St. Patrick and the Snakes: the Forging of an Ancient (and Modern) Myth

 It's become somewhat of a modern journalistic tradition for several articles to come out around St. Patrick's Day that attempt to shed light on the various legends that have emerged over the centuries concerning the well-known patron saint of Ireland, who's lent his name (and perhaps also, according to certain folk traditions, his penchant for drink) to the holiday.A particular point of fascination has been the origins of the legend of Patrick's having driven all the snakes out of Irelan … [Read more...]

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Can Progressive Christianity Save (or Cure) Christianity?

Or How Exactly is Progressive Christianity Not "Working"? Thoughts on Allison Lynch's "Here’s Why Progressive Christianity Just Doesn’t Work" For months now, I've sat in front of the keyboard and tried to churn out a reasonably succinct piece—one that outlines exactly where I think various views and approaches that fly under the broad rubric "progressive Christianity" go wrong, or where the entire enterprise does.It never worked. Any time I started, an hour would go by, and then … [Read more...]

Is Christianity Thriving Because its Critics Aren’t Doing Enough?

 The past few years, I've gone from studying early Christianity and the Bible from a purely historical standpoint, to becoming deeply invested in the broader philosophical and theological stakes here—in short, from "what did the early Christians believe?" to "and is it true?"Now, to be sure, I've never been a believer, for as long as I've had the capacity to even imagine that Christianity might not be true. But in more recent times, I've come to a radically different view of what it … [Read more...]

Is Christianity Fundamentally Sexist?

Or Women in the Apostle Paul’s Anthropology: the Image of God, Once Removed? I once told Nehama [Leibowitz] that the Abravanel does not believe that woman was created in the image of God. At first she said, 'No!' and I said, 'Yes.' Then she said, 'Show me.' When I did, she whispered, 'Don't tell anyone!' (Yaakov Fogelman, quoted in Yael Unterman, Nehama Leibowitz: Teacher and Bible Scholar, 297)     I would suggest that the Declaration was most prudent in quickly dismissing 1 … [Read more...]

Why Biblical Inerrancy May Be Catholicism’s Biggest Problem

 Over the past several years, I've gotten the impression that many people believe the idea of Biblical inerrancy—that the Bible is totally free from error, whether in its ethical teachings, its historical claims, or perhaps even its claims about the natural world more generally¹—to be a particularly Protestant notion, or a particularly fundamentalist or even American Protestant notion, associated with Southern Baptism and other types of so-called evangelical Christianity.We could cer … [Read more...]

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Trump, the New Messianic “King”? Between Caution and Conspiracy

Or "'The world was gloomy before I won': Trump and Messianism between Conspiracy and Parody" Over the past couple of days, the blogosphere and other social media has been abuzz in response to the Republican National Committee's 2016 Christmas message, written by Chairman Reince Priebus. The message—in which both author and audience are clearly assumed to share the same Christian identity—begins Over two millennia ago, a new hope was born into the world, a Savior who would offer … [Read more...]

Some Problem Areas for the Compatibility of Religion and Evolution

 I spend a lot of time talking religion and theology in pretty literate, mostly progressive Christian communities online. Despite a chunk of the typical postings being totally outside my wheelhouse (prayer requests and such), they're among the few places to discuss the history of Christianity with any regularity.I say mostly progressive because these communities are pretty big, and invariably attract a lot of other voices besides just progressive ones. Maybe it all evens out to where … [Read more...]

Has Noah Lost His Flood? The Ever-diminishing Biblical Deluge

 I started writing this just as a summary and analysis of an interesting (and potentially greatly important) new article on the Biblical flood published in the journal Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft: Idan Dershowitz' "Man of the Land: Unearthing the Original Noah."However, at one point I kinda realized that Dershowitz' article is part of a bigger history and narrative here—one worth telling more fully. So I'm going to split this up into at least two parts, with th … [Read more...]

Challenge for Christians: Defend Christian Universalism—for Charity!

 Christian universalism has become an important player in modern Christian theology, with an increasing number of sympathizers and amount of discussion pertaining to it, both among scholars/theologians and laity.¹In fact, I think that universalism hits enough theologically attractive notes to possibly make it slated to become one of the most dominant Christian theologies of the 21st century—or perhaps the dominant one, at least among Protestants. (The possibility of a Cath … [Read more...]

The Flood and the Bible: How Not to Reconcile Science and Religion

 Recently, in a few different articles,¹ I've drawn attention to a few uncritical arguments that've been used to bolster the idea of the harmony between religion and science, a.k.a. "accommodationism."²Now, before saying anything else—and as I reiterated in my most recent article on the issue—I agree that a world in which, say, the majority of Christians affirm scientific consensuses is far preferable to one in which they don't.³ Further, it's not the idea of the harmony between religion … [Read more...]