Is Rob a Christian? [Questions That Haunt]

Rob gave us a great Question that Haunts Christianity that has generated hundreds of comments:

Hey Tony. I will try to make this short… I was raised in the church, became a youth leader in my early 20s, then a worship pastor/elder, then a staff deacon at a large church. Almost three years ago, my family and I walked away, with no plans on returning to “the church.” I don’t intellectually assent to any of the things that orthodox Christians are supposed to (i.e. the Trinity, the physical resurrection of Jesus, etc.). I don’t read my Bible very often. I never pray. But, I cannot escape the cultural influence that Christianity has had upon me, and it’s very difficult for me to think outside of that framework. I also try to embody the trajectory of Jesus’ life (the way of love) in my life every day. And, I think that his way is – universally – the best way to live. Do I still have “the right” to call myself a Christian?

Rob, I appreciate your participation in the comments of the original post, and even that you let me off the hook on your own blog. Your question is the most personal one that I’ve tackled thus far, and here’s why:

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Krista Dalton Wonders Who Should Read the Bible

Krista Dalton

Theologian and Jewish Studies expert Krista Dalton wonders whether everyone should be given equal access to the Bible:

All one has to do is visit the popular “Bible Students Say…”  Twitter account to see countless more examples where it often appears the student just didn’t really understand how to read the English text, let alone derive the cultural and/or literary meaning.

Now perhaps I’m overly critical because of my years pursuing an Education degree, working in high school history classes where students could barely read the textbook, let alone write me a brief paragraph of reflection.  But college illiteracy is stunning educators everywhere, and I think it is time for religious and religion educators to address the situation.

We must seriously ask, “How do we approach biblical and/or other religious textual education in an ever growing world where practical illiteracy is on the rise?” Can I truly expect students to appreciate a text’s literary elements, cultural context, and narrative purpose? What are we to do when students with poor reading skills read the text and derive obviously incorrect interpretations? Or for pastors, when it is a person in your own church community? As I encountered on more than one occasion in my graduate assistant office, some students will protest, “it is just my way of reading the Bible!”

via Should Everyone Really Read the Bible? « Krista Dalton @KristaNDalton.

God Is Neither Warlike Nor Peaceful [Questions That Haunt]

Last week’s Questions That Haunt Christianity came from Shira, who asked a question that provoked an unprecedented number of comments for the series:

My question is this: How do Christian theologians deal with the fact that God is portrayed sometimes as a “man of war” who approves genocide and taking of women as war prizes, among other atrocities and sometimes as the “righteous judge” standing up for widows, orphans, and the strangers among us? I consider this a vital question because it seems to me that many people gravitate to one or the other of these ideas of God, and the actions in the world of these different groups are very distinct! I don’t know if you require a background, but I’m a Buddhist of Jewish background.

Thanks to all who commented. Here’s my response:

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Bishop Al Mohler Strikes Again

Panel Discussion: Revisiting Inerrancy from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

Baptists don’t have bishops, right?

That’s what I thought, having been reared in the related denomination of Congregationalism. Growing up, I was taught that we — congregationalists and baptists and others whose polity is considered “congregational” — were vehemently anti-hierarchical. Our tradition started because Henry VIII and the Anglicans had not differentiated themselves enough from Rome. We were, from our founding, anti-papist, anti-bishop.

In congregational polity, nothing is more sacred than individual hermeneutical authority. That is, every believe has the freedom to interpret the Bible, the freedom to follow the dictates of her or his conscience, the freedom to worship with fellow believers.

So it always surprises me when congregationalists or baptists act like bishops. In my book, The New Christians, I wrote,

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