Christianity Beyond, Draft 1

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Bringing Heaven to Earth. One Cross at a Time.

[Update: see my background thinking in Draft 2]

Christianity Beyond is a movement of ordinary people who are learning how to make the same kind of extraordinary impact as the Jesus they love.  We honor all the ways people have sought to follow Jesus in the past and present, but dare to go beyond that in order to demonstrate to a watching world just how good and worthy Jesus is.

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Paleo-Evangelical Christianity

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I consider myself a “Paleo-Evangelical” Christian. Like my counterparts in the first century, I have had transformational encounters with the person of Jesus Christ and am devoted to making him known as the Risen Lord; but am still working through which of my inherited cultural understandings and religious teachings are worthy to bear His name.

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Lesson 1/6: You and God (Anjali’s Catechism)

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The GospelGod Loves Us Like Jesus

You are an amazing person.  You have a lot in common with other people, but there is nobody quite like you.

  • You have a body.  Head, fingers, toes, belly button.
  • You have a soul.  You think.  You feel.  You want.
  • You have a spirit.  You can reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and desires.  You can decided what kind of person you want to be.

God is amazing.  We are like God, but God is not like us.

  • Our whole universe — including us! — is like a small part of God’s body.
  • He knows everything that happens to us.  He feels everything we feel.  He wants us to know Him, and enjoy the life He give us..
  • He has a Spirit that our spirits can talk to, and hear from.

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Rohan’s Baptismal Creed

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A. Sinner’s Prayer

Dear God,

I confess that you love me better than I can ever love myself.

Please forgive me for putting myself first instead of loving you with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and my neighbor as myself.

I am sorry for not listening to and obeying you. I open my heart to receive and trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord.

Make me like Jesus through your Spirit, Word, Body, and Blood.

I ask this in the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit.

Amen.

B. Brief Catechism
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Becoming a Whole Christian

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I want to be a Whole Christian.

I want to love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength, and be part of a worshipping community with others who do.

I want to love my brothers and sisters the way Christ loves me,
my neighbor as myself,
and my enemies.

Especially my enemies.  For I have discovered that I only see the log in my own eye after I find grace for the speck in someone else’s.

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Good News for Modern Nerds

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The Nerd Bible (pdf) started with my sermon notes from 1985 at Park Street Church in Boston, where I was an MIT sophomore. Our college pastor Tony DeOrio used phrases like “integrating faith into our lives” and “love should differentiate Christians from the world.” Being intrinsically lazy — not to mention nerdly — I wrote those phrases down using calculus (#7 and #9).

When MIT made available a new-fangled Postscript printer capable of math symbols, I decided to learn the formatting language LaTeX to try it out. Just for the fun of it, I started with my sermon notes, then added other verses which used the different math functions available (#2, #3, #6 and #8). The Fourier transform (#6) is the only formula not recognizable by most first-year calculus students, but it makes such a beautiful mathematical/theological statement I feel it is worth the confusion it causes.

In the fall of 1986, I was studying cultural contextualization in the “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement” missions class. I realized my equations formed something pretty close to a gospel outline in math. To fill in the holes, I came up with several theological and Christological statements (#1, #4,and #5). “Lamb’ de God” probably represents the pinnacle of my efforts at combining bad puns and good theology.

The final touch (#10) was based on a challenge my lab partner Scott Beasley issued after seeing my first draft. “Yeah, but could you ever represent the Song of Solomon in calculus?” You be the judge.

Update: Also available as a T-shirt.

State Estimation and The Meaning of Life

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My friend Leland Brown recently found an amazing mathematical theory book called Optimal State Estimation: Kalman, H_infinity, and Nonlinear Approaches, by Dan Simon. In addition to being a great resource for a math problem Leland is working on, Appendix C turns out to have some fascinating meditations on the Christian Life — inspired by math! See below for some excerpts.

There’s also an essay on Professor Simon’s website that touches on similar themes:
Christianity and Control Theory
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The Purpose of Comprehensive Theological Education

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As I’ve been meditating on the idea of “Comprehensive Theology“, I’ve begun to realize that it’s main difference from systematic theology isn’t merely (or even primarily) the content. Rather, it is whole pedagogy associated with traditional theological instruction I am reacting against. I might characterize (caricature?) the traditional model as:

The purpose of Academic Theological Education [ATE] is to indoctrinate students into an intellectual understanding of, and belief in, the central truths of their religious tradition.

As contrasted with:

The purpose of Comprehensive Theological Education [CTE] is to equip leaders for a lifelong journey of bringing their “whole selves” (heart, soul, mind & strength) and “whole worlds” (family, church, community & marketplace) into ever-increasing alignment with God’s purpose (redemption, kingdom & glory).

My original thought was “ATE bad, CTE good” — but that actually is not the case. Read more for details…

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