Bo Sanders: Public Theology

updating & innovating for today



Pentecost 2020

Today’s sermon (10 min) with full transcript below

50 days after the events of Easter, religion changed forever.

In the cross of Christ, god had identified with the brown body that was murdered by state violence and had vindicated the victim who cried out ‘it is finished’ – let this scapegoating mechanism be exposed for what it is. Jesus unmasked the unjust nature of the powers the be.

The nature of god’s presence in the world was trans-formed as well. The temple curtain was torn in two and the glory of god was exposed to come out from man-made structures and institutions to find its home in the new body of Christ – the people of god.

The event of Pentecost was radically illuminating, thus the symbolism of the tongues of fire. God’s spirit had come to all flesh. This is the decentering of God’s power to the margins, the democratization of religion.

The church is essentially Pentecostal.

I’m not talking about the gift of tongues only, the miracle of Pentecost is not in the speaking but in the hearing. People heard the message of God’s love in ways that they could understand (as if in their own native tongue).

God was communicating through ordinary women and men – not just those with religious titles or theological education. God was pleased to speak through the children of God by pouring out Holy Spirit power on all flesh  in a fulfillment of Joel 2 that daughters and sons dream dreams and prophesy.

Pentecost is my favorite day of the church calendar. Not just because of its liturgical flare or because it is ‘the birth-day of the church’. Pentecost is my favorite because it holds the very DNA of the church being contextual in its message – speaking in ways that people of different tribes and nations can hear and receive that good news of God’s work in the world.

As Methodist we take this very seriously. God’s presence in each person means that they are vector of God’s ongoing work in the world and their experience is a valid location for revelation and reflection.  We added to the inherited Anglican triad of scripture, tradition, and reason the fourth component of our Wesleyan quadrilateral: experience.

We let that experience inform, form, and transform our mission and ministry. That is part of why the historical commitment to the abolition of slavery was spearheaded by Methodist around the globe.

We expect to experience the things that we believe and we believe people’s experiences.

This is especially true for liberal Methodists. To our religious commitment we also add a layer of prioritizing the inherent worth and value of every individual. Every life matters.

When we see an atrocity repeated over and over again of certain demographic of our population – in this case, unarmed black men – being victimized and disproportionally targeted we cry out in lament at the injustice built into the legacy of racism in the country. We rail against the nature of our whiteness in being complicit with the historical policies that police black bodies differently.

We can not stand idly by at the systemic nature of racism in America and it makes us sick to learn about the experiences of whole communities of color being targeted for different treatment for the last 400 years (actually over 500 years in the legacy of colonialism).

We teach our kids to sing “Red and Yellow, Black and White”, all are precious in Jesus’ sight.

The Bible says that if one part of the body suffers, that we all suffer. Jesus said that if even one sparrow falls to the ground, the God’s concern is there. Well more than one part of our body is hurting and we are experiencing the convulsions of that sickness.

Dr. King famously said, ““In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

We can keep silent no longer. We must speak up and stand with our sisters and brothers who are hurting. On this Pentecost Sunday we must also embrace our prophetic voice and speak in tongues that are not our own so that all may hear the message of God’s love and justice in ways that they can hear it. Not just in the langue that we are comfortable speaking but in a langue foreign to ourselves so that the dignity and worth of every soul can hear and receive it in ways that matter to those who hear our utterances.

Black lives matter. Every black life matters. Red lives matter. Brown lives matter. And if that is not true then we can not say that every life matters. So we raise our collective voice to say that we will stand against the systems of injustice and marginalization that have been put in place in order to expose the continuing scapegoat mechanism that plagues our country and unmask the powers that be which perpetuate the ongoing persecution of our sisters and brothers who bear the image of God (imago dei) and on who’s tinted flesh god’s Holy Spirit has been poured out.

The importance of every single life and every single person and community is infinite value and worth to the God we cry out to.

