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A Heretic's Guide to Eternity Paperback – June 23, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


"Yes, yes, YES! Buy this book! Breath of fresh air doesn't even begin to say it..." (www.christianbookshops.org, November 2006) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Newsflash! Luther’s church at Wittenberg has a back door! Spencer Burke has found it and removed it from its’ hinges. The old church has now been flooded with sorely needed illumination and a refreshing, life-giving breeze. Yet, there’s more. The door Burke has blown through is a passageway that leads us outside, beyond the building, to the bountiverse, a new dimension for living Christian spirituality that is transforming, rejuvenating and ripe for living…now. Read this book! Live this life! Trust me. This isn’t just a great book. It’s a sincere, deep, heartfelt invitation to journey beyond wherever you’re at, embracing the God of More. Thank you Spencer!"
—Bill Dahl, creator and author, The Porpoise Diving Life --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass (June 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470185678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470185674
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,066,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. Clawson on October 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have to confess that this book took me by surprise. All the buzz that I had heard about it focused on Spencer Burke's supposed "universalism" and that's what I expected the book would mostly be about. But, as it turns out, that discussion is really only a very minor part of the whole book. Instead, the bulk of the book is about why Spencer thinks institutional religion's time is past, and how we need to move beyond religion towards spirituality. While I didn't agree with everything Spencer had to say, I think he did raise some good questions for conversation.

One of the biggest issues raised in A Heretic's Guide is the authors' dichotomy between religion vs. spirituality. Right away (and this is one of the things I didn't really like about the book), it's hard to get a handle on what exactly is meant by these terms. The book doesn't really give a clear definition. But to briefly attempt a definition (quoting Professor Scot McKnight's review of the book):

"Religion seems to be his term for institutional faith, esp Christianity, in its churchiness, its creeds, and its required commitments. It is finite attempts to capture the infinite and, as I read him, religion is a "consensual illusion". It is designed to "point the way to God, not to control the flow".

Spirituality is equality, a feminine/masculine sense of God, countercultural dynamic, mystery, experience, interconnectedness, beyond authority structures, holistic individuals, the particular rather than the universal, material as much as heavenly, authenticity and honesty, and a communal, holistic celebration of the sacred that eradicates boundaries.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Aaron Klinefelter on February 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have a friend who likes to "stir the pot". If there is a controversial side to an issue, he'll take it. If there are questions to be asked or alternate points of view to consider, he'll ask them and find them. He's something of an instigator, though to those he's questioning or instigating he's seen as more of a troublemaker. I'm not sure why he can't "just let things be". I don't know why he keeps upsetting the apple cart, maybe it is his personality, his disposition, or his spiritual gift. Spencer Burke and Barry Taylor do much the same in A Heretic's Guide to Eternity. The work is keen on instigation and thus, for those in Religious power-centers, full of troublemaking heresies.

Burke and Taylor, though it seems that Burke's voice is dominant - either by the convention of writing or in actual fact, begin by setting the cultural and philosophical stage. The Enlightenment brought about the age of science and reason. It also ushered in the rise of secularism whereby religion, spirituality, and mystery were vanquished to the realm of private or non-existent. "Secularism's partner, technology, pitched the assurance of a better future and the guarantee of unending progress" (xix). However, it is clear that this dream has ended. In recent years there has been a marked rise of interest in things spiritual or mysterious. "God is coming back into the picture in new and different ways" (xxiii). It appears that the institutions that held sway in the modern era are either in decline or irrelevant to our current cultural situation. "As with government, many people no longer count on religion to deliver on its promises and provide meaning and motivation" (xxii).
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