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thehistoryThe Love of History and the Future of Christianity

Contents

Introduction:  What is a Manifesto and Why do we need a Next Christianity?

Part One:  The Love-of-History Challenge

 1. Christianity and the Love of History
 2. Taking the God of History Personally
 3. Jesus of Nazareth and the Christ of History
 4. Paul’s Religious Revolution
 5. John and the Word of God Controversy
 6. Christianity and Church History
 7. The Calcedonian Historical “Solution”

Part Two: Other Big Turning Points in Western Church History

 8. Augustine and a Greek/Hebrew Synthesis
 9. Thomas Aquinas and Aristotelian Worldliness
10. Luther and the Reform of Authority
11. Kierkegaard and the End of Authority
12. Kierkegaard’s Descendants and the Social Gospel

 

Part Three: A Reconstruction of Christian Practice

13. An Existential Trinitarianism
14. History and the Age of Spirit
15. Post-Christendom Institutionalization
16. Christianity as Healing Methods
17. Circles, Assemblies, Guilds, and Retreats
18. The Eternal Mission to Planet Earth

Appendix:  The League of Next Christianity Organizers

Copies of this book are now available.
Send $20 to Gene Marshall
3578 N. State Highway 78
Bonham, TX 75418

Introduction: What is a Manifesto and Why do we need a Next Christianity?

A manifesto is an examination of the past and a vision of the future that focuses upon action in the present for a community of actors who are calling themselves and others into being as a historical project of change.  Why is there a need for manifest action to build a Next Christianity?  Why do we need a religious practice at all?  Why is a Christian religious practice useful for ourselves or for whomever else might chose to join us in such a practice?  And how do we ascertain what is for us the essence of a vital Christian practice for living our lives in this troubled and awesome 21st Century – a practice that we want to practice and feel is worth inviting others to practice?  What can we learn from the abundance of ways that people have created to practice a religion they call ”Christian”?  How can we sort out from the history of Christianity what is essential from what is wayward or obsolete?

It is to such questions that a manifesto needs to give answer.  At the same time a manifesto needs to be relatively brief and yet long enough to be convincing and clear.  These are not easy requirements, for the topics involved can easily consume many books.  In fact, many very important books have already been written: such writings fill whole libraries.  The manifesto I have in mind is a piece of writing that boils down this edge thinking to a tight focus on the core issues needed for a call to action within these 21st Century social conditions and within the redefinition of religion that is taking place in our time.  I do not claim that this brief book is that manifesto, but I do claim that it is an attempt to move in that direction.

I am going to take a somewhat indirect approach to dealing with these challenges.  I am going to start with a topic that I believe is one of the core blocks to a vital Christian resurgence – a love of history.  By “a love of history” I mean a recovery of the past for the sake of anticipating the future in order to live fully in the present.  I am assuming that a love of history and a loyal service of that Mysterious Power experienced in the unstoppable flow of time is foundational for a vital resurgence of a Christian-heritage-related religious practice.  I am further assuming that such a recovery not only serves those of us who are reaching out for a vital practice of Christianity, but also contributes to our present moment of history a needed revolutionary force that can assist all humans to create a viable future for the human species.

Part One will focus on the basic love of history and especially upon key historical turning points within that period of time in which the writings of the Christian Bible were composed.

Part Two will focus on four key turning points within that period of time we commonly call “Church history.”

Part Three will focus on the future, the turning point that we now occupy and the vision of a Next Christianity that is or may be emerging.


what people say about this book


Anyone concerned with the life and task of the church may well find this book a refreshing read, either as an individual or as part of a study group. Whether reading Hebrew scriptures or New Testament stories; studying early church councils or key figures of church history; wrestling with post-Kierkegaardian theologians or with current social issues, Gene Marshall offers a 21st century perspective. At every turn of the page, he recasts language born of an ancient worldview into words and images that evoke real-life experiences for our time.
–Doris S. Hahn: An organizer and teacher with the Ecumenical Institute and the Institute of Cultural Affairs for twenty-two years

This book grows out of a decades-long immersion and grappling with the most profound insights from the most original and daring Protestant theologians of the 20th century. No one knows this tradition better than Gene Marshall. Even more, no one has done more to implement this tradition by radically reimagining what the institution and practices of the church are and can become. More than a manifesto, this book is also a how-to guide.
–Dr. Jeffrey W. Robbins: Professor and Chair of Religion and Philosophy,Lebanon Valley College, Author of In Search for a Non- Dogmatic Theology

Gene Marshall captures the essence of active engagement with the texts of Christianity in order to keep it alive and vital for today's and even tomorrow's world. In doing so, he reinvigorates our Judeo-Christian tradition of speaking truth to life, and life to truth. He has written deeply about finding meaning and relevance, guided by the collected wisdom of Hebrew and Christian philosophers, science, reason, history, considerable personal insight and experience and the experiences of some of the great storytellers of all time. You owe it to yourself to be warmed by the glow of the fire that Marshall has kindled. His words are at once personal, intimate, historic, insightful, enthusiastic and perhaps even prophetic.
–Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg: Ph.D., Kansas Poet Laureate for 2009-13, bioregional organizer

Gene Marshall's projection of a "next Christianity" takes into account the entire 3,000 years of Christian history and its turning points, portrayed in the Scripture and tradition of the church, and merges it with the future at the nexus of the present. To validate his claim for the need for a "next Christianity" & the role it will play in the historical continuum, Marshall appeals, not to the authority of the church, but to the authenticity of his own most personal experience. The hope that the author holds out is for the creation of an institutional structure that will nurture, rather than suffocate, the missional dynamic of the movemental church (the "Awed Ones"). The promise of such a hope is not that the church in any of its forms may grow in size and stature, but that a troubled 21st Century Earth may be served through "witnessing, justing and presencing love." One need be neither Christian nor "religious" to find wisdom here for living    responsibly    and    effectively    in    our challenged    and challenging times.
–Randy Williams: A community volunteer who promotes sustainable living from the grassroots outward

