’t exist (whether true or not).  We watch as their faith begins to crumble under the weight of doubt and uncertainty.  Now, we can try to give them new books on apologetics and thus begins a battle for their minds- beliefs about something and someone.

But…. if their hearts are already won because of their personal experience with the transforming and freeing power of Jesus…well that is a different story.

Back to the illustration of the train.  If experience/encounter lead the way, these cannot be easily discredited. One of the so-called ideals of postmodernity is that personal experience is everything. You will hear statements such as this, “Well that may be true for you, but this is what is true for me.”  Now this can be both a blessing and curse at the same time. Traditional apologetics don’t work in this scenario very often.  Sure, you will have exceptions, but it is very hard to “prove your point” to someone from a purely intellectual and rationalistic approach.

You can say 2+2 =4 and someone can say, “I see how you can come to belief that, but for me that equation does not work”.

Right or wrong, this is our generation of students. We can try to change them back into older worldviews, but we will spend energy fighting a losing battle and over time frustration will set in like trying to swim upstream against the current.    They have been taught (not modeled) a faith based mostly upon facts, and often these facts can be and should be questioned.  Some “facts” are Biblically based, while many are more products of culture and particular western worldviews than anything else.

What if God is calling us to reach students where they are at? (whether we understand or agree with the way they see life)

What if youth leaders focus on bringing students into a relationship with the person of Jesus. These “God-experiences” can broaden their perspectives on the spiritual,  and through the presence of the Holy Spirit, can lead to a personal faith.  This personal faith can and should lead to a desire to know more about the person of Jesus (which is built upon a core set of beliefs and “facts”).  Again, these are important, but maybe not what needs to drive our approach anymore.

Students still have questions that need to be answered. But for this generation, these questions are no longer about the credibility of the Bible and manuscripts, etc..  Sure some historical questions will arise from Dan Brown books and they can and should be addressed, but the issues students question have more to do with heart-felt concerns than purely academic or intellectual curiosity.

They are asking questions such:

Why does God allow suffering in the world?

How could a loving God send people to Hell?

Why isn’t Christianity more inclusive?

How can one religion be “right” and the others “wrong”?

Why have so many wars been fought in the name of God?

I am grateful for new approaches in apologetics such as Tim Keller who uses human reason and questions and uses these legitimate questions and concerns to point people to the reality and truth of God.

Generally, I have steered away from traditional apologetics, believing that Christ needs to be promoted more than defended. One author of the book iLead writes, “thoughtful apologetics are essential for reaching post-Christian, American teens.”   For starters, postmodern students are all about personal experience. call it what you want, but it is not going to change.  So if you want factual knowledge and evidence that demands a verdict to really appeal, you are going to have to start looking at some other generation.

I suppose arguments such as those advocated by Tim Keller, C.S. Lewis, and Ravi Zacharias are beneficial for students thinking about truth, philosophy, and the like.  However, in my experience, most teens are drawn to the experience and encounter of Christ.  As the author later states, “until our teens can see that Christ quenches their souls’ spiritual thirst more than the world, they will always pursue idols to their own harm.”  Therefore, as youth leaders we must unapologetically promote Jesus and allow His very life and nature to be on display in and through us.  To me, that is the living Word of God in action.

What drives and motivates students today?

Not facts. Not anymore.

They are bombarded with facts.  It is experiences that they want.  That appears to be the way this generation of students understand, process, and relate to life.

Who can blame them for wanting a concrete encounter with the transcendant God and not just a bunch of ancient ideas and texts, that (in reality) speak very little into their cultural context at first glance.

Today’s youth  long for and embrace experience.  They dream and desire deep encounter; with one another and with the transcendant and spiritual.

Isn’t that what Jesus offered?

His followers knew him. They met him. They encountered him and he changed their life.

Students believe what they see, feel, hear, taste, and touch.  They believe what they experience.

I believe that our God is one who wants us to experience him. To taste and see that the Lord is good.

As culture, society, and students evolve and change, let’s shift our approach from facts to experience and encounter; towards introducing our students to this person who can open their eyes, heal their brokenness, restore them to God, and give them a hope and a future.

The train is moving.  Will we be watching it pass, shoveling coal in the back, or at the controls excited for the adventure?


