Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Associated Press on The Da Vinci Code

"Among more liberal thinkers, Harold Attridge, dean of Yale's Divinity School, says Brown has "wildly misinterpreted" early Christianity."

Richard N. Ostling of the Associated Press writes a fine article on controversy surrounding The Da Vinci Code.

- other suggested resources on The Da Vinci Code.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Andrew Careaga's new Podcast

Before many of us, author Andrew Careaga was thinking and writing about the church online. A full 7 years ago, he published a book about God's community on the Internet.

It's just been announced that he's now podcasting.'s Resource Page for The Da Vinci Code

has launched.

- other suggested resources for The Da Vinci Code.

Friday, April 28, 2006

A Scriptwriter's Perspective on the Da Vinci Code

Screenwriter Barbara Nicolosi has a wee bit different perspective on Christians and the Da Vinci Code that you might have seen elsewhere.

ht: ThinkChristian

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Celebration of Kyle

We got the chance to get to know Kyle when he joined the faithmaps discussion group some time ago. His tragic death at so young an age rocked many of us in the emerging church conversation. Tony Jones, the National Coordinator of Emergent Village, announces Kyle's Film in a recent Emergent Newsletter:

"So many of us continue to miss Kyle Lake. All the time people talk about "tragic" deaths, but his death truly was tragic. And Julie and I grieve to think of Jen and the kids. But Kyle also left a beautiful legacy of life, and a film to that end is just wrapping up -- it's a tribute to Kyle's life and his faith, and I strongly recommend it. And, all of the proceeds will help fund his children's college funds. Here is some more information from the people who are putting this together...

There is no doubt that Kyle Lake, former pastor of University Baptist Church in Waco, TX, lived life to the fullest. Both his inner and outer beauty will be remembered by all of us. "Kyle's Film" is a project that we are doing to honor the life and ministry of our friend. Kyle's last sermon was surprisingly very cinematic in its nature. Not only did it detail appreciating beauty in the ordinary things, but engaged a sense of inspiration and an eerie comfort in the wording. With this project, we are not elevating Kyle to a level of worship and admiration, but rather we are celebrating the beauty of God that was seen through Kyle's life.

This spring, we began production on "Kyle's Film", an interpretive, impressionistic, and cinematic short film based on Kyle's last sermon. We filmed everything in 35mm (which is the Hollywood standard for productions and used the same film stock as many recent films- Capote, Crash, etc.) and transferred everything to high definition. Right now we're working on post production and working with some of guys from the David Crowder Band for an original score. For the second half of the film, we are focusing more on Kyle's life through video and pictures of him and his family etc. We should have everything finished up towards May, and the running length should be around 10 minutes for both parts.

We are in the process of also setting up a way for people to pre-order the completed DVD when it is done in May. Congress Clothing will be handling the ordering process through their website, and all the proceeds will be donated to the Kyle Lake Memorial Fund, which will go towards his children's college tuition. You can find all of the information about the film on our website,, which has a trailer, links to our production blog, and the pre-order page. We hope this film will show Kyle's message of loving God, embracing beauty, and living life to the fullest to as many people as possible."

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

craig blomberg on the gospel of judas

Thus, although we now have one more heretofore untranslated “authentic” text from 1600 years ago, as the media have repeatedly reported, all that “authentic” means in this context is that it really is an ancient text, perhaps the very one Irenaeus condemned. There is not one chance in a thousand that it preserves any accurate historical information that would shed any new light on the historical Judas. Were this a canonical document, redaction critics would quickly point out its agreement in all essentials with mid-second century, full-blown Gnostic thought and dispense with any idea of it representing older Christian beliefs. But because it is unorthodox, some who never tire of attacking the canon apply a double standard and propose far more optimistic theories about the historical truth of the document. The essayists in this volume are for the most part more cautious than this, but one would never have guessed that just from the recently televised National Geographic program on this new Gospel.

NT Scholar Craig Blomberg reviews the Gospel of Judas

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Toward Understanding the Heart of the Da Vinci Code

Amy Hall - of the A-Team - lets us know that her teammate Roger Overton will in the coming weeks be reviewing various Da Vinci Code response books.

She also recommends Garlow and Jones' Cracking the Da Vinci Code as a unique contribution to the every growing Da Vinci Code critique. She comments,

I mentioned before that it seemed to me the issue of paganism in TDC has been overlooked as people rush to correct the historical inaccuracies. I strongly believe that, in addition to facts, TDC needs to be addressed at the more fundamental level of worldviews, and this book is just what the conversation needs.


