December 27, 2015

Well, I do not believe any of these options or any similar are satisfactory and over the course of this book, will attempt to offer a better way to engage the Bible. I will argue that, rather than one unequivocal voice (God’s) in Scripture, there are multiple voices present (religion vs. revelation) and that the lens from which we discern what is what is that of Jesus hanging on the cross. It is this Christocentric lens, I will assert, that has the power to save us from ourselves and our fundamental human problem, namely that of violence (which I will introduce in chapter one). It has the power to save us from our propensity to create victims in the name of God, and, to use Pauline language, from the powers and principalities that structure our fallen world (Ephesians 6:12). It is the love Christ has for us that places him in the center of our death-dealing systems but it is also the love the Father has for him and for all of humanity that resurrects him three days later. This is the Good News and it is within this book called “The Bible” where we find hope; hope of a future where violence is no more, where the nations are indeed healed by the tree of life, and where the peace of God reigns forevermore. At least, that will be the case I am attempting to make in this book. Read more

December 19, 2015

Only Love can bring peace. That is the message of Jesus. Peace built on the backs of scapegoats, peace built over the graves of victims, will always fail, but Love will restore all things, just as love restored Jesus to life. Matthew Distefano convincingly argues that this Love must embrace all, for to sacrifice any one is to leave the scapegoat mechanism in tact. A God who saves us from sacrifice must save us all, must not sacrifice any one of us. Matthew makes it abundantly clear a God who answers violence with love will not inflict violence in an everlasting torment of hell. However, he explains the references to hell in scripture as the temporal consequences of human violence. He even explains how the mercy of God may involve pain – pain as of a wound being healed, as we are disciplined, corrected, purged of the violence so deeply ingrained in our identities which are ultimately foreign to the image of God in which we were created. He takes on some of the difficult sayings of Jesus and reads them, not in the light of a violent god whom we now know is a product of deficient human understanding, but in the light of mercy that can be experienced as severe. Being embraced in God’s mercy ultimately means becoming aware of the pain one has inflicted upon others, because God brings every victim, including our own, out of the shadows. Such mercy may indeed sting, but it is grace. Matthew articulates God’s severe but undeniably beautiful grace with passion, compassion, wisdom and humility. Read more

December 14, 2015

So, to those who don’t believe in a “fairy tale” ending, as some mockingly put it, why should the story you offer be called “good news?” I don’t believe any story that fails to have a fairy tale ending, where even the villains are reconciled, is worthy of being called good news. It certainly is not good news for all of the characters involved, so I can hardly believe it would be good news for the very Author of the story.Again, I say, let us hope for a fairy tale ending where we all live happily ever after. Read more

December 4, 2015

A few months ago, author Kevin DeYoung posed forty questions to those, like me, who are inclusive and affirming of the LGBT community and who supported this year’s SCOTUS decision on marriage equality. I know his article, which went viral so to speak, is not as relevant as when it was first published but because so many of my Christian brothers and sisters are still in the mindset that the Bible dogmatically defines marriage, that homosexuality is synonymous with sin, and that our view as Christians is to “defend traditional marriage,” I thought it would still be relevant to offer my voice in this matter. With that being said, let’s move on to answering some questions, shall we? Read more

December 1, 2015

Love is patient. Love is kind.Love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.Love is not irritable or resentful.Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing. Love rejoices in truth.Love bears all things. Love believes all things. Love hopes all things. Love endures all things.Love never ends. Read more

November 24, 2015

Editor’s Note: This letter is primarily written to presidential candidate Donald Trump, but it also expresses what must be said to all who claim the identity of Christian and advocate violence as a credible solution to the world’s problems. Matthew writes for the benefit of all who are affected by the vicious cycle of violence and hostility which is unfortunately being fueled by Islamophobic rhetoric. The victims of this rhetoric are innocent Muslims harassed at home and falsely labeled enemies abroad, but they are also those who perpetuate this dehumanizing rhetoric and lose something of their own humanity in the process. All who profess to follow Jesus should understand that violence is antithetical to his Way, as he came not to take life, but to give life in abundance to all. Read more

November 19, 2015

I am not exaggerating this when I say that, in retrospect, I predict that René Girard will one day be viewed as one of the most important figures in human history. His work is that important! To be accepted and understood by the masses, if my personal transformation is worth anything, could have profound implications. To find the cure to any problem, one must first understand the underlying cause. René Girard has done humanity a great service in helping us understand the root cause of some of our greatest problems, those that could even have the potential to threaten humanity itself. Read more

November 11, 2015

Every 500 years, Christianity goes through a major change. It has been 500 years since the Protestant Reformation so it is that time again, this time for a reformation from Christianity to following Jesus. And that means the real Jesus. That means the Jesus who stood in the face of the Roman Empire and refused to fight fire with fire. That means a messiah who refused to live up to the violent expectations of such a title. That means a Jesus who refused to create victims, who refused to create scapegoats, and who refused to do anything but the will of his Father he affectionately called “Abba.” That Jesus! Read more

November 5, 2015

Many will in any case find the book challenging. My hope is that those who are beginning truly to love the living God with all their mind will find in Matthew Distefano’s work exactly the hope that I believe Jesus came to offer humankind. Read more

October 28, 2015

All in all, this is a tale about how love overcomes all obstacles. In spite of the freedom that was taken from Rapunzel, in spite of a childhood shrouded with fear and torment—in spite of everything!—love conquers the powers of evil. As hopeless as life seemed for Rapunzel and as dim as the light of love must have appeared, it was always with her; always present in some form or another. And because of this, she not only helped transform the lives of the outcasts of society, she transformed her own reality and discovered her true self, grounded in splendid love. Read more

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