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The Secret Message of Jesus September 28, 2012



“What if the core message of Jesus has been unintentionally misunderstood or intentionally distorted”


The Secret Message of Jesus:
Uncovering The Truth That Could Change Everything



Yet another powerhouse of insights from Brian McLaren!
Reading books like this make one amazed at how far off track “Christianity” really has become.
Reading books like this also give one hope for getting back on track.
Of course, we’ve lost much of what the original audience understood, but there was a lot that they didn’t readily understand either.
Jesus predominantly taught in parables, rather than outlines and bullet-points. And he almost always answered a question with a question. Not the best choice if your goal is to communicate facts.  It is, however, the perfect choice if the goal is interactive relationship.

I’m not going to give a chapter by chapter review here, but I will tell you about a few of them.

Let me start toward the end with a “bonus chapter” called “The Prayer of the Kingdom.”
This is a wonderful exploration of what we call “The Lord’s Prayer.”  It really puts the words of Jesus into context, giving then a fresh vitality, and making them as relevant as ever.  It frees this prayer from being just a repetitive tradition, and helps us see its truly revolutionary nature.  Understanding the proper applications of this prayer, we see it as a crucial part of Jesus’ “secret” message.

Chapters 19 and 20 view “The Future of the Kingdom,” and “The Harvest of the Kingdom.”  We find out the true purpose of the “warnings and promises” of the prophets.  There’s talk of the book of Revelation, and how “neither the Bible nor the teachings of Jesus are intended to give us a timeline of the future.”  We also gain a new perspective of the “harvest” metaphor which Jesus employed.

Early on, we look at “The Political Message of Jesus.”  So much of Jesus’ speech used terminology to directly address and refer to the political (and religious) structure of his day.”  Brian believes that the message of Jesus “has  everything to do with public matters in general and politics in particular.”  One of the interesting tidbits here is that Roman emperors would send out messengers to announce their “good news,” and proclaim that “Cesar is Lord.”  Again, we miss so many of the pertinent references that Jesus’ audience readily understood.  We also realize that “the Jewish people probably felt about their occupiers the way Palestinians generally feel today about the Israelis.”

“The Jewish Message of Jesus” reminds us that Jesus was a Jew.  To understand his message, we must understand the Jewishness of his message.  The Jewish people said very little about any kind of afterlife.  Their concern was how we act in this life.
They did expect the Messiah to set up a kingdom here and now, in this life.  They just were not aware of the kind of kingdom he was going to establish.  It wasn’t the dominionist theocracy of church and state they expected.
Another way He tried to set them free from many of their misconceptions was through his “You’ve heard it said…But I say to you” speech.

In “The Medium of the Message” we see the power of the parable.

“The Open Secret” shows us how “the message of the Christian church became a different message entirely from the message of Jesus.”  This chapter also looks at “Christianity” vs. “Paulianity,” and whether or not there really is any substantial conflict between the two.

With “The Language of the Kingdom” we discover the urgent political, religious, and cultural electricity that charged the language Jesus spoke with.  It was then “contemporary and relevant; today, it is outdated and distant… If Jesus were alive today, I am quite certain he wouldn’t use the language of kingdom at all.”

Elsewhere in McLaren’s book we rethink the meaning of “repent.”
We observe the “sad adventure in missing the point” that the church has taken.
We learn to “abandon the bad idea that some people are ‘clergy’ and others are ‘laity.'”

All in all, the secret message of Jesus wasn’t intended to be kept secret.  It has been lost, suppressed, distorted, and misunderstood for (as we read in appendix 1) a variety of reasons.

Ultimately, we are challenged with what kind of lives shall we then live.
Will we keep the secret, or be part of the reality it was meant to bring about?

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

——

From the product description:

In The Secret Message of Jesus you’ll find what’s at the center of Brian’s critique of conventional Christianity, and what’s at the heart of his expanding vision. In the process, you’ll meet a Jesus who may be altogether new to you, a Jesus who is…

Not the crusading conqueror of religious broadcasting;
Not the religious mascot of partisan religion;
Not heaven’s ticket-checker, whose words have been commandeered by the church to include and exclude, judge and stigmatize, pacify and domesticate.
——

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

 

SOME QUOTES:

– Each of us not only prays, “May your kingdom come,” but we also become part of the answer to that prayer in our sphere of influence.

