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Jul
02
2013

The Big Story of the Bible: Theologians Could Learn a Thing or Two from This Children's Bible

This is not a review, though one is likely to come later. Instead, I only wish to offer a few priliminary observations about this Bible for children, the Jesus Storybook Bible, that I just began reading to my own children at bedtimes. 

From my preliminary observations, I am overjoyed by the quality of this children's Bible and excited to experience it with my children. In fact, I think this Bible will not only benefit children, but also adults. This book even has a thing or two to teach theologians!

1. Brown People!

The illustrations in this Bible are beautiful! I love the whimsical, yet deliberate style. But most of all I love the deliberate choice of the author and illustrator to make the main characters brown-skinned. In stark contrast to "The Bible" miniseries which aired on the History Channel, the Jesus Storybook Bible does not depict people of ancient Hebrew decent as European/white. Instead, the award-winning illustrator, Jago, was sure to give the biblical characters a darker, more historically accurate, complextion than many (if not most) Western children's Bibles. Nowhere is this more important than in the ethnicity of Jesus Himself. For far too long, children in the West have been deceived by depictions of Jesus as white.

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Jun
26
2013

The Reality of Revelation (Whether We Like it or Not)

This photo was floating around the interwebs before Joel Watts snatched it up and Brian LePort shared it. It's a play on a familiar slogan from our Fundamentalist friends. In this version, it's been updated to reflect reality.

In case you have trouble reading the parts that are wrinkled, here it is typed out. (And I've added a suggestion Brian made in a Facebook comment):

God said it.

(It was filtered through finite human authors who recorded their inspired thoughts by means of the language, symbols, and customs of their day.)

I interpreted it.

(As best as I could in light of all the filters imposed by my upbrining and culture, which I try to control for but you can never do a perfect job.)

That doesn't exactly settle it.

(But it does give me enough of a platform to base my values and decisions on.)

 

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Jun
21
2013

Blockbuster End Times Myths: A Few Ways Popular Culture and Popular Theology Both Misinterpret Scripture

Hollywood isn't to blame for getting the Christian view of the end times wrong—Christians are to blame. Christians have failed time and time again to preach a consistent, unified, and biblically faithful message, and Hollywood is simply going by what we have presented them.

Instead of preaching of God's desire to restore God's good creation and bring perfect shalom to the whole world—which is what the Bible actually teaches—U.S. American Christians have presented a portrayal of a god who wishes only to destroy the world and all God's enemies while spiriting away all the "born-again" believers to safety in some other-worldly place. Do not be deceived, that is a gnostic "gospel". It is dualism and escapism and it is what the world thinks Christians believe.

This summer, at least two hollywood comedies will be based on this depiction of Christian eschatology, and they will perpetuate gross distortions of the Bible and of orthodox Christian theology.

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Jun
16
2013

In Heaven with Our Father

A Day with Dad

On Memorial Day, it was beautiful in Boston. The air temperature hovered around 70 degrees and there was a light, cool breeze. Just like we had planned, my oldest son, Tyson, and I spent the day together—just the two of us. We don't get to do that often enough, and he craves alone time with his dad. I don't get to spend one-on-one time with him as much as I'd like to, so I was particularly excited about our time together too. So we decided to head downtown. I had a feeling we could find some mischief to get into down there. We started out just meandered around the Common. He was hungry so I bought him a hotdog from a food cart. He almost immediately proceeded to drop it on the pavement, so I bought him another one.

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Jun
15
2013

The Cross-Shaped Ark: A Christ-centered, Nonviolent Interpretation of the Genesis Flood Narrative

Fundamentalists often assume, and would have others believe, that the flood narrative is a straightforward account of divine violence. But such a wooden interpretation does theological violence to the character of God. So, instead of approaching this story with either the pseudoscientific or "plain meaning" hermeneutics of Fundamentalists, a trained Christian student of biblical interpretation will instead seek to get inside the story and understand it from the perspective of its original hearers. And secondly, Christian interpreters will interpret the story in the light of Christ's Advent, Passion, and Mission of New Creation. Christian interpreters ask "What does the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ have to say about this?" Therefore, the Christian hermeneutic necessary for understanding this story is one of historical, cultural insight combined with a Christian perspective of the whole biblical narrative. 

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Jun
11
2013

Twitterformity Versus Cruciformity: Leadership, Celebrity, and Power in Light of Philippians 2.6-11

[Sidenote: This is the first "syncroblog" of the Despised Ones blogging collective. To read more submissions on this topic, visit our Facebook Page.] 

"Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father."

If you're an evangelical Christian under 40, you've more than likely encountered the phenomenon of celebrity pastors using Twitter to communicate with the world. And if you've read tweets by celebrity pastors, you've probably cringed, thrown things, laughed, cried, cheered, or feverishly wrote angry responses on your blog.

It's clear to many of us that a pattern has emerged: 1) A celebrity pastor posts a crazy, stupid, homophobic, insensitive, and/or racist tweet; 2) This sparks a news cycle's worth of responses on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and Christian news outlets with nothing better to write about; 3) Eventually the hype dies down, only to be resuscitated by the next tweet heard around the interwebs. Am I the only one who is getting exhausted by this cycle?

