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Heretic!: An LGBTQ-Affirming, Divine Violence-Denying, Christian Universalist's Responses to Some of Evangelical Christianity's Most Pressing Concerns Kindle Edition
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In this excellent book, Distefano digs down deep to find the truth that so many Christian leaders and pastors hope you never uncover about Hell, Homosexuality, the End Times, the Crucifixion and a lot more.
Chances are you'll find a lot to agree with here. Matt does a great job of explaining from the scriptures why you and I have had those nagging questions in the back of our minds about these issues for so long; questions most of us were not allowed to speak out loud in church settings.
Many sacred cows will be tipped in this book, but in the end you'll find that the result of having those assumptions challenged is not doubt but an even deeper faith in Christ. That's what's so amazing about this book, and about questioning the answers we've had shoved in our faces for so long - once we realize the truth we cannot help but fall to our knees and glorify God for being even better than we thought He was, and even more loving, forgiving, and merciful than we could ever have imagined.
After you read this book I promise you'll want to share it with your friends and family who, no doubt, will have some of the same questions about these important issues as everyone else does. I can't think of anyone better to help them navigate those treacherous waters of faith than Matthew Distefano.
He's a professor of truth who tells it like it is, even if it hurts.
He notes that early Christians - and not just heretics - had different ideas about these things, including a majority of whom believed in universal salvation. He also points out that a number of doctrines like pre-millennialism and the rapture were created over only the last 150 years or so.
These ideas are not new, but he tries to use the Bible to refute the violence, fear and hatred so dear to some so-called Christians. One thing he notes is how Jesus and Paul both "cherry picked" the Old Testament - just as we do today.
I doubt he will convince very many fundamentalists, but this book is a good resource for those who want to know what the early Christians thought of the early Christian writings that became the New Testament, and how we have distorted the Bible for our own purposes. Definitely worth a read!
Matthew is a Christian who actually believes this proclamation, and doesn’t water it down for the sake of scapegoating and hating other people, under the guise of a religiously-correct Judas kiss.
This book was a fast read, clear and to the point. Rambling on was virtually non-existent, which is nice. Nothing felt like unnecessary filler. It's very readable and that's a huge selling point in a market full of complicated theology books. I love how he subverts the charge of "heresy", which so very often is an empty accusation, and rarely does anything to further the conversation along.
The most challenging part of the book to most people, (the discussion on homosexuality) was eye-opening, and can be revelatory to those who have been indoctrinated to believe it’s somehow Jesus-like to condemn and hate these people. Do you know any gay people personally? I'm not referring to the sensational "sky is falling" news, or from biased already judgmental sources, but personally? How far on the boat of bigotry people will ride, all under the guise of “reading the Bible” for little more reason than lack of familiarity, when at the heart it's really a reason to find someone to blame and demonize. (An example of scapegoating, another strong topic this book covers, and for a better treatment I highly recommend "From the Blood of Abel: Humanity's Root Causes of Violence and the Bible's Theological-Anthropological Solution”) ...but if we study with an interest in truth, we learn that context is absolutely crucial, and it's especially advised to not ignore it for the sake of condemning someone; bearing false witness, and thus possibly receiving the judgment we dish out to others. Ouch. Many don’t realize the proper context of this popular religious condemnation against homosexuals as we find it in the modern age, in the Bible's times at least, was focused solely on, A.) Forced union (slave/master), B.) Ritual pagan sexual practices, and C.) Pederasty. In ancient times this would have been understood, and now you know. We can actually love and DO GOOD to our neighbor and enemies now, and not only the straight ones!
If you haven't read Matthew's other books, I highly recommend your next book to be ALL SET FREE. It's a liberating work.