Hear the prophet Amos speak to us again today:

14 Seek good, and not evil,
that you may live;
and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you,
as you have said.
15 Hate evil, and love good,
and establish justice in the gate;
it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts,
will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

16 Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the Lord:

“In all the squares there shall be wailing,
and in all the streets they shall say, ‘Alas! Alas!’
They shall call the farmers to mourning
and to wailing those who are skilled in lamentation,
17 and in all vineyards there shall be wailing,
for I will pass through your midst,”
says the Lord.


18 Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!
Why would you have the day of the Lord?
It is darkness, and not light,
19     as if a man fled from a lion,
and a bear met him,
or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall,
and a serpent bit him.
20 Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light,
and gloom with no brightness in it?

21 “I hate, I despise your feasts,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
22 Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,
I will not look upon them.
23 Take away from me the noise of your songs;
to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
24 But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.


Speaking in Tongues Isn’t What It Used To Be

On the latest episode of TNT I was asked to quickly define ‘Glossolalia’ a.k.a. speaking in tongues. I said some things in that opening segment that I want to clarify here.

Here are 4 thoughts:

Initial Design 

The original miracle that we read about in Acts 2 and the story of Pentecost is that people heard the gospel message in their own tongue. While the speakers, filled with Holy Spirit power, were unaware of the language they were speaking, the hearers were not.

This is a significant point because the original miracle of speaking in tongues was an outward-external boundary crossing event. It was missional. It would be one thing if the gift of tongues was that I could suddenly speak French and knew what I was saying. But that is not how it happened. The miracle is not on the part of the one speaking but on the side of the one hearing. Tongues wasn’t about the speaker … it was impactful for the hearer.

Change Is Not Bad 

Most contemporary pentecostal manifestations of glossolalia are no longer boundary-crossing missional expressions. Modern tongues speaking is almost exclusively within the context of ecstatic worship services and are meant to edify the person with the gift and the Lord who they are praising.

Now before anyone becomes defensive … keep in mind who is saying this. I am not a conservative at any level. I am always calling for the faith to be updated and modified. I am convinced that the church is called to adapt and evolve in order to accomplish in our culture what Jesus did in his and the early churches did in theirs.

I don’t think that change is a bad thing – quite the opposite. We are called to continual change.

The only reason that I bring this up is to clarify that what is called ‘speaking in tongues’ today is not exactly the same thing was happening in scripture. In scripture it was a missional move – an external focus – that crossed cultural and linguistic barriers.

This is what we call ‘historic drift’.

Master Signifier 

How we see speaking in tongues today often accomplishes the opposite of that original aim. Speaking in tongues is now an internal matter – not out on the streets but inside a house of worship.

Speaking in tongues is also no longer missional (external in focus) – for the hearer – but is actually an internal matter of both personal edification and (here is the important part) belonging to a community.pentecost01

When glossolalia is held up as a mark of validation it become a boundary marker (or master signifier) for who belongs to a given group. When the sign is a validation or litmus test for membership, it has ceased to be what it was originally designed for and has become something else.

That is all I am saying. Speaking in tongues today is almost never the same thing that we see in the Bible. It has largely become a master signifier for membership in pentecostal-charismatic communities.

One of the reasons I believe this to be the case is that our churches have not been boundary-crossing missional organizations. They have become internally edifying communities of belonging – which is not a bad thing! It’s just not exactly the same thing that we see in Acts 2.

The Opposite of Cessation 

I was asked by our guest on the podcast if I was a cessationist. I said that I am the opposite of that. I believe that the revival of tongues (most point to the Azusa Street Revivals of 1906 as key moment) in the 20th Century to be a genuine work of God’s Spirit. I know that in many parts of the world – especially areas in S. America, Africa, and Asia – that the pentecostal expression has been a wild-fire of renewal for the church and has been a primary force in its mission and zeal.

In saying that I also want to point out that glossolalia doesn’t only happen in Christian contexts. It also manifests with Hindu gurus, in the syncretistic Haitian religions, and in shamanistic spirituality around the world.  Why do I bring this up? Because I think it important to clarify two things:

  1. God’s Spirit is not only at work in Christians. So much of what we have inherited in Christendom and Colonial frameworks does not allow us to recognize this.
  2. Glossolalia is something that humans experience in ecstatic worship.  It is not super-natural. It is quite natural.

