Vose Seminary

Jarrod McKenna

Last night I was invited to see the Baptist Theological Collage chance it’s name to the Vose Seminary to honor a great man that who has been so good to me and the Peace Tree Community over the years, Noel Vose.

For those who don’t know Noel, you should. 🙂  He is a wonder, wise, prayerful and humble servant of Christ who I am honored to have as an elder in my life. It was a wonderful evening but I felt a little under dressed (just me or are suits the equivalent of Baptists liturgical robes? :)) But I was pleased I brought my thongs so I wasn’t bare footed. 🙂

My mate Thomas Day thought it funny that a middle aged man in a lovely suit who was also waiting to say hi to Noel, couldn’t stop staring at my feet.  Tom said he went in to near shock and his mouth wouldn’t close when Noel excused himself from a conversation to come over and gig me a big hug. Tom said afterwards that people would think Noel more wonderful because of how he embraced the homeless looking guy (I wasn’t that shabby!).

A friend who lectures there commented to me that he thought the only thing that would have been a lovely touch to the night was to mention the traditional land owners, the Noongar peoplem, when telling the history of the collage.  I’m interested if others think this important for us as the church to acknowledge? I recently wrote this for Sojourners that people might be interested in:

http://blog.beliefnet.com/godspolitics/2008/02/australia-says-sorry-this-is-h-1.html download to hell and back dvdrip

 (picture from “God’s politics”) cabin pressure free

Palm Sunday

Jarrod McKenna

For those interested I’ve been invited to be the Christian speaker at the Freo Palm Sunday Peace Rally. Here’s the details:

16 Mar 2008 – 12:00pm

“Troops out of Iraq and Afganistan, No more war on terror – defend civil liberties, renewables not wars for oil.”

Kings Square, Adelaide St, Fremantle (outside town hall). igor dvd

Come and say G’day if you’re there. ANd please pray yhtat I might share the gospel faithfully and that God might move in power.

Grace and peace,


Radicals infiltrating the mainstream :)

Jarrod McKenna


Hamo has invited me [Jarrod] be back this year and have some great stuff coming on the witness of the early Christians with my friend Ali and what it means for seeking lives of grace today!!!!  More of that latter.

But first hear is some stuff EPYC is partnering with to “Empower Peacemakers” bring the witness of “Radical Christianity” to the mainstream:


1.       John Jensen:

former cage fighter, bull fighter, and jiu-jitsu expert  whose in Perth cause God is calling him to now be a preacher of the Way of Christ: nonviolence love. He is looking to start EPYC back in the States

He’s preaching Sunday night 6pm at Riverview:  1 Thorogood St Burswood

2.       Donna Mulhearn:

Donna you may have seen on “Australian Story”. See was a human shield in Iraq, has done humanitarian work in Palestine, teaches ‘the prayer of the heart’ or what is often called Christian meditation and was one of the history making Pine Gap 4.  Donna is in Perth wanting to be a part of EPYC nationally.  

She’s speaking at Newbigin group meeting Monday, March 10 (7.30 -9.30) at the Hills, 8 Kirby Way, Samson. The first part of the evening will be an introductory discussion of our program for the year: the theme of which will be to explore and reflect on the activities of admirable, controversial and inspiring Christians who are examples of what it means to live out the gospel as public truth. The second part of the evening will involve a conversation with Ms Donna Mulhearn, a former political advisor in the Carr Labor government in NSW, who has spent time in Iraq. Hearing about her journey as an activist and a Christian will provide an interesting and challenging start to our discussion of living out the gospel as public truth. Ms Mulhearn is in Perth has a guest of Jarrod McKenna.

Donna has been featured on the ABC’s Australian story. If you would like to find out a bit about her go to:

http://www.abc.net.au/austory/content/2005/s1404292.htm (or just google her name!)

Hope to see ya there.

Grace and peace,



In Jesus Love has won.

