In posts like Doug Pagitt Points Us To Michael Dowd and Doug Pagitt Agrees With Evolutionary Evangelist Michael Dowd the online apologetics and discernment work Apprising Ministries introduced you to Rev. Michael Dowd, whom I first brought to your attention in Jesus Died For Our Reptilian Brain.

Dowd is “an ordained Christian minister with a Master of Divinity degree”[1] and author of Thank God for Evolution!: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World; in addition, his Evolutionary Christianity.TheOoze.com website tells us more about Dowd:

(Online source)

Dowd also says in How and Why I’m a Pentecostal Evangelical:

I refer to myself (and the media often refers to me) as an ‘evangelical minister’ or a ‘Pentecostal preacher’, even though I speak far more often in moderate and liberal churches (and in secular settings) than I do in evangelical and Pentecostal venues. Not surprisingly, both religious liberals and conservatives genuinely ask, “In what sense do you consider yourself a Pentecostal evangelical?” HERE is my response (Online source)

Below Christian apologist Chris Rosebrough, host of the Fighting for the Faith program on Pirate Christian Radio, reviews Rev. Michael Dowd’s sermon “Evolutionize Your Life: Heaven Is Coming Home To Reality,” which was given at a spiritual blackhole called C3 Exchange:

an inclusive spiritual community that offers resources to enrich and empower the lives of all people in body, mind and spirit. We are an open and evolving community… Accepting you for who and where you are… Encouraging you to reflect on your beliefs and values… Inspiring you to be the change you wish to see in the world. (Online source)

Following is a transcription of this sermon review by Chris Rosebrough:

I spent a little time earlier today on the C3 exchange website…you know…getting a “feel” for what they’re all about and they are…they bill themselves as an inclusive, spiritual community.  And, that being the case…let’s take a look at…well, I had a look at the “who we are” statement and let’s see:

”C3 exchange is a pioneer in the inclusive, spiritual movement. It offers resources to enrich and to empower the lives of all people in body, mind and spirit.”

Quick question…is there anything significantly, qualitatively different between that statement and the statement that we’re hearing over and over again from all of the “purpose driven” and “seeker driven” churches? I don’t think so.

Number one: They like pursuing relevant religion; that’s point number one in the “who we are” page…they like to pursue relevant religion.

“As life has evolved so have beliefs and values and religion is awe. It’s a celebration of life itself and we seek to address tangible, daily life issues such as work, ethics, relationships and health with searching questions and awesome respect.

Pursue justice:

”We seek to change. We seek to be the change that we wish to see in the world. Liberation begins as an inner freedom that inspires liberation in others and we value community, collaborations and global partnerships ensuring that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are honored for all.”

Pursuing sustainability. Pursuing wellness:

“We value holistic health as an expression of spiritual, integral well-being. We see nutrition, emotional health, relationships and spiritual practices such as prayer and meditation as being the core components of health.”

Again, I just ask the question, “What’s different between what these guys are teaching and what you see at Rob Bell’s church? WillowCreek? Saddleback?”

We celebrate sexuality. We celebrate inquiry. We’re celebrating creativity.

“We value the arts as creative expressions of the deepest human yearnings. We honor the mystery of life and the manifestation of this mystery includes and transcends words and diverse, artistic expressions.

Celebrate interfaith relationship and community. We celebrate universal truths. We celebrate diversity of religious perspectives. We celebrate community.

“We value community where compassion and interrelatedness are expressions of the unity of life. Participating at C3 Exchange isn’t so much about beliefs and rituals as it is about learning to be human together”…deeds not creeds, if you would.”

We value local community.

“The global community of which we are a part and the web of life, which sustains us and depends upon our care.”

Hmm. Again, I just ask the question from the “who we are” page from C3 exchange, I mean if I were to read this and say I got…I found this from Saddleback’s website, would it sound out of place? If I said I found this at Willow Creek’s website would it sound out of place or kind of, you know, that doesn’t sound like Willow Creek. No, it actually probably sounds like both of those places, doesn’t it?

Hmm. Of course, you know Willow Creek they don’t have a cross on their property either (just a little note). Let’s take a look here. Let me read to you the sermon… the titles of their recent sermons. The one we’re listening today was and are reviewing is called, “Evolutionize Your Life; Heaven is Coming Home to Reality.” Then, before that we have, “Bringing Heaven to Earth,” “Memory and Gratitude; A New Way to Inner Peace,” “What’s in a Name?” “Risk Taking and Inner Peace,” “Finding Inner Peace on Holy Ground,” “Are God and Nature One in the Same?” “Learning from Earth’s Patterns,” “Easter: Supersizing Your Optimism,” “Families, the World and All that’s in It,” “Nailing Your True Colors to the Cross,” “Mindful Activism: When Spirit Meets Action,“ “Trinity: Loving Many Things, “”Sex Education: The Pregnant Pause,” “Embodying Divine Sensuality,” “Evolution of God: Waking Up to a New Earth,” “Knocking on Heaven’s Door,” “Soul Plane: Jet Lag of the Unconsciousness,” “The Messiah in Your Midst.”

