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Quotes from Kissing Fish: Wolsey, Roger (2011-05-20).
It became obvious that a generation of young people who feel drawn to Jesus and his teachings,
are really turned off by, or feel conflicted about being associated with, churches and Christianity.

Calling ourselves “followers of The Way of Jesus” instead of “Christians”
helps keep the focus on what Jesus intended
—off Him and more on the Way and on God,
whom he invited people to experience
and to follow.

The way that the term “Christian” is typically used today
tends to take the focus away from the way of Jesus
and instead places it on the person of Jesus,
which leads to making an idol out of him.

There are two basic forms of Christianity,though each has multiple shades within

Conservative Christianity focuses on the religion about Jesus;
on agreeing with certain intellectual truth claims;
“people are sinners who aren’t right with God”
“Jesus is their personal Lord and savior;”
It asserts that believing these things is the route to eternal life in heaven.

Conservative Christianity is often wary about contemporary science.
Instead it finds solace in established, definable boundaries, including
who God is;
who Jesus is;
the inerrant Bible;
the doctrines of the church,
fixed stances on morality.
Conservative Christianity emphasizes praising God through Jesus and “evangelism”.

Progressive Christianity follows the countercultural teachings and example of Jesus.
Focuses less on the religion about Jesus than the teaching of Jesus,
his actual beliefs,
his teachings,
his practices and lifestyle.

Progressive Christianity views “conversion”
as helping people shift away from the ways of the world
and instead to follow Jesus’ alternative way of living.
Rather than affirming what is right, it points out a path to follow.

Conservative Christianity is identified by an approach to the faith
that seeks to be “right” and to make others comply;
to adhere to firm and fixed belief statements, dogmas, and doctrines.
Fundamentalism takes this to an extreme by declaring five “essential fundamentals of the faith”:
1. The verbal inerrancy of Scripture (there are no mistakes or false statements)
2. The divinity of Jesus Christ (that Jesus is God)
3. The virgin birth of Jesus ( Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born)
4. Salvation through the substitutionary atonement of Jesus’ death.
5. The physical resurrection and eventual bodily return of Jesus

T


If God is seen as vengeful and violent then society will be vnegful and violent as well.
There are numerous examples in the Bible of God changing His mind as a result of human behaviour. 
 An unchanging God is a traditional but false and pagan premise.

God remains as a Trinity (F,S &HS) in his mind,
 though he also affirms the Maternal side of God,
 previously worshipped as Asherah (consort of El) 
 and now as Mary, mother of Jesus -  
and thus again consort of God  (if unmarried?!).  
It is getting confused.


CONSERVATIVE THEOLOGY
About 6,000 years ago, from his home in up in heaven, God created the world and it was good. 
Then, just a few days later, the first humans, Adam and Eve, screwed everything up (but mostly Eve)
 when they ate from the forbidden fruit in that idyllic garden. 
Ever since then, people have been wretched sinners who do horrible things.
 God created a special race of people called the Jews.
 The Jews worshipped Him—but they didn’t really understand Him
 and they constantly messed up their covenantal relationship. 
About 2,000 years ago, things became so bad that, according to His Divine plan,
 God provided a way to help people escape the consequences of their actions.
 That way was by Him coming down to earth in the form of Jesus. 
This Jesus was born of an actual virgin, who was possibly immaculately conceived herself
—and hence, he was untainted by “the genetic birth defect” of human sinfulness.
Jesus grew up, was baptized by His prophetic cousin John, 
went out to the wilderness to be tempted by the devil,
 resisted the temptations, and gathered a band of disciples and followers.
 
He taught them about God and God’s Kingdom. 
However, His true and primary purpose was to die for people’s sins,
 so God (according to God’s plan) had Him killed by the human rulers.
 He was nailed to a cross, His blood was shed, and He died
—thus saving all of those who believe in this version of the story. 

To sweeten things for Jesus’ grieving followers, 
and to help people know that provision of salvation is what took place, 
God resurrected Jesus from the dead to show us that death (the “wages of sin”)
 and Satan had been defeated and that God’s power is greater than human sin.
 We therefore have hope for whatever we may face in life. 
We know our sins have been forgiven by what Jesus did.
 He died for us as a proxy or substitute for us 
so the rest of us wouldn’t have to get what we deserve. 
A “just God” requires retributive justice and punishment. 
If Jesus hadn’t been killed, we’d all go to hell after we die
 and/or after the Second Coming of Jesus. 