Jarrod McKenna

Jarrod McKenna’s Wednesday’s with Gandhi:

 “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall — think of it, always.” Mohandas Gandhi

I’m off to Indonesia this Friday (forgive me my carbon debts) to the Historic Peace Church Gathering on behalf of AAANZ and Quakers (It will be a bunch of very respectable, intelegent and impressive people from around the world… and this dreadlocked kid from Perth!).  So this will be my last ‘Wednesday with Gandhi’ for the year.  It’s funny I set out to write about a bunch of stuff that I didn’t get round to but I trust the Spirit will take what I have done and use it to invite and inspire people to know in deeper ways for themselves this Jesus that Gandhi said was the greatest practitioner of nonviolence in history, central to his revolution in India, and the one through whom, I believe, God’s dream for creation has broken into history.

I thought I’d end by letting you in on a little of the life of our community. Us Peace Tree mob can say with our hero Dorothy Day “We have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.” As a community we seek to ‘serve in silence’ and not make a big deal of what we do but since the gang fights and the subsequent killing in the street behind ours was so public and made the news overseas, we thought we’d let our light shine in the hope that it doesn’t glorify us but the God who is transforming our world not through force but through a love seen fully in Jesus.

As Eastern Orthodox bishop Kallistos Ware writes (I love this quote);

“The Cross, understood as victory, sets before us the paradox of love’s omnipotence.  Dostoevsky comes near to the true meaning of Christ’s victory in some statements which he puts into the mouth of Starets Zosmia:

“At some thoughts a man stands perplexed, above all at the sight of human sin, and he wonders whether to combat it by force or by humble love. Always decide: “I will combat it by humble love.” If you resolve on that once and for all, you can conquer the whole world.  Loving humility is a terrible force: it is the strongest of all things, and there is nothing else like it.” “

We witnessed something of this humble love and healing on Saturday with our ‘Peace and Pizza’ event in response to the gang killing in our streets. As Nick Cave might put it “God was in the house” (well… garden). The family of the 18 year old kid who was killed bravely join us as well as many indigenous people and white fellas like me. We had yummy wood fired pizzas, great music, and Maori, Noogar and Wajalla (as well as  people from Malaysia, Iran, Indonesia, Kenya and elsewhere) came together for a time of silence to honour the life of John[ston] the young man who was killed and tree planting and prayer for an end to violence in our neighbourhood and our world. Thanks for all who have supported us Peace Tree crew over this time. Please keep the families involved, and our neighbourhood in your prayers. 

These photos were taken by our good friend and brother Tom Day who is an amazing photographer now in Perth. (his website is worth bookmarking: http://www.thomasdayphotography.com/ )


 the guy with the dog in this photo is classic 🙂

Prayer with the family that have lost their loved one on our streets.


This was one of the most moving parts of the day when Noogar elders, parents and children helped to plant a tree to honour the life of a Maori boy killed by a Noogar gang.  It was truly beautiful and touched the family and the community gathered deeply.


Youth Worker, Community gardener, co-chaplain at Hampton High and Peace Tree brother Josh Hobby, helps plant the tree with one of the family members.




Thanks to all who have journeyed with me and Gandhi this year. I can still be found at http://paceebene.org/blog/jarrod-mckenna. Thanks more so to all who don’t put out PR releases but quietly go about living the decision “I will combat it by humble love.”   

You inspire me to know Christ more, to walk in the resurrection more. You witness to the reality that in Jesus love has won… and not even violence’s ultimate threat of death can stop resurrection power.

Grace and peace of the new world breaking in be with you,


Orthodoxy and heretics like Calvin?

Jarrod McKenna

Jarrod McKenna’s Wednesday’s with Gandhi:

“Today I rebel against orthodox Christianity, as I am convinced that it has distorted the message of Jesus.  He was an Asiatic whose message was delivered through many media, and when it had the backing of a Roman emperor it became an imperialist faith as it remains to this day.”

Mohandas Gandhi, (May 30, 1936) from “Mohandas Gandhi: Essential Writings” by John Dear, p. 79

I’d like to start this post not just with a quote from Gandhi, but a quote from 3 others:

Quote 1.