Cracking connects TDC with the larger picture of paganism, ancient Gnosticism, and trends in our own culture as these ideas once again gain a foothold--and it does so in a readable, layperson-friendly way.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Witherington Advises Churches on Da Vinci

Lest you think this is much ado about nothing, I would remind you of a few facts:

1) This novel sold 43 million in hardcopy--- a record.
2) the paperback which came out in March has already sold 6 million.
3) in 2004 this novel outsold the Bible in America.

Ben Witherington gives the church some advice on dealing with The Da Vinci Code movie.

Andrew Jones on the History of the Emerging Church

emerging church A-list blogger r Andrew Jones comments on Dan Kimball's history of the use of the terms "emerging church" and "emergent" ( part 1 and part 2) and brings in additional history from his international perspective. Be sure to follow Andrew's links, including interesting commentary by JR Woodward.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

a question for readers of emergesque

do you find that the new design makes this blog harder to read (because of the colors)? can you let me know in comments?

Scot McKnight: A Perspective on the Da Vinci Code

Why is it that so many, in spite of repeatedly hearing about the historical implausibilities and the impossible scenario Dan Brown created for history, want to believe the inherent story of this book?


My contention is that we live in a culture that does not believe the Church for a variety of reasons: it uses a hermeneutic of suspicion; it learns that there are parts of the Church’s history that are not pretty; it hears facts about the priests and the pastors who have abused their calling and turned spirituality into crime; it knows of Christians who are hypocrites — and it simply says, “Well, maybe all along they’ve been a bunch of power-suppressing liars.”

There are some responses to each of these, but this is what I’m hearing, and I hope we use this movie to press the Church to learn to be more credible, trustworthy and full of integrity.


as a public service - great free software

the ever-informative jordon cooper

Saturday, April 22, 2006

origin of terms "emerging church" and "emergent"

Dan Kimball continues the discussion he began on Thursday 20 April on the origin of these often confused terms.

On Thursday he focused on "emerging church."

Yesterday he gives a bit more history of that term and then explains the origin of the term "emergent."

Friday, April 21, 2006

Lutherans Talk ab The Da Vinci Code

Thomas Chryst has compiled a number of different kinds of resources on The Da Vinci Code at Preachrblog.

Note especially the numerious audio resources downloadable at Issues Etc.

I've added these to our Da Vinci Code Resource Post.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

evangelicals debate the meaning of "evangelical"

Today, with the term, "evangelical," often equated with "fundamentalist," many in the movement are even discussing whether the label evangelical should be jettisoned completely, said David Neff, editor of Christianity Today, an evangelical magazine.

"I did sit in a room with a number of key leaders, some Christian college presidents, some representatives of major college ministries," he said. "They were seriously discussing whether the word evangelical should be used anymore, or should we call ourselves classic Christians or historic orthodox Christians."

- The NYTimes

ht: Justin Taylor

the origin of the terms "emerging church" and "emergent"

Dan Kimball - author of The Emerging Church - begins to explain the origin of these two often confused terms.

Tomorrow he focuses on "emergent."

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

NT Wright on The Gospel of Judas and the Da Vinci Code

The reason for the astonishing popularity of The Da Vinci Code on the one hand, and for the huge current media hype about the so-called ‘Gospel of Judas’ on the other, is that so many in our day are eager for enlightenment, hungry for spirituality, and yet desperate to avoid the way of the cross, the genuinely revolutionary kingdom of Jesus. And, tragically, there are many who put it about that second-century fragments like the Judas piece, like the so-called ‘Gospel of Thomas’, represent the true strain which boring, conformist old orthodoxy hushed up, and which offer today a more exciting pathway than regular mainline Christianity. My brothers and sisters, I have to tell you that it’s a lie. I was studying this newly discovered little tract, the ‘Gospel of Judas’, yesterday morning, and reading what some of its editors had written about it; and there crept over me the horrible sense of a lie cheerfully told, a lie which people are eager to believe, a lie which could sap the vital energy of the church and individual Christians unless we name it for what it is, see the danger, and know why we reject it.

