Phlebotinum, young-Earth creationism and the willing suspension of disbelief


This bargain — the exchange of phlebotinum for our willing suspension of disbelief — is conducted by countless storytellers in the realm of science fiction, fantasy, horror, comic books, action movies, detective stories, etc. And this same bargain is made, regularly, between young-Earth creationists and the fans of that genre of speculative fiction. Young-Earth creationism is all about phlebotinum. [Read more...]

You can fight City Hall (but if you take them to court, they get lawyers, too)


Fighting City Hall doesn’t automatically make you the Good Guy. But it doesn’t automatically make you the Bad Guy, either. Which kind of story is this one? Which kind of lawsuit is this one? Is City Hall the Good Guy or the Bad Guy in this case? Well, here’s what happened. [Read more...]

‘You have to keep scooping out of the boat’: More on progressive Christianity and sin


“It’s not enough to separate ourselves out into categories of ‘good’ and ‘bad,’” Mychal Denzel Smith warns, “because too often the assigning of the label is mistaken for the work.” And that work is required of all of us — “progressive” and “conservative” alike. As Scott Woods says, “It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it.” [Read more...]

‘Spiritual bondage to the powers of death’: Why Screwtape should’ve read some James Cone


Should we imagine it’s possible to have anything like an accurate appreciation for the meaning of “enslavement to dark spiritual powers” without understanding the role of powers and principalities like racism, patriarchy, class, privilege, violence, nationalism, etc.? Does anyone really believe that conservative white, male, American evangelical theology offers an adequate understanding of any of those things? No, if you’re looking for “a robust vision of spiritual slavery and bondage,” you’re better off turning to progressive Christianity than to its conservative counterpart. [Read more...]

‘You will have no more mercy than I do’


It’s an ambiguous statement that can be read in two opposite ways: “You will have no more mercy on sinners than I do, for I was crucified because of them.” Which way do you think it should be read? Your answer will depend on what you think Jesus is like. Your answer will depend on what you believe about the character of Jesus. [Read more...]

USC hires a good guy as a humanist chaplain, and you’ll never believe the surprising way that RNS chose to report it


I hope that’s sarcasm, because if it’s not, then Jonathan Merritt is pointing to the facile Bildadism of a Sunday school teacher’s white-knuckled just-world fallacy — God “allowed” the torture of a 9-year-old — and rechristening it as an orthodox representation of the “the sovereignty of God” while further suggesting that any disagreement with that view is a rejection of a “cornerstone Christian belief” that puts one “substantially outside the evangelical fold.” Whether or not it’s meant ironically, that’s one of the harshest criticism’s I’ve ever read of white evangelicalism. [Read more...]

Religious pluralism is a fact (not a belief system)

This Anemone rivularis will be a guest at next month's Civil League Luncheon, where it will be debating the doctrine of heliotropism with a Helianthus maximiliani.

“Religious pluralism [is] the idea that all religions are basically the same.” That statement is so precisely wrong that it can provide a kind of service. It is wrong in a way — or, rather, in several ways — that can help us to better understand a great deal of the world around us. The misapprehending and misapprehension distilled in that single statement can give us new insight and understanding into many things. [Read more...]

‘Card-playing and wine-drinking’ still ‘weigh infinitely more’ for Christians than the weightier matters of the law

"I beseech thee, O Lord, to guide my slave-snatching kidnappers as they seek to restore Oney and her children to bondage ..."

The definitive word on the faith and morality of George Washington belongs to someone who knew him more intimately than any of them — and who saw him far more clearly than any contemporary historian: Oney Judge Staines. [Read more...]