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Wide Open Spaces: Beyond Paint-by-Number Christianity [Paperback]

By Jim Palmer (Author)
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Item description for Wide Open Spaces: Beyond Paint-by-Number Christianity by Jim Palmer...

In this follow-up to his critically acclaimed "Divine Nobodies," Palmer takes the reader along into the wide open spaces of exploring and experiencing God beyond religion.

Publishers Description

Jim Palmer's critically acclaimed Divine Nobodies was only half the story - the deconstruction and shedding of a religious mentality that hindered his knowing God. In his next book, Jim takes the reader along into the wide open spaces of exploring and experiencing God beyond religion. Jim writes, "It is no secret that God can be lost beneath the waving banner of religion. Divine Nobodies is my story of how this happened to me. Sometimes you have to disentangle God from religion, even Christ from Christianity, to find the truth. With the help of some unsuspecting nobodies, I uncovered a new starting line with God. As I've put one foot in front of another, I've experienced God in ways that are deeply transforming."

Each chapter revolves around a central question related to knowing God on fresh terms: Is God a belief system? Is the Bible a landing strip or launching pad? Can what we're feeling inside be God? Are we too religiously minded to be any earthly good?

Brian McLaren wrote, "I am tempted to say that Jim Palmer could well be the next Don Miller, but what they have in common, along with an honest spirituality and extraordinary skill as storytellers, is a unique voice."

The Library Reviews said of him, "Jim Palmer's casual, yet compelling writing style cuts through the religious rhetoric and gets to the real issues...readers will love this author His sense of humor is alternately mixed with shocking sentences and poignant moments. Laced throughout is a refreshing honesty that ties his ideas together with a ribbon of reality...each turn of the page strips away a little more of the contrived mystery of Christianity until the simplicity and sincerity of it stands in realistic splendor."

More and more people seek a deeper spirituality beyond status-quo religion. Others are left empty and weary from a shallow and narrow pop-Christianity. Palmer says that God's kingdom of love, peace, and freedom can be a present reality in any person's life. He proclaims that God is indeed in the process of birthing something deep and wide among unlikely people in unconventional ways, which is changing the "nobody" at a time.

From Publishers Weekly
With Divine Nobodies, emerging church leader Palmer touched a nerve with readers who gravitate toward the voices of cutting-edge evangelical writers like Brian McLaren and Donald Miller. In a similar vein, this book employs an invitingly personal and homespun style to dissent from empty religiosity and Christianity-as-usual. Palmer examines such spiritual disciplines as honing ones belief system in accordance with biblical principles; advancing the gospel outside of church walls; dismantling ineffective church practices; and discovering purpose in unexpected places. He might raise the hackles of some evangelicals with a confessional narrative of the time in his life when he put aside the Bible for a season, recognizing that it was at the center of ...a religion that had left [him] empty, exhausted, and disillusioned. Palmer shed this conventional religion as he purposefully tuned out preachers and others quoting or referring to it, and writes that the result was that God spoke to him through nature, people, art, film and music. Palmer might be termed a renegade of sorts, but most young evangelicals will see him as a rebel with a cause and a message worth considering, even if they disagree with some of his conclusions. (Dec. 4) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Wide Open Spaces: Beyond Paint-by-Number Christianity by Jim Palmer has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -

  • Publishers Weekly - 09/10/2007 page 55

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Thomas Nelson
Pages   205
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5.25" Height: 8.25"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 4, 2007
Publisher   Thomas Nelson
ISBN  0849913993  
ISBN13  9780849913990  

Availability  0 units.

More About Jim Palmer

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Reviews - What do customers think about Wide Open Spaces: Beyond Paint-by-Number Christianity?

Only The Devil Within?  Oct 1, 2009
Don't get me wrong....I loved Divine Nobodies; it really spoke to my heart. I was
cruising through Wide Open Spaces and kind of experiencing it as "Divine Nobodies
Light" when I hit the chapter "The Devil Wears Levis 501 Jeans". Mr. Palmer seems to be trying to convince us that there is "no personal Satan", rather that
what we experience is "our non-spiritual self". I had to reread the chapter to
try to figure out what I was missing. It is pretty clear that Jim is discounting
all Scripural reference to the Satan who rebelled against God, who roams the earth "making war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" Rev 12:17. The Satan who tempted Christ in the many other occasions do I need to reference?

C.S. Lewis said (paraphrased) "We make two mistakes in regard to the Devil. We either blame him for everything or we blame him for nothing." Jim Palmer falls into the latter camp. I believe that this chapter plays into the Evil One's first line of defense....."I really don't exist." That gives him license to run roughshod over you. Our response, according to Jim Palmer, is "Oh, it's just my non spiritual self". Yes, we battle the "flesh", but what he is asking us to believe is not in any way supported by Scripture.
wide open spaces  Sep 28, 2009
I really enjoyed this book.I've felt this way for along time.
It's good to know that there's other people that feel the same way.
Especially someone who has so much knowledge about the bible.Thank you Jim Palmer for writing this book.
A New Spin On "New Age/New Spirituality" Beliefs  Sep 16, 2009
Unfortunately, we can now add Jim Palmer to the long list of New Agers. Namely, Leonard Sweet (who endorses this book), Brian McLaren, and Eugene Peterson (whose New Age version of the Bible "The Message" is quoted extensively in this book). There is so much twisting of Scripture and so many different versions of the Bible used in this book to support the author's reasoning that I really do not know where to start.

