Saving Paradise

Authors Rita Nakashima & Rebecca Ann Parker challenge our conventional notions of church.  They make a careful examination of church art through the centuries demonstrating how the center of church life – in its most treasured spiritual values – has been hijacked and systematically replaced with purely expedient earthly values.

Nakashima and Parker describe how the early church mentored new believers in a holistic, life-transformational world view.  This counter-cultural way of seeing all things about life translated into a novel and empowering discipleship approach focusing the believer on the real and living God – rather than the institution of church.  As a result, daily life was perceived from the cosmic perspective rather than the all-too-common, self-centered perspective of fallen man. 

What changed?  As the authors unfold history through a journey of the arts the story becomes clear.  As Christian leaders placed more value on earthly power and prestige, the new foundation for discipleship became fear, rather than love.  The wonder of God got exchanged for the terror of God.  The paradise of God – the life of Christ within us – was extinguished.  God became a weapon to coerce souls into submission to the empire building demands of institutional leaders.

This book encouraged me, enlightened me, but even more importantly it inspired me to re-evaluate thoroughly my whole world view – to see if it truly was of Christ and decidedly in Christ.

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