Friday, April 1, 2016

Colleagues List, April 3rd, 2016

Vol. XI.  No. 32



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

Colleagues List Web Site:

Dear Colleagues:

Enhancing your reading experience is very
important to me. I am currently involved in
up-grading the layout and presentation of
Colleagues List, so please bear with me.

I am attempting to reduce the length, but
not the content and quality, of each issue.

Therefore I want to:

- remove the duplication
- improve the reading flow (and)
- sharpen the focus, of all material

Please let me know how I'm doing.


Introducing this issue:

Many responses were received from the
Easter edition of Colleagues List - my
critique of the Maclean's cover story
"Did Jesus Exist?" and my attempt to
write a personal statement of Easter faith.

Colleague Comment (please scroll down)
offers the views of Dana Young, John Griffith
and John Stackhouse Jr. Thanks to each one. 


Colleague Communications provide the post-
Easter reflections of Ron Rolheiser and
Jim Taylor. Thanks also to you.

My Special Item this week is a book notice -
a new title by colleague Philip Jenkins of
Baylor University in Waco TX who has recently

The Many Faces of Christ:
The Thousand Years Story of the
Survival and Influence of the Lost Gospels

I find this book very stimulating and hope you
do too.


Net Notes provide ten "discoveries" I have
made on the internet this week.

Post-Easter Wisdom of the Week - comes from:
John Chrysostom, Frederick Buechner,
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, G.K. Chesterton and
Thomas Aquinas

Read the NYT archive story of the week
"On This Day" and conclude with a poignant
Closing Thought by Harriet Tubman.


Thanks for many kind words and supportive
thoughts as I soon conclude seven years of
Colleagues List using this format.




Dana Young,
Calgary, AB.

March 28th, 2016

Hello Wayne,

Thank you for your colleagues offering
this Easter weekend.
(see my comments at end of Special Item)

I just wanted to let you know how much

your declaration of faith (if that is the correct
title) touched me. I often find I struggle to
explain myself to other Christians in my life,

secular folks and even those within my family/
church family resulting in a feeling of being
alone or "wrong" in my consistent adherence
to uncertainty.

Your comments echo my thoughts almost exactly

and I sincerely thank you for sharing them.

Have a fantastic week!



John Everard Griffith
Calgary, AB.

March 26th, 2016

Re: "Contending With Pop Theology"
Colleagues List, Easter Issue, 2016

"Did Jesus Exist?" (link repeated)


Thanks for your thoughtful, ecumenical,
deeply thought provoking blog -
Colleagues List

Your first paragraph sums up my
reaction to the Maclean's article. 

My next thought was they should have done

an article entitled: "DOES Jesus Really Exist?" 
That would have required real research. 

Your reflections on your own faith resonate
with me.  I don't think we will ever know
exactly what happened 2000 years ago, but
I find it hard to believe that this powerful story
was created out of someone's imagination
without some connection to real events. 

For me, the importance of Jesus is the message
that remains with me and is the foundation of

the evolution of our species - love; love that
connects us to the divine creative energy of
the universe (God); connects us to our neighbour
(Community) and to our true self (our sacred

So for all the cataclysmic discoveries and
emerging theologies of the last 50 years --

Jesus does still exist for me.

Blessings for this holy time.



March 26th, 2016

John G. Stackhouse Jr.
Moncton, New Brunswick

More Re: "Contending With Pop Theology"

To your list of Jesus experts, may I say you
really ought to add Craig Evans, who has
debated Ehrman and is easily his scholarly peer.

Best, John



Book Notice -

The Thousand Years Story of the
Survival and Influence of the Lost Gospels
by Philip Jenkins

Basic Books/Perseus Books Group, Oct. 2015.
Hardcover, 326 pages. $31.00 CAD.
ISBN #978-0-465-00692-6.

