I must say that I operate out of a very similar paradigm as Brian. The paradigm shift I went through to get here has been as drastic as the ‘born-again’ paradigm shift I experienced two decades ago. As a matter of fact, you could say that I have been ‘born-again’ … again!
Like Anne Rice, I could easily say that, in the name of Christ, I am no longer a Christian, if by christian you mean Protestant/Evangelical orthodox; the orthodoxy that flows from a ‘Constantinian Shift’ Theology. [Constantinian Shift: Hebrew/ Early Christian faith’s marriage with Greek philosophy/thinking and Roman’s power/politics].
In one generation, what it meant to be a Jesus follower did a 180°. For example:

Pre-Constantine, to be christian meant you were anti-violence/ pacifist – persecuted, in part, for a refusal to pick up arms.
Post-Constantine, one could not be part of the Empirical army if they were not ‘a christian’.

To top that off, at this point in history, we have Christians starting to kill other Christians for their differing beliefs. Creedal Christianity gave birth to death and violence within Christianity that results from the us vs them mentality it produces; from crusades and heretic hunts to God hates fags!

The way I see it, it is out of this Constantinian Shift that most if not all our modern theology/understanding of God is birthed. This is the prime filter through which we understand God, interpret the scriptures and interpret our spiritual experiences.

In the above video, Scott is operating more out of a paradigm that is the result of this Constantinian shift. Brian [and myself] are trying to operate fro somewhere else.

The protest-ants have no problem saying that the catholic “institutional church” had been traveling down a wrong path; but God forbid if the question of whether they are and have been on the wrong track is put forth to them. That is when they pull out the ‘H’ word. The image of a fork in the wrong road is a great metaphor for the issues that just don’t make sense to me any more: heaven/hell; universalism/ exclusivism; Calvinism/Arminianism; liberal/ conservative. Call me a heretic, but these issues and many more of the fundamental stuff, are, in my mind, obsolete and irrelevant. They deal with questions and issues that are only relevant on the  road modern Christianity finds it self on. I have repented (done an about face) and am looking for the fork in the road that our modern Christianity missed in the distant past. My goal is to take the ancient, pre-Constantine faith and bring it in to the modern/ post-modern era. And I don’t expect it will look very churchy to many.

Over the last few weeks, my posts have taken an anti-orthodox bent. It has occurred to me that some may read this and think that I think that it does not matter what we believe. This is far from the truth. What we believe about God is important, I believe, not because it will get us into heaven or damn us to eternal torment, but because we become like what we believe.

The question I have is, why is it that we are told to look at the statement of belief of those who handed down our modern faith, and ignore the atrocities that they were apart of. Many dogmatically cling to the teachings of Luther and ignore the violence towards his enemies that he was apart of; the fact that creedal orthodoxy gave birth to the killing of heretics is fruit that I can not ignore!

Even today we have segments of Christians who seem more intolerant towards people who they view to be outside God’s morality or outside their orthodoxy. These are the people who 100+ years ago would have no problem burning their heretical enemies at the stake. I dare say that if you were to make a list of the people who fit this description, you would be able to label them and fit them into a common segment of Christianity.

What is it in their beliefs that move them in this direction? What is the image of God that they are reflecting?

Jesus spoke to a crowd and told them that their attitudes and how they treated others was what determined whether they were of God [sheep] or were going to face a coming judgment [goats]. It had nothing to do with their religious practices or their correct beliefs, it had everything to do with how charitable they were to friends, neighbors and enemies. I believe that how well we do this, in the end, will be the result of our beliefs about God/ our image of God.

So I am against creedal orthodoxy not because of what the creeds may say, but because I have examined for myself he fruit that this system has wrought on our western history and have decided that this fruit is not from God. The us/them mentality that it produces is a poison that leads to death and destruction. The intolerance of differences of beliefs reflects a God who is intolerant of us.

What a great follow up to yesterday’s post:

“I am deeply committed to doctrinal orthodoxy, meaning I want to be faithful to the truth and to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, even if that puts me at odds at certain points with what this or that group has determined as doctrinal orthodoxy. For example, my Calvinist friends who claim orthodoxy need to remember that to the Eastern Orthodox, Calvinists are heterodox from the get-go, because they’re not submitted to the patriarchs and bishops of the One True Church. And my many Wesleyan and Quaker and Anabaptist friends who consider themselves doctrinally orthodox are only questionably so from the perspective of some of my Calvinist friends. And my Dispensationalist friends often speak of “historic orthodoxy” without noticing the irony that before 1835, their approach to the faith had never even been dreamed of. The same could be said in slightly altered ways for Adventists and Pentecostals.”
more – as found on

In the past, I jokingly called myself, and was called, a heretic. Today I embrace this label.

This change came about on two fronts.

