Tag Archives: R. Alan Streett

Celtic Christianity and the Legend of the Wild Goose

IMG_0894A cool bonus about attending St. Stephen’s University is that they have a professor who loves Celtic Christianity. Sadly enough he was on a trip during the two weeks I attended class so I was unable to meet him. However I did take advance of the school’s library which had excellent collection of Celtic Christianity books thanks to this gentlemen’s influence. =D

Buried within this collection was a copy of Ian Bradley’s “Celtic Christianity: Making Myths and Chasing Dreams.” This was a book that I have been wanting to read since 2006 – yeah, nine years is a long time to wait…but wow, the book was worth it!

Ian Bradley is a British academic, author, and theologian who teaches at University of St Andrews in Scotland. With over 30 books in print, Bradley is one of the most well-known experts on Celtic Christianity and spirituality. His book “Celtic Christianity: Making Myths and Chasing Dreams” reflects the depth of his knowledge in this area as he traces the development of Celtic Christianity from the early days of the Celtic church to today.

History, while only lived once, is never really static with folks of the current time reading their own wishes and desires back into the actions and thoughts of their forefathers. The various quests for the historical Jesus is a prime example of this human tendency. Bradley, being a professor of church history, not only looks at what actually happened on the British Isle, but also at how folks interpreted the historical events.

In other words just like there has been three quests for the historical Jesus within modern times, there have been multiple movements in which the Celtic Christianity was used as a political pawn. Bradley looks at all these movements, from the time when Celtic Christianity was used as a standard against the Roman Catholic Church (i.e. the Celtic church developed independent of Rome in ancient times so its descendants need not look towards Rome) to the time when the Roman Catholic Church used it against the Protestants (i.e. the Celtic saints of old honored Rome, therefore its descendants need to do so). Etc., etc.

All in all, Bradley’s book Celtic Christianity: Making Myths and Chasing Dreams” is definitely worth reading if you are at all interested in Celtic Christianity and spirituality. It gives you a frame work to understand all the different players and political/religious motivations behind the books.

Wild Goose Chase PaintingOn a personal note, the primary reason I wanted to read this book was that I had heard that Bradley addressed the historical origins of the legend of the Wild Goose. And in reading the book, I found that he does in fact address the legend…only it is not an origin that I particularly like…granted, it was the origin that I figured I would find. =P In other words, the legend of the Wild Goose, according to Bradley, was most likely started in the early 20th century by George Macleod, the founder of the Iona Community which operates the Wild Goose Publications and Wild Goose Worship Group.

However even though the ancient historically of the legend isn’t quite there, I have to mention that I’m still going to promote the legend (just without the historical claim). The reason I’m going to do this is not just because I have a vested interest in the legend (even though having a painting, tattoo and blog site connected to the legend does mean I have a lot to lose if I give up on the story!). Rather, my decision to retain the legend is due to cultural and biblical reasons. Allow me to explain.

If one was to search the Scriptures, you would find that the only time the Hold Spirit is symbolized as a dove is at Jesus’ baptism (as recorded in all four Gospels). This is very telling at all other times within the Old and New Testaments, the symbols of the Spirit are oil, water or fire. So why do the four Gospel writers use the symbol of a dove?

R. Alan Streett answers this question in his book “Heaven on Earth: Experiencing the Kingdom of God in the Here and Now.” In this book, Streett talks about how the Romans practiced augury divination (i.e. interpreting omens from the observed flight of birds) with the eagle being especially important to them as eagles were the sacred animals of Jupiter (supreme god of the Romans). When a new emperor took over, they would seek to have an eagle land on their arms and/or body as a testimony of the good pleasure of Jupiter towards themselves.

In the baptism of Jesus, the Gospels tell us that God the Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove. This was, as the spoken words of God the Father confirmed, a testimony of the good pleasure of the Supreme Creator toward Jesus, the Son. In other words, the reason the Gospel writers use the symbol of the dove (or should I say, the reason God revealed himself as a dove) was that they were contracting the rule and kingdom of Jesus over and against the rule and kingdom of the Roman Emperor.

