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Links & Resources

November 3, 2016

links-and-resources

So here I am, adding a new page to my blog menu and calling it Links & Resources. From now on, anything not authored by me will be listed here. My recommendation of books, videos, audio lectures, blogs, websites and more, will also appear under this tab. I am dedicating this post to building a more comprehensive list of recommendations.

I will begin with a website that a friend recently brought to my attention. It is called:

The Work Of The People

http://www.theworkofthepeople.com/

It is a collection of short videos, from various people of faith and on a variety of themes. Excellent for devotions, study and introduction to various arguments. You may register for free for 30 days and renew it only for a few dollars afterwards.

Some of my favorite videos are those by, Richard Rohr, Greg Boyd, William Paul Young, Jean Vanier, Cynthia Burgeault, Diana Butler Bass, John Michael Talbot, but I am sure there are many more. Some great music as well.

Next I will mention two books and two authors that most of us are familiar with:

The Shack, by Paul Young

https://www.amazon.com/Shack-Wm-Paul-Young/dp/160941411X

Love Wins, by Rob Bell.

https://www.amazon.com/Love-Wins-About-Heaven-Person-ebook/dp/B004IWR3CE

These are fairly easy reading and had a certain impact on us, mainly because they resonated with so much that we were already familiar with. They were recommended from their first publication and circulated widely amongst us. If you’ve missed them I highly suggest reading them. Though they answer some difficult questions, they also give rise to new ones, so they are an excellent start in a new journey of discovery.

The Shack is a novel dealing with some deep theological issues, the question of evil, the nature of God, etc. Putting theology in a story form, teaching it through a narrative that both grips us and instruct us, is a rare gift. Paul Young does this and, in a sense, tells us nothing that we couldn’t have gleaned from our own writings, except that he connects the dots on things that with us had laid scattered and undeveloped.

https://www.amazon.com/Shack-Wm-Paul-Young/dp/1455568295

In Love Wins Rob Bell works through some of the same issues, but develops them differently. It is not a novel but a sermon, one that grips us nonetheless and brings us to see God more coherently than we ever had before.

https://www.amazon.com/Love-Wins-About-Heaven-Person/dp/0062049658/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1478189397&sr=1-1&keywords=love+wins

Of interest are also other books and YouTube videos by these same authors. Here are some links, but there is much more:

http://robbell.podbean.com/e/episode-8-the-enduring-relevance-astonishing-power-and-unexpected-brilliance-of-the-bible/

For those wishing for a more “theological” approach to some of the questions raised by the two previous authors, I would then recommend two books:

The Inescapable Love of God, by Thomas Talbott

http://wipfandstock.com/the-inescapable-love-of-god.html

The Evangelical Universalist, by Gregory MacDonald

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Evangelical-Universalist-Gregory-MacDonald/dp/1597523658

The above books argued their point of view from a traditional approach to scripture. Scholarly work, however, has grown past the traditional, when it comes to the Bible, and have uncovered much that wasn’t previously known. Some of this new information may seem to shake the very foundation of Christianity but, actually, it helps it get back to what it was meant to be right from the start. For those possessing the ballast of an of an experiential Christianity, one deeply embedded in KNOWING what one believes in, scholarly work becomes like the work of archeologists, which uncovers the foundations under centuries of rubble, layer upon layer of interpretations, including personal ones. This is a process not entirely new to us either, but before entering the arena of new scholarly breakthrough, I would recommend a good course on early Christian history and its writings. There are many and all are useful but one which I found helpful to connect recent scholarly work with the faith of the fathers is the work of Luke Timothy Johnson:

https://www.goodreads.com/work/editions/5150607-early-christianity-cds-the-experience-of-the-divine-the-great-courses

https://www.amazon.com/Great-Courses-Jesus-Gospels/dp/1565859421

Accepting what has emerged in recent decades, this scholar finds the foundation of Christianity not so much in the historicity of the Biblical accounts, but in the present personal experience of the divine, the same today as it was then.

Having also struggled with parts of the Christian scriptures and particularly with some of Paul’s writings we will find good and helpful material in the following book. It sheds new light on Paul’s epistles, removes later interpolations, pseudepigraphic works and reveals the original guy:

The Authentic Letters of Paul, by Arthur J. Dewey, Roy W. Hoover, Lane McGaughy, Daryl D. Schmidt

https://www.amazon.com/Authentic-Letters-Paul-Arthur-Dewey/dp/1598150197

Almost a natural next step would be:

How to Read the Bible and Still Be a Christian, by John Dominique Crossan:

https://www.amazon.com/How-Read-Bible-Still-Christian/dp/0062203592

For a more comprehensive work spanning the entire Bible text I would recommend:

Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World, by John Shelby Spong

https://www.amazon.com/Re-Claiming-Bible-Non-Religious-World-Shelby/dp/0062011294

Let me add a parenthesis here and that is that no author is free from personal bias and interpretations. Nonetheless it is obvious, from the preponderance of material, the peer review and the consensus developing amongst scholars that the traditional, literalistic and fundamentalist take has become obsolete. Christianity needs as much renewal today as it did at the time of the reformation, which was more advanced then but has now fallen beyond others. Their insistence on the theological shibboleths that defined it and separate it from others, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox etc. has actually become their greatest hindrance from moving forward. It is refreshing to note how Christian scholars, preachers and leaders who are embracing the new, no longer define themselves as exclusive Catholic, Protestant or other. There is a dialogue now cutting through these traditional division and exploring what the Christianity of the future will be like and, oddly enough, it resembles evermore what it was to begin with, not so much in doctrine and tradition, but in posture, practice and experience.

With this I end my first round of suggestions. If you have anything along these lines which you like to recommend you are welcome to contribute.

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