Alan Hirsch Responds to Critics

Update: I just learned that my new book Jesus: A Theography with Leonard Sweet just released on Kindle this morning. Click here to order the Kindle version now.

Earlier this year my friend Alan Hirsch released a book called The Permanent Revolution.

Like any book that challenges the conventional wisdom, Alan and his-coauthor Tim Catchim received a fair bit of criticism on their book. Among other things, Hirsch was accused of “vilifying people in the clergy” and far worse accusations.

As I’ve often said, criticizing a work on its own merit is one thing. Like me, Alan Hirsch welcomes constructive criticism. Neither of us claims immaculate perception and we’re both learning and growing . . . as are all Christians.

However, setting up a straw-man and then lighting a torch to it is another thing altogether.

As I’ve demonstrated in past posts (below), misrepresenting someone’s work is a tactic that some will pick up to dismiss an important contribution. But “we have not so learned Jesus Christ” to wield such tools (to quote Paul).

So You Think You Disagree?

Hearing One Side of a Story

The Art of Being a Jerk Online

Misrepresentations

A Word to All Authors – Aspiring or Actual

Anywho, Alan Hirsch and Tim Catchim wrote an interesting response to one critic who misrepresented their book. With Alan’s permission, I’m republishing it here.

Every reader and every author would be wise to read Hirsch’s response as it highlights the typical hand-waving tactics that are used to try and discredit someone’s work.

Point: every dubious critique has the same anatomy. Hirsch’s response, therefore, applies perfectly to all works – written or spoken – which have been misrepresented by others (such as N.T. Wright, who regularly gets distorted by his detractors).

Here it is . . .[Continue Reading...]

What Happened Before the Foundation of the World?

Today, my new book Jesus: A Theography with Leonard Sweet officially releases. Scroll down to the end of this page to see where you can order it at the best discounts available. I regard this book to be my most important work next to From Eternity to Here and Jesus Manifesto. I hope you will pick up a copy today if you haven’t ordered one already.

“Every word of the God-breathed character of Scripture is meaningless if Holy Scripture is not understood as the witness concerning Christ.”

~ G.C. Berkower

All Scripture finds its organic center and unity in Jesus.

For this reason, the biblical narrative has its beginning in the creation of the universe through Christ, its middle in the earthly life and ministry of Christ, and its end in the reconciliation of all things in Christ.

There’s an overarching unity to both Testaments. And Christ is the unifying agent.

Part of that statement is not entirely accurate. While Genesis begins the scriptural narrative at the point of creation, the Second Testament tells us that the narrative actually begins somewhere else.

The Jesus story doesn’t begin in Bethlehem, Nazareth, or even Israel. According to the Second Testament (that is, the New Testament), it begins long before them. It begins in the dateless past, before angels or atoms.

In chapter 1 of my new book with Leonard Sweet, Jesus: A Theography, we narrate the Jesus story as it happened before creation and get a breathtaking glimpse of the preincarnate Christ—the eternal Son, the preexistent Word, Jesus before time, Christ before creation.

The Second Testament contains numerous texts that give us insight into Christ before time. And the First Testament (that is, the Old Testament) supports those texts.

Considering Jesus before the world began is mind-boggling. We feel we are fumbling in the dark, groping for words to express the inexpressible.[Continue Reading...]

Jesus and Paul Under Fire

Like many of you, I’ve been watching the news coverage for the 2012 USA presidential campaigns.

(For those of you who are reading this post in the 2050s, this was the race between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney long, long ago.)

Like many of you, I’ve also seen some of the “attack ads” on both sides. And I’m looking forward to the upcoming debates . . . in the same way that I was glued to the O.J. Simpson “Trial of the Century” back in the day.

Like that trial, I expect the debates to contain the elements of mystery, drama, comedy, excitement, and suspense.

Now why do politicians spend obscene amounts of money on ads which attack their opponents – most often falsely?

Because they work.

In general, people are gullible and will believe whatever they hear or read without checking the facts or going to the sources themselves.

On that score, Rick Warren made this comment recently: [Continue Reading...]

The Olive Tree Bible Reader

I’m beginning a series of reviews for various Bible software programs.

My plan is to review a different program each week.

The publishers of these programs were gracious enough to send me copies of their software to review on this blog.

Each review will give a rating for various categories along with an image of the software from my computer and the link to the official website where you can see a demo and order the program.

This review is for the Olive Tree Bible Reader.

I tested the program out on my PC using Windows XP.

The ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5.

1 is poor. 3 is average. 5 is excellent.

Here’s how I rated the Olive Tree Bible Reader. [Continue Reading...]

Interview with a First-Rate New Testament Scholar

Today I’m posting my interview with renowned New Testament scholar Robert Mounce.

Mounce has been part of the scholarly teams that translated various Bibles, including the New Living Translation, the English Standard Version, and the New International Version.

Robert Mounce is also the author of the incredible Jesus, In His Own Words – one of the best translations of the Gospels I’ve ever read. This amazing book weaves the four Gospels together without losing a verse, puts the whole Jesus story in chronological order, and tells the story in Jesus’ own words.

A monumental work.

Here’s my interview with Robert Mounce. Enjoy![Continue Reading...]

The Untold Story Behind JESUS: A THEOGRAPHY – The Struggle to Co-Write a Book

“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.”

~ Winston Churchill

The title of this blog post is the title of my new podcast episode which is now available for download or streaming.

