Sunday, May 10, 2009

Just what I needed

I've been doing some interesting reading since I last posted. Did you ever come across a book which was exactly what you needed, just as you needed it? That's what this one was like for me. I may send a copy to my former Rector.

The book is Holy Adventure, by Bruce G. Epperly, a pastor and seminary professor in Lancaster, PA, and was written, in part, as an answer to the theological viewpoint expressed in The Purpose-Driven Life. This fact alone would be enough to make me giddy with glee, but in fact it's a really good read!

In contrast to the God of Rick Warren, a God who has planned out our entire lives prior to our birth, and who knows exactly what he expects from us, Epperly posits a God whose creation is not yet finished, who expects us to be companions and co-creators with him, and who is eager to see the results. This process-theological approach is about as far as you can get from the fundamentalist, reductive view of God as the omniscient creator who has everything figured out in advance (how boring!). The God of Holy Adventure gave us free will so we could choose among possible futures, for ourselves as well as for creation.

What comes through most strongly in this book is the sense of mystery and excitement -- two things I find completely missing in Warren's ho-hum, "it's-all-in-the-Bible-just-go-read-it" approach. Without a sense of mystery, basking in the certainty that we know all the answers, we would risk doing great harm:

A sense of God's deep mystery provides the antidote for too much certainty about subjects such as the afterlife. Too much certainty perpetrates violence upon persons and belief systems alike. It can lead to exclusion, objectification, and spiritual abuse in faith communities; intellectual abuse in academics; and emotional abuse in relationships. When we think we have all truth, we create artificial boundaries between companions and outsiders, saved and unsaved, orthodoxy and heresy. Those outside our religious camp can become the objects of spiritual warfare and violence when we assert that to become one of "us," others must forsake their deepest insights and understandings of the holy and unconditionally accept ours. We may even threaten anyone who does not hold our views with the ultimate act of spiritual and ideological violence: eternal damnation and alienation from God. (p. 193)

This book was a breath of fresh air for me, and left me uplifted and hopeful. I may be giving copies of this for Christmas!


Sophia said...
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Anonymous said...


Rick Warren's theological viewpoint is decidedly un-Anglican.

Oh, and the mystery of God? People were talking about that long before Warren thought up his new twist on Calvinism or whatever the heck it is.

People like Gregory of Nyssa and others who lived hundreds of years ago and said the closer you get to God, the darker and more confusing things get. The cloud of unknowing. And that's really okay.

Jan said...

I so resent Rick Warren and those who adore him and his book (and God?). That was the best recommendation for a book you could give. Thanks.