“Whoever shall now contend that it is unjust to put heretics and blasphemers to death will knowingly and willingly incur their very guilt.”

Quote 2.

“Anyone who can be proved to be a seditious person is an outlaw before God and the emperor; and whoever is the first to put him to death does right and well. For if a man is in open rebellion, everyone is both his judge and the executioner; just as when a fire starts, the first man who can put it out is the best man to do the job.”

Quote 3.

“If what I’m saying about the centrality of Calvary-looking love is right, we need a major paradigm shift on how we view orthodoxy – which in turn should effect who we see as the “heroes” of orthodoxy.”

If the words of this last quote were written and acted on in the 16th century the writer could expect a second baptism of the involuntary variety where you never come up for air again.  These aren’t the words of some dreadlocked, kingdom-fuelled, commune starting, dumpster diving, fringe-dwelling, freegan, (eco)activist, permaculturalist wanta-be  (but thanks for reading my posts anyway ;)) but of Charismatic-Evangelical megachurch pastor, and theologian, Dr. Gregory Boyd.

So what his problem?

Well… quote 1 and 2 were written in the 16th century.  Not by some crazed peasants fuelled by a violent feudal variety of liberation theology on some crazed apocalyptic crack (but enough about Münster). Rather from the two men that many evangelicals consider the golden boys of the Reformation:

  • Quote 1: John Calvin (after the execution of Servetus for preaching a non-Trinitarian understanding of God )
  • Quote 2: Martin Luther (in a pamphlet one historian described as “boldly encouraging the slaughter of peasants” who held agendas other than that of the Elector of Saxony)

Now Dr. Boyd and I aren’t arguing for a reactionary “they sinned so I’m going to discount their whole work”. There are too much faults in my own life to be able to even want to argue something like that (!!) and there is also too much richness in the work of these brilliant men. On that logic we also have to discount the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, John H. Yoder, Gandhi and… well… everyone except Jesus! 😉 That kind of dismissive approach shows little spiritual maturity and a lack of hard work in coming to terms with, and removing the logs from, our own eyes in our own contexts.

So from a deep desire to first remove our own logs and then assist the church in doing likewise, this recovering sinner would like to raise some questions regarding the bench marks for orthodoxy. Why is it that the litmus test for orthodoxy for many evangelicals has been frozen in the 16th century in the thought of brilliant men who never the less had theologies that made it possible to disobey Christ’s commands to put away the sword, love our neighbour and even enemies like God has loved us (ie. not drowning, beheading or burning those who disagree with us). In particular questions about the bench mark of “orthodoxy” being systems of theology which fail to preach Christ crucified in ways that keep Christ central for atonement AND discipleship.  That have found approaches to preaching Christ crucified in ways that have failed to bear fruits that look like the church refusing to crucify others!! That have failed to continue reforming to an extent that we no longer perpetuate a history of Christianity that looks like the patterns of this world and nothing like the Christ who rejects the sword and goes the way of the cross trusting only in the faithfulness and sovereignty of a God who hears the cry of those in captivity.

Pastor Boyd suggests 16th century magisterial reformer John Calvin of the “worst heresy imaginable” in killing those who were in error. Greg’s argument:

“The New Testament defines agape love by pointing us to Jesus Christ (I Jn 3:16). To love someone is treat them like Jesus has treated you — dying for you while you were yet a sinner… Now follow me: If love [not a sentimental ideal but incarnate in Jesus] is to be placed above all else, if everything else is to be considered worthless apart from love and if everything hangs on fulfilling this one law, how can we avoid the conclusion that refusing to love even our enemies is the worst heresy imaginable? To miss this all important point renders whatever other truth we may possess worthless.”  

