Saturday, April 12, 2014

Colleagues List, April 13th, 2014

Vol. IX.  No. 33



Wayne A. Holst, Editor
My E-Mail Address:

Colleagues List Web Site:

"Quicklinks" are included with many items
at the beginning of this issue. To get a more
complete picture, however, scroll down to
find your special selection in the body of
the blog. 

Note that not all items here have links.


Dear Friends:

This week, my book notice is
the latest from Bart Ehrman

"How Jesus Became God"

It attempts to describe how the
early church transformed Jesus
into Christ - and changed him from
a human to a divine being.


Colleague Contributions -

This week, Jim Taylor (Okanagan BC)
writes about "opposing forces"

Ron Rolheiser (San Antonio, TX)
reflects on 'Gethsemane'


Net Notes:

"Biblical Skepticism Rising" - a Pew
study suggests that growing numbers
of Americans are questioning the
authority of scripture, following trends
in Europe and Canada (The Christian Post)

"What Mormon Women Want" - an
interesting study of the changing 
attitudes of LDS women
(Atlantic Online)

"The 60 Most Powerful Photos" -
here is an amazing collection
of pictures well worth viewing

"Christchurch After Earthquake' -
the city on the South Island of
New Zealand is going through
a period of significant change
(The Guardian, UK)

"Is the Internet Killing Religion?" -
a provocative article on how the
internet is having good and bad
affects on religion as we know it
(CNN Belief Blog)

"Religious Diversity Highest in Asia" -
as the world grows increasingly diverse,
here is an article describing how Asia
is leading the way (America Magazine)

"Pope Says Married Men Could be Priests" -
one more indication that this pope is
trying to open the way to new life in the
church (The Tablet, UK)

"In Holy Land More than Christians Suffer" -
for those who believe Palestinians are
the only victims, here is a clearer story
(America Magazine)

"Anglicans/Lutherans Share TRC Journey" -
as these two Canadian denominations seek
to integrate their lives, here is more evidence
(Anglican Church News)

"Fascinating Visualization of Global Migration" -
an intriguing and complex presentation of
human migration on a world-wide scale
(Atlantic Online)

"Witness Suffers When Christians 'Play to Type'"
- an enlightening article and Canadian perspective
on recent World Vision public relations troubles
(Christian Week Online)


Wisdom of the Week -

- from Sojourners and Bruderhof online:

I. Carter Heyward, Paulo Friere, Andrew Murray,
Alice Walker, Edward Everett Hale and  Oscar Romero
share their wisdom with us.

Scroll down to read these items


On This Day -

from the archives of the New York Times:

"Picasso Dies in Mougins, Southern France"


Closing Thought - 

This week, it comes to us from a favorite writer:

Henri Nouwen  (scroll down)



Also -

Final Spring Update on My Teaching:

Completing the links from -

"Near Death Experience and Eternal Life"
  Moody and Spong

St. David's Book Study Archive
 - links to 35 studies over the past 15 years



Book Notice -

The Exaltation of the 
Jewish Prophet from Galilee,
by Bart D. Ehrman
HarperCollins Canada, 2014
Hardcover. 404 pages
$35.00 CAD. $16.00 CAD Kindle
ISBN #978-0-06-177818-6

Publisher's Promo:

New York Times bestselling author and 
Bible expert Bart Ehrman reveals how 
Jesus’s divinity became dogma in the 
first few centuries of the early church.

The claim at the heart of the Christian 
faith is that Jesus of Nazareth was, and 
is, God. But this is not what the original 
disciples believed during Jesus’s lifetime
- and it is not what Jesus claimed about 
himself. How Jesus Became God tells the 
story of an idea that shaped Christianity, 
and of the evolution of a belief that looked 
very different in the fourth century than 
it did in the first.

A master explainer of Christian history, 
texts, and traditions, Ehrman reveals 
how an apocalyptic prophet from the 
backwaters of rural Galilee crucified for 
crimes against the state came to be 
thought of as equal with the one God 
Almighty, Creator of all things. But how 
did he move from being a Jewish prophet 
to being God? In a book that took eight 
years to research and write, Ehrman 
sketches Jesus’s transformation from 
human prophet to the Son of God exalted 
to divine status at his resurrection. Only 
when some of Jesus’s followers had visions 
of him after his death - alive again - did 
anyone come to think that he, the prophet 
from Galilee, had become God. And what 
they meant by that was not at all what 
people mean today.

Written for secular historians of religion 
and believers alike, How Jesus Became 
God will engage anyone interested in the 
historical developments that led to the 
affirmation at the heart of Christianity: 
Jesus was, and is, God.


Author's Words:

Jesus was a lower-class preacher from  
rural Galilee. He was condemned and 
crucified. Yet, not long after his death,
his followers were claiming that he was a
divine being. Eventually, they went even
further, declaring that he was none other
than God; Lord of heaven and earth.

And so the question; How did a crucified
peasant come to be thought of as the Lord
who created all things? 

How did Jesus become God?

