A super-massive black hole and why I don’t like worship music

Many of the songs and choruses that make up our “worship music” claim to be about God, but the language they use to describe God is indistinct from the language we might use to try to describe the super-massive black hole at the center of the galaxy. Many of these songs could be sung, without changing a word, by a Sagittarius A* death cult. [Read more…]

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Baptist identity means religious freedom for all (it’s not about dunking)

The defining distinctive for Baptists isn’t about how we baptize, but about why and when. Baptists get baptized when they choose to do so. Baptists get baptized because they choose to do so. And nobody else has any say in that choice. You’re free to choose — or not to choose — for yourself. This is why — as a matter of core identity and definition — you cannot be a Baptist without defending religious liberty for everyone. [Read more…]

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Go and learn what this means (part 6: patriotism)

The religion and religious expression condemned by the prophets was something that most of their listeners would have assumed was an obvious virtue. Worship, prayer, offerings, praise, sacrifices, holy days, hymn-singing, church-going — these were all assumed to be Good Things done by Good People as evidence and consequence of their goodness. “Patriotism” falls into the same sort of category. [Read more…]

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Go and learn what this means (part 5)

The prophets hated religion. More than that, the prophets insisted that God hated religion. This is a surprising thing to find in the Bible. And so we’ve developed several ways of pretending the Bible says something else. [Read more…]

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Reading Romans 8 at a funeral

Romans 8 contains both a passage of beautiful comfort that should always be read at funerals and a sorely abused passage that has been twisted into a cruelly glib slogan that should never, ever, be read at funerals. Please don’t get those two passages confused. [Read more…]

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Go and learn what this means — the bad-faith ‘biblical’ defense of injustice (part 4)

The difference is justice. Justice is the necessary ingredient without which no worship, prayer, assembly, offering or other form of religious expression will be regarded as legitimate by God Almighty. Injustice delegitimizes all religion. It turns that which God has commanded into something that God detests. [Read more…]

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Go and learn what this means — the bad-faith ‘biblical’ defense of injustice (part 3)

The problem for those attempting to argue that Douglass’ rhetoric was anti-Bible is that his supposedly anti-Bible rhetoric is taken directly from the Bible. It is — in both style and substance — explicitly and utterly biblical. He is imitating, emulating and directly quoting from the Bible itself. [Read more…]

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Go and learn what this means — the bad-faith ‘biblical’ defense of injustice (part 2)

“This horrible blasphemy is palmed off upon the world for Christianity. For my part, I would say, welcome infidelity! welcome atheism! welcome anything! in preference to the gospel, as preached by those Divines! They convert the very name of religion into an engine of tyranny, and barbarous cruelty, and serve to confirm more infidels, in this age, than all the infidel writings of Thomas Paine, Voltaire, and Bolingbroke, put together, have done!” [Read more…]

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