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______________________ LIFE, FAITH, ETCETERA

INSURRECTION November 20, 2011

INSURRECTION
– Peter Rollins

Wow. What a book.

In the introduction our author speaks of “reactionary movements that seek to return to the early Church,” but proclaims that one of the shortcomings of such philosophies is that “they fail to go back far enough.”
And so we begin the journey to bring to light the ways “Crucifixion and Resurrection open up a different reality” altogether.  A reality that has been predominantly absent from “church” as we know it.

The first 4 chapters make up “Part1: Crucifixion.”

Chapter One begins with a humorous story about a lying pastor, his golf  game, and God’s teaching technique.
This story is used to springboard into a discussion about desire.  We look at the desire behind desire.  Or maybe, the desire within desire.  We view different reasons for affirming God, as well as religious control and manipulation.  We examine faith, doubt, and the positive aspects of what the author calls a “journey into darkness.”

Chapter Two takes us deep, deep into the Crucifixion, and into participating in Christ’s death.  We see how it has often been rendered rather meaningless by a religion that glosses over it to get to the Resurrection.  We begin to understand that “The Crucifixion signals an experience in which all that grounds us and gives us meaning collapses.”
Those of you who, like me, are “youth challenged” may remember a 60’s TV show called “The Prisoner” staring Patrick McGoohan.  Our author gives us a synopsis of that show, and then draws some very interesting parallels to religion and it’s systems that imprison us.  This is the kind of chapter for which I would have paid full book price.

Chapter Three is called– “I’m Not Religious” and Other Religious Sayings. —
This had quite the ring of truth for me.  Some of the most religiously legalistic people I know are quite found of stating that “Christianity isn’t a religion; it’s a relationship.”  Their attitudes and actions prove their statements to be much less than an experienced reality.  We see how having only mental assent to a particular truth can itself insulate us from actually experiencing that truth.  This is a phenomena we see often among those who love to speak of grace while still trapped in and perpetuating the exact opposite.
“Cartoon physics” is also addressed: “that self-conscious beings will not fall until they look down.”  This has to do with facing the inconsistencies between our stated religious beliefs and reality.
We also observe how “communication involves both a stated message and a hidden one.”  “In fundamentalism, we witness a type of psychotic relation to language in that there is an attempt to banish the hidden message from discourse.”

Our next chapter is partially about the cost of no longer pretending to be ignorant.  It’s about letting go of the religious machinery that “protect us from facing up to the anxieties of our existence.”  We look at the marketability of certainty, and its use by the religion industry.
There’s a small section on Mother Teresa.  Although “she never stopped believing in God…she lived beneath the shadow of a profound sense of God’s absence.”
The whole of part one serves to show us the crucifixion in ways modern Christianity (as opposed to post-modern) usually avoids.
Without properly addressing the truth of Crucifixion, Resurrection is robbed of it’s truth as well.

Now we start “Part 2: Resurrection.”

In Chapter Five, Mr. Rollins maintains that “We hide every day behind a mask that is a Photoshopped version of ourselves.”   Some of the sections in this chapter are:  “I Wear a Mask That Looks like Me,” “On Avoiding the Truth of Who We Are,” and “Maintaining the Gap between Perception and Reality.”
We read some very interesting insights into people like Hitler and John “Junior” Gotti.  We uncover how we can hide the monster we may truly be, even from, or rather especially from, ourselves.  Ultimately we learn here that “Our practices do not fall short of our beliefs;  They Are Our Beliefs.”

We take a close look at grace and how “it is in experiencing the license of grace rather than the legalism of prohibition that real transformation becomes possible.”

Chapter 6 is titled “We Are Destiny.” We are given the proclamation that “Eternal life is thus fundamentally a transformation in the very way that we exist in the present.” We learn about what it means to participate in Resurrection. This is a recurring theme in the works of Rob Bell, and a number of other good authors. A theme which, if taken to heart, could bring about some rather radical, much needed change among those who name the name of Christ.
A brief analysis of “Chick tracts” is given. Most readers are probably familiar with these miniature graphic horror stories. If not, let me tell you they twist the gospel, and pervert the character of God beyond recognition. At the same time, they “merely reflect what we find in most churches today.”
We also explore the deeper meaning of loving God, religionless faith, how we participate in the creation of eternity, and “the proper Christian answer to the question of what God’s will is for my life.” Wile E. Coyote also supplies some theological insight.

The Seventh Chapter dives into the “Violence of Resurrection.” Not “the type of violence we witness in fundamentalism;” which is usually one directed at people, but “a violence against those systems that would oppress, destroy, and bring death.”
This chapter also mines real-world applications of truth from the movies “The Dark Knight,” “Collateral,” and “The Matrix.” Through these we recognize how we may be feeding the very systems we say we oppose, and how some of our “supposedly ethical acts come to resemble the exercise of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.”
Chapter Seven also provided me with one of those wonderful “Wow” moments where you finally see something that has been in plain sight all along. It has to do with the ripping of the temple veil at the Crucifixion. It was one of those times where I saw how my religious training had blinded me to a very obvious truth.

