In my interactions with more fundamentalist friends, I’ve noticed a trend. These friends insist on the existence of absolute truth. They also insist that this absolute truth is knowable and that it’s accessible through the Bible. The more they insist on speaking about absolute truth, the more they seem closed off to what others have to say about what they regard as truth.

As we go forward in these turbulent times, we need to keep some things in mind. I think ALL sides need to keep open minds. I believe that those of us who are ‘heretics’ are just as likely to close our selves off from others’ input as we claim that our opponents are doing towards us.

Thomas Kuhn (1962) noted that in historical retrospect, science is done paradigmatically. It goes through seasons of ‘revolutionary’ science, punctuated by stable periods of equilibrium or ‘normal’ science.

Hans Küng (1988) asserted how paradigm change in theology (see diagram to right) has produced four constellations of macro-theology within Christianity (Ancient, Medieval, Reformation, Modern) in distinction from its founding Kingdom paradigm in the first-century. Küng argues that a ‘contemporary’ paradigm in Christianity beyond these prevailing thought systems is forming in our time.

… We must lead the church from the future, not just the past.

More and more I am hearing of the tension between the different paradigms that plague Christendom. No where is this more evedent than within the reviews of Brian McLaren‘s new book A New Kind of Christianity. I hope to be picking up my copy in the next day or two, so look forward to my version of a review. The very fact that this book is raising up such a whirl wind of discussion/ debate [attack?] leaves me to think that this is a much read book for any one who is in a position of influence.

that we haven’t really taken seriously enough what it means to call Jesus the Word of God. We’ve made the revelation of God in Jesus less formative than Deuteronomy 7, a bad reading of Rev 19, etc.

Is much of evangelicalism guilty of Bibliolatry? I say we tend to interpret Jesus through our image of the scriptures, rather than let our image of God through the revelation Jesus interpret the scriptures.


People haven’t given up on God, just the version with which they’ve been presented. A God who can’t stand gays, thinks less of women, and is always looking to unleash some form of divine retribution just doesn’t jive. Brother Maynard

This is a book I heard about some time ago but haven’t gotten around to reading. I think this will be my next purchase.

The authors [ of The Starfish and the Spider] claim that in the emerging world of the Internet-driven thinking decentralization – that is, the diminishing of hierarchical structure and formal leadership – has become a major asset. The authors call this a “starfish” organization, taking their cues from the decentralized biology of this curious echinoderm, and contrast it with “spider” organization which may look superficially like starfish, but are still essentially command-and-control driven.
Perhaps most challenging and frightening to Church institutions (and professional clergy like me!) is that in a world moving toward decentralization, the very institutional nature of the church is threatened, along with the institutionally protected artifacts…like professionalism itself.

And a link to a movie trailer on Christian Zionism.

A New Kind of Christianity

Brian asks ten questions that attempt to integrate our inner lives with our outward actions:

  • The Narrative Question: What Is the Overarching Storyline of the Bible?
  • The Authority Question: How Should the Bible Be Understood?
  • The God Question: Is God Violent?
  • The Jesus Question: Who is Jesus and Why is He Important?
  • The Gospel Question: What Is the Gospel?
  • The Church Question: What Do We Do About the Church?
  • The Sex Question: Can We Find a Way to Address Sexuality Without Fighting About It?
  • The Future Question: Can We Find a Better Way of View the Future?
  • The Pluralism Question: How Should Followers of Jesus Relate to People of Other Religions?
  • The What Do We Do Now Question: How Can We Translate Our Quest into Action?

from zoecarnate

THE DELIVERANCE OF GOD: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul” by Douglas A. Campbell has just been added to my wish list. Here are a couple of quotes  from a book review that gives you a hint at the reason why:

All works of scholarship begin with a problem, some crisis, controversy or conundrum. Campbell’s area of scholarship is Paul, his letters specifically. As you might imagine, Pauline scholarship is awash in controversy and debate. We won’t go into those debates in depth. I barely understand many of them. But to give you a taste let me present three:

The Meaning of Pistis Christou
What we know for sure is that Pistis means “faith” in Greek and that “Christou” means “Christ.” So far so good. But in the Greek there is some genitive ambiguity concerning how the two noun’s–faith and Christ–are to relate to each other. Martin Luther, and those who followed him, translated Pistis Christou as “faith in Christ.” But a growing number of scholars (e.g., Richard Hays, N.T. Wright) have argued that the proper translation of Pistis Christou should be “faith of Christ.” Wow, so much hanging on the switch from “in” to “of”! But it really is a huge change. Specifically, the change moves us from an anthropocentric view of salvation to a Christocentric view. In the former, the human person is the locus of salvation. I, Richard Beck, must have faith in Jesus Christ. My act of faith functions as the key to unlock salvation. In the latter view, it is the faithfulness of Jesus that unlocks salvation. Christ’s faithfulness saves me.

