My New Book: Alien Theology

The Kindle form of my new book just came out this moment! Over the next few weeks I’ll be releasing a physical version and audiobook version, but if you want to read it before everyone else, you can go download it now from Amazon! Also, in case you haven’t made the move, I’ve moved to www.jaminbradley.com. Here’s an excerpt from my introduction:


Believe it or not, the thought that alien life might exist is actually a very old idea. In the 4th-3rd century B.C., the Greek philosopher Epicurus taught that “we must believe that in all worlds there are living creatures and plants and other things we see in this world.”

The debate began to rage when Aristotle rose against this teaching around the same time. Most early Christian scholars followed Aristotle’s lead. It wasn’t until over a thousand years later in the 13th century A.D. that a handful of Christian scholars wanted to talk about the topic. While all of these leaders rejected the notion of life on other planets, they at least wished to enter the conversation.

That wish finally came true in the year 1277 when Bishop Etienne Tempier condemned the Aristotelian belief that there could not be other worlds, because such a teaching could be construed to say that God wasn’t truly omnipotent. Because of this, theologians could now more openly converse about the possibility of extraterrestrials.

But as is often the case, the church moves slowly—as evidenced by the possibility that this book could be perceived as controversial in 2017. A serious conversation about the possibility of extraterrestrials has been going on for at least 2,000 years. If we ever actually discover life on other planets and we find that we don’t know what to do with that revelation from a theological standpoint, that’s more or less on us.


For detailed information on the progression of this debate throughout the early centuries, see: Crowe, Michael J. “Introduction: Before 1750.” The Extraterrestrial Life Debate: 1750-1900, Dover Publications, Inc., 1999.

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New Blog

Hey friends! In light of the nonstop writing I’ve done this year, I’m migrating over to a new page. While I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve spent here on this blog, I started it in college and it’s chockfull of posts in every which way. A new blog will help me focus and stop any future readers from taking too seriously my younger, more immature thinking ^_^

At the same time, perhaps some day I will return here, seeing as how this blog has lasted for so many years. But for now, track along with me if you desire at www.jaminbradley.com

Thanks!

Anthems, Flags, Sports & Jesus

Much of our politics don’t look like Jesus or Heaven at all. It’s for reasons like this that I stopped saying the pledge of allegiance some time ago. All of those years in elementary school I stood up every day and rambled off those words with my hand over my heart to a red, white and blue idol in the corner of the room. It was as visible as patriotic worship could be. I was being indoctrinated ever since kindergarten to always agree with my country and treat them with reverence and respect, whether they looked anything like Jesus or not—and I was told to do it, because somehow when I pledged allegiance to a flag, I was pledging allegiance to Jesus, simply because the word “God” was name-dropped.

I remember going to a monster truck rally in town once. I was excited to see some trucks hit some ramps, but then I felt that awkwardness set in. Before the show got started, all gentlemen were to remove their caps and sing the worship songs of the country and gaze upon the flag. I’m not sure what any of this has to do with a monster truck show. Or baseball. Or football. Or any sport for that matter.

And that’s why I felt the pain of football player, Colin Kaepernick, when the world took note of how he sat through the national anthem as a sign of protest. I can feel every eye on me when I don’t say the pledge or sing the song. I’ll often stand or take my hat off without saying the words, but even that I do because I don’t want to have attention called to me.

My allegiance is with America in the places where they align with Heaven, but my full allegiance is to Jesus and my life is always to be crucified with him and for him.

I had a dream many years ago in which I was approached by an adult who pointed at the stars and said, “That’s you.” I laughed, having no idea as to what the person was talking about, but then later in the dream I found myself in a field, looking at the stars with some kid. The kid pointed at a star and said, “That’s you.”

“Why do people keep saying that?” I asked the kid.

“Because you’re from another land,” he answered.

Do you live in that reality?

Adapted Excerpt from my book, A Taste of Jesus.

Physical. Kindle. Audiobook.

Pine Needles Fall…

Pine needles fall as the wind sets foot
On the evergreen towers.
The sound of her silence fills the air
Though she’s not as quiet as I often think.

For her breath reverberates off what it touches:
Branches, streams and eardrums;
I am audibly and visibly aware of her presence.

For even a faint breeze is filled
With peace and serenity—
Joy to those who labor,
But pain to those who bury themselves
Under the apathy of snow-filled wastelands.