In it, I talk about the behind-the-scenes story of how Len Sweet and I wrote our new book, Jesus: A Theography.

The podcast includes our struggle to co-author this titanic book, how long it took us to write it (which is both comical and scary), and why we deliberately chose not to have any endorsements.

I think you’ll be surprised by various elements of the story . . . including the first-rate New Testament scholar we asked to tear the book up with his critical remarks before we “flung the monster out to the public.”

(You’ll have to listen to the audio to find out who that scholar is . . . and yes, we incorporated all of his critical feedback into the finished product.)

Like many of my other episodes, this new broadcast has a good dose of humor sprinkled into it. So if you don’t have a sense of humor . . . finish your coffee, exit out of this window (or email), walk away from your computer (or smart phone), and forget that you ever read this post.

Also, my 5-part series on Colossians has also been uploaded to the podcast. [Continue Reading...]

The Top 10 Christian Female Bloggers

Not long after I posted the top 10 Christian blogs according to the industry standard, someone asked me to list who I consider to be the top 10 female Christian bloggers of our time.

I hesitated to compose such a list because I absolutely despise what I call “beauty contests” (a metaphor for creating “lists” of men and/or women who an individual or organization regards to be “the best”).

But more so, I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings who didn’t make my “top 10” list. No one likes being left out. So my greatest concern is that someone who might rightfully deserve to be on this list is going to read it and feel slighted because I didn’t mention them.

Sigh.

However, the truth is that female bloggers often get ignored. Example: Look at the top 50 Christian blogs on BlogRank. You’ll discover that many first-rate blogs authored by Christian women aren’t on the list.

So something seems off.

For that reason, I’ve made a decision to respond to the request and list my top 10 female bloggers . . . despite the fact that some may want to roast me over a slow spit for not including them or their favorite bloggers.

Deep sigh.

Keep in mind. This is just the present opinion of one small voice amid a sea of online voices. So if I put you on the list, no need to get supercilious over it. And if I didn’t, no need to feel vertically flattened.

All told, it takes a LOT of hard work to keep writing quality content on a blog. So whether you agree with all that these sisters have written or not, their hard work deserves to be noticed.

I’ve chosen their blogs based on the following:[Continue Reading...]

Can’t Keep Up? 8 Ways to Simplify Your Online Life

I used to spend much more time on the Internet than I do now. In fact, most of the Christians and non-Christians with whom I have face-to-face relationships aren’t active on the Internet at all.

Most of them either aren’t on Facebook or they rarely use their accounts. And most don’t use Twitter.

On the flip side, a good portion of you who read this blog are pretty active on the Web. That includes the blogosphere and various social networks.

Internet tools can overwhelm a mortal. And some of them can become first-class time vampires.

Over the years, I’ve struggled to keep my online presence in balance, managing (and sometimes juggling) the various tools I use to connect with people I’ve never met face-to-face.

There have been days where I’ve been tempted to deactivate all my social accounts – including this blog – and like N.T. Wright, relegate my online presence to personal Email.

While my online activity is a very small piece of my life, I presently use online tools for ministry purposes. They’ve allowed me to share the gospel with those who don’t yet know Jesus as well as to encourage God’s people.

Your mileage may vary of course, but the following is how I’ve simplified my online life to the point where it’s become . . . well, sane.

I’m still experimenting, tweaking, and looking for better ideas. So consider this a progress report.[Continue Reading...]

Rethinking Water Baptism

I wrote the following article many years ago for new converts. It was originally entitled: “After You Have Believed: Becoming a Disciple of Jesus Christ.” I’ve made a few minor edits and am republishing it to serve the body of Christ. If you find it of value, share it using the Facebook “Like” and Tweet links below. To see my other “Rethinking” posts, go to the Archives.

So you’ve repented, believed, and have become a follower of Jesus Christ.

But what’s the next step? The answer: water baptism.

Before the Lord Jesus ascend­ed into heaven, He ­told His disciples,

Go therefore and MAKE DISCIPLES of all nations, BAPTIZING THEM in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I command­ed you…He that BELIEVES and is BAPTIZED SHALL BE SAVED; but he that believes not shall be damned (Matthew 28:19,20 & Mark 16:16).

Now look at these other texts:

Mark 16:16 – He that believes and is baptized shall be saved. 

Acts 2:38 – Peter replied, “REPENT AND BE BAPTIZED, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF YOUR SINS . . .” 

Acts 2:40-41 – And with many other words did he [Peter] testify and exhort, saying, SAVE YOURSELVES from this corrupt generation. Then they that gladly received his word were BAPTIZED.

Acts 22:16 – And now what are you waiting for? Get up, BE BAPTIZED AND WASH AWAY YOUR SINS AWAY, calling on his name. 

1 Peter 3: 21- this water symbolizes BATPISM THAT NOW SAVES YOU also . . . 

These passages have led some Christian denominations to teach baptismal regeneration. Other denominations have essentially buried these texts, choosing to ignore them rather than engage them at all.

I don’t subscribe to baptismal regeneration. But because I believe the Bible to be God’s inspired Word, fully reliable and fully authoritative, I don’t think we can rightfully ignore these texts either.

To my mind, the solution is in understanding two things: (1) how the word “saved” is used throughout the New Testament, and (2) the relationship between faith and confession.[Continue Reading...]