Being that glossolalia is neither exclusive to christians nor super-natural, I think it would be interesting to ask what role it might play in crossing boundaries for our multi-national, cross-cultural, inter-racial, bi-lingual, pluralistic world of the 21st century. What if we confessed that speaking in tongues had become a master signifier and returned it to it’s original missional design where the focus is not on the speaker but the effect it has on the hearer?

I have often been in meetings, cities and seminaries where over 100 languages are represented. It has stoked my imagination for what a new-type of glossolalia could mean for the church to come.

Personal Prophecy: moving on (part 2)

I wrote earlier that we need to be careful with developing a dependance on personal prophecy.

Q: Why didn’t God tell you the accountant was embezzling?

A: Because that is not how God designed things to work.

Having said that, I want to be clear – I believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including the prophetic. I have seen some wild stuff in the past 20 years and while I no longer run in charismatic circles, I am not interested in poo-pooing on my friends’ parade nor explaining away my experience.

Process theology has given me an interesting framework with which to view the phenomenon.
I can do it in 3 simple steps!  

  1. Step out of the 3 Tiered Universe. The Bible was written in an antiquated vocabulary that was embedded in a system that had Heaven above & Hell below. We still use that vocabulary but recognize now that it is only imagery – not physical reality.
  2. Step away from the super-Natural. Get rid of the imagery that God is ‘up’ in heaven and periodically pokes through the thin veil to whisper in your ear – if you have enough faith, or if you are a chosen vessel, or if you are not tainted by sin, or … the truth is that God is with you. Holy Spirit is a work all around you.

God doesn’t need to ‘come down, or ‘break in’ or ‘break through’. God is down, in, and through. 

  1. Be aware of and open to the reality of God’s presence in the world. From verbal cues to body language – there are hundreds of ways that we perceive and interpret other people and our interactions. The is nothing magical about your receptivity, openness or awareness of what is possibly going on with someone else. As Christians, we believe that God’s Spirit is alive and at work in the world. Part of that ministry is to heighten and intensify our already existent (by grace) ability to listen, perceive and interpret social and relational interactions.

I have done this enough to know the objections that are bound to arise. So let me just say 2 things with the space I have left:

  • There are several innovative definitions of transcendence (as it relates to God) that get us out of the 3 Tiered Universe but still hold that God is not just a big bearded guy in the sky that we made up to feel like ‘somebody is watching over us’ and will take care of things in the end.  Both Process theology and the work of Panneneberg give us visions of God’s otherness that squash most objections to moving in the direction that I am headed: we don’t lose the transcendence/otherness of God.

I love the idea that God is the power of the future. God comes to us in each moment and provides the possibility of a preferable reality complete with contingencies of the past. That gets me out of bed in the morning!

  • Prophecy is a sign that is meant to create in us a greater level of faith, trust and awareness. It is not a ‘party trick’ nor is it a primary mode of decision making. If you are relying on God’s Voice to plan travel itineraries, invest in the stock market, look for your missing child, counsel people getting divorced, or predict the weather … I got bad news for ya. That is not how God designed this all to work. 

Admittedly, you have to downgrade your expectations a little bit. Gone are the days of thinking that some stranger on the street is going to call out your name and tell you all the secrets of your heart – and which fork in the road is ‘God’s will’.  The magic show is over. Prophecy happens in relationship. 

BUT (and this is a big but) because God is relational and inside a relationship God’s Spirit can lead your friend to speak loving, kind, challenging words to you – by being open and available … that is  pretty great stuff!  It’s just not magic.

It’s like your sex life. One you get rid of the unrealistic expectations of porn, you can have a healthy real relationship that is both satisfying and sustainable. First, though, you have to acknowledge that the earlier thing was fantasy … or you will be perpetually disappointed.

 We are going to touch on this in an upcoming TNT so I would love to hear your feedback, fears, questions, comments, concerns and pushbacks. 

