Category Archives: General

Book Review – Jesus Untangled by Keith Giles

Jesus Untangled Review

In these days of political mayhem, it seems most Christians take one of two routes: check in and report for duty as a good Christian conservative or liberal or check out and watch cat videos instead of the news. Well Keith Giles shows us a better way.
A way that involves untangling Jesus from the madness that constrains Him…and us.
A way that recenters us on the Kingdom of God.
A way that encourages us to live for what really matters.
How in the world the church got wrapped up into politics is beyond the scope of Keith’s book. But I found a couple topics he addressed to be absolutely crucial to getting untangled.
The Flat approach to the Bible – Over and over again in Christian circles I am seeing a recurring theme of challenging the way we look at the bible. Keith’s take on a flat reading/approach was central to the theme of his book as it gives pause to pop interpretations that are in vogue today. The bible (I know it is typically capitalized) is far more dynamic than we will ever be able to discover. So, a simple “this means that” view does more harm to one’s faith than good…especially in relation to entangling faith with politics. Further, as Keith observes, a flat approach sees all of the scriptures as on par with one another…equally valid and in need to adherence. This goes a long way to putting empire back into the faith. The flat approach allows us to easily adopt a nationalistic view of our faith because that’s how it looks in the old testament. Yet, the scriptures of the new testament incredibly and increasingly challenge empire and warn against it. Keith does an excellent job of sifting through this and helping the reader see the nuanced differences in the ways we approach the bible.
The Sacral Society – Here Keith follows up what he started with the approach to reading the bible. The issue of a sacral society is more often than not assumed than it is challenged. Case in point, I grew up in a church that had both an American flag and a Christian flag to the left and right of the altar. I never questioned or challenged that until at least 30 years into my faith. Keith tackles this head on in chapter eleven and handles it quite well. The whole argument of legislating morality vs. the power of the gospel is laid out quite well by Keith and it becomes clear to the reader that one must at least question the association of the two. At best, we come to realize that the way of Jesus was never meant to be the way of empire.
So, I highly recommend this book. It was incredibly insightful and would be helpful to anyone enmeshed in both faith and politics. We can only serve one master…choose carefully, and with eyes wide open.

Check out the FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/JesusUntangled/

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Book Review: Rewilding The Way by Todd Wynward

rewilding

I knew I had to read this book when it got rave reviews from three of my virtual mentors: Ched Myers, Richard Rohr, and Brian McLaren. It did not disappoint.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. So much so, that I read it twice before reviewing it!

Christianity in America is changing, and for the better. For this reason, we need a guide. This book is such a guide that can show us how to live out our faith in a more complete and active manner, not simply focusing on things such as dogmatic theology or worship, but getting us out into our community and world to seek, refocus, and wrestle with how to live our faith daily.

Written in three parts, Wynward describes our situation, gives practical examples of how to change, then outlines what to do next. Both highly practical and accessible to a general audience, the book would be great for the classroom or in a small group study.

I have to admit, chapter 4 was my favorite! The author’s take on “rewilding” The Lord’s Prayer is worth the price of the book alone. Indeed, it has become too familiar to us and has lost its edge. This rewilding of the prayer makes it truly revolutionary…it encourages us to meditate on the change Jesus sought and cuts to the heart.

The book is, in fact, all about “rewilding.” Taking a comfortable narrative and throwing it back out in a manner that challenges our relaxed perspective and causing us once again the reconsider the truth of the message.

It became quite exciting every time Wynward “rewilded” something, including The Pentateuch, or at least the naming of the first five books of the Bible. But the coup de grace was seeing The Beatitudes in a completely new light. We have to ask, just what was the point of the Beatitudes. According to the author, it was Jesus’ way of giving out a job description for those who would majorly disrupt the “business as usual” mentality. This take was both thoroughly mind blowing and encouraging at the same time!

Indeed, Todd Wynward has written a gem of a book that so many today need to read to enliven their faith to a literal world’s worth of work to attend to.

Buy this book…it will revitalize and deepen your journey.

Link-Love for Rewilding The Way: 
Todd Wynward’s website
Rewilding the Way website
Rewilding the Way on Amazon
Rewilding the Way on Goodreads
Todd on Facebook

#SpeakeasyRewildingtheWay

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.

