Bold as Love Paperback – Dec 3 2012
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About the Author
Bob Roberts Jr. is the founding pastor of NorthWood Church in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, and has been involved in the planting of a hundred congregations in the United States. Bob also works in Australia, Asia, Afghanistan, Mexico, and Nepal helping with church planting and development and global engagement. Bob is a graduate of Baylor University (BA), Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Mdiv), and Fuller Seminary (D.Min.) with an emphasis in church planting. He and his wife have two children.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Roberts spends a great deal of time, in different places throughout the book, talking about the differences between "multifaith" and "interfaith". His goal in hosting these meetings is multifaith: people coming together who passionately believe in their own faith and want to know more about what their neighbors believe. Interfaith, he describes, is simply trying to melt all faiths into one. Roberts has found through these multifaith meetings, three questions are often asked. First, "Why do you believe in God?" Second, "Why do you believe in only one God?" Third, "Why are you a Christian?" He believes there must be solid answers from Christians to these questions if we are going to positively influence other religions. Roberts takes time to describe certain fears in the multifaith journey. He describes them as fear of physical harm, hostility from "enemies", hostility from "friends", losing your faith, and fear itself.
I am not sure where I land on this book. One of the chapters I had the most difficulty with was the chapter that dealt with multifaith worship. Maybe it is the pastor in me. Maybe I missed the something in the book. I don't know. I like to believe I understand where Roberts is going when he talks about not bowing to other gods in his heart regardless of who he stands beside. I understand the need for bridge-building and the importance of relationships for the purpose of gospel presentation. I really do. Personally, there is one fundamental problem I have with what Roberts is proposing. I believe the foundational differences in Christianity and Islam's viewpoint of Jesus Christ, God, and salvation are enough to make a multifaith worship hollow and void of any real meaning. Again, this is my observation and opinion. Otherwise, Roberts has written a good book filled with personal experiences that the majority of us would have never thought of. He writes with clarity, passion, and conviction. I appreciate that about the book.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Handlebar Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
When Dallas megachurch pastor Bob Roberts, Jr., met a Saudi prince who asked him what he had done to promote dialog, he felt overwhelmed. Dallas is the capital of Jesusland! Yet when he got home, he noticed mosques, synagogues, temples, and more, right on his doorstep. The supposed Bible Belt has as much religious diversity as any American region. So he took the logical step, reaching out to imams and rabbis for his city's first multifaith sit-down.
This book combines anecdotes of Roberts' personal discoveries, lessons he learned about his own and others' beliefs, and suggestions to build similar experiences across America. Roberts' suggestions are both timely and relevant. The Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) share a call to love our neighbors, a call shared by most faiths and philosophies. But it's hard to love one another when we don't know one another.
Like me, Roberts distrusts the sort of "interfaith" meetings that enjoyed hip cachet in the 1990s. Too often, these descended into huggy, syncretic pablum in which nobody stood for anything. No wonder interfaith outreach dwindled after 9/11. Roberts prefers the term "multifaith," which reflects his real goal: people who passionately believe their own faith, and passionately want to know their neighbors as real people.
Roberts expected initial hostility from his congregation, and to an extent, he got it. Some people have a fortress mentality, only talking to others of like mind, seeing outsiders as a besieging enemy. A certain subset of American religious and political discourse drums up the idea that we only retain our ideological purity if we keep diversity at arm's length. Some families left Roberts' congregation rather than sit down with Jews and Muslims.
But far more families stayed. People with intensely different theologies found they could discuss their beliefs without muddying themselves. Indeed, Roberts says how frank, respectful dialog with believers of multiple faiths urged him to refine his own beliefs. Creation makes more sense after you've explained your beliefs to atheists; the Trinity comes into sharp detail when you define the doctrine for Muslims.
Roberts says, "The strength of a religion or faith is not what it is when left alone but what it is when challenged. Hard times make for strong faith, deep learning, and moving closer to God." Participants in Roberts' multifaith encounters emerged with a deeper understanding of their own beliefs, and cast off trappings that were merely cultural, not true to the faith.
Often, sincere believers of good character fall into the trap of seeing other faiths' adherents as prospective converts. We proselytize without bothering to learn each other's hopes and aspirations. But God does not call us to keep a scorecard. We love one another when we know each other's names and hearts. We have the best hope of reaching each other when the world sees us live the true tenets of our faith.
For instance, Roberts describes one early meeting between his congregation and local Muslims. His congregation forgot to put away their Sunday stuff, and Roberts was astonished to see several Muslims signing up to join his members on an inner-city work retreat. Think about that. What better way to learn what another religion believes than to sweat side-by-side with true believers? Even if we never make converts, we make friends.
Roberts tells touching, funny stories about his multifaith friendships. His wife joined a multifaith cooking club. Not only did the women learn about each other's cuisine and culture, but the Muslim women made new friends around whom they could take off their hijabs. Roberts also describes halal turkey hunting with his good friend, Imam Zia. He sees these encounters as metaphors for what's possible when faiths talk with, not past, each other.
If we want to know members of other world faiths, we must abandon the fuzzy dream of ignoring our differences. Bob Roberts makes a persuasive case that, if we just talk to one another in love, we will not only make inroads toward lasting peace, but we will know the belief our faith has called us to for a long time.
