Monday, October 03, 2016

PHARISEES ANCIENT AND MODERN

PHARISEES ANCIENT AND MODERN [Updated October 4, 2016]

Being an itinerant (‘hit-run’) preacher has some advantages. I remember a Sunday evening service in a conservative church in rural Victoria, Australia. They had big black Bibles and severe expressions… And they knew their Bibles, and were proud of that.
It was a smallish group, so I decided to engage them in dialogue:
‘Who knows who the Pharisees were?’
They did. ‘The Pharisees got a pretty nasty press in the New Testament – particularly Matthew.’

‘Now tell me all the good things you can think of about the Pharisees.’
I wrote them up on a blackboard:
The Pharisees knew their Bibles; were disciplined in prayer; fasted twice a week; gave about a third of their income to their church; were moral (very moral); many had been martyred for their faith; they attended ‘church’ regularly; they were evangelical/orthodox; and evangelistic (Jesus said they’d even cross the ocean – a fearful thing for Jews – to win a convert).

There was a deep silence. I asked ‘Peter’ sitting at the front: ‘What’s wrong?’ He pointed to the list and said ‘That’s us!’
‘Is it?” I responded. ‘Then you’ve got a problem: Jesus said these sorts of people are "children of the devil!"’
Then we did an inductive exercise on the question: ‘What’s so wrong with this list of admirable qualities?’ Short answer: it omits what was most important for Jesus. Whenever in the Gospels he used a prefatory statement like ‘This is the greatest/most important thing of all…’ none of the above were emphasised by him.
So what was Jesus’ emphasis? Yes, loving God, loving others, seeking first the kingdom = obeying God the King … And, from two Gospel verses the evangelicals/orthodox have rarely noticed – Matthew 23:23, Luke 11:42 – justice/love, mercy, faith.
None of these were on the Pharisees’ list. But they’re the most important of all, according to Jesus.
Have you noticed items like justice/love don’t get into our creeds or confessions of faith or ‘doctrinal statements’ either? (I’ve written a book about that: Recent Trends Among Evangelicals ).
Back to the Pharisees. Our text (Matthew 12:1-21) is about the problem of religious ‘scrupulosity’… Jesus and his disciples were walking on the Sabbath through the fields on their way to the synagogue, to church, and they were hungry. So as the law (Deuteronomy 23:25) allowed, they plucked some ears of corn to eat. The Pharisees had problems with their ‘reaping’ on the sabbath. In fact, the disciples were breaking four of the Pharisees’ 39 rules about work on the sabbath: technically they were reaping, winnowing, threshing, and preparing a meal!
Now the modern picture of the Pharisees almost certainly trivializes – or demonizes – their piety These were good people with good motives. But they were ‘good people in the worst sense of the word’. More on that later…
Jesus’ response is to argue from two precedents (lawyers/legalists are at home there) –
precedents about necessity and service.
David and his friends were hungry, so ate the forbidden bread (though note that when King Uzziah invaded the sacred area from another motive – pride – he was

on the sabbath – killing and sacrificing animals: so Jesus is saying that if
struck with leprosy, 2 Chronicles 26:16). Then the priests did a lot of ‘work’
sabbath-work has to do with the necessities of life and duties of sacred
temple is here; God wants mercy to have priority over sacrifice; and ‘the Son
service, it’s O.K. and the *spirit* of the fourth commandment is not violated. Then Jesus reinforces all this with three arguments: someone greater than the
of man is lord of the sabbath’. Or, as the New Interpreters’ Bible
Commentary puts it (in a way that would appeal to a rabbinical way of
arguing): ‘Since the priests sacrifice according to the law on the sabbath,
sacrifice is greater than the sabbath. But mercy is greater than sacrifice… so
mercy is greater than the sabbath’ (Abingdon, 1995, p.278). I like Eugene
Peterson’s translation of this section in The Message: ‘There is far
more at stake than religion. If you had any idea what this Scripture meant – “I
prefer a flexible heart to an inflexible ritual” – you wouldn’t be nitpicking
like this.’

Then we have the story of the man with the withered hand. Jerome, the fourth century bishop-scholar, says some ancient Gospels tell us his name was Caementarius – a bricklayer – and he said to Jesus: ‘Please heal my hand so that I can earn a living by bricklaying rather than begging’. The Pharisees challenge him: ‘Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath?’ Now there’s a technicality behind that question, and Jewish scribes used to debate it: is it lawful for a physician to heal on the sabbath? If the answer’s ‘yes’ how about someone else, like a prophet? The Shammaite Pharisees did not allow praying for the sick on the sabbath, but the followers of Hillel allowed it. Arguments, arguments: ‘arguments by extension’ to which Jesus answers with an ‘argument by analogy’. If the sabbath laws allow you to help a sheep, why not a person? (But then, the Essenes wouldn’t have rescued a sheep either: gets complicated!).

So Jesus healed the man.

