Bo Sanders: Public Theology

updating & innovating for today



R is for Revelation (modified)

Revelation is a topic sure to bring raised blood-pressure and raised voices! This is true no matter which ‘revelation’ you mean.

  • ‘Revelation’ can simply mean the way that we know anything about the divine reality or the way that God reveals something.
  • ‘Revelation’ to most conservative-evangelical-charismatic believers will refer to the last book in the New Testament that talks about the end of the world.

Both are very serious topics in their respective arenas.

Let’s deal with the concept first and then with the Biblical book.

Revelation: Refers both to the process by which God discloses the divine nature and the mystery of the divine will and purpose to human beings, and to the corpus of truth disclosed. Some theologians maintain that revelation consists of both God’s activity in *salvation history through word and deed, culminating in Jesus (who mediates and fulfills God’s self-revelation) and the ongoing activity of God to move people to yield to, accept and personally appropriate that reality.

 -Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Kindle Locations 1139-1143).

 Revelation is often further parsed out into two categories:

  • General revelation concerned with what can be known (and ascertained) through nature and history.
  • Special revelation is used to designate that which can be known through particular (special) people and events. This is often related particularly to ‘salvation’. [more on that next week]

Those who are suspicious of General revelation say that it can be misleading to try to decipher things about a perfect God from a fallen world.

Those who are suspicious of Special revelation say that it wreaks of fideism (see ‘F’ earlier in the series) – only those who already believe, have read the Bible and been empowered by Holy Spirit can truly understand.

There are many insightful schools of thought that address the concept of ‘revelation’. Those in the evangelical camp, they look to thinkers like Karl Barth as the final word on the subject. For Barth, revelation happens in Christ alone. Apart from Christ, mankind has no hope of in any way coming to a knowledge of divine reality.

More liberal or mainline churches may bristle at that line of reasoning because it seems elitist, exclusionary, and too narrow – surely the God of the Universe can be seen (at least partially) in other religions and cultures around the world. Pluralism is the word for our era.

This plurality makes me very cautious about privileging (or bracketing or silo-ing) any realm of knowledge and protecting it from review to ‘outside’ areas of knowledge like science or psychology. All information, including revelation, needs to be subjected to a correspondence theory of interplay and accountability.  History is too clear about the dangers of allowing one arena to be except from critique. Now, having said that, we do need to talk about which field is in the ‘supervisory’ role and which area in submitted to review. There has to be a mutuality and agreed upon standard – and where that standard is established and who has authority over that is admittedly in question. Knowledge is a contested arena and history is full of dogmas, ideology, and programs that have shown themselves to be terrible masters that have resulted in domination and devastation.  


Growing up, when someone said ‘revelation’ they meant the Book of Revelation – as in the apocalyptic letter that closes out the New Testament.

I love the book of Revelation. I study it all the time. I am inspired by it and challenged by it and am constantly referring to imagery within it.

The only thing I dislike is what most people do with the book of Revelation.

  1. It is not a book about the end of the world.
  2. It is not a book about the 21st century.
  3. It is not a book that should terrify or intimidate us.

The early audience for that book would have taken great consolation and comfort from it. The sad thing is that we should be writing things like the book Revelation for our time – but don’t because we think that John’s letter is about our time!

The book of Revelation is written in a literary form called apocalyptic. It is part of a genre (see ‘G’ earlier in the series) called literature of the oppressed. When you lived in an occupied territory under an oppressive regime, you write in code. You use imagery. You use allegory and analogy.

The book of Revelation is political critique and prophetic hope about those first couple of centuries of the church! It was meant to give hope and raise expectation for those early believers.

We should study the forms and harness the same prophetic imagination that the author of Revelation had and use it for our time. Unfortunately, we have had a failure of imagination because we have been taught to think that Revelation is about our time …

I could literally give you 1,000 examples of how the imagery in the book of Revelation is genius and time appropriate to the first two centuries.[1]

My one prayer is that God reveals to those who are most sincere that the inspiration and imagery that we see in the book of Revelation would be replicated (and surpassed) in our generation for our generation.

God knows we need it.

Artwork for the series by Jesse Turri

[1] If you want to dig deeper I suggest commentary on Revelation by Ronald Farmer in the Chalice series

666 Is Not What You Think

A quirky and sad story has emerged out of Kentucky this week.