Personal Prophecy: a minority report (part 1)

I’m passing this work on to you, my son Timothy. The prophetic word that was directed to you prepared us for this. All those prayers are coming together now so you will do this well, fearless in your struggle, keeping a firm grip on your faith and on yourself.  – 1 Timothy 1:18 (Message)

 Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good
– 1 Thessalonians 5: 19-21 

 I was writing a letter to a friend the other morning about a devastating development in her family. I didn’t get to finish the letter so I put it on hold. A couple of days later I was watching the film The Minority Report (2002 with Tom Cruise) and had an epiphany.

In the film, Cruise’s character kidnaps a women who has cognitive abilities (pre-cog) to anticipate and ‘see’ the future. At one point he is smuggling her through a mall and she says to him “The women in the brown sweater will recognize you” just seconds before it happens. Then she stops another women (a stranger) and warns her, “He knows – don’t go home.”

It was jarring to me because that is how many people wish that God worked. I come from a charismatic background and in the past I have participated ‘prophetic words’ where secrets were revealed and the hidden was brought out into the light. I always enjoyed those unique occasions where something like this occurred. An openness to God was my general posture … but I was never quite comfortable with forming lines at the alter after every service with people lining up every week to ‘hear from God’. That seemed too forced, or too rote or too presumptuous. 

I have talked before about my progressive take on pentecostal stuff (after the Leif Hetland interview) and getting my mind around miracles. But personal prophecy seems to be an even bigger issue. For those who run in charismatic circles, words of personal prophecy (or ‘reading someone’s mail’) are something that they come to lean on. That is what makes me so nervous.

Let me be clear: I take the passages in the Bible where Jesus talks about hearing the ‘voice’ of the Father very seriously. I have taught hundreds of folks how to ‘listen to God’ in the past. I am neither apologizing for that nor am I explaining it away.
What I am wanting to address is when people

  1. expect it
  2. come to rely on it
  3. abandon other ways of ‘knowing’ because of a dependance on it.

I’m not talking about folks who pray about trivial stuff like prime parking spots or who try to discern which color to paint their fingernails (both are common). I am talking about real people who have said  sentences like the following over the past decade of ministry:

  • Why didn’t God tell me it was cancer?
  • Why didn’t God warn us not to let her take the car?
  • Why didn’t God alert us our that child was being abused?
  • Why didn’t God direct us and help us find the body?
  • Why didn’t God tell me that my spouse was cheating?
  • Why didn’t God expose the treasurer’s embezzling?
  • Why didn’t God say the Doctor’s diagnosis was wrong?

I am not making these up. These are real sentences I have been asked. (and I have many more examples)

I want to say two things:

That is not how God works. It’s just not. Look, I get the power of personal prophecy! I have called out things that I wouldn’t know in my own capability. I am not a doubter. I am just saying that if we come to rely on this way of knowing we could really endanger ourselves and those around us. We need accountability with our church’s finances because we can’t trust that the Holy Spirit would tell us if something was up.

Process has given me a framework to explain how this kind of prophecy works. I don’t want to quench the Spirit, or hold prophecy with contempt, or lose what is good and explain away some of the miraculous stuff I have seen over the years. I know that some will dispute that personal prophecy is what is meant when the New Testament speaks of prophecy – and it is illustrative to my about the contemporary church that many have NO frame of reference for this activity (it seems like voodoo to them) and yet for others it is their MAIN connection to God and they know of no other type of definition for prophecy.

Tomorrow I will post ‘The Process of Prophecy’ – but for now I just wanted to say that The Minority Report is fiction. That is not how God works. Yes, I think it is cool that we can know stuff we normally don’t have access to. BUT we have to be really careful that we don’t turn off other systems of navigation because we like playing with this one. People are getting hurt (by others) and are discouraged with God because we are playing with a toy that was never meant to be a real steering wheel or compass.

Personal prophecy is not a guide to life. It can be a sign (like in the Gospel of John) that points to a greater level of trust and awareness and creates a desire. However, it can not be our main go-to mechanism for making our way in the world. Prophetic words need to be integrated into a web-of-meaning that incorporates scripture, community, and reason. 