- link

ht: ochuk's blog which also comments

- other resources on The Gospel of Judas

- other resources on The Da Vinci Code

a guide to the some helpful gospel of judas resources

The Gospel of Judas Resource Page has been moved to here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Suggested Resources for The Da Vinci Code

The Suggested Resource for The Da Vinci Code has been moved to here.

Monday, April 17, 2006

On the Da Vinci Code

USA TODAY ran an article today summarizing some Catholic and Protestant efforts to rebut the Da Vinci Code.

Here are some of the efforts and sites they mention:|

“perhaps the best outreach opportunity in 2,000 years”

“Among the most startling outcomes…is the apparent absence of a direct evangelistic impact by the movie…. Less than one-tenth of one percent of those who saw the film stated that they made a profession of faith or accepted Jesus Christ as their savior in reaction to the film’s content.”

George Barna quoted in

The Passion Reloaded: is the silver screen really an outreach silver bullet?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

nothing more than....

....simply beautiful rainbow shots.

Because He is risen, we can enjoy beauty!

Saturday, April 15, 2006


If you are into the new ABC show Lost, if you visit this site you may need to let your friends and family know you'll be out of pocket for a few hours.

ht: Mike Todd

Friday, April 14, 2006

Please Pray for Bob Robinson again

quoted on jesus creed:

URGENT: Please pray AGAIN for Bob; as I write this, he is being life-flighted
to Cleveland. Blood has apparently built up around his heart; I’m no doctor,
but it sounds as though some surgery is in store for this Good Friday. Pray
that God will be gracious to Bob again this day. — Barry Jones

witherington on the gospel of judas, post #4

According to John 12 it actually started before the Last Supper. Judas did not like the way things were going at the beginning of Passover week A.D. 30, and objected to the extravagance of Mary's anointing Jesus feet with the ancient equivalent of a pint of Chanel No. 5.


McKnight on Judas, 5

Bart Ehrman, in his essay in the National Geographic presentation of the translation of The Gospel of Judas, once again raises his oft-argued point: by the time of Nicea (c. 325) there was a “winning” side and a “losing” side. The winners were the “orthodox.” The losers were the heretics. Prior to that time, Christianity was much more diverse.


This is a simplistic summary that masks a multi-faceted reality: we have an apostolic faith that was carried on fairly consistently, with developments no doubt, into the early second century into folks like Ignatius and Irenaeus. There are adumbrations of creeds that were very early that look not a little like the later ones. So, what I’m suggesting is that Bart is overcooking his claims here. Yes, these texts were there; yes, the proto-orthodox fought against these views; yes, the orthodox party became powerful; and yes, the orthodox party shaped the faith we now know as Christianity. No one should dispute that. But, really, how serious was the competition?


In my assessment, this is the foundational issue behind all the current swirling trends in anti-Christian debate.
The DaVinci Code, Bart Ehrman’s several books, Elaine Pagels’ books, and others, along with this recent publication are all rooted in this singularly potent idea: the orthodox party suppressed alternative voices. Alternative voices deserve to be heard; therefore, we need to hear what these folks believed about the Christian faith. On top of this, for many, there is the added suggestion that we should try to recover the kind of diversity, bewildering as it was, that characterized pre-Nicean Christianity.

full post

witherington on the gospel of judas, pt 3

ben witherington discusses the discussion he was involved on national public radio.

mcknight on Judas, 4

What has to be observed is this: the climax of the gospel is the return of Jesus to the divine not the death and resurrection of Jesus. Redemption is by way of knowledge, not by way of God’s redemptive act in the death and resurrection. And there is no need for resurrection; in fact, resurrection is an abominable idea for it would involve the goodness of the body.

Nothing could be further from the traditional perception of redemption. And the one who realizes this is Judas, the one vilified. Only he really got it, and the other Gospels distort his heroic deed.

full post

Mark D Roberts on The Da Vinci Code

Scot McKnight recently favorably referred his readers to a Roberts blogpost on the Gospel of Judas.

I hadn't heard of Roberts before but when I surfed to his site, I found that the Judas post was part of a longer series on the Da Vinci Code that looks like interesting.

