Spencer Burke, the man behind theooze.com sent me an advance copy of his book, "A Heretic's Guide to Eternity" (HGTE), asking me to do a review of it. I read half of the book in a frenzy when it first arrived, and then my first semester of grad studies started up and...well, those who know the blog know that I'm too damn busy for my own good.
For those of you who are wondering what the hell I'm doing posting a fresh blog entry instead of just pasting in excerpts from my academic papers, rest your minds. This is something I'm taking on as part of my paid work. I think a pastoral examination of Spencer's book is valuable enough to do that. Not to mention I promised him I'd review the book.
Rather than just review it though, I'm going to walk through it step by step as I re-read the first half, and then carefully examine the part I haven't read yet. I'm not going to say what I've thought of the book so far--that will come later.
In the introduction, Spencer states that the "focus and hope" of HGTE is to see "Spirituality in the twenty-first century...not etched in stone but fashioned out of the fabrics of our lives in new and ever-changing permutations" (xxiv). This thesis statement is prefaced by the claim that "God is to be questioned as much as obeyed, created again and not simply worshiped. Our views must be continually revised, reconsidered, and debated." Hence the Heretic in the title. Spencer is saying that "we need heretics today" (xxv) to revise, reconsider and debate our views.
Unlike a lot of works from so-called emergent church thinkers, Spencer has the balls to say he's not "merely seekly to put a new spin on old beliefs; I am actually declaring that there are new ways of believing when it comes to the Christian story" (xxvi).
Provocative enough for you? It was for me. I've been considered a heretic by many, and since yesterday's heretics are often tomorrow's saints, I don't much mind being branded thus. The way Spencer starts out HGTE makes me look orthodox. I'm looking forward to the journey, since I had trouble putting this book down before time constraints made me do it.
I'll be working out each chapter as a weekly discipline, so check in next Friday to hear what I have to say about chapter 1.