The New Christians…a review

I was eager to read Tony Jones’ new book The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier. I have tried to stay current with his writings and other authors along the Emergent frontier such as Brian McLaren, Doug Paggit, Dan Kimball, among others. While many of these other “emergent” books are musings, thoughts, and reflections, I was hoping that The New Christians would provide additional clarity to what lies behind the Emergent movement. The history, philosophical background, religious questionings, theology per se, and the hopes and dreams of the emerging leaders truly emerged in this book. I find the conversations well articulated, inspiring, challenging, and beautiful at the same time. While much in this book does raise theological questions for me, these questions are much needed and long overdue.

Emergent Christianity is a middle ground, or a third way, between the foundationalism of traditional liberalism and conservatism. In many ways, it is a reaction against the beliefs, assumptions, presuppositions, and affects of modernism, especially modernism’s impact and influence on western Christianity. We are living in an ever increasingly postmodern age, and thus the emergent movement is an attempt to re-think and re-imagine what Christianity can and should look like for this new generation and generations to come.

Yet a wonderful component of this movement is that it does not shun or deny the importance of other traditions and movements within historical Christianity. Dispatch 1 states, “Emergents find little importance in the discrete differences between the various flavors of Christianity. Instead, they practice a generous orthodoxy that appreciates the contributions of all Christian movements” (8).

I resonated with one of the problems associated with the individualism of evangelicalism that Jones highlighted. Too often, all of the emphasis in placed on an individual’s personal commitment to Christ, which is then followed up with the command of “personal” devotions. We have made Christianity a personal faith, distancing it from the social and communal entity it was meant to be. Furthermore, in promoting this personal holiness, Christians are more concerned about their own lives then the lives of others. I have witnessed more time being spent in devotions, Bible studies, and Sunday school classrooms than helping the poor, advocating for justice, and reaching those in need.

I often wonder what the point is striving for godliness and holiness if its end result does not make you more sensitive, compassionate, and loving towards others? As Jones states, “the church that doesn’t challenge its members to face the core ethical issues that confront them every day at work is the church that has abdicated its responsibility” (17).

The emergent generation feel great disappoint with modern American Christianity, desire inclusion rather than exclusion, and has a hope-filled orientation. I share all of these and especially agree with the phrase, “Our calling as a church is to partner with God in the work that God is already doing in the world-to cooperate in the building of God’s kingdom” (72). And I also agree with the emergents is that God can, and does work through non-believers to accomplish his purposes. After all, isn’t it reasonable to think that God’s purposes are much bigger than our own? Our goals seem to boil down to one thing; getting people saved so that they can escape hell. God’s purposes for his creation is to renew, restore, and repair relationships and bring about new life…here on earth first. So I don’t think God is going to deny the help of well-meaning individuals or organizations because they don’t have the correct understanding of him. As dispatch 6 states, “Emergents see God’s activity in all aspects of culture and reject the sacred-secular divide.” (75) Truth is wherever God designs to expose it; it is most perfectly and poignantly instantiated in the person of Jesus, and from him it flows out into all creation” (75)

As I tell my students, “All God is God’s truth”. This means that they do not have to be afraid of science, art, and other religions because if they discover something to be true or beautiful, they are free to claim it as being form God. I also make the equation that God is love. Therefore, wherever they find love, even in other religions, God is present. As Rob Bell said, our world is drenched in the presence of God. “If God is in it, then emergent Christians will find God there” (76).

From one personal note, I really understood Tony’s experience at Dartmouth with Campus Crusade. That style of evangelism and ministry is what I grew up with and in many ways still feel pressured to do and make my students do. The problem is that I too find it very uncomfortable, anti-relational, generally unsuccessful, and the opposite of Jesus’ way of loving. I have grown to really not like (I won’t use the word hate, but am tempted to) door-to-door evangelism that we do on our mission trips each summer. And I hate (I will use this word now) the fact that I feel that way. I feel so guilty, especially when others, like my wife, really enjoy it and thank God each time for the opportunity. I ask myself what is wrong with me. But then I compare it to the joy I have in sharing my life’s experiences with some good and trusted friends who do not consider themselves “born-again” Christians. Yet in some many of our conversations, we share deep spiritual things and I have truly felt the presence of Jesus there. That is the kind of “evangelism” I love to engage in, but of course this takes months and years of trust and mutual friendship. Should I be alarmed that I really don’t have a goal with these friends? Sometimes I feel that I should try to lead them in a prayer of salvation or invite them to church when an alter call will be offered. Yet, does God need our clever sales pitches to work in their hearts? However, I remember my own conversation was a very radical event that truly changed my heart and life in an instant. What if the Holy Spirit desires to work in a similar way, but is waiting for my friends to truly make a personal commitment to Him. Now I am starting to sound like an evangelical again!

