A Prayer on the Event of Hate Induced Killing

trying to pray

Good and gracious God,Humanity's inhumanity to one another is an all too present historical reality.What is it about our humanity that allows us to get so caught up in the differences in our outward appearances and practices that we bracket out the glaring actuality that we are more alike on the inside than any outward differences should ever be capable of overcoming?Hate is so consuming. It consumes our thoughts. It consumes our hearts. It consumes our … [Read more...]

God’s Dear John Letter to the U.S.

letter with quill pen

Dear John and Jane Public,Honestly, don't fret over it. I get it. Dear God, I get it.You've found a new god.Truthfully, I've seen this coming for awhile. I tried to deny it. I even tried to change it. (I have to admit, even in all my divine wisdom, I just did not see the whole MLK, contemporary prophet thing not working. But humans, YOU try to figure them out). You know, there was a brief time just after 9/11 when I thought we were going to make it. I really thought you finally … [Read more...]

Letter to a Dying Church

church graveyard with words

With the latest Pew Research report, we've seen lots of bloggers either wringing their hands over it or trying to prove it doesn't signal the end of the Church. I think it is clearly a sign of a dying Church – and I think that's a good thing.To the Dying Church,I hardly know what to say. Watching someone you love, who helped raise you, who cared for you when you weren't well, who partially defined who you would be, slowly perish before your eyes is difficult to say the least.I love y … [Read more...]

The Atonement of the Cross is a Hell of a Thing

Copyright:  / 123RF Stock Photo

“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

Copyright:  / 123RF Stock Photo

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

Copyright:  / 123RF Stock Photo

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

Copyright:  / 123RF Stock Photo

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

Copyright:  / 123RF Stock Photo

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)

Copyright:  / 123RF Stock Photo

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

Copyright:  / 123RF Stock Photo

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...]