Bob's latest book, "Bold as Love" describes this pilgrimage into a life of radical, loving service in an interconnected world. Like his previous books, it is filled with examples of bridge-building love and faith-stretching stories - funny stories.
A local example: Bob meets a Pakistani Imam in Texas named Zia and decides to actually befriend him (and not just try to convert him). How do you make friends in Texas? You go hunting together. Here's Bob's invitation to the Imam: "Zia, I'm from East Texas; if you show up hunting in your Pakistani garb, and I give you a 12-gauge, and we go running through those woods yelling Allahu akbar, we're gonna die. I'll take you, but I want you in jeans, a T-shirt, and talking with a Texas accent" (p. 25).
A global example: Bob likes using hunting to build bridges. He describes one hunting expedition with Afghans like this: "I've run deer with dogs before on hunts. But I've got to tell you, it doesn't come close to comparing with camel chasing across the desert with a rocket launcher. That was one of the wildest things I've ever done my entire life. Yes, we really did it. No, I didn't get one but it was sure fun to shoot" (p. 79).
Ok. Enough cool stories. How does this Southern Baptist pastor demonstrate bold love? Bob and his church do this through serving. One of their favorite sayings is: "Serve not to convert, but serve because you've been converted." Neighbor love is not just a nice idea, but a driving force for Northwood.
"Some churches are getting bad reputations globally because they are using world crises-- like tsunamis and massive earthquakes-- not to serve humanity but to try to convert them. I want people to accept Christ, but it all goes back to serving because you've been converted, not in order to convert others. If we serve, there will be plenty of chances to share our faith" (p. 97).
One of the book's strengths is Bob's robust analysis of globalization in the 21st Century. Bob exclaims: "Every religion is everywhere. Even in Dallas. Today, 44 percent of the population was not born in an English-speaking nation; 238 languages are spoken in the DFW area; 28 percent of the population doesn't speak English in their homes! In 1975, there was one mosque in the entire DFW area. Today there are forty-three!" (p. 6, 7).
Bob prefers to use the term "glocalization" to describe this phenomena -- highlighting the comprehensive connectedness of the world in which we live (...).
Because of glocalization, he rightly argues that we need to radically adjust our communication. "Everything is in the public square; we must realize that whatever we blog or tweet, the whole world sees . . . We have to speak with what I call "one conversation" -- not one conversation for just us Christians and another conversation for our public face, but a single conversation so that we are consistent, clear, and considerate in what we say" (p. 155).
Bold as Love will stir your heart and strengthen your faith. It will equip you follow Jesus in a glocalized world. But beware ... this book could turn your world upside down!
Roberts seeks to define and live out something called `multifaith.' Multifaith "says we have fundamental differences, but the best of our faiths teach us we should get along." Roberts explains that if we truly want to live out the love of Christ it requires boldness. It also requires that we get to know people from other faiths rather than just believing the stereotype about them. Without this, how will we ever effectively share the gospel with them?
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book after hearing what it was about. I must confess that like many conservative evangelicals, I get nervous when people start talking about interfaith meetings and working with other faiths to serve the community. In my mind, those things necessarily lead to a dumbing down of faith to the lowest common denominator and ignoring the essentials of Christianity.
But, this book calls us to something greater. Roberts writes from his many experiences of interacting with other faiths in different countries and settings. Going along with him on these journeys is alone worth reading the book. Also, his experience shows that being nervous about multifaith interactions is normal. His desire to be bold and clear about orthodox Christianity in the midst of other faiths is very encouraging.
The reality is, Roberts points out, that we don't have to go overseas to build a relationship with a Muslim or a Hindu or whoever else it might be. In fact, for many, all we need to do is go across the street. Roberts encourages us to see the influx of Muslims and Mosques in our neighborhoods not as an invasion but as an opportunity to share the love of Christ and the gospel.
There are many great quotes out of this book but let me just share a few with the hopes of whetting your appetite:
"If Jesus really is the way, the truth, and the life, then I must love in extremes, with respect and kindness, or others may never get to hear this gospel that is found only through Jesus." (pg. 27)
"Truth is wrapped in boldness, but with humility, not arrogance or hate." (pg. 39)
"No generation in the history of humanity has had more opportunity, and therefore none will have as much accountability as we will when we stand before God." (pg. 85)
"When we really believe the gospel, and we really love someone, we will weep for his or her soul." (pg. 94)
"Serving others and serving with others is the gospel in action." (pg. 96)
"Never, never, never vilify another religion. Instead, exalt Jesus, lift him up. You don't have to trash another religion to promote Jesus." (pg. 154)
There are times when this book made me uncomfortable, and if you read it, there will be times when it makes you uncomfortable. It is easy to lob insults and generalizations at another religion, until you get to know someone from that faith. Then it gets personal. But, if we are going to love like Christ did, if we are going to share the gospel, boldness is required. This book calls us to boldly love and gives us counsel along the way. It also reminds us that ultimately it is God who saves so we must be faithful to share as he has called us to do.
If you are a Christian and the idea of interfaith cooperation makes you nervous, this book is for you. If you are a Christian and the idea of getting to know a Muslim in your neighborhood makes you nervous, this book is for you. In fact, if you are a Christian and hope to make an impact in our ever-changing world, this book is for you!