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...]

God Did Not Kill Jesus on the Cross for Our Sins

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Photo: RYGER / Shutterstock.comThis article is part of our new Head to Head debate feature. This week, in concert with our Engaging Easter coverage, I will be debating the Evangelical Channel's Mike Bird of "Euangelion". The question: What did Jesus' death on the cross actually DO?“Why did Jesus die on a cross?”I suspect that question has been asked since the day Jesus actually died on a cross.The most common answer for many Christians, “he died on a cross to pay for our sins … [Read more...]

Following Jesus Means Being Political and Advocating for “The Least of These”

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Why did Jesus die on a cross?To save us from our sins?Regardless of your personal belief, you have to recognize that within theological circles, the idea that Jesus had to die to atone for our sins is debatable.What isn't debatable is why he was crucified.Jesus was crucified because the Roman authorities of the day saw him as a real threat to the state, a threat to political order and (most importantly), a threat to those in power.Jesus didn't end up hanging from a tree for … [Read more...]

Love Wins in the PC(USA)! … Or Does It?

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I love that, as a PC(USA) minister, our constitution will soon reflect my ability to perform marriages for any two folks who want to get married, regardless of their sexual orientation.The thought actually makes me ever-so slightly teary eyed.So, hear me say clearly that PC(USA) ministers’ ability to perform same-sex marriages is something I deeply celebrate. For that matter, I've been one of the denomination’s loudest same-sex marriage advocates for quite some time.But, also, hear m … [Read more...]

“SELMA”: Inspiring and, Thankfully, Not Iconic


SELMA begins with Dr. King receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.In his acceptance speech, of which we do not get to hear the actual text, since Stephen Spielberg and DreamWorks own the rights to all of his speeches, Dr. King accepts the award on behalf of all of those who made the Civil Rights movement possible. (It should be noted that director Ava DuVernay, in a stunning rewrite of Paul Webb's original screenplay, time and time again manages to deftly approximate the style of Dr. King's speech … [Read more...]

The Problem with “Finding Christ” in “The Least of These”

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St. John Chrysostom once said, “If you do not find Christ in the beggar at the church door, neither will you find him in the chalice.”For me, the truth of this statement is hard to deny. It points to the root of Jesus' message.However, I find myself having quite a lot of trouble with what I see as the intent of the message.It's a message that I speak of frequently: loving “the least of these.”A simple way of expressing actually seeing and loving those marginalized by society is t … [Read more...]

All I Want For Christmas Is…

At our house for the past several Christmases, we’ve had (for us) the unusual joy of not putting up a Christmas Tree...Or lights...Or decorations.We make no production of Christmas at all and, through this lack of production, we've realized a blessing.For most people, Christmas truly has become a production. Granted, it is an enjoyable one for many, but a production none-the-less.Unfortunately, that production has become a framework upon which we hang all our Christmas e … [Read more...]

The Jesus Parable the GOP Loves but Should Actually Hate

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The Parable of the Talents is the story of a lazy slave who buries the talents (think “a lot of money”) his Master gives him and receives exactly what an insolent and do-nothing slave deserves: a demeaning lecture and getting booted to the dark edges of society where he will suffer greatly for his poor stewardship of his master's money.If you don't hear in that parable the echoes of the GOP's perspective about food stamps, universal health care and pretty much anything else that takes care of … [Read more...]

I Met Jesus in Rome: First Look at a Movie About Jesus’ Childhood

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Anne Rice's engaging book Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt is being made into a movie that's currently slated for release in the Spring of 2016.That's how I met Jesus in Rome.I also walked the streets of Alexandria, sat in the throne room of King Herod and stood on the steps of the Temple in Jerusalem – all in one day... while in Rome.I was fortunate enough to be invited out to the set for the movie. They are filming at a movie studio that is truly historic. It's called Cinecittà, Ita … [Read more...]