The kingdom of Rome was symbolized by the eagle (a meat-eating birds of prey)while the kingdom of God was symbolized by the dove (a gentle, nonviolence bird). Rome ruled through fear, violence and war; Jesus rules through love, peace and his self-sacrificing death on a cross. Two different views of kingdom; each symbolized by a bird.

So what does this have to do with the Wild Goose legend?

The point of this back story is that the Gospel writers used the dove as a symbol for the Holy Spirit because it fit the culture of the time. In today’s culture and time, I believe there is a need for a new symbol that will catch the imagination of a new generation of people.

For me, I love the picture of the Wild Goose and the wild mystery that it represents. The age of the symbol is not as important as whether or not the symbol captures the essence of God and pulls you into the radical nature of the rule of Jesus. Geese, after all, are prey animals like doves – highlighting the value of the Cross and the way of peace.

Thank you George Macleod for creating/promoting the symbol of the Wild Goose.

Kingdom Theology Resources (Updated)

kogbooksA year ago I posted a list of Kingdom Theology resources for those wanting to know more about the Kingdom of God. This post is an updated version of that original post with even more resources for those wanting to know about the Kingdom.

The resources listed in the first section are dealing with the theological foundation of Kingdom Theology while the second section contain books whose focus in the practical application of Kingdom Theology.

Have fun digging into these books and wrestling with the concepts found between their covers.


Section One: Theological Foundation of Kingdom Theology


Kingdom Theology Proper

Breakthrough: Discovering the Kingdom by Derek Morphew – If you were to just read one other book on Kingdom Theology, this would be the book I would recommend. Derek Morphew is a South African Vineyard pastor, scholar and theologian who has been studying, living and teaching Kingdom Theology for decades. This volume beautifully captures his view of Jesus’ message of the enacted inaugurated eschatology.  Morphew also has published numerous other books on Kingdom Theology through Vineyard International Publishing.

Kingdom Come: How Jesus Wants to Change the World by Allen Mitsuo Wakabayashi – This is a good starter book on Kingdom Theology and what it means to join God in His Mission to redeem all of creation to Himself. Sadly however, Allen fails to take Kingdom Theology outside of the parameters of conservative evangelism (i.e. no signs and wonders or healing prayers in this book, just a focus on Bible studies and living a life devoted to Jesus).

Heaven on Earth: Experiencing the Kingdom of God in the Here and Now by R. Alan Streett – Written from a Pentecostal viewpoint, this book does a good job at explaining the kingdom message of Jesus as seen throughout the Bible. My main issue with the book is Alan Streett’s view on healing as he leans heavily towards the victory side of the tension with an emphasis on the faith of a person.

Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did and Why He Matters by N.T. Wright – N.T. Wright is one of the top theological historians of our times. Over the past few decades he has helped remind people of the first century historical context in which Jesus was born, raised, taught and died. Simply Jesus summarizes his more scholar works in a manner that the average person can understand. With that said, it must be noted that in this book N.T. Wright stops short of bring the inaugurated eschatology message of Jesus into the practical life of a believer. He touches on it a bit, but overall his main focus in Simply Jesus is to provide a historical context for the message of Jesus.

The Gospel of the Kingdom: Scriptural Studies in the Kingdom of God by George E. Ladd – Kingdom Theology is deeply indebted to George Ladd and his scholarly work on the kingdom of God. This book is based upon lectures by Ladd given during his time at Fuller Theological Seminary. While a bit scholarly at times, it goes a great overview of the ‘here and not yet.’ However similar to Wakabayashi’s book, Ladd stops short of fully exploring the practical ramifications of Kingdom Theology’s inaugurated eschatology. (Those who want a more scholarly version of Ladd’s works can check out The Presence of the Future: The Eschatology of Biblical Realism.)

