I’m glad Westboro Baptist is protesting meteorology

Our imagined “biblical stance” on meteorology changed in exactly the way that, for many American Christians, our “biblical stance” on biology never did. We Christians easily, almost imperceptibly, changed the way we understood all those Bible passages about the weather. But for many American Christians, doing the very same thing with all those Bible passages about the origins of life is portrayed as a grave and dangerous sin. [Read more…]

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Lectionary line

My pick for this week’s sermon has everybody’s favorite passage from Ruth edging out a fine, but maybe too Mark-ish, entry from Mark’s Gospel. This week’s Psalm is a dark-horse contender, but the New Testament reading seems like a hopeless longshot. [Read more…]

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Joseph and the Appalling Tyrannical Despot

John Calvin also found this Just So story of Joseph and Pharaoh difficult and distressing. Calvin thought this story was something to be contended with. His commentary on Genesis 47 flails about when it gets to this story, trying on various arguments to “defend Joseph” from what appears to be “the height of cruel and inexplicable avarice” and a “miserable spectacle” in which Joseph “abused their penury.” [Read more…]

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The various endings of the Gospel of Mark (part 2)

Inerrantists insist that we needn’t worry about the many examples of scribal errors, transcription mistakes, mistranslations in or out of Hebrew, Greek, Latin, German or English. God has been intervening, they say, providentially ensuring that our copies of copies of copies and our translations of translations of translations still allow us access to the original perfection of the long-lost inerrant biblical autographs. [Read more…]

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The various endings of the Gospel of Mark (part 1)

Mark’s Gospel seems like a rough first draft, like the work of someone racing to get everything down on paper as quickly as possible. That’s reflected in the book’s abrupt ending, where it just sort of stops, mid-story. That ending was so frustrating for some later Christians that they felt compelled to give the book a proper conclusion, and now it has more endings that Peter Jackson’s “Return of the King.” [Read more…]

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The symmetric property of 2 Timothy 3:16

2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that scripture is that which is “useful” for “training in justice.” Weirdly, though, the Christians who seem fondest of quoting this verse are the least likely to see “training in justice” as having anything to do with scripture. [Read more…]

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How to understand ‘biblical inerrantists’

The modern assertion of “biblical inerrancy” is best explained in a 1978 document called the “Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.” That statement includes 19 denials that tell you everything you need to know about inerrancy and inerrantists. Just read through those denials and, in each case, replace “We Deny that …” with “We Are Very Much Afraid that …” [Read more…]

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‘Purity culture’ isn’t just a sex thing. It’s a do-nothing thing.

What then, is a good Christian to do in such a world? As little as possible. Faith is a blank page that must be kept blank. It is a spotless, pure and undefiled white sheet that must be hidden away from anything and everything that might stain its pure whiteness. [Read more…]

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