These are similar sermon topics that I’m hearing preached all over the place. How about…”Breathing New Life into Stale Relationships…” haven’t we done a sermon review that sounded just like that title from a “seeker driven” and “purpose driven” church? “Breathing New Life into Stale Relationships? The one thing you won’t get (by the way), the one thing you won’t get at C3 Exchange is that their inclusive of all spiritual community stuff as long as you don’t proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name and the exclusivity that in Christ…that salvation is found in no other name under heaven by which men must be saved that being Jesus Christ…that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him…that’s not welcome there. They’re inclusive of all other spiritualities, but not THAT spirituality; NOT the cross…that had to go. Christ Community Church…that’s not their name anymore. Christ had to go.

So, I mean is this where seeker driven ism ends? Was it that C3 Exchange was just one of the first seeker driven churches to arrive at this new destination? Hmm. It just might be that this is where the purpose driven and seeker driven church movements take churches and that this is the end stop for all of them. So, without any further ado here is….actually this isn’t Ian Lawton preaching by the way (I should have made that clear at the beginning), this is a guest speaker here…unfortunately I don’t have his name in front of me (I’ll figure it out as we go along). The name of this spiritual meditation is entitled, “Evolutionize Your Life.”

Dowd:       The title of my message this morning is “Evolutionize Your Life”; and it really could be seen as Part 2 of what I shared a couple of weeks ago. Those of you who weren’t here, I’ll give you kind of a quick summary. But to evolutionize your life is essentially to come into harmony or into alignment with reality as reality really is not just as (Chris’ comments: Oh yeah, yeah…wow that’s deep…wow, where’s that in the bible again? Oh yeah, I’m sorry you chucked that out) as we wish it would be or want it to be, but as reality really is. It’s to align our life. It’s to align our inner life and to align our priorities, our commitments with (Chris’ comments: Alignment? I’ve heard these sermons at seeker-driven, purpose-driven churches. We’ve reviewed alignment sermons here at Fighting for the Faith.) the way things really are; and when we do that, we know a peace that passes all understanding. We don’t merely have to wait to die to experience heaven; we can experience it in this life by being aligned with reality…saying “yes” to life as it really shows up. Faith in God and trusting the universe, celebrating what is, loving what’s so (Chris’ comments: Faith in God and trusting the universe? Huh?) accepting what’s real…all of these are different ways of pointing to the same fundamental stance toward reality. In fact, I’d like to offer a third scripture reading this morning and it’s (Chris’ comments: A third scripture reading…pay close attention to what this scripture source is…it’s not the bible.) and it’s one from Loyal Rue, he’s a philosopher of evolution, he teaches at Luther College. He wrote a book called, Religion is Not About God; and it’s probably the best general theory of religion that I know of. Here’s a quote from Loyal Rue: 

“The most profound insight in the history of humankind is that we should seek to live in accord with reality. Indeed, living in harmony with reality may be accepted as a formal definition of wisdom. If we live at odds with reality (foolishly), then we shall be doomed. But, if we live in proper relationship with reality (wisely), we shall be saved.” (Chris’ comments: Now, let’s talk about what the bible says is real reality: All of us, are by nature dead in trespasses and sins and wretched sinners in need of a savior and reality is, that Christ died on the cross for our sins and the call of the gospel – the biblical message of the gospel – is for all sinners everywhere in every nation to repent of their sins and unbelief, and to trust in Jesus Christ and his finished work on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. THAT’S reality!) Humans everywhere and at all times have had at least a tacit understanding of this fundamental principle. What we are less in agreement about is how we should think about reality and what we should do to bring ourselves into harmony with it.”

                        Just to recap or to summarize the main points that I made two weeks ago…part of coming into alignment with reality on a personal level, on an individual level, is to know our story, to interpret generously, to honor our (Chris’ comments: Know our story…interpret generously…mm, yeah, wow this is just spiritual poison). instincts and to be a blessing to others and to our world.

