Scot McKnight

Interim Post – The Reading List

by Dave on November 12, 2011

in General, Theology

It has been awhile since I have posted, but it has been because I have been busy and not lazy.  As far as thoughts, ideas and Christianity, I have read or am reading a couple of books.

First, I cannot recommend too highly Scot McKnight’s new book, The King Jesus Gospel.  This book largely makes the whole concept of my site irrelevant since it tells the true story of the gospel.  Exactly what I was looking for.

Next, I was intrigued by the historical Jewish approach toward many of our modern problems.  Richard Friedman and Shawna Dolansky have written a very readable book about subjects such as homosexuality, abortion, women, capital punishment and the earth (actually that covers the whole thing).  Their book, The Bible Now looks at the bible in the context of having to make decisions about these issues in today’s environment.  Although there are no new testament considerations since the authors are Jewish, the book is a must read for those of us who want to understand these decisions and absolutely required for those who hope to influence others.

I have also started to study the letter of James.  Although I already had the Tyndale version of the Doublas Moo commentary on James, I was looking for something a bit up to date.  For those who do not know, Moo has written two versions of a commentary on James and apparently I have been reading the inferior of the two.  After talking with appropriate theologians, I got Scot McKnight’s (I really like Scot) fairly recent and quite comprehensive tome on James.  If you want a comprehensive study I highly recommend it.  The historical and biblical research and interpretation is impressive.

I have also been trying to finish Scot’s Community Called Atonement, but that repeatedly goes to the back in light of the more recently publish works.  But it is quite good and recommend it.

I also have read and re-read a couple of times the John Piper response to N.T. Wright’s book on Justification.  The Future of Justification, A Response to N.T. Wright is a Calvinist rebuttal to the new perspective exposition of Tom Wright.  I am not a 5 point Calvinist, actually I am a zero point Calvinist, but I often find that counter arguments to concepts provide good illumination into the context under scrutiny.  In this case I am just further reinforcing my view that the Calvinist movement simply misses the point as to what Christianity is all about.

I have also read twice, Pope Benedict’s wonderfully illuminating book Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration.  I know that many of my protestant friends will be reluctant to read  an obviously Catholic book, but it is well worth it.  This book is not full of church dogmatics, rather it is full of substantiated reason and exegesis of the core biblical texts.  Well worth the time.

I also went through N.T. Wight’s Paul for Everyone Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians (New Testament for Everyone) with a study group of a couple months and found it amazingly useful.  Reading Tom Wright’s translation of the bible has me waiting eagerly for his new, personal translation.  The Kingdom New Testament: A Contemporary Translation actually has come out!  As I am writing this I just ordered it, I can’t wait.  (and as I am still writing I got confirmation from Amazon that the book is on its way!)

The reading pile has gotten bigger with various other titles, but the one I most looking forward to is the classic by Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged.  I am into the first couple of chapters and quite entertained.

I hope you all enjoy some of these as much as I have.

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This is Not a Rehearsal

by Dave on March 12, 2011

in General

In an editorial article in the Richmond Times Dispatch, Keith Mitchell talks about being nicer to each other and living the kingdom dream in general.  But there is a problem.

I agree and support what Keith is trying to do here, and agree with nearly everything he says.  Here is how he sets it up:

Has the time I have spent regularly reading through the Bible and praying affected not only how I think, but also how I act out in the world each day? Have I made the right choices? Am I doing what God wants me to do?

We should all definitely take the time to understand what it is that God wants us to do and then do it.  Keith goes on to give good examples of how he needed to improve on his relationships with other people.  A want to give a big Kudos to Keith for taking the lead and talking about this.

But then Keith says:

I believe that the reasons for those occurrences can be summed up this way: As we live out our lives through our faith — mine as a Christian by way of a born-again experience — we are participants in a rehearsal preparing us for the main performance that lies ahead.

Here is where I have a disagreement.

A rehearsal is something that really does not have a lasting impact, it is practice.  But that is not the case in our lives and the world.  Instead we are called to make this life, this One.Life in the words of Scot McKnight (I highly recommend this book), into the kingdom dream of Jesus by following him every day.

While I do understand that Keith is trying to convey that there is a follow on life after we are resurrected, we must not think of this one life as something that does not matter, it matters the most.  It is what we do in this life that says whether we get to the the main production in the end.  This is not something we can mess up and then still perform in the show, we need to get on the right path now.

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I must say that I enjoyed Scot McKnight’s book, The Blue Parakeet tremendously.  Scot is an incredibly thoughtful and down to earth scholar and author.  It is rare to find someone with whom you agree as much as I agree with Scot.

