The Christian life now
is not about fear that we will fail to keep happy the One who loved us while we were still enslave to darkness. The Christian life is really about grasping two concepts: our adoption
into God’s family—which means Jesus is our brother, and that God loves us like he loves Jesus—and our purpose in God’s plan to restore his kingdom on earth. We are, and will be, God’s new divine council
. He is our Father. We are his children, destined to live where he lives forever. We are his coworkers, tasked with helping him release those still owned by the lord of the dead and held captive by unseen powers of darkness.
That is what the Bible is about, from Eden to Eden. That is your destiny. Your life now is not about earning your place in God’s family. That cannot be earned. It’s a gift. Your life now is showing appreciation for your adoption, enjoying it, and getting others to share it with you.— Supernatural: What the Bible Teaches about the Unseen World—And Why It Matters, page 154
A fitting final excerpt from the book, wouldn't you say? As I said at the beginning, I like this book. It's a great introduction to the whole issue of the spiritual/unseen realm in the Bible. But—and this is a huge but—it's too simplistic. The real (unseen) world is more complicated than he makes it out to be. Sure, the general overview is correct, but if you spend much time reading the ancient sources, well, let's just say, "It's complicated!" And I think God wants us to see it that way, otherwise we would get too comfortable with the boxes we create. We do anyway!
So, I recommend the book as a first step. But go on and read other stuff; I haven't finished his more scholarly version yet, but what I have read seems good: The Unseen Realm. Another book, which I excerpted from extensively a year or so ago, is World Upside Down: Reading Acts in the Graeco-Roman Age.
A book that recently appeared and that I haven't had a chance to look at yet but looks great is Destroyer of the gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World by Larry Hurtado (and, yes, the lower case "g" on gods is correct!). Hopefully I'll be able to snag a copy of it at AAR/SBL!
Next up? Not sure. I haven't had a lot of time to read this summer, between cabins, Eisenbrauns, and copyediting. Hopefully I'll have something for you tomorrow : )