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1 August 2007: Miracles and the Resurrection The Fourth Fundamental, Part I

I return this week to our running series on the Five Fundamentals, that supposedly irreducible set of principles that believers were told had to be accepted as literally true if one wanted to be called a Christian. It was from the publication of these five fundamentals between the years 1910-1915, in a series of widely …

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Q & A:

I have just finished reading Jesus for the Non-Religious, which I

found to be as informative and challenging as all your prior

books. I have struggled with Jesus' Resurrection as far back as

I can remember, and have read keenly what you have to say on

this subject. It has been several years since I read

Resurrection: Myth or Reality?, but I recall that you said you

did not know what actually happened, but that you believed

something profound must have occurred to ignite a movement that

put its early followers at grave risk - and attracted billions

of people over two millennia. In your latest book, your

thinking appears to have changed somewhat, with a greater

emphasis on the theory that Jesus' Resurrection evolved as part

of a grief-coping mechanism

used by his disciples. Am I missing something here? I look

forward to your next book in 2009.

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25 July 2007: Flavius Josephus, Judas Iscariot and Anti-Semitism

During this summer I have read Flavius Josephus’ history of the first century war fought between the Romans and the Jews. That war began in Galilee in 66 C.E. and ended in 73 with the suicide of the last Jewish defenders in a fortress southeast of Jerusalem called Masada. The crucial moment in that war …

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Q & A:

Your credentials are outstanding and I thoroughly

enjoyed your recent recap of events on your lecture tour of

Norway and Sweden. The poem by Tor Littmark that you included

in one column was deep and moving. I wish I could share it with

ALL my friends and relatives. You must, however, have

encountered more than a little backlash from the complaining

conservative evangelical elements in both countries or did they

just roll over and play dead?

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18 July 2007: On Spending Three Days with DignityUSA

“My name is Sam Sinnett and I am a gay Catholic.” These words, reminiscent of the way members introduce themselves at AA meetings, opened a luncheon at a gathering of DignityUSA, a national support and advocacy organization for homosexual members of the Roman Catholic Church. Sinnett, a retired businessman from St. Louis, was completing his …

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Q & A:

I'm a regular poster on your forum and one of the issues

brought up was regarding the right to bear arms. Should the

government make it illegal for a citizen to own a gun? Are more

gun ownerships good or not, in your opinion? I'm sure you've

noticed by now that we often stray from your essays which we so

look forward to reading. I'd say you inspire free thought.

Thank you so much for your contribution.

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11 July 2007: In Praise of the United Church of Christ

Throughout the course of my professional career I have always been impressed by that faith community which calls itself the United Church of Christ or the Congregational Church. It came into being in its present incarnation 1957 with a merger between the Evangelical and Reformed Churches and the Congregational Christian Churches. On the Evangelical and …

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Q & A:

Can you please comment on Communion? I'm a church-going Christian, and I don't feel like a sinner or that Jesus died for me. I have read all your books, but I'm confused about why I receive "the body and blood" of Jesus. It's got to be more than remembrance. Can you share your thoughts on it?

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4 July 2007: Examining Politics in America on our 231st Birthday

As our nation pauses to celebrate its birthday many things vie for our people’s attention. There is the drain of human life and treasure in the ill-begotten, mismanaged war in Iraq; the emotional and divisive debate over reforming immigration; the growing gap between the rich and the poor with the top ten per cent of …

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Q & A:

I have sung in church choirs all my life and still enjoy it.

However, in some of the music, especially Scandinavian music and

often at Christmas time, the lyrics frequently include this

comment, "Christ is coming soon." Can you tell me where this

idea has arisen? It seems to be a rather peculiar tenet.

Read the Answer...

27 June 2007: This is Not the Word of the Lord!

I went to my own parish church on a Sunday in June. The music was excellent. The sermon delivered by the Rev. Dr. James Jones, an honorary and part time member of the staff of St. Peter’s Church in Morristown, New Jersey, was one of the best I have heard in years. The summer congregation …

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Q & A:

Where can I find the hymns, etc. written to express the beliefs your

writings have developed?

