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How Good?

This book takes a normal approach at logical showing why goodness alone cannot seal the deal for salvation to heaven. Stanley takes time to careful showing personal examples and parabolic narratives to show that goodness is not goodness and that it can’t be a scale for a life in heaven. But I don’t find this book that great considering that I view heaven more in the same vein as Scot McKnight and N.T. Wright who see heaven as not our final destiny and the earth having the kingdom of heaven ruling as the real “afterlife”. Also this is still the same voice that sounds like all we need is to die and be in heaven cause it’s better than here. But this is not what I believe. I believe that we must live a life that strive to be like that in the heavenly kingdom. While Stanley does a good job supporting his thesis, I just find his thesis as moot and uninteresting.

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The Sacred Journey

The Sacred Journey by Charles Foster was a book that could hardly keep my attention. This book has the purpose of showing how we are built for wandering. He has a bias toward the super spiritual. This book reminds me of those people who go around searching for spiritual highs or the next spiritual revival because that is what we need. The reason why there is such a market for these books is because people have been tricked into thinking that a life of following Christ should “feel” a certain way and when we don’t “feel” this way we are left in a crisis. I am speaking from experience.
Early on in my journey of following Jesus I would have encounters as Foster describes that made me get goosebumps. I cherish these moments, but early on without guidance I believed that my walk should always be this way, and I should alway feel correspondingly. This inevitably lead me to a crisis in my faith because nothing can keep me in this spiritual high. Life goes on and so does work. I began looking for my next fix and dabbled with Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. Constantly trying to think on and of God but felt like that was also unsustainable. My growth lead me to understand that the spiritualness of life is living a life that corresponds with the Kingdom of God. And thinking of God and being in constant prayer was more me loving my neighbor and treating my wife well, and living genuinely in community with others. So after reading this book I came to the conclusion that I don’t need to be a nomad on some spiritual quest to find God or feel him, but God desires me to submit to him as my king and live my life as if his kingdom was established.

So I have picked up Peter Rollins The Orthodox Heretic and have decided to blog through it. I have heard a vast array of people state their concerns with him and his thinking, but what kind of student would I be if accepted someone else’s perspective and not create my own. Let’s start at the beginning, his introduction does little to help the reader to understand the title, but he develops his case for parables. He believes that in order to understand things that cannot be spoken of(the Divine) we need a different framework for transformation.

Peter brings up our current model which is a systematic approach(the three p’s of remaining sin free and the like), and shows how this has allowed people to know something without internalizing or incarnate the said truth. He believes and makes a case that parables are a literary device that does not allow one to just hear and download the message, one has to fight and wrestle with the story until it breaks into our worldview and changes our reality not only our perspective.

Rollins is not cockily saying that he has created these masterpieces that are said worldview changing parables, but these are merely tales and time will tell if these stories can effect the masses. He also states that his commentary on the tales are not the answer or correct interpretation they are merely entry points he created in order for one to engage and wrestle with the story.

So far I am exteremly excited to engage his tales and see the truths I can pull from them.

Brian Mclaren has been an enigma to me for quite sometime. When the Emergent movement jumped on scene he seemed to get all the attacks from mainstream and fundamentalist Christianity. At first, jumping on the ban-wagon I thought of the guy as a schmuck, but as I’ve progressed in my maturity as a thinker and follower of Christ I have found no danger in this man. I first read his A New Kind of Christianity which is his most recent work and was astounded. Now mind you I don’t agree with all his conclusions, but I find his approach to questions, postmodernity and how the church is to shaped within the culture indispensable. This book is part of The Ancient Practices Series is a great outlook on the practices. Mclaren lays out how these practices have been rampant throughout the Christian, Judaic, and Islamic faiths. He starts with telling the story of Abraham and how there was reminiscence of the practices from the beginning in the Abrahamic faiths. He continues his book stating that.

They’re about tuning our radios to the frequency of the Holy, turning up the volume, and then daring to sing along…Spiritual Practices are ways of becoming awake and staying awake to God…

Brian has such a great writing voice, that one can’t help but be swept up in a conversation with a book. Mclaren to some can be a boring writer but it depends on what authors you find intriguing, Donald Miller with age and a Seminary Degree is I feel a good description. The book goes more into what a life of living the practices looks like and means, but to conclude I will quote an important idea Mclaren develops…

Practice (or exercise) may not make perfect, but as we will see…it does make currently impossible things possible.

Rob Bell

Tonight at 7pm Eastern Time the gloves come off…well not really, but he is talking about his new book Love Wins which comes out tomorrow. The even takes place in NYC but Harper One has set it up as a Live Stream so I’ll dish out the information to partake in this sweet opportunity. Whether you agree or not with Rob Bell’s theology or communication style, I’m sure tonight will clear somethings up about the upcoming release of this hotly debated book (that no one’s read yet haha).

