I am currently the Executive Director of Preaching Peace, an organization co-founded with my wife Lorri. Our website is www.preachingpeace.org
Our hope is to see the church re-examine its theology in the light of the good news of Jesus who proclaimed a truly distinct and unique vision of God. When we do so we encounter a God of radical free grace, forgiveness and love and our lives are transformed by the Spirit of God sent to us through Jesus.
Hiking the wilderness singing and songwriting hanging out with my friends reading theology, history and biblical studies playing with my grandaughters having as much fun as I can "life is for living and living is free" (BJH)
This book does an excellent job of underscoring the fact that Jesus the Christ is the sum-total of Christian theology. Jesus is the story and the only story that Christians are to be telling. I am Mennonite and we believe firmly that Jesus is the Lord we are to be worshiping and following in our everyday lives. Michael Hardin gives a very fine description of what discipleship under Jesus looks like.This book is well worth the time and study that it deserves.
If you have sensed that politics (through the ages) has distorted the message of Christianity but do not have a theological education that could provide you with a compelling, non-apologetic, intellectually substantial reason for remaining a Christian, then you will find it in Michael Hardin's excellent book The Jesus Driven Life. I am a lay person in the Episcopal Church who has mentored the fine Education for Ministry course for three years. However, it was not until I became acquainted with the anthropology of Rene Girard that I was able to understand the "why" of Jesus. But I wondered how this information could this be introduced and organized for the layperson. Hardin's book has the makings of a fine course and I look forward to the DVDs. I have recommended this book to my rector and bishop and will continue to recommend it to Christian formation educators.
In today's violent world it is more important than ever that we learn to read our Bibles the way Jesus read his. Michael Hardin's goal (accomplished, I think) is to show us how to do that. Many Christians today still think more like John the Baptist than like Jesus. John believed in a wrathful, retributive God, but Jesus had a relationship with a loving, forgiving Father, whom he called "Abba" (Aramaic for "father," but in the endearing sense of English "papa"). For Jesus, it was all about offering love to Abba, just as Abba offers love to the world, making his rain to fall upon both the just and the unjust. And it was about living this out by extending love to others -- even the enemy other!
This redefinition of God as non-violent and non-retributive was a HUGELY radical move on Jesus' part, and something that many people in his day (and ours) did not want to hear, for the simple reason that we like a "kick-butt" God on our side (and, of course, God is always on our side, no?). Then as well as now, we create gods Hardin calls "Jansus faced," referring to the Roman god Janus who had two heads looking in opposite directions. We find this Janus faced god within the very heart of much Christian theology, which conceives of God as kind and loving, yet also as wrathful and condemning. Hardin's book is an extremely intelligent (yet layperson-friendly) critique of this Janus-faced god in the light of Jesus' teaching, life, death, and resurrection. Yes, there are texts in the Bible, especially in the Hebrew Scriptures, where this Janus faced god is proclaimed and worshipped. But Jesus didn't read his scriptures in a "flat" way, giving equal weight to every paragraph, every line, every word.Read more ›
The landscape of American Christianity, indeed, of world Christianity, is changing. Of that there can be no doubt. Terms like "postmodern Christianity" and "emergent Christianity" permeate our culture. Unfortunately, while few people actually know what these terms mean, there is a palpable sense that change is afoot. That change scares many, while it excites others.
In his book The Jesus Driven Life, Michael Hardin explores the transformation Christianity is experiencing today. He has one primary answer for the many dilemmas facing 21st century Christians. That answer is simple, but far from simplistic. The answer, of course, is Jesus. And that's the obvious answer - middle school youth groups throughout the United States (including mine!) implicitly know the answer to difficult questions posed in youth group meetings is always an emphatic . . . "Jesus!" Unfortunately, the wisdom of our middle school students has become blurred in American Christianity. This is one of Michael's greatest points, as he argues that North American Christianity has a "theology (a doctrine of God) without a Christology (a doctrine of Jesus)" (157).
The problem of a Christless Christianity is nothing new. For much of its history, Christianity has scapegoated Jesus right out of the Gospel. We have unconsciously replaced the God of Jesus with what Michael terms a "Janus faced god." I think this term is very helpful, for Janus was a Roman god with two heads that faced in both directions. The two heads of Janus symbolized the god's dual will to violence and to peace.
The spirit of Janus infects all of human culture. Indeed, it even infects the Bible.Read more ›