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20 June 2007: The Lambeth Conference of 2008 and the Curious Behavior of the Archbishop of Canterbury

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Right Honorable and Most Reverend Rowan Williams, announced recently that he would not invite the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, to attend the Lambeth Conference scheduled for the year 2008 in England. It was the latest in a series of decisions made by this …

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Q & A:

Protestant churches in the U.S. seem to believe in a "second coming of

Christ." What do you believe?

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13 June 2007: The Third Fundamental: The Substitution by Death of Jesus on the Cross Brings Salvation, Part III

Like the first two of the five Fundamentals that we have thus far examined, this third one has also become not just unbelievable but bizarre to modern ears. Yet it remains so powerful that it still shapes the liturgy of Churches across the spectrum from the Roman Catholics to the Pentecostals. The words: “Jesus died …

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Q & A:

The idea of calling God "He" bothers me. Although I had a loving father, in

my 28 years of teaching I have come in contact with many who were abusive.

One year, a grandmother came in for a parent conference and revealed that

her granddaughter's father, under the guise of saying goodnight prayers with

his daughter, sexually abused her for years. I wonder how this girl will be

able to receive God's message when she continually hears God referred to as

"He"? Even the hymns are filled with references to "Him." Fortunately, our

current pastors use "God" — not the pronoun — and few in the

church have noticed. I write on behalf of all the girls of this world who,

like my beloved student, have been hurt deeply by their fathers.

Read the Answer...

6 June 2007: The Third Fundamental: The Substitution by Death of Jesus on the Cross Brings Salvation, Part II

Last week we began our analysis of the third fundamental that traditional Christians stated, in the Tractarian Movement in the early years of the 20th century, was basic to a proper understanding of Christianity. It focused on what Christians came to call “the doctrine of the Atonement.” In many ways it proclaims a barbaric understanding …

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Q & A:

The idea of calling God "He" bothers me. Although I had a loving father, in

my 28 years of teaching I have come in contact with many who were abusive.

One year, a grandmother came in for a parent conference and revealed that

her granddaughter's father, under the guise of saying goodnight prayers with

his daughter, sexually abused her for years. I wonder how this girl will be

able to receive God's message when she continually hears God referred to as

"He"? Even the hymns are filled with references to "Him." Fortunately, our

current pastors use "God" — not the pronoun — and few in the

church have noticed. I write on behalf of all the girls of this world who,

like my beloved student, have been hurt deeply by their fathers.

Read the Answer...

30 May 2007: The Substitutionary Death of Jesus on the Cross Alone Brings Salvation: Part One

It is hard in our generation to put into a single sentence the substance of the Third Fundamental that traditional Christians, at the beginning of the 20th century, said was essential to the Christian faith. Officially, it is referred to as “The doctrine of the substitutionary atonement through God’s grace and human faith.” Those words …

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Q & A:

I once worshiped and sang in a parish that was presided over by a

brilliant gay priest who preached against gays. I knew he was gay; I knew

his sub rosa partner well. Like so many people, I remained silent about his

homophobic preaching since I believed (and still do) that one's sexuality

and personal life are just that — personal. I was disturbed as he

cemented a "traditional, conservative" parish, based on the primacy of men,

the unsuitability of women for the priesthood and other policy roles in the

Church, a hypocritical disdain for homosexuals, and stunningly beautiful

liturgy and music. Then an Anglican bishop at the Lambeth Conference said

he was appalled and called the Church heretical for allowing a Native

American priest to celebrate the Mass in his own language and use the

language's word for Great Spirit as a translation for God. That did it for

me. I could no longer associate with a view of the world and the deity that

was essentially — although the parishioners would never have seen that

— fundamentalist. I left that church — and all organized

Christianity — after that.

I applaud your quest. Reading your columns and editorials is now my only

connection with active Christianity. Thank you.

Read the Answer...

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