Category Archives: Review

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/

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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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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The Hippie Preacher

My wife and I recently watched Lonnie Frisbee: The Life And Death Of A Hippie Preacher a few days ago and I highly recommend it!  Netflix has it here

Maybe because I live in southern California, maybe because I spent some time in the Calvary Chapel movement, or maybe because I saw the early church in Frisbee, whatever the reason I was drawn to the film.

As I continue to reflect on this film, I realize there are some themes and issues that the church today desperately needs to wrestle with. 

First, and probably most related to this blog, I found it surprising how fast and how fatally religion can quell the work of the Spirit in the church.  Frisbee was definitely a charismatic man who was very much in tune with the Spirit of God.  Yet, his story is all too familiar.  As I interpreted the film, organized churches sought to “tap into” Frisbee’s life and gifting for their benefit, only to throw him by the wayside when they were finished with him.  I hope Frisbee saw that for what it was and ultimately perceived a deeper connection with Jesus in his rejection and condemnation among his own people – a bittersweet union. 

Second, how fast we can either forget our history or how easily it can get spun to the benefit of another.  For years, I heard that Chuck Smith embraced the hippies and brought them into the church.  Yet, this film reveals that Pastor Smith never did so until after he met Frisbee and it was Frisbee’s ministry that brought the hippies to the meetings in Costa Mesa.  Indeed, Calvary Chapel pastors and historians will tell of Chuck Smith baptizing hundreds in Corona Del Mar, yet original video footage shows Frisbee doing so.  So, the question must be asked,

“Why re-write history?” 

Well, as the opening lines of another of my favorite movies (Braveheart) state:

“History is written by those who have hanged heroes.”

Those who are left standing tell the tale, and in this case it can be identified as organized religion.  That enticing call that says, “The show must go on.”  In this case, the churches involved essentially excommunicated Frisbee when he needed them most.  I have to ask, “Is there anything too embarrasing or too uncouth that cannot be touched by the love of Christ?  But it seems, these churchmen sought to tame Frisbee and in the end put him out.  As you can probably tell, this deeply saddens and angers me.  But that matters not, “the show must go on.”

Third, it is about time that the church accept people as they are changed by Christ and not change people to be accepted by Christ.  We have misrepresented the gospel in the name of Christ by manipulating and controlling people to fit into preconceived molds that are quite simply not scriptural.  In fact, they reveal our struggle with the gospel – as if to say, “It can’t really be that good!”

This film raises several issues that fit into this category.  Culturally it engages hippies, drugs and homosexuality in the church.  Theologically it engages ministry, the role of the Spirit, and the gospel.  In short, perhaps it is time to realize that the answers to these questions need to be reevaluated in light of scripture. 

Essentially, this film is about an all too familiar topic.  That of the church shooting it’s wounded. 

I believe that if we take our eyes off of the religious system long enough, we will once again see that what Jesus was all about was bringing people to the Father. 

It is, truly, much more simple than we make it out to be.

So, get the movie and let me know what you think!

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