In one of the strangest cases of purported religious beliefs intersecting with athletic performance, a Kentucky junior cross country runner voluntarily walked away from a chance to qualify for the state meet to avoid running with the bib number “666”, which she said conflicted with her Christian beliefs.

As somebody who competed in state wide competitions back in the day, I can imagine how difficult this situation was for that young lady.  As somebody who learned how to read the Bible that same way, I understand her reluctance to associate with that number. Dark-Clouds

I am a big fan of the Book of Revelation. The last book in the Christian testament is a favorite of mine. I love it!  I love it almost as much as a I hate what the majority of N. Americans have been led to believe it is about.

I thought I would take this opportunity to point out three simple ways that this odd and sad story could have been avoided in Kentucky:

  1. We don’t have 13th floors in buildings and maybe we could just remove this number from rotations – since we know that it rubs the sensitivities of many people the wrong way. That seems like the easiest solution…
  2. The race official could have just given the young woman a new number offender her religious sensibilities. That seems like an easy solution …
  3. Someone could have just explained that the number 666 doesn’t have any actual power … and that even the Bible passage that it comes from tells you that. That seems like the best solution…

See, the actual passage says:

Revelation 13:17-18   New International Version (NIV)

17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.

18 This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man.[a] That number is 666.

Never-mind that the earliest manuscripts have the number as 616 (a whole other discussion about Roman emperor’s names and the genre called captivity literature within the apocalyptic tradition). What is important here is the world ‘calculate’.

The number – even if it is 666 – isn’t what it seems. It needs to be ‘calculated’, even according the actual verse. It’s right there in the Bible. The number has to be examined – or said another way – you have to do something with the number. It is not the actual number 666.

The clearest explanation is that it is a stand-in for a deeper meaning. Six is the number of humanity (created on the sixth day) and things that are represented in threes (holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come) are complete. The number 666 simply means the completion, or culmination, of the human system.

The number itself is nothing to be afraid of. It is what that number represents that is of great concern. That is why the author of the Book of Revelation wrote in this poetic/symbolic language and imagery. This kind of apocalyptic literature was a political critique of its day – not a predictive work for our day. 

Pointing this out to Christian young people would accomplish at least two things:

  • It would relieve them of this superstitious ‘left-behind’ fear that is created by a misunderstanding of Biblical genres and interpretation.
  • It would serve as a challenge/inspiration to do in our day what the author of Revelation was doing in that day and use their creativity to critique the systems and structures of oppression that we are all caught up in.

The number 666 holds no special power – especially today. What it represents however is very much still in power and needs to be examined and engaged as ‘the Powers That Be’.

Do the numbers in Revelation add up?

I am excited to put out part 3 and 4 of Reading Revelation Better in the coming days. I wanted to bracket out this conversation about numbers. Let me make two concessions and then I will post a part of the conversation that has been going on.

1) This is not numerology. It is poetics…only with numbers.
2) a Biblical scholar would call my example ‘woefully anecdotal’. but this is an entry-level introduction so it will do for now.

Q: Whenever I encounter interpretations of it I always come away thinking: “Really? Did these numbers have that much meaning in them for these people? Those symbols were normal and often used?”. I can’t imagine being in a culture so steeped in symbolism & numerology that this stuff would make sense.

R: Think about it this way,
If I say 1776, you know exactly what I am alluding to.
If I say 4 score and 7 years ago, you know what I am referencing.
If I say 666, I don’t even have to mention what it comes from.
If I am talking about battle and mention 300, you would probably get that.

So we have all sorts of numbers that we are kind of ingrained with. Now imagine that we lived in a culture that where a=1 and b=2 (etc.) so my name (Bo) would be worth 17. So 17 would just be the number of my name. your name would be 59. If we lived in a culture where this was just part of how we thought, then we might naturally read this stuff different.

What do you think? How does that sit with you?

Q: OK, I can kind of see how we have a similar system going on today, perhaps not as pronounced though. The example of “300″ really hit home with me. I guess another example of this in today’s world might be “911″ which immediately brings to mind an emergency situation?

So I think I understand why 1 = unity (pretty intuitive) & 3 = completeness (trinity?). How about the others? For instance, when you say 8 = “newness” do you mean that when the word for “newness” was spelled out that if you added the numbers you get 4, in the same way Bo = 17 in english? Or are you saying 8 just WAS newness to them in the same way 911 IS emergency for me or “the 4th” is Independence?

R: YES! you got it. The 911 is a fantastic example.