I wonder if one of the biggest heresies in the church today is a clever trick where by we keep the centrality of the cross in our understanding of atonement yet have created systems where the cross-shaped love of Jesus is not central to how we understand issues of power, of how we get things done, how we do conflict, how we relate to enemies, our way of being in the world (ie. following Jesus or “discipleship”). And I wonder how any theological system which is blind to this can be considered fully “orthodox”. For surely right belief leads to right practice?  And maybe it’s not until we start to practice what Christ commands of us that we can start to understand our belief. For doctrines (not a popular word but important none the less) such as the Trinity aren’t just boxes to tick but profound realities of who God is to be expressed in our lives.  So it seems that not just Servetus but Calvin was also in error regarding how he understood the Trinity because it didn’t express itself in refusing to kill his enemy because of the kenotic, self giving love, love that is seen in the Holy Trinity.

I recently wrote to our blogging mate Andrew Jones (aka tall skinny kiwi) regarding discussions of the Reformation:

Mate I was thinking the reformation conversation seems very ‘Magisterial-centric’ (did I just invest a word?). I don’t understand why we let Calvin or Luther set the bar for “orthodoxy”. What about the radical wing of the reformation that insisted orthodoxy lay in the witness of the early church and were therefore willing to die but not kill for Christ? I feel embarrassed that the conversation gets so nasty. While we don’t kill our brothers and sisters today over difference (in doctrine… we might still kill them in difference of nationality if asked by our nations in war) we still don’t think loving each other means not attacking each other. Why is that? What about Jesus’ Lordship in this area? If we really think each others in error should there not be tears in prayer for one another not ‘virtual burnings’. I think the church is still in need of a savour who rejects violence, and I think we have one in Jesus. Surely these conversations can be opportunities to for the church to journey deeper in the process of sanctification, of ‘divination’ as the Orthodox have put it, in become more Christ-like. If we can’t love our sisters and brother well how are we going to love our enemies?

Today there is a direct correlation between the theology of these 16th century magisterial reformers and evangelical leaders in the U.S. like James Dobson and Don Carson who actively oppose other evangelical leaders in actions like the ‘Evangelical Climate Initiative’ to prophetically confront the biggest ecological disaster in human history.  This is the same group that reject much of the work of who I think is one of the most promising thinkers on a ‘Jesus shaped orthodoxy’, N.T. Wright. They do this on the basis that his scholarship challenges some of the ways the Magisterial Reformers have taught us to read the Bible in light of their argy-bargy in the 16th century. And while gifted communicators Mark Driscol are able to use these Reformers to critique some of the stuff that passes for Christianity today such as the “success, self help and saved by rapture” nonsense, until we can let Christ be central to our critique we will not recover the dynamic faith and faithfulness of the early church which challenges the practice of these reformers (and our) comfort with violence.

But I’m not holding Gandhi up as a theological alternative. Gandhi was far from Christian orthodoxy in his beliefs and though I think conversation with his life is incredibly fruitful for discussing the log in our eye as westerners who claim to follow Christ, I have never held him up as providing a theological framework for deepening ourselves in the biblical narrative. Yet the “orthodoxy” which Gandhi rejected I think is no orthodoxy at all. An orthodoxy with an “imperialist faith”, that plays the chaplain to the kingdoms of this world that crucified our Lord is not “orthodox’’ (lit. “Right believe”) but a dangerous heresy. (for those interested here’s a link I put to a short 2min interview with Dr. Cornel West on this subject and photos of our Peace Tree ‘commun(e)ity’ and our initial response to the recent gang killing on our streets). 

So this plea for a Jesus-shaped orthodoxy will not be found in out arguing each other but out living (out witnessing! 🙂 ) each other. We remember the only way we can deepen in orthodoxy is by prayerfully seeking to do so in a way that reflects the way of Christ, after the likeness of the mutual love of the Triune God who is fully revealed in Jesus of Nazareth. In the love we see in the cross and the power we see in the Resurrection. We must learn to engage in ways where we deepen our journey of discipleship. Where we become more aware of our own desperate need for God’s transforming grace that lead us on the exodus journey out of our own captivity to the cycles of domination that can never witness to what God has started in Jesus, the kingdom of God.