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Book Review: “Pray Like a Gourmet” by David Brazzeal

2015-08-02 12.08.55I loved this book!

So practical, so inventive, so real.

I have never been one to follow a liturgy or method of prayer. If it is a conversation and a relationship, it should be real. Yet, so many Christians either fall back on rote prayers or ask, “How do I pray…How do you pray?”

Get them this book…seriously! Very readable and entirely ready to put into practice. I was even bummed when I finished the book…it grew on me and I loved it!

Check out my full Amazon review here!

And check out more about the author here:

David’s blog: http://davidbrazzeal.com/
David’s book site: http://praylikeagourmet.com/
Pray Like a Gourmet on Amazon
Pray Like a Gourmet on Goodreads
Pray Like a Gourmet on Facebook

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Book Review: “A More Christlike God” by Bradley Jersak

What is God like? A punishing judge? A doting grandfather? A deadbeat dad? A vengeful warrior?

Jersak

Jersak contends, if Christ is “the image of the invisible God, the radiance of God’s glory and exact representation of God’s likeness,” what if we conceived of God as completely Christlike—the perfect Incarnation of self-giving, radically forgiving, co-suffering love? A More Christlike God suggests that such a God would be very good news indeed—a God who Jesus “unwrathed” from dead religion, a Love that is always toward us, and a Grace that pours into this suffering world through willing, human partners.

A friend of mine and Theo–Mentor Tripp Fuller often says,

“God must be at least as nice as Jesus.”

I really think that this “Tripps” people up a lot (pun intended) because they don’t really understand how angry or mean their God is. And if they do make the connection, they are soon to be in a deep struggle with the concept on a daily basis as it relates to their everyday life and experiences. This book directly confronts some of the most pertinent and engaging questions Christians are asking today of some very established and long held theological beliefs. Those brave enough to take this journey will gain much needed insight and options necessary to continue the journey forward.

The format of the book is very user friendly. Terms are well defined throughout, and the style is fluid and conversational with questions and a prayer finishing out each chapter making this a great resource for a small group study. In fact, this would be a perfect resource for a youth or college group.

Some of the most compelling concepts Jersak brings up center around alternative ways of looking at scripture and how God is perceived by both the writers of scripture and Christians throughout the ages. Anyone asking the hard questions like, “How can a loving God allow evil to happen” seriously and without haste need to read this book. And don’t expect the same fare served up in Evangelical camps. Expect a whole new vision and a God more loving and present than ever before.

This book is beyond a welcome addition to my library and I will highly recommend it to anyone beginning to think outside the traditional theological box.

Oh, and did I mention what Richard Rohr had to say about it???

“This excellent and much-needed book confronts with both open heart and very good mind the major obstacles that we have created for people in their journey toward God! “Why didn’t people teach us this many years ago?” so many of us are saying. I am so very grateful that Brad Jersak is re-opening the door that Jesus had already opened 2000 years ago. It is so terribly sad that it was ever closed.”
– Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M. Center for Action and Contemplation

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.

#SpeakeasyAMoreChristlikeGod

Links: 
Brad Jersak’s website
A More Christlike God website
A More Christlike God on Amazon
Review on The Imperfect Pastor
Review on Faith Meets World
Review on Redeeming God
Interview of Jersak by Peter Enns
Foreword by Brian Zahnd

 

 

A Staggering Blow of a Book That Insists On Being Read

Made in the U.S.A. by Alisa Jordheim

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This book is outside the scope of what I traditionally read but when I noticed what the book was about I picked it up for a few different reasons. The primary reason was because I feel that this is an issue that American Christians can and should be knowledgeable about and reacting to in a positive, loving and compassionate way.

 

You should know up front that his book was both incredibly easy to read and incredibly difficult to read. The writers and the story tellers do an incredible job of pulling you into the story and that is what makes it easy to read. What makes it incredibly difficult to read is the subject matter itself – knowing that this is no mere story, but a string of events that actually happened, and continue to happen daily right here in the good ‘ol USA.

 

Yet, that is why this book is so important and why I would highly recommend it – especially to leaders in the church. The bottom line is that the more people understand the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse, the more readily able they will be to initiate help, the one thing that was lacking in each of the stories in this book.

