I sent a dear friend, Homebrewed Christianity Deacon, and regular blog comment author Jo Ann Goodson a copy of ‘A Heretic’s Guide to Eternity‘ and she sent me her response to the book. Since I enjoyed the book when it came out and never blogged about it I thought I would share her comments with permission. Jo Ann has a keen spiritual ear, loving heart, and intuits great theology. I learned more from her in small groups at church in Divinity school than many classes, so I hope you enjoy her observations. Without further ado, Jo Ann……..
Heretic: A church member who holds beliefs opposed to church dogma.
“Everywhere you turn you hear the call for change, and it is not just a call from the margins of society, but from the mainstream. The title “A Heretic’s Guide to Eternity” was chosen as a provocative title because the authors wanted to signal their belief that these are times that call for radical revision and not simply cosmetic adjustments when it comes to Christian Faith. This choice was an intentional attempt to redeem a word and a way of approaching Faith.”
The authors have a conviction that there are other ways to look at the Christian story, other ways to approach the Christian Life, and other ways to offer the Gospel to the world. A way of life that will challenge some of the basic assumptions of the modern Church. This is a book particularly for those who dream of a world filled with the beauty of God’s grace, whose greatest desire is to see humans flourish under the reign of God’s Love.
The root of Christian Faith is Jesus’ call to Love passionately and Radically. One heretical thought is the authors no longer believe that evangelism means the arguing of propositional ideas of God but rather that it is the telling of one’s story.
Mystical responsibility is a term used throughout the book. Their theory is that it is not about merely adopting theories about God; but it is about living in sync and in tune with the sacred rhythm of Grace.
Burke and Taylor prove their case by revisiting the scriptures and giving us a fresh new way of seeing and thinking through these stories. It is important in doing this that we use our God given imagination, review our history, remind ourselves of new information that was not available to the writers of scriptures. We must not just search for information but we must seek wisdom. Information about God is helpful for belief systems, but it is wisdom that transforms.
“Mystical responsibility” seeks to recover all of life for God. It is a theology of the marketplace, not just the sanctuary. It is a theology that’s available to everyone regardless of race, color or creed.
Anger – even so called “righteous anger”- will never change the world. It takes a different kind of Power to do that. Only the Power of radical Love and Grace can accomplish the change we seek. Jesus said “I am the way.” We are asked to revisit these words. Most orthodox Churches interpret this to mean that you must believe in Jesus and obey all laws to gain an entry into Heaven. Burke and Taylor see this as a call for a fresh new interpretation.
See this as “I am the Life.” Jesus Life, not just His acts on our behalf but the life he lived on earth, is “The Life.” Living a life like Jesus is what it truly means to live. Jesus declared His life to be the way to choose, not the way of Zealotry or organism or compromise, but a life committed to God, committed to God’s way, and committed Grace.
Our challenge is to find the sacred in simple, mundane moments of today – not the past or the future, but TODAY.
If we want Love and Grace to abound, then we must look at ourselves, others, the world and our churches differently and make the necessary changes to work with God in transforming this world. Then we must live our life as Jesus did. He was our example.
Some cannot find these changes taking place in our Churches and they have left. They left the Church not God and are finding new ways to live out God’s call in small groups, banding together for worship and ministry. Examples are given throughout this book for our understanding and challenge.
Christian churches were not available when Jesus was living. They were established later. Therefore I must agree that what Jesus said must be interpreted in such a way that we see Jesus speaking to a person or people not “the Church.” This makes a huge difference in my estimation.
I have always known my “call” was to be a lay minister in the “marketplace” and I must be involved in peacemaking, reconciliation and transformation. I think this fits well with the concepts I found in “A Heretic’s Guide to Eternity.” It is more about what we do on a daily basis living our lives than it is in “doing church.”
I remain in my church as I think it is unique and attempting to live out what I have learned from this book. For me I want my church to be transformed from within and I work towards that end.