I knew this book would try to completely destroy 2000 year old Christian orthodoxy before I was finished with the Introduction. Repeatedly, Mr. Palmer refers to Christian orthodoxy as "religion." Several times Mr. Palmer talks about the "box" that we put Christ in, but then puts Christ in a New Age/New Spirituality box to replace it. In fact, on page XVI Palmer states, "sometimes you have to disentangle Christ from Christianity to find the truth." Excuse me? Christ being conceived by the Holy Ghost, His work on the cross, His sinless life, nature, and His attributes are spelled out very clearly in the words of the Bible. And when I say the Bible, I am referring to literal translations of the ancient manuscripts such as the KJV. The MESSage and the AMP are quoted, among others, and they in many places have the opposite intended meaning of the majority of the almost 5700 available ancient manuscripts. Comparing these texts verse by verse proves this.

Throughout the book Mr. Palmer continuously talks about "experiencing God" and "accepting Christ involves receiving and living my identity in Christ as love." Loving people and being kind to them are part of the fruits of the Spirit, but there is never any mention in this book of serving Christ through witnessing to the lost. He is more interested in serving man, but calling it serving Christ (To wit: volunteerism, which is noble, but is not serving Christ). It seems by his own words that Mr. Palmer was disillusioned in his studies in divinity and never recovered from it. He states, "I'm discovering that a significant element of living the Christian life is following my feelings." That is a dangerous road to travel since our feelings often betray us. We are to be led by the Holy Ghost and be instructed by Him.

On page 186 he completely changes Jesus Christ's own words to fit his thesis. "I am the way...", to Mr. Palmer means, "the Christ-way unveils a different way to live." A different way to live? This is one of the foundational verses in the Bible. Christ said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me." Jesus Christ is saying that He is the only way to everlasting life, period. Jesus Christ was not referring to changing how we live in this verse. Unbelievable how Mr. Palmer totally corrupts Christ's own words.

He also ascribes human characteristics to Lucifer and his minions. He states, "the sinful nature is the nature of someone who is guided by the human consciousness." This is a typical New Age belief and could not be further from Biblical instruction. The Bible states that Lucifer walks about, seeking whom he may devour. We are to walk in the Holy Spirit and not rely on any divine "consciousness". He even states on page 133, "deciding what's true is an individual, personal judgment that comes from the heart or the God-life within us." Again, another New Age belief with no mention of the Holy Spirit which guides us in all Truth. This is nothing but Relativism/Postmodernism in a new package. Remember, the Holy Scriptures state that the heart is inherently wicked when we are not led by the Holy Spirit. One gets the impression that Mr. Palmer believes that every human being on earth is indwelt with the Holy Spirit, which obviously is not Biblical. Strangely, on page 132 Mr. Palmer even denies the Truth of the Bible. Jesus Christ himself said, "Thy Word is truth." Either Jim Palmer is wrong or Christ is wrong. Since Christ cannot lie (it's not in his nature), Mr. Palmer is the one in error.

Unfortunately, there is no clear presentation of the Gospel in this book. In fact, on page 75 Mr. Palmer states, "I've never liked the word repent". Those are the words of someone that is trying to work out their own salvation. From this statement and many others, it seems that he has a problem with Christ's own words of everlasting condemnation if we are not believers in the shed blood of Christ on the cross for our sins. Sadly, there is no testimony of a personal conversion and trust in Christ. In fact, there are many instances in this book where Mr. Palmer appears to be pantheistic and panentheistic.

I could go on and on about the New Age terminology in this book, the contextual misuse by Mr. Palmer and other New Agers of Psalm 46:10: "Be still, and know that I am God." If Psalm 46 is read in it's entirety, it is obvious God is telling His people to not be moved, nervous or troubled. Not to go to a quiet place and practice contemplative prayer or Yoga, which leads to the Hindu "Namaste".

Mr. Palmer seems to be a genuinely intelligent and sincere man, but he is deceived as to what the Gospel of Christ means and the teaching of it. There is absolutely nothing more important than where we will spend eternity. Although their design proves the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost exist, they do not dwell in the trees, plants, shrubs, oceans, lakes and other earthly things. The Holy Ghost (God) only dwells in believers in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Contrary to popular belief, the Kingdom of God is in heaven and cannot be ushered in by man and his efforts. The title of this book should honestly be, "Wide Open Spaces: How and Why I Left Christianity And Joined The New Age/New Spirituality/Quantum Spirituality Movement". I am not attempting to be facetious with that description.

Acts 8:36,37--And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

sigh....  Mar 4, 2009
My "box" of religion was shattered 20 years ago. I spent the first few years trying to put it back together, but I began to realize that each broken piece I picked up was not consistent with the Kingdom of Light, so the task became odious. "Wide Open Spaces" gave me the freedom to lay down my guilt-driven labor, and realize that God moves and succeeds at His mission quite effectively outside the boxes we build for Him. I feel like my soul drew a big sigh of relief!
Divine Nobodies in Wide Open Spaces  Nov 23, 2008
Are you struggling to find God in your religion? God is in relationship, not in religion. For a long time, I couldn't figure out why I wasn't "getting it"....I'd go to church every Sunday, led Bible studies and other study groups, knew all the Christian lingo...but felt like a fraud and felt like something was missing. Something definitely was. Jim Palmer found it and he writes about it in both "DivineNobodies" and "Wide Open Spaces". He's living in the questions of his life ("What if God isn't a belief system, a set of doctrines?"), and he's really good at asking the questions that matter. If you are a seeker, you will love both of his books. Although you can read either one first, I'd recommend reading them in the order they were written, "DivineNobodies" published in 2006, then "Wide Open Spaces" in 2007. Also, check out his website/blog at [...].

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