A few people have noticed that the pictures/gifs I’ve used to promote this week’s posts haven’t been directly referenced in the posts themselves. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t relate.
The gif of John Locke from Lost saying his most iconic line from the show, “don’t tell me what I can’t do,” was meant to invoke the determinism (noun: the doctrine that all events, including human action, are ultimately determined by causes external to the will) so often associated with Calvinism.
The gif of Obi Wan Kenobi lamenting the loss of Anakin Skywalker, the proverbial (adjective: well known, especially so as to be stereotypical) chosen one, was meant to be a humorous dig at my discarding of Calvinism’s understanding of God’s choosing a select few.
Scroll down to the next break if you want to skip some Lord of the Rings nerdishness…
You see, Argonath marks the gateway into Gondor, the final line of defense for the free peoples of Middle Earth, the only thing keeping the forces of Sauron and Mordor at bay.
And for many a Christian, that’s how they view Christianity and the Church, as God’s last line of defense (in Christ and by the Spirit of course) in holding back the evil of the world (my own view is more nuanced, but that’s a topic for another day).
I once saw Calvinism as the true heir to that mantle, the purest expression of God’s intent for his Church. It was not unlike how Boromir, like his father Denethor, saw their role as Gondor’s stewards.
But – and here the metaphor is beginning to break down – I eventually found a more ancient and true expression of my faith (represented, obviously, in this analogy by Aragorn). And the gateway to that faith was Scot McKnight and his blog, Jesus Creed.
And so McKnight and his blog are my Argonath, the symbolic gateway to the White City that is the breadth and depth of the historic Christian faith.
I already documented how I first came across McKnight’s work. Early on, reading posts on Jesus Creed was not unlike reading the work of Richard Beck, the subject of my first Follow Friday post from a few weeks ago. It was exciting, but I felt like I was sinning in some way by reading it.
Overtime, however, and in part because I also began to read many of the authors and guest bloggers that McKnight’s blog featured, I began to regard his blog with less suspicion. It would ultimately be the blog of another theologian, Roger Olson, that would point me in new direction (hint: his name rhymes with Snarl Fart). But I would not have found Olson and numerous other voices that contributed to my exodus from Calvinism without the work of McKnight.
While my theological journey has, in many ways, taken me in a different direction than that of McKnight himself, I continue to appreciate the ways that McKnight uses his platform to highlight the breadth, depth, and diversity of the Christian faith. Jesus Creed remains a regular read for me precisely for the same reason that I first benefited from it, because it remains an ongoing wellspring of information regarding corners of Christianity that I would otherwise overlook.
And I especially love the steady stream of science and faith discussion that emerges every Tuesday and Thursday from McKnight’s enigmatic blogging partner, RJS.
I would encourage anyone and everyone to subscribe to McKnight’s blog but, perhaps more importantly, I’d encourage a deep dive into his blog’s archives as well. If you have a particular faith/church/doctrinal topic that interests you, McKnight has probably blogged about it. Just scroll down a bit and use the search bar on the front page’s right hand side and see what you find.
McKnight has also authored a number of excellent books. Perhaps his most famous is The Jesus Creed, the book for which his blog was named. But McKnight has plenty of other works worth your time as well, ranging from accessible discussions on a wide variety of (often controversial) topics, to more academically oriented commentaries and text books. I’ll highlight some of my favorites below:
This would likely be the other candidate for McKnight’s most famous book and it was instrumental in my journey out of Calvinism. Here McKnight looks to recover the narrative shape of the biblical gospel, pushing back against an overly salvation oriented gospel understanding that has dominated American evangelicalism. While I now have some substantial reservations about some of McKnight’s conclusions, this book remains a phenomenal rebuttal of much of what ails the American Church.
This book is an excellent intro to a more faithful approach to biblical interpretation than what many American Christians (often naively) settle for. As with The King Jesus Gospel, many of my own views have diverged or gone beyond McKnight’s. But if you struggle with some of the canned answers you frequently get about the Bible’s authority, this book would make for a refreshing read.
Debates over exactly what happened when Christ died and rose again have dominated intramural Christian discourse for two millennia. The belief that Jesus saves is not disputed. But the question of how he saves, what (or who) he is saving us from, and how that salvation is mediated and received has never been unanimously articulated by any branch of Christianity. Here McKnight looks to frame many of the divergent perspectives on the atonement in his always readable and informative style.
This is probably my favorite of McKnight’s books because, even though the finer points of his conclusions differ from my own, his general thesis about the church being a community where the “other” is readily embraced is, for me, one of the most foundational aspects of Christian existence.
This is a tiny e-book about the place of women in ministry and the family. I highly recommend it as this is a topic near and dear to my heart that will get some heavy blog attention in the weeks and months ahead.
Lastly we have a book that hasn’t actually been released yet. But since we spent last week talking about evolution, I figured I’d highlight this upcoming release that McKnight co-authors with biology professor Dennis Venema.
That does it for this week’s Hashtag Follow Friday. Next week we will pick up where we left off on my journey and see how deep this rabbit hole really goes.
(I actually haven’t decided if we will still be talking Calvinism or whether it’s time to dive into how I understand/interpret the Bible)
In the mean time, be sure to join the conversation by commenting and sharing!