And Roberts does have some impressive credentials:

The Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a pastor, author, speaker and blogger. Since 1991 he has been the Senior Pastor of
Irvine Presbyterian Church in Irvine, California (a city in Orange County about forty miles south of Los Angeles). Before coming to Irvine, Mark served on the staff of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood as Pastor of Education.Mark studied at Harvard University, receiving a B.A. in Philosophy, an M.A. in the Study of Religion, and a Ph.D. in New Testament and Christian Origins. He teaches classes in New Testament for Fuller Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary.

mcknight on Judas, 3

This is a good time to explain that this ms was actually discovered in about 1978, but its owner at the time wanted more money than museum curates, etc., were willing to pay. To make an involved story short, the ms ended up in a safe box in a bank, and in the process it had been folded to fit into a box and frozen to protect it — neither of which were good ideas. Folding it destroyed precious lines and freezing it damaged the ms irreparably. When Rudolphe Kasser finally was granted rights to encase the leaves of the ms in glass and work on its restoration, which took several years, it began to see the light of the day. Only this year is its translation being released and by the end of the year a full set of photographs and official critical text will be released.

full post

scot mcknight on the gospel of judas - part 2

“The secret account of the revelation that Jesus spoke in conversation with Judas Iscariot…” — this is how The Gospel of Judas [GJ] begins. Jesus, GJ tells us, did great wonders and spoke about mysteries and was sometimes “appeared” to them “as a child”. This is the language of docetism, for Jesus only looked like a human but the fleshy body was not like others’ bodies. Then comes Scene I:

The disciples were together at a meal and Jesus laughed at them; Jesus challenges them to have the courage to “stand before my face.” “But their spirits did not dare to stand before him except for Judas Iscariot.” Jesus laughed because they were thanking God for their food, but the real (ultimate) God didn’t make anything material like food. They need enlightenment.

Judas confesses to Jesus that he [Jesus] is “from the immortal realm of Barbelo”. Barbelo is the Divine Mother of all and is the forethought of the Infinite One. Judas’ confession is significant enough that Jesus and Judas have to step away from the others so Jesus can divulge the mysteries of the kingdom, which pertain to upper and outer realities that are at variance with the earthy-minded God and religion of the other disciples.

GJ is gnostic.

- complete post

- Part 1

Philip Jenkins on The Gospel of Judas

The most important point is that all gospels are not created equal. Some have more historical credibility than others, more claim to provide an accurate and nearly contemporary picture of the time of Jesus and his first followers. Among the various competitors, the four canonical gospels have no serious rivals. All were in place in substantially their modern form by around 100 C.E., and all describe historical settings firmly rooted in the first century. By contrast, the vast majority of Gnostic gospels were composed after 150 C.E., and many as late as 250.

- link to article

At Ben Witherington's recommendation, I've begun reading Jenkins' book Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost its Way. Darrell Bock also recommends Hidden Gospels in his Breaking the Da Vinci Code.

ht: pontifications

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Brian's On CBS Tonight...

...has been posted here. Just scroll down to "A New Kind of Christianity?"

three types of emergers

Ed Stetzer has published a piece where he analyzes emerging church conversation participants into three groups:

Relevants: I believe that some are taking the same Gospel in the historic form of church but seeking to make it understandable to emerging culture;

They are simply trying to explain the message of Christ in a way their generation can understand.

Reconstructionists: some are taking the same Gospel but questioning and reconstructing much of the form of church;

The reconstructionists think that the current form of church is frequently irrelevant and the structure is unhelpful. Yet, they typically hold to a more orthodox view of the Gospel and Scripture. Therefore, we see an increase in models of church that reject certain organizational models, embracing what are often called “incarnational” or “house” models.

Revisionists: some are questioning and revising the Gospel and the church.

Revisionists are questioning (and in some cases denying) issues like the nature of the substitutionary atonement, the reality of hell, the complementarian nature of gender, and the nature of the Gospel itself. This is not new -- some mainline theologians quietly abandoned these doctrines a generation ago.

I'm not sure at all that most Revisionist Emergers are denying the Gospel (as one might surmise from reading this). I think that many Revisionists are exploring what it means to work in Kingdom.

Nevertheless, I think this analysis is insightful and his story is worth reading. His categories somewhat overlap the three categories I had suggested some time ago, though I didn't explicitly address the theological component.

We don't want more dividers, but I think Stetzer's treatment is a pretty good categorization of what's actually happening on the ground in our conversation.

ht: David Wayne

Mark Goodacre Coverage of The Gospel of Judas

Mark Goodacre covers New Testament scholarship from evangelical and non-evangelical viewpoints:

ht: scot mcknight

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Bart Ehrman's Commentary on the Gospel of Judas

Ehrman's commentary is currently #6 of's Top Selling Books. That's #6 of all books irrespective of category.

