How will the gay marriage OK affect the Presbyterian Church (USA)?

DUANE'S QUESTION:What do you think will happen to the Presbyterian Church (USA) now that it has voted to officially sanction gay marriage?THE RELIGION GUY'S ANSWER:Maybe not much. The Presbyterian Church (USA) announced March 17 that a nationwide referendum among regional bodies ("presbyteries") has redefined marriage as "between two people, traditionally a man and woman" so same-sex couples can wed in church. This historic change will be very upsetting for a sizable minority but … [Read More...]

666!!: What should we make of the Bible’s scariest number?

WESLEY'S QUESTION:Does it really matter if it is 666 or 616?THE RELIGION GUY'S ANSWER:Hold that 616 for a moment.The Bible's scariest number -- 666 -- occurs in Revelation 13:17-18, a famously perplexing passage in Scripture's most perplexing book. (If you're superstitious, note that's in chapter 13.) "The International Bible Commentary" recounts that assorted preachers have identified 666 as the Pope, Muhammad, Muslim warrior Saladin, King Charles I, Charles's enemy Oliver C … [Read More...]

Did Paul write all 13 letters the Bible credits to him?

RACHAEL ASKS:What is the debate about the authorship of Paul's letters to the early church?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:The New Testament includes 13 letters ("epistles") from Christianity's first decades that name the apostle Paul as the author, or Paul with colleagues Silvanus, Sosthenes, or Timothy. The earliest is 1 Thessalonians, written just a couple decades after Jesus' crucifixion. In the traditional view, Paul produced the others during the next 15 years or so before his … [Read More...]

How should we understand the three “Abrahamic” religions?

NIHAL ASKS:Why aren't the three Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) one main religion?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:Nihal posted his query while preparing a 9th grade school report, and unfortunately this response comes too late to help. On the specific question of"why" these three faiths exist the way they are the best a mere journalist can say is "God only knows." However the interrelationships, overlaps, and differences among these great religions are certainly worth … [Read More...]

Is Islam a “religion of peace”?

DAVID ASKS:Where is the Muslim peace movement? Put another way, if Islam is a peace-loving religion where are the Muslim voices for peace?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:"Islam is a religion that preaches peace," U.S. President Barack Obama told CBS last September, and likewise President George W. Bush's mosque speech after 9-11 said "Islam is peace." Yet there's continual violence committed in the name of Islam. Analysts are abuzz over a major article in The Atlantic by Graeme Wood, who … [Read More...]

Should religious fasting be kept secret?

HAEVEN ASKS:I'm beginning to fast and was wondering if I should hide it from people because of the verse that says to. I don't know if I can tell people without the intent to show off.THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:We're heading into Lent 2015, the annual season when Christians are most likely to undertake fasting, which is part of most religious traditions though now somewhat neglected in the West. For Christians, such times of abstinence from food are a spiritual discipline intended to … [Read More...]

How did the Romney era affect his Mormon church?

KEN ASKS:What has been the impact on Mormons of the burst of intense attention they received during the Romney presidential bids?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:This was posted before Mitt Romney took himself out of the Republicans' crowded 2016 steeplechase. But this is a good moment to analyze the era when his presidential ambitions brought new attention to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nicknamed "Mormon" or "LDS"). Not that he's disappearing. Romney remains a player … [Read More...]

Circumcision: When, How, Who, What, Why?

JOHN ASKS:When did circumcision start and how was God involved? How did its use evolve to today's practice?THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:In the Jewish faith, ritual circumcision of males (bris) to remove the foreskin of the penis has been a requirement ever since God designated it as a "sign of the covenant" with Abraham (Genesis 17:10-14). So God has been "involved" for some 4,000 years now.Anthropologists tell us that circumcision was practiced long before Abraham, across the globe … [Read More...]

Why doesn’t the Bible mention dinosaurs?

TOM SAYS: I am confused when the Bible talks about God creating the world in 7 days but there is no evidence of humans living with dinosaurs.THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:This problem arises if "creationism" controls Bible interpretation. That term has come to identify those Protestants whose strictly literal reading of the Bible's Book of Genesis requires a "young earth." That is, if God created the cosmos and all species 10,000 years ago at most, then humanity and dinosaurs must have lived … [Read More...]

How can this searcher find “the right church”?

KEVIN ASKS:I have been struggling for some time now searching for the right church for myself and family. . . . Please help me sort my understanding of truth and find a place to congregate and worship. I feel as though I have been absent too long.THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:This request characterizes the church-shopping by many would-be returnees and is worth some attention. Kevin says family members share his ideas as discussed below. The Religion Guy e-mailed for further information … [Read More...]