Bold As Love by Bob Roberts, Jr.

FINALLY, the day is here and this book is released.  I’m really excited about it.

It’s Northwood’s story and mine all mixed up.  It’s not a program, an activity, something we started because we needed to – it’s what we were led into by the Spirit.  It was our adventure, our journey into “unknown” territory that wound up changing all of us.  From first working with the government in Vietnam and learning to think philosophically to working with the Muslims of Afghanistan and learning to think theologically.  Yes, I had all those classes in seminary – but it’s a different ball game and a clearer conversation and thinking when you come to know real people you are close to and yet you differ with and answer their questions . . . and your own!  It tells of how we worked in Vietnam, Afghanistan, how I began to work globally and what happened when we brought all this back home in our building bridges events, Global Faith Forum . . . .

It no longer is this program – it’s as natural as water for many of us.  Last week I was with Muslims, Jews, Christians, Agnostics – and they were all natural relationships and friendships that my wife and I and my church has developed.  For me, being raised in the US and Texas – the Gospel has ventured beyond my church, my tribe, my religion – into the world, into the city with people I never had a desire or reason to connect with, and it has changed me as much or more than them.  It doesn’t end with me, it started with me, but now it’s everyday disciples and church members that are engaging on their own – and it isn’t nearly as complicated as we made it.  Until everyday disciples, not clerics, engage and relate we will not move forward.  Clerics are protective of their tribe and sometimes actually work to keep their tribes in isolation – this is our problem.  In Christianity, we’ve allowed theologians, apologist, and even pastors to intimidate us into doing nothing or even retreating for fear of not saying or doing something exactly right.  Had that been true, how would the Gospel have ever gotten off it’s feet.  Our Gospel is strong, the Holy Spirit is active – we need to be in the flow. 

I’m always asked, “How did you get involved in all of this?”  “How do you do this?”  “Where would you start?”  “What are the issues I will face?”  I can now tell people who ask me how we did all this stuff – read my book!  Those aren’t short answers – but neither are they complicated answers – theologians, apologist, and even pastors have made all of this stuff way too complicated.  Until we make it simple enough for everyone – no one is going to get it!

When I travel globally whether it’s with a pastor, a citizen, a leader – whatever – I’m always asked how I came to the conclusions I did, and are there more evangelicals like me.  They want to know what I believe, how I work, what is the story – this book has all of that.  I’ll keep it with me when I’m in different countries with people of different religions because it explains who I am, what I believe, how I want to relate.  I’ve had Jews and Muslims alike read the book and actually given endorsements.  It will be available for our next Building Bridges event January 20. 

It’s a tool everyone can use no matter where they are in the US or world in order to engage with people of other faiths.  The Christian Church has so much material for our own tribe – but so little for the world.  There are those who write and speak for the broader society in the US that everyone reads like Max Lucado, Tim Keller, Erwin McManus, and yes – even Joel Osteen – but not that many.  There are even less in a global public square to speak of faith.  This book is a tool to help with that, more will be coming, and new names added to books for that and chances are they won’t be English or American names – but other global names. 

This is an issue that is long overdue for us to begin to deal with.  I had a very prominent businessman of another faith call me the other day and wanted to talk.  He asked me, “Bob, why are you so passionate about evangelicals and Muslims engaging?”  I told him I want evangelicals to treat people of all faiths the same – with respect.  It is the height of hypocrisy for us to believe in Jesus, the Gospel for everyone, and yet hate or despise people of another tribe.  Sadly, some evangelicals are promoting this kind of hatred and “gospel” isolationism.  I have no doubt, 20 years from now, those that are 20 something will look back on this and wonder why “their parents didn’t get it.”  I am convinced this is the “civil rights” issue of the early century and it’s not about race – but religion.  If I truly believe the Great Commission, if I truly believe Jesus was who he said he was – I must respond to my city, my country, and the world as he would or I undercut the very message Jesus went to the cross for.  NEVER FORGET, THE GOSPEL FLOURISHED IN A PLURALISTIC WORLD. 

Engaging through multi-faith provides a path for conservative believers to engage in without compromising their faith.  There has either been “interfaith” – which has been dominated by liberals and talk, or nothing at all.  There has to be a new platform, a different way of connecting for us to move forward in the world and with our gospel – I believe this approach is part of the answer.  As we move forward in this conversation and work, I have no doubt there are going to be massive breakthroughs, thinking, understanding, ways of connecting that we haven’t begun to imagine.  This is only one church’s and one pastor’s journey of sailing into uncharted waters in a Western context.  The world discovered America and came – it’s time for America to go back and discover the world. 

Bob Roberts

Bob Roberts

Bob is the founder, senior leader, and chief spokesman for . His primary focus is to connect leaders and estabish relationships to explore transformation. Follow Bob on Twitter at @bobrobertsjr.