The new paperback of The Da Vinci Code is #14

This Just In: Brian McLaren on CBS on Thursday

Brian's on the CBS Evening News tomorrow night and will be in the Wall Street Journal on Friday.

ht: Emerging Mosaic

Brian's New Domain has morphed to

a bit of a new design too.

megapost on the gospel of judas

If you want to be really cool, though, tell your friends about a little-known document that's even more amazing than the Gospel of Judas. It's called the Epistle of Judas, and it makes some pretty wild claims. First, the document is reportedly older than almost any New Testament book, and it draws heavily upon non-canonical Jewish literature. It includes some odd stories like the archangel Michael fighting with the Devil over a corpse, and quite a bit of discussion about sexual indulgence. Unlike most New Testament books, the Epistle of Judas appears to be written in Judea itself. The book makes the dramatic claim that its author, Judas, was the brother of the apostle James (the first leader of the church). Judas apparently makes a subtle claim that he's Jesus' brother, too.

This Epistle of Judas includes some advice that may be applicable for those frustrated with all the hype over the much-later Gospel of Judas. "Have mercy on those who doubt," Judas wrote. "Save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh."*

ted olsen does one of his usually excellent around the rooms on the topic.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Raymond E Brown's Review of Pagel's "The Gnostic Gospels"

In reading around The Da Vinci Code and the Gospel of Judas the last few days, I've come across references to well-regarded NT scholar Raymond E Brown and his New York Times review of Elaine Pagel's book The Gnostic Gospels. Had a bit of a time finding it but here it is. You'll need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to read it.

UPDATE: Readers, I need your help. The review mentioned above was printed on 20 January 1980. Though well worth reading, tt's not, apparently, the review mentioned by Darrell Bock in his recent book Breaking the Da Vinci Code which he says was published by the New York Times in November 1979. I'm having a difficult time finding that particular review, even when searching for all "Raymond E Brown" or "Raymond Brown" articles in the NY Times archive before 1980. Any help, guidance, thoughts, or - even better - a url with the Nov 1979 article?

graphic from

looking at the emerging church

I'll be looking at his post more closely soon, but for now I just wanted to point readers to Andrew Jones' post about Brian McLaren and others at the recent Emerging Church Conference in Toronto. He also links to the comments of those who were there. This is a good place to get one current picture of Emergent, the broader Emerging Church, and the response of the even broader Evangelicalism that largely gave Emergent and the Emerging Church birth.

scot mcknight...

...reflects on his first year of blogging.

One does not always find the combination of true scholar and teachable heart that Scot exemplifies.

Your Comments

I know that the way blogger's commenting system is set up can result in emergesque readers unintentionally leaving anonymous comments. It's good for the emergeque reader community if folks know who says what. So, if you don't mind, please sign your name to your comments. You can sign it within the body of your comment if you wish.


Stephen Shields

graphic courtesy of stock xchng

Monday, April 10, 2006

witherington on judas, part 2

I was on the phone yesterday with my close friend Dr. A.J. Levine who teaches at Vanderbilt Div. School. She was called in late in the game to give a bit more balance to the group of scholars unveiling the Gospel of Judas. I asked her point blank: " Well A.J. is this document of any importance at all in helping us understand the historical Jesus or the historical Judas and their relationship?" She said unequivocally--- "none whatsoever". In other words, we need to all have our baloney detection meters set to 'heightened alert' as we watch the special on the Gospel of Judas tonight. While this document will tell us more about the split off movement called Gnosticism, and so is of considerable interest as we learn more about church history in the period from the late 2nd century through the fourth century, it tells us nothing about the origins of Christianity or the beginnings of the Jesus movement.


As she reminded me, the way Irenaeus describes the content of the Gospel of Judas that he knows, it has very different content from this Coptic Gospel of Judas which we are now being regaled with.


I would just add that it is perfectly possible that the document Irenaeus knows became a source for this later Coptic document, which again does not date, by carbon dating to before the beginning of the 4th century A.D. This places the Coptic Gospel of Judas at even a further remove from the first century A.D. and its documents. It is entirely possible that the Gospel of Judas we now have is not the original document created by the Cainite Gnostics that Irenaeus knows and speaks of.

his entire comment

- part 1

Sunday, April 09, 2006

As a Public Service

Go to this MSN site, key in your zip code, and find the cheapest gas available in your area. It's updated daily.

graphic courtesy of stock xchng

Friday, April 07, 2006

i love it when scholars blog

...the text is late, the orthodox Christians said The Gospel of Judas was nonsense, and the theology (which is clearly gnostic) is not 1st Century Jewish/Galilean. No one can dispute any of these three points.

scot mcknight weighs in on the gospel of judas.

he promises more on Monday.