(At one time, I believed that in Jesus, God had 
become man.) I openly and wholeheartedly 
confessed the Christological statements of
the Nicene Creed.

But I have changed over the years, and now
in middle age I am no longer a believer.

Instead, I am a historian of early Christianity,
who for nearly three decades has studied
the New Testament and the rise of the
Christian religion from a historical perspective.

I am no longer obsessed with the theological
question of how God became a man but with
the historical question of how a man became

The traditional answer to this question, of
course, is that Jesus in fact was God (and 
that he taught as much) ... But a long stream
of historians since the late eighteenth century
have maintained that this is not the correct
understanding of the historical Jesus.

We are left with the puzzle: How did it 
happen? Why did Jesus's earthly followers 
start considering him to be God?

I do not take a stand on the theological 
question of Jesus's divine status. I am 
instead interested in the historical
development that led to the affirmation
that he is God... (for) it is very hard to 
imagine how a person could be both God 
and human at once.

In the first three gospels of Matthew, Mark
and Luke, Jesus does not make explicit
diving claims about himself. In the Gospel of
John, on the other hand, Jesus does make
divine claims and does indeed portray 
himself as God.

(People tend to make this a black or white
issue. The divine and human realms are
categorically distinct, with a great chasm
separating the two.)

Most ancient people, however, did not 
make this distinction. For them, the human
realm was not an absolute category
separated from the divine realm. On the
contrary, the human and the divine were
two continuums that could, and did,

I begin the book by setting the stage and
considering how ancient people understood
the intersecting realms of the divine and
the human. I then consider the life of the
historical Jesus, who has, in more recent
scholarship, been portrayed as an
apocalyptic prophet who predicted that
the end of the age was soon to arrive...

But how did Jesus describe himself?
Did he talk about himself as being a
divine being? 

I will argue that he did not.

A lot of attention today is being paid
to the resurrection of Jesus... The
early Christians believed that Jesus
was raised, and I will argue that that
changed everything.

What can we know, historically, about
the resurrection? I will argue that we
as historians simply cannot know about
the traditions surrounding Jesus's
resurrection (from the biblical texts.)

(But what we can know is that some of
his disciples claimed that they saw him
alive after he died. Can we believe
these testimonies? Can we use these
visionary experiences of Jesus - that
Jesus had been exalted to heaven - as
God's unique Son? I argue that these
exaltation views of the first Christians
were not the same as the beliefs that 
evolved in the official Christologies of 
the developing church...)

(As views of Jesus's divinity became
more and more established in the
church, those who claimed that he
was not divine, or that he was less
than God were rejected as heretics in 
what became mainstream Christianity.)

The result of the emergence of this
belief in Jesus's equality with God
had a marked affect on how Christians
treated those who could not accept
this - like some Roman pagans and 
most Jews.

(The effects of this belief in Jesus's 
divinity have continued into modern 

I want to create the background for
why these beliefs developed. How it
is that the followers of Jesus came to
understand him as divine in any sense
of the word. What made them think
that Jesus, the crucified preacher
from Galilee, was God?


My Thoughts:

Bart Ehrman is one of the most prolific 
and provocative contemporary writers 
and teachers about Jesus and early 
church themes.

He began his life as an evangelical 
Protestant but his academic pursuits 
led him to reject his early Christianity 
and indeed the Christian faith itself.

That would be enough to make some
consider him unworthy of attention.
After all, he has rejected the faith -
enough to consider him an unbeliever
and a heretic

Fortunately, we  live in more enlightened
times. We recognize that people of
Erhman's scholarly integrity need to
be recognized for following truth as
he understands it wherever that truth
may lead him.

Besides, since he is teaching in a
secular university (The University of
North Carolina) he is given academic
freedom, even encouragement, to
pursue his scholarly investigations.

I personally respect Ehrman and am
grateful to possess many of his books 
and lectures. I have studied and 
taught from them. I believe he has 
been willing to go where many of us 
who remain within the community 
of faith have been unwilling to go.

"How Jesus Became God" continues
his sequence of high quality scholarly
investigations. He is honest when he
tells us he writes as a Jesus historian
and not as a believer. Still, he is most
interested in Jesus and is able to help
us reflect on how those who followed
Jesus during the early centuries of the
Christian era helped to shape the way 
future Christian centuries understood

Ehrman is not a great fan of creedal
Christianity. That is the tradition many
of us were taught was the "orthodox"
way that the Holy Spirit led people to 
believe and to perpetuate.

I was taught that tradition and it made
an indelible impression on me. I will
always live with its influence.

And yet, I have long believed that
much of what became the "orthodox"
way - borne witness to by the early
church fathers and the great
ecumenical councils -  reflected very 
human and not always godly influence. 
This in itself gives me pause when I 
encounter challenges to that othodoxy 
such as are here presented by Ehrman.

The author helps us to "see inside"
church tradition and to recognize
that other influences were at work
from what has been formally taught.
I consider this to be enlightening, 
and not an attempt to mislead.

