An author who quotes Leonard Sweet, David Thoreau, Joseph Campbell, and Brennan Manning will always get my attention. Throw in quotes from Mother Teresa, and you are into a book that clearly describes the ways we have strayed from understanding The Way of Jesus. Employing quotes from other theologians, the source languages of Scripture, Hebrew and Aramaic, Brisbin explains the “original challenge” of The Way of Jesus.
Being an intellectual, I can completely identify with growing up with a Christianity that was built on following the rules, the laws, and producing good works as “the way to Heaven” with “Getting into Heaven” being the ultimate and only goal of my Christian faith. In fact, I have had evaluations of my leadership as a pastor described as “cerebral”. Honestly, I believe that is because I require people to “think critically” about what they believe about their Christian faith. Christianity is not about a contract that has us agree to living a certain way, following certain rules, doing certain things, behaving in certain ways so that God will be pleased with us. Thank you, David Brisbin, for calling this out and naming it for the false Christian faith that the majority of Christians follow.
Amazement and surprise have always been present for me when I have experienced the Holy, the Divine One/God, in the most ordinary ways of living life. Describing these experiences to others has always fell flat for me. I have found that others feel the same way—trying to put into words experiences of the Holy is like trying to nail jello to a wall. Mystics have been ostracized from the Christian faith in favor of those who have preached and taught that Christianity is about thinking through and accepting the doctrines, the theology, the dogma of the Church according to Brisbin. He clearly and consistently explains all the ways that the mystics and mystical ways are the “original” way of Jesus. God revealing God to everyday “normal” people in the everyday ways of living life is the way of mysticism and mystics. Jesus and Paul were mystics. If we are to reclaim the Christian faith of Jesus, we, too, will come to embrace the mystical and become mystics.
Comparing our lives to parachute jumping out of an airplane is one of the best analogies I have ever come across that explains the way we are to live our Christian faith. When jumping from an airplane with a parachute, we trust that the parachute will open. When we trust God, from our birth to our death, we live knowing that God loves us no matter what. We live free from fear. Even if the parachute does not open, God loves us. God always loves us. This is the way Jesus lived, and it is the way he taught all people to live.
Brisbin takes on the subject of Hell, and banishes it as a need for us to be able to judge that some people will “go to Hell” because they are worse than we are, and he clearly shows that neither the Hebrew beliefs or Jesus’ beliefs had anything to do with the Hell of banishment and fear that most Christians have been taught and envision. He is not the first author to take this topic on, and he does it well.
Ready to “think again” about the Christian faith? David Brisbin provides a path that will set you on your way to reclaiming The Way that Jesus taught—not what most “so-called” Christians promote as Christianity today.