Ben Witherington on the "Gospel of Judas"

First let us deal with the facts: 1) we do not have a Greek text of this Gospel, we have a Coptic one from which the English translation has been made. To simply state this text was based on Greek text is to argue without hard evidence. The fact that Irenaeus mentions this document may suggest there was a Greek original, but we do not have it, and the translation done is not based on any Greek text. We need to be clear on this: 2) You will find a link above to the article in today's NY Times about this find. You will see me suggesting we all need to take a deep breath before consuming too much baloney; 3) this papyrus carbon dates to about 300 A.D. We only know some document called the Gospel of Judas existed around 180 because Irenaeus mentions it. One could also raise the question of whether Irenaeus is referring to the same document, but probably he is. 4) This document reflects the same sort of dualism that we find in many other Gnostic documents-- matter or flesh is evil or tainted, spirit is good. Thus at one juncture in the Gospel of Judas Jesus says to Judas that he will become the top disciple for "you will sacrifice the man that clothes me." In other words Judas is the good guy who helps Jesus get rid of his tainted flesh and become a true spiritual and free being.

This of course is miles from early Jewish theology about the goodness of creation and the flesh, much less the belief that God intends to redeem the flesh by means of resurrection. Much of what Jesus is depicted as saying in the Gospel of Judas the historical, thoroughly Jewish, resurrection believing Jesus could never have said. In other words it is revisionist history being done by a splinter group of Gnostics. This group was at variance with the theology and praxis of the church whose beliefs could in fact be traced back to Jesus and his earliest disciples.


My greater concern is the revisionist history being tauted by Elaine Pagels, Karen King, Bart Ehrman, Marvin Meyer and others, on the basis of such Gnostic documents, wanting to suggest that somehow, someway these documents reflect Christianity at its very point of origin--- the first century A.D.

Such scholars indeed represent a small minority of NT scholarship, and in fact, like the early Gnostics, are busily creating a new myth of origins that suggests that Christianity was dramatically pluriform from the beginning. Unfortunately, as a historian I have to say that this is argument without first century evidence.

We have no first century evidence of Gnostics or Gnosticism. This is a movement that reacted to mainstream Christianity, and emerged from it sometime in the middle of the second century A.D. Every shred of first century evidence we have suggests that the actual physical life, death, and resurrection of Jesus was at the heart of the belief of the earliest Christians--- all of whom were Jews, not Gnostics. It simply will not do to suggest that the esoteric Gospel of the Gnostics bears any resemblance to the Jewish creation and redemption theology of Jesus and his first Jewish followers.

NT Scholar Ben Witherington blogs on the "Gospel of Judas."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Gospel of Judas

It's not 80 gospels, rather it's 81.

Ok, Teabing said, "more than 80" but I couldn't turn that into a dramatic line.

Get ready for another perfect storm of Jesus controversy.

News outlets are suddenly running stories about the Gospel of Judas, just in time for the new Da Vinci Code - based on the bestseller, now #1 again, by Dan Brown that's being released on 19 May.

Some might get the impression that this a new discovery. It's not; the document has been known of since the late 2nd Century. This Coptic copy of the orignal Greek document was discovered in the 70's and has been dated to around AD 300. A Google search on the phrase "gospel of judas" returns over 100,000 pages.

According to ABC News, James M. Robinson, who was the General Editor of the Nag Hammadi in English and considered a foremost authority on such Coptic manuscripts, said earlier this month that

the text is valuable to scholars of the second century but dismissed the notion that it'll reveal unknown biblical secrets.

ABC News continues...

He speculated the timing of the release is aimed at capitalizing on interest in the film version of "The Da Vinci Code" a fictional tale that centers on a Christian conspiracy to cover up a marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

"There are a lot of second-, third- and fourth-century gospels attributed to various apostles," Robinson said. "We don't really assume they give us any first century information."