ABC’s Radio National did an interview with me and others on parts of the Reformation traditions which insisted that following Christ means living Christ-like lives where we drop our weapons that we may pick up our cross: Here’s the link if interested

and an article on the “emerging peace church movement” and an orthodoxy in keeping with the witness of the early church: click here

Jesus for President (and PM!)

 Guest blogger in the backyard: Jarrod McKenna

Our friend Shane Claibourne, that mega-phone of amazing grace is at it again, this time campaigning for “Jesus for President”! dark reprieve dvdrip download

Amish for Homeland Security 

to read an Australian take click here

For a video explaining why you shouldn’t vote for Jesus this election click here

So as we go into this weekend, big respect to all those who will remember their identity in their baptism not in their nationalism. Big respect to all those that put precedence in God’s good earth and our ecological crisis over the economics of greed. Those who prioritise the poor, the orphan, the widow and the refugee the over promises of empty prosperity of Mammon and protection of a military. Those who remember that our primary place of political engagement is not in an election booth but in being the body of Christ together and living the politics of peacemaking and compassion that are the very texture of the new creation. This I pray for us all regardless if you vote or not. 🙂

Lockridge Community Garden

That’s what us Peace Tree crew will be seeking to do.  In response to the gang related murder on our streets we’ll be firing up the wood fired pizza oven in our Lockridge Community Garden and inviting diversity of mobs to break bread (with yummy topping on it) together.  As Shane Claiborne kindly said of what we’re praying for,

“One of the doctors I met in Iraq said (with tears in his eyes), ‘This violence is for people who have lost thier imagination.’ Jarrod McKenna and the good people of EPYC are prophets of imagination. They are on a mission to create new heroes and sheroes and to reclaim God’s dream for this world. And as they help young folks to learn not to hurt each other, hopefully the nations will take some lessons.”

I think it will be here at the table, in the garden as we share what we have and seek reconciliation we’ll be inspired to find our imagination of a different kind of politics free of coercion.  The politics of grace. All welcome! 🙂 

‘Why We Can’t Build A Mega-Church On Jesus’ Leadership Model’

Wess Daniels is sharp, articulate, intelligent, prayerful and looks like Brett from the Kiwi comedy duo “Flight of the Concords”.  If you’re a fan of getting ‘feeds’ from blogs, Wess’ gathering in light is one that doesn’t disappoint.

He’s recent post on leadership, payed roles and pastoral gifts is thought provoking:

“We also need to come to terms with the fact that alternative leadership can only be exercised within a Christian community that sees itself as an alternative community of faith (see part two of my series). In other words if you have a church full of passive recipients then they will need a CEO model of church to maintain that status quo faith… Alternative leadership and alternative communities go hand in hand.”   

 for more on why Wess thinks “We Can’t Build A Mega-Church On Jesus’ Leadership Model” click here:



why we’re on the subject of look alikes does anybody else think these two look alike?


(John feel free to find a doubleganger for me 🙂 )


I think this is Wess dancing in this photo:


Gandhi delayed by tragedy

Jarrod McKenna

Jarrod McKenna’s Wednesday’s with Gandhi :

***Thanks to all who have contacted us Peace Tree crew with support and encouragement and your prayers regarding what’s been dubbed in the press as the “Lockridge riots” on the street behind our houses. This is incredibly heartbreaking and we’re asking for prayers for all involved, particularly the families and friends of the eighteen year old kid who died, the two other young men in hospital (one of which is still fighting for his life) and all that were involved. As you can imagine, lots going on here but if I get time will blog a little later. Please join us in praying for an end to the violence, that their will be no reprisals and Christ’s peace would be a reality on our streets.


In the mean time, this is a brilliant article from my mates Wess Daniels who’s studying at Fuller on one of my biggest influences (if not the biggest) John H. Yoder on “Jesus the Missionary”. So today it might be Wednesday’s with Wess and Yoder… we’ll see. Wess writes:

In our previous discussion we looked at how relevancy is often the guiding question for church and mission. If we think of the question in terms of being an axel on a Ferris wheel, it might look something like this.