Two notes at this point:
#1 Jesus asked the man to stretch out his hand, to do as much as he could. Jesus often did that in his healings. It’s the same today: we get help any way we can, and do what we can. Jesus still heals: sometimes slowly (always slowly in cases of sexual/emotional abuse), sometimes instantly; sometimes with, sometimes without, the help of medicine…
#2 I was a co-speaker at a conference with the Dr Paul Yonggi Cho, pastor of the largest church in the world. He said: ‘Every miracle recorded in the New Testament, including the raising of the dead, has also happened in Korea: we are praying for some miracles not mentioned in the Bible, nor recorded in Christian history. Like the replacement of a limb – an arm or a leg – that’s not there . We’re believing God for that…!’ Do what you like with that one!
We ought to make a little excursus at this point. What’s the Sabbath all about? Two things, basically: faith and rest. Faith that God will supply our needs if we don’t have to work all the time; and rest so that our lives will be in balance. As you know, I counsel clergy: that’s what John Mark Ministries is about. They’re often burned out. But when they are, it’s almost always associated with a failure to take the idea and practice of sabbath seriously. They don’t take a day off: a day off is any day (for pastors it’s often Thursday) when from getting up to going to bed at night you are not preoccupied with your vocation. Isn’t it interesting that in our leisure-oriented culture, there’s also more fatigue? A lot of people are just plain tired.
The five-day work week is a recent innovation, but ‘leisure’ and ‘sabbath-rest’ are not the same. Gordon McDonald, in his excellent book Ordering Your Private World has a chapter ‘Rest Beyond Leisure’ which I urge you to read. He writes: ‘God was the first “rester”…Does God need to rest? Of course not. But did God choose to rest? Yes. Why? Because God subjected creation to a rhythm of rest and work that he revealed by observing the rhythm himself, as a precedent for everyone else… [For us] this rest is a time of looking backward. We gaze upon our work and ask questions like: “What does my work mean? For whom did I do all this work? How well was my work done? Why did I do all this? What results did I expect, and what did I receive?” To put it another way, the rest God instituted was meant first and foremost to cause us to interpret our work, to press meaning into it, to make sure we know to whom it is properly dedicated’ (Highland, 1985, pp.176-7).
The Pharisees had lost sight of the essence of the sabbath. Alister McGrath says in his NIV Bible Commentary: ‘The Sabbath was instituted to give people refreshment, rather than to add to their burdens’ (H&S, 1995, p.242). Precisely how you keep the Sabbath today will be governed by love for God and neighbour, and the kind of work you do. If you’re a manual worker, rest. If you’re sedentary, do something physical. Make sure it’s ‘recreational’ for you – re-creating your body, mind, emotions and spirit.
Jesus healed… and ‘the Pharisees conspired… how to destroy him’ – destroy the One through whom we have life. (When you’re beaten by goodness, reason and miracle, you have no other option but rage). And ‘great crowds followed Jesus’. They knew he loved them. He taught them and healed them. While the Pharisees were into destroying, Jesus was healing. The Scottish Baptist preacher Matthew Henry makes a good point here: though some are unkind to us, we must not on that account be unkind to others.
Sometimes I talk pastors who are being ‘destroyed’ by Pharisees. They are still with us. Why? It’s all about what American social scientists call ‘mindsets’: the mindset of the Pharisee and that of the prophet are antithetical: they can’t get along.
Let me explain.
The Pharisee is concerned about law: how to do right. Now there’s nothing wrong with that as it stands. Except for one thing: you can keep the law and in the process destroy persons. I have a friend who lectured in law in one of our universities, before he got out of it all in disgust. He said with some conviction: ‘The whole of our Western legal system is sick, unjust. For one thing: if you’re rich, and can afford the cleverest advocacy, you have a pretty good chance of not going to jail; but not if you’re poor.’ There’s something wrong with a system supposed to preserve ‘fairness’ when double-standards operate…
There’s a tension between law and love. Law is to love as the railway tracks are to the train: the tracks give direction, but all the propulsive power is in the train. Tracks on their own may point somewhere, but they’re cold, lifeless things. But love without law is like a train without tracks: plenty of noise and even movement but lacking direction. Both law and love ultimately come from God. We need God’s laws to know how to set proper boundaries and behave appropriately: without good laws we humans will destroy one another. Prophets, in the biblical sense, try to tie law and love into each other. The O.T. prophets were always encouraging people to keep the law of God. But the greatest commandment is love: love of God and of others.
The Australian Uniting Church Interim Report on Sexuality looked at these two issues. It answers them very well. The question: ‘How can homosexuals (etc.) know they’re loved by us?’ is addressed with deep compassion. Marginalized people ought to feel they’re accepted in our churches. But they don’t, generally, so we’re more like the Pharisees than Jesus in that respect. (I once discussed the issue of the legalization of brothels with a couple of women from the Prostitutes’ Collective on ABC TV. In the middle of it, one of them turned to me and said, ‘You Christians hate us, don’t you?’ How would you have responded?)
But the other question's more complex: ‘What is God’s will in God’s word-in-Scripture about all this?’ Briefly: Jesus did not set aside God’s law, but fulfilled it, by embodying the great law of love in himself. To the woman caught in adultery he first says 'I do not condemn you.'
But what about those laws in Leviticus 18 and 22?

Ten years ago well-known American Evangelical Tony Campolo, interviewed on ABC radio, was asked ‘Tony, what are your views on homosexuality and the church?’ Tony: ‘I am conservative on this issue: I believe erotic attraction between members of the same sex is not God’s intention for us.’ ‘Ah-huh, so what should the church do?’ Tony: ‘The last thing the church should do is to be legalistically prescriptive about the behaviour of people like homosexuals. We have to do more – much more – than simply prescribe celibacy for other people!’ (The interviewer didn’t know where to go after that!). But now a postscript: Tony Campolo has changed his mind about those laws. Try a google search to discover a paradigm-shift on this question happening all over the world. (For some of my views on LGBTI issues see the article Homosexuality and the Bible)
The last section of our Gospel reading takes all this further: Jesus the prophet was fulfilling the Scriptures. As God’s chosen servant whom God loves and in whom God delights, Jesus was a meek Messiah, not a warlike one. And he ‘proclaims justice’ (v.18), indeed ‘brings justice to victory’ (v.19). Now why is justice so big for prophets – and for Jesus (but not for Pharisees)? Hang in there. Fasten your seat-belts. There’s some turbulence coming as we close.
First a word to the prophets in this congregation. ‘Prophets’? ‘Here?’ Sure. Well, who are they, and why don’t they – or the church – know who they are? Why don’t we recognize and commission them? Why don’t we hear them speak a special revelation of God to us? Ah, there are several answers to that. Mainly, of course, prophets are somewhat unpredictable. I’m studying the second half of Jeremiah at the moment to write some Scripture Union notes: here’s a guy who tells the king and the army to surrender to the enemy, otherwise they’ll be wiped out and/or carted off into captivity. Not the sort of message to stiffen the resistance of your armed forces! So they tossed him into a septic tank. Prophets disturb the comfortable; pastors comfort the disturbed. But we don’t want to be disturbed. And so the church organizes its life – its doctrines (like ‘prophecy isn’t needed anymore, we’ve got the Bible, and preachers’) and its structures (by-laws and committees to cover everything) to exclude this more spontaneous ‘word from the Lord.’ And prophets tend to major on social justice which isn’t nice for middle-class people – more about that in a moment.
But you can’t get away from the high priority the early church and the Hebrew people put on prophecy.
What is this gift? ‘The gift of prophecy is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to receive and communicate an immediate message from God to his people through a divinely-anointed utterance’ (Peter Wagner, Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow, Regal, 1979, p.228). Prophecy isn’t just predicting the future, though it can include prediction. Prophets aren’t always right: so they ought to be in submission to the leadership of the church. Prophets aren’t adding a 67th book to the Bible. The canon of Scripture is closed: the prophet is simply bringing a biblically-relevant message from God to us today, for our situation. Are prophets sort of carried along by the Spirit? In a sense, yes. Michael Green writes: ‘The Spirit takes over and addresses the hearers directly through [the prophet]. That is the essence of prophecy’ (I Believe in the Holy Spirit, Eerdmans, 1975, p.172). Do prophets tend to be political activists? Often yes – as in the Bible. And today, therefore, such people are unlikely to be pastors of churches – if a pastor has a prophetic gift they’d better have also an independent income! ‘Since their message is frequently unpopular, they would feel restrained if they were too closely tied to an institution. And many church institutions feel uncomfortable with such prophets around too much… they tend to shun church bureaucracies and prefer to be outside critics’ (Wagner, p.230). Now there are varying points of view – between and among Pentecostals and Evangelicals about the ministry of prophets, and this is as much as I want to say about it all here. Except for this: if God gives you a special message for your church, write it down, and give it to the leadership: and hold the leadership accountable about praying over it, and then leave the decision about whatever happens with it to them.
Let us go back to those two Gospel texts evangelicals (like me) have ignored for 500 years: Matthew 23:23, Luke 11:42. Jesus is inveighing against the Pharisees, and saying that despite their religiosity they’ve missed the point – which is justice/love, mercy and faith. Justice comes first (as with the prophet’s message Jesus is quoting: Micah 6:8). Why? Simple: justice is all about the right use of power; it’s about fairness; it’s about doing right – particularly for the poor and oppressed. Social justice is all about (it’s *only* about) treating others as being made in God’s image; human beings with respect and dignity and infinite worth. Justice is about the most important characteristic of human beings – their Godlikeness. Homosexuals, for example, aren’t just individuals who parade their gayness in Mardi Gras festivals. They’re made in the image of God. Hitler was made in the image of God; so was Stalin; so is Pol Pot and Idi Amin and Saddam Hussein… And so are the people in church next to you this morning. CSLewis says somewhere (The Weight of Glory?) that if we realized who the others really were with whom we were worshipping, we’d be tempted to fall down and worship *them*!
There’s probably something of the Pharisee in all of us. We take two good gifts from God – law and truth – and create all sorts of legalisms and dogmatisms to save us the trouble of loving people we don’t like. What is your spiritual ‘achilles’ heel’? How does the devil get to you? One of our ‘18 questions‘ for retreatants asks: ‘For what non-altruistic motives are you in ministry?’