- NY Times article: "Gospel of Judas Resurfaces after 1,700 Years"
- Christianity Today article: "The Judas We Never Knew"
- ABC News: Experts Doubt 'Gospel of Judas" Revelation

on the death of young leaders

charlie wear addresses this theme - and the loss of friends - in the April 2006 issue of Next-Wave.

please pray for micah

I didn't know Mark Palmer, who passed on 27 March. I only knew him thru the ubiquitous button that someone created for him - surely a labor of love.

I knew that Mark lost his first wife to cancer, but the implication of what's happened didn't hit me until I read Brother Maynard's comment that now 4 year old Micah had lost both parents to cancer.

Please pray for little Micah who is now with Mark's 2nd wife (now widow) Amy. Pray for them both. Amy says he's crying in his sleep.

God is even bigger than this.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Bart Ehrman

Dr. Ehrman is a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has written a very popular book called

Misquoting Jesus : The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why

Ehrman is a past evangelical turned agnostic.

I've run across Ehrman as I've been studying issues related to Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code. (Ehrman has also written a recent book critical of Da Vinci Code).

I plan to post more about the Da Vinci Code later, but I simply
wanted to link to recent comments by Ben Witherington and Dan Wallace on Ehrman's most recent book that can be found here.

For what it's worth, my own undergraduate degree was in Classical Greek and I also had the opportunity to study Textual Criticism under the late Harry Sturz and I found that learning about such matters strengthened rather than weakened my faith.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

"NCC's 2006 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches cites two 21st century trends: blogging and the Emergent Church"

...the National Council of Churches' 2006 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches examines the latest electronic miracle -- the blog -- and considers its influence on the Emergent Church (EC).


The Emergent Church is defined by Yearbook Editor, the Rev. Dr. Eileen W. Lindner, as a "conversation" (some would say movement) birthed in 20th century Protestantism and "characterized by a robust, energetic and growing online and hardcopy literature" that attempts to shape responses to contemporary culture.

Common attributes of the EC, Lindner believes, are an emulation of the person and ministry of Jesus, a fondness for anecdotes and stories as means of discovering truth, a focus on mission, and a stress on the centrality of worship, even in experimental forms.

Scores of EC proponents are using blogs to advance these ideas and stimulate dialogue. Lindner says it is not possible to generalize them into a predictable demographic class, but she offers examples of prominent EC bloggers: John O'Keefe, founder of, "an emerging/postmodern site exploring what it means to be a follower of Jesus in today's world;" Spencer Burke, former pastor, founder of Web site, "dedicated to the emerging Church culture;" Mark Driscoll, founder of Mars Hill Church ( in Seattle; Mark Pearson, founder of in Aukland, New Zealand; and Karen Ward, founder and pastor of the Church of the Apostles,, in Seattle.


The 2006 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches cites the following blogs that are used by Emergent Church practitioners for communication:

Bible Software Review
Christian Alliance for
Christianity Today

Chuck Currie-
Department of Theology at University of Blogistan-theologydept.
The Evangelical
Idle musings of a
The Magdalene
NCC Interfaith
Religion News
Religions of the Ancient
Sollicitudo Rei
Stumbling Toward Divinity-

from Church Executive Magazine - Link

not sure that I would characterize all of these as emerging church, but we appreciated being included!

ht to Chuck Currie

Monday, April 03, 2006

eFriends of Abductive Column: Interview with Stephen Shields

Fred Peatross recently interviewed me for his eFriends of Abductive Column:

Stephen Shields is the founder of and the moderator of the faithmappers' online discussion group. Stephen is also a Manager with USA TODAY, formerly a bi-vocational pastor with Brian McLaren, and a frequent contributor to Next-Wave Magazine. Stephen received a M.Div from Grace Theological Seminary and lives with his wife Bethany and three daughters - Michaela Siobhan, Skye Teresa, and Alia Noelle - in the Baltimore- Washington corridor.

I guess the first thing everyone would want to know is what was it like pastoring with Brian McLaren?

One of Brian's characteristics that I have appreciated the most is how empowering he is towards others. Before I went on staff at Cedar Ridge in 1999, I had been working there in a lay capacity for 10 years. Brian opened up doors for me to lead the small groups ministry, to sing, to act in the drama troupe, to speak on Sunday mornings, etc. It was a great season and I will always be grateful for his role.

You've been engaged in the emergent conversation for sometime now, can you tell us why?