So 8 is newness, not like the name thing (spelled out and added up) but in the symbolic way that the 8th day was a new week, boys were circumcised on the 8th day, and when the author of of 2 Peter (2:5) wanted to talk about God starting fresh with the Ark & Flood, the number 8 is intentionally used. (Noah & his wife, and their three sons and their wives = 8).

The number 8 is specifically invoked. it meant something and so could be alluded to in the same way that 911 means emergency to us.

I am really enjoying this conversation! Hope you are finding it helpful.

(I use “R” for response instead of “A” for answer… because I don’t have the answers- just responses.)

Reading Revelation Better (part 2)

Three things up front:

  • I love the apocalyptic elements in the Old and New Testament. I think they are both fascinating and helpful – or should I say instructive.
  • Apocalyptic literature is a very unique genre and in the modern mind, if it is unacquainted with apocalyptic, can really get mucked up fast.
  • I no longer believe that the book of Revelation or passages like Matthew 24 or 1 Thessalonians 4:16 are about the, 20th, 21st, or even 22nd century.

That last point is going to be held loosely. I am totally open to the idea of a Symbolic reading (from the last post) that sees the book of Revelation about all oppression and injustice – in every place in every time. I get the appeal of that and have listened to my friends who hold that position and why they think that it is so important. I get it and I am open to it.

The danger with the Preterist reading (all in the past) is that people immediately jump to “then it has no relevance to the modern reader” argument. I do not see that one directly leads to the other – but I will cover that in part 4.

Having said that I am not sympathetic toward the Futurist or Historicist views, I hope to clarify why in this next post and the next.

A couple of things that pre-modern hearers (readers) would have been familiar with that late-modern (enlightenment) folks may not is the imagery embedded in numbers and symbols. While these show up in other places in the Bible (40 days of rain for Noah, the spies spent 40 scouting the promised land, 40 years in the wilderness for Israel, Jonah warned Ninevah of impending doom in 40 days, Jesus being tempted for 40 days, Jesus was seen on earth for 40 days after the resurrection, etc.)  they are really evident in apocalyptic.

Simply stated
one = unity
two = witness
three = completeness (heaven)
four = earth
five = intensity
six = man
seven = heaven (3) and earth (4) in unity
eight = newness
ten = intensity (double)

If we don’t understand the way numbers were embedded with meaning, then we are going to be confused, lost, or just wrong about what a passage means or has come to mean.

Numbers like 666 Continue reading “Reading Revelation Better (part 2)”

Reading Revelation Better (part 1)

A month ago I threw out some ideas about Reading the Bible Better. I loved the comments and questions that it generated. It led to a short discussion about the book of Revelation – which is one of my favorite topics. I had to take some time off for the Soularize conference and some other projects but now I am back. I thought is would be good to pick up were we left off.

I first heard about Ronald Farmer in an interview with Homebrewed Christianity. His take on different ways of reading the Bible (hermeneutics) was helpful and inspiring. He has a commentary on the book of Revelation in the Chalice series.

He breaks down the different ways of looking at the book of Revelation into 4 schools: Historicist, Futurist, Symbolic and Preterist.

The Historicist school thinks that Revelation is a forecast of Western history “from the 1st century until the consummation of time.”

The Futurist school is similar to the Historicist but thinks that most of the book (chapters 4-20) is yet to happen and will start after the ‘rapture’. Jerry Falwell, Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson, Hal Lindsey, as well as the Scofield and Ryrie study Bibles are in this camp.

The Symbolic school thinks that the main point is God’s ultimate triumph over evil in symbolic or poetic imagery. So the ‘Beast’ would be “neither the 1st century Roman empire nor a future end-time antichrist.” It represents tyranny wherever it is found. Continue reading “Reading Revelation Better (part 1)”

>the Bible is not about the End of the World

>I wrote this for something else but wanted to post here for discussion.

The minute the earthquake in Japan happened, I told several friends that two things were coming: 1) talk of the end of the world  2) talk of God punishing Japan

But I was not prepared for was the quality of the sample that was to come. This article details the prophetic take of Cindy Jacobs.  She is an authoritative leader in Intercession Prayer circles and someone that I am very familiar with and had even quoted during my college years (the mid- 90s).

    “In the early nineties, the Lord gave me a prophecy for Japan that it was a “sickle in the hand of the Lord” that will be used for great harvest. The physical geography of the islands look like a curved sickle with the handle being the island of Hokkaido in the north. One could also say that it looks like a curved sword. Where Japan has historically been a sword of war across Asia.”

