Innocence and the Cup of Wonder

What’s it like to be a person who has never been to church, never been around Christian culture or Christians much, and then begin to experience Churchland? That’s the experience and story of Dan Kimball in his wondrously innocent tale of experiencing the church first hand, made a little more unique because he was (and is) a rockabilly drummer.

What were some of the odd impressions or experiences you had when you first encountered Christians and the church?

Once he and a buddy were attending a church, taking communion for the first time from a man in what appeared to Dan as a superhero robe, a woman had said something to Dan and gave him the cup and bread, and Dan didn’t know what she said, and so he turned to his friend, shrugged and his buddy took the bread and wine and then said to the person next to him, “Here is the Cup of Wonder.” Mercy, that’s funny.

Dan’s new book, Adventures in Churchland, is part of his project of giving the church its due without minimizing its problems: it’s messy, and it’s supposed to be. I would call Dan’s book an apologetic for the church for postmoderns. I love this book, and I love Dan, and I hope you get a bundle of these books and give one to those who wonder “Why church?”

Dan, as a young adult, was on a quest to figure out Christianity and in his quest he met Jesus. Adventures in Churchland records Dan’s experience of growing up in New Jersey, attracted to rockabilly bands, and then off to college at Colorado State University, where he encountered a variety of Christians at the extremes, and then to London where he and his brother Tommy and a friend scratched out a living as a rockabilly band… where Dan encountered Stuart Allen, an 83-yr old humble pastor of a small church where Dan began to study the Bible more seriously with a small group of intelligent, sophisticated elderly folks who loved Dan and who did not judge Dan. And Dan, my friends, is a fine pastor today in part because of these wonderful people.

The second part of Dan’s book examines problems people have with the church, and the third part sketches the church as “Graceland” for messy, messy people. Graceland is not the same as Churchland, and Christ came to create Graceland.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Craig Wright

    We took two international students from China to our house for lunch, after attending our church service together. As we were taking them back to USC, one of them asked, “So, in your church, first you have the show, and then the lecture?”

  • RJS

    This one is on my “to read” list. Are you going to post on it more extensively?

  • CGC

    Dan Kimball has always been a great read in whatever he writes. I did not even know about this book. It looks great. Thanks Scot (I will definintely have to get it!).

  • Scot McKnight

    RJS, I’m not planning on more posts…

  • donsands

    Dan’s a fine pastor and friend. Church is very, very messy indeed.

  • Gabriel E. Borlean

    I DO NOT AGREE with Dan’s premises “Graceland is not the same as Churchland, and Christ came to create Graceland” statement or premise of this book. Jesus came to preach the Good News of God’s Kingdom, and a new religion was created (Christianity). Jesus came to die for the sins of the world. We can call God – Abba – because he has redeemed us and wants to have a personal relationship thru Jesus empowered by the Holy Spirit. My local congregation is both Graceland AND Churchland, where every Sunday I receive God’s GIFTS to His Children:
    1) The Preaching of Law & Gospel
    2) The Holy Sacrament (Eucharist/Communion)

    What is sad is that American Christianity tries to politicize the Gospel and evangelize the politics of the land (no clear distinction between the 2 Kingdoms). What is also sad is that majority of Protestants/American-Evangelicals do not have Means of Grace. They believe in “do-it-yourself morality/holiness” (semi-Palegianism) and have thrown the Sacraments (Confession, Baptism, Communion) out the window (no more “for the forgiveness of your sins” meaning). These (theological) deficits will continue to plague American Protestantism/Evangelicalism.

  • CGC

    Hi Gabriel,

    1. Jesus did not come to start a new religion.

    2. There is a little of Churchland in all the churches whether one is Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Protestant. I am sure there are people from each of these church traditions that could write a book like Dan Kimball. The church is the Bride of Christ but sometimes she does what Augustine said and acts like a whore!


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