Where Did We Leave Off?

I am very aware of how much the religious blogging conversation and the players involved have changed over the past several years. Probably the best way to explain how I also have changed would be to simply jump back in and start posting again. Yet, I feel the need to give fair warning that my blogging style, perspectives, and topics of interest may be different than before.

My preoccupation these days is on the following topics:

  • The definitive nature of God as love
  • Jesus as the full and complete revelation of God
  • What it means to be created in the image of God
  • The mechanics of the fall and the redemption of mankind
  • What it means to participate in the life of the Father, Son, and Spirit
  • Experiencing the reality of the kingdom

The following video (13 minutes) is reflective of my views today. I was already pointed in this direction before I quit blogging, but then I was still hesitant about my changing beliefs. Today, I am confident and unapologetic about my “not-mainstream-evangelical” perspective. It seems like there are many others on a similar theological journey.

(I found the link to this video at Jesus Creed last week under a post of this presentation by an orthodox priest. I was interested in this version of the demonstration because I am currently reading and enjoying a book by Brian Zahnd, Beauty Will Save the World.)

The video contrasts the western and eastern views of the gospel. The western view is explained as judicial, a legal contract, retributive, appeasing the wrath of God, and defining sin as moral failure. The eastern view is explained in terms of relationship, covenant, forgiveness and restoration, defeating death, and defining sin as alienation.

Zahnd described the eastern, patristic view of the gospel as “a more biblical understanding of the gospel that does not pit God against Christ.”

Rather than a message that perpetuates alienation, the gospel story that I see in Scripture is that God jumped into our mess in His recovery mission. Through the incarnation and crucifixion, He entered into the depth of our brokenness in order to restore our communion with Him. The Father and Son were always one hundred percent united in this plan.

Do you think the popular western evangelical view of the gospel is shifting, or is this conversation only occurring in the academic realm?


15 thoughts on “Where Did We Leave Off?

  1. No Grace

    There’s definitely a hunger out there for a more mystical and Eastern take on Christian belief. Folk are fed up with the ‘legal’ and often judgemental interpretation of the Divine mindset. It is more like the mindset of religious dualism laid upon the Divine Mind. Welcome back into the blogosphere. You have been missed.

    1. Thanks Dylan,
      It is very reassuring to me that this point of view is rooted in ancient tradition. I agree that the graceless gospel has become mostly ineffective. Yet I also feel there is a great deal of openness and hunger for the unconditional acceptance and love of the Father. Sadly the legal gospel has perpetuated the myth of judgment and alienation.

  2. “God jumped into our mess in His recovery mission”

    Love that Linda! I first heard Brian Zahnd in the 80s at a church I attended and have followed his ministry as his church is just up the road from KC about 60 miles. I’ll try to catch the video when I have a few more minutes to listen.

    Derek’s view on the cross (at http://therebelgod.com) changed my perspective to a more Eastern (I think) view. A relation to God has to be based on something more than a transaction and the kingdom more than a litany of rules – I mean spiritual principles. :)

    1. Bob,
      One of the first teachings that I heard about the contract view was Greg Boyd, about 2 years ago. Once you become aware of it, it is apparent how much if/then thinking is a part of religious thought.

      It is interesting that, like myself, many people are arriving at these views in various ways and only later making the connection to Eastern Orthodox teaching.

  3. Do you think the popular western evangelical view of the gospel is shifting, or is this conversation only occurring in the academic realm?

    I think there is some shift taking place that is not restricted to academia, but I have no proof outside of my own experience. I have shifted dramatically in the past 15 years.

    To quote Lazarus Long from Robert Heinlein’s book Methuselah’s Children;

    “Push the button, pull the switch, cut the beam, COME ON MAKE IT MARCH!”


    1. Tom,
      I also have no proof outside of my own experience which I know is skewed by my personal preferences. Because I immerse myself in “the fringe,” it can start to feel like everyone is there. I am encouraged that I see more conversations like this in many more places.

  4. To comment on “preoccupation topics”… My mind has been occupied with many of the same things. I think I’d swap the topic of “Salvation” for “image of God” but that one is just a litte lower.

    I saw the video with the orthodox priest last week and was fascinated… I’ll watch this one later.

    In the mean time… There is a large discussion (part one) here (http://bit.ly/Jx8lVJ).

    They do talk about the Christus Victor view of atonement.

    As far as the Gospel goes… I believe God is calling us back to the truer meaning of the Gospel.

      1. Coincidentally, I listened to the Beyond the Box podcast yesterday after I put up this post. I follow Beck’s blog and saw the link there. I used to also follow Steve Sensenig but didn’t realize he was doing this podcast.

        I read most of the Slavery of Death series on Beck’s blog. I was very interested in Beck’s explanation of the problem of mortality and the implications of that.

        1. Not the first time our (spiritual) paths have crossed… I still find that somewhat interesting.

  5. Nice post Linda, glad you are back. What a great world view. Thanks for posting, I have struggled for a long time with first view of the Gospel. peace

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