Human life is theology. That statement stuck with me as I reflected and ponder about its significance and realized its truth. It is a great way to start conversations with people and also to challenge and convict Christians. The statement about what kind of house we buy is extremely revealing, as was the question about parking spots vs. Darfur.

I feel so dissatisfied with traditional answers to questions such as what does God allow evil in the world, or can someone be a homosexual and a Christian. I get completely infuriated with Calvinist’s responses to almost every question I have, while other Christians simply do not want to engage in these tough questions. Those who pose these questions are branded as having a questionable faith or battling the demons of doubt, or come crap like that. (Pardon my language)

I have also had conversations such as the one posed between the True Biblicist, “Brain”, and the Emergent. I do not think the Bible was written (past) or should be read (current) as handbook to Christian living. It is certainly a guide and rule of faith and while it does contain some things I believe to be universally true, its main purpose is to point its readers to the person and life of Jesus. True Biblicists run into myriad problems by attempting to stick to the letter of the law. I find this today with the issue of divorce. While I do not think divorce is good, healthy, or favored by God, I believe His heart is much bigger than even his commands. If a person were in a very bad marriage (abuse, neglect, adultery, etc…) than wouldn’t a loving heavenly Father want his child to be free of such a thing? Of course, people can easily abuse this freedom, which is why there is a command against it. But in my opinion, each situation is different and therefore these commands are contextual. This line of reasoning follows the approach of “wise interpretation” offered in the book. Seeing hermeneutics as an art, and not a science is a big challenge that can lead to transformation and freedom. Experience and humility are also needed.

I like the phrase “hermeneutic of humility” offered by Jones. Interestingly enough, I am about to finish a class at seminary on Hermeneutics and never once heard this phrase mentioned! I too believe that we can have “proper confidence” and become better interpreters through dialogue and conversation. I also believe that the Holy Spirit can and does inspire and illuminate our reading of the text each and ever time we approach it in humility and openness.

And yes, paradox does exist in the real world, our personal experience, and within the Bible. And, as Jones declares, we can and should embrace it. “God can be the creator of the universe and the breaker of the rules of physics. God can be sovereign yet no the author of evil…as is so often the case, the ‘truth’ lies in between, in a person (Jesus) who was truly human and truly divine-in faith, no fideism” (155). We should not handicap or limit who God is or what he can do. Does God really only work in absolutes. Is he that limited and uncreative? My God is not boring, static, and cannot be contained in a well-articulated theological box.

Much more could be written, and I suppose I already wrote too much. (Maybe I should start blogging!). Each section of this book offered great insight into the thinking of the emergent movement and caused me to rethink my own views. On the whole, this movement resonates deep within me. I am finding solidarity with these authors and friends and am finally finding people (albeit through books) that I can dialogue with about what is going on inside my mind and heart. I hope to engage more often in conversations with others rather than just let my mind wander and ramble in writing.

I am glad that Jones added stories and examples of some emerging churches such as Solomon’s Porch, the Journey, and Jacob’s Well, and I hope to visit some of them one day. I also appreciate Appendix A and hope that everyone who reads this book (especially its critics) will spend time reading the four commitments and subsequent practices of the Emergent Village and movement. In closing, I am encouraged and inspired by this book and hopeful that it will bring change and transformation to American Christians and Christianity as a whole. I find myself charting a similar path as the author has and I am hopefully optimistic that I will continue to dialogue with others, learn, grow, and change throughout my journey.

Additional Quotes (that I really liked)

“Emergents trust the Holy Spirit more than they trust in the methods of doing church” (61).

“If church is what happens when people encounter the Risen Jesus and commit themselves to sustaining and deepening that encounter in their encounter with each other, there is plenty of theological room for diversity of rhythm and style, so long as we have ways of identifying the same living Christ as the heart of every expression of Christian life in common.” (53)

“Emerging Churches are communities that practice the way of Jesus within postmodern cultures…they are missional communities emerging in postmodern culture and consisting of followers of Jesus seeking to be faithful to the orthodox Christian faith in their place and time” (56).

“This, then, is a high view of the church: the collected people of God, in community with God’s Spirit, will stay on track and engaged with God’s work in the world” (185)

Dispatched 15: Emergents hold to a hope-filled eschatology: it was good news when Jesus came the first time, and it will be good news when he returns” (176).