Evangelist Rob Bell recently talked about his new book on faith and sexuality, Sex God, slated to be released by Zondervan next spring.
The founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, Mich., one of the fastest growing megachurches in the nation, took part in an interview with Premier.tv, in which he also spoke of the risks of megachurches and evangelism in America.
The title is Sex God but the subtitle is Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality, Bell told Christianity Magazine Editor John Buckeridge. Essentially, it begins with what does it mean to be human, fully human and any understanding of sexuality you have to start there.
The megachurch pastor drew fire from some evangelicals and fundamentalists last year for his first book with Zondervan, titled Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith, particularly for comments regarding the virgin birth of Jesus and the concept of the Trinity.
"What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archaeologists find Larry's tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births? Bell wrote in his first book, published August 2005. But what if as you study the origin of the word virgin, you discover that the word virgin in the gospel of Matthew actually comes from the book of Isaiah, and then you find out that in the Hebrew language at that time, the word virgin could mean several things. And what if you discover that in the first century being born of a virgin also referred to a child whose mother became pregnant the first time she had intercourse?"
Although Bell wrote on the following page the he "affirm[s] the historic Christian faith, which includes the virgin birth and the trinity," some evangelicals saw his former comments as heretical and neo-liberal.
The Rev. Casey Freswick, pastor of Bethany United Reformed Church in Wyoming, Mich., described Bells position as the repainting of historic liberal theology," in an article entitled "Postmodern Liberalism: Repainting a Non-Christian Faith."
Regarding his upcoming book, Bell said, It's really about far larger issues, when you talk about sex and people's longing for connection with each other. It's a picture for our longing for connection with God, the earth that we were made for connection. The word sex comes from a Latin root that means to be cut off or severed.
We're born into a world of disconnection, we're disconnected from the earth, from each other, from God and ourselves, he added. People say, 'I don't know who I am.' So, sexuality is all of the ways that we are aware of this cut-off state we're in and the desire to reconnect.
Bell concluded: What does sexuality look like across the spectrum. Some of the most sexual people I know are celibate. They've given themselves to connecting with others, with God, with creation. Often sex gets narrowed down to a small dimension so I walk through that. I'm thrilled it's going to come out.
Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality is Bells second book and will be released in March 2007.
Christian Post reporter Eric Young in Washington contributed to this report.