Scot begins by demonstrating his concept that the Bible is Story and there are different ways that we all have been taught to read the bible.  They are 1) reading to retrieve (like an owner’s manual I suppose), 2) Reading through Tradition (I read John Piper’s book at the same time as this and it strikes me that this is how Piper reads the bible, and 3) Reading with Tradition (where we take the Story of the bible and put it in our times and understand the Story).

The next couple chapters expand on these concepts so that you can have a solid understanding of what the bible is saying.  I don’t believe that I have ever met anyone in the flesh who reads the bible this way.  I have been an active participant in various internet communities and I have studied various scholars works that do it like this, but not someone in the flesh.  I am, however, going to actively promote this type of reading in my community.

Scot further proposes how we can adapt the word to today.  I got quite a kick out of Scot initially saying that we pick and chose what we want to listen to in the bible and he is right, that is exactly what we do.  The reason I get such a kick out of it is because the people who are the most adamant about their belief that they don’t pick and chose are generally the ones who do it the most.  The people tend to say that “the bible says it so I believe it” but they don’t realize that it is just their interpretation they believe, not the bible.

The point of this being that Scot is saying to us that the Blue Parakeets are those passages that seem to be out of place and cause problems with the theology and tradition in our religions.  That certainly is the case with the Baptists who I have been exposed to over the past several years.  They would contend that they follow only the bible and not tradition, but it seems to me that they follow tradition even more closely than the Catholics, its just that they don’t realize that is what they are doing.

Scot provides a multi-chapter discussion of how one can apply this way of thinking to the issue of women in ministry.  Aside from it making an excellent argument for Scot’s method of interpretation, it also is a valuable resource for talking with people about getting rid of restrictivist organizations in the church.

Thanks for a great read Scot.

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As I said in the previous post, I started out with McKnight.  I am a big fan of Scot now and his Blue Parakeet is in keeping with my high expectation for him.  However, his book is only in printed form whereas the Piper apologetic is in audio.  So while I am halfway through with Scot’s Parakeet, I have finished Piper and am on the second time through.

Initial Thoughts on Piper’s Wright Rebuttal

I am greatly enjoying Piper’s work.  With each succeeding chapter he further convinces me of the insights of N.T. Wright.  I must say that Piper seems to continue to rely on the fact that Christianity has taught it differently as his most obvious tactic to dissuading the reader of Wright’s right.  But it just further emboldens me to find the meaning in Wright and see the folly in Piper.  Too bad.

It is a good thing, however.  I feel that I am learning more about Wright and his views by facing the critical arguments in Piper’s book.  His view of justification seems quaint to me now.  Almost like he believes in magic and refuses to let his belief in magic sway his view even though we have been shown how the tricks are done.  I have to listen to it at least once more this week then will start back into my not Tom Wright book.

Thoughts on Scot McKnight’s Blue Parakeet

My wife and I are fairly well read when it comes to different worldviews and different views on religion.  Both of us love to come across a new concept on a way to view the fundamental nature of the world and a new way to look at life.

I showed my wife Scot’s book today and had her read part of it, and she had her typical comment , “nothing that I have not heard before”.  And to me, that is the brilliance in Scot’s book.

Scot presents a clear and articulate concept of the relationship of the bible to our life today.  He goes right for the difficult subjects and deals with them in a way that almost all of us would say that his thoughts make sense.  But the issue comes when many read the conclusions and realize that his making sense leads to conclusions that are outside of the current paradigm of belief.  Way to go Scot!

I am more than halfway through, but cannot wait to get to the end, read it again, and try and get others to read it.  Enjoying a lot.

Dave

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We all have those days when we suddenly get the urge to read and all the books out there look ripe for the picking.  A couple days ago I realized that there are two from some of my favorite people that I have not read so first, I went for Scot McKnight’s “The Blue Parakeet – Rethinking How You Read the Bible“.  I spend more time on the Jesus Creed blog (which is Scot’s blog) than any other single place on the internet.  I love his posts, the variety of people in conversation, and just about everything about that site.  So I am looking forward to this one, it is long overdue.

Next, I continue to round out my N.T. Wright Collection.  So far I have read “Jesus and the Victory of God”, “Simply Christian”, and “Paul in Fresh Perspective”.  Tom Wright is absolutely my favorite theologian, period.  So this time I went for “Surprised by Hope – Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church.”  I didn’t even realize until I was just writing this up the similarity in the subtitles to Scot and Tom’s books.  I guess I was in the mood for some rethinking.

Lastly, I realized that I have not read any John Piper books.  The reason I have never read anything of his is that he is a Calvinist and I am quite certain that I would not agree with much he has to say.  But one never learns unless we push the envelope so I got John Piper’s “The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright” (I bought it on audio, my preferred method for reading these days).  I think it is obvious why I picked that one.  Let’s give it a try.

So I am going to start with the Blue Parakeet, ready for a good day.

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