The things that flow out from this principle are legion.
Much more on this to come.
Words are so very important, and the right use of vocabulary is crucial to understanding what we or anyone else is talking about. One of my main interests is in trying to reclaim traditional, biblical language by pointing out what may be unfamiliar understandings of what it means — unfamiliar, but not novel, because what I’m wanting to do is clear away some popular misunderstandings.
The number of words needing such treatment are legion. The beginning-point is almost arbitrary, and the struggle to reclaim the traditional language for the power of a radical gospel it once represented is challenging indeed. We could start with that word “gospel,” for example: a simple word that means good news. It’s not, on its face, even a religious word;
Geographical trivia: It turns out that the name Marbury has more venerable connections than our beloved spot in southern Maryland. I happened to do a search on the Web and found that in merrie olde Englande there is a Marbury, with a rather more impressive church than any of ours.
Interested as I am in history, I thought others might be also, thus this link. It appears there is a Marbury in Alabama as well as ours in Maryland, but this one in England has us beat for history, at least.
I heartily recommend this article.
Jesus Isn’t Magic
Rather than the magic Jesus, there is a very real and powerful Christ whose teachings continue drawing the world to his kingdom community from many neighbors. Ironically, many who preach about absolutes and literal interpretations use situational ethics and complicated arguments to explain that Jesus did not mean what he said.
TIME.com: My Problem with Christianism — May 15, 2006 — Page 1
I’ve been troubled for many months by the co-opting of the label “Christian” to mean a set of views and agendas in the current political climate that may or may not have anything to do with actually following Jesus. A couple of years ago, James Earl Massey suggested to a group of pastors his view that, indeed, we should think of ourselves, not as “Christians” but as “Christ-ones” or something like that. The linked article reflects much of the concern that I think many people feel.
Date: Tuesday, May 9, 2006
Time: 12:21:39 PM
Topic: Decoding Dan Brown
The following interview was cut and pasted from an e-mail distributed by Sojourners. Brian McLaren is the author of a new book, The Secret Message of Jesus.
 At the time of this posting I hadn’t yet read McLaren’s book, nor Brown’s [but since obtained both from Amazon.com], nor yet anything from the Left Behind series (though I’ve since seen the second LB movie). However McLaren comes well recommended, and I am inclined to think he hits on some matters worth thinking about in the comments below.
Brian McLaren on The Da Vinci Code
An interview by Lisa Ann Cockrel
With The Da Vinci Code poised to go from bestseller list to the big screen on May 19, pastor and writer (and Sojourners board member) Brian McLaren talks about why he thinks there’s truth in the controversial book’s fiction.
What do you think the popularity of The Da Vinci Code reveals about pop culture attitudes toward Christianity and the church?
Brian McLaren: I think a lot of people have read the book, not just as a popular page-turner but also as an experience in shared frustration with status-quo, male-dominated, power-oriented, cover-up-prone organized Christian religion. We need to ask ourselves why the vision of Jesus hinted at in Dan Brown’s book is more interesting, attractive, and intriguing to these people than the standard vision of Jesus they hear about in church. Why would so many people be disappointed to find that Brown’s version of Jesus has been largely discredited as fanciful and inaccurate, leaving only the church’s conventional version? Is it possible that, even though Brown’s fictional version misleads in many ways, it at least serves to open up the possibility that the church’s conventional version of Jesus may not do him justice?
So you think The Da Vinci Code taps into dissatisfaction with Jesus as we know him?
McLaren: For all the flaws of Brown’s book, I think what he’s doing is suggesting that the dominant religious institutions have created their own caricature of Jesus. And I think people have a sense that that’s true. It’s my honest feeling that anyone trying to share their faith in America today has to realize that the Religious Right has polluted the air. The name “Jesus” and the word “Christianity” are associated with something judgmental, hostile, hypocritical, angry, negative, defensive, anti-homosexual, etc. Many of our churches, even though they feel they represent the truth, actually are upholding something that’s distorted and false.
I also think that the whole issue of male domination is huge and that Brown’s suggestion that the real Jesus was not as misogynist or anti-woman as the Christian religion often has been is very attractive. Brown’s book is about exposing hypocrisy and cover-up in organized religion, and it is exposing organized religion’s grasping for power. Again, there’s something in that that people resonate with in the age of pedophilia scandals, televangelists, and religious political alliances. As a follower of Jesus I resonate with their concerns as well.
Do you think the book contains any significantly detrimental distortions of the Christian faith?
McLaren: The book is fiction and it’s filled with a lot of fiction about a lot of things that a lot of people have already debunked. But frankly, I don’t think it has more harmful ideas in it than the Left Behind novels. And in a certain way, what the Left Behind novels do, the way they twist scripture toward a certain theological and political end, I think Brown is twisting scripture, just to other political ends. But at the end of the day, the difference is I don’t think Brown really cares that much about theology. He just wanted to write a page-turner and he was very successful at that.
Many Christians are also reading this book and it’s rocking their preconceived notions – or lack of preconceived notions – about Christ’s life and the early years of the church. So many people don’t know how we got the canon, for example. Should this book be a clarion call to the church to say, “Hey, we need to have a body of believers who are much more literate in church history.” Is that something the church needs to be thinking about more strategically?
Interesting article…. Jesus is Building His Church… but not as we’ve known it
Linked here in the interest of getting people to read, think, and respond.
[Edit: The following post was made just before Easter, 2006. While the specifics as to time and date are localized, the invitation to celebrate the mystery of Christ's ongoing appearance is appropriate for any time.]
If your life has been anything like mine, you’ve been busy lately. I want to invite you to take some time for refreshment. Come to church! Tomorrow morning is Easter Sunday. Why not make it a point to celebrate with others the most awesome thing that ever happened on the history of our planet?
Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. The tomb is empty, and he is ready to meet with those who will follow him.
In Marbury, we’ll celebrate a community Sunrise Service at 7:00 AM in the Marbury Church of God sanctuary. I’d love to see you there!
You can even skip breakfast and come; we’ll follow the service with coffee, juice, fruit and pastries in our fellowship hall.
As always, Sunday School for all ages starts at 9:00 AM, with morning worship at 10:00. You can read Mark 16:1-8 and Acts 10:34-43 as preparation for the day’s message. Reminder to the church family: At offering time, special Easter Ministries Offering envelopes will be available for those who would like to give in support of the worldwide ministries of the Church of God.
That first Easter morning something happened which can still change our lives forever. Do you feel like something needs to change in your life? Has Jesus already changed your life? Is there more for him to do?
At the empty tomb,
In the upper room,
On the highway,
By the sea,
He will meet you there,
Meet your every care,
Give you peace,
And set you free.
Pastor Bob Buehler