Now this traditional and popular version of Christianity
 has indeed given meaning, life, hope, motivation, inspiration, and encouragement
 to millions of people over the years. 
Part of the selling point for this story is that it supposedly fulfills 
the prophesies about the Messiah that are found in the Hebrew Scriptures
—referred to by many Christians as the “Old Testament.”
 The author of the book of Matthew appears to have had these prophesies in mind. 
A major part of the author’s agenda, it seems, was to help persuade fellow Jews
 that Jesus meets the criteria for being the Messiah by finding passages
 from the Hebrew Scriptures, and presenting Jesus as the Messiah. 
Perhaps the reason this effort was so intentional 
was because Jesus didn’t meet the commonly held expectations about the Messiah
—that he would be a powerful military leader who would overthrow the worldly powers
 that be, kick the oppressive Roman “heathens” out of Israel, 
and reestablish a powerful and independent Kingdom of Israel. 
However, that form of “apologetics” (defending the faith and explaining it to others)
 no longer works well in this new day and age.

In the late 1900s, the threat of Modernist (liberal rationalist) approaches to the Bible,
 generated a Fundamentalist approach which insisted on a literal understanding
 of the Bible and of God, rejecting modern discoveries.
The fundamentalist approach of conservative Christian evangelism
 and apologetics wrongly assumes that people grant authority to the Bible
 and that if they do read it, they do so in a literal manner. 
This conservative approach also wrongly assumes 
that the “substitutionary atonement” model of the atoning work of Jesus
 is the only valid, right, and true approach.

Both Liberal and Fundamental Christians try to prove their opinions using a logical approach, 
which doesn't fit with post-modern man.
Postmodernists who accept Jesus as their savior do so with an intentional choice to align themselves with Jesus
 and his countercultural ways—not so much because they believe x, y, and z (doctrine and beliefs) about Jesus. 
They do it because they love what he stood for.

 Jesus introduced what has become known as the “Way of the Cross.” 
It is the way of living that rejects the status quo and the dominion of worldly powers.
 It may lead to getting executed but it’s so much better than living a dominated, timid, conventional life
 under the authority of the worldly powers that be! 
 Jesus proved that it is possible for others to live this way through relationship with God and with God’s help.
it’s not the specific means of Jesus’ death that matters. He could have been hung from a tree,
 nailed to a tree, nailed to a cross, stoned, hung, shot by a firing squad,
 or strapped to a gurney to receive a lethal injection.
It’s not the specific means of his death that matters. 
What matters is that he led a life that challenged and subverted the dominant worldly powers
 The ones competing with God executed him by whatever means they chose,
 and God redeemed that hateful, humiliating tragedy 
by resurrecting Jesus to show us that nothing can separate us from God’s love,
 not even that.

The good news of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus isn’t a dogmatic teaching. 
It’s a call to live a new life in utter Communion with God.
 It calls for our repenting from all that binds us and holds us back 
from the fullness of who we can be as individuals and as a people. 
It promises that the Holy Spirit will help us as we seek to live this new “Kingdom-living” way. 
The kerygma is an appeal for us to give up our former self-understandings,
 and to accept ourselves as lovingly accepted, fully worthy, children of God. 
The resurrection is the disclosure of God’s power over the powers of sin, 
the powers of oppression and injustice, and our fear of death. 
It is the basis for our confidence in the possibility of a life
 free from the dominion of these powers.
 



Why on earth does anyone need others to think the way they do about religion? 
Such a need comes from a place of insecurity and anxiety, not faith.
meditation.” This is a contemplative practice where one simply seeks to be present to God 
and to enjoy God’s presence. It’s a way for God to enjoy Her children.
As theologian Paul Tillich put it, “The first duty of love is to listen.”

Ironically, the more we share about ourselves, the less we reveal.
 It comes from a fear of being known, because if we are known we might be rejected,
 and rejection is scary.

