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For the first couple of years of his faith, John Dickson was a passionate promoter of the Christian message. I’ve got the perfect fall study for you and your friends or small group to help you promote the gospel with more than your lips. The list of blogs below were all winners of The Best Secret of Christian Mission by John Dickson. Faith Reasonings – It is not often anymore that I read books on evangelism or mission. By submitting your email address, you understand that you will receive email communications from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (501 Nelson Place, Nashville, TN 37214 USA) providing information about products and services of HCCP and its affiliates.
Moreover, one might think of today’s emerging church movement that is slowly leaving evangelicalism behind, made up of reforming activists like Brian McLaren, Rachel Held Evans, and Shane Claiborne. The secret is… wait for it, drum roll please… simply the phenomenon that … finally, after years of being mired in the tradition of either modern fundamentalism or modern liberalism, people are waking up to the fact that understanding the origins and historical evolution of the Path of Jesus is the key to genuine discipleship.
Beliefs like the conservative’s apocalyptic End Times theology, that expects Jesus to return soon—possibly right after tomorrow’s breakfast—to whisk away true believers and throw the world into seven years of harrowing tribulation; and afterwards send most people to hell (this belief hasn’t gone away as evidenced by last year’s Left Behind movie starring Nicolas Cage).
So, the best kept secret is that more and more people are teaching the importance of knowing the historical roots of the original Jesus Movement and how it morphed throughout the centuries.
We need to pay attention to what they have to say because the outcome of this secret is that Christianity is profoundly changing, or as I argue, is slowly being redefined. Husband, father, author, amateur historian, Rotarian, global development practitioner, marketing director, ex-evangelical, former missionary to Africa, and pub theologian.
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Unfortunately, a chunk of them are dirty little secrets that fester for years before eventually breaking open in popular media. The church-authority-abuse scandals of Mars Hill Church, Sovereign Grace Ministries, Calvary Chapel, and many others attest to this. Well, you might think, maybe the secret is the refreshing juxtaposition to the Religious Right that has reached a pinnacle in recent years with the resurgence of progressive Christian thought in the voices of the late Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, and Walter Brueggemann, centered on the politics of compassion of the historical Jesus.

These also include the Sojourners and Wild Goose Festival movements that call for merging social justice, spirituality, and the arts.
Or, on the left, those who doubt the reality of an historical, non-violent, counter-cultural Jesus, claiming that he either didn’t really exist or was actually a violent zealot (see Reza Aslan’s 2014 book, Zealot). And, how refuting our modern theological sacred cows with historical evidence makes an enormous difference when deciding how to follow Jesus, be a spiritual-but-not-religious person, view the Bible, consider other faiths, form community, understand the heart of God, love your gay and straight neighbor, fight to make the world more equitable, and think about the future.
And with every purchase you make, you’re making an amazing difference in their lives. The sexual confessions of Josh Duggar from the reality TV show “19 Kids and Counting” is the latest of these. Yes, these are secrets that are worthy of exposure to protect people from the harm of modern conservative religion, but no, they also are not the secret.
Or, maybe it is something to do with today’s call to humanize our criminal justice system that has roots from 20 years ago through voices like Sister Helen Prejean’s stand against the death penalty, as depicted in the 1995 movie, Dead Man Walking starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. Or, you might think it’s the host of new progressive and post-evangelical authors that are asking modern Christians to rethink things like the infallibility of the Bible, salvation, atonement, church, homosexuality, judgment, and the doctrine of hell, and have founded reforming organizations like the Christian Universalist Association.
The key to knowing how to use the Bible and other sacred text is to know how Jesus and the earliest followers used it. They believe, I guess, that some Jewish men in the first century, perhaps after attending Synagogue one day, decided to make up a new religion and base it on a fictional character or someone who held views the exact opposite of the new faith’s tenets. The people who are leading this call are theologians and historians like Michael Hardin, Phyllis Tickle, Harvey Cox, Garry Wills, and N.T. I am not sure how reliable our scribes are in recounting what the witness saw and said, given the fact that one of the most corrupt institutions in the history of the world has been the keeper of the text, and most of the time involved in the translation of the text.
As you know, studying the history of the church reveals modern institutions are not an original model. He not only purchased your forgiveness of sins and your ticket to heaven, He purchased every blessing and every answer to prayer you will ever receive. Last year it was the scandal involving church leaders of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) and their alleged cover up of child sexual abuse. No, as worthy as each of these positive trends are, and though each of them contributes to the secret in some way, they are not in and of themselves the secret. Modern churches are not modeled after the original Jesus gatherings, so let’s not pretend they are. How have these authors I cite, or others who write about Christian history, helped you rethink your faith?

That aside, something about what is reported about Jesus of Nazareth, and God, as our Father, holds me fast.
Something about Jesus, stripped of the more gross misreadings our modern traditions ascribe to him (teaching hell, forming a religion, founding an institution), draws our hearts upward to light. Using lively anecdotes from his own experiences, evangelist Ray Comfort presents the key that unlocks the door of men's souls. In years past, it was Ted Haggard’s confession of drug use and involvement with a male prostitute.
They may not always agree on the details, but they are united in the importance of historical origins.
Gandhi said something like, I like your Jesus it is his followers that I have a problem with.
If you're experiencing evangelical frustration over lost souls, unrepentant sinners, and backslidden "believers," then look no further. To me, all the things we are learning in our generation about new paradigms for church, the Bible, the atonement, the Path of Christ, etc. This radical approach could be the missing dimension needed to win our generation to Christ. All these now-exposed scandals and many more examples suggest the best kept secret might have something to do with a link between fundamentalist teaching on sexuality and predatory behavior.
As a result, it has developed a collection of wild, wacky, and windblown beliefs, on both the right and left. Not to create a new original model, but to learn how to apply the Path we see back then to the path we are on in the present. There is evil in this world, and it has nothing to do with God, God being a reflection of His good creation. God cannot be subjected or contained by human institutions; anyone who claims an inside track on the Creator is deceived and by claiming such is lying.

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