Friday, August 25, 2006


I received a proof of Spencer Burke & Barry Taylor's book The Heretic's Guide to Eternity and was asked to read it and blog about it. I want to read the entire book before I say much but...

Spencer's primary theme is one of grace... grace unconditional and untamed. Around this theme he says that Christianity must change not only it's face but also its guts. Forms are not enough, the theology underneath must change as well. Adding new media or music doesn't go far enough. It is an argument that I've been making for a while.

This week, I had an experience that underscored this for me. I heard a speaker, tauted as "the stuff" for YA's. And to be truthful, there was a vocal bunch of followers there. But as I listened to the words, I wondered how others would hear the message. He spoke of abortion in a very judgmental way and promised that God would make a way financially for women who chose to follow the pregnancy to term regardless of their situation. He talked about the substitutionary atonement as Jesus died in our place at the hands of a judgmental god.

I left thinking that if that is the theology of the Church, it deserves to disappear. My heart resonates with a God who loves us without strings, of a grace that truly is amazing, of a savior who understands and identifies with our struggles rather than making easy and quick judgements.

I think Spencer and Barry are right on target when they talk about the shifts that must take place. I am not finished with the book yet so I'll say more in a few days. I do wonder as they dismiss the institutional church where they will find community and communal expressions for their faith. I worry about what seems to be a furthering of the individualization of faith... but as I said, I'm not finished with the book and I'm hopful that they'll say more about these issues. Check back later for more.

1 comment:

fernando said...

I'm looking forward to the rest of your thoughts on the book. I reviewed it over four posts and it is really worth the read. I was left unconviced by the direction it proposed, but convinced that it was addressing most of the big issues we need to face today.

In particular, I think you are right to note the heavy emphasis on grace in the book and the lack of any real sense of grace in a lot of public "christian" discourse.