Practice wondering what another person is thinking, feeling, or needing. 
Ponder what it would be like to be in their shoes if you were in their circumstances.
 Ask yourself, what would be the best way to love such a person? Then, do that. 
Your actions will speak louder than your words. 
A place where things get tricky is when someone expresses something like “I thirst.” 
It may be that they want you to bring them a glass of water, 
or they may simply yearn for a fellow human to honor and validate their feeling 
by saying something like, “I know this feeling. I have thirst too.”
 This is where it’s important to ask them what they need from you and not to assume. 
Another key practice when relating to others is forgiveness. 
It’s not a matter of if people will let you down, but when.
 When they do, how you respond matters. 
You can either respond by widening the divide or seeking to narrow it. 
That choice is yours.

As John Wesley put it, “‘Holy solitaries’ is a phrase no more consistent with the gospel than holy adulterers. 
The gospel of Christ knows no religion, but social; no holiness but social holiness.” 
He called upon the Church to maintain social holiness,
 meaning we were to be connectional and responsible 
for each other’s moral and spiritual life and growth. 
We are our brother’s keeper (Genesis 4:9 & Matthew 25:40)—indeed.

GOSPEL OF WEALTH
Both progressive and conservative Christian worship services differ from two other forms of worship 
that operate under the guise of Christianity:
the “gospel of wealth and prosperity” and “churches of positive thinking.” 
Those sorts of ministries have a large presence on the television. 
When pastors in $1000 suits preach, “God wants you to have financial success in your life”; 
“How well you’re doing financially is a sign of how close you are to God 
and shows God’s favor and blessings for your life;” 
“The more money you send in to support their ministry, the more God will bless you in your life;”
 or, “If you give $10, God will send you $100!” that is the false gospel of wealth and success,
 not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

But what God didn’t create and what God doesn’t love is the ways that we run our societies. 
God doesn’t love that we’ve created a world where we live by the law of the jungle, 
where “might makes right,” where we compete and hoard, where powers and domination systems
 place the overwhelming majority of humanity into abject poverty and misery.

JESUS STORY

The way that Jesus taught  rejected the powers that be, 
any powers or principalities that dare to usurp God’s power in God’s world! 
Those false powers were the ones who created systems 
that put all of the property and farms into the hands of a few. 
They oppressed the masses by turning them into tenant farmers or sharecroppers
 who ended up beholden to debt collectors. 
They created a system where women had no voice or legal standing, 
but were instead treated as the property of men;
 and where humans were enslaved to other humans. 
They justified oppressing and exploiting the poor, 
and forcing young people to fight in wars of expansion. 
They said worldly leaders and worldly powers are god instead of God .

The way of Jesus was a non-violent way. He didn’t fight fire with fire. 
He didn’t use the world’s ways against theworld. 
He simply said that the worldly powers are impotent. They have no power. 
The real power is with God and in the Kingdom of God! 
And then Jesus demonstrated that power by reaching out to the people who society had rejected. 
He told people to repent.
 He told them to change their way of thinking and living so that they could break free
 from ways that collaborated with the empire so that they could start living freely
 and abundantly in deep community and Communion with one another. 
He taught them to share all that they had and turn away from the domination system
 that sought to oppress them! 

Then He went into the belly of the beast, right into the Temple in Jerusalem that had been collaborating with Roman dominance and condemned the corrupted Temple system that had been blessing the unjust status quo and cooperating with the Roman Empire! He knocked over the tables in the courtyard and boldly confronted the powers and exposed them as frauds. He took back that house for God’s purposes—not Rome’s! 

And then, the “empire struck back.” 
The domination system had him arrested, beaten, and executed.  
As they say in Communist China, “the nail that rises up gets hammered back down.”  
End of story. 

God amazingly and graciously resurrected Jesus back to life!  
Traditionally, and as eventually reported in the Gospel stories, 
this is seen as a physical resurrection 
 Jesus of Nazareth, who had been delivered up by the chief priests
 and executed by Romans under Pontius Pilate, was alive again! 
A man who died had been raised from the dead!  
The tale has been taken and embellished and become central to the traditions of Christianity, 
to its very heart.

Yet truth may lie in a more realistic, more practical, description.
  Maybe it was the concepts of Jesus that did not die,  that lived on,  and live on. 
  Those disciples on the road, paramount witnesses to the “risen Lord”,
 did not recognise a physical presence but the teachings and the behaviour
 of the one who walked with them.  
The women at the tomb, in Luke's account, were merely made to realise
 that the heart of their movement was in Gallilee, not in a graveyard.