The Genesis Café: Conversations on the Kingdom by Robby McAlpine – Written as a fictional conversation between three friends, The Genesis Café does a wonderful job of breaking down George Ladd’s writings on the Kingdom of God into a manner that the average church goer can understand. I would highly recommend starting with this book before reading Ladd’s Gospel of the Kingdom or The Presence of the Future as it will help establish a baseline understand of Ladd’s works.

“Start Here: Kingdom Essentials for Christians” by Don Williams – Written for folks who have just started following Jesus, this is a GREAT book for ALL Jesus followers as it summarizes the basic principles of being a Christian. While it is a bit of a topic book, I went ahead and listed it here as Don does a wonderful job of highlighting the value of Kingdom Theology within a very easy to read framework. Don, by the way, is one of the top Vineyard scholars/pastors out there. He was the one, for example, who crafted the Vineyard Statement of Faith.

Online Articles on the Kingdom

“What Is Kingdom Theology?” by Derek Morphew – A short article outlining the basics of Kingdom Theology

“Understanding Vineyard Theology: Introduction & Challenges” , “Kingdom Theology in the Vineyard: Upside Down & Now Not Yet” and “Vineyard Theology Doesn’t Mix with Dispensationalism” are some GREAT posts by Vineyard pastor Luke Geraty on the importance of Kingdom Theology.

“Defining ‘Kingdom of God’: Part 1, 2 and 3 – a three part blog article defining the central message of Jesus by yours truly (i.e. Joshua S. Hopping.

“A Vineyard Kingdom Hermeneutic: Pneumatic, Communal, Transformative, and Missional” by Luke Geraty – A paper written by Luke while at the University of Birmingham on how the Vineyard’s focus on the Kingdom effects how we read the Bible. While it contains a bunch of $5 words, it is a good read for those interested in Kingdom Theology.

Audio Files

“The Kingdom of God” – A five part sermon by Derek Morphew given at the Vineyard USA Southwest Regional Pastors and Leaders conference held in New Orleans from 5-8 June 2006.

“The Kingdom of God: Not just in theory but living a life of practice” – An 8 CD set produced by Robby Dawkins on that Kingdom of God means, how it works and how we are suppose to operate in it.

Metanarrative of the Scriptures

God’s EPIC Adventure by Winn Griffin – A great book which challenges the fragmentation of the biblical story in modern society by teaching the church to understand what “her story is and how to become the people of God living as his recreated humanity.” Griffin does a GREAT job at showing how each of the books of the Bible fit within the grand story of the Bible

The Biblical Metanarrative: One God, One Plan, One Story by Bill Jackson – Written from a Kingdom Theology viewpoint, Jackson traces the main themes of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. The material in the book has been taught around the world as a seven hour seminar called NothinsGonnaStopIt!

Drama of Scripture, The: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story by Craig G. Bartholomew and Michael W. Goheen – Written by two Redeemer University College professors, this book summarizes the grand story of the Bible in an easy to read narrative prose. Some folks will find this book easier to read than Griffins or Jackson’s book as it is both physical smaller and shorter in page length.


Section Two: Practical Application of Kingdom Theology


Physical Healing/Signs and Wonders

Do What Jesus Did: A Real-Life Field Guide to Healing the Sick, Routing Demons and Changing Lives Forever by Robby Dawkins – Robby Dawkins is a Vineyard pastor with a passion for modeling the ministry of Jesus on the streets. Filled with first hand stories of success and failure, this is a must read book for anyone wanting to do the stuff that Jesus did.

GodSpeak: How to Hear God’s Voice Without Getting Weird by Rick Evans and Jessica Fischer – Embracing the tension of the Kingdom and practicing the gifts of the Spirit can be scary, especially if you haven’t had very many good models. Evans and Fischer do a great job at walking the reader through the ins and outs of hearing God’s voice, prophecy, healing and what not.

Healing Ministry by Jack Moraine – There are a lot of books out there about healing the sick. Of them, I like Moraine’s book the best as he embraces the tension of the here and not yet. He also does a great job at talking about the dangers of breaking the tension and failing into a victory or suffering view of healing.

