Saturday, April 19, 2014


Review of SUBVERSIVE MEALS by Naum Trifanoff:

The best book I've read in 2014 to date ("but you say that about every good book you read!" :))

Scholarly gaze into the Roman banquet practice and cultural milieu that permeated the practice and how the early Christians/church flipped it upside down. But first, the author explores Roman culture and how those that separate church and state in Scripture error by imposing a modernist imprint upon that age -- a time when everything was *political* and the one of the *political* of customs was sharing a meal together -- from who was invited, to seating arrangements, to the benedictions and libations offered to political overlords (with "Lord Caesar" arched above all), favor exchanges and reciprocity driven status seekers.

Then, the Christian practice of "communion service" is studied -- where Christians ape the Roman practice, with the deipnon (sharing of a meal similar to a potluck today), then the symposium (a time of worship, prayer, ministry, thoughtful discussion) with libation and bread/drink offered up in remembrance of Jesus. But the Christian practice was a "subversive" twist on the Roman custom -- fellowship (koinonia), friendship (philia) and equality (isonomia), preached by Paul in NT was the model -- male, female, master, slave, Jew, Gentile, all equals at the table, and believers urged to kill their egos, and serve each other.

The penultimate chapter is ostensibly about prophecy, but I discovered the bits (author covers some bible passages from Acts, Corinthians, Thessalonians, Revelation) about 1 Cor 13, sandwiched (pun!) between 1 Cor 12 and 1 Cor 14 awe inducing in that I'll never be able to hear 1 Cor 13 (the famous "love" passage) again without seeing what the author reveals -- the moorings to Christian banquet, and conduct of Christians to self-sacrifice -- Between his treatment of the superiority of love (vv. 1–3) and the temporality of gifts (vv. 8–13), Paul lists the attributes of love, which serve as the antithesis of the way the Corinthians have behaved at mealtime. The manifestation of these virtues during the symposium will assure civility, and serve to regulate the gifts for the benefit of all. Love acts as a template against which the Corinthians can judge their behavior during the second course of the dinner.

The book ends on a question: How should an understanding of the Lord’s Supper in the first century impact communion services in the twenty-first century? -- It makes the whole cracker waer and thimble of grape juice look so silly. But then these times aren't those times either, and to sit down at a meal just doesn't carry the same gravitas it once did (we're such a drive-through culture). Or does it? That debate and/or answer is not entertained in the book, however.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Newest Amazon Review of HEAVEN ON EARTH

Heaven on Earth outlines the Kingdom in a manner that is both theological dense and pragmatic - a rare quality. By J Lofton 
Frustrated with common explanations of biblical themes being reduced to powerless moral metaphors? Ready for the dots to be connected in a powerful, informative, and pragmatic method? Then Heaven on Earth is the next book for you to read.

Heaven on Earth strikes the balance between scholarly exploration and pragmatic actuation you would hope to find in any book on a Christian's bookshelf - however rare that may be to find. Striking that balance on such a central theme as the Kingdom is sure to make for a timeless resource for generations of Christians. Streett shines a light on the Kingdom, as explained in Scripture, in such a clear and concise method it feels as if the reader has drawn the conclusion apart from the author and just before the author makes the same point. Reading this book is more like having a conversation than rote reading.

Apart from the aesthetic fluidity of the writing, the content of the book highlights how a proper understanding of the Kingdom of God leaves no aspect of one's worldview untouched. I found this explanation personally refreshing as it relieved so many various, and seemingly unrelated, frustrations I've developed over the years both within the church and within mainstream Christian thought.

Heaven on Earth has quickly earned a place within the go-to books on my shelf. I cannot recommend this book more highly for both the young believer just starting out and for the seasoned veteran needing a refresher on the passion he or she once held. If the central theme of Jesus' ministry is that the "Kingdom is at hand", it would be wise to know what exactly is at hand and how that affects everything. From my personal desires to the role of relationships to the mission of the Church to death itself - the Kingdom leaves nothing untouched. To live for the King, one must have a thought on His Kingdom.