Have you noticed that in the ministry of Jesus, the message of repentance was mainly aimed at religious people, church-folk, like us? When we elevate law over love; rules and precedents and structures above persons; when social justice is not at the top of our agenda; then we’ve got some repenting to do. Pharisees are people who know the Bible and miss the point. Lord help us!
~~
P.S. 1. The statement about ‘trivializing the Pharisees’ refers to several problems biblical scholars have about the Pharisees in the NT in general and Matthew in particular. See, eg. the excellent article on the subject in The Anchor Bible Dictionary (Doubleday, 1992).
2. And yes, I’m aware of the ‘New Perspective’ on Paul’s possible move from the more tolerant school of Hillel (Gamaliel was a Hillelite) to the more rigorous conservative school of Shammai when or before he became a persecutor of the church…
3. See Michael Hardin’s The Jesus Driven Life (a couple of reviews on this site) for a critique of the Pharisees’ Bible Study methods: ‘Jesus critiques their study of the Scriptures… as missing the point’ (p. 251). ‘One of the claims [of Jesus] is that his hearers “do not know God” [John 8:28-29]… astonishing because these teachers and “theologians” were people steeped in their Scriptures…’ (255).
~~
Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations
Seven Underlying Themes of Richard Rohr’s Teachings
Fourth Theme: Everything belongs and no one needs to be scapegoated or excluded. Evil and illusion only need to be named and exposed truthfully, and they die in exposure to the light (Ecumenism).
The Sin of Exclusion
Meditation 10 of 52
Those at the edge of any system and those excluded from any system ironically and invariably hold the secret for the conversion and wholeness of that very group. They always hold the feared, rejected, and denied parts of the group’s soul. You see, therefore, why the church was meant to be that group that constantly went to the edges, to the “least of the brothers and sisters,” and even to the enemy. Jesus was not just a theological genius, but he was also a psychological and sociological genius. When any church defines itself by exclusion of anybody, it is always wrong. It is avoiding its only vocation, which is to be the Christ. The only groups that Jesus seriously critiques are those who include themselves and exclude others from the always-given grace of God.
Only as the People of God receive the stranger, the sinner, and the immigrant, those who don’t play our game our way, do we discover not only the hidden, feared, and hated parts of our own souls, but the fullness of Jesus himself. We need them for our own conversion.
The Church is always converted when the outcasts are re-invited back into the temple. You see this in Jesus’ commonly sending marginalized people that he has healed back into the village, back to their family, or back to the temple to “show themselves to the priests.” It is not just for their re-inclusion and acceptance, but actually for the group itself to be renewed.
Adapted from Radical Grace: Daily Meditations, p. 28
(Available through Franciscan Media)
Footnote from a friend:
This reflection from Richard Rohr might be one known to you.
Perhaps I might say that you, Rowland, have exercised the calling of an extraordinary kind of gatekeeper for the Body of Christ here in Australia today (and maybe extending much wider than our country too). Most gatekeepers decide who is coming in and who is going out, but in contrast, your function has been to keep the gates open...
Of course this kind of (subversive?!) behaviour (after the style of Jesus, I would suggest) has drawn out of the woodwork many destructive voices. Those who are threatened by inclusiveness wish to point out that you are not performing the role of gatekeeper as traditionally defined. They suggest that your activities are not legitimate, and that your open door to the marginalised and to the questioning voices is plain and simply against the will of God.
This kind of reaction has been happening for a long time in your ministry. There are many of us who would thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your clear, empathetic and compassionate stance in the face of opposition from Christian / evangelical ‘heavy weights’. I hope that this insightful statement from Richard Rohr might encourage you and Jan as you are journeying through this really difficult time.
Updated October 2011 / October 2016

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

HARVEY COX: THE FUTURE OF FAITH


I have an unusual hobby: I collect generalizations. The scholars who supply them have a magisterial grasp of their subject, and can offer outrageously simple ‘global statements’ without fear of contradiction. This book is full of them.