– The secret message of Jesus has far-reaching implications for the widest range of subjects — from racism to ecology, from weapons proliferation to terrorism, from interreligious conflict to destructive entertainment, from education to economics, from sexuality to art, from politics to technology, from liturgy to contemplation.

– We are invited to begin living now the way everyone will someday live in the resurrection, in the world made new…[a future] that has in some way, through Christ’s resurrection, been made present and available now.

– God’s ultimate dream: Not the destruction of this creation, but the destruction of dominating powers that ruin creation.

– What if Jesus didn’t come to start a new religion–but rather came to start a political, social, religious, artistic, economic, intellectual, and spiritual revolution that would give birth to a new world?

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

– What’s crazy is thinking, after all these millennia, that hate can conquer hate, war cure war, pride overcome pride, violence end violence, revenge stop revenge, and exclusion create cohesion.  The kingdom of God never advances by or through war or violence.
(For a really good example of the futility of revenge, and the myth of redemptive violence,  Check out “The Hatfields and McCoys.”  One top-notch mini-series.)

– The [prophet’s] purpose is not to tell the future but to change it.

– Trying to read [Revelation] without understanding its genre (Jewish apocalyptic) would be like watching Star Trek thinking it was a historical documentary.

– I think of Jesus in his parables.  He seems more interested in stirring curiosity than in completely satisfying it.

– This idea — that the kingdom of God is about our daily lives, about our way of life — may lie behind the tension people feel between the words religious and spiritual.

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

– The Greek phrase John uses for “eternal life” literally means “life of the ages… a higher life that is centered in an interactive relationship with God and with Jesus.

– But the kingdom of God raises the level of discourse to a higher plane entirely.

– Faith that counts, then, is not the absence of doubt; it’s the presence of action.

– Church and state with their sacred theologies and ideologies, like all other human structures of this world, will – given the chance – execute God so they can run their own petty kingdoms.

– The church no longer saw the demonic as lodged in the empire, but in the empire’s enemies.

Buy the book.  Click HERE.

– There has to be a third way that is different from permissive, naive inclusiveness and hostile, distrustful exclusion.
Purposeful inclusion [is when the kingdom of God] seeks to include all who want to participate in and contribute to it’s purpose, but it cannot include those who oppose it’s purpose. To be truly inclusive, the kingdom must exclude exclusive people; to be truly reconciling, the kingdom must not reconcile with those who refuse reconciliation, to achieve its purpose of gathering people, it must not gather those who scatter.Buy the book.  Click HERE.


 

Everything Is Spiritual November 13, 2009

“In the Hebrew language, there is no word for “spiritual.”  If you would have said to Jesus, “Jesus, how is your spiritual life?”  He would have said “What?”  To label part of your life as “spiritual” and part as “not spiritual” is foreign to the world of scripture, and to the worldview of Jesus.”
– Rob Bell
This stuff is absolutely amazing!
You won’t want to miss this presentation.
Buy it HERE AT LIFEWALK STORE.
(If you can’t afford it, let me know, and I’ll buy or loan you a copy.)
——————————–

Some reviews:

Michael J. Cauller says:
Who would have thought that a lecture on Creation stories and Quantum Physics would be so instrumental in conveying the truth of a holistic perspective of spirituality?  I’d say that Nooma is like a piece of candy and this is like a steak dinner.  Brilliant stuff.  Excellent revelation as one would expect.

Christopher Bernard says:
Rob Bell has received a great deal of criticism in his career for a variety of reasons. Some might have some merit, but most come out a desire for him to be something he is not. He is not a world class Biblical Scholar; he is not the greatest theological mind; he is not a person that will champion conservative ideologies, nor liberal. If you desire any of these things from this man, do not buy his work for you will be disappointed.
But if you are looking for a thoughtful person engaging with faith, culture, and life, then you might have found someone that will really speak to you in a refreshing confession of Christian faith.
Rob Bell is a pastor with a heart for humanity. He is a person that desires to unite, rather than divide. He is a person who recognizes the burden of our society and addresses them in faithful ways and “Everything Is Spiritual” is a wonderful testimony of God at work within Humanity.
I was blessed to watch this. And I trust that those who have ears to hear will come away from this experience moved in profound ways.