Our final chapter unpacks Paul’s words in Galatians 3:28. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
These divisions were considered the divinely mandated “natural order.” “Paul is here describing here how Christianity cuts across all political, cultural and biological divisions, rendering them null.
There’s also some interesting information about the difference between traditional Western fairy tales, and those from other cultures.

This is a very interesting, wonderful, and I thought, unique book.
In his comments on this book, Rob Bell says that Pete takes you to the edge of a cliff, and then pushes you off.
That’s a pretty accurate description of reading this book. It’s a fall I would highly encourage you to take.
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Buy the book (and read some other short reviews).  Click HERE.

SOME QUOTES:

– We must not be afraid to burn our sacred temples in order to discover what, if anything, remains.

– To truly unplug from the god of religion, with all the anxieties and distress this involves, takes courage.
Indeed, one could say that it takes God.

– The felt experience of God’s absence [is] the fundamental way of entering into the presence of God.

– There will always be an army of Job’s comforters who attempt to save our mythologies, and like Job, we must resist them.

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

– By allowing the Church to believe on our behalf… we remain firmly embedded in a religious worldview while denying it.

– [We need to bring] radical doubt, ambiguity, mystery, and complexity into the very heart of the liturgical structure itself.

– The foot of the cross is the graveyard where religion is buried.

– The “heart” in the biblical sense in not the inner life, but the whole man in relation to God.

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

– Religious experience cannot be properly approached as an experience at all. Rather, God is that which transforms how we experience everything.

– The claim “I believe in God” is nothing but a lie if it is not manifest in our lives, because one only believes in God insofar as one loves.

– [Concerning many fundamentalists] Their often sexist, homophobic, and racist rhetoric is aimed frimly at maintaining their position of power and thus is designed specifically to prevent change.

– “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist.”
Archbishop Dom Helder Camara.

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

– Faith is about this life. Faith is lived out in love of the world.

– Resurrection is not something one argues for, but is is the name we give to a mode of living.

– It can be so hard to give up on easy answers and face up to our feeling of finitude, meaninglessness, and guilt.

– You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave not free, male nor female, black nor white, rich nor poor, Republican nor Democrat, liberal nor conservative, orthodox nor heretic, citizen nor alien, gay nor straight, Israel nor Palestine, American nor Iraqi, Christian nor non-Christian, for you all are one in Christ Jesus.

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

 

“The Naked Gospel” February 9, 2010

“Conviction or Counsel?”

Convict means to find guilty.  The root convict only appears eight times in the Bible.  And not one of those appearances has anything to do with the daily life of the believer!  The gospel of John contains the only passage that joins “Holy Spirit” and “convict.”  [READ John 16:7-9]
Who’s being convicted here?  It’s the world, characterized as people who do not believe in Jesus.

[The Holy Spirit is] our Counselor, or Helper, our Comforter, our Advocate — and the one who guides us into all the truth (John 16:13).  He prays on our behalf (Romans 8:26).  And he testifies to us concerning our identity as children of God (Romans 8:16).  Rather than dredging up the past, the Holy Spirit trains us for the future.  When sinful behaviors occur in our lives, he reminds us of Jesus’ work on the cross.  We need to know that we’re pure and made for good deeds.  Too many Christians succumb to the Accuser while wrongly attributing these attacks to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Buy “The Naked Gospel” HERE.

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– My Review:

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Yet another great addition to my library. 
With all the ground that has been covered by previous readings, this book managed to cover new ground.  It really helps show how religion has added so much to the gospel that the true gospel is considered heresy by much of the “church.”  It’s amazing how far we’ve fallen from truth.
One of my favorite sections is called “Crossing The Line.”  It, alone is worth the price of the book.  It discussed how the dividing line of time, and covenants, was not Christ’s  birth, but his death and resurrection.  I, of course, knew this, but I hadn’t considered the full ramifications; especially concerning the teachings of Jesus under the Old Covenant.
There are some areas that are at opposition with my personal beliefs.  Andrew believes, like many, that Father-Son briefly lost fellowship at the cross. Despite what Jesus felt on the cross, the Father didn’t turn His back on Jesus.  God cannot turn God’s back on God’s self.  (For a great understanding of this, read “He Loves Me” by Wayne Jacobsen.)
But, reading a book like this, and disagreeing with one or two points is no big deal.  I will add this to the short  list of books that I will give away multiple copies of.

I can see why earlier versions of this type of material were banned and burned by organized religion, and why the promoters of said material were tortured and killed.  Of course, Jesus was tortured and killed for pretty much the same reasons.   Anyway, thank you, Andrew Farley.

— dave
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Here are more excerpts from “The Naked Gospel,” by Andrew Farley

Buy “The Naked Gospel” HERE.

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“Jesus spoke truth to every audience he encountered. [But]We often attempt to apply directly to our lives every word Jesus said, without considering his audience and purpose. Jesus was born under the law. His audience was under the law, and they needed deliverance from it. Jesus exposed the futility of life under the law.

