February 21, 2016

The Jihad of Jesus by Dave Andrews (Book Review)

The Jihad of Jesus by Dave Andrews (Book Review)

What comes to mind when you see the word jihad? A so-called holy war? The Crusades? ISIS? These are the sorts of things I’ve always related to jihad. But as it turns out, I had no idea what jihad really means.

In The Jihad of Jesus: The Sacred Nonviolent Struggle for Justice, Dave Andrews reclaims the true meaning of jihad, which is good news for Christians and Muslims alike.

He introduces the book with a clarification of the term, taken from Diane Morgan’s Essential Islam:

In Arabic, the word jihad translates as a noun meaning “struggle.”

A person engaged in jihad is called a mujahid, the plural (of which) is mujahideen.

There are two commonly accepted meanings of jihad: an inner spiritual struggle and an outer physical struggle.

February 6, 2016

Water to Wine by Brian Zahnd (Book Review)

Water to Wine by Brian Zahnd (Book Review)

My introduction to Brian Zahnd was his book A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor’s Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace. I loved it! The book is a brilliant exposé of the nationalistic idolatry that enslaves so much of Evangelicalism today, and it’s a wonderful examination of nonviolent eschatology and atonement theory. The main place I thought the book fell short was in living up to its subtitle. A Farewell to Mars shows us the before, and it shows us the after, but we don’t get to see any of Brian’s actual “Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace.”

Brian later let me know that the subtitle was not his choice, but that he was in the process of writing a book that actually was about his journey.

Since then, I read (more like devoured) Brian’s Radical Forgiveness: God’s Call to Unconditional Love, and I met him briefly, along with Brad Jersak, at The Beautiful Gospel Conference in Abbotsford, BC. But I was still waiting for that book he mentioned.

February 5, 2016

25 Views on Hell? 2 Questions to Reframe the Debate

25 Views on Hell? 2 Questions to Reframe the Debate

The Christian church has always agreed that there will be a final judgment of the living and the dead. This judgment leads to blessing for those who are in Christ (the righteous), along with punishment1 for those who are not in Christ (the sinners). In today’s vocabulary, the common word for that punishment is hell.

Though the church agrees on the reality of hell, it has never agreed on the nature of hell. From the earliest Christians on, at least three major views have always been present: eternal conscious torment (also called “infernalism” or “traditionalism”), annihilation (also called “conditional immortality” or “conditionalism” or “terminal punishment”), and universal reconciliation (also called “universal salvation” or “universalism”).

I’m going to argue that these three classifications, while helpful to an extent, are insufficient to adequately describe the diversity of opinion within the Christian tradition regarding the nature of hell. Furthermore, I’m going to argue that these three views exist primarily in answer to the same question, but that a different and more important question should have been asked first.