Why didn’t God tell you? Because that is not how God designed it to work.


if you have never encountered this type of thing before: check out this instructive blog about maximizing the impact your prophetic word.

Then you may want to check out my post “what has changed since I was your pastor”.

Reflecting on Pentecost part 1

Originally posted as “A funny thing happened on the way to Pentecost

This past weekend was Pentecost in the liturgical calendar. As one who emerged from a charismatic evangelical background and is now employed at a mainline church, this is my favorite Sunday of the whole year!

Here are just 3 funny things about Pentecost Sunday:

Charismatics don’t celebrate it. Because the large majority of Pentecostal & Charismatic churches don’t follow the liturgical year, this Sunday goes unnoticed in any special way. It is just another rockin’ week of worship songs! I find that hilarious. When you exist in a context that does not observe Lent (or even Advent) then both Easter and Pentecost are just one more occasion for ‘feasting’. This is a glory theology and neither fasting nor waiting are on the menu (speaking in generalities).

It’s tough to be a Christian and get away from it. Reading the Bible as a white-westerner can cause disorientation and cognitive dissonance. In the Gospel of Mark, fully 65% of Jesus’ ministry was based around miracles, mostly healing and exorcism. If you are going to read the Bible, it is going to be tough to get around just how much time and effort the writers spend on this element of ministry. But if you are part of an educated (enlightenment) tradition that is primarily intellectual about faith … you may have never seen a miraculous healing, exorcism, or manifestation of God’s power. Most of things we call ‘answers to prayer’ are slightly amplified coincidence – like getting a job you applied for and were qualified for or finding it in your heart to forgive someone which brought about reconciliation.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think that those things are miraculous and answers to prayer. I just want to note that there might be a difference in intensity from what is recorded in the Book of Acts.

Africa, Asia and South America are foreign to us. We hear lots and lots of reports from the Southern Hemisphere about the explosion of Pentecostal and Charismatic (P&C) Signs and Wonders movements (S&W). Many are calling it ‘the Future of Christianity’. It is tough to argue with when you compare it to the decline in church attendance in Europe and N. America, the overly analytical and often paralyzed intellectual brand of church that is embarrassed at both the zeal and simplicity of the fundamentalist and evangelical branches of the family.

Here are my two hesitations about the southern hemisphere being the future of the church:

1) As many have noted, the latest turn in the P&C movement is one toward the ‘Prosperity Gospel’ and the wildly demonstrative ‘Signs & Wonders’ movement where the spectacular and the sensational are prized above all else! (including Biblical precedent). This is an ominous turn. I am deeply suspicious that with the rise of global capitalism, deregulated markets and multi-national corporations’ economic and environmental policies … the prosperity ‘blessing’ might be a one-generation phenomenon with a vicious cynical backlash waiting behind it. This bubble will burst and both the pain and disillusionment will be inconsolable.

2) ‘The weirder the better’ is an ugly mantra. I recently talked to a traveling Charismatic evangelist who was disappointed that his most recent rally did not have more pizzaz. Sure good things happened and people reported both salvations, significant personal growth (like forgiveness) and a couple of minor healing (anorexia, etc.) But nothing really demonstrative or spectacular. That is not the part that caught my attention (I am used to that). It was the reasoning behind it.

“ If you come from a background where you have never seen Signs & Wonders then you are less likely for it to happen to you. Seeing it happen creates something in you – a faith or an openness – that allows God to do it with you.”

I was stunned. Did he really just say that if you have never seen it, that it is less likely to happen? Well, actually that makes a lot of sense. If you have never seen someone be ‘slain in the Spirit’ then you may be less likely to go to the ground when prayed for (ever heard of ‘carpet time’?).  This is where testimony and teaching are SO valuable.

Now the funny thing is that this dear minister has no idea that I have Lindbeck & MacIntyre ringing in my head like alarm bells at a fire station! I wanted to say ‘Language not only helps us interpret experience … our language helps create our experience.”