                        So just…let me go through those a little bit slower. To know your story…a person with amnesia who doesn’t know their story, who doesn’t know who they’re related to…is not going to have a sense of their majestic lineage. They’re not going to know how profoundly connected they are and what a glorious lineage they’re a part of. For example, if we don’t know (at least the basic flow, the basic broad sweeps of this evolutionary story that we’re a part of) we’re not going to know that the stars are our ancestors. We’re not going to know (Chris’ comments: What? What? The stars are our ancestors. Really? So I have a distant cousin who is a star? Oh, man!) there’s a relationship that we have in terms of the actual atoms of our bodies. The stars that lived and died before our sun was even born. We’re also not going to know the fact that we are…there’s no discontinuity between nature and the human; that the universe as a whole has gone from simple atoms…first, just Hydrogen and Helium and then more complex atoms and molecules, and then more complex molecules and creatures, and more complex creatures and then societies and more complex societies. And it’s one, unfolding, emerging process that we’re part of…we’re an expression of that. Human beings are literally the universe after some 14 billion years of unbroken evolution now becoming conscious of itself. We are literally nature uncovering it’s own nature. A human being looking out at the stars is literally the universe looking at itself and just gawking….wow! (Chris’ comments: Oh boy, yeah the bible and Jesus Christ have long left the building. So, what you’re hearing here is pure, unadulterated speculation…no revelation, this is all speculation and notice he said that the book he was reading from is on par with scripture apparently.) A biology student looking through a microscope as the planet earth is learning an awareness with consciousness how it functions unconsciously ( ??????) for millions of years.

                  So, when we know our story we learn what a magnificent family we’re a part of, we learn what a magnificent lineage we’re a part of and we gain some hope and possibility for dealing with the challenges in our life and our culture, because one of the things that we recognize when we look at the whole sweep of evolution, is that chaos, breakdowns and bad news are the primary thing that drives creativity and transformation. In fact, I could say it as strongly as this, the number one thing that has driven creativity and transformation for billions of years is chaos, breakdowns and bad news. It’s the most important thing. And so knowing that about our story allows us to trust the chaos of my life, our lives, our time, our culture, our species, our world; so we can be engaged in participating in this process to co-create a just, healthy, beautiful and sustainably, life-giving future (Chris’ comments: Co-create…that’s an emergent phrase) do so from a place of hope and possibility rather than fear and overwhelm because we have billions of years of grace at work that now is feeding into our moment (I’ll go into a lot more of this Tuesday night).

                  To interpret gen… (Chris’ comments: I just want to let you all know that you are hearing the voice of Satan speaking; that is not an overstatement.) generously is (as I shared two weeks ago) we all are responsible, one of the things that we know about the human brain is that human beings are interpreting animals; we can’t not make meaning of our experience…we will always interpret…even if you say something’s meaningless, you’re making it mean nothing. We’re always interpreting. So the question is, “How do we become good? How do we exercise the muscle of interpreting generously? Interpreting our time, our chaos, our crises, our relationships, our…you know (Chris’ comments: How about rightly handling the word of truth (the bible) and repenting all of this NONSENSE?) the situation at church, at work or wherever, interpreting that…how do we interpret more generously? There’s nothing (I’m going to suggest to you) that there’s nothing more important for the quality of your life…the most…the primary determinate of the quality of your life isn’t what happens to you, it’s how you interpret what happens to you. And so getting good at interpreting generously rather than interpreting in a “stingy” way is perhaps the most empowering thing that you can do in your life; certainly one of the most empowering things that you can do. To honor your instincts…and I’ll spend…actually the bulk of what I’ll be sharing on Tuesday night is an understanding that to be aligned with reality is to gain deep time eyes and a global heart; deep time eyes and a global heart. (Chris’ comments: What did that sentence even mean? This is gobbledy gook.) And so gaining deep time eyes (in terms of human nature) is to understand that we have mismatched instincts; that our instincts lead us in ways that really made sense in terms of these instincts guided and helped our ancestors to survive and reproduce, yet we live today in a world in which those instincts if we act on them indiscriminately can cause some problems. They can cause us (Chris’ comments: You mean sin! Sin!) to behave in ways that are out of integrity given our relationships and our commitments and our life and that sort of thing.

                  And so how do we make sense of this? Well, the ancients (certainly in the Western tradition) spoke of original sin…the fall of Adam and Eve; these were profoundly accurate night language, poetry, metaphor, spiritual insight (Chris’ comments: Ohhh, so original sin is poetry and metaphor…ugghh) into the fact that our instincts aren’t matched for the world that today we have to live in, they match that world in which our ancestors used to live in; and that mismatch can cause some challenges. And I’ll be speaking a lot about this on Tuesday night…I’ll be going into much more depth than what I shared a year ago.

