Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Reading A Heretic’s Guide to Eternity, Part 1
There has already been considerable blog-discussion going on concerning this book. Even from people who haven’t read the book yet (which I don’t like). Scot McKnight, who did read the book, devoted a considerable amount of time to discussing this book , and eventually came to the conclusion that Burke and Taylor’s thoughts are indeed heresy (and he doesn’t mean that in any sort of positive manner).
With that ringing endorsement, I venture into A Heretic’s Guide to Eternity!
To start off I want to leave you with some quotes from the book to consider. In a couple days I will write some more about my own thoughts concerning the book.
“At this point in our history, I believe God is to be questioned as much as obeyed, created again and not simply worshiped. Our views must be continually revised, reconsidered, and debated. Spirituality in the twenty-first century is not etched in stone but fashioned out of the fabrics of our lives in new and ever-changing permutations. This is the focus and the hope of this book.” (xxiv)
“I believe that every age, and particularly an age like ours, needs heretics – people who will push past and beyond the accepted conventional wisdom of the dominant group and pull us across sacred fences that hold us back and keep us tied to perceived orthodoxies. For me, a heretic is a spiritual insurgent, one who rises up against the established order from the inside – one who heralds a new way, another option, a fresh view.” (xxv)
“At this point in my life, I am happy to live with uncertainty and in precarious freedom, rather than hunker down in the false security of institutions and recite doctrines that no longer feed my soul.” (xxviii)
“To be honest, religion doesn’t really work for me anymore. Being aligned with an institutional church or a particular system of worship seems increasingly irrelevant to my ongoing journey with God.” (6)
“I believe that the next phase of faith is to move beyond religion. Nowhere does Jesus call his followers to start a religion. Jesus’ invitation to his first disciples was to follow him.” (19)
“The complex systems we create with our religions may help us make sense of the world for a time, but eventually they out-live their usefulness.” (28)
“The Christian story as presented by the church is no longer resonating with the culture. People are not leaving churches because they’ve ended their spiritual journey or have abandoned their commitment to the teachings of Jesus. Nor are they trying to escape life or responsibility. This can’t be written off as simply the effects of consumer culture. On the contrary, people are leaving the church because they want to embrace something more than abstract ideas and religious dogma. They want a transforming spirituality that gives their life shape and meaning. The currency of the church has to change.” (91)
“Every month or so, Lisa, the kids, and I meet up with friends at the park for a picnic – except we don’t call it a picnic. We call it church.” (123)
“Basically, I see the institutional church as the post office in an e-mail world.” (132)
“Jesus doesn’t ask for universal agreement to a set of propositions about himself. He simply invites us to follow him.” (137)
This is by no means a summary of the book. These are just some quotations I found intriguing and wanted to put our here for discussion. I am going to withhold most of my comments until my next entry (in a few days or so), but I will say that much of this book really resonated with me, and much of it did not. I didn’t get upset or disturbed by anything in the book but the authors never really went in the direction I was hoping (which isn’t necessarily a criticism as much as a personal preference). In fact, I felt that much of the later part of the book did not seem to me to flow out of where the book started. As a result, I have primarily posted quotations from parts of the book that did resonate with me in one way or another. I really think this is a book that should be read for the overall picture and to lead to further discussion rather than being picked apart and discussed only in regard to parts one disagrees with. Must of the discussion I have noticed about this book seems to be focused on points of disagreement. In response, I am going to mainly discuss the parts I found valuable and thought-provoking. I think there is far more to be gained in this way.
Until then, do you have any comments about the quotations I have listed? Any thoughts? Is this intriguing at all to you? Does any of it resonate with you? Or perhaps disturb you?