Harvey Cox retired from the Hollis Chair of Divinity at Harvard University in October 2009 (he was the ninth person to hold this prestigious post which, established in 1727, is the oldest endowed professorship in American higher education.)

I remember as a theological student reading his The Secular City when it was first published in 1965: and I’m not surprised it’s sold one million copies.

An ordained Baptist minister, Cox’s main area of interest has been trends in global Christianity (its history, geography, theology and spirituality) with a special focus on Latin American liberation theology. In 1900 90% of Christians lived either in Europe or in the US but today 60 percent live in Asia, Africa, or Latin America. Dr Cox writes: ‘Since the vast majority of people in this “new Christendom” are neither white nor well-off, their theological questions center less on the existence or nonexistence of God or the metaphysical nature of Christ than on why poverty and hunger still stalk God’s world. It is little wonder that liberation theology, the most creative theological movement of the twentieth century, did not originate in Marburg or Yale, but in the tar-paper shacks of Brazil and the slums of South Korea.’

This readable book is a cross between autobiography and polemics. Cox takes us on a journey through three phases of the evolution of Christianity: the Age of Faith (kiboshed – my word – by Constantine), the Age of Belief and the Age of the Spirit. His sympathies are categorically with the first and last of these, and his vitriol is mostly reserved for institutional and theological fundamentalisms of all kinds. The early churches were vibrant, enthusiastic communities dedicated to ‘following’ Jesus. But in ‘The Age of Belief’ from the fourth to the twentieth centuries, faith became entangled with rituals, liturgies and creeds, orthodox theology mostly replaced personal religion, and a stifling clericalism developed.

So the gist of  can be summarized thus: the church world-wide is in good shape when it jettisons at least three concomitants of ‘Constantinianism’ – institutionalism, hierarchicalism, and creedalism. These three destructive tendencies are not compatible with the church as a missional community; they destroy faith (as distinct from ‘beliefs’). Cox reckons the Pentecostals in Latin America (those influenced by the Hebrew prophets, Jesus, and liberation theology rather than Western notions of ‘prosperity theology’) point the way to a dynamic ‘Age of the Spirit’. One of the key secrets of these ecclesial communities’ social justice ministries? They make lists – lists of people in their neighbourhood who need help. And – importantly - they and the Catholic ‘base ecclesial communities’ are not imprisoned within a fundamentalism of ‘Jesus as personal savior whose mission [is] to rescue them from a sinful world…’

‘Faith is resurgent, while dogma is dying. The spiritual, communal and justice-seeking dimensions of Christianity are now its leading edge as the twenty-first century hurtles forward, and this change is taking place along with similar reformations in other world religions’ (p.212). So the healthiest Christianity emphasizes faith as a way of life (rather than the fundamentalists’ doctrinal boxes we must tick), respectful inter-faith dialogue, and ‘deeds not creeds’ (his quote from conservative pastor Rick Warren).

‘Christianity came to birth in the midst of cultural change — it is a movement born to travel – it takes on life with each succeeding cultural transition. But for this to happen again, some old wine-skins must be discarded, and the incubus of a self serving and discredited picture of Christian origins must be set aside’ (p.184). ‘We stand on the beautiful threshold of a new chapter in the Christian story – Christians on five continents are shaking off the residues of the second phase (the Age of Belief) and negotiating a bumpy transition into a fresh era for which a name has not yet been coined. I would like to call it the Age of the Spirit’ (p.8).

For Cox, faith starts with awe, not propositions. ‘It begins with a mixture of wonder and fear all human beings feel toward the mystery that envelops us. But awe becomes faith only as it ascribes some meaning to that mystery.’ (Interesting that. As I pondered where my Christian faith began, I have to say it wasn’t awe – though that came later – but a commitment to the person and teaching of Jesus…).

Harvey Cox would probably not categorize himself a ‘theological progressive’, but critiques that movement as he does all others. (You’ll be hard-pressed to find here any reference to Spong or Crossan: Borg, I think, is mentioned just once – or N T Wright or John Stott for that matter. And interestingly he doesn’t cite any websites in his references/ endnotes).

Here’s the best quote in the book:

‘I have often seen what damage both fundamentalist literalism and historical-critical skepticism can do to otherwise thoughtful and serious people. Take the critical specialists with a grain of salt: they are not experts in what the Bible means for today. And the fundamentalists? Their literalistic reading is a modern and questionable one.’ (p. 168)

This readable book is a real page-turner! You can get the paperback edition post-free from the Book Depository for AUD $14-78: excellent value.

