A Heretic’s Guide to Eternity Part I

I am reading this book now and thinking I will make some comments as I go rather than trying to synthesize it all at the end. That way I can jot thoughts down as they occur.

So this is from pp1-50 where Spencer Burke intros his ideas and seems to lay the groundwork for where he hopes to go.

Some gut reactions and immediate responses:

– Burke seems to be very set on declaring himself a heretic! He argues quite strongly that he fall in this camp and cites others who at the time (eg Luther) were considered heretics, who we now consider mainstream. Will Burke’s ideas be mainstream ina few hundred years time?…

– He makes a distinction between religion and spirituality. In his view people are ‘over’ religion, but into spirituality. If we can move beyond religion to spirituality then we have a better shake of representing what Jesus was on about and of connecting with this generation. I agree that people aren’t all that enamoured with rule bound religion and all that goes with it. Spirituality is sounding a little nebulous though for me…

– It is an intriging question he poses as to when we are no longer covered by our innocence (‘age of accountability’ idea) and are responsible for our own choices and sins. I will read on before making any comment on this.

– Burke is right in asserting that we contextualise the faith to our own time/location/cultural context so it is at times difficult to know what is constant. I am yet to see if he subscribes to the apostles creed or similar, something of a baseline in my own thinking.

– p.19 ‘nowhere does Jesus call his disciples to start a religion’ Yes – true! It seems to be human nature to systematise things.

– p. 29 Question – is God’s grace the centrepoint of faith or has religion become our focal point (idol) I wonder if grace is supposed to be the centrepoint?

– p.36 “throughout history religions have attempted to unify the world by seeking converts to their particular visions of the relationship between human and divine… but more often than not these efforts have been perceived as attempts at dominance, making for an uneasy relationship with the world.” Sounds like a pretty fair take on what we do once we have institutionalised something!

– Burke says religion divides but spirituality seeks common ground. (p.37) Hmmm… kind of a loose description for me…

So far I am interested to see where it goes. Burke suggests he goes beyond universalism in his arguments so I”m curious to see what he has to say.

Is it provocative for the sake of provocation?

Is it actually something we need to hear or is it something we need to reject?

I will confess to reading it with my heresy detector on ‘alert’. When someone announces themselves as a heretic I find myself wanting to know if its a bit of hyperbole or if he is actually charting a new course away from orthodoxy.

I am trying not to read other reviews so that I get a chance to digest it and reflect on it with my own brain. (There are plenty out there much smarter than me who will be making comments!)

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