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on 23 April 2017
very uncomfortable read! very necessary read! as usual, Phil Moore writes in a very engaging way, which changes your thinking
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on 17 July 2013
I have a lot of time for longer books (which is good because I need it to get to the end) but it's also refreshing to have the sort of book you can pick-up and come back to because the chapters are nice and short. Phil Moore manages to pack a whole lot of content into fifteen short chapters which are probably best read with a little time for reflection after each.

There are a number of Jesus' around and he's been used as a means for all sorts of agendas, but seldom in our culture do we get to hear and understand what it is that separates Jesus from the crowd. What is it that made him both one of the most loved and hated figures of history? Gagging Jesus addresses fifteen controversial things that Jesus said that has left a number of Christian's wishing he had spoke about something else. We find out that the real historical Jesus is neither a Starbucks sipping liberal or a middle-class tea-sipping conservative, in the pages of Gagging Jesus we find out that the ungagged Jesus says things about marriage, sex, divorce, pornography, poverty and pluralism that might annoy both.

If Christians want to see the Jesus of the gospels change their own lives and communities it will only come by telling others about the ungagged and often offensive Jesus who unlike the politically correct Jesus might have some things to tell us that we might not immediately enjoy hearing.

It is in hearing what the ungagged Jesus has to say that we can discern between the Jesus we may have heard about at school and the real Jesus who was loved by the poor and hated by the religious, and who came to live a perfect life and die a sacrificial death for us on the cross. The Jesus who should have been honoured was instead shamed and killed by those he came to save, and our culture will remain restless until they find their rest in the living Jesus.

Gagging Jesus is well worth a read (and won't take long), and will probably be the sort of book you could give to a friend who may have been critical of the Jesus they think they know.
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on 8 December 2014
So Challenging I wanted to throw it away at one point - excellent insight into relevant issues for living today
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on 7 February 2014
Phil Moore is a very perceptive writer and delves into subjects which are rarely heard in churches particularly traditional denominations. I would particularly recommend that all MPs, especially Christian MPs should read it and apply its principles.
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on 18 December 2014
wonderful book - don't even think about it if you can't face a real challenge concerning your lifestyle - you might not like what you read !!
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on 5 November 2013
This is the first time I've come across Phil Moore. I decided to buy the book having read a favourable review by the Evangelical Alliance.

My immediate reaction was to how easy it is to read. Phil is a great communicator to ordinary people like me. Having said that his brutal honesty in reviewing what Jesus REALLY meant does not make for comfortable reading - but then that is the point of the book. I quickly became aware of how I had fallen into the trap of listening to those who choose to dilute God's word for the sake of 'comfortable' evangelism or to make Jesus that little bit more appealing to non-believers. There is none of that in this book. It's refreshingly honest and it's no nonsense style leaves no room for misunderstanding what Jesus was actually saying to His listeners then, and also now. What Jesus said would have offended His listeners 2000 years ago - and it really ought to have the same effect on us today.
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on 9 November 2013
A well written, biblically sound treatment of the difficult issues raised by Jesus. A breath of fresh air in a world of compromise.
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on 17 December 2013
Good pithy reminder of awkward truth. Very easy reading, would make a good group read for youth groups to provoke discussion.
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on 5 August 2014
Interesting , punchy and challenging treatment of Christ's message and parts overlooked by the faithful too often ..
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on 17 November 2014
Phil has some excellent books, particularly his "Straight to the Heart" series of devotionals. Some of the chapters in Gagging Jesus are also good, but the hell chapter is misleading.

I realise that this is meant to be a quick, snappy and accessible explanation of Jesus's "controversial" statements, rather than a theological treatise. However, he spends more time in the chapter on hell quoting from atheists than he does anything else! He makes out that universal restoration was condemned at the second council of Constantinople, when the reality is far more nuanced to the point of making this effectively untrue: Origen himself *may* have been anathematised (although there is controversy over this due to evidence that his name was added to the anathema of Canon 11 at a later date). But just because someone is supposedly "anathematised" does not make *everything* they teach wrong; Phil Moore himself quotes Origen positively in another chapter of this book!