~~

Rowland Croucher

http://jmm.aaa.net.au

July 2011

~~~~

More notes from an earlier version:I have an unusual hobby: I collect generalizations. Those who supply them usually have a magisterial grasp of their subject, and can offer outrageously simple 'global statements' without fear of contradiction. Harvey Cox is one of those people, and this book is full of them. Harvey Cox retired from the Hollis Chair of Divinity at Harvard University in October 2009 (he was the ninth person to hold this prestigious post which, established in 1727, is the oldest endowed professorship in American higher education.)I remember as a theological student reading his The Secular City when it was first published in 1965: and I'm not surprised it's sold one million copies.

An ordained Baptist minister, his main area of interest has been trends in global Christianity (its history, geography and spirituality) with a special focus on liberation theology in Latin America.

An ordained Baptist minister, his main area of interest has been trends in global Christianity (its history, geography and spirituality) with a special focus on liberation theology in Latin America.An ordained Baptist minister, his main area of interest has been trends in global Christianity (its history, geography and spirituality) with a special focus on liberation theology in Latin America.An ordained Baptist minister, his main area of interest has been trends in global Christianity (its history, geography and spirituality) with a special focus on liberation theology in Latin America.An ordained Baptist minister, his main area of interest has been trends in global Christianity (its history, geography and spirituality) with a special focus on liberation theology in Latin America.An ordained Baptist minister, his main area of interest has been trends in global Christianity (its history, geography and spirituality) with a special focus on liberation theology in Latin America.An ordained Baptist minister, his main area of interest has been trends in global Christianity (its history, geography and spirituality) with a special focus on liberation theology in Latin America.An ordained Baptist minister, his main area of interest has been trends in global Christianity (its history, geography and spirituality) with a special focus on liberation theology in Latin America.Dr Cox has been interested in religion, culture and politics throughout his career. His 1965 book, The Secular City sold a million copies. That book painted the church as a people of faith and action, not an institution. The Future of Faith, a 256 page essay, builds on the concept of church as a people. The church as entering a totally new era now, Dr Cox proclaims, which is the Age of the Spirit. In this exciting new time, different cultural backgrounds will add new life to the church; a prophetic vision of social justice will challenge structures of power and oppression.Christian people of faith and action are once again on the verge of something new. Like the early church, where different languages, cultures and backgrounds co-existed in radical groups that lived Jesus' good news in different ways and under different kinds of structure, this new era will encompass many different Christian paths: liberation theology, Pentecostal and charismatic beliefs, and the cultures of the East and the sub-European South. Dr Cox reminds us that in 1900 90% of Christians lived either in Europe of in The USA but today 60 percent live in Asia, Africa, or Latin America.As Dr Cox puts it"Since the vast majority of people in this "new Christendom" are neither white nor well-off, their theological questions center less on the existence or nonexistence of God or the metaphysical nature of Christ than on why poverty and hunger still stalk God's world. It is little wonder that liberation theology, the most creative theological movement of the twentieth century, did not originate in Marburg or Yale, but in the tar-paper shacks of Brazil and the slums of South Korea."Dr Cox's newest book, like his others,When Jesus Came to Harvard: Making Moral Choices TodayThe feast of fools: A theological essay on festivity and fantasy (Perennial library,) is no dry history with glances toward the future. While Dr Cox does describe past eras of Christian experience, his call is to help us see the rapidly approaching future and the moving Spirit. This new era will move us toward the fullest potential of our Earth, and, as St Paul says, we won't see this "as in a dark mirror ... but face to face." If you are interested in the synthesis of politics and history, of culture and religion, this is a book worth reading. If you are discouraged at where we human beings seem to be right now, this book is, like a good sermon, something that will lift you up.****The Future of Faith (Hardcover)Dr Cox is imminently qualified to take the reader from the beginnings of the history of Christianity up to the present day and he convincingly makes the case for the future of faith which will not and cannot be controlled by religious institutions. He clearly indicates that it will never be "creeds" alone which will determine the future forms of Christianity, but rather the "deeds" which Jesus exemplified as the prime elements of the kingdom. I might suggest that there is also another dimension in this equation which I would include along with this illiteration and that is "needs". The needs of the people play an important role in the changing expression of the church and it could easily be placed alongside of "creeds" and "deeds". The needs of the people who do believe, and many of them thirst for the mysteries and power of the kingdom to manifest in their personal lives. Jesus did say that "those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled". There are those who have thirsted not only for righteousness but for spiritual gifts and powers, whose prayers God has heard. Dr Cox does state this fact in other lines of thought when he refers to the "age of the spirit" and the rise of "Pentecostalism". He makes it very clear that "we need not assume that creedal Christianity is the only option" p78. Here is the crux of the matter, there are other options in the experience and expressions of the Chritian faith that have continued to break out of the molds and constraints of both hierarchical and creedal Christianity.In chapter three, Dr Cox uses the metaphor, "we find ourselves on a ship that has already been launched" pg 37. We are passengers among many others who are sailing in the midst of spiritual mystery,"but how we live with it differs". He deals with this fact throughout the book and tries to impress upon the reader that Christianity has never been monolithic and never will be. As long as people can think, question, and interpret for themselves truth and meaning, there will be differences in perception and changes in the expression of the gospel of the kingdom.Dr Cox indicates that changes in the interpretation and expression of the gospel will contiune to come as Christianity moves forward into the future. He says on pg 196, "Christianity understood as a system of beliefs guarded and transmitted through a privileged religious institution by a clerical class is dying. Instead, today Christianity as a way of life, shared in a vast variety of ways by a diverse global network of fellowships is arising". The book is scholarly written and yet the author expresses a spiritual sensitivity toward the church at large. There are no overtones of harshness in the pages as he presents the things he is seeking to share. There are no attacks, simply an earnest attempt to present the facts as he sees them. After all, he is on board the same ship of Chrisitanity that many others are sailing on. Thurman L Faison, Author "To The Spiritually Inclined"****Harvey Cox has played a significant role in relation to ecumenism, inter-faith dialogue and the history of ideas. In many ways, this book reflects his breadth of experience and celebrates his life-long contribution. It is beautifully written and easy to read, and so it will appeal to a wide audience. It offers a timely challenge to the institutional Church, as well as a word of hope for those who are searching for meaning. His main concern is the two-fold shift from faith to belief and from dynamic Christian communities to static hierarchical structures. In this light, his reflections on the Emperor Constantine's corporate takeover of the Church in the 4th century are illuminating. Moreover, we all benefit greatly from his broad experience of world religions as well as the Church in the Global south. In short, Harvey Cox's experience is not only interesting, but it also lends weight to his heart-felt plea for faith and freedom.