On Mar 15, 4:47 pm, "robertdfeinman" <robert.fein...
> Flame thrower Sam Harris has a new op-ed out:http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-harris15mar15,0
> His thesis is that moderate liberals provide cover for the more
> radical types, but all suffer from the same unquestioning (deluded)
> ...groups that are now claiming to revert to original
> Christian values of aid for the oppressed are still dogmatic and
> unwilling to discuss the basis of their belief. <snip>
> Is it possible to be a sincere believer and not be an easily led
Has it ever occurred to you that GENUINE followers of Jesus are
identified by values and actions, not by "beliefs"?
Many people have this notion that in order to be a Christian, a person
must "believe six impossible things before breakfast". But since when
did people believing something make it true? (Oh, yeah. "If we believe
hard enough we'll win in Iraq.")
One of the more interesting members at my local church is a genial
retired pastor who freely states that he'd never make it through
theology school with his current beliefs.
He has taught adult classes on _Generations_, on John Shelby Spong's
work, and just now has been leading a series on Celtic Christianity.
<aside>I think it's important for us to remember that Bob Altmeyer's
work does NOT focus on different styles and motivations for
leadership. There ARE other types of leaders besides those with SDO.
(Bob--can you start researching this? Humanity needs to learn how to
recognize and encourage leaders who are not SDO.)</aside>
Here are some of the key points that differentiate Celtic theology
from Mediterranean theology:
* At the deepest level, all of us are created in the image of God. Our
deepest core contains wisdom and creativity, not evil.
*Creation is not a one-time event (the world from nothing) but is
instead an ongoing process (the universe continually springing from
the essence of God).
A couple of years back, _Presbyterians Today_ ran an issue about
Celtic spirituality, and my friend borrowed heavily from it in
crafting the recent series. Here are the bullet points and one snippet
* All creation is alive with the presence of God
* The good creation has been corrupted by evil
* Salvation is the restoration of goodness
* All life is intertwined
* God is encountered in the ordinary
* Hospitality is essential
* The Celts were evangelists
...[Celtic] evangelism was affirming and persuasive rather than
threatening and coercive. They did not so much seek to bring Christ to
others as to help others discover the Christ that was already within
and around them and allow him to uncover their true identity as God's
The entire issue is online at <http://www.pcusa.org/today/cover/jan02/
cover.htm>; I recommend the article.
Another denomination working in this direction is the UCC. <http://
www.stillspeaking.com/default.htm> They have been doing wonderful
things with their "God is still speaking" theme.
Recently, a local UCC church (this is Minnesota, not Massachusetts!)
decided that in order to treat all people fairly, they would no longer
perform ANY state-sponsored weddings. The church would perform
blessing ceremonies for holy unions--but legal marriages would need
the signature of a judge on a piece of paper.
What I particularly like about these freshening currents within
Christianity is that they have found a way to retrieve the pearls from
the pig trough.
Scripture is respected and honored--but not followed blindly. Current
theology recognizes that parts of the Bible are historical--but the
history was carried for many years as oral tradition before finally
Many of the miracle stories are not so much lies, as they are the
predictable result of someone trying to explain something they did not
fully understand. (Consider: How might Shakespeare have described
television to his audience? A Blackberry?)
Still other parts of the Bible were created through a Jewish process
called midrash--which very few people understand today, but which was
quite legitimate at the time the Bible was written. (Look it up.)
Many students of Scripture believe that the book of Ruth was one of
the world's first novels--written to counter the contemporary Jewish
prejudice against Moab. Like much great literature, the fictional
story was simply a well-constructed wrapper for a strong and powerful
Personally, I have great difficulty "believing in" a literal Garden of
Eden--but no difficulty at all understanding the story as metaphor for
the human growth of every individual. It's a wonderful analogy about
the moral growth of children from birth to adulthood. Once you
understand the difference between good and evil, you cannot return to
the innocence of childhood.
I have difficulty with the concept of a literal, bodily resurrection,
too. But I have no difficulty accepting Spong's idea--that somehow
Jesus's life and personality had such an impact on his followers that
they continued to sense his presence after his death.
In a metaphorical sense, this new wave of Christianity is still in the
catacombs. It's "underground", and growing slowly. But it is there,
and it welcomes those who sincerely seek it out.
[Plea to Bob Altemeyer:] Bob, if you can help us work out identifiers
for the kind of leadership this new Christianity needs (and I'd
suggest that a number of secular organizations need as well)--we'd be