THE QUESTION of why Christian clergy often wear black was posed to The Religion Guy during a conversation a while ago. The thought had never occurred, so this is a good example of things we tend to take for granted and don’t hink about. Thus it makes a good “Religion Q & A” topic. (Please feel free to submit your own questions at any time by clicking above at SEND YOUR QUESTIONS IN.) THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: Black is becoming… Read more

THE QUESTION:  Why did ancient Jewish leaders approve the sensuous Song of Songs (a.k.a. Song of Solomon or Canticles) as a book in the Bible? THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: The biblical Song, a remarkable poetic celebration of sexual and emotional love between a man and a woman, won recent praise in The Wall Street Journal’s “Masterpiece” column, which analyzes history’s major works of art. Writer Aliora Katz commented on its cultural value: “In the time of Tinder and casual hookups,… Read more

RACHAEL’S QUESTION: What is the significance of Jesus cursing the fig tree? THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: Our discussion will focus on the Gospel of Mark (11:12-14 and 20-26) rather than the briefer parallel version in Matthew (21:18-22), which most experts think was written down later. Mark records the following: Jesus was traveling with his disciples to Jerusalem, where he was to “cleanse” the Temple by driving out devious money-changers and sellers of birds for sacrifice. He was hungry and spotted… Read more

The memorized “Lord’s Prayer” is so frequently recited by countless Christians that it can be easy to slide past what the familiar words are saying. For instance, how do we understand its most puzzling phrase: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13 per the King James Version and many other English translations. A condensed wording for the prayer also appears in Luke 11:2-4). So, does God lead us into temptation? Why would He? After all, the… Read more

And it came to pass that the weirdest religious quote of 2017 occurred when Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore was accused of sexual assault upon girls who were ages 14 and 16 when he was in his early 30s. Moore denied this. But State Auditor Jim Ziegler leapt to his fellow Republican’s defense by offering the Washington Examiner this head-scratcher: “Take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus. There’s just… Read more

DEANN’S QUESTION: Are the congregants massacred in Sutherland Springs martyrs? THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: A shooting rampage during Sunday worship at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, took 26 lives (if we count an unborn baby). It was the worst slaughter at a house of worship in American history, though such atrocities occur all too often at churches in strife-ridden Islamic lands and more often at mosques — witness more than 300 Muslim worshipers massacred November 24 at Bir al-Abed,… Read more

THE RELIGION GUY OBSERVES that with “fake news” all over the news it’s wise to be aware of fake history. Consider Dan Brown’s influential pop novel “The Da Vinci Code.” Though the plot is fiction, readers may assume the book provides reliable historical background. Experts say that’s misleading, and one example is Brown’s version of how the New Testament came to be. That’s a timely question due to an important new technical work on the subject, “The Biblical Canon Lists from… Read more

THE RELIGION GUY observes that the wording of the perennial question above is the title of an important new book by Michael Licona of Houston Baptist University and published by the prestigious Oxford University Press. Variations among the four New Testament Gospels in parallel accounts of the same events and sayings are fascinating for scholars. And they can perplex believers, though most involve details that don’t affect the main teaching or are easily explained in Bible commentaries. Meanwhile, those who… Read more

THE RELIGION GUY raises the above question and answers it with a few thoughts upon the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. This vast, ongoing split in Christianity involved theology and spirituality, but as a journalist The Guy [disclosure: a lay Protestant] will emphasize culture. The uproar originated on October 31, 1517 (All Saints’ Eve), when Martin Luther issued his “95 Theses.” Matters evolved from there into a sweeping assault on the papacy and the Catholic Church. Historians debate whether the… Read more

WENDI’S QUESTION (paraphrased): Denominational. Non-denominational. Fundamentalist. Baptist. Mormon. Methodist. Assembly of God. Etc. Etc.: How do we know what type of beliefs these are? Why or why not claim to be ‘Christian’ without anything else added? This is confusing me. THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: Wendi has good reason to be confused, especially about the incredibly complex situation in the United States this article will seek to unscramble. By contrast, one or two churches often denominate in European countries and there are… Read more

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