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3 May 2006: Easter Revisited

The biblical narratives purporting to tell the story of Easter have always held a particular fascination for me. As early as the summer of 1959 I gave a series of lectures on the gospel accounts of the resurrection at the Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, North Carolina. From that starting point until today my interest …

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Q & A:

How do you personally, and Christian doctrine in

particular, reconcile the contradiction of that

biblical prohibition against child sacrifice with the

claim that "God sacrificed his child" in explaining

the horrific death of Jesus? It seems to me that

rather than the "sacrifice of Jesus" being of benefit

to Christians, it serves more to threaten them with

death and/or eternal punishment if they are not

obedient to the wishes and decrees of the Church.

Read the Answer...

26 April 2006: The Gospel of Judas – A Hyped Insignificance

“Calculated sensationalism and scholarly complicity” were the words Peter Steinfels of the New York Times used to describe it. “Consciously misleading” were the words applied to the story by Professor James M. Robinson of Claremont Graduate University. What was the subject of these quotations? It was the “newly-discovered” Gospel of Judas presented during Holy Week …

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Q & A:

A Sunday school kid once asked his teacher, "What I

would like is more data about God!" I totally accept

your concept of God as that "in whom we live and move

and have our being." But what do we have to say about

ideas such as that in the Psalm that says: "God is our

refuge and strength, a very present help in times of

trouble"?

Read the Answer...

19 April 2006: R.I.P. – William Sloane Coffin, Jr.

“Let us resolve to be patriots always, nationalists never. Let us love our country but pledge allegiance to the earth and to the flora and fauna and human life that it supports

Q & A:

I have read many of your books and would like to pose

a simple question. I am a chemical engineer by trade

and my best friend is a Russian Orthodox minister.

What do you think Jesus would think of Christianity,

as it exists today? He started the process with a

tightly wound ball of ideas for living a

counter-cultural lifestyle in a very difficult time in

history. Since then those wonderful ideas have

"snowballed" for over two thousand years and are now a

huge mass called the Christian Church. Some things I

think Jesus would like. But other things,

particularly the elitism of each sect that only they

have the true "keys to the kingdom" would upset him.

This scientist and priest would like to hear your

answer.

Read the Answer...

12 April 2006: The Final Days: Walking from Palm Sunday to Easter

We Christians are now in the midst of Holy Week, the most solemn season of the liturgical year. This sacred time still exercises compelling power since church attendance always rises on Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week and reaches its crescendo for the year on Easter, the last day. Whatever the Christian faith …

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Q & A:

I believe I have read all your books, and find your

philosophy and theology compatible with my own. In

fact, your books share "probable cause" for this, I

suspect. My question is this: Is there a Bible

concordance or reference work that you would term

"liberal" or "progressive"...one that comports favorably

with your current ideas about Christianity and its

necessary evolution?

Read the Answer...

5 April 2006: Oklahoma! A State in Transition

When we hear the name of America’s 46th state, many images fill our minds. “Oklahoma” was the first of Rogers and Hammerstein’s ten Broadway musicals, putting the name of this state on the lips of Americans everywhere. We can still sing it: “Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain,” followed by the poignant …

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Q & A:

I'm not sure of the difference between Fundamentalists

and Evangelicals. Are they the same or different in

political activism and social concerns? I think of

Albert Mohler as a fundamentalist because he is so

narrow, while Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis call

themselves evangelicals and there is a world of

difference between them and Mohler. Campolo and

Wallis seem to concentrate on living by the teaching

of Jesus, rather than on theology.

Read the Answer...

29 March 2006: The Lamb of God: Jesus for the Non-Religious, Part III

In this series, to which I am returning periodically through the year, I seek to draw our attention to the person of Jesus before the creeds were formed and doctrines were created. I even want to get to who Jesus was before the gospels were written. My goal is to understand the original “Jesus experience” …

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Q & A:

With regards to abortion, I did not do them for birth

control. However, I have done them for medical

indications. I tried to avoid the psychiatrists since

they all said that the patient would go crazy if not

aborted. Maybe that is an exaggeration.

I did a late term abortion for a woman with cancer of

the cervix. I also lifted the ovaries out of the

radiation paths. I was so sure that the baby would be

born dead at C-section that I didn't have a

pediatrician present. The baby came out screaming and

is still living as far as I know.

I also delivered a woman with idiopathic myocarditis.

We carried her until the baby would survive and then

delivered her. She was on anti-coagulants that we

reversed for the delivery. Six weeks later I tied her

tubes and she died that night. We just couldn't win

with that one.

I also did a C-section on one lady with a

Pheochromocytoma. The baby died but the mother

survived after the tumor was removed.