****Harvey Cox' book is a page turner! It is destined to rival Augustine's Confessions as classic religious autobiography. In this readable account, Harvey Cox speaks vulnerably about the beginnings of his faith as a fundamentalist Baptist with a complete description of his baptism by immersion. He repeatedly speaks openly about his liberation from belief to a person of faith. "The Spirit cannot be restricted by doctrinal or ecclesial boundaries." He talks of his liberation from fundamentalism as a university student at Penn where during a religious retreat in southern New Jersey he discovered his belief in liberal mainline Protestant theology disagreed with the bibliolatry of more fundamentalist-evangelical students aligned with the Inter-Varisty Christian Fellowship student movement. Dr. Cox' often nostalgic personal spiritual catharsis continues by speaking of his freedom from belief to become a person of faith. Possibly many, with him, can relate to the bane of creedal formulations of historic Christianity, from which one may find freedom. I was especially struck with his account of his liberation from Gnosticism where through the use of neo-Platonic dualism he continually pitted faith against belief, as if the two were mutually exclusive. Clearly, his personal spirituality counters the both-and resolution of un-necessarily rivaling motifs. Can a person of belief simul be a person of faith? According to this autobiography, apparently not. I wondered often out loud about the church leaders who took 500 years to write the poetry of the Nicene Creed or the Apostle's Creed and how the earliest Christians might have learned "to read symbolic language symbolically" while reciting the Creed in Mass or later in other liturgical Christian forms of worship. As I continued to read this book, I was challenged by Cox' ongoing war with fundamentalism, as if this were any different from his own "fundamentalistic" critique of historic Christianity which might be stated in the following Five Fundamentals. 1. There is no such thing as Early Christianity.2. All Christian Creeds are flawed. 3. Belief and Faith are mutually exclusive 4. Anything Western about Christian Faith is in error. 5. Ecclesiology should be banned from Christian theology. I was furthered enamored by Dr. Cox' diatribe and spiritual concern with literalism, as I read his own book written by him using words, all of which I took literally, without a "tone-deafness to literalism." Cox' autobiography informs the reader of his inter-faith conversations with world religious leaders. I was saddened that the Pope failed to offer him lunch. I was surprised that fundamentalist pastor Rick Warren even made it into his autobiography, but then, Warren's quote "deeds, not creeds" supported his thesis. Possibly the new word Harvey Cox coins----"hascent, on page 77" is the symbolism which most appropriately assesses this book. I failed to locate this descriptor in any dictionary he identifies with the "first two and a half centuries of the Christian movement"--you see, I was reading his book literally. I took great interest in Cox' appraisal of base communities as the answer to all that's wrong with the organized church; but then, where are the base communities today while all those Pentecostal churches from the West abound and flourish, as he states? I was intrigued that whenbase communities did exist, they were not spoiled by the fundamentalism of a "Jesus as personal savior whose mission was to rescue them from a sinful world..."In sum, Harvey's intellectually-challenged and poorly-researched book is more the author's nostalgic spiritual journey than it is a scholarly history of Christianity. It is, however, prophetic; for it forecasts the conclusion to historic Christian faith. If this book represents academic research [one footnote for every 3 pages], Christian faith may have no future in America, or anywhere, even in the global South. An author with integrity would have marketed it as his own personal spiritual journey. This book is an insult and an affront to any thinking theologian who still cares about scholarship and who calls herself Christian.****Awe becomes faith only as it ascribes meaning to the mystery, September 21, 2009By John Philoponus "Ortho Arbiter" (Nitria, Virtual Ortho America) - See all my reviewsThis review is from: The Future of Faith (Hardcover)"Faith starts with awe. It begins with a mixture of wonder and fear all human beings feel toward the mystery that envelops us. But awe becomes faith only as it ascribes some meaning to that mystery." Harvey CoxWhat shape faith is taking in the 21st century?Recently I listened attentively to Professor Harvey Cox as he discussed The Future of the Christian Faith, while he examines the status of other world beliefs, on the PBR. Parallel to his fine book, he traced the evolutionary development of the faith through two phases, 'The Age of Faith' and 'The Age of Belief.' In his book, Cox argues that Christianity is entering an age of more experience applicable mode. One basic focus is on social justice, led by South American theologians. World's great religions are undergoing reformative evolution, which he discussed in the last chapter of his book, where he tabulates few examples in Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam. Cox comments on the 'emerging church movement' and its influence on mainstream churches in America, simply as, "religious people are becoming less dogmatic and more practicing more aware of ethical issues and spiritual guidelines than in religious Dogma." He looks more optimistic than his early time of 'The secular City,' wishful that the future of faith is forward expansive, transparent, and hopeful.The Age of the Spirit:The faith of the early Christians was knitted around the hope for the new kingdom of peace that Jesus preached and practiced. As their Jewish ancestors, early Christians emphasized community rather than creeds or rituals. The pre Constantine Christianity demonstrated a religious faith variety, with charity and fellowship, against an imperial Roman pagan character. "The Age of Belief," as Cox calls it, from the fourth to the twentieth century, faith became entangled with rituals, liturgies and creeds, orthodox theology replaced personal religion, which resulted in the glorification of clergy and a history of mundane Church corruption. According to Cox, following WW II, "The Age of the Spirit," began, half a century ago, and continues to shake the foundations of patriarchal corporate religion. The prophetic author, gives examples of the last gasps of the old model. He has little sympathy for this outdated conservatism, even he wrote against the remaining part of it, clinging to petrified beliefs. In the midst of fast paced globalization and facing an apparent revival of fundamentalism, Cox ponders the de-Hellenization of Christianity, the growth of the interfaith movement, the surge of Pentecostalism, and the just cause of liberation theology.Harvey G. Cox:This eminent Harvard theologian sees Christian faith as focused by Christ on the new order which he called "the kingdom of God." Cox says that it was "the heartbeat of his life, his constant concern and preoccupation," well presented by many books including The Secular City, 1965, an international bestseller. His most recent work "The Future of Faith" is released to coincide with Cox's retirement. Harvey Cox [...] is the recently retired Professor of Divinity emeritus at Harvard whose last book is entitled, "The Future of Faith." My good friend, Jack LaMar, who still labors in God's pastoral vineyards in Elcho, Wisconsin, was kind enough to send me Cox's latest work as a birthday present. Since you ask-you did, didn't you?