The Atonement of the Cross is a Hell of a Thing

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“Sandlin’s Jesus isn’t much different from a Gandhi or a Nelson Mandela, great leaders who inspired people to suffer and die for the sake of others, but he cannot take your sins away.” – Michael BirdIt would seem that I owe my sparring partner, Michael Bird, in this “Head to Head” series a "thank you" note or something. I mean, I realize that quote was meant as a jab, but I am honestly flattered. I believe we are all on different paths, seeking the same thing which we frequently name “God.” … [Read more...]

Why Viewing the Cross Through Atonement Creates a God I Can’t Worship

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This article is part of the new Head to Head debate feature at Patheos. This week, in concert with our Engaging Easter coverage, I'm debating Evangelical Channel's Mike Bird of "Euangelion". The question... … [Read more...]

Easter Reminds Us That Sunday is Coming

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Good Friday.What a horrible name for Friday of Easter week – “good.”Hardly.Dark? Yes. Sad? Yes. Violent? Absolutely!Good? Hardly.I think I prefer the German name for it: Karfreitag, or “Sorrowful Friday.”Easter approaches in the shadow of the devastation of “Good” Friday and the stupefying silence of Holy Saturday. It has struck me year after year as I tried to write an uplifting message for Easter that we need to understand the journey of Friday, Saturday, Sunday; we … [Read more...]

Reading the Bible Like Conservatives Read the Qur’an

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There's an unfortunately popular meme going around conservative social media depicting some horrific doctrines of “radical Islam and ISIS.”In at least one case, from the Conservative Post, the meme’s accompanied by a message suggesting all American Muslims should have to deny the doctrine listed or “leave our country” [my emphasis].The list includes things like: enslaving for sex, approval of beating slaves, and killing non-Muslims.This is an example of a hermeneutic (which is a fa … [Read more...]

How ISIS is Exposing the Hypocrisy of Many Christians

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ISIS is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad rebel group that claims to be associated with Islam but is no more Muslim than the KKK is Christian. ISIS members do absolutely horrific things including human rights abuses, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing.This group’s actions are an abomination.(Now please, let's not have anyone saying I'm defending ISIS by the end of this post. Inevitably some will, but please know I will simply refer them back to the first three sentences of this p … [Read more...]

God Will Not Determine the Outcome of the Super Bowl (I Hate That I Even Have To Write These Words)

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Stop giving glory to God after athletic events.You are going to make the baby Jesus cry.Honestly, you are going to make every version of Jesus cry (except for Republican Jesus). Republican Jesus wants you to give glory to God after utterly defeating another team. We'll get to why in just a minute.But first a little theological ground work.The “Providence of God” is fancy seminary talk for how involved God is on a day to day basis in making stuff happen. There are all kinds of b … [Read more...]

If You Aren’t a Little Bit Agnostic, You Might Not Be Progressive

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I prefer to use the word “agnostic” as an adjective rather than a noun.Here's origin of that preference: It starts with this video from one of my living heroes, Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, in which he addresses the question of whether or not he is atheist.     If you didn’t watch the video – or maybe missed it, Dr. Tyson says:“...I would say, if I find a word that comes closest it would be agnostic. . . to refer to someone who does … [Read more...]

How the “I’m Special” Confirmation Bias Ruins the Bible

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The bumper sticker that jokingly says, “God loves us all, but I'm His favorite,” points to a much bigger problem that absolutely ruins much of what we read, (or, more precisely, interpret) from the Bible.Everybody wants to be loved. It's human nature to want to know that you matter to others. We all want to know that we are “special” to someone.One of the strengths of the Christian faith (among other faiths) is the confirmation that God loves you – that you are special.It is also one … [Read more...]

The Tradition a Heretic Values

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This is the fifth post in a series called: “This Collar Is Too Tight: Heresies From a Southern Minister.” You can read the first post here. The short explanation of this series is this: the institutionalized Church spends a lot of time defining who’s in and who’s out. Biblically, I find that a lot of the “measures” used don’t hold up. I’m making the argument for a larger acceptance of theological diversity in the Christian Church.   “Are you serious? You're going to go against a few thousa … [Read more...]

Prayer for a Nation of Division and Mixed Priorities

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(A Prayer of Confession)Good and gracious God,Somehow, in the U.S, we've arrived at a place, where we focus on our differences rather than our similarities – which is curious since we have more in common than we have differences.We've arrived at a place, where we make feeding the homeless illegal and owning a gun a basic human need - which is curious considering both put people's lives at risk.In the U.S., somehow, we've arrived at a place, where the c … [Read more...]