Publisher's Promo:

The standard account of early Christianity
tells us that the first centuries after Jesus’
death witnessed an efflorescence of Christian
sects, each with its own gospel. We are taught
that these alternative scriptures, which
represented intoxicating, daring, and often
bizarre ideas, were suppressed in the fourth
and fifth centuries, when the Church canonized
the gospels we know today: Matthew, Mark,
Luke, and John. The rest were lost, destroyed,
or hidden.

In The Many Faces of Christ, the renowned

religious historian Philip Jenkins thoroughly
refutes our most basic assumptions about
the Lost Gospels. He reveals that dozens of
alternative gospels not only survived the
canonization process but in many cases
remained influential texts within the official
Church. Whole new gospels continued to be
written and accepted. For a thousand years,
these strange stories about the life and death
of Jesus were freely admitted onto church
premises, approved for liturgical reading,
read by ordinary laypeople for instruction
and pleasure, and cited as authoritative by
scholars and theologians.

The Lost Gospels spread far and wide,

crossing geographic and religious borders.
The ancient Gospel of Nicodemus penetrated
into Southern and Central Asia, while both
Muslims and Jews wrote and propagated
gospels of their own. In Europe, meanwhile,
it was not until the Reformation and Counter-
Reformation that the Lost Gospels were
effectively driven from churches. But still,
many survived, and some continue to shape
Christian practice and belief in our own day.

Offering a revelatory new perspective
on the
formation of the biblical canon, the nature of
the early Church, the evolution of Christianity,
The Many Faces of Christ restores these Lost
Gospels to their central role in Christian history.


Author's Bio:


Author's Words:

For well over half of Christian history, believers
relied on a body of written and visual materials
going well beyond the strictly defined Bible as
we know it today.... (it is better to stress) the
different  sources of faith in any religion (than
to focus excessively on a received canon such
as the Bible...)

Religions naturally tend to develop other bases
of faith, including alternative scriptures and
devotions, until periodically, these are swept
away by puritanical reform movements claiming
to take believers back to the basics.

That is the cyclical story of all scripture-based

Throughout history, believers have always felt
the need to justify their ideas and practices by
scriptures, so that the generation of new would-
be gospels is an inevitable and even healthy
part of evolving belief...

Apocrypha in any religion can be defined simply
as "stories people want" (and a study of the
history of Christianity, for example, provides
ample evidence of this...)

As popular needs and concerns changed over
time, so particular scriptures were produced
to meet the new cultural demand, and some
won a significant following...

Rediscovering the lost scriptures forces us
to rethink much of Christian history. Our
chronology of that story often reflects what
was originally a Protestant mythology of the
decline and betrayal of the original Christian
message, a mythology that has subsequently
been adapted by liberal and progressive
Christians... Any kind of authentic Christianity
seems to go missing in action from roughly
400 through 1500 CE, the "long middle"
of Christian history...

In contrast to that pseudo-history, this book
stresses the very strong continuities that
unite the Middle Ages with the earliest
Christian world and the apostolic era...

Those ancient texts (about which I write
here) continued to flourish in many parts
of the Christian world - not only in African
and Asian churches, but also in such bastions
of Catholic faith as Britain and Ireland.

Books that were burned in one region remained
popular elsewhere. (Many of these alternate
scriptures, like the Gospel of Nicodemus,
remained popular even in the heart
of Catholic Western Europe... Many of these
texts described different concepts of Jesus
that Muslims and Jews would also consider...)

Although the Reformation era witnessed
widespread suppression of alternative
scriptures,  the upsurge of learning and
literacy generated many new approaches
to Christian faith, including multiple new
churches and denominations...

The popular view of Christian history is a
myth, in the sense of a tale recounted to
create or justify a particular kind of faith.

(this cycle of an original golden age of truth,
followed by centuries of darkness and loss,
and ending with a glorious rediscovery of
what is really true - keeps repeating itself
through much of our religious history...)

Nobody doubts the central role of Christianity
in the history of the West, nor the Bible in
Western culture and art. But for over a
millennium, that biblical world was imagined
very differently from anything we would
recognize today, and was approached by
other scriptures (as we would know them.)