                  Learn your story, interpret generously…honor your instincts because when we can have appreciation for that which we used to judge and condemn about ourselves, we find that we can be empowered rather than sabotaged by our own instincts; where our instincts can actually serve our life, and our marriages, and our mission and what we’re most committed to rather than distract us (or set us off course)…because I don’t frankly know of any Christian, Muslim, or Jew that is genuinely appreciative of their sinful nature and yet that’s what an evolutionary understanding gives us is we can have appreciation that if weren’t for these instincts we wouldn’t be alive today. (Chris’ comments: So now, your sinful nature apparently that’s a good thing. Yeah, see those people who’ve been telling you that’s bad they just didn’t understand it from an evolutionary point of view; your sinful nature that’s an important thing for your survival. Hmm…where did I hear this from? Oh yeah, that’s right…Niche…uh huh) If it wasn’t for the fact that our ancestors had these instincts and have an appreciation…it’s kind of like that old phrase, “what you resist, persists, but what you can appreciate, empowers”.

                  And then finally, be a blessing to others. And I offered last time several ways that you can be a blessing to another. One of them is to simply acknowledge…by following your instincts…by doing what is just natural…what was effortless in your life (audio goes out) and some of that weight isn’t something that we are usually proud of; we’ve left pain, we’ve left suffering, we’ve hurt people, we’ve harmed people, we’ve betrayed people…we’ve given our word and we broke it, but we never cleaned it up, and these sorts of things. And as long as we are beating ourselves and feeling guilty, we’re not likely to clean that stuff up. But when we can appreciate that we were simply following our instincts, then it makes it really easy to go to those people and say, “Hey, you know something? I never told you 17 years ago that if I could go back and do it again I would, I’m really sorry for how I impacted you and I wouldn’t be surprised if you are still furious with me around that.”  Wow! That kind of communication transforms lives, it transforms hearts, it reconciles.

                  Another way that we can be a blessing is simply to express gratitude to someone; to simply express to someone how much we appreciate what this person (and maybe their impact on us wasn’t entirely positive – it doesn’t matter) if you just focus on what you can genuinely appreciate and communicate that and shut up…it will work magic, you can be a blessing and I shared some stories of that last time.

                  And then also finally, when we follow where our joy and the world’s needs intersect…when we follow the place where our joy and the world’s needs intersect, that’s our calling…that’s our mission…that’s how we can participate in the growing edge of what God or the universe or the reality is up to today in a healthy way.

                  So I want to speak for the rest of the time this morning on, “What does it mean for humanity to come into right relationship?” We spoke very briefly about (to sort of just recap) in terms of individuals…persons, but what does it mean for humanity to come into right relationship with reality? And who are some of those who are playing a prophetic role? (Chris’ comments: Not right relationship with God…nnnnnooo…this is relationship with something that isn’t even a person “reality”. Not right relationship with God, but right relationship with reality and those who are prophetically speaking about this “thing.” Uh huh.)

                  See, one of the things that we also know about human nature is that (as Loyal Rue’s quote pointed out) we all have come to ways of relating to reality. And all religious traditions…no matter what the differences in religious traditions cause some people say you know, “God said this, God did that.” Other cultures say, “No, the Goddess said this, the Goddess did that.” Other cultures say, “No, no, no God did this, God said that.” And you’ve got these hundreds of differing, competing, contradictory stories about what God said or did. That if you interpret God as a person, you can’t make sense of those. But when you understand (from an evolutionary perspective) that all cultures have personified reality (either reality as a whole or some significant aspect of reality) personification is one of the things our brains do (Chris’ comments: So God is not a person…He’s…we’ve personified God, so God isn’t personal…what is God? Please, tell us) innately. It’s what we are programmed to do. You know, Tom Hanks in the movie, “Castaway” he personified that soccer ball Wilson and it’s one of the things that kept him sane; it’s just what our brains do.

                  When we remember that God is a sacred, meaningful personification (not a person) all of the sudden not only does that make sense of all the world’s religious traditions and their differences, but it also allows us to see that there’s no conflict between science and religion. (Chris’ comments: Oh boy!) There’s no conflict between head and heart, faith and reason. However, when we…one of the things that we do as humans is we tend to concretize or crystallize our particular metaphors, our analogies, so we say, “God is father” and what we mean originally is that reality is father-like, which is true, but reality is also mother-like and that’s true, too. But when we concretize or crystallize those metaphors, we then think God IS father, God is a person (a father) therefore God is not mother, lover, friend and you’ve got these warring perspectives. And so what occasionally happens is cultures concretize their religious thinking and it no longer performs the two things essential for all religions: Every religion has help provide personal wholeness and social coherence; personal wholeness and social coherence. (Chris’ comments: Okay I want to point something out here. Why is this incompatible with biblical Christianity? Plain and simple: because the Christian truth claim is that God is a person and how do we know this? Because God was incarnate in Jesus Christ. We don’t pray to an “it”. We don’t pray to an “idea”. We pray to a person, Jesus Christ, and we pray in His name…he was…he is…oh man, God is ABSOLUTELY personal. This is not Christianity, this guy is…again, I reiterate this is a synagogue of Satan; you are hearing Satan’s voice.)