Paul’s Soteriological Inconsistency
Pauline scholars have argued that Paul’s soteriology, his view of salvation, is hopelessly muddled if not outright contradictory. To be sure, this might be unfair to both Paul and the canon. Paul might not be aiming for logical consistency. Plus, Paul might not have written everything we attribute to him. Regardless, it is worrying that Paul, the great theologian of the faith, might be confused or contradictory. For example, when scholars read Romans they see inconsistencies between the soteriology presented in Romans 1-4 and the soteriology presented in Romans 5-8. Of course, not everyone sees these inconsistencies, but as with the Pistis Christou debate, this is a location of scholarly controversy.

The Characterization of Second Temple Judaism and “Works of the Law”
When you hear the Jews described in church, and Paul’s life as a former Jew, they are described in a fairly stereotypical way: The Jews were trying to “earn” their salvation through “works of the Law” (Torah obedience). In short, the Jews were legalists. And this legalism was a source of great pride as many Jews felt that they were, indeed, “blameless” before God. Now, this characterization of the Jews has important soteriological functions. Namely, “Christian” salvation through grace is, at root, a rejection of legalism through works of the Law. Grace is the opposite of legalism. In short, the Christian notion of grace requires a backdrop of Jewish legalism for it to make sense, to be something “new and improved.” The trouble is, is this characterization of the Jews a straw man? Specifically, there is a great deal of biblical and extra-biblical evidence that suggests that legalism wasn’t really a problem, for Jesus, Paul or the Jews. Now, legalism was a problem for Martin Luther, his monastic attempts to save his damnable soul. But scholars have argued that Luther’s problem wasn’t the Jew’s Problem. Nor Paul’s. Nor Jesus’s. And, once again, there is debate about all this. It’s another location of controversy in Pauline studies.In sum, these are three examples of the debates within Pauline scholarship. There are many more and Campbell reviews them all. Exhaustively.
read more…

and from part II

why is God so harsh? Why isn’t his nature more kind, generous and forgiving? Humans don’t demand perfection from each other. We forgive. God, apparently, doesn’t. And it’s not clear why, in light of Justification Theory, God couldn’t be this way. Why couldn’t God be forgiving and nurturing in light of our transgressions? Not that God would be a pushover, but at least God would be nice and reasonable given that he’s working with human beings, creatures that frequently make moral mistakes because, like any animal, we get scared or confused. The trouble for Justification Theory is that if God were like this–nice and reasonable–then the salvific machinery of [the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus] is rendered moot. God doesn’t require the blood sacrifice of Jesus because God is intrinsically forgiving.
read more…

At the very least, Richard Beck‘s initial reviews of this book (part I and part II) have set the hook in my mind. I have been struggling with this image of God that makes a certain televangelist’s comments on Haiti seem not only reasonable but also logical, even required, in order to keep up continuity.

The need to uphold this theory may also be why people respond to the push back on this televangelist’s comments with “One does have to wonder ‘what’s up with Haiti?’ “, “we cannot say what God would and would not do” and even “God has done this type of thing in the past, why do we not think He could do it today?” These push backs always come with the “not that I think He is behind it, but…” If this is the image of your God, why don’t you just grow the balls to say that “God demands justice and maybe Haitians got what they deserved! End of story.”

Sorry. End of rant. Read the reviews and let me know what you think about all this.

A missional imagination is not about the church; it’s not about how to make the church better, how to get more people to come to church, or how to turn a dying church around. It’s not about getting the church back to cultural respectability in a time when it has been marginalized…. This [missional] imagination turns most of our church practices on their head. It invites us to turn towards our neighborhoods and communities, listening first to what is happening among people and learning to ask different questions about what God is up to in the neighborhood. Rather than the primary question being, ‘How do we attract people to what we are doing?’ it becomes, ‘What is God up to in this neighborhood?’ and “What are the ways we need to change in order to engage the people in our community who no longer consider church a part of their lives?’ This is what a missional imagination is about. —Alan J. Roxburgh and M. Scott Boren, “Introducing the Missional Church,” Baker Books, 2009, page 20.
@ The Blind Beggar (emphasis added)

An amazing array of Christian leaders from across the denominational spectrum have convinced me of some bad news and some encouraging news. The bad news: the Christian faith in all its forms is in trouble. The good news: the Christian faith in all its forms is pregnant with new possibilities. (ix)

from A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith (available February 9, 2010)


(originally posted on Brian’s site)

  • Scot McKnight commenting on priesthood of all consumers.
  • A review of Greg Boyd’s newest book, The Myth of a Christian Religion: Losing Your Religion for the Beauty of a Revolution by Scot McKnight:

    “History teaches that the best way to destroy the Church is to give it political power”

  • From A Former Leader’s Journey

    When I finally walked out I realized that I had been put into a prison of my own imagination. God was not like this. I did not have to do all the stuff to keep my business safe or prospering. He did not promise me a business where nothing went wrong. He promised to be my God in the midst of my business – nothing more. And you know what? It is more than enough. It is wonderful.

  • Author/Speaker/Theologian Wolfgang Simson said it is important for Christians to “stop bringing people to church, and start bringing church to the people.”
  • “God has no use for Zombie Christians. Only submitted ones. Just sayin’. :)” by Jeff McQ