Wind. Breath. Spirit. Pneuma.
She boldly eviscerates landscapes
In the mildest ways,
Whether in the torrent of a hurricane
Or in the slow waves that hardly touch shore,
Though they edge closer and closer each day.

A whisper:
That’s what she is.
Incomparable to a forest fire
Though she burns ever-hotter.
A fire caught up in our bones.
Shining. Raging.
Fuel for the quivering prophets
But a furnace for the shy.

My New Audiobook Just Released!

Thanks for all your support over the last month with the release of, A Taste of Jesus! Now for those of you who really enjoy audiobooks (like myself), you can listen to me read the whole thing to you for over 13 hours ^_^ Grab it on Audible here!

A Taste of Jesus is an in-depth look at the characteristics that are meant to make up the Christian’s life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Bradley explains just how radical and counter-cultural these fruits are when they are grown in fullness. These are the characteristics of the upside-down, backwards Kingdom of Heaven and when we live like we’re residents there, we begin to give people a real taste of Jesus, who is living inside of us via the Holy Spirit. This is by no means meant to be an easy audiobook to absorb, for the fruit of the spirit constantly butts heads with our flesh – but if you feel uncomfortable, maybe that’s okay. Embrace it and see what God does.

In some ways, the original book was built to be an audiobook. Background sounds illuminate the opening allegorical story. Intermissions break up the chapters fluidly. You can actually hear the original music at the end of the audiobook rather than just read the lyrics.

Charlottesville and Seeing the Racism in Ourselves

Many of us who are white grew up with a blindfold over our eyes. We were taught that slavery was done away with years ago and that equality was eventually found sometime later.

Yet here we are today with Charlottesville and race riots unlike anything our generation has seen. The Black Lives Matter movement has made it clear that those with darker skin are still being treated unjustly today and if we have the eyes to see, we will agree—for those of us who are white know nothing of what it’s like to prepare ahead of time for a cop to approach our car by putting our wallet on the dashboard and by keeping both our hands on the steering wheel so that we don’t raise any suspicion.

We have seen the tension at play over the years and have witnessed the death of many of our black brothers and sisters to trigger-happy and irrationally scared policemen who were on edge because the person they were dealing with had a different skin color than them. The events are no longer isolated, the stories are no longer on the down-low, and the injustice is visible. I shouldn’t feel like I keep seeing black people pulled over on the highway for a drug search outside of a primarily white country town—especially when the white kids of that town seemed to talk more about smoking weed than any mixed school I ever attended.

By this point in history, we have to understand that God loves everyone and that we are called to love who he loves, serve who he serves, and go to the ends of the earth with his name. He loves no person more than the other and he views no race as greater or lesser. We are all the same in God’s eyes and so we shouldn’t be seeing racial issues like these.

This, of course, isn’t to say that all cops are bad or anything—that would be reverse stereotyping and another kind of injustice—but we have to face the facts that racism is happening. It’s seen in police cases, the evil white supremacy nazi movement of Charlottesville and the Flint water crisis (you can’t disconnect the fact that one of the worst American drinking water stories happened to a town primarily full of poor black kids).

It’s time we be honest and admit to the racism that we find inside ourselves so that we may expose it for what it is and begin to turn away from it, for that exposure has power. For example, when a good friend of mine was trying to tell me that there was no inherent racism in many of the violent police cases that came to light over the years, they abruptly stopped talking when I pointed to the racism in myself. “Why is it that I am more apt to want to lock my doors when a black man walks down the road than when a white man does?” I asked. “If I can begin to recognize the racist tendencies in myself, I can begin to see the stories in the light that black people do.”

This confession flew out of my mouth so quick that I was unable to stop it and I might have been more affected by it than the person I was talking to. I had just admitted to the great crime of the 21st century, but in doing so I had set myself free. I had put myself in a place where I would now have to recognize those thoughts when they came up. If I could recognize them in me, I could recognize them in others—and if I could recognize them in others, I could begin to more truly sympathize with those that racial injustice affected. I find that I can’t always necessarily stop a racist thought from happening, but I can “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor 10:5). I can grab it, interrogate it, and stop it from materializing in my actions.

This is an adapted excerpt from “A Taste of Jesus.” Physical. Kindle.

Should We Embrace Emotion in Worship?