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Jun
03
2013

The Right Kind of Indoctrination: A Review of Donkeys and Kings by Tripp York

Author: Tripp York
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Wipf & Stock (2010)
Language: English
ISBN: 9781606089408

Amazon

Christian Children's Books [sigh]

I love reading to my kids before bed. But I find it very difficult to find books that I’m truly excited to read with them. Many Christian children’s books out there are just too hokey. Before finding Donkeys and Kings: And Other “Tails” of the Bible by Tripp York, the only Christian books I'd ever been excited to read to my kids were those from The Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis. Part of it is just pure selfishness. It’s not just that I don’t want to subject my kids to the subpar storytelling of some Christian children’s books. It’s more that I just can’t tolerate hearing myself read them—and I can only roll my eyes so much before they are bound to get stuck in the back of my head. That's why I'm so thankful for Donkeys and Kings. It’s biblically-literate, theological-astute, accessible to children, and interesting to adults—all at the same time! Also York is a genuinely great writer. His storytelling is compelling, he creates interesting characters, and he skillfully utilizes dialogue.

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Jun
01
2013

God's Future Has Arrived in Jesus: A Review of Prototype by Jonathan Martin

Author: Jonathan Martin
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Tyndale Momentum (2013)
Language: English
ISBN: 9781414373638

Amazon

Official Website

About the Author

I think I first encountered the work of pastor Jonathan Martin when I read his powerful blog post reconciling his views on the "politics of Jesus" with his love for Martin Luther King Jr.'s ethics of social justice. When I later found out he was Pentecostal, I was intrigued by him even more. Very rarely, if ever, have I encountered a person who combines Pentecostal spirituality with sophisticated social-political ethics. After that, I began listening to his church podcast: Renovatus Church in Charlotte, NC. Since then I've been a vocal advocate. Which is why I have been excited to read and review Prototype.

Sidenote: Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevation Church and author of Sun Stand Still, writes the forward for Prototype and at one point appropriates the metaphor of this blog, calling Martin a "theological graffiti artist". I have to say, Furtick dodged a bullet with that one. If he hadn't been applying that description to Martin, you'd be reading a very different mention of Furtick right now, and it would not have been pretty! You're safe for now Furtick, but watch your step!

About the Book

Prototype is one-third personal memoir, one-third church planting testimonial, and one-third systematic theology. Skillfully woven together with highly evocative writing are stories about ecstatic experiences, complex theological concepts expressed in layman's terms, conversion testimonies, creative biblical interpretation, and disarming humor. What holds all these disparate elements together is the personality of the author—a self-proclaimed member of a community of "liars, dreamers, and misfits"—and the person of Jesus Christ, who is "the prototype of a new way to be human."

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May
28
2013

The False Gospel of "Fairness" and the Kingdom Tribalism of Jesus

There is a false gospel being spread around parts of the blogoverse by well-intentioned Christians who are probably enneagram 9s. This "gospel" claims that "fairness" should be a Christian's top priority, and that no matter how repugnant a person's defamation of God's character is, if they are religious, they deserve to be treated "fairly." Additionally, this same false gospel claims that "tribalism" is to blame for the mistreatment, and that this "tribalism" is antithetical to the Way of Jesus.

Well, in the spirit of Paul, I ask, "Who has bewitched you? If even an angel from heaven preaches to you another gospel besides the Gospel of Jesus Christ, let them be accursed!"

Fairness should Not be the highest priority of Jesus-disciples. The Jesus-disciple's highest priority is Love. And as Cornell West said, "Justice is what love looks like in public."

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May
26
2013

The Story that Subverts the Myth: A Review of Torn by Justin Lee

Author: Justin Lee
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Jericho Books (2012)
Language: English
ISBN: 9781455514304

Amazon

"For a gay guy, Justin Lee is incredibly straight-laced."

That's what I kept thinking as I read Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate. I realized about half way through the book, that I was waiting and looking for the "edge" that a gay Christian author is supposed to have. I expected him to be super-opinionated, angry, vitriolic even. Why is that? It quickly dawned on me that, even though I was reading this book from a place of openness, I was nevertheless projecting my own stereotypes of gay people onto Justin. Oh how wrong was I. Justin Lee is the nicest, 'goodie-two-shoes' you should ever expect to have written a book on such a controversial topic. He couldn't have had more grace and nuance. He couldn't have broken more molds.

Does that mean I agree with every conclusion at which Lee arrives? No, not necessarily. But what it does mean is that Torn is not a book that can be easily dismissed. Lee is careful to present his story and his perspective in a very winsome way. One of the reasons Lee's story is so powerful is because of its clear ring of authenticity. Antagonistic readers will have a difficult time claiming Lee isn't completely sincere. Lee doesn't come across as "having an agenda", like the common caricature of the homosexual community holds. And Lee professes devout faith in Jesus. That is why this book will challenge any reader who thinks their position on human sexuality is unshakable.

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Welcome to TheologicalGraffiti.com

T. C. and Tyson Moore

Theological Graffiti is the offical blog of T. C. Moore @tc_moore ...a Jesus-disciple, husband, father, urban church planter @NewCityCovenant, designer @NewCityPro, teacher, student, and friend. Discussion is welcome, so long as it is conducted in a spirit of charity. First and foremost, this blog is for self-expression—then community. More About.Me

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