Colors of God

The other week I received the book "Colors of God:  Conversations on Being the Church" by Randall Peters, Dave Phillips, and Quentin Steen as part of the Ooze Viral Bloggers, in which I read the book and then blog about it.  All three authors are a part of neXus, an emerging church in Canada.  A tag line on the back of the book got my attention, "OK, so the church is broken, now what?"  With my interest piqued from the subtitle and that tag line, I started reading.  I want to share the 4 parts of the book, the parts that I truly resonated with, and the parts that I have serious issues with.

The book is divided into 4 parts or colors, hence the idea of Colors of God. The 4 colors are the core values of neXus (the capital X I guess is a nod to the idea of Generation X.)  The colors are Blue for Gospel Faith, Green for Healthy Living, Red for Inclusive Community, and Yellow for Cultural Engagement.  Not sure why they chose the colors they did (except the Green color which makes sense).

My main part of the book that I truly resonated with and resonated strongly with was their piece of cultural engagement.  When the one author listed The Village as a movie that spiritually impacted him, I was right with him, and had some of the same thoughts about the movie and it's commentary on the modern church.  Quentin says, "We have to return to the way the church once was- the artist spoke the language of God in the common language of the people."  Hence the use of Stain Glass and the Jesus narratives on them.  I guess the best part of that section was the relization that much of the evanglical church has bought into a type of Gnosticism and lives by the idea that there is a sacred world which is good, and a secular world which is bad.  One quote from that section puts it this way, "This misses the whole thrust of incarnational theology; that God in Christ, came down from heaven and lives within the entire material world."

Another section that connected with me, and with Veritas' Core Value of A Safe Spritual Search was in the discussion of Inclusive Community.  The whole discussion about being authentic and starting with the Pastor was a great bit, and a good reminder that if I want authenticity in our community that I need to go first.  One quote from that section says, "They feel safe.  I don't hear that word used in teh same sentence as church- very odd.  And safe means that I can be myself."  Another part from the Green section dealt with a woman who began asking some tough questions and dealt with how her church community dealt with her questions.  "She said that she started to ask a few questions about this or that at her woman's prayer group, and they all began to lay hands on her and pray for her and give her verses- this confirmed to her that she could not be safe: 'The Church is not a safe place for the questions I have."

The one thing that I believe started out as a good intention and I first thought it was great was the different approach to writing.  Instead of one voice writing, it was a discussion between 3 people, and it almost felt like we were easdropping on their conversation. At first I liked it, but then the further I went into the discussion, it really felt contrived, especially in the q and a part where "people" asked questions and they responded.  I didn't see any disagreements played out between the three and the Q and A seemed like someone spouting out "traditional 'evangelical' straw man questions' that got put up and then knocked down even quicker.

There are some issues that I have with this book.  One of which is the idea that we don't have to, they say "manage" our relationship with God.  Which almost seems like to me just live your life and you and God are good.  I know that I can do nothing to earn God's love.  He gives it to me freely.  But because of that I want to love, serve, and know him better.

Another part was their exegesis around the idea of confession.  They say, "there is nothing more damaging to the gospel, my faith, and to my position in Christ than this daily confession of sin.."  They say that it leads to this concern that "What happens if I don't confess every sin.  Then am I damned?"  But I believe their exegeisis on 1 John 1:9 is weak, and Jesus wants us to confess the sins in our lives on a regular basis, because it hampers our relationship with Him.  Not that he stops loving us at all.  But wants the best for us.

I could go on and share some other thoughts regarding this book (God is never disappointed in us, their take on the idea regarding who goes to heaven, etc..) but this post is long enough.  If I were to give this book a score of 1 to 10 (1 being horrible and 10 being amazing) I would give it about a 5.  Good but not great.