Essay Archives View as a list
15 August 2007: The Fourth Fundamental: Miracles and the Resurrection, Part III
In this series we first sought to identify the places in the Bible where miracles seem to appear in groups. There are only three: The Moses-Joshua cycle of stories, the Elijah-Elisha cycle and the Jesus-Apostles cycle. We then raised the question of whether there might be a connection between these three biblical collections. To destabilize …
8 August 2007: The Fourth Fundamental: The Nature Miracles were not meant to be read as Events of History, Part II
In fundamentalist religion there are a number of strange claims made that arise primarily out of a lack of biblical knowledge. One of them is the claim that the miracles of Jesus, described in the gospels, are proof of his divinity. Only because he is the divine son of God, they say, are these miracles …
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 …
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.
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 …
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?
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 …
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.
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 …
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?
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 …
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.
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 …
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 …
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 …
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.
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