Growing up we learn that Judas was the disciple who betrayed Jesus, and that’s true. What is also true is that Judas, I believe, is profoundly misunderstood. The truth is, while he did screw over Jesus, I don’t think Judas was a bad guy– I just think he made a tragic miscalculation, like we all do at times. As I’ve said over the years, the cultural context where the story takes place matters. Jesus and the disciples were living under a… Read more

I love the Bible. It’s why I spent eight years of my life in seminary, why I’ve served as a church pastor even when they couldn’t afford to pay me, and is why even now I end up finding Greek flashcards in the most random places in my house. But my love for the Bible includes honesty. When we love someone or something, it’s easy to grow to see them the way you want to see them in your mind, often… Read more

Pat Robertson has said some crazy things over the years. Some of them are amusing. Some of them are dangerous… And some of them are pure idolatrous. The other day on the 700 club, Pat said something that stepped far outside of any legitimate form of Christianity, and strayed so far into idolatry, that he might as well boil down his jewelry and make a calf out of it. A reader wrote in a question as to why so many people… Read more

If you grew up in Evangelicalism/Fundamentalism, you probably grew up with a doom-and-gloom view of the future and “end times.” Me? I grew up with the whole deal: raptures, tribulations, the Antichrist, and even warnings that those things we first called “barcodes” might actually be the mark of the beast. End times belief is so much more than an area of theology. It is a complex world-view that shapes every single aspect of our faith and the way we see… Read more

In the Israel/Palestine conflict, is Israel guilty of genocide against the Palestinians? Yes– absolutely. The other day I wrote a short piece on why the Bible does not command us to blindly stand with the modern state of Israel, and one of the points I made is that Israel is guilty of genocide. There were no shortage of internet commenters who objected to my use of this word and felt it was over the top. However, I stand by my… Read more

When reporting or lamenting over the gross human rights violations and genocide by the modern state of Israel against the Palestinian people, many Christians immediately freak the heck out. In fact, I am often told that I am “not a Christian” because I dare criticize the state of Israel’s behavior, as if blind support of a modern nation state were an obligation of being a True Christian™. Upon being stripped of my membership card in Christianity, many of these “internet… Read more

Have you been reading the Bible wrong this whole time? Probably– but I’ll try to help sort that out for you. One of the most famous sayings of Jesus is “It is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” (This quote is found in Matthew 19:24, Mark 10:25, and Luke 18:25.) I remember this verse well from my childhood, and remember Sunday School teachers… Read more

Growing up evangelical, one of the primary questions we were taught to ask strangers was: “Are you saved?” Or, better yet: “If you died tonight do you know where you’d go?” The concept of being saved was pretty simple, really: You’re a sinner headed for hell, Jesus died to take your punishment, and if you “ask him into your heart” you’ll go to heaven instead of hell. Salvation as understood this way has taken root in much of Americanized Christianity,… Read more

As one who studies culture for a living– most specifically, religious culture, I will tell you that technically there are over 40,000 Christian sects in the world. But realistically? There’s only two kinds of Christian– and honestly, I’m tired of pretending there’s not. It doesn’t matter what kind (denomination) of Christian you are; there are still only two types: one is the member of a Christian religion, and the other is someone who is actively living like Jesus. I don’t believe the word “Christian”… Read more

Some say that Christianity by nature is political. To a great degree, that’s absolutely true– though I think we must be careful to not simply leave it there as if Christianity is political in the way the world is political– because it’s not. Christianity is political precisely because it declares that “Jesus is Lord.” When the first Christians began to utter that now central confession of the Christian faith, it was absolutely a political statement. Originally the popular saying was “Caesar… Read more

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