______________________ LIFE, FAITH, ETCETERA

A New Kind Of Christian January 28, 2010

Some Excerpts from “A New Kind Of Christian” by Brian McLaren

To buy “A New Kind Of Christian,” click HERE.

You can’t talk about this sort of thing with just anybody.  People worry about you.  They may think you’re changing sides, turning traitor.  They may talk about you as if you came down with some communicable disease.  So you keep this sort of thing like a dirty secret, this doubt that is not really a doubt about God or Jesus or faith, but about our take on God, our version of Jesus, our way of faith.
Maybe there’s a better way.  Maybe there’s a new way of being a Christian.  Not a new Spirit, but a new spirituality.  Not a new Christ, but a new Christian.

To buy “A New Kind Of Christian,” click HERE.


Conservative Christians in the United States just 150 years ago used the Bible to defend slavery.  How can you be sure that some of your ironclad interpretations today aren’t similarly fueling injustice?

If you have an infallible text, but all your interpretations of it are admittedly fallible, then you at least have to always be open to being corrected about your interpretations.

So the authoritative text is never what I say about the text or even what I understand the text to say but rather what God means the text to say.  So The real authority does not reside in the text itself, which is always open to misinterpretation.  The real authority lies in God, who is there behind the text or beyond it or above it.  Our interpretations reveal less about God or the Bible than they do about ourselves.  They reveal what we want to defend, what we want to attach, what we want to ignore, what we’re willing to question.  Conservatives look at the Bible the same way medieval Catholics looked at the church and pope: infallible, inerrant, absolutely authoritative.  What if the issue isn’t a book that we can misinterpret with amazing creativity but rather the will of God, the intent of God, the desire of God, the wisdom of God – maybe we could say the kingdom of God.

The whole notion of authority as so many people conceive it is thoroughly modern.  Second Timothy doesn’t say, ‘All scripture is inspired by God and is authoritative.’  It says that scripture is inspired and useful.  That’s a very different job description than we want to give it.  We want it to be God’s encyclopedia, God’s rule book, God’s answer book, God’s scientific text, God’s easy-steps instruction book, God’s little book of morals for all occasions.  The only people in Jesus’ day who would have had anything close to these expectations of the Bible would have been the scribes and Pharisees.

When we let go of the Bible as God’s answer book, we get it back as something so much better.  It becomes the family story; a cosmic history, a book that tells us who we are and what story we find ourselves in so that we know what to do and how to live.

Think of a math book.  Is it valuable because it has the answers in the back?  No, it’s valuable because by working through it , by doing the problems, by struggling with it, you become a wiser person.

To buy “A New Kind Of Christian,” click HERE.
Here’s a little more.


[we] send you back into the fifteenth century.  Nobody could possibly believe that you could be Christians…

If you told them you didn’t believe in the pope and you didn’t accept that kings ruled by divine right and you didn’t believe that God created a universe consisting of concentric spheres of ascending perfection, and if you let it slip that you agreed with Copernicus that the earth rotated around the sun, you would surely be tried as heretics and perhaps burned at the stake…

To the Christian culture of medieval Europe, none of you today could be considered real Christians.   True, you might say that you believe in Jesus and that you follow the Bible — but that would sound like nonsense to them if at the same time you denied what to them was essential for any reasonable person to accept:  the medieval worldview, which was the context for their faith.

That brings me to an important question for you to think about:  Is it possible that we as moderns have similarly intertwined a different but equally contingent worldview with our eternal faith?  And another question:  What if we live at the end of the modern period, at a time when out modern worldview is crumbling, just as the medieval one began to do in the sixteenth century?”

— Brian McLaren in “A New Kind Of Christian”

To buy “A New Kind Of Christian,” click HERE.


A Must Read For Those Who Love Jesus? January 16, 2010

“If you really love Jesus, forward this email to everyone in your address book.”  “If you’re not ashamed of Jesus, post this message on your blog.”  “Everyone who loves God must see this presentation.”  “If you’re a true Christian…blah blah blah…”

Is anyone else sick and tired of this ungodly garbage?  Sure, you can forward all the email you want.  You can direct people to videos, recommend blog posts, and whatever you like.  BUT if ANYONE connects such actions to your “salvation,” or your love of Jesus, you can rest assured, they ARE NOT speaking for God.  This is plain old religious manipulation and control through intimidation.  Don’t think for a moment that represents the gospel one iota.

I am a Christian, I’m not ashamed of God, and I do love Jesus.  That’s why when I get that kind of an email,


Mr. Young Visits The Fort January 14, 2010

I’ve finally obtained some copies of the speech that William P. Young gave when he was here in Fort Wayne.  As the host pastor said, the speech was “Powerful.”  I’m amazed at the insights this man has into the heart of God.