Those two things – the Prosperity turn in the South and the awareness of language/experience – are the two things that keep me from being 100% stoked about the future of Pentecost.   – Bo Sanders


If you would like to read an interesting book on the subject, check out Philip Jenkins’ The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South 

Bo’s Blogs in November

Between a trip to San Fran for a conference and Thanksgiving in the mountains, I have not been blogging much this month. There are two things that I have been doing over at HomeBrewed Christianity that I am quite proud of.

The first is a conversation about the Cross.  It started with this blog post and then led to an hour long conversation with Tripp Fuller for a Theology Nerd Throwdown.  My basic take was that we have over-focused on the Cross and neglected both the empty tomb and Pentecost as Christian symbols and events.

Last week my friend A.J Swaboda said “Discipleship is photo-shopping the cross into every picture and angle of my life.”  I asked him if the empty tomb  wouldn’t be more appropriate. He said (wisely) that you can’t have one without the other.
So is that what we are doing? Is ‘the Cross’ shorthand for the whole story? Is it assumed that when we say ‘Cross’ we mean also Resurrection and Pentecost?
That would make me nervous.
Here is my concern: in the resurrection God spoke a new word over the world. I would like to live into that new word and participate with God’s Spirit who was given as a gift and a seal of the promise.
To obsess on the cross and related atonement theories is to live perpetually in the old word and to camp in the final thing that God said about the old situation.

The second is a conversation about being Charismatic/Pentecostal Continue reading “Bo’s Blogs in November”

>Relational Religion

> There are three significant implications for reading the Bible relationally. 

The first has to do with prayer. 
The second has to do with the original sin. 
The third has to do with Pentecost.                  by Bo Sanders

Prayer is a relational thing. We pray for people that we know. This is a good thing. That is how it is suppose to work. We need to be praying for the people that we know.
It is tough to pray for someone you don’t know. Let’s take two examples: letters in the mail and hiring a pastor.  

When a church wants to hire a pastor, they do not hold a prayer meeting and ‘discern’ a name and phone number out of thin air and then call that person and say “God told us that you are suppose to be our next pastor”.  That is not how it works. They look over resumes, they do phone interviews, they call the person in for the weekend to candidate and then ‘discern’ based on relational cues. 

When god lays on somebody’s heart to write an encouraging note, send a gift, or to make a phone call, it is always to somebody that we know. God works in and through relationship. If you want to send a check for $100 to help someone out, you don’t write a random name on an envelope and make up (or pray and discern) an address and then put it in the mail. You send it to someone you know – someone that you are in a relationship with. That is what God leads us to do. 
Can you imagine writing a check to Jackson Bolaliber, making out the envelope to 765 Kings Highway in Jacksonville Kansas and then making up a zip code (98126) and putting it in the mail?  I don’t even know if this person exists. I don’t know if Kansas has a town called Jacksonville. I don’t know if that zip code is even for Kansas or if it exists anywhere.

That is not how it works. That is not how God works. God works in relationship. God lays on our hearts to send encouragement notes to people that we know. To dial phone numbers that belong to people that we are in relationship with. 
Have you ever said “God give me 10 single-digits that make up a phone number of somebody that you want me to call and encourage.”  No.  You call somebody that you know and encourage them. You may even be led to call them because you know of something going on in their life and that they need encouragement.
I’ve said this before, when we pray for the people of Haiti, we are not asking God to fix the situation “from Heaven” – we are a) asking God to send the people that will fix the situation and b) making ourselves available to God for whatever situation God might want to use us in. 
Prayer prepares our hearts to participate with God in God’s world and work. God is relational. Therefore God’s work is relational. And thus, prayer is relational. 
The original sin
I believe in the original sin.  I do not believe in Original Sin. I believe in the original sin, but I do not believe in what has been the dogmatic teaching that children are born full of sin – that the cells of the body are corrupted or depraved and that unless they pray a prayer to Jesus or are baptized by a priest or belong to the right church (which is sanctioned by the State) they are “fallen” and will not go to heaven. I do not believe in that kind of original sin. 
The concern over Substance (corrupted) and Status (fallen) are not the concerns of the Bible and come to us via Greek philosophy (both Platonism and Aristotelean thought).
The concern of the Bible is relationship. That is the power of the original sin – that it broke relationship.  There were three types of broken relationship in the Garden of Eden narrative.  
But before we get to that … and while were are on the subject –  there is no such thing as the fall.   Look it up. The Bible never talks about a fall.  Adam and Eve did not fall.  Humans are not fallen.  If you look up ‘Fall’ in most biblical concordances you will see six verses listed. Not one of them uses the word fall.  It was a concept – a construct- that was added later – because of philosophy.
What happened in Eden is not a fall. It is a breaking of relationship, and it impacted three things. 