My daughter-in-law had a normal pregnancy and then

had a baby with Downs syndrome. Her next pregnancy

resulted in a diagnosis of Turner's syndrome. There

was also another broken chromosome. The diagnosis was

made by chorionic villous sampling. Since there was a

high chance of mental retardation, I advised her to

have an abortion. I can't imagine making a person

have a baby with mental problems when it can be

avoided by abortion. She is now 5 months pregnant

with a normal girl.

I think that a lot of diseases warrant having an

abortion. Most of the heart diseases with valve

disease and heart failure are grounds for abortion.

It has to be individualized. If one can get past the

second trimester, there is less stress on the heart.

The fluid volume in the woman decreases in the last

trimester.

I certainly think that severe hemorrhage from

placenta previa warrants abortion. Also severe

toxemia of pregnancy warrants termination of the

pregnancy at any time. I would use late term abortion

for severe malformations like hydrocephalous and

anencephaly. Still late term abortions are relatively

rare. The physician should have the option of doing

what is best for the mother and not have to worry

about going to jail.

I saw a lot of women who died of Clostridium

infections from back room abortions. I wouldn't want

to go back to that. So in answer to your question, I

do believe in abortions at any time. I don't think

you can make a law that makes everybody happy. It's

still up to the doctor and patient. Every day there

are new advances in genetics and all these problems

will change.

Read the Answer...

22 March 2006: CrossWalkAmerica: Are You Ready to March for a New Christianity?

On Easter Sunday, April 16, 2006, a group of people will begin in Phoenix a 2500 mile, 141 day, 5,000,000-step walk across America. Their destination is Washington, D.C., where a public celebration will be held on September 3, 2006. Their purpose is to arouse public consciousness to the misuse of Christianity in American life today. …

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Q & A:

Are there any historical facts that prove the killing

of the first-born Egyptian sons at the time of the

Exodus?

Read the Answer...

15 March 2006: Dawning Hope: The Supreme Court and the Case of Lewis v. Harris

The Supreme Court of the State of New Jersey will sometime in the next few months hand down its ruling in the case of Lewis v. Harris. The final arguments from the attorneys for the plaintiff and the state have already been heard. All that remains is for the members of the Court to engage …

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Q & A:

I agree with you on evolution, homosexuality and

more. However, I think we need to appreciate the fact

that the conservatives" problem with evolution is

based on more than Genesis. The premise of the Old

Testament is that God does stuff on earth - lots of

stuff. If God is not managing how life forms on earth

are created, what else isn't He (She) managing or

doing? The notion that the messes we create on earth

are not part of God's plan and that God is not going

to intervene and fix them is a scary thought. The

question is how can we get the conservatives to accept

the idea that we are responsible? Jesus showed us

what to do. How can we get them to accept that now it

is up to us to do it?

Read the Answer...

8 March 2006: The Rise of New Religious Voices to Counter the Religious Right

When religious leaders are heard speaking in the public arena in the United States today, the overwhelming probability is that they will be conservative evangelical or conservative Roman Catholic leaders. No other effective or visible religious voices are heard today. That, however, was not the case some forty to fifty years ago. In the 1960′s, …

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Q & A:

Why aren't the historical persons and events in the

additional Mormon books of the Bible recognized by

scholars? They talk about how we were all spirit

children in a spirit world before we were born, how

our families must be "sealed" in the temple, so that

they can stay together when we die and hopefully go to

heaven. Have biblical scholars the world over

researched these and other Mormon issues and,

obviously, not accepted them? There are some

brilliant men presiding over the Mormons at this time

and it bothers me that they accept all the Mormon

doctrines. I am constantly involved with Latter Day

Saints persons and find them to be wonderful people

and devoted friends but I just can't accept all of the

history and teachings of Joseph Smith. Maybe you

could direct me to some reading material to clarify

this problem.

Read the Answer...

1 March 2006: Jesus for the Non-Religious, Part II

In the first column in this series (published on February 15, 2006), I sought to establish the fact that the memory of Jesus, including his words, parables and actions were recalled orally and passed on only in the Synagogues. This means that before the written gospel tradition began, the synagogues were the context in which …

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Q & A:

 

I think you could be a tremendous bridge builder,

bringing a diverse people together under your "call to

become more fully human." Your critique of

Christianity, however, begs the question, where are

you headed with this? Your views seem almost secular,

more rational than even the Unitarians but more

spiritual than Ethical Culture (which from my

experience seems a bit lifeless). Your ministry is so

inclusive that I'm sure you could build a global

following of people who want a spiritual home free

from the divisive myths of the past, who might agree

that Jesus was a great, if not the greatest,

philosopher and example, but not the only one worth

building a way of life around. So it seems you're

pointing to a global movement or alliance distinct

from Christianity that is too exclusive. Will it have

a name?

Read the Answer...

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