    “On the other hand, if you look at it another way, this island, Hokkaido, looks like the head of a dragon with the body being the rest of Japan. The people of Asia have worshipped the dragon for 5,000 years. If one looks at the place where the earthquake took place, it looks like the soft underbelly of most vulnerable part of the dragon.”

Can you believe it? The reasoning is that it ‘looks like a sword’?  Are you serious?
Does that mean as seen from space… or on a map… or… wait – I’m looking at a map right now and I am not seeing a sword,  or a dragon for that matter.

Not that it matters. When you are being this imaginative and fantastical, I am not sure that the facts would be all that helpful.

I was making fun of this on Facebook and I referenced the best selling book by Harold Camping’s 1994 or Edgar C. Whisenant “88 reasons the Rapture will be in 1988”.  How corny right?

A week later I get a text message from someone listening to NPR that Harold Camping is on the radio saying that the end of the world will be next May 26th. It will happen at 6pm. It will make it’s way around the world time-zone by time-zone.

Wasn’t that how Y2K was suppose to happen?  Not that it matters…

Here is what I wish would happen: that we could make a deal as Evangelical-Conservative-Fundamentalist and Charismatic Protestants that IF this happens next May or even in 2012 at all – then those of us who doubt them will volunteer to go to hell.

BUT if it doesn’t happen then we will realize that nothing is going to happens like this – and stop doing this every time a natural disaster occurs.

Here is what I wish we would realize:

   1. human civilizations (brick and mortar) who live on fault lines and shore lines are impacted when the world does what it has always done – shift, evolve, and create.
   2. every generation can not imagine things continuing to progress beyond a point that they would find unrecognizable and thus they think ‘this must be the end’
   3. when we talk about the ‘eschatological hope’ of the resurrection we need to be careful to distinguish it from cooky dispensational “Left-Behind” mumbo-jumbo. We must distinguish because most people can’t tell the difference. In fact, sometimes I can’t tell the difference.


  • Most of what Jesus said that gets chalked up to ‘end times’ stuff – like his story about two people in a field or on a road and one is taken, or  how women will not want to be pregnant – he is talking about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 a.d.   All that ‘flight to the hills’ and sky/moon turning red and a loaf of bread costing a bag of gold is about something that happened “within that generation” (Matthew 24:33-35).  It is not about the end of the world.
  • The book of Revelation was a political commentary on Rome of the first centuries CE. It is written in apocalyptic language because of the Roman oppression of the first century. It is not about the end of the world.

>why are they walking away?

>My friend Rachel Held Evans – the amazing author and blogger – posted this on Facebook:

Lots of folks are talking about the future of young, disenfranchised evangelicals. I’d love your thoughts on this. What is driving them away? Where are they going? (Working on a post that explains the phenomenon from my own perspective – as a young, disenfranchised evangelical myself!) 🙂

I started to respond and it just took off!  So i thought that I would post it here and see what anyone else had to say.

For me it comes down to two things: epistemology and dualism.

The evangelical epistemology is rooted in an individualism that does not resonate with the worldview/cosmology that the Bible was written in. This Bible is suppose to be God’s Word (an elusive concept) and does not ultimately (long term)  provide the coherence of worldview, the continuity with tradition or the cohesiveness of experience (burning bushes etc.) that satisfy.
It feels disconnected after a while if you are thinking about it at ALL.

The dualism of us/them, in/out, heaven/hell, right/wrong, creation/evolution, republican/democratic, et al.  is so disjointed from our experience of the world that it becomes untenable to continue pretending that we believe something just because we were “told”.  It seems ridiculous. It gets to be embarrassing. SO instead of undertaking the arduous task of deconstructing without destructing – and then subsequently rebuilding… many just walk away.   Plus, where would you live during the renovation ?

 When you take these two and multiply them by things like the evolution of Finney’s new measures (alter calls) and the ‘christian music industry’ that many people have not heard about but somehow can SENSE the formulaic nature of modern christian religion … it gets – not just incrementally but -exponentially more challenging to hold onto it.

For me this gets no better when we try to ‘return’ to the past with yearly schedules, antique liturgies, and outdated lectionaries. That is no better. It may FEEL more mystical for a time but… in the end there is no more congruence with our ‘real life’ than being an End Times- Rapture ready – Bible thumper waiting to go to heaven who sings passionately on Sunday that God would ‘come down’ – as if God was not already ‘down’ and that the Copernican view got rid of the 3 tiered universe.