This book is for people who have
been disaffected by the church's
dogmatic heritage as well as for
followers of other faith traditions - 
like Jewish and Muslim believers - 
would be interested in how the
church has developed its view of
Jesus that differs from their own. 

Secular readers would be helped 
to separate the Jesus many of them 
honor from the Jesus of historic 

What Ehrman helps all of us to do is
to take another look at what the
Christian tradition has made of Jesus
(often sincerely believing that this
was all part of divine revelation) in
light of modern scholarship and
realities never before encountered.

From my perspective, I will continue
to give credence to the beliefs that
formed and guided me through my
life. I remain convinced that the 
Holy Spirit shaped the core beliefs 
of the early church insofar as Jesus 
was concerned. And this, in spite
of human error.

Traditional orthodoxy is still
important to me, even though
I am not a slavish advocate. At
the same time, I think Ehrman
opens new doors of understanding
that I must not ignore and with
which I must come to terms.

Debating these issues in groups
of believers and unbelievers alike
will continue to help me shape 
and refine my understanding.

I encourage you - whoever your are -  
to read this book   so that you, like 
me, might broaden your horizons and 
to come to see Jesus in ways that you 
have not previously considered.

Don't be too quick to treat these
ideas as misleading or false.

That would be the hope, I suspect,
of Bart Ehrman too, and any serious
scholar of Jesus and the early
church today.


Buy the Book from



Okanagan, BC

Personal Web Log
April 9th, 2014

"Opposing Forces in Conflict"


San Antonio, TX

Personal Website
April 6th, 2014

"The Garden of Gethsemane"



US Public More Critical of Scripture

Christian Post
April 10th, 2014


Their Priesthood Different than Catholics

The Atlantic Online
April 11th, 2014


Portrait of the Human Condition

Distractify, April 2014


Surprising View of Cardboard Cathedral

The Guardian, UK
April 5th, 2014


Pluses and Minuses Need Consideration

CNN Belief Blog
April 9th, 2014


Majority of Most Diverse Nations are There

America Mazazine
April 21st, 2014


Many Have Been Forced to Leave Priesthood

The Tablet, UK
April 10th, 2014


Secular Muslims Experiencing a Similar Fate

America Magazine
April 9th, 2014


Varied Histories but Common Commitment in Canada

Anglican Church News
April 9th, 2014

"Anglicans and Lutherans Share Offices in Winnipeg"

  Anglican Church News
  April 11th, 2014


Moving Beyond Our Worldview of People-Movements

Atlantic Online
April 9th, 2014


Canadian Assessment of US World Vision Gay Debacle

Christian Week Online
April 4th, 2014


Provided by Sojourners 
and the Bruderhof Online

"In the Spirit which draws us into honest 
engagement with one another, including 
those who may be very different from us 
in various ways, God calls us to wake up 
and learn how to love and respect one 
another, period."

- I. Carter Heyward


"When oppressors join in the struggle for 
liberation they almost always bring with 
them the marks of their origin ... which 
include a lack of confidence in the people's 
ability to think, to want, and to know. 

They believe that they must be the executors 
of the transformation. They talk about the 
people, but they do not trust them."

- Paulo Friere


"Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; 
fasting is letting go of all that is seen and 
temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, 
confirm the resolution that we are ready 
to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to 
attain what we seek for the kingdom of God."

- Andrew Murray


"Watching you hold your hatred for such 
a long time I wonder: Isn’t it slippery? 
Might you not someday drop it on yourself? 
I wonder: Where does it sleep if ever? And 
where do you deposit it while you feed your 
children or sit in the lap of the one who 
cherishes you? There is no graceful way to 
carry hatred. While hidden it is everywhere."

- Alice Walker


"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do 
everything, but still I can do something; and 
because I cannot do everything, I will not 
refuse to do something I can do."

Edward Everett Hale


"To be a Christian now means
   to have the courage
   to preach the true teaching of Christ
   and not be afraid of it, not be silent out of fear 
   and preach something easy
   that won’t cause problems.

To be a Christian in this hour means
   to have the courage that the Holy Spirit gives...
   to be valiant soldiers of Christ the King, 
   to make his teaching prevail, 
   to reach hearts and proclaim to them
   the courage
   that one must have to defend God’s law."

- Oscar Romero



From the archives of the
New York Times

April 6th - 12th

"Picasso Dies in Mougins, Southern France"



Being patient is difficult. It is not just waiting 
until something happens over which we have 
no control: the arrival of the bus, the end of 
the rain, the return of a friend, the resolution 
of a conflict. Patience is not waiting passively 
until someone else does something. Patience 
asks us to live the moment to the fullest, to be 
completely present to the moment, to taste 
the here and now, to be where we are. 

When we are impatient, we try to get away 
from where we are. We behave as if the real 
thing will happen tomorrow, later, and some-
where else. Be patient and trust that the 
treasure you are looking for is hidden in the 
ground on which you stand.






No comments:

Post a Comment