Rob Bell will appear at an interactive, live streamed event on March 14, 2011 in conversation with award-winning Newsweek editor Lisa Miller.

During the event, Bell will discuss his new book, Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived (HarperOne; March 15, 2011; Hardcover; $22.99).

Use your Facebook account to join this provocative conversation by going to www.livestream.com/lovewins and login using Facebook Connect. Participate online. Ask questions, share comments and add to the discussion.

Let’s get our discussion on Church! Who in? I

(Un)Cleanness

I’ve been reading through Paul Copan’s Is God a Moral Monster and I hit a great chapter on Kosher food and the meaning behind them. This book is a benchmark in the modern response to the Atheist movement(people like Hitchens, Dawkins). Therefore Copan tries to approach the oddities and strictness of the levitical cleanness laws and kosher foods. He begins to handle the topic with debunking the common understanding of the kosher laws(The listing of animals is found in Lev. 11 and Deut. 14). I will outline these and one of his proposed handlings of the laws.

1. Health/Hygiene Argument: This is a very common argument, people even have even adapted it into modern diet trends(The Maker’s Diet). The belief is that if God established them than therefore it must be true for a health reason because well back in the day things were less hygienic and they didn’t have hand sanitizer. But let’s get back to this proposed argument, Copan goes on to say, “Israelites were to aviod eating vultures because these creatures eat road kill and carnivores…pigs can transmit diseases…hare and coney/rock badger commonly carry tularemia…shrimp shouldn’t be eaten because they raise your cholesterol level.” This is a fairly brief understanding of what shouldn’t be eaten and why in this argument.

Problems with this Argument: What Copan says is that tries as hard as you can you can’t find health being the concern in Leviticus or anywhere else in the Hebrew Scriptures. He goes on to say things like posionous plants aren’t considered unclean, and to top it off  “Why did Jesus declare all these foods clean if health was really the issue in the kosher food section of the OT.

2. Association with non-Israelite Religions Argument: People have stated that the reason that these foods were unclean was their association with religions of the ancient Near East, but this argument falls apart right from the start because of the bull issue. Bulls were central to the Canaanite and Egyptian religions. yet the bull was one of Israel’s “most valuable of Israel’s sacrifices…Canaanites sacrificed the same sorts of animals in their religious rituals as did the Israelites.” So what is a better understanding of the kosher laws in the OT?

 

Copan’s Proposed Argument: Paul outline’s two “angles” to deal with the kosher texts, but I will outline one for sake of brevity and just overall strength of the one argument. His angle is that on creation. The Creation account sets up three spheres in which animals are placed they are as follows: those that walk on the land, those that swim in the water, and those that fly in the air. The uncleanness of the animals in the Leviticus account are connected to land (11:2-8), water (11:9-12), and air (11:13-25). God desired that Israel be set apart, distinct, and different. Therefore they were exist clearly defined and obviously different; in their own category. The unclean animal symbolized a “mixing or blurring of categories” or as I would put it distinctness. Animals that did not remain in characteristics of their kind were seen as unclean. Copan goes on to explain…

“Water: To be clean,  must have scales and fins… eels and shellfish don’t fit this category, and therefore are unclean and prohibited.”

He goes on to show this through Land: and Air: and concludes

“that unclean animals symbolized what Israel was to avoid-mixing in with the unclean beliefs and practices of the surrounding nations. Israel was to be like the clean animals-distinct, in their own category, and not having any mixed features.”

His understanding of these texts was that they were to symbolic and alluding to the distinctness and, differentness of being God’s people. But this does not entail that these animal aren’t “very good” because Jesus stated that all foods are clean in Mark 7:19 and Paul did the same in Acts 1o:10-16. God’s set apart people were to be reminded in the mundane of life: clothing and eating, that they were to be different, disctint to show the uniqueness of being God’s people.

 

Any thoughts?

Radical-David Platt

Waterbrook Multnomah sent me a review copy of David Platt’s book Radical and this is my summation of the book. I began the book with high hopes to be honest. I had heard others responses and the stir it brought within the church. From what I understood it was a good reaction and there was change because of it. I started the book and felt and instant blow to the chest. Platt speaks from his experiences around the world in the remote martyr-like christian areas of the world. He exposed our comfort in the west as Christians but felt cold towards David because it did not seem as if he included himself in that camp as well. He speaks of going to these places and his super-spiritual mission experiences. What would a nominal christian say to this? I’m supposed to do that? His following chapter was the atomic bomb for me in my critique of his work. He lays the chapter out by expressing how God hates sin and sinners which was extremely inconsistent with the acts of Jesus but he does well to miscontrue and misinterpret old testament passages that mainstream Christianity does well. I give this review a 1 out of 5.