To trace (the real history that existed) we
often have to look beyond the limits of
"the West" as we traditionally define it.

- from Gospel Truths (chapter one)


Christian Century Review -
September 30th, 2015


My Thoughts:

Reflecting on growing up in my warm and
supportive Christianity (Canadian Lutheran
yet culturally distinct) I now realize that I
was formed by a faith story that reflects
what the author says "was originally a
Protestant mythology of the decline and
betrayal of the original Christian message"
and the special recovery of that message
to a privileged group of believers.

Never was this more evident than when
we annually celebrated the Reformation 
on October 31st. My pastors would remind
me of, and impress upon my young mind,
the great work of Martin Luther who,
through much turmoil of conscience and
effort, "rediscovered the central core of
the gospel message" - which is to be found
in Romans 1:17.  Here St. Paul reminds us
that "the just shall live by faith, not by 
trying to do good works."


I was intrigued by the Book of Mormon
and made a personal visit to the place in
Palmyra, Upper New York state, where
Joseph Smith received a special, God-
dictated revelation from the angel Moroni.

I was not aware, at age 15 or so, that I
was being influenced by two major
religious forces that Jenkins writes of in
his current stimulating study on the role
of sacred scriptures in faith development.

Luther connected me with the essence of
faith as I understood it. Joseph Smith was
an example of false teachings that I was
to avoid at my peril.

After reading "The Many Faces of Christ"
I see that my faith and my fears about
faith were both part of a much larger
story that play into my understanding
of what I am as a Christian today.

Both traditions have truth associated with
them. Both can be,  understood by themselves,
narrow and misleading. All are part of a much
larger Christian narrative.


Philip Jenkins never fails to challenge.
He stretches me when I would like to
remain in my comfort zone. He intrigues
me by opening new faith connections that
I might never have imagined were possible.

We have long known of the existence of
non-canonical Christian texts - beginning
with the Gospel of Thomas and expanding
exponentially. What we have not known
has been the extensive influence of such
texts on such large numbers of people
over so long a period of history.

Paul's core gospel message about
justification may not have been as
important in the great scheme of
things as I was once led to believe.

The Book of Mormon may not have been
so ficticious a book of sacred scripture
as the common wisdom of my background
had taught me.

The great mix of faith traditions currently
included in the umbrella term "Christianity"
may not be so historically unique as we think.

Jenkins' book reflects erudition and the
ability of a good scholar to push the envelope.
At the same time, it infuses the reader with 
intrigue and the desire to probe further.

We are obviously going through a period
of expansion concerning what it means
to be a Christian today. A cyclical phase
of faith contraction will inevitably follow.

This volume would be a worthy addition to
your library and you would return to it
often, I assure you.

Buy the book from



Ron Rolheiser,
San Antonio, TX

Personal Web Site
March 28th, 2016

"The Triumph of Goodness"


Jim Taylor,
Okanagan, BC

Personal Web Log
March 27th, 2016

"Re-Thinking the Resurrection"

March 30th, 2016

"Irreverence Won't Hurt God"



A Century Ago - Still a Tricky Business

America Magazine
March 28th, 2016


Reformed Rabbi Invites Crossover

Christianity Today
March 23rd, 2016


Formed in US Black Church Experience

March 31st, 2016


Easter Week Attacks on Women, Children

UCA News
March 29th, 2016

New York Times (video story)
March 28th, 2016
In the Age of ISIS

Sojourners Online
March 28th, 2016

Very Orthodox Opposed to Change 

Religion News Service
March 28th, 2016

Year of Mercy Opportunity

Religion News Service
March 28th, 2016
Continuing Their Armenian Faith
in a New Home in Outremont QC

CJAD Radio, Montreal
March 28th, 2016


Is it Possible to Join the Plain People?

March 28th, 2016


In Year of Mercy

The Tablet, UK
March 14th, 2016

From Sojourners and the Bruderhof online:

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!

Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the
first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

- John Chrysostom


Anxiety and fear are what we know best in this
fantastic century of ours. Wars and rumors of
wars. From civilization itself to what seemed the
most unalterable values of the past, everything is
threatened or already in ruins.

We have heard so much tragic news that when
the news is good we cannot hear it. But the
proclamation of Easter Day is that all is well.

And as a Christian, I say this not with the easy
optimism of one who has never known a time
when all was not well but as one who has faced
the cross in all its obscenity as well as in all its
glory, who has known one way or another what
it is like to live separated from God. In the end,
his will, not ours, is done. Love is the victor.

Death is not the end. The end is life. His life
and our lives through him, in him. Existence
has greater depths of beauty, mystery, and
benediction than the wildest visionary has
ever dared to dream.

Christ our Lord has risen.

- Frederick Buechner


The morning prayer determines the day.
Squandered time of which we are ashamed,
temptations to which we succumb, weakness
and lack of courage in work, disorganization
and lack of discipline in our thoughts and in
our conversation with others, all have their

own origin most often in the neglect of
morning prayer.

Order and distribution of our time become
more firm where they originate in prayer.

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Perhaps God is strong enough to exult in
monotony. It is possible that God says every
morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every
evening, "Do it again" to the moon.

It may not be automatic necessity that makes

all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every
daisy separately, but has never got tired of making
them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of
infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our
Father is younger than we.

- G.K. Chesterton

Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher
is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic
fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big
with wonder.

- Thomas Aquinas



From the archives of the New York Times

"Last US Forces Leave Vietnam"


CLOSING THOUGHT - Harriet Tubman

"I can't die but once"



Continuing Our Program Season -
Winter 2016 Adult Spiritual Development
ACTS Ministry at St. David's
United Church, Calgary



Theme: "The Other Two Religions of Jerusalem"
                Judaism and Islam

Books: "Chosen? Reading the Bible
              Amid the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict"
              by Walter Brueggemann

             "Islam: A Short History"
               by Karen Armstrong
A  ten-week investigation into the religious 
sources of modern global unrest centered
in the Mid-East:

Ten Monday evenings, 7-9PM
In the St. David's TM Room
January 18th - March 21st, 2015
Including Monday of Family Weekend

Books and Registration/Hospitality - $60.00
Books only - $35.00

Total book sets made available for sale: 33.
All sets have now been sold.

Now beginning seventeen years
of Monday Night Studies
Our thirty-second series of
(usually) ten week sessions!

Course design:

Check our complete archives
for all 46 book studies:



Theme: The Books of JOB and DANIEL
Hebrew Bible Wisdom and Apocalyptic
literature have meanings for our time.

Five sessions 10-11 AM
Gathering at 9:30AM
In the St. David's TM Room
March 10th - April 14th.

No charge.

Study resource -

The DK Complete Bible Handbook

(copy available in our church library)

The Bible Study Group provided the
service reflection Sunday, Jan. 17th, 2016
and it was well received.




A Good Experience Again This Year

Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre
Cochrane, Alberta

Took place:
Sunday February 28th
11:30 AM - 4:00 PM

Theme: "Opening the Jubilee Door:
A Focus on the Ecological Spirituality
of St. Francis of Assisi"

Registration, including lunch and
refreshments during the day - $35.00

Reflections were led by Susan Campbell
enthusiastic, qualified and new MSF director;
included a nature walk.

26 paid registrations. 24 attended




Our "Memories Project"  the Sight and Sound
Packet was supplied by 24 persons who took the
"Jerusalem and the Lands of Three Great Faiths"
tour last October. It was produced by Jock McTavish.
12,000+ pictures were offered and processed into
various accessible electronic presentations.

Distributed free to all 29 people who participated
in our tour with additional packets available at
a modest price for those interested.


New Project Beginning this Spring--

"Where Would You Like to Travel Next?"

Beginning our process to find a destination
for a trip somewhere in the world in 2017.


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