Jesus’ Sense Of Humor

There are extensive studies of subjects such as irony in the Gospels, and scholars regularly make comparisons between the parables and jokes. But are any of them actually funny? That is a question that is harder to answer, since jokes often lose all semblance of funniness when translated into another language or another cultural setting.Nevertheless, there are a few strong candidates for genuinely humorous sayings of Jesus. For instance, although we only have the words recorded, I could imagine Jesus… Read more

Trying On Other Religions For Size

A student of ours at Butler University, Diane Hardin, undertook a very interesting religion project as part of her studies. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to figure out how to include the clip directly in this post in any other way, so here is a link to the clip that appeared on the local news: Butler Student Experiences Other Religions for LearningYou’ll need a version of Windows Media Player 7 or higher to view the video. If you need to… Read more

Facts and Opinions

I came across a great quote on the Evolving Thoughts blog that sums up in a single sentence what I’ve been trying to get across to students for a long time in a less pithy and far wordier fashion. Here’s the quote:”you are entitled to your opinions, but you are not entitled to your ownfacts”That just puts it so well – and fits well with what I’ve said about Hebrews 11:1. It says that faith is the evidence of things… Read more

Atheist Meditation & the Problem of Defining “Religion”

Those who are not scholars of religion are often unaware of just how hard it is to define religion as a word/concept. While many people would immediately begin by talking about “God” in some sense, such a definition would leave Buddhism excluded, since although many forms of Buddhism do acknowledge the existence of deities, they are on the whole largely irrelevant to Buddhism’s core beliefs and emphases.By way of illustration of the complexities of the issue, I mention that Sam… Read more

Let Us Make Human Beings In Our Image

The plural used at a decisive moment in the creation account in Genesis 1 has puzzled commentators for millenia. I learned today of a striking suggestion made in Thomas Friedman’s Commentary on the Torah. Who were the most recently mentioned characters in the story immediately before the plural? The animals! It is thus possible to suggest that God addresses the animals and involves already-existing life in the creative process (just as the sea and land were involved in bringing forth… Read more

Biblical Inerrancy and Theological Dishonesty

Biblical inerrancy is a concept that is at best meaningless and at worst dishonest. The full version of statements on this subject normally affirm the inerrancy of the original autographs – i.e. the versions that the authors of the Biblical writings penned or dictated. To accept this, one must take a leap of faith, since none of us has ever seen one of these original manuscripts. But on what basis can one do so? It cannot be on the basis… Read more

Our Daily Bread

I often wonder how many people who say the Lord’s Prayer around the world, or simply use the phrase “our daily bread”, are aware of the fact that the word rendered ‘daily’ is of uncertain meaning. The Greek word epiousion may well mean ‘daily’, but ‘for tomorrow’ and ‘necessary for existence’ are also possibilities. This is yet another example of how the great efforts of translators and scholars to make sense of the text and give readers who know only… Read more

The Counter-Cultural Teachings Of Jesus

The criterion of dissimilarity is particularly useful when looking at the parable in the Gospels usually known as the “parable of the talents” (although it is Matthew, writing for a wealthy urban audience, who changes the value of the money entrusted to the servants to this exorbitant amount). In an early Jewish-Christian Gospel not included in the New Testament, known as the Gospel of the Nazoreans, it is the one who buries that which was entrusted to him that is… Read more

Protestant Hinduism in the Bhagavad Gita

Among my favorite parts of the Bhagavad Gita (which I’ve been re-reading as I teach my course on South Asian Civilizations) are the images of panentheism and inclusive monotheism. Among my favorite lines are:”all that exists is woven on me, like a web of pearls on thread” (7:7, tr. BarbaraStoler Miller)and”When devoted men sacrifice to other deities with faith, they sacrifice tome…however aberrant the rites” (9:23, tr. Barbara Stoler Miller)Also very interesting, however, are the close parallels to Protestant ideas… Read more

Let God Be True And Every Young-Earth Creationist A Liar

Is “creation science” science? The answer to this question becomes clear through a simple glance through the footnotes of John Whitcomb’s classic The World that Perished. When he wrote the book, he avidly kept up to date with young-earth creationist publications, even ones self-published by their author, but his quotations from mainstream scientific sources (magazines rather than journals) were from the 1950s, whereas the book was published in 1973.I have been asked more than once lately why there is so… Read more

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