7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Kevin L. Nenstiel
- Published on Amazon.com
Once upon a time, people chose religions much the same way they chose football teams: they rooted for the same team their neighbors did. But today's unprecedented mass migration has resulted in diverse, powerful world religions living next door to one another. Picking our faith passively, or throwing our hands in the air, is not an option. We must speak frankly, but lovingly, with all religions in today's compact world.
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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
In his new book "Bold as Love; What Can Happen When We See People the Way God Does", Texas megachurch pastor Bob Roberts, Jr. writes about diversity of religions and the possibility of seeing our neighbors in the same light God does. For Christians, the word `diversity' has long been considered a four-letter word, a bit unnerving, and difficult to achieve at best. Roberts believes diversity it is possible for different religions to come together under the umbrella of God's bold love. The genesis for this book was a challenge by Roberts's friend, a Saudi prince and a Muslim to discuss the ways to bring about a greater understanding between Christians and Muslims. From there, Roberts organized an event at his church for the purpose of demonstrating God's love between Christian, Jewish, and Muslims communities. After some initial pushback, his congregation his vision and the event was a great success.
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."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Bob Roberts once again nails it with Bold As Love. As a visionary pastor who is making a difference locally and globally he takes us on a journey back to the heart of what it means to be a follower of Jesus... LOVE! With faith inspiring, gut wrenching, and utterly challenging stories, Roberts reminds readers what love looks like. Imagine a world where the love of Christ, through the lives of His people, was constantly on display. Roberts has seen glimpses of this for years...and believes there can and should be more. His call back to love isn't an easy one, but it is a call that, if taken to heart, will change the world. READ THIS BOOK...then DO this book!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I was given the opportunity to review the book "Bold as Love" by Bob Roberts, Jr. There were so many wonderful things that I read in this book. Moving beyond the `love God, love others' Great Commandment of the New Testament, "Bold as Love" teaches you how to put it into practice.
Bob Roberts, Jr. tells how he steps out in faith to get to know and build relationships with leaders in the local Jewish and Muslim communities. He puts is so well, "I am convinced that few will respond to our gospel message if we are combative and attacking, [but] many may be interested if we humbly share the truth of the Gospel in love, within the context of relationship."
Bob challenges everyone to start getting to know people to work for a comment good for the community. He tells a story of an multifaith gathering at the church that he pastors and the Muslims visiting started to sign up for projects that his church was leading. This experience lead to people working side-by-side and getting to know each other. We forget that before we can convert people, they need to see our faith put into practice. We need to give them a reason why they should want to be a Christian.
What really touched me was Bob's definitions of interfaith and multifaith. Interfaith, in Bob's words, "it's the nebulous, fuzzy-feeling; it's a we're-all-going-to-the-same-place-just-different-roads religion, a kind of Kumbaya experience". Multifaith is "the idea that we all had unique faiths that we wouldn't compromise, but that we could still get together and get along". It's more than tolerance; an indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own. It's meeting someone different than us and making friends and working with someone to do good for the community. It's not about seeing people as a target for evangelism, but focusing on how you can change the world around you.
I love what he said to a group of Muslim imams, "Because I have rejected Mohammed as a divine prophet, I cannot go to heaven. Any imam and most Muslims would tell you that. But it doesn't mean they're bigoted or evil. It means that they value the truth of their Qur'an. In the same way, I cannot reject my Bible and what it teaches." This level of honesty allows open conversation and the ability to learn about one another because we are speaking the truth and not trying to convert one another. It also forces us to put aside offense so that we can truly learn about one another.
Christians have forgotten that we were called to make disciples and we're failing to be Jesus to those whom we have the greatest contact with. Because of this, we are actually failing in our major task because of fear, political correctness, and fear of offense. We seem to forget that we all proverbially put on our pants the same way. Their woman bear the children, their men are the leaders of the household, and we are all families. Just just have a different religious belief.
I highly recommend this book to any Christian who wants to live their faith boldly and live it as Jesus called us to live it. If you want to learn how to be friends with people of different faiths and live your faith out loud, then you should read this book. Being a Christian isn't just a Sunday morning life style. It's an everyday, 24/7, 365 habit, practice, behavior, conduct. Choose to treat your faith that way. And, if God loves the whole world, then shouldn't we? Be bold, my friends and love EVERYONE boldly!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
What happens when a Southern Baptist Pastor takes the Great Commandments as seriously as he does the Great Commission? We don't have to guess. It is happening at Northwood Church in Dallas, Texas. Bob Roberts Jr. and his church are breaking out of the evangelical box and modeling "bold love."
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!