I don’t really remember seeing anyone even raise their hands in worship until middle school. It wasn’t until I graduated out of Vacation Bible School and moved into the teen tent at camp one summer that I finally saw emotion exhibited in the church. As the teen tent began to sing, I was confused to see people raise their hands and belt out notes as loud as they could.

What were they doing? And why were they doing it? I eventually joined with them to find out and was quickly overwhelmed with both emotion and embarrassment. Breaking this emotional wall was so powerful that I then began to engage in all the other things people were doing: raising my hands, closing my eyes, kneeling, clapping along, even getting a little bit of a dance on. That summer became what was probably the first mountaintop experience of my life.

The fire in me grew as new retreats and giant conferences brought about new mountaintop experiences. I wasn’t entirely sure what the Holy Spirit felt like, but it seemed like I was feeling him when I expressed my love for him physically—and I loved it.

But then one day, a pastor questioned a bunch of us about what it was we were really feeling. Was it really God we were coming in contact with or were we just being swept up in emotion? This question, along with some other drama in my life, ruined me for years. As the question sank in I soon found that I couldn’t even raise my hands in worship anymore. I couldn’t focus on God because I was too busy analyzing myself. Am I just just trying to look spiritual to everyone else when I do this? Am I really experiencing God or are these tingles just my body responding to these acts? Is it wrong to have emotion in worship? Is it wrong to react physically like I’ve been doing?

I was ruined. I started overanalyzing every single emotion that came my way in worship. My joy turned into confusion and anxiety.

I was battling the enlightenment period. Everything became intellectual, scientific and rational. My engagement with the Holy Spirit was left to science. Soon I didn’t care if it really had just been my body reacting to physical movement in worship—I wanted my joy back! I wanted to be able to lead others in worship from the stage without wondering if I was authentic or not the whole time.

John Wesley had a similar fight back in his time. As people heard about the odd outdoor services he held and the things that happened in them, they decided to go check it out. They were in for quite a surprise, because these Methodists were being pushed to the ground by God and convulsing around on the floor.

Just as these kinds of acts of the Spirit offend people now, so it did back then. Many outsiders didn’t believe God had anything to do with any of this and that these Methodists were crazy or psychotic. But even some of these outsiders were eventually convinced. Wesley writes in his journal:

We understood that many were offended at the cries of those on whom the power of God came: among whom was a physician, who was much afraid there might be fraud or imposture in the case. Today one whom he had known many years was the first (while I was preaching in Newgate) who broke out into ‘“strong cries and tears.” He could hardly believe his own eyes and ears. He went and stood close to her, and observed every symptom, till great drops of sweat ran down her face, and all her bones shook. He then knew not what to think, being clearly convinced it was not fraud, nor yet any natural disorder. But when both her soul and body were healed in a moment, he acknowledged the finger of God.

A few days later, a Quaker in attendance at one of Wesley’s meetings, was growing angry with the craziness he saw going on around him. Wesley describes him as, “biting his lips and knitting his brows, when he dropped down as thunderstruck.” God personally settled the debate for this Quaker by knocking him down to the ground like he had done to so many others in Wesley’s ministry.

Wesley could have easily been accused of stirring up people’s emotions just as people still accuse the church of doing today. But that wasn’t what was going on. He was bringing people into the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit and letting God do whatever he wanted with them.

At my time of struggling with emotion in worship, I didn’t know any of Wesley’s experiences. I didn’t know the debate between emotion and spirituality had been around for so long. And I also didn’t know what to do.

So eventually, I just turned my brain off. And it worked! Yes, surely there had been times in worship where I was responding to emotion—but surely there had been times where I was also responding to God. I decided that  the ambiguity was okay. Having emotions and being the way God made me was much better than trying to analyze it all and live life as an unemotional Vulcan. It was incredibly difficult (if not impossible) to find joy when I was in a state of constantly questioning my emotions, so I stopped. Finding myself mostly free from this torment, I was able to engage in worship again.

Sometimes I respond to emotion, sometimes I respond to God. Sometimes God will give me emotion to respond to and sometimes I’ll be caught up in the way I was made. And I’m okay with that. I’ve learned to discern these experiences, not by overanalyzing them, but by allowing them to come. Joy and other emotions can hardly be analyzed. They must be felt. For what are emotions if they aren’t felt?

This is an adapted excerpt from my new book, “A Taste of Jesus.” Grab the Kindle version for $10 or a physical copy for $20.

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