-what I thought of the book, here are my thoughts.It's a moderate investment of one's time, covering 224 pages and written in quite understandable layman's language. It would be helpful if the reader has a little background in Christian theology and the history of the church, but even without that background it does not appreciably limit Cox's ability to communicate his message.That core message, as I understand it, is that Christianity began in a "faith" mode, but, then, beginning most notably in the 4th century, deteriorated into a "belief" mode and its future lies with trying to get into a "spirit" mode.Perhaps a subtitle to the book, obviously greatly overdrawn, would be the thesis, "deeds, not creeds." That's what Christianity should be about, says Cox.When the Church began it overcame and burst out of the Jewish trappings in which it originated. Through the Apostle Paul, the good news of Jesus went out into the gentile world, the Greek speaking world. Cox sees the early church as a vibrant, enthusiastic group of communities dedicated to "following" Jesus. Not following "about" Jesus, but trying to devote themselves to what Jesus meant to his own community and "doing" that in the context of others. So, he talks about the early church's mission to help others, serve the poor, etc., although I think that kind of mission was mostly intended for members of the fellowship, instead of some wider community enterprise. In other words, members of the early church made sure their own people were taken care of and tended to, and probably less concerned about the needs of the rest of the city.It seems that Dr. Cox would see in the Letters of Paul, and other writings, both that made our Protestant accepted 27 books in the New Testament, and those that did not, e.g., the Gospel of Thomas, the letters of Clement, as less theological proposals and more pastoral. In other words "faith" was being promoted, and, where wranglings and disputes took place in the church, as they will in any community of people, the accent was on common sense resolution instead of proposed theological dogma.Unfortunately, says Cox, the church began to lose its way when it moved from a "faith" accented community to a "belief" driven community. In other words, the church decided to codify faith by issuing statements of faith, another word for "creeds." He does not seem to think that the development of the "apostle's creed," or the Nicene Creed, or any other exclusionary statement of faith helped the church to be the church, as he sees it.Essentially, says Cox, the church moved from a faith based organization, where it was for at best several hundred years, to a structured belief based organism. That movement got pretty well solidified in the 4th century when Emperor Constantine embraced Christianity as the official religion of the empire. Then you see the structure really develop, people jockeying for importance and power in the church, the development of the apostolic succession of bishops, read, papacy, etc.The church has been in this latter mode for a long, long time. It has become stale, stultified, and stuffy. It has got to change. Not that Cox sees returning to some golden age of the church, but kind of. The church has to get to the mode of the "spirit." Faith was a thing of the past. Good, but in the past. Belief, with all of the creeds and individual theologies that insisted that its members had to believe a certain thing or a certain way, whether that source of authority was the pope or the bible, it was still creedal. It was still bogged down in a belief system. We have to look for our models for a spirit community for Christians both within and without.Dr, Cox sees examples and models in the Christian liberation theology that has come out of Latin and South America, where the church "does," where it is involved with the poor and the downtrodden, where it enacts the message of Jesus, as Dr. Cox sees it.He looks to other religions, including the Hindus and Buddhists who do more doing and less believing, as further examples. And, he lifts up the Muslims who, as part of their faith, have a very involved commitment to be very charitable and supportive, especially monetarily, to those of their own ilk.As somewhat of a sidebar, Dr. Cox tells about his early religious experience as a Baptist and how he moved from faith to the belief mode. He speaks of his time and work with some Christian fundamentalist groups early on in life and of how he left them behind, but not unkindly. He understands "fundamentalism" and that it is not limited to Christianity, as Karen Armstrong has so ably pointed out in her writings. Notably, there are Christian fundamentalists, Muslim fundamentalists and Jewish fundamentalists. These groups have some common characteristics. Circle the wagons. Encourage people to come in, but protect those from within. Keep them in. Don't let them be corrupted by those outside the circle.I found it interesting that Cox does not fear the take over of Christian fundamentalism in America. Despite the fact that main line churches seem to be receding in membership and attendance, and we are seeing an increase in the bible churches, etc., Cox is so bold as to propose that fundamentalism is dying! No matter how much we try to fence ourselves off, the barriers and demarcations are less and less. Can't keep anything in and can't keep anything out. Things just seem to be melding.While Cox sees fundamentalism dying, he seems to extol the virtues of Pentecostalism, especially as it is represented in the Latin and South American countries where he sees it as a faith movement, a movement of the spirit where everything ostensibly is geared to the Kingdom of God, an overarching theme to Cox's understanding of the spirit community. We are working in and for the Kingdom of God, as proposed by Jesus and called by Jesus to belong to and commit to.Anyhow, I think the book is interesting and challenging. Cox does not want to say that church, the Christian community, should be founded on "feeling," but when he talks about the Pentecostals, and how they worship and how they see mission, which he thinks is worthy of emulation, I don't know how you just give up all reason, all attempts at formulating theology. Is theology not longer an enterprise of the church, even though it has not always served the church well over the centuries, read the Inquisition and the dealing with heretics?I guess what I am saying is that Dr. Cox seems to want to eschew creedal theology for what he calls the spiritual nature of people and the church. It just seems to me that as I read the letters of Paul, especially his letter to the Romans, that Paul sees it necessary for the church to understand where it came from, where it is and where it is going, and, consequently, the plan that God has not just for the church, but also the synagogue and that much larger community of the world outside those two institutions.But, if you have a chance, read Cox's book. He truly is a readable, presentable and understandable theologian.****I have always wondered what the dialogue would sound like if the religious right (fundamentalists) took the time to study the history and origin of their beliefs. This is a great book and offers sanity and REALITY to the Christian faith. (Quite a refreshing change from the tired, mythological beliefs that define the fundamental Christian religion.) The Future of Faith is an excellent read on many levels. It is well written, interesting and not a boring theological thesis.****About forty years ago, Harvard Professor Harvey Cox wrote THE SECULAR CITY.In autumn 2009, he retired as Hollis Professor of Divinity, first exercisinghis right to bring a cow to graze in Harvard Yard.THE FUTURE OF FAITH is his latest book. In the opening of the final chapter, Cox quotes the fictional islanders of Aldous Huxley's ISLAND. They pray, "GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY FAITH, BUT DELIVER US FROM BELIEFS." Cox comments, "Huxley got this one right. In the preceding chapters I have shown how Christianity, which began as a movement of Spirit guided by faith, soon clotted into a catalog of beliefs administered by a clerical class. But now ... the process is being reversed. Faith is resurgent, while dogma is dying."From Einstein & Jerry Falwell to Thomas Jefferson and Huxley, in THE FUTURE OF FAITH, Cox carries us through the transformation from creeds to spiritual practice. The book has many marvelous vignettes: McGill Professor Arvind Sharma is asked if he was a "believing" or "practicing" Hindu. Sharma smiled and responded, "Well, if you live in a haunted house, does that mean you believe in ghosts?"Cox comments, "To some extent we all live in haunted houses. But although the houses may be in one shrinking global village, they remain separate houses."Cox predicts that opposition to the ordination of women and gays is a reactionary effort. "... yearning for the realization of God's reign of SHALOM, is finding its soul again. ... The future will be a future of faith." ****So far in my 66 years of life I have avoided reading any books by Harvey Cox, such as the Secular City. I did hear him lecture once in 1965, but I wasn't listening then. For different reasons - such as my interest in the Progressive Church movement - I decided to pick up this book. This author is so clear, fairly easy to read, yet so brilliant. I am so amazed and so grateful. Harvey would probably not list himself as a progressive, but would critique that movement as he does all others. He stands alone by the sheer stature of his breth and depth of years of study and teaching. Yet he stands among us all as a friend of faith - not of "the faith", but of faith itself. Whatever that is, he will help you decide. Yes, do read this book.