The Relevant Question

But I’ll argue a more theological and biblical starting point for understanding the church’s relationship to culture is to begin with the incarnation as a paradigm for the role of church in mission. In this way Jesus is the missionary par excellence, he is our model for missions more so than even Paul. Switching out the axel on our Ferris wheel for a “Jesus Axel” we might have something more like this.

The Incarnation

With this in mind let’s look at what it was like for Jesus to interact with his culture as a missionary. John Howard Yoder names four options Jesus had for engaging with his cultural surroundings: realism, revolutionary violence, withdrawal, and establishment religion.

to read the article in full: http://gatheringinlight.com/2007/11/05/church-in-mission-culture-and-jesus-the-missionary-pt-2/

land of the dead dvd download

Jesus Camp scares me

Jarrod McKenna

Jarrod McKenna’s Wednesday’s with Gandhi:

“If Jesus came to earth again, he would disown many things that are being done in the name of Christianity.  It is not he who says ‘Lord, Lord’ that is a Christian, but “He that doeth the will of the Lord’ that is a true Christian. And cannot he, who has not heard the name of Jesus Christ, do the will of the Lord?

-Gandhi (Harijan: May 11, 1935)


Last Friday night our church community watched an amazing (and disturbing) doco called “Jesus Camp” (we laughed, we cried… we ask “what the?” ).  This is an important movie to discuss with our churches and friends who don’t share our faith. It documents “Pastor Becky’s” crusade (I used the word deliberately) to indoctrinate young people into a ‘spirituality’ of being ‘a generation of warriors for God’. It is nothing short of a ‘how to’ of Constantinian Christianity’s kids ministry on crack. It’s crazy. And it’s invading the imagination of many Christians. Like the movie “Saved” it holds a mirror to aspects of Christianity that looks nothing like Jesus and asks “What’s that?”. I found myself thinking I wish I was watching this with Stanley Hauerwas and could hear his reflections.

This film is important to see for a number of reasons:

1.        This is what Christianity means for a growing number of people (not just in America)

2.       It only takes walking into your nearest Christian bookstore to realise that this has money behind it and is getting into the mainstream even here

3.       Many educated and intelligent people think this is what charismatic/ Pentecostal/ evangelicalism is (or the gospel is!) are as turned on by it as they are by the idea of their grandad sporting the swimmers that Borat wears. 


Seeing a 10 year old kid say,  “At five I got saved. Because I just wanted more of life.”

I couldn’t help but respond with… What the?!

He was 5! Was it that climbing trees left him empty?  He realised Sesame Street and sand castles weren’t filling that whole in his life? And saved from what?  An addiction to play lunch and nap time?  The empty pursuit of kiss chasey and hop scotch?  How can I five year old know what saying yes picking up his cross and following Jesus means?  Now I’m not at all saying that kids don’t have a deep spirituality awareness, Jesus says that the kingdom belongs to these little ones. I have known many deeply spiritual little people with a beautiful and wonder-filled relationship with God who could lead us all in worship if we just watched the way they related to the world.  Some are blessed with a wonderful awareness of God at a very young age and say “yes, with gratitude” as St. Therese the little flower put it.  Hopefully our whole lives can be growing into a deeper yes and increasing gratitude.  But this sence in the video was clearly that from a very young age this kid had been taught that the gospel was fire insurance for the afterlife.  After I stopped laughing, it kind of made me feel sick.

The spirituality of these ‘camps’ is perfect to accompany sitcoms, sales and endless stimulation by mindless commercials which numb our ability to think critically, feel compassionately and dream imaginatively. In effect, it retards our ability to hear the cries of suffering that echo throughout creation and our ability to be swept up with all of creation in the glory filled worship of the God who saves not through violence but through the love revealed in Jesus.  The God who wins not through domination but through the way of the slain lamb. But a god that looks like the Jesus of the Gospels who liberate us and send the Spirit to empower us to witness to Love’s liberation of all things was starkly missing. Instead a cardboard cut out (I’m not referring to the scene in the movie where kinds seem to almost worship a poster of George W. Bush during a service), of an angry American deity who saves ‘by any means necessary’, hates it when children think critically (ie. wouldn’t dig how Jewish rabbi’s like Jesus taught in ways to make people question) was present… and scary!