 

As a Christian leader and pastor, I believe that this issue is something that the church can immediately begin to acknowledge. Reading this book has opened my eyes to the gravity and depth of the situation as well as the immediacy and the locality of it among our own families, neighborhoods and communities.

 

I will be honest, I really didn’t want to read this book but I felt compelled to do so…I’m glad that I did.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.

 

 

Justice Society – Alisa Jordheim’s anti-trafficking organization
Made in the USA — Amazon
A
lisa Jordheim – Twitter

 

#SpeakeasyUSATrafficking

 

 

Posts On Journal Articles I Am Reading

I am going to start a new series covering quotes/highlights/thoughts, etc… on journal articles I am reading.

Unfortunately, I can’t post the entire article, but I do have them saved in a  PDF format, so if you want one of them, just ask and I can email it to you!

A new system at Claremont School of Theology Library allows for quick and easy scanning to PDF which can immediately be sent via email.

I love it!!!

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On New Testament Ministry

23: Daily Inspirational Bible Verse

23: Daily Inspirational Bible Verse (Photo credit: [Share the Word])

Professor Black posted this up on his blog this week.

Looks like he has made an addition or two, but nonetheless, I really like these convictions.

Someday, I’ll add a few of my own…

  • I am convinced that the house church rather than the sanctuary church was the New Testament norm.

  • I am convinced of the normalcy of tent-making leadership.

  • I am convinced that the church exists in part to equip all of its members for ministry.

  • I am convinced that the leadership of the church should be shared for the health of the congregation.

  • I am convinced that top-down structures of leadership are unquestionably more efficient. Efficient in doing almost everything other than equipping, which is the primary task of leadership.

  • I am convinced that the process of appointing new elders is best done on the basis of recognizing who is already serving as an elder in the church.

  • I am convinced that any local church that takes seriously Jesus as the Senior Pastor will not permit one man to become the titular head of the church.

  • I am convinced that the essential qualifications for ministry in the church have little or nothing to do with formal education and everything to do with spiritual maturity.

  • I am convinced that the church is a multi-generational family, and hence one of the things that makes the church the church is the presence of children, parents, and other adults.

  • I am convinced that because every local church has all the spiritual gifts it needs to be complete in Christ, believers should be exposed to the full expression of the charisms (grace-gifts) when they gather, in contrast to specialized ministries that center around singularly gifted people.

  • I am convinced that the local church is the scriptural locus for growing to maturity in Christ, and that no other training agency is absolutely needed.

  • I am convinced that the local church ought to be the best Bible school going.

  • I am convinced that Paul’s letters were not intended to be studied by ordinands (a candidate for ordination) in a theological college but were intended to be read and studied in the midst of the noisy life of the church.

  • I am convinced that the church is a theocracy directly under its Head (Jesus Christ), and that the will of the Head is not mediated through various levels of church government but comes directly to all His subjects.

  • I am convinced that the goal of leadership is not to make people dependent upon its leaders but dependent upon the Head.

  • I am convinced that since all believers are “joints” in the body, ministry is every believer’s task.

  • I am convinced that pastor-teachers, as precious gifts of Christ to His church, are to tend the flock of God by both personal care and biblical instruction, equipping God’s people for works of service both in the church and in the world.

  • I am convinced that the role of pastor-teacher is a settled ministry in a local congregation.

  • I am convinced that leaders should communicate that every part of the body is interrelated to the other parts and indispensable; every member will be appreciated, every charism will be treasured.

  • I am convinced that the whole church, the community of all the saints together, is the clergy appointed by God for ministry.

  • I am convinced that everyone needs to be equipped for his or her own ministry both in the church and in the world. If the church is to become what God intended it to be, it must become a ministerium of all who have placed their faith in Christ. The whole people of God must be transformed into a ministering people. Nothing short of this will restore the church to its proper role in the kingdom of God.

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Pastoral Epistles – A Short Bibliography

46 is the earliest (nearly) complete manuscrip...

46 is the earliest (nearly) complete manuscript of the Epistles written by Paul in the new testament. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here are several of the sources I am working through and will cite:

Colloquium Oecumenicum Paulinum, and Karl P Donfried.  “1 Timothy Reconsidered.”  Peeters, 2008.