****"Harvey Cox was therefore concerned not so much with 'eternal' truths as with truth for today, truth for action, and he suspected that a faith which responded primarily to ideas was more likely to be idolatrous and less likely to be redemptive than one that responded to events and experience." [...]Logic and discovery of faith:Harvey Cox, a young Harvard professor became the best-selling voice of secularism in America with his 1965 book, The Secular City. Throughout four decades since, he pursued a radical innovative interpretation of working faith. He sees the old thinking in the 'new atheism' of thinkers like Richard Dawkins and Chris. Hitchens. Henri PoincarĂ©, one of France's greatest mathematicians and theoretical physicists once wrote, "It is by logic that we prove, but by intuition that we discover." The debates between faith and atheism, he says, obscure the interplay between faith and forms of knowledge that is unfolding today.The Future of faith:The study of the future of faith is therefore the pursuit of the ideal, the search for God's highest and ultimate truth. It is the quest, by God's grace, to improve all things, including faith itself. Jesus did not endorse any "Faith future scenario" before him, but presented the case by asking, [And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? Luke 18:8] On this verse and Jesus following parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, Harvey Cox supported his view on the recent NPR interview, mentioned by Cosmas in his precedent fine review. Jesus told this parable to those who trusted themselves, their rituals, and their dogmatic belief, positioning themselves on the extreme Pelagian position of non assisted intellectual personal salvation. Jesus prophetically saw the future of such legalistic belief, leading to the collapse of the Israeli religion instituted on the Jewish Temple of his generation. To save Israel from the coming catastrophic path he kept advocating the way of faith, that God would raise the dead nation. that is why, Jesus resurrection became for his disciples the sign that God was raising up a New House, a total restoration of Israel and humanity would follow his teaching. So, Jesus saw a renewed future, in Jeremiah 31:31 where humans could fulfill their potential of living abundantly when they were restored to God's New covenant.Book Review:The renowned Harvard Divinity School Professor and author of The Secular City, The Feast of Fools, The Seduction of the Spirit, ... talks about his faith, and the religious resurgence taking place in America and abroad in his new book, The Future of Faith. He offers a new interpretation of the history and manages to extrapolate the future of religion. Rev. Cox, a Baptist Minister, ordained in 1957, has a unique take on Christianity, and while questioning the meaning of Resurrection, he celebrates Jesus life and teaching, urging us to practice an imitation of Christ, and takes his teachings to the secular world representing them to our flawed society. Today, religious people are more interested in a living faith guidelines and related spiritual practices than in Church Dogmas, leading a universal trend away from a patriarchal, hierarchical, corporate religion. As these changes gain momentum, they evoke a spontaneous graphic fundamentalist reaction, that he argues, is dying slowly out all around the globe. ****Harvey Cox is Professor of Divinity Emeritus at Harvard University. He retired from the faculty in 2009, where he has taught since 1965.I am fascinated by this book. It is truly the epic summary of the life's work of one of the most profound theological thinkers and teachers in the past 50+ years --- an American one at that.The book begins with a question: "What does the future hold for religion, and for Christianity in particular?" Cox proceeds by guiding the reader through three phases of the evolution of Christianity: The Age of Faith, The Age of Belief and the Age of the Spirit. Throughout each phase Cox provides an incredibly rich context for the points he is illuminating. This approach gives the texture of the book one that is logically presented, easy to follow --- and maintains the reader's hunger for more. I found I was unable to put it down and when I did, came back hungry for another helping.Where does Cox end up at the conclusion? Listen to these excerpts: All signs suggest we are poised to enter a new Age of the Spirit and that the future will be a future of faith" (p.224). "Faith is resurgent, while dogma is dying. The spiritual, communal and justice-seeking dimensions of Christianity are now its leading edge as the twenty-first century hurtles forward, and this change is taking place along with similar reformations in other world religions" (p.212).Yet, it would be inappropriate to simply leave you with the bottom-line conclusions of this epic contribution. It is the richness of the writing, the masterful, insightful weaving of history, and the sharing of attention grabbing wisdom that accompanies the reader throughout this entire book, that makes it apparent that you are in the midst of a story being shared by a very wise and leaned friend. Allow me to share a few more excerpts to illustrate this important point:"People turn to religion more for support in their efforts to live in this world and make it better, and less to prepare for the next" (pp.2-3) Cox makes an important distinction between faith and beliefs throughout the book while weaving the weight of history into support his positions. According to Cox, Faith is about deep-seated confidence - vital for the way we live - it is primordial - hope and assurance that translates into the way we live our lives --- each and every day (pp.3-5). Belief, according to Cox, is more like opinion - We can believe something to be true without it making much difference to us. Creeds are clusters of beliefs. Christianity is the story of a people of faith who sometimes cobbled together creeds out of beliefs. It is also the history of equally faithful people who questioned, altered and discarded those same creeds"(pp.3-5).For the author, "To be a Christian meant to live in his Spirit, embrace his hope, and to follow him in the work that he had begun" (p.5). So, where are we today? "We stand on the beautiful threshold of a new chapter in the Christian story - Christians on five continents are shaking off the residues of the second phase (the Age of Belief) and negotiating a bumpy transition into a fresh era for which a name has not yet been coined. I would like to call it the Age of the Spirit" (p.8).As we "transition" into this new Age of The Spirit that Cox clearly observes (and provides ample evidence to support said observations), he provides some insights, challenges and suggestions:"How the new can grow out of the old without wasting time trying to dismantle it" (p.173).Faith is returning to become "a primary life orientation" (p. 179) --- not intellectual assent to a box of beliefs, creeds, doctrine and dogma."Christianity came to birth in the midst of a cultural change --- it is a movement born to travel - it takes on life with each succeeding cultural transition - But for this to happen again, some old wineskins must be discarded, and the incubus of a self serving and discredited picture of Christian origins must be set aside" (p.184)"The fact that the most fruitful and exciting movements in Christianity today are taking place on the margins of existing ecclesial structures should not surprise anyone. Historically speaking, "schism" and "heresy" have often heralded the deepening and extension of the faith. Sometimes they are condemned, sometimes honored, and sometimes both, starting with the first and only later ending up with the second" (p.197)."One clear Christian example of the both the renaissance of spirituality and the transmutation in the nature of religiousness is what is being called the emerging church" (p.218)....emphasis is mine.Where does Cox conclude? "A religion based on subscribing to mandatory beliefs is no longer viable" (221). "The wind of the Spirit is blowing. One indication is the upheaval that is shaking and renewing Christianity. Faith, rather than beliefs, is once again becoming its defining quality" (p.223).

I can live with that. Can you? Trust me --- This is a PHENOMENAL BOOK! --Shalom!/Salaam!/Pax!Rowland Croucher 




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Husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, pastor, teacher, writer, used-to-be-academic... See here for more: http://jmm.org.au