                  After a while when we concretize these things no longer do these myths, these stories, fulfill that role, and so we need a prophet. A prophet is someone historically (not just in the Western Judeo-Christian tradition, but also in other traditions as well)…a prophet is someone who “sees” what’s real, “senses” what’s emerging, and then speaks in a bold, unflinching way to the culture and says, “Here’s what’s real folks and here’s what’s emerging. We either align with reality or else.” (Chris’ comments: Bald faced LIE. Look at the prophets! Read Isaiah, read Jeremiah, read Ezekiel. Prophets (especially in the Old Testament’s sense of the word “Prophets” were “those who were called by the personal God Yahweh and called and given God’s word specifically to speak to apostate, whoring, idolitrice Israel, to call Israel BACK to the one, true God and to abandon idols and false religion. What this guy said…this is not even close to what the biblical idea of what a prophet is.) That’s the general sort of stance of a prophet; and I’m not speaking about prophet as like a supposed foreseer or a foreteller of the future…that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about someone who basically says, “We need to align with reality or we’re going to suffer the consequences of not doing so.” And periodically, cultures have needed that…religious traditions have needed that.

                  One of the things that Ian generously mentioned to me…I listen (as I mentioned before a couple of weeks ago), I listen to Ian’s sermons all the time as does Connie, my wife; and I appreciated Ian when you said that you called me a “free spirit” and then said that I’m not “tied to” or “wedded to” any particular tradition. And, while I certainly celebrate and own the fact that I am a free spirit, I’m not sure that second point is quite right (or at least it’s not the way that I see it). I celebrate, and honor and cherish my Christian tradition. I have (Chris’ comments: No you don’t! You contradict EVERY aspect of Christianity; every solid, biblical doctrine including the doctrine of the Trinity, the incarnation of Christ, the personalness of God.) however, also I’ve drunk deeply at the well of Earth-honoring spiritualities (spiritual paths) as well as Buddhism. But the primary tradition I emerge out of (in terms of religious tradition – belief based tradition) is Christianity, and I still hold that as my tradition. However, for me it’s not a matter of having unnatural beliefs, it’s a matter of being a part of a lineage and being committed to living in my time the kind of integrity that the stories of Jesus the Christ refine. And so the tradition that I’m most connected to – that I feel like I’m the spokesperson for – is not a belief based tradition at all; it’s the worldwide, self-correcting tradition of what we call modern science. And that tradition – the scientific tradition – is knowledge based…it’s evidence based…it’s not belief based; and this is where the interesting place where we find ourselves now as a culture is science has a lot to tell us about how things are and which things matter.

                  See, that’s what all religions have done…how things are and which things matter. And science tells us a lot about how things are. What religions are all about they are maps of reality; all religions are maps of reality…and they map how things are and which things matter at a particular time in human history. However, if we today go to ancient maps of how things are and which things matter, and try to use those maps to try to guide our species today (I’m not saying there’s not rich spiritual wisdom there…there is) but if we try to use that as maps to guide our species today, we’re going to run into some problems. For example, imagine trying to go from Spring Lake, Michigan to Portland, Oregon with a GPS system that is programmed with a map that’s 150 years old…you’ve got the Oregon Trail in there.  Imagine trying to drive and your GPS system is trying to lead you or doesn’t even know that certain roads exist. In other words, one of the great possibilities of our time is taking our best, collective intelligence (cause that’s what science is…humanities’ best, collective intelligence) but taking that (and then again we have to interpret); so interpreting in an inspiring way…interpreting it in an empowering way…interpreting the whole findings of science in ways that motivate and inspire us and empower us to live lives of Christ-likeness. In other words, greater compassion, greater integrity, greater love, greater generosity, greater care and consideration…not just for our “in” group, but for the entire world and that’s why I said, “It’s deep time eyes and a global heart.”