There are a couple of resonances that I have with the emerging church. As I've commented elsewhere, when I was in seminary, I walked away with something of the impression that the evangelical church pretty much had every theological i dotted and every doctrinal t crossed. Over the years, my own personal theology - on the other hand - has shifted from encyclopedia to outline. There are definite points on the outline that are known, but there is much unknown that's between the bullet points. In the past, I've used the faithmap metaphor to describe this. As with a map, there are known points of reference and there is much that is unknown. Moreover, the map is not the same as the reality and the map is used to go somewhere. The map is not the point.

It has also seemed to me that Evangelical Christianity - and I do consider myself an Evangelical - has perhaps at times truncated spiritual transformation to mere information transfer. Spiritual change and activity certainly involve propositions, but they also transcend them. This is some of the thinking behind the term transpropositionality (for an understanding of this word click here) that the faithmaps discussion group formulated some years ago.

These are the main reasons that I have participated in the emerging church conversation.

What role has blogging played among the Christian community? How is it affecting the conversations and movements within the body of Christ?

The declining cost of information that's been precipitated by the internet is fascinating to me. Society changes as data becomes cheaper. The advent of publishing helped disrupt the existing ecclesial authority structure of the 16th century Catholic church and you have the Protestant Reformation. Television and Radio brought the cost of information down further. Now with websites, email, instant messaging, and blogs the cost of info declines even further still. I was recently involved in a controversy between two countries and two major emerging church organizations that began and largely ended within about 72 hours. It's lifespan was so short because of the immediacy of online communication. It's not difficult to imagine that in another age such a controversy could have spanned the course of 3 years rather than 3 days. Another impact that the declining cost of information is having on the church is that whereas 200 years ago (in North America at least) your primary source of theological information was your pastor, today if you're curious about positions and reasons for a particular theological position, with a little google finesse you can easily find more information that you can probably take the time to read.

But this is also more difficult for the church because whereas in the past insularity might have precipitated a premature certainty, the onslaught of information, arguments and variant viewpoints calls for increased humility. However, truth is ultimately the winner when humility is combined with freely available information.

Is Truth relative or absolute? Or both? And if both- which flows from which? Which is the chicken and which is the egg? What is the criterion for determining Truth's certitude?

You ask a blatantly philosophical question so please forgive me if I wax blatantly philosophical! It's your last question which is the most important, in my opinion; but I'll answer in order. Truth is both relative and absolute. Any reader of this interview will take a specific amont of time to review all or part of it - that measure is absolute and measurable. But if they are bored with all this epistemological droning, the length of reading time will seem interminable. If - on the other hand - they are excited about such philosophical musings, the length of reading time will seem to pass quickly. The relative flows from the absolute. Your criterion is a bit more sticky. An anthropocentric epistemology yields only subjectivism and uncertainty. Man, as Schaeffer used to say, is an insufficient reference point. His perspective is finite. However, a faithful theocentric epistemology allows for certainty because its reference is the infinite God. But adopting such a stance is very humbling because it's not based on the knower's capacity for knowledge; it's based on God's knowledge and faith in Him.

If anyone is still reading, Brian McLaren and I had an interesting email discussion some years ago on "knowing." He's given me permission to post here.

Bob Robinson.... blogging again after a recent brush with death.

Welcome back, Bob!!! Are we glad to hear from you again!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Criswell Journal on the Emerging Church

the most recent edition of the Criswell Journal treats the ec.

articles include

An Interview with Brian McLaren
– by R. Alan Streett

"Narrating the World Once Again: A Case for an Ancient–Future Faith"
– by Robert Webber

"An Ecclesiological Assessment of the Emergent Church"
– by John S. Hammett

"Mountain or Molehill? The Question of Truth and the Emerging Church"
– by David Mills

"Some Suggestions for Brian McLaren (and his Critics)"
– by R. Scott Smith

"A Pastoral Perspective on the Emergent Church"
– by Mark Driscoll

"A Selective Bibliography of the Emergent Church Movement"
– by Andrew D. Streett

ht - steve mccoy

Saturday, April 01, 2006

great news ab bob robinson

Yippee! It’s Saturday March 25 and Bob is home (sleeping cozily, I might add). I spoke to him, and it was nice to hear him joking and talking. He came home a full 7 weeks after he went in so unexpectedly. We know that God spared his life and we give God glory for bringing him through to this point!

from scot mcknight