That’s the kind of realization that leads people to walk away.

[I was so fired up I forgot to mention two other huge issues: hermeneutics (knowing how to read books like Jonah or Revelation) and gender issues.]

– So that is why I think that many young people are walking away… why do you think that this is happening. 

>Jesus is not Violent

> When we talk about God as Christians we are not talking about a generic conception of God. As Christians we believe in a very specific concept of God, one that was most fully revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. 

 For people that believe in Jesus and call themselves Christians, I think that it is important that we get something strait: Jesus was not violent. That is the first proposition. The second theory flows out of that: since Jesus was not violent, maybe his people should not be violent either. 

I know that there are those who will object. Some of them will even point to verses in Scripture. I will try to look at each of the objections that I hear as best I can as quickly as I can.
Old Testament
I think that it is important to recognize that we are not GOD-ians, or Spirit-ians. We are Christians.We would take our cue from Christ.

Here is my concern: Every time some Christian wants to be violent and can not find a way in Christ to justify it – they reach back into the Old Testament in order to do so. This is a bad way to read the Bible.  Sometimes, when christian ministers speak, it almost comes across as if Jesus never came.  When I say “Jesus was not violent” you can’t just jump backward and say “In the Old Testament God…” That is not the right way to do it.

Turning over table in the Temple
Whenever I say that Jesus was not violent, almost without exception the first thing someone says is “what about when he cleared the Temple?”  In passages like John 2:15, Jesus makes quite a ruckus in the Temple – driving out the animals that were for sale and turning over the tables of the money changers. 
I would just point out three things: A) it was the only time that he did something like this. It was an exception. B) he did not harm any human or living thing. He cracked a whip and turned over tables. C) this act was in protest of those who had made religion big business, profiting from the vulnerability of others. 
So often I hear this verse used to justify supporting violence and ironically it is by those who have made the christian religion big business and make a handsome profit off of it. That should tell you something.
The Book of Revelation

in chapter 19 of John’s Revelation you hear this: 

11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:  KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS

Somehow this becomes permission to be violent to other countries and to people of different backgrounds or persuasions. 
The error is threefold:

1. To derive doctrine from apocalyptic literature in difficult at best. The very nature of the genre is poetic, fantastic, and explosive. It really should not be read like the rest of scripture. I am firmly convinced that each genre should be read in ways that are appropriate to the nature of that genre. The Histories of the Hebrew Testament, the Psalms, the Prophets, the Gospels, the Epistles (or letters) and the Apocalyptic all need to be read in distinct ways.     

2. To miss that his sword is a non-sword – it is his Word !  I call this “the problem of jesuSword”  and though it can be confusing, it’s important to see that it is not Jesu’s Sword  but Jesus’ Word !!   What brings the nations to submission is not a sword but Jesus’ Word – or the word of the Word (if you prefer). To miss this is to miss the point all together. It is to think that the Romans did the right thing is nailing Jesus to the cross. It is to miss that Jesus was killed unjustly and the injustice pains the heart of God.  There is poetry in that Jesus told Peter to “put away” his sword (jJohn 18:11) and said that if his kingdom was of this world that his followers “would fight” (John 18:36). The implication is that his kingdom’s power does not originate with this world* and therefor his followers will not fight. 

3. Some people justify violence by saying “Jesus even said that he came to bring a sword”   but think about the whole sentence… what did he say? 

Matthew 10:34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—   37 Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

 Here is the important thing: swords were meant to guard families. To protect me, my things, and those close to me! Jesus says that his sword it to divide up families – and I think he was being ironic !!  Because  in his day swords were actually for defending one’s family – for guarding me and mine. In this sense, Jesus’ “sword” is an un-sword… or an anti-sword. It does the opposite of what human swords are used for.  Jesus’ sword is not for defending family but for dividing family. Jesus did not come with a human sword but the opposite!! 

