How do Christians interpret “You shall not kill”?

GEORGE’S QUESTION: When are we as Christians allowed to fight back and protect our civilization? THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: George wonders whether Christians should work in police departments, whose conduct is much in the news, as well as the armed forces or other security vocations that  involve use of violence and possible  injury or death. The [Read More…]

What will result from the increase of non-religious Americans?

JOSHUA’S QUESTION: Ed Stetzer suggests the rise of the “nones” — the religiously unaffiliated — is a dual trend. On the one hand, the more nominal “cultural Christians” are no longer self-identifying as Christians, and on the other hand the more theologically conservative Christians are becoming more robust. What are the political consequences? THE RELIGION [Read More…]

How — and why — did John the Baptist baptize Jesus?

GERALD’S QUESTION: When John the Baptist baptized Jesus, what would the baptismal formula have been? “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” wasn’t used until the 2nd Century. THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: Even a highly skeptical scholar like John Dominic Crossan considers it historical fact that Jesus inaugurated his public ministry with baptism performed by his cousin John [Read More…]

500 years later, how do Protestants and Catholics view each other?

GORDON’S QUESTION: Is the divide between Protestants and Catholics growing or shrinking? THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: “Will Pope Francis Break the Church?”  The Atlantic attached that overwrought headline to a sober analysis of internal Catholic tensions written by New York Times columnist Ross Douthat. No, Francis won’t, despite weighty issues the article surveyed. But a [Read More…]

Are tattoos OK for Jews and Christians?

JACOB’S QUESTION: Christians and Jews — Is it OK for them to get tattoos? THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: Quick summary: Many if not most Jews say no (as do Muslims). With Christians, it’s complicated. There are obvious pros and cons with getting a tattoo because it’s a social signifier and permanently so, unlike hair styles, [Read More…]

What are America’s biggest Christian groups?

RACHAEL’S QUESTION: What are the major Christian denominations in the U.S.? THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: Numbers. Numbers. The Pew Research Center snagged some headlines April 2 with projections on world religions as of 2050 that are worth pondering. Among other things, we’re told high birth rates will make world Islam almost as large as Christianity, [Read More…]

What did Jesus mean in his Good Friday saying to the “daughters of Jerusalem”?

KRISTYN’S QUESTION: I’m having trouble discerning what Luke was trying to communicate when he referred to the women of Jerusalem on Jesus’ trek up to Golgotha [in Luke 23:28-31]. If this is exactly what Jesus said, I have no idea what he meant. Can you shed some light on this? THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER: Thanks [Read More…]

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 [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 [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 [Read More…]