The first relationship that was broken was between God and humanity. They were afraid of God and they hid. The relationship was broken. 

The second relationship that was broken was between between humans – some focus on the split between the genders, some on the relationship between husband and wife, I prefer to look at the simple  human to human brokenness. 
The story of Cain and Able illustrated the brokeness of both of these first two levels – with God and between each other. 

The third relationship that was broken was between humans and the earth. It changed from a care – partnership – providing connection to a hostility (the earth to us) and domination (us to the earth). 
Good News: This is what Jesus comes to restore! Jesus heals our broken relationship with God. Jesus enables us to have restored relationships with other humans around us. And Jesus brings us into a new awareness of the earth beneath us.
I draw it this way: the Circle was broken in Eden. Three circles were broken in Eden. Living in Jesus restores those broken circles – repairs the brokeness and reconnects the unity of the circle. 
Living in Jesus connects the circle above us in a restored unity with God. It also connects us to those around us in the circle of community. Lastly, it connects us to the earth below so that we have restored appreciation and partnership with the dust from which we came and to which we will return. 
This is the idea of Shalom. It is peace-restoration-connection-wholeness. Living in Shalom is a circle running North-South above and below and another circle running east-west connecting us to those around.  This is healthy connection, mutual care and edification.
There was an original sin but there is no Original Sin. There was no Fall but there is restored relationship and connection.*
     As long as I am laying it all out I might as well say this: reading the Bible relationally changes everything.  Look at it this way – the Incarnation was Jesus taking on flesh and opening a new way for humanity to to relate to God. Jesus gives us a new relationship with God.
Many people that I know who self-identify as Christian live as if Jesus never came – reverting to a set of rules, regulations, and religious rituals. 
When Jesus dies, the veil in the temple is torn in two. God’s presence comes out into the world. God is no longer kept behind closed doors and God no longer lives in buildings built by human hands.  The Religious presence of God had come out into the world where the Natural presence of God had always been – but this was now in a new way. 
This move came to its culmination at Pentecost and God’s spirit – the Spirit of Christ – who is Holy Spirit now indwells us as the people of God. In the Hebrew Testament God’s Spirit would fill one person at a time (like a Judge or a Prophet) for one task or a specific time. Now, after Pentecost God’s spirit resides in every believer for all time.
God is with us. God is here among us. Christ’s Spirit is at work in the world and is with you – to guide you and use you and change you. 
God wants to guide you. 
God wants to use you. 
God wants to change you. 
This is why God gave Holy Spirit to the world as a gift. We are the people of God. We are the House of God. God dwells in us each of us and among us as a community. 
When you pray, you are not projecting your voice past the heavens and trying to get the attention of a God who lives on the other side of curtain – begging and pleading for God to ‘come down’.  God already came down – and died on a cross – that is when the veil was torn in two and God’s presence came out into the world. God is here with us now. God is at work among us. 
God didn’t write a best-selling book and then retire to the far corner of the universe leaving it all up to us to do what was said in the book. That book is not an instruction manual or a constitution or a rule book. It is a story. In that story God gives his own Son who dies for the world – to repair a broken set of relationship and restore us to right relationship – three new relationships. Then God gives his Spirit to the world as a gift so that we may have a new connection (Shalom) with God, a new connection (Community) with those around us, and new connection (edification) with the world that we inhabit.  
* My mentor Randy Woodley has given me a wonderful understanding of Shalom and he did his Doctoral Dissertation on the Harmony Way understanding of this concept by native American communities. 

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