Empowered Evangelicals: Bringing Together the Best of the Evangelical and Charismatic Worlds by Rich Nathan and Ken Wilson – This is a classic book about embracing the tension of the Kingdom and living with the best parts of the Evangelical and Charismatic worlds within the United States of America. It is a must read for anyone recently exposed to the concept of the here and not yet.

Inner Healing

12 Steps with Jesus: How Filling the Spiritual Emptiness in Your Life Can Help Your Break Free from Addiction by Don Williams – This is a powerful book about the Spirit of God coming inside us and breaking us free from all forms of addiction (chemical, relational, etc.). Williams has also created 13 week recovery course called “Freedom for Life” based upon this book.

Experiencing Healing Prayer: How God Turns Our Hurts Into Wholeness  by Rick Richardson – While some of the books in this list deal more with physical healing, this volume deals with the inner healing of addictive behaviors and broken relationship.

Doing Healing: How to Minister God’s Kingdom in the Power of the Spirit by Alexander Venter – Written by a South African Vineyard pastor, this book contains a lot of practical advice those engaged in praying for both physical and inner healing. Venter also does a great job looking at the Kingdom Theological aspect of healing, although I do disagree with him on some minor points.

Environmental Stewardship

Saving God’s Green Earth: Rediscovering the Church’s Responsibility to Environmental Stewardship by Tri Robinson – Filled with lots of real-life stories, this book does a great job of laying out the biblical command for taking care of God’s creation.

Green Revolution: Coming Together to Care for Creation by Ben Lowe – Unlike some environmental books – Christian or not – Ben does not “preach” at you through the pages. There no lists of shoulds or should nots – nor were there any chapters condemning one group or another. Instead, Ben told the stories of regular people serving God through their personal lives, church, university and/or non-profit organization. These stories were held together by the greater theme of God’s work in the land.

Tending to Eden: Environmental Stewardship for God’s People by Scott C. Sabin –  This book isn’t just about being good stewards of God’s creation – it is a book geared towards getting past the symptoms of rural poverty and focusing on the root causes. It is a fantastic book showing the holistic nature of poverty and all the factors attributing to it.

Social Justice/Human Rights

God of the Empty-Handed: Poverty, Power and the Kingdom of God by Jayakumar Christian – Written by the Associate Director of World Vision India, this is a powerful book that is split into three parts. The first part provides the background to how different groups have defined poverty throughout history. The second part is a challenge to the reader to look at reality through the eyes of the poor. The last part is Christian’s proposal for tackling the issue of poverty across the world.

Kingdom Theology and Human Rights by Derek Morphew – Part of Morphew’s “Kingdom Theology Series,” this book looks at the Scriptural text for human rights before diving into the biblical theology thereof. After that, he looks at the history of human rights throughout the ages as well as the different theological viewpoints of human rights by the major branches of Christianity (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Liberation, etc.).

Doing Reconciliation: Racism, Reconciliation and Transformation in Church and World by Alexander Venter – Written out of the pain of the South Africa apartheid, this book is about the theology and praxis of reconciliation and transformation through the lens of Kingdom Theology. This was one of the hardest and most challenging books I have ever read due to the real world application of the materials.

Missional Living

Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism by Carl Medearis – It may sound odd, but in our 21st century world there is a difference between Jesus and the Christian culture that surrounds a lot of the churches in the world. In this book, Medearis does a wonderful job of helping the reader come back to a love of talking about Jesus rather than talking about the Christian culture in which they live. I highly recommend everyone reading this book!

The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon – Written by two pastors in Colorado, this book challenges the reader to think about what God is doing in their neighborhood. It also gives the readers a lot of practical examples and ideas on how to be a good neighbor.

Small Footprint, Big Handprint: How to Live Simply and Love Extravagantly by Tri Robinson – In today’s hyper-consumer culture it is easy to get caught up in buying stuff. Tri Robinson fights back against this consumption mentally with a mandate to live simply so that Jesus followers can have the time and money to love people extravagantly.