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...]

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 [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 [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 [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 [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 [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 [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 [Read More...]

What is Buddhism’s appeal for Americans?

DANIEL ASKS: What aspects attract the many religious Americans that convert to Buddhism? THE RELIGION GUY RESPONDS: Before discussing what “attracts” let’s consider how “many” Americans have adopted this venerable faith. The over-all U.S. context is a deep divide between native-born converts (presumably Daniel’s interest) and Asian immigrants, also American Buddhists but not new “converts.” [Read More...]