  • Well balanced, recent scholarship, excellent chapters from Margaret M. Mitchell and Luke Timothy Johnson,  Karl Donfried’s comments are both commanding and centering.

Guthrie, Donald.  “The Pastoral Epistles and the Mind of Paul.”  Website.  BiblicalStudies.org.uk, n.d..

  • Older article available as a PDF, good introduction to the issue, holds to a Pauline writing of the letters.

Hylen, Susan.  “The Paradox of Women in the Early Church: 1 Timothy and the Acts of Paul and Thecla.”  Website.  as.vanderbilt.edu, April 2012. (JBL?)

  • Seeks to break current/basic mindset regarding the roles of women in the early church, pursuasively contends that 1 Timothy and the Acts of Paul and Thecla do not portray opposite perspecives with regard to the portrayal of women.

James, M. R.  The Acts of Paul and Thecla.  Website.  earlychristianwritings.com, Trans. 1924.

  • Believed to be a second century document written by a Christian bishop who was later removed from his position for having written it, Tertullian’s comments about it promote the possibility that it was popular oral tradition among the early churches.

Knight, George William.  The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text.  Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1992.

  • One of the first in the NIGNT series, surprisingly conservative, more surprisingly lacks insight at pivotal points, holds to Pauline authorship.

MacDonald, Dennis Ronald.  The Legend and the Apostle: The Battle for Paul in Story and Canon.  1st ed. Philadelphia: Westminister, 1983.

  • The book that got me thinking, compares & contrasts The Acts of Paul and Thecla to the Pastorals, holds to a purposeful second century pseudonymous authorship as a corrective to Christian asceticism.

MacDonald, Margaret Y.   The Pauline Churches: A Socio-Historical Study of Institutionalization in the Pauline and Deutrero-Pauline Writings.   Cambridge University Press, 2004.

  • Out the gate states the Pastorals are deutero-Pauline, looks at the issue sociologically with a view to the institutionalization of the church.

Miller, James D.  The Pastoral Letters as Composite Documents.  Cambridge University Press, 1997.

  • The second book that got me thinking ( I am currently on my second read), sees the Pastorals as composite documents much like The Gospel of Thomas was believed to be collected and distributed as a whole most likely in the late first or early second century.

Misselbrook, Peter.  Paul’s Letters to Timothy and Titus.  Website.  Misselbrook’s Musings, 2002.

  • From his notes on the Greek New Testament and downloadable as a PDF, an excellent resource to read as a commentary as you read the Greek, typically quotes conservative scholarship, portrays a Pauline authorship in his notes.

Rumney, Gavin.  “Issues Surrounding the Authorship and Dating of The Pastoral Epistles”  Blog.  Otagosh, May 6, 2008.

  • Another good introduction available as a PDF from a fellow New Zealand blogger.
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Crucifixion – Peter Rollins’ Book Insurrection

I am currently reading (and thoroughly enjoying) Peter Rollins’ book Insurrection and just had to post up this quote:

To believe in the Crucifixion means nothing less than participating in it. We miss something crucial if we take the biblical witness as a mere signpost that points to a distant time in history. Christian belief in the Crucifixion is not about accepting some historical event; we are not invited to merely affirm or contemplate the death of Jesus on the cross, but to undergo that death in our own lives. And just as Jesus was cut off from everything that grounded him, so our participation in the Crucifixion will involve the same troubling, terrifying process. (pg 29)

The Apostle Paul speaks of this often…Galatians 2:20 immediately comes to mind, but I don’t think many Western Christians can identify with truly embracing, let alone expecting to experience the terror of “being crucified with Christ.”

Rollins indeed pushes the limits in attempting to move his readers from a place of comfort and rest to one of a more legitimate identification with Christ, a place where in following him we must inevitably die, and not just once, but multiple tragic and painful deaths throughout our lives.

Clearly, this is not easy to accept. Recall how many walked away from Jesus deeply vexed because of his “hard sayings.”

Rollins challenges us to for once take Jesus seriously and to be willing to literally lose everything just as Jesus did…a hard saying, indeed.

Quoteable – On Baptism…and Pastors

From Dave Black’s Jan. 29, 2012 blog:

You know there is no place in Scripture that says a ‘pastor’ must baptize someone.

Representation of baptism in early Christian art.
Image via Wikipedia
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