My friend Tom told me this past Sunday that there is this temporary book store selling all sorts of overstock "Christian" books at Eden Prairie Center. The magic word was that all the books were $5 a piece. WOOT! And off I went.
I've really been wanting to get a version of the bible that is called...I think it is anyway, "The Archeological Bible." It's an NIV version, and has all of the various historical & archaeological findings that occurred around the times of the various biblical books. Turns out that books like that were a little more expensive. (Poop!)
Still, they did have plenty of others. So here's what I picked up:
#1. Shane Claiborne's "Jesus for President."
#2. Brian McLaren's, "A Generous Orthodoxy," "The Secret Message of Jesus," " Finding our way Again," AND "Everything must Change."
#3. Last but not least, Luis Palau & Zhao Qizheng's "A Freindly Dialogue between an Atheist and a Christian."
Even though there were plenty of other books, those were the only ones that really caught my attention. (Honestly, there are way too many "Christian" books out there that are merely one step up from those Harlequin Romance novels. GAG!) I could have poked around longer for some other titles, but I had just finished up at the gym, and my odor was most likely NOT an enticement for others to come on into the store and shop.
So anyway, for those of you who don't know, Brian McLaren is quite the lightening rob among "Christian" oriented people...especially if you group yourself into the "Reformed" tradition camp. I guess that he is the Grand Poobah of the whole "Emergent" wave. Being that I still do not know a great deal about all of that, I figured that I ought to engage my brain and do some studying instead of relying on "Solid Hear-Say" from others.
Shane Claiborne, on the other hand, is not controversial for his theology so much as he is for his Orthopraxy. He actually LIVES the Gospel. (Kind of a very dedicated, Jesus-lovin', modern hippie with Acts 1 & 2 communal living tendencies.) I'm still working my way through his book, "The Irresistible Revolution," which I would happily recommend. Shane can rub people the wrong way, because he actually takes living out the gospel, and participating in Christ's kingdom extremely seriously. He makes Middle-class christianity and it's adherents rather itchy, because as we all know Jesus grew up in the suburbs and drove a sensible car.
Luis Palau would not be considered particularly controversial at all. (I don't think so at any rate.) But he does dare speak with Atheists, and we can't have that now can we? I suppose that I could throw rocks at him because doesn't use the King James Bible, but my arms are too tired.
A few days ago I stumbled across another blog that was highly critical of one of the Christian Thinkers that I really like. As usual, it was a series of nit-picking complaints, and words taken out of context.
I suppose that it is a natural tendency for people to try and get their beliefs so in order that they can fit neatly into the form of a recipe or shopping list. That way, we can wrap our brains around the Infinite God of the universe and rest comfortably in our absolute understanding of him. The only problem is that God tends to be a bit bigger than we are.
For the record, I am almost certain to find areas with the writers where I disagree with them. In fact, there is a good chance that I will say to myself somewhere a long the line, "WHAT?!?!?!" But for myself, I am not the least bit afraid of controversy...in fact I enjoy it. More importantly, reading something I do not see eye to eye with does not threaten my faith. If it did, then my faith would have been pretty wimpy from the start.
Even more important then that is that I need different perspectives of Jesus. It gives me a fuller picture of just how big he is. The moment I assume that I have him totally figured out, I am in serious trouble. What I can rest in with complete assurance, is that even when I can't figure him out to my %100 satisfaction, I CAN know that he is the lover of my soul, and that he did the work that brought about the possibility for redemption for humanity.
In the mean time, what I will be very careful about is labeling anyone a "Heretic." That word really is pretty vulgar. Pastor Mark Driscoll, out in Seattle, says that when we call someone that, we might as well call them a "Rapist" while we are at it. It is strong language, and we should not use it loosely.
For myself, the proof will always be in seeing any Fruit of the Spirit in a person's life. Without that, what you profess to believe really doesn't impress me all that much. If your beliefs do not actually translate into a way of living, and seeing Jesus living through you, then you are just a Head-Knowledge phony.
OK, here's an invitation. If anyone reading this has read any of the above titles, feel free to give me a brief critique or review. I'm up for it. Just do not get on a high horse and start telling me what foul, doomed-to-hell, apostates any of these guys are because they don't line up with your little shopping list of necessary-to-be-acceptable opinions. Leave that to Jesus. (Also, if you do, then you'll spoil the endings for me.)
Finally, since I always try to find a video to illustrate my post for the day. Here is a scene taken directly from ***************** Universities' School of Theology, as they question the merits of an author who dared to think outside the box.