He exclaimed, “Gouge out your eye” and “cut off your hand” if you truly want to keep the law (Matthew 5:29-30), so that his Jewish listeners would reach a crossroad. They would decide to try harder or to give up. Once they gave up, they could consider a radical new way.
Jesus’ impossible teachings of “sell everything, sever body parts if necessary, be perfect like God, and surpass the Pharisees with your righteousness” are not honestly compatible with salvation as a gift from God.
Couldn’t we resolve all of this by realizing the dividing line in human history? Peter, James, John, and Paul wrote epistles about life under the New Covenant. Years earlier, Jesus was teaching hopelessness under the Old. The audience wasn’t the same. The covenant wasn’t the same. And the teachings aren’t the same.

Jesus’ harsh teaching aimed at the religious kill you every time. One thing about distinguishing the Old from the New – it always liberates.
Jesus was born under the law. As Hebrews tells us, the Old wasn’t replaced by the New until Jesus’ death.
Trying to mix Jesus’ teachings directed to Pharisees and zealous Jews with the epistles will inevitably result in confusion.

Buy “The Naked Gospel” HERE.

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“There is no greater test as to whether a man is really preaching the New Testament gospel of salvation than this, that some people might misunderstand it and misinterpret it to mean that it really amounts to this, that because you are saved by grace alone it does not matter at all what you do; you can go on sinning as much as you like because it will redound all the more to the glory of grace.  If my preaching and presentation does not expose it to that misunderstanding, then it is not the gospel…There is this kind of dangerous element about the true presentation of the doctrine of salvation.” – D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. –
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One hindrance to understanding the real gospel as life restoration is an obsession with “book knowledge.”  The life of Jesus in us is what matters most.  We shouldn’t equate “Bible smarts” with spiritual maturity.  They’re certainly not one and the same.  As in Jesus’ day, it’s often those who are puffed up about their good handle on what the Scriptures say (not what they mean!) who resist the counsel of the Holy Spirit.
(Jonh 5:39-40).

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Buy “The Naked Gospel” HERE.
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Adam and Eve didn’t eat from a “tree of evil.”  They ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  They weren’t pursuing sin as we normally think of it.  They were pursuing a form of godliness.  God never intended for humanity to take upon itself the burden of developing and following a code of ethics.  Adam and Eve reconsidered their confidence in God’s way and opted for morality instead.
Today, we can be deceived by the same offer.  We may find ourselves pursuing the knowledge of good instead of listening to our heartfelt yearning for an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.
Fulfilling the law is something that God did in Christ.  Its fulfillment isn’t an ongoing event in the lives of believers today.  God set us free from the law, so that we’re not under it or supervised by it (Galatians 3:25).
The Holy Spirit isn’t motivating us to keep the Mosaic law, nor do I think we should consult the law as our guide in daily living.  This is why we have the Holy Spirit in us instead:  “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law” (Galatians 5:18).  Furthermore, if God were motivating us to adhere to the law, it would be the entire law, not just part of it (James 2:10). [By the way, God did write His laws on our hearts, not the law of Moses.  God’s law, according to Jesus, is “love God, love people.”]
I believe it’s quite clear that believers should have no relationship with the law.  Romans 7 explains that we’ve died to the law, and we’re now married to Another.  God views a return to law-based living as spiritual adultery.  Living by rules is cheating on Jesus!
Christianity was never rooted in the Law, not even in the Ten Commandments.  The commandments aren’t intended to supervise Christians (Galatians 2:19).   In fact, the law causes more sinning (Romans 7:5,8).
Paul warns that if we add even a pinch of law to our life in Christ, He’ll be of no value to us (Galatians 5:2-3).  It’s preposterous for Christians to adopt portions of the law of Moses as our guide for living.  We’re presuming that God grades on a curve.  But the law is completely incompatible with our attempt to “do our best.”  Law is a pass-fail system.  And one strike means you’re out.  The law only breeds two things: defeat if you’re honest and hypocrisy if you’re not.

[I’ve always heard people say “I know we can’t keep the law, but we should try and do our best.”  WHAT?!?!?  Scripture never says “Try to keep the law.”  It never says “Do your best.”  It says “Keep it all.  Period.”  The very scriptures they quote completely negate their proposal.  Neither do the Scriptures teach that we do what we can and Jesus does the rest.  God didn’t say that to make us try harder, but to raise the bar so high, we can never do it.  Thank God, Jesus did it for us.]
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Buy “The Naked Gospel” HERE.
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Christ is the end of the law (Romans 10:4).
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Buy “The Naked Gospel” HERE.
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Sure, the flesh is delighted to coerce us toward obvious evil.  But the flesh is equally satisfied to initiate religious or moral living admired by others!
Don’t believe for a minute that the flesh is limited in its scope to producing ugly behavior.  The flesh will build any kind of identity, as long as it gains love, attention, and acceptance from someone.
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The Sabbath:  The reality is Christ, and a genuine Sabbath-rest is found in Him; ceasing from the dead works we thought would gain us favor with God.
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The Tithe:  The same law that mandates a tithe doesn’t allow the pastor to own a home, own property, or own possessions.
(Also read “Tithing and Clergy Salaries.”  Click HERE.)
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Buy “The Naked Gospel” HERE.

 

 
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