The Kingdom suffers violence
In Matthew 11:12 Jesus says that the Kingdom “suffers violence” and that the violent “try to take it by force”.  I know that this is a tricky passage. Some people see it as saying “you have to be aggressive to enter the kingdom” but I think it is more appropriate to read it as “violent men try to seize to use for their own purposes”.  Regardless, either reading does not give us permission to be be violent and advance the kingdom of Christ “by the sword”. 
I am not a pacifist.  I am not passive.  I am actively and passionately non-violent.  I believe that violence begets more violence. Sometime – a person who wants permission to be violent in Jesus’ name will pull out the big two examples and ask me either “what about the Nazis” or “what if some guy broke into you house and was going to rape your wife”?   These are always the big two and I will deal with them next week in “Breaking the Bell Curve”.  Suffice to say – barring those two examples, most of what we are talking about with burning heretics, Godly nationalism, and militarized violence does not primarily fall into those two famous categories. They are just all too normal human violence baptized in Jesus’ name. 
Let me get down to the heart of the matter. Here is an example of exactly what I am talking about. There is nationally known pastor in Seattle, Washington who is famously quoted as saying “Jesus is a cage fighter with a tattoo on his thigh and a sword in his hand, determined to make someone bleed”. He said this in reference to the fact that he “could not worship somebody that he could beat up.” 
Some people dismiss statements like this and chalk it up to testosterone fueled, overly inflated, pumped up hyper-masculinity.  I think that there is something much deeper and much more sinister involved. I think that it is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of God and the interpretation of Christian scripture. 
What is noteworthy is that in Revelation 19, the sword is not in Jesus’ hand but it comes out of Jesus’ mouth. That seems important in the poetic nature of Revelation. This sword is not your average sword. It is not in Jesus’ hand and that makes you wonder if the way in which this sword “strike down” the nations is not in bloody violence but in a kind of destruction that would happen as a result of a sword that proceeds from the mouth of God?  Let’s ask ourselves “is there something that comes from the mouth of God that radically impacts or consumes peoples and nations?”  Is there something sharp that comes from the mouth of God … something sharper than any two edged sword? 
I am suggesting that we need to be open to consider at least three ideas:
1. that since that time in church history when the church rose to Roman power and began to kill people (burn, hang, and behead) what we often call Christianity has been very different than the initial vision of Jesus and the precedent set by the early church when Jesus was killed by Romans and the church suffered violence. 
2. that when groups of nationals are invaded by violent foreigners who mix commerce and religion with genocide and ethnic cleansing, that maybe the rejection by the indigenous population of the alien religion can not be called a rejection of christianity. Maybe when groups like the Native American tribes who were assaulted by European invasion were not actually rejecting what you and I would know as the gospel of Jesus Christ. 
3. that when preachers get stuff like this wrong, that it essentially changes the message and thus the addition of violence to the gospel makes it a different enough message that they are not preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ anymore but a different gospel. Maybe he doesn’t just quote this passage wrong, maybe he has Jesus all wrong.
Now usually people say “no no it is not a different gospel – it is just an adding of something to the gospel.” It is the gospel plus violence. 
But I would ask, if the example and model of Jesus and the apostles is essentially and fundamentally  non-violent, and one adds violence to it… does it then essentially and fundamentally transform the gospel into something that is then not the gospel of Jesus Christ. 
But is it possible that this preacher did not just get a detail wrong but is actually portraying Jesus wrong. That he is not just adding something to the gospel but is preaching a different gospel and thus is not preaching the gospel? 
I guess a fun example would be : if I write a book about how English is the best language and how everyone should speak English. Then someone translates that my book into French… that would be complicated. But what if they then appropriated the message and said that French was the best language and everyone should speak French… would that then be a different message?   Even if it were based on my original book, had the same title and used all the same stuff – it would be a different message.
I think that they would not just have translated my message but would have changed my message. Essentially and fundamentally they would be saying something different than I was.  They would not be promoting my same message. 
This is the exact situation that I think we often have. People use Jesus’ name, read from the Holy Book and even put crosses on the outside of their building and on their stage. It has all the markers of a Christian message. Here is the problem – it has a fundamentally different message and motives than Jesus did. It uses Roman models and methods and thus it is not in keeping with the Spirit of Christ. 
Jesus was not violent. jesuSword is not Jesu’s sword but Jesus’ word. It’s not a sword – it is an un-sword or an anti-sword.  When we miss this detail, we miss the message.
* the phrase “not of this world” does not mean that Jesus power has nothing to do with this world, but that it does not originate with this world (unlike Herod’s or Pilate’s). It definitely impacts the world and is for the world. “Not of this world” does not mean that it has nothing to do with this world and is for a “world that is to come”. It means that it is fully IN the world but that the source of its power is not OF the world.  

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