There is serious doubt over whether the 15 additional anathemas levelled at Origen were a product of this council, and *even if they were*, none of them pick out universal restoration per se as a heresy. They speak of a teaching that all men were pre-existent before their births, and will return to a nameless unity beyond death, as long as lots of crazy stuff about Jesus graduating through being an angelic being, a devil being and so on.
Just because

There is precious little in the way of evidence to suggest that universal reconciliation (i.e. not subscribing to the idea of eternal torment for unbelievers) was anything other than orthodox until the messy affair of the fifth council of Constantinople. Gregory of Nazianzus was also very much a proponent of the temporary, purifying nature of "hellfire" and he presided over the first council of Constantinople (the second ecumenical council).

He also gives anyone willing to heed him a warning about the pompous, argumentative and ambition-driven nature of these councils; quite why Phil Moore (speciously) gives the judgement of one of these very human affairs priority over the word of God is anyone's guess. Personally I couldn't give a fig what a group of bishops have been bullied into saying - I presume Phil doesn't accept all of the pronunciations of the Roman Catholic church with such readiness?

Back to the quotes from the atheists and somewhat perverted appeal to reason, Phil basically argues that even non-believers somehow know that the doctrine of eternal hell is "justice" because of a few newspaper headlines that call for Osama Bin Laden to "rot in hell". I've met various heavily reformed believers who have persuaded themselves of the same; that somehow, sinners writhing in agony for trillions upon trillions of years is "justice", and gives us "hope" that justice will be done.

All I can say is that this sort of "justice" is the result of a twisted, carnal mind, not the Spirit of God. God's laws make very clear that judgement and punishment have two aims; to restore people to the order of God's law, and to make restitution to the victim. How does torturing someone for eternity bring back a murdered loved one? It doesn't, clearly, but Phil seems to think that this is fair and somehow balances. You might miss your relative desperately but don't worry, you can take solace in going to watch the perpetual agony of the person who took them from you.

Does this sound like the God who says "love your enemies, do good to those who persecute you"? Is it a Christian attitude to think "don't worry, I can forgive them because I believe they will rot in hell for all eternity"?

No. Neither does it sound like the God who's laws insist that the punishment fit the crime - "an eye for an eye". You could murder a child every day of your life for 80 years, and still not come close to deserving conscious torture for eternity!

Phil uses the Augustinian reason to believe in eternal hell: that it is compared with "eternal life", and makes no sense if one is truly eternal and one is temporary. This seems reasonable, but all I can say is look at the word aeonian and say whether it means "never-ending". It doesn't. So no, in this verse, it is not eternal/never-ending life *or* judgement that is being referred to.

However, I find it baffling how people come up with *this* seemingly logical argument, and yet when it says "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive", they ARE willing to say that yes, all die in Adam, but no, not all will be made alive in Christ.

Finally, near the beginning of the chapter (I don't have the book in front of me) Phil says something about how Jesus mentioned hell far more than it is mentioned in the Old Testament. Well, no s**t Phil, because "hell" is never mentioned in the Old Testament... which kind of makes one wonder why it would suddenly crop up as a developed doctrine in the New Testament, doesn't it?!

In conclusion, I can understand where people get the idea of eternal hellfire from. It's not entirely their fault; they have fallen victim to poor translation and to hagiography and suppression by corrupt and ungodly men of the church. But the fact is there is very good scriptural support for universal restoration, and an end to Gehenna fire, and this is why even the Evangelical Alliance (not known for their woolly stance on theological issues) accept it as a variant of evangelical belief. There are many examples of evangelical theologians who attest to the scriptural veracity of this doctrine, not just the latest liberal nice guy Rob Bell. To present eternal hellfire as the only valid understanding of what Jesus says, and to make out that this is clear-cut, is just not true.
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