Misstatements of faith: How lying is mandatory for white evangelical institutions (part 1)


You can spend thousands of dollars to study biology or biblical studies at Bryan College. They will take your money. But the professors there are not permitted to teach you either biology or biblical studies, so that money will not be well spent. [Read more...]

Disputed texts

"Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery," by Pieter Bruegel

If you regard canon as a magical category that imparts to a text some greater import than the actual words of that text, then I’m afraid that neither the poem nor the Gospel story will be quite as satisfying to you as they might be if their canonicity were confirmable with greater certainty. In that case, I suppose, it won’t matter that both the poem and the Gospel story are good, beautiful and true. [Read more...]

‘Jesus Calling’ is a way of screening Jesus’ calls


But the really confusing and upsetting part isn’t the stuff they find in there that ain’t there, it’s the stuff that is in there that they somehow never see. “Loose the bonds of injustice … share your bread with the hungry.” “Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly.” Those are messages from God, spelled out right there on the page. [Read more...]

I wave to the people but the wind just blows ‘em down


A five-day work week? That’s a union thing — and unions are evil doncha know. “Jesus wants you heavily armed.” Houston church desperately fighting to get on the wrong side of the gospel. (You thought I was gonna say “wrong side of history”? That too.) After they finished writing the Constitution, the Founding Fathers had a drink or two. “This is a problem.” [Read more...]

No, snake-handling is neither ‘literal’ nor ‘biblical’


Somehow this little fringe sect “marked by strict literal interpretations of the Bible” doesn’t cancel all debt every six years. They are neither pacifists nor genocidal conquerors (both of which — unfortunately for those who would be literal inerrantists — are commanded in various places in the Bible). They do not practice Jubilee, or Sotah, or requiring the one with two tunics to give to the one who has none. Like all who claim such a “strict literal interpretation,” they leave a vast amount of the Bible unacknowledged and seemingly unnoticed. [Read more...]

OK, let’s talk about snake-handling

This is how Christians should handle snakes: The Rev. Bruce Puckett and the Rev. Meghan Feldmeyer of Duke Chapel bless two corn snakes and a boa constrictor on the feast day of St. Francis in 2012 at Duke University.

Snake-handlers’ weird, idiosyncratic distortion of the Bible produces an impressive display of commitment, but to what end? They’ve developed a form of religion that’s all about putting faith to the test without ever putting it to use. It’s a sign that doesn’t signify anything other than itself, which is to say it’s not a sign at all. [Read more...]

Eve is ‘under the Curse,’ but Adam is blessed

"The Temptation and Fall of Eve," from William Blake's illustrations for Milton's "Paradise Lost."

It seems to be a double-standard — a duplicitous standard. The very same people who insist that “in pain you shall bring forth children” is a sacred duty and a holy obligation for women never, ever suggest the same thing about the toil and sweat of men. [Read more...]

The Bible is a large book containing many words and letters


Many people treat the Bible unlike other very long texts. They see it as as a kind of magical code. They treat that book as though its 700,000+ words were not language — as though they were something to decipher rather than to read. [Read more...]