Pastor Becky quote: “Let me say something about Harry Potter, Warlocks are enemies of God!… Had it been in the old Testament Harry Potter would be put to death!”

The irony that in the sixteenth century the mass genocide of women as ‘witches’ by Christians (Pastor Becky’s not onto something new) was often because they were charismatic  Spirit-filled women who were part of the radical wing of the reformation, the Anabaptists, who went out preaching a God who commands us to love our enemies in ways that look like Jesus (ie. Don’t burn them!) So they burn them.  But Pastor Becky’s emotionally coerced pseudo-mysticism for neo-fascists suffers a disturbing historical amnesia when it comes to Christian spirituality.  Not only just to the rich tradition of the desert ammas and abbas, or the Rhineland mystics, or the riches of eastern orthodox monasticism (or any number of other amazing movements) but also just 20th century Pentecostalism.  I think the one eyed black preacher at the centre of the Azusa Street revivals at the start of the 20th century, would turn in his grave to see Pentecostalism has evolved from an early movement which was a pioneer in interracial worship, seeking to recover the Christianity of the early church so reject Christians fighting in war and was liberating for women in a patriarchal society had become the lap dog for violent Empire building.  Watch this I thought of the incredible work of the “Pentecostal Charismatic Peace Fellowship” and there work of  joyfully calling people to the charismatic history of “Jesus-shaped Spirit-empowered peacemaking”.


 The spirituality documented in the film is perfect to accompany societies who are so unhealthy they have become an industrial-military-growth-complex, which institutionalise addiction to death and escapist illusions which fuel a rushing towards our destruction at the cost of the poor, the vulnerable and God’s good earth that supports us all.  Unlike the early Christians which witnessed to God’s dream for creation (the kingdom of God), the aeon of justice, peace and joy breaking in admits the cries of our groaning world, this documentary shows that there is a huge Christian ‘evangelical’ movement which witness only to the seemingly endless aeon of domination, injustice and exploitation only now in Jesus drag.  And I was so sad to read via my mate Tim, that prophetic traditions like the Mennonites are not immune to the miscellaneous-evangelical-Americana-mush which comes served in red, white and blue Styrofoam .

In my experience, what feeds the sales of not just Spong’s books but the popularity of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens evangelical atheism is a Christianity that looks nothing like Chirst. This is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to sharing our faith with others. It means people become Christians for the wrong reasons or don’t become Christians for the wrong reasons.  It can be easy to rip into such distortion of the gospel but it’s much harder to ask the Holy Spirit for them empowerment and wisdom to be able to examine our own Churches and our own hearts for a Christianity that prophesy’s in the name of Jesus, drives out demons and performs miracles but don’t live the way of love taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6:21-23). 

Jesus asks us, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your sister’s or brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own?” Gandhi reflecting on this remarked, “We must be the change we wish to see.”

I find bashing fundamentalist easy. And doesn’t it feel great.  I’m right! They’re wrong, stupid and silly!!! And that feels even better. But it is much harder to listen to the still small voice of God asking us to love our ‘inner fundi’.  And to pray for pastor Becky and all of us captive to easy answers and hate-filled religion.  Unlike Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens I don’t think the answer to bad Christianity is no Christianity. Like Peter Maurin I beleive “The best critique of the bad is the prastice of the better.” I think it’s living and inviting others to live a humble yet prophetic Christianity that looks like the nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels in ways that are good news to all of creation.  So I’ve got to go, got some log removing to do.

Goodnews to all of creation?

Jarrod McKenna’s Wednesday’s with Gandhi:

“When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator. I try to see Him and His Mercies in all these creations. But even the sunsets and sunrises would be mere hindrances if they did not help me to think of Him. Anything, which is a hinderance to the flight of the soul, is a delusion and a snare; even like the body, which often does actually hinder you in the path of salvation.”