                  All religious traditions have sacred stories that tell us why to behave very differently with the “in” group than with the “out” group. I mean for example, we are (most of us in this room, I suspect) come out of the Jewish and Christian traditions. Our sacred text (or one of them) is the OId Testament…the Hebrew Scriptures…Thou Shalt Not Kill…commandment number six…who did that apply to? Other Hebrews! It was okay to wipe out the Philistines, 20 million Canaanites? “Destroy them all,” thus sayeth the Lord. Now, I’m not picking on the Jews of the Hebrews…you please need to hear this…all religious (Chris’ comments: Yeah, the problem is, is that that passage really understood is Thou Shalt Not MURDER.) traditions have meaningful, sacred stories that tell you why to behave very differently with the “in” group than with the “out” group. That’s why, if we are guided by an internal map of reality that’s two, three thousand years old (or in the case of Islam, you know, a little more than one thousand years old) (Chris’ comments: Heaven and earth will pass away, but God’s words will NEVER pass away. Notice how he’s deconstructing the bible…Oh, it’s like an old map, you know, there’s new roads now and science is the one leading us…not God the Holy Spirit…science…mm hmm…right) have an accurate sense of how things are and thus, will have a slanted views of which things matter and in a world where weapons of mass destruction have become smaller and smaller and are ever becoming smarter and smarter…more and more powerful and more and more easier to obtain, if we have groups with sacred stories that tell us that it’s okay to kill the infidel…it’s okay to do things like the Crusades…we will…we are going to have many, greater challenges as a species. That’s why a global heart…recognizing our “common” creation story…that we are all connected…we are all related and the divine (however we conceptualize the divine) reality is speaking to us today.

                  And I think one of the most radical things I would like to share with you today (and I think that you all are probably way ahead of 99.9% of religious congregations in America that I’m aware of…that’s why I love your name: C3 Exchange…because one of the things that I see you all in the process of exchanging…and it’s not easy for everybody…there’s going to be some resistance and struggle and challenge as well there should be…because evolution is a conservative and a liberal process; both are necessary in evolution. There’s the conserving element…that which “protects”, “holds on to” the learnings of the past (Chris’ comments: And you wonder why I claim that evolution is not compatible with biblical Christianity; this is a good example of why.) If DNA is anything, it’s conservative and yet also there’s the liberal impulse…that which is to expand beyond what has before, that is to expand our circles of compassion and commitment and care…and cooperation (this is some of my offerings for your three C’s)

                  And so when we do this…when we recognize that our hearts can expand to include people that are grandparents thought were enemies…when we recognize that our sacred scriptures is what (let me put it this way) that God (reality) is speaking to us through every fact discovered by science…evidence is the main way that the divine (reality) is speaking to us today. And when we get that (when the Christian church for example “gets” that) it will stop it’s decline and it will begin to grow and thrive again. To the degree that we think that God’s best guidance comes from the bible (rather than current evidence) we will continue to see the church slowly but steadily become evermore irrelevant. Because I will say this (and this is about as bold as I can say…I can’t say this in almost any other Christian church…I know you’re an inclusive, spiritual community so that’s why I feel safe to say this) nothing (this is what I’m proposing) nothing is driving young people away from God, away from reality…a right relationship with reality faster and further than the bible. (Audience applauds). And I’m not (Chris’ comments: Wow, let me play that again. By the way, I found out whose this…who this guy is…his name is the Reverend Michael Dowd. I’m trying to figure out a little bit more about him. Holy guacamole…let me back this up…hear this again.) nothing (this is what I’m proposing) nothing is driving young people away from God, away from reality…a right relationship with reality faster and further than the bible. (Chris’ comments: This is the Reverend Michael Dowd who is preaching there at C3 Exchange. Let’s see here, he’s got a book called, Thank God for Evolution. Wow, that’s his contribution…let me see if I can get a Bio on this guy, but let me continue.)

                  And I am not – please hear me – I am not putting down the bible. (Chris’ comments: Yeah, you are!) I honor scripture. I’ve read it (Chris’ comments: No you don’t!) straight through twice. (Chris’ comments: Awwgh.) If we interpret the bible literally, we’re going to be trying to operate out of a map of reality that’s two thousand, three thousand years old, and we will not have clear guidance for what God’s revealing (what reality’s revealing) today. We need to be pouring over what science is revealing. The journal…I long for the day that theologians and ministers vie with each other to find the most inspiring interpretations about what God is revealing today (Chris’ comments: Yeah, so the big problem, the thing that’s driving people farther and farther awayfrom a right relationship with God/reality is the bible. The Reverend Michael Dowd (and I’m reading about the author here) is one of the most “inspiring speakers in America today. He is the author of Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World {Aside by Chris: Transformation…here we go.} which has been endorsed by six Nobel laureates and oft other science luminaries, included noted skeptics and religious leaders across the spectrum. He and his wife Connie (an acclaimed science writer) have spoken to more than a thousand groups since launching their itinerate ministry in 2002, at home in both liberal and conservative settings and uniquely gifted at building bridges between religious and non-religious people, Michael shares the Epic of Evolution, our common creation story, in ways that uplift and expand our heart, mind and soul. His passion is showing how an evolutionary understanding of human nature can inspire and empower each of us to live with greater integrity, joy and zest for life. {Aside by Chris: Let me see here}. Michael graduated with highest honors from Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri (affiliated with the Assemblies of God), where he received a B.A. in biblical studies and philosophy. He also graduated with honors from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (now Palmer Seminary) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.” {Aside by Chris: Yes, you are still hearing the voice of Satan.} then we’ll see the church become really relevant.