First, over the last few weeks I have read and listened to how a couple of different people defined orthodoxy and heresy. One was a reformed theologian and the other an atheist. Whether orthodoxy is right or wrong, it is the agreed upon set of beliefs determined by the majority. Of course both these people placed very different out comes for the on determined to be a heretic.

Second, some of my recent reading on church history has added fuel to the fire. See I believe that the spirit and fruit that  lie behind orthodoxy is rotten. For the first 200-300 years of our faith, there was great diversity and debate over much of what it meant to be christian. As Brian McLaren puts forth in his new book, to truly be a community and a culture, what is considered TRUTH must hang in the balance between multiple view points. The early faith community dwelt in a diversity of theology. Though some were right and some were wrong, none were all right nor were any all wrong.

Three hundred years in, something changed. The empire that Jesus subverted and that persecuted the believers, first legalized this  christian faith and then outlawed all other faiths. During this time, the church and state became determined to unify belief. Regardless of the creeds, the faith was not homogenized. As the emperors pushed the bishops to come to unity, they began to enforce the outcome. This rotten fruit of orthodoxy (the closing of the western mind) manifested in 385 with the first  execution of a declared heretic –Priscillian of Avila.

See, Jesus told the parable of letting the wheat and tare grow together. Contrary to this, orthodoxy actively attacks what they believe to be tares and burns them at a stake.

Finally, we are told by those who are orthodox that we can ignore the actions of the church but need to listen to the beliefs they declare to be orthodox. The Holy Spirit, we are told, was actively involved with the development of the theology. What is left unsaid is that the Holy Spirit is less active in the lifes and actions of those who developed our theology.

Is God more concerned with beliefs then he about actions? Can we separate the two?

So regardless of whether I am inside or outside of orthodoxy, I choose to call myself a heretic, not because I am unorthodox but because I am anti-orthodox!

I’ve been reading about the origins of our faiths creeds and I am finding it both fascinating and frightening.

What amazes me is that everything between the birth of Jesus and the death of Jesus could be wiped away from the gospel stories and it would not effect  creedal orthodoxy one little bit. Our creeds say nothing about how we ought to live or anything Jesus taught. And it’s a good thing too! If they did, how many of us could continue claiming to be orthodox?

St. Paul wrote, “When I was a child, I thought as a child…” And he’s right.

We may want to believe that this isn’t the case — that we have always had a homogeneous consistent world-view — but it’s simply impossible.

Reality isn’t monolithic.

Reality — as much as we might crave for it to be otherwise — isn’t fixed.

We often come to new understandings.

And once we come to new understandings, we can’t go back to our old, comfortable ways of thinking.

It’s amazing how often we all willfully pretend otherwise — we continue to associate with people and engage in activities that we know are no longer beneficial to us, purely for nostalgia’s sake.

Rabbi Brian

I listened to a few interviews on the Drew Marshall Show where Drew asked the more traditional guest where they had made or realized change over the course of living out their faith. The answer more often then not was, “They haven’t changed. ” I find this amazing. Christian faith and orthodoxy has been changing ever since the first few decades after Jesus’ death and resurrection and yet they are content to continue thinking as they always have.

If we are Christians that want to be faithful to the historic orthodox and creed’s, at the very lest we would need to become Orthodox. However, this would only bring us back to the fourth century.

There are historical Popes that would be declared Heretics today by the standards of the Catholic  Church itself, let alone the Orthodox or Protestant Church. If our faith is not growing; if our theology is not progressing, then we are still acting and thinking like children. This is why I am content to align myself with the Emergent Church- even if I don’t know what that means and even if I do not agree with everything they/I believe.

Dave Schmelzer asks, “What do you think? Is it possible for people outside of Christianity to be saved through Jesus?”

The Christianity of today is very different than the Way that the disciples followed. Jesus and his disciples were very much Jewish in their religious practice. They were of a different sect then the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes and Zeolots of the first century Jewish religion, but they were Jewish non-the-less.

Then along came Paul. Paul asked the same question that was posed by Dave above: “Is it possible for people outside of the Jewish religion to be saved through Jesus?” The answer? YES!

With the influx of Greek believers came the Greek form of Christianity that is our heritage in the west. Most of what we know as Christianity today is the result of theologians working out their ideas of God within a greco-roman worldview. Today’s theologies have more in common with Plato and Aristotle philosophies then they do with the ancient Hebraic worldview of Jesus and his disciples.

So either we are in the wrong, or salvation comes through faith in Jesus alone; regardless of worldview or religion: Hebrew, Greco-Roman Christianity, Muslim, Hindu, etc.

That said, however, I do think that faith in Jesus would change/ transform the worldview in which it is birthed, just as it transformed the early Jewish religion and just as it has transformed western philosophy. If there is no transformation – in the long run – than it would be fair to question the validity.