How does this quote strike you?

This morning I write this post from under the shade of eucalypts in the Lockridge community garden that us Peace Tree crew have helped birthed with other locals. One of the things that has shaped the Peace Tree is what the Spirit has stirred in us regarding the gospel being good news for all of creation (not just humans) and considering what this means in a society that is seemingly asleep behind the shopping trolley while we hurtle towards creation destruction (for those of us who have trouble connecting the dots… that means self destruction!). The Lockridge Community Garden is an exciting and humble venture in reconciliation, permaculture, food security, the reclaiming of public space, and as Harry (showing of his crazy latin skills and penchant for St. Benedict would say) “ora et labora” (prayer and work). Because it’s a Wednesday there a number of people who are volunteering in the garden, one of which is a friend who is a Buddhist nun. I ran the quote by her for her take:

“I really like it. He seems to be talking about detachment and perception and that what is external can either help or hinder depending on your state of mind.”

What I found so interesting is that I think many Christians, not just liberals, but evangelicals would actually agree with my Buddhist friend. They would use different language (maybe language simular to what Gandhi) uses here to say,

“It’s great but don’t let it (God’s good creation) get in the way of spirituality, or relationship to God, or ‘the gospel’ or ‘eternal salvation’.”

It’s always risky to paint with broad brushstrokes but the quote above reveals something Gandhi’s worldview where he viewed the goal of faith being a spiritual salvation (moksha) form the ‘illusion of this world’ while living lives of loving service. This ‘dualism with an activist twist’ is sadly what many Christians think the gospel is about as well. Somehow today Christians often think that right relationship with each other and with the land is a secondary thought to right relationship to God. For the early Christians it was an integral part of the reconciliation of all things which God has started in Jesus.

Somehow today Christians have walked away from our calling to be image bearers and witnesses to the transformation of creation (the coming of the kingdom). Instead we have become religious vendors of ‘spirituality’ to accompany the foolish and diabolical destruction of creation. Instead of preaching ‘in Jesus the exodus from all domination has started’ we preach a neo-Gnostism of ‘in Jesus the exodus from creation has started’. As my friend Ian Barns recently wrote:

“many Christians believe that God is primarily interested in humans and their eternal salvation, and not in other creatures and ecosystems. Although the doctrine of creation (God made the world and saw that it was good) saves us from being Manichean (matter is bad, spirit is good) nonetheless, Christian worship, practice, and theology and involvement in worldly life is shaped by a practical dualism which makes us generally unconcerned about ecological issues. Moreover, the focus on issues of personal spirituality means that we fit comfortably within the utilitarian approach to the natural world that is part of modern urban and industrial life.”

“For this movement of American evangelicals, issues of abortion, same sex marriage, and stem cell research have been much more important issues than the long term health of the planet. To be sure, in February 2005, 83 prominent US evangelicals published the so-called ‘Evangelical Climate Initiative’, with a ‘Call to Action’ to governments and churches. Yet evangelical leaders such as James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Charles Colson and Don Carson actively opposed this initiative.”

And drawing on NT Wright issues this prophetic call:

“if we pay attention to the ‘bigger picture’ gospel that the Bible proclaims, we can see that far from being merely a temporary vehicle for us humans as we make our way to heaven, the creation is integral to God’s salvation purpose. God does not make a good creation, which he then destroys because of the disfiguring effects of human sin. Rather, his eternal purpose is that, as human creatures faithfully reflect God’s image, the created order should enter into the liberty of the children of God (Romans 8). The gospel message is that Jesus, the first born of a renewed humanity, has done what Adam, and humanity ‘ after the sinful flesh’, could not do: be the perfect image of God. Through his obedience unto death, Jesus opens the way for not just humanity, but God’s good creation, to enter into that glorious destiny God always intended.”

Living during this ecological crisis, if we are to have any integrity to the Scriptures, the early Church, and our Lord, we must preach a full gospel that is good news to all of creation. Otherwise “evangelical” will no longer be associated with ‘good news’.