                  And the last thing I’ll say here this morning is one of the things that again inspires me so much about what you all are doing here, is that you recognize that symbols matter. And I realize that you’re getting some real flack from your neighbors (and I’m sure there’s resistance within the congregation as well) to taking down the cross; there’s nothing wrong with the cross…the cross has been a symbol of Christianity for two thousand years. And yet what I “hear” in Ian’s preaching, what I “feel” when I talk with you is that you’re not in any way putting down the cross, you’re simply saying that is one symbol among a number of symbols that we find valuable…that we honor…that we cherish, but it’s not the sole symbol. And what I’m hearing is a desire to have a global heart as your symbol; in other words, a heart that’s inclusive…a heart that includes all, which is not (Chris’ comments: Folks, this is where all these churches are heading. I don’t think that this…this ultimately is going to be a unique story with C3 Exchange…I think this is where “seeker driven” and “emergent” churches are all heading) to say (see inclusivity there’s often a misunderstanding) inclusivity doesn’t mean just making space for all ideas, it means making space for all people; all people have dignity…our diversity is essential, but not all ideas are useful…not all ideas will further this evolutionary process in a healthy way. And so we need to be discerning about ideas and welcoming (Chris’ comments: Yeah, I’ve discerned that this is Satanic) of our diversity in people. And paradoxically (and I know what I’m about to say is probably going to shock some of you), but to my mind the people who are playing to some of the most prophetic role of our time….in our culture…in other words their saying to us religious people, “Hey religious people, here’s what’s real, here’s what’s emerging, you better align with reality or you’re toast…you’re extinct,” and it’s the new atheists: Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett (Chris’ comments: Oh, good night!)

                  I see the new atheists as God’s prophets; in fact, the (Chris’ comments: That is absolutely ridiculous! Atheists don’t believe in God. How are they God’s prophets? This is gobbledy gook…this is irrational philosophy. Ugh.) the day I was diagnosed with cancer six months ago (by the way, I just came back yesterday…or the day before yesterday…I flew off to Seattle and I was tested. I had a CAT scan and I met with my oncologist on Thursday, and I’m happy to report that there’s still no sign of cancer, so I’m one happy camper! Audience applauds) Thank you. (Chris’ comments: It must be a miracle!) But the day I was diagnosed with cancer I asked myself (because I had a tumor the size of my fist attached to my spleen and I didn’t know I could die soon or not) and I asked this question: I asked God, my heart, the universe, reality…I asked this question (Chris’ comments: [laughing] I asked God, the universe, reality, whatever it is…it’s not personal, but I asked it a question…even though it’s not personal.) I said, “If I were to die tonight, is there anything I still feel pregnant with…is there any message? What would be the last message that I would communicate if I were to die tonight?” And the phrase the new atheists’ as God’s prophets popped into mind. And I’m here to tell you it wasn’t exactly a welcome thought because I realize that communicating to the world the new atheists (or God’s prophets) would have most theists and atheists running in opposite directions for the barf bags. (Chris’ comments: Yeah, but don’t worry he definitely, for sure, got this revealed to him from the reality…the un-personal reality.) And yet interestingly enough, the God that Richard Dawkins says is “a delusion” in his best selling book (the new atheists are best selling authors…they’re not giving religion any slack), the God that Richard Dawkins says is “a delusion” in his God Delusion book is a delusion. The God that Christopher Hitchens says is not great in his book, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, is not great. And that vision of God as a person rather than a personification may not poison everything, but it poisons a lot. The faith that Sam Harris claims is ending in his best selling book, The End of Faith deserves to end because it’s not faith, it’s beliefs; and beliefs are an attachment of the mind to something being a particular way.

                  Faith is an open hearted/open handed stance to trust in reality; and this is where I think that the great gifts…that the great prophetic gift of the new atheists is they’re forcing us as religious people to get real about God, to get real about guidance, and to get real about faith and inspiration, that God is a sacred personification…not a person…that God is real. God is a sacred name…a mythic name for reality. And you know something? God is Lord. You may think that you’re the author of your life, that you know, you get to control…no, there’s a larger reality that ultimately has say. Cause you may think things are going one way and “pop” all of the sudden, a surprise…get used to it. And of course Native American Indians had the story of God as the “trickster,” the “coyote,” or the fox and knows that point…it’s a personification that that’s the way life really is.

