Some of the nuttiest American religious leaders today (and in the past) have latched on to one form or another of Christian Zionism.
Frank Schaeffer

The Anabaptists (and those who affiliate with them, ecclesially or theologically) have been profoundly shaped by the work of the Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder, in particular his epic book The Politics of Jesus. A central tenet of Anabaptist theology is the Constantinian heresy, also called Christendom. According to the Anabaptists, Christianity became corrupted when the Roman emperor Constantine declared Christianity to be the official religion of the Empire. Up to that point, Christians, as a marginal and powerless group, were able to faithfully live out the Sermon on the Mount, a life and witness very much in contrast with the violence of Empire. But in the wake of Constantine and the establishment of a “Christian Empire”–called Christendom–Christians, now holding power, had to make critical concessions. No longer could the Sermon on the Mount be followed literally. Thus, Constantinian theologians stepped in to reconcile the teachings of the radical, peasant rabbi with the gilded halls of power and affluence. The two, you might expect, didn’t fit well together. So Christianity became diluted and corrupted. More, Christianity became an instrument of the state. Being a good Christian meant being a good citizen and a flag waving patriot. Jesus and the Empire were now one and the same.
Experimental Theology

“For too long we have read scripture with nineteenth-century eyes and sixteenth-century questions. It’s time to get back to reading with first-century eyes and twenty-first century questions.” – N.T. Wright VIA

I’m not sure what it is, whether it’s the exotic unfamiliarity of Buddhism in contrast to the assumed familiarity of Christianity, or the fact that Buddhists are less numerous and politically significant in the West, or something else entirely. But when the Dalai Lama speaks of ahimsa, people lap it up. But when a Christian speaks of nonviolence, people call it irresponsible.
Matt Stone

It is a tragedy that, among those who uphold the banner of redemptive violence (especially at a global level), the voices of Christians are often the loudest.  What Sharon Baker sets out to do in Razing Hell is remind those who follow Jesus that the way to peace is through restoration and reconciliation, not retribution.
Razing Hell

This podcast has fantastic dialog between opposing view points. Go to A Christian and an Atheist to listen to some more, they will challenge you.

PS. If you are not willing to go where ever TRUTH leads you, then maybe you should ignore this post.

other episodes:

On hell (1)
Hell (2)
Freewill vs Sin
Killing babies to save their souls
Abortion

(there are 82 episodes in all)

Due to a out of town business trip I am a little late with my Sunday Morning Podcast.

For this week I will pick a whole conference – The 19th Annual Wheaton Theology Conference. However, to make it easy on you, here is possibly my favorite talk. Followed by N T Wright himself here and here.

I have been rebuked in different degrees by many for  wasting time with this philosophical, theological  stuff.  I’ve been told to “just trust the bible and get on with it”. Of course, these rebukes and accusations of wasting time and being told to “get on with it” are more my take on what I felt was being said then the actual words coming out of the mouths of those saying them. Because of all this, I feel that I should give an explanation as to why I pour so much energy in this pursuit.

Worship.

Worship is an act of religious devotion usually directed to one or more deities. The word is derived from the Old English worthscipe, meaning worthiness or worth-ship — to give, at its simplest, worth to something.
Wikipedia

It is my conviction that we become like what we worship. There are all kinds of people that worship God. The problem is that the God being worshiped is not always the same. There are many images of God even within the Christian faith. Many or most, if not all, of these images are idolatrous, they are fashioned out of our own minds.

I think that with the birth of Christianity came the birth of a new spiritual discipline: theology. Theology has to grow to be a new task, the prayerful reflection on and invocation of the one true God. That is why in Romans 12, Paul, summoning people to obedient worship, says “you have to be transfromed by the renewing of your mind.”

It is not enough to coast along, following a few rules, doing a few odd things here and there, hoping it will all work out. It is not enough to “just follow Jesus”. We need to follow the Jesus that is the result of theological discipline. And we cannot simply follow the Jesus of our ancestor’s discipline, we have to make Jesus real to us and in our current cultural context.

I believe that all of us needs to be engaged in this discipline to some degree. Not every one needs to be active primary participants, but we all need to be active listeners and be willing to put in two cents from time to time. Because I believe that this discipline is not a personal one but a communal one.

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.

Sola scriptura (Latin ablative, “by scripture alone”) is the doctrine that the Bible is the only infallible or inerrant authority for Christian faith, and that it contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. Consequently, Sola Scriptura demands that only those doctrines are to be admitted or confessed that are found directly within or indirectly by using valid logical deduction or valid deductive reasoning from Scripture.
Wikipedia

Of the five sola’s ( sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia, solus Christus, soli Deo gloria) sola scriptura is probably the best known. My question: is sola scriptura self refuting and/ or self damning?

The problem is that this doctrine is not found any where in the scriptures. As a matter of fact, the pillar and support of truth is given to an entirely different entity – the church (1 Timothy 3:15). Jesus says himself that the Spirit would be given the the church and that it is the Spirit that will guide us into all truth. He did not give us the scriptures to guide us. The church carries the full weight of God’s authority not the scriptures.

So, the next question is: What Church? The Orthodox? The Roman Catholic? The Lutherans? Or are these groups individual members of the true body of Christ and do we need to start listening and learning from all the members?

Can local congregations be truly health if they ignore what they consider the lesser members of the body – that is, if they even consider them part of the body at all?

For instance, here is some interesting view points by the Orthodox:

Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy

On Original Sin and the origins of doctrine:

Christianity obviously has a doctrine of Original Sin. Christianity also has a concept of Original Inherited Sin (i.e., it was/is passed through conception and birth?). I’m sure this doctrine and concept has more to do with Plato and the influence of the philosophical School of Alexandria upon early church fathers (they wrote the doctrine and theology) more than it has to do with Jesus of Nazareth and Hebrew thought and theology …
read more…

It was not until the fusion of Platonic and Aristotelian theology with Christianity that the concepts of strict omnipotence, omniscience, or benevolence became commonplace.
Wikipedia

On faith:

I know no faith except Christianity. I walk the Christ-path into the mystery of God, but I do not believe that God is a Christian. Christianity is a noble human system whereby millions of people have journeyed into the mystery of God and transcendence. The goal of faith is not to become Christian: it is to become whole.
John Shelby Spong

On the future of faith:

All of this underscores what many of us have seen coming for the last decade plus. We have entered what many think is the first stage of the long term breakup of Christendom.
John Armstrong

Confined to the parameters of liberal rationalism, [evangelicalism in the west— a movement whose members adhere to conversionism, Biblicism, activism and crucicentrism] has mounted no challenge to the present political order and offered no intellectually acceptable explanation for how one is to live and think in the postmodern world. As this magazine has chronicled, its brightest children are throwing up their hands in record numbers, defecting heavy-heartedly to less temporal churches, or to no church at all.
Get Over It[via]