He, of course, discusses his book, “The Shack,” and all the God-things that fell into place causing it to be the phenomenon it is.  He talks about some of the many testimonies of how this book has touched people, brought them closer to Father, and led people to Christ.  None of this is done in a “bragging” fashion, but truly shows how God has brought it all together.
He then takes audience questions (mine is about the 3rd one), and also addresses some of the criticisms about his novel.

Finally, he journeys into some very personal territory with the testimony about his failed and restored marriage, which has some strong similarities to the story of my wife and myself.
All in all, a funny, touching, uplifting, and insightful experience, leading to a deeper understanding of God’s love and amazing grace.

As I said, I have extra copies of this recording.  If you’re interested is listening to them, let me know.

— dave

Buy “The Shack” HERE.


My Review of “Raised By Wolves” January 10, 2010



“Raised By Wolves:  The Story Of Christian Rock & Roll”
by John J Thompson

I’ve been listening to “Jesus music” for about 35 years, and this book has brought back many memories.  It’s also brought to light many new (to me) stories.  This is the most complete coverage of “Christian” music and its history I can imagine.

Everybody is here:  From Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, Andre Crouch, and Barry McGuire (who was very encouraging during my participation in the “2009 Aids Walk”), to Petra and Rez, to Amy Grant and M.W. Smith, to DC Talk, Daniel Amos, and Steve Taylor (who loved making “hamburger out of sacred cows” and guided the music and careers of The Newsboys, Sixpence, and others), to Keith Green and Rich Mullins, to Alice Cooper, Sixpence None the Richer, and Creed, to Delirious? and Sonic Flood, and Lauren Hill.

Lots of stories, behind the scenes insights, and inside information.  But more than just the artists and music, this book comments on the “Christian music industry,” various attitudes and expectations, and the age-old story of religion always fighting what God is doing.  It also comments on the down side of the “Christian” marketplace:

“The Christian community had nearly completed its total retreat from mainstream society.  It even had its own television networks.  Many Christians were able to live in a world within a world, one that would protect them from ever brushing up against non-Christians.  And the ghetto was large enough that many people made millions of dollars selling Christian CDS to Christians, Christian books to Christians, and even Christian toys, paintings, videos, and clothes to Christians.  A handful of artists, however, wanted nothing to do with that ghetto.”

In many ways, the “CCM Industry” serves to further the illusion of the separation and compartmentalization of the Christian life into secular and sacred.  But, wheat and weeds have always grown together, and will continue to do so.  There’s a lot of great music out there by people of faith.  This book, at many points, shows how the industry tried to ignore it (or lambast it), while the “church” tried, first, to destroy it, and then to control it.

There are a lot of true “success” stories chronicled here as well; Petra, Lost Dogs, and Sixpence None The Richer being among them.

This book is already about 10 years old, so the last decade is, of course, not covered.  But, I can’t think of an abundance of landmark happenings in CCM during that period anyway.  Except maybe for Stryper getting back together.  Oh, and the release of Re-Union’s “Inside Out.” 😉

If you’re a long-time devotee, this book will provide a nostalgic trip down memory lane.  If you’re relatively new to the scene, you will be brought “up to speed.”  In either case, you’ll find a fun, informative, and challenging time with “Raised By Wolves.”


A Quote From C.S. Lewis January 2, 2010

“There are people in other religions who are being led by God’s secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity, and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it. For example, a Buddhist of good will may be led to concentrate more and more on the Buddhist teaching about mercy and to leave in the background (though he might still say he believed) the Buddhist teaching on certain other points. Many of the good Pagans long before Christ’s birth may have been in this position. And always, of course, there are a great many people who are just confused in mind and have a lot of inconsistent beliefs all jumbled up together. Consequently, it is not much use trying to make judgments about Christians and non-Christians in the mass.” — C.S. Lewis

That sounds rather unorthodox from the teaching of most churches today, but I never hear anyone criticize Lewis as a heretic, or any other cynical label.

People today would also have problems with Deitrich Bonhoeffer and Karl Barth for what they say on religionless Christianity and bibliolatry (the Bible as idolatry). If people have problems with your theology, there’s a good chance you’re in Divine company.

(Passed on from Nathan Mahlum)


My (brief) review of AVATAR January 1, 2010

I saw AVATAR today.
If you see it, you really need to get to the theater. It is, for sure, a big screen experience. The cinematography is truly beautiful.
The performance-capture technology is really amazing.
At the same time, don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s all about special effects. It is an engaging, wonderfully told story.
I only got teary-eyed a couple of times, so I did pretty good.
It’s anti-war message, and “green politics” are in your face (I’m not saying that’s a bad thing), but it
also works as a love story, and an action movie.
My wife also enjoyed it, even though she didn’t really expect much going in.
With commercials and previews, we spent about 3 hours in our seats. It was, however, time well spent.


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