In this ambitious work that the author modestly claims is merely an attempt Toward a Manifesto for a Next Christianity, Gene Marshall presents a succinct historical overview of the three-thousand year journey of Judeo-Christian practice, emphasizing that a deep love of history is crucial for envisioning a new practice of this religious heritage for the 21st century. Marshall uses strong, often provocative and earthy language to break open new dimensions of thought. He challenges the person of faith to explore an entirely new way of thinking, acting and being, and offers specific healing methods and pioneering social forms to advance such exploration. I found the charts and images particularly helpful reinforcements of the text, and appreciated his passionate call for attention to contemporary social justice issues throughout the book.
–Marilyn R. Crocker: BA, MAT, Ed-D, Educational and Organizational Development Consultant

I want to personally thank Gene Marshall for his enduring love of the Christian tradition. I am especially moved by the idea of a next Christianity. This provocative image should warm our hearts and challenge our minds. It is a must read for Christians and non-Christians alike.
–Larry Ward: Dharma teacher ordained by Thich Nhat Hanh, Coauthor of Love's Garden: A Guide to Mindful Relationships

If you are seeking to live a 21st century Christian life reconciled with present science and one which begins with authentic human experience and seeks to care deeply for the urgent challenges of our times, then dialogue with Gene Marshall. He will connect your present life experiences and questions to Christian symbols, history and scripture and release your compassion and care.
–Jeanette Stanfield: Educator, Editor of The Courage to Lead, by Brian Stanfield 2nd edition, and author of Just Checkin on Ya.

The Love of History and the Future of Christianity exemplifies what Gene Marshall has always done best: express a love for Christianity in very practical terms in a way that does not insult its audience with oversimplification or inaccessible language. Instead, here we have a primer for Christians living in post-Christendom searching for a Christianity that is deeply rooted in history and ready to make the next big historical step for a faith so desperately in need of transformation.
-Dr. Christopher D. Rodkey: Pastor, St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, Dallastown, and Instructor, Penn State York, and author of Too Good to Be True

Gene Marshall does two great things with this book. He brings history alive in a way that enables a person living in the 21st Century to both appreciate and appropriate the journey of consciousness that has been emerging over the centuries of insight by the giants of theological thought. Secondly, for those of us who have despaired at the ability of the historical church to be either relevant or sustaining, Marshall creates a practical vision of how those of us who love this heritage can be newly embodied version of Church. Marshall offers an exciting alternative based on a profound grasp of Reality and communion. A must read for those seeking hope for a new operational form for Those Who Care.
–Jack Gillis: Lay scholar of theology, research chemist, Order-Ecumenical member

In this very timely and helpful book, Gene Marshall invites and challenges Christians and potential participants of a Next Christianity to Get Real: real concerning one's understanding of the experience of REALITY or the AWESOME Mystery that scriptures, religions and cultures have called “GOD”; real concerning MYSTERY'S Eternal presence and activity in everyday experience and ongoing history of life; real concerning the inclusiveness and expansiveness of this Next Christianity; real concerning what a realistic life style of trust, love and freedom look like; and real concerning creating a network of intentional, learning communities committed to serving and healing the earth locally and globally.
–Ellie Stock: Presbyterian clergy, church and community teacher and ecology facilitator

Death is certain. Experience is certain. In The Love of History & the Future of Christianity Gene Marshall takes the reader on a journey into an encounter with Ultimate Reality. It is this encounter we most require today to re-unite our global community with the Real, forsaking the contemporary idols by which we are consuming our selves and the planet on a path to certain destruction. This book represents a necessary first step in abandoning our infatuation with unreality and returning “home” to the One Reality that can restore us.
–Michael D. May: Teacher, Group Discussion Leader, Curriculum Editor for Interior Mythos Journeys

Gene Marshall’s ‘love of history’ comes out of the lineage of Isaiah, Jesus, and Kierkegaard. Like all his other books, his theologizing is eventful and personally grounded. He is among those who transpose the 1st century experience of the Trinity into a rigorous existential expression worthy of the 21st century. And, as a prophet in this apocalyptic time, he coined the visionary phrase ‘eco-democracy’. For pioneering the next Christianity, this book is a primer for all thoughtful individuals and for adventuresome small groups.
–Ken Fisher: Regional coordinator of leadnow.ca –for people-powered change to defend our democracy and climate, Realistic Living Research Symposium member

This masterful pull-together of a radically spiritual understanding of our profound human role in history is all a dedicated group will need: to hear the call, be sustained, and become practically prepared to change history so the “common good” does come on Earth. Gene Marshall has been used mightily with this best one-book source I know for this task.
–John P. Cock: Daily blogger (www.reJourney.blogspot.com) and author of The Transparent Event:Post-modern Christ Images and Our Universal Spirit Journey

Marshall's Love of History addresses in a single coherent narrative what I have struggled with in my attempt to act as a responsible member of St. James Episcopal Church in Lenoir, North Carolina. His narrative delivers explosive images that can heal the devastating effects of our current societal fragmentation and the resulting experience of living an isolated life. Marshall clears away misconceptions that bar people from "accessing the awe"--the essence of Christianity. In the last section of his book, Marshall completes the narrative with a description of the practices and organizational forms for anyone interested in "accessing the awe" now in this moment and in the moments to come.
–Don Bushman ACloseColleague.com