Buy it HERE AT LIFEWALK STORE.

Here’s John Sexton’s review of live presentation of “Everything Is Spiritual” at The Glass House:

The Glass House is a small concert venue in a little artists’ colony section of downtown Pomona. It’s surrounded by vintage clothing boutiques and used record stores. Usually it’s host to punk bands, but on this Wednesday night a somewhat different crowd had turned out to see a young pastor from Michigan named Rob Bell.

Our Ticketmaster tickets ($10) read “Door: 7PM Show: 8PM.” My two friends and I arrived a bit after seven and found the place already packed. Nearly 350 people sat on folding chairs facing a corner stage. The stage was black except for a huge whiteboard about four feet tall running the length of the stage, perhaps 16 feet. A few white lights were shining on it, making it appear to glow slightly.

As 8PM approached someone came on stage to ask us to turn off our cell phones and to let us know that tonight’s performance was being filmed. A few minutes later the mood music that had been playing in the background became louder, adding to the concert-like atmosphere of the show. Finally, Rob Bell stepped on stage dressed all in black. He uncapped his marker dramatically and we were off…
He began with a ten minute discussion of Genesis chapter one, treating it as Hebrew poetry. He paused once to emphasize his underlying principle of interpretation, i.e. “the Bible is not a science text book.” If there were young earth creationists in the room, they decided not to throw vegetables at that moment.

At one point, he pantomimed Adam naming the animals God brought before him. When Adam named one “cat” God’s reaction was “Hey, I didn’t make that.” It was one of the lighter moments in the message. Rob then made this aside: “Someone out there with a blog, please don’t write that I hate cats. There’ll be demonstrators at the next show.” So while it was extremely tempting to title this post “Rob Bell Hates Cats”, I resisted.

The second and longest part of Rob’s talk was, in fact, about science. From quarks and strings to the vast universe itself, he covered an enormous amount of ground. I have a background in this material, so I listened with an awareness not only of where he was going, but also where he might have gone. The impression I had was of watching some agile person cross a river by leaping from stone to stone. At times he would slow his progress to draw out a tricky point, such as quantum entanglement or the stellar habitable zone. At other times he would skip lightly over issues too complex to engage in an abbreviated way, such as the differing interpretations of quantum theory. But always it seemed to me he dealt accurately and fairly with the material. It was an outstanding 20-25 minute summary of modern physics. It was a setup for a point he would make later.

Next, he turned to the issue of perspective. Using Flatland characters, he discussed how God’s interaction with our world may be difficult to understand in everyday language. This is where the “emergent view” of all things theological came across most strongly. Is God Calvinist or Armenian? Rob suggests there may be a way for him to be both.

I recognize that answers like this will never satisfy those who’ve invested any energy in either of the alternatives. And I probably enjoy a good theological argument as much as the next person. Still, I found Bell’s appeal to lay down our theological arms quite winning. There are simply some issues where the Bible stands in tension with itself. Perhaps this too is inspired and should be respected. At times I get the sense that the seminary-denominational complex has an institutional investment in keeping the arguments going. In any case, this was probably my favorite section of the talk.

Having loaded his plate with literally “everything”, Rob now had the unenviable task of summing it up neatly. If his conclusion wasn’t fully successful it’s worth pointing out that few pastors would even have the courage to try.

And there was a theme that came through, a single thread on which all the beads of science and theology were strung. We live in a very big world and yet its one in which our perspective has the ability to shift our understanding of everything. Is the universe an accident or a work of design? The truth is it could be either. Is theology confusing because it’s imperfect or because our language is insufficient? Again, it could be either.

Is anything spiritual or is nothing?  Rob suggests that as Christians we must choose everything. It’s this perspective that changes what we see. We move forward through life with the anticipation — the faith — that God is not absent, that he may indeed be hiding in plain sight.

I don’t know if Rob Bell has read Roy Clouser’s The Myth of Religious Neutrality, but he certainly seems to have adopted Clouser’s ideas on the religious control of theory-making. In any case, Rob’s presentation of it is a lot of fun. If there’s one person I’d like to have a chance to have a long talk with at some point, he has to be near the top of the list.

Buy it HERE AT LIFEWALK STORE.

 

 
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