                  So, they’re forcing us to get real about God, to get real about guidance…our best guidance…our best maps of reality aren’t ancient maps, they’re current maps and now our sacred role is to interpret those maps generously, and in an inspiring way. And finally, they’re forcing us to get real about inspiration and ultimately faith.

                  Now I’ll conclude on this note. I see you all (C3 Exchange) as exchanging the symbol of the cross for the symbol of a global heart…an inclusive heart. But, I also see you all (or at least I hear it in Ian’s preaching all the time) is that you’re exchanging unnatural guidance for natural guidance; and that is profound. Because as a Christian (and I am a Christian, I am an Evolutionary Christian, I’m not a flat earth Christian…I’m an Evolutionary Christian), (Chris’ comments: You’re not a Christian at all!!) as a Christian I can say this, that the gospel is denigrated, it’s belittled (when we think about it) in unnatural ways. I mean supernatural and unnatural are synonyms; anything that is supposedly “supernatural” is by definition “unnatural.” Now think about it. Does this sound like good news to you? An unnatural king who occasionally engages in unnatural acts sent his unnatural son to the earth in an unnatural way. He was born in an unnatural birth, lived an unnatural life, died and was unnaturally raised from the dead and He spent forty days appearing unnaturally to some of His followers, and then zoomed off to heaven in an unnatural way to be reconnected with His unnatural Father, sit on an unnatural throne (Chris’ comments: Notice he’s attacking the historic Christian faith and what scriptures teach) and to unnaturally judge the living and the dead. And, if you believe in all this unnatural activity you and your fellow believers get to go to an unnaturally…you know…long paradise in an unnaturally boring place while everybody else suffers an unnatural tormenting Hell forever. (Audience applauds) (Chris’ comments: And that’s an applause line in this once named Christ Community Church.)

                  Please again I don’t want to be misunderstood. I am not mocking the Christian gospel. (Chris’ comments: Yes you are! You just did it! Don’t lie to us this way!) I am however, saying that the new atheists are speaking on behalf of reality when they challenge our other worldly superstitions as if they’re real. And when we interpret the gospel naturally…realize the gospel…we find that our traditional images and language and supernatural language can have in this world, this way, this life, impact and that’s where I think you all (here at C3 Exchange) are paving a way that hundreds (and eventually thousands and perhaps eventually millions) of other congregations will follow in the years and decades to come. And I so applaud what you are doing; and the courage that it takes. And I just want to say how honored I am to have been able to speak here twice within the same month.

                  I’d like to close with a quote. (Chris’ comments: Not a prayer…cause how do you pray to a reality?) This quote is from Christopher Fry; it’s from his poem, A Sleep of Prisoner and it goes like this:

Dark and cold we may be, but this is no winter now. The frozen misery of centuries cracks, breaks, begins to move; the thunder is the thunder of the floes, the thaw, the flood, the upstart spring. Thank God our time is now when wrong comes up to face us everywhere, Never to leave us till we take the longest stride of soul that folk ever took. Affairs are now soul size. The enterprise is exploration into God. So what are you waiting for? It takes so many thousand years to wake, but will you wake for heaven’s sake!

Thank you. I’m Michael Dowd. 

Chris’ final comments:  

Folks, what you just heard completely reeks of sulfur. It’s from the pit of Hell, it’s satanic, and it’s mocking a biblical Christianity and this is not Christianity at all. The reason that I play this is because I am absolutely convinced that C3 Exchange is not a unique situation. It’s not a unique “church.” This is the end of the line for all of these churches that are abandoning sound doctrine, the preaching of Christ and Him crucified and teaching people the full counsel of the Word of God; this is where this is all going. This is just the first of many churches that are openly embracing this new reality that they’ve created for themselves. This is the future of the seeker driven and purpose driven and emergent church; they’re all molding…melding together and this is where they’re going.

You haven’t seen or heard anything yet. The blasphemies that you just heard spewed…that’s just tip of the iceberg; what’s coming is even worse than this…and this is going to become the “new norm.” And it’s tragic, and it’s awful, but I don’t see how any of this can be avoided unless Pastors repent and get back to preaching Christ and Him crucified. This is where all of this is going. You haven’t seen anything yet. You think it’s bad now? Year…two years from now this is going to be “old hat”; this is going to be the norm. This guy has preached and taught at over one thousand different church gatherings since 2002. Don’t tell me this isn’t going to be the norm, this is well on it’s way to becoming that.


[1] http://michaeldowd.org/, accessed 10/01/10.

See also: