The Trouble with Easter: How To (and not to) Talk to Kids About Easter

UP-easter-articlepic

Public execution! Child Sacrifice! Rising from the dead! 

Just the kinds of stories you want to tell your kid(s), right? Yeah…me either.

As a Children’s Pastor in a Progressive Christian church, Easter is…well…it’s rough. For me, anyway. I am responsible for children birth-5th Grade and teaching this central Christian story to kids is one of my biggest challenges. No matter what I do with the Easter story, someone is likely to be upset. If I tell it flat-out, I not only go against my ethos in regard to nurturing children’s spirituality but I’d also be confusing boatloads of kids and the message of my ministry as a whole. If I don’t tell it at all, I’ll certainly have folks (more outside the church than within) wondering what sort of heretical witchcraft I’m having the kids do instead (because abandoning a central narrative of our faith would obviously mean I’ve turned my children’s ministry into Hogwarts. Though, now that I think about it…that could be fun.) If I kind of tell the story, you know, reframe it, leave the icky stuff out, “simplify it” for the kids – the story becomes hollow (because it’s not meant to be a moral-of-the-story kind of narrative) and I would argue this jeopardizes the integrity of the text.

That said, there are things I know I DON’T want to teach:

“Jesus died for you/your sins.” While I realize that statement won’t psychologically damage every kid, if it damages ONE, it’s not worth using. Period. To that end, I can list hundreds of people for whom this sentiment was harmful. We have to find better words and be VERY intentional with our language. And the reality is, Jesus didn’t die specifically for your kid. I know that’s a bit blunt but technically – Jesus died publicly and grotesquely because he was a political and religious threat to those in power. Philosophically/Theologically – I believe Jesus submitted to the judicial system of the day because he felt it was the right thing to do and perhaps the most powerful way to communicate the notion that God’s presence follows us – even unto death.  All that to say, using language of “Jesus died for you” is misleading, at best.

That God killed Jesus/wanted Jesus to die/intended for Jesus to die as the primary purpose of his life. To attempt to teach the concept of a loving God while also delivering this narrative (along with many other Biblical narratives) is confusing and jarring. This also makes the concept of “following Jesus” much more ominous and threatening than it should be.

Jesus died to save them from God’s judgement/hell. This suggests that these children exist in a way that is displeasing or unsatisfactory to God, which further suggests that God is a being sitting on some shiny throne literally evaluating every individual life from afar, casting judgement and glaring in disdain. There is nothing inherent to these children’s humanity from which they need to be saved. Therefore, an atonement theology of inborn corruption in need of redemption has no place in a conversation with kids about Easter. (Of course, when you don’t believe in a literal, eternally-flaming hell, this point is easier to deal with.)

Coming back from the dead is something you can expect to happen. While there is much beauty to be mined from the resurrection narrative (I’ll touch on this later), I don’t think it’s helpful or healthy to suggest that resurrection is a present-day reality that our children can hope/wish for in their own lives. This idea, I believe, hinders the grief process and doesn’t help them to effectively process death. It’s important for our children to learn to face loss gracefully, accepting the reality of that loss while being held as they grieve.

SO WHAT ON EARTH DO WE DO WITH EASTER?!

One thing to bear in mind is this: the point of the Easter story isn’t whether or not Jesus LITERALLY rose from the dead. We’re missing the point if we’re fighting over the historical accuracy of a bodily resurrection. There’s SO MUCH MORE depth to the story than that and we would do well to dig in for ourselves – we’ll likely find lots more way to discuss it with our children when we do.

Below are some further thoughts on what I take away from this story and perhaps some ways you can talk about this narrative with your own children:

The way of Jesus is one of honesty, bravery, love, and kindness. Jesus set an example that we can follow. Not by mimicking his actions (aka you don’t have to be publicly executed to follow Jesus), but by walking the same path he walked, loving God, self and others always.

You could say, “Jesus was courageous and honest and we can follow in the way of Jesus by being courageous and honest, too. He also reminded everyone that they are loved and that they can help others know they’re loved, too. How can you follow in the way of Jesus – a way of honest, courage, love, and kindness?”

New life often pops up unexpectedly. It brings with it hope and comfort knowing that our world sustains us and that what has gone away is never truly gone. This is what we experience when we smell something familiar and are reminded of a departed loved one. Things come back around, though not always in the way we expect them to.

Say: “When Jesus died, his friends were so sad and so confused – everyone thought he was going to be with them forever and would eventually become a great ruler. But that didn’t happen. Our story tells us that a few days after Jesus died, his friends saw him again. Then they were even MORE scared and confused! I would be, too! And they heard Jesus tell them, ‘I can’t be with you forever. But you’re going to be okay and in fact, you’re going to do AMAZING things in this world! Keep going and keep loving.’ It’s not what they expected, but they felt encouraged and loved.”

Our stories often reflect what happens in our world. This year, I’m focusing on “Spring” with my 3 yr olds through 1st graders. Children’s bodies and behaviors often naturally reflect what the earth is doing. They are in tune with the seasons and are beginning to see “new life” pop up all around them as leaves reappear on trees, flowers bloom, and grass gets greener and begins to grow. The idea of new life is certainly a theme plucked from the Easter story. but we can choose to communicate it without using a confusing plot of betrayal, public execution, a vengeful God, and the walking dead.

Ask: “How can we observe our world and find God in what we see around us?”

Our actions are our own. Even when our friends don’t understand, we do what’s right.

Say: “Jesus’s friends didn’t understand why he didn’t fight back. But Jesus did was he felt was right, even when his friends didn’t understand.”

Even in the most difficult times, we can know that we’re loved. We all bear God’s image so God is never far from us.

Ask> “When have you felt sad or afraid? What can you do to remember that God is with you always?”

Stories don’t have to be factual to speak truth. And it’s okay to question a literal resurrection – questions are how we learn. And there is always truth to be found in curiosity, even if the answers don’t turn out to be what you thought they’d be. 

Ask: “Do you know of a story like a myth or fable that teaches a great lesson but isn’t filled with facts? How might the Easter story work the same way and what do you think we can learn from it?”

Enjoy this season of rebirth and new life with your kids. I’m experiencing that sentiment more deeply this year than ever in my life. There truly is something divine about the turning of the seasons and the life that comes during this time of year and it’s certainly no coincidence that we celebrate this holiday during the springtime. To everything there is a season – and this is the season of life. Breathe it in. Explore. Create. Play. All we have is this life – let’s live it well, even unto death.

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  • Bryan

    Yeah, the apostle Paul – what an ignoramus:

    12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Cor. 15:12-19)

    Why even cling to the label of Christianity when what you’ve got instead is just some hodge podge of your own made up religion devoid of objective meaning or power?

    • bamagrad03

      Exactly. And so many people who claim themselves Christians do this. But I don’t understand why. Doing this assumes you know more about Christianity than the Bible and Jesus himself.

      If you want a feelgood religion, devoid of meaning or basis in fact, that’s fine. But don’t call it something it isn’t. Just start your own religion.

      This whole thing reads like a very nice, well meaning atheist who decided to be a sunday school teacher in a Christian church.

      • Littleismuch

        2 Timothy 4:3
        “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires”

      • John Purssey

        Your projection.

    • jekylldoc

      This is the same Paul who sets the appearance to him as equivalent to the other appearances to disciples. Resurrection is stranger and deeper than we understand.

      • TH30PH1LUS

        I’m not sure I hear “equivalence” in Paul’s words: “And last of all He appeared to me also, as to one of untimely birth. For I am the least of the apostles and am unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.…”

        Jesus didn’t need Paul, but He chose him and used him confirming his ministry and work with the power of the Holy Spirit. Do you not accept Paul as spiritual authority?

        • jekylldoc

          There was no distinction made about the type of appearance, even though in one of the accounts in Luke those around about did not see Jesus. Resurrection is stranger and deeper than we understand.

          • TH30PH1LUS

            Ah, well since resurrection appears to be God overriding physics (or handling it in a way unknown to us), I cannot disagree that bodily resurrection is indeed “strange and deep”. Jesus’ does some amazing things in His resurrected body of “flesh and bone”, yes. But it IS a body. Thomas and the disciples touched Him. He ate fish. He walked and spoke, etc.

          • jekylldoc

            I see that you think you understand. Forgive me if I am not convinced.

          • TH30PH1LUS

            Convinced? Of what? That Almighty God has authority that supersedes nature?

          • jekylldoc

            Convinced that you understand the authority of God.

  • bamagrad03

    This entire article is largely heretical. Softening the gospel to distort it into something that it’s not, to make it more palatable for you is the opposite of what literally everyone in the New Testament did to present it. If you don’t understand the purpose of Jesus life and death on earth, I’m quite sure you shouldn’t be instructing children on such matters.

    And I’m not talking about a motive to not want to introduce children to scary concepts, which is fine. I’m talking specifically about your stated view of what YOU believe was the reason for Christ’s life and death. It’s in direct conflict with what’s in the Bible.

    If you claim yourself a Christian, why refuse what Christians believe?

    I’m not saying this as some fundamentalist nutbag, but rather someone who’s concerned that you’ve misconstrued VERY basic tenets of Christianity. There are certainly nuances among the denominations, but I’m pretty sure they all get the basics of Christ’s life and death right.

    • jekylldoc

      As someone who agrees thoroughly with what was expressed in the essay, I would like to point out that “what Christians believe” has evolved over time, and that the progressive interpretation is probably closer to the understanding of the early church than Calvin’s or Luther’s. The author did not misconstrue the basic tenets of Christianity but translated them into a language suitable for the modern world.

      There are many interpretations in the Bible. These include some that are just theologically wrong, such as the declaration in Hebrews that if someone has believed and turns apostate, “there remains no sacrifice.” Interpretation is part of the process, and, at the risk of saying something too scary for someone of your spiritual stage of development, we have to do the best we can with what we have. The Bible is not supernatural revelation for all time, it is inspired response to encounter with God.

  • TH30PH1LUS

    How is this author a “pastor” when they don’t even believe the basic doctrines of Christianity, and sees them as “damaging”? EPIC FAIL

    • Joel Lawler

      I guess it all depends on how you define “pastor”.

      I volunteer with Anna. Anna loves God. She loves people with her whole heart and serves graciously and humbly. She is a selfless leader. She is a gifted teacher. She has a passion for knowledge. The kids and adults in her care at our church are fortunate to be loved and served by her.

      That’s a pastor to me.

      • TH30PH1LUS

        A pastor should be all of those things you mention, and ALSO should have a firm grasp of doctrine and God’s Word so that they can properly offer spiritual guidance to those in their care. There are plenty of references in the NT describing the role of pastors, teachers and church leadership. And in them you will find warnings that churches must carefully vet those elevated in those roles for sound doctrine. I don’t know Anna, and I have no reason to doubt your description of her personality. What I do know, is that in this article Anna has mocked and rejected the witness of the Apostles and the teachings of Jesus Himself who said “…for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.” Matthew 26:28, and that He would rise from the dead Mark 8:31, Luke 9:22, John 2:19, Matthew 26:61, Matthew 12:39, Matthew 16:4, Matthew 27:63.
        Paul noted that ALL the Apostles were in complete harmony on this foundational truth, in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. “Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed. But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?…”
        To repeat, my objection isn’t to thinking about innovative ways to communicate truth to children. It’s that Anna doesn’t accept the truth to begin with. This message has been around for a while, and somehow Christianity has managed to thrive even in the worst of human conditions, passed on by those who have been transformed by the truth delivered and the work of the Holy Spirit here confirming this message. Now suddenly we are expected to wring our hands and worry that the Gospel is “toxic” and “damaging”? Not buying that for a second. No, the issue here in this article is unbelief. Not teaching methods.

  • Scott

    Why do we as parents discipline our children? What??? Because we love them??? Are you serious?

    Proverbs 13:24 He who spares his rod hates his son,
    But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.

    How about that during Easter we tell the story of love. And how sometimes things that don’t seem to good in the moment are actually being used for our good because of the great love that our Father has for us. Its because of this great love that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ our Savior made such a drastic sacrifice, paid such a high price, paid an ultimate price for you. Just for you!

    Lets not water down the gospel, but lets explain the love that is being expressed through it. There are extreme warnings for those who alter God’s Word.

    God loves you so much, and that is expressed through the Easter Story.

    Please don’t try to take away from God’s love.

    • Anna Register

      God’s love is the primary subject of my ministry.

      • TH30PH1LUS

        But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

  • TH30PH1LUS

    Public execution! Child Sacrifice! Rising from the dead!

    Make no mistake; THIS is Anna’s true and personal assessment of Christianity – base, violent, and primitive.

    “Just the kinds of stories you want to tell your kid(s), right? Yeah…me either.”

    If Anna took 30 seconds to poll how many kids in her class knew what zombies were, because their parents have let them watch The Walking Dead, or some similar gore entertainment – she might have a fresh appreciation for what’s actually going on and drop the super-prude posture towards the Scripture.

    “…teaching this central Christian story to kids is one of my biggest challenges.”

    Because you don’t believe it, Anna. That’s why. Because in spite of spending countless hours and money on your religious education, you simply refuse to believe the witness and doctrine of the Apostles.

    “…my ethos in regard to nurturing children’s spirituality…”

    Pride. At the core of it, in your estimation YOU KNOW BETTER than Jesus Himself, how to nurture children’s spirituality. As an example, take John chapter 6. This would be true of any of Jesus teachings (mostly spoken to crowds of all ages), but this chapter blatantly discusses Jesus speaking truth that is “offensive”. NOTE what Jesus does NOT do here (or anywhere) “hey parents, I’m going to say something that may come across as gross or confusing, so please plug your children’s ears so they aren’t damaged” Nope. Also, what Jesus does not do, is kick rocks after many walk away and say “O My Self, I totally blew it! I should have rephrased that concept better. Let me run after them and apologize.” Nope. Jesus turns to the 12 and asks “are you leaving too?”
    Verse 64 “Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” Could this be you, Anna Register ?

    “…turned my children’s ministry into Hogwarts. Though, now that I think about it…that could be fun.”
    Because if the teachings of the Apostles who were hunted down and brutally executed for their faith was myth and fantasy – then what’s really the difference between your church and Disneyland? Right?

    “And the reality is, Jesus didn’t die specifically for your kid.”
    Anna, you realize this is the opposite of Biblical truth – oh, wait, I forgot, you are smarter than the God of the Bible. But to remind the reader, Jesus claimed to be and IS the Son of God who DOES know and love your child – and had this interaction with Nathaniel recorded in John 1:48
    “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
    Jesus reads our thoughts. Matthew 9:4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Luke 6:8 But Jesus knew their thoughts and said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and stand among us.” So he got up and stood there. Luke 9:47 But Jesus, knowing the thoughts of their hearts, had a little child stand beside Him. John 2:25 He did not need any testimony about man, for He knew what was in a man.
    Psalm 139:2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar.
    Psalm 139:16-17 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!

    Anna Register does not want to teach that the cross was the purpose of Jesus coming into the world, and so again proves she knows better than Jesus who plainly said as much. Over and over. And confirmed by the Apostles. It is not confusing. But I do agree it does put a certain gravitas on the decision to answer Christ’s call to “take up your cross and follow me”. Which is why many like you refuse to do that. Which is why those who DO believe are giving up their lives ALL OVER THE MIDDLE EAST as we speak.

    “Of course, when you don’t believe in a literal, eternally-flaming hell, this point is easier to deal with.”
    Yep, an existence without consequence is easy peasy lemon squeazy – and about as spiritually pointless and powerless as your babysitting ministry dressed up as a Sunday school. Amazing how much more brilliant you are than that backwards primitive Jesus, who preached a literal hell. It will be fun, won’t it – to watch Him sheepishly apologize to you in eternity for all His glaring mistakes, and then have you ascend the throne to set the record straight.

    “…the point of the Easter story isn’t whether or not Jesus LITERALLY rose from the dead.” WRONG. The entire New Testament refutes this sentence. You don’t believe in the resurrection. Yet again, another nail in the coffin of your dead faith. The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is a CORE teaching of the Apostles, who were eye witnesses. By definition, you are not a Christian.

    “…Jesus did was he felt was right, even when his friends didn’t understand.”
    No, Jesus did the will of the Father. Your “teaching” creates a subjective moral standard. Jesus clearly stated that He said what He heard the Father saying, and did what He saw the Father doing. And in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus clearly did NOT FEEL LIKE being brutally crucified and taking the punishment for all your sins into His perfect Holy nature, and being separated from the Father, yet He said “Not my will, but Thine be done”.

    “Stories don’t have to be factual to speak truth.” Wow. I suppose your Easter billboard will read “Fake News”.

    • Sarah Blaylock Turner

      Amen Amen AMEN!!! Preach it!!!! I have a feeling Anna has no idea what the word “heretic” means or else she would see that she is one, A BIG ONE!!!!! I will pray for Anna, her kiddos in her class, every single person in the church that she goes to, and you, my dear, I pray that the LORD bless you sevenfold for standing on His truths and believing the Bible AS written!!! May the Lord bless you continuously and may you and your family be blessed this Easter!!! He Is Risen!!! <3 <3 <3

      • TH30PH1LUS

        This Easter may you and yours experience the blessing of the same Jesus who said “I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”
        Revelation 1:18

        • Sarah Blaylock Turner

          Thank you much…I pray the same for you as well!! May the Lord bless you and keep you safe as well as strong in His Word and knowing you have others praying for you!!! Looking forward to meeting you and worshipping with you one day!!! Hallelujah He Is Risen!!!

      • Anna Register

        Passive aggressive prayers feel icky. But thanks anyway.

        • Sarah Blaylock Turner

          You’re welcome and may the Holy Spirit guide you to His truths… Be careful what you teach those little ones Ms. Anna, every word you say to those Littles could be taken as gospel (so to speak)…by the way, it wasn’t passive aggressive, I have been praying for you and your church…go back to the Scriptures and ask the Lord for guidance. God Bless you and yours.

      • John Purssey

        The concept of heresy is itself a heretical addition to scripture. I pray that God may free you from these judgmental attal attitudes.

        • Sarah Blaylock Turner

          I was merely testing the spirits sir!! Within the church we are supposed to rebuke each other when one is wrong!!! The Lord has already set me free dear sir and I pray He has done the same for you!!! Take care and I will gladly take any and all prayers and I will pray that the Lord blesses you for being thoughtful enough to pray for me!!!! <3

    • jekylldoc

      Sorry, but the fundamentalist interpretation is not the only one, and in the opinion of myself and the author, not the best one. It is unfortunate that you take this to be a contradiction of the scriptural witness, because it is certainly not meant to be. Your accusations of “knowing better than Jesus himself” are an important warning, but that is not actually the view of most progressive Christians. Consider for a moment how little is in the Gospels representing the idea of atonement, and how much Jesus did not preach it. For that matter, consider how little Jesus put doctrine as a criterion or a requirement of following him.

      • TH30PH1LUS

        This is not a matter of interpretation, but of rejecting core elements of the Gospel preached by Jesus Himself and the Apostles and church fathers widely embraced across denominational lines.

        For example, Jesus preached warnings of judgment in Hell. One either accepts Jesus as a spiritual authority on these matters, or not.

        Regarding atonement, the Torah is replete with it, and the Jewish audience would be already well versed. John the Baptist introduces Jesus as “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Jesus Himself says “for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.”

        Many have received amazing grace from Jesus Christ, covering a multitude of sins, and transforming lives. The thief on the cross next to Him certainly could not be baptized, or study doctrine – he was dying. But he believed, he confessed his guilt, and he asked Jesus to remember him. Jesus accepted that faith.

        You and I thankfully have more time than the dying thief. And with that time the expectation level rises, doesn’t it? For Jesus demanded that everyone who follows Him deny themselves, and take up their cross. Jesus demands we are all in with Him, because He is all in with us.

        In terms of doctrine, I ask – how exactly does one actively follow Jesus and NOT receive doctrine?

        John chapter 8 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

        2 John 1:9 “Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.”

        Denying the work of the cross and the bodily resurrection is not an “interpretation”, for these claims ARE the Gospel that the Apostles and early church suffered and died for, that were passed on by the church fathers.

        • jekylldoc

          Nobody denied the work of the cross or the Resurrection. We can be open to the doubting and those who see the matters differently without denying anything. Even the Johannine passages you cite seem to me to be guidance for a seeker, not a fence for exclusion.

          It is a sad result of the church’s power grab in the Imperial Age that we have been led to believe right doctrine is a requirement for salvation. Jesus did not go around announcing atonement or demanding doctrine. Frankly, if we have no God but a God of doctrine to introduce people to, we are withering for lack of the vine. The thief on the cross is a good example – it was his heart that experienced transformation.

          • TH30PH1LUS

            “Nobody denied the work of the cross or the Resurrection.”

            The author did, when she stated “Jesus didn’t die for your kid” and that “…he felt it was the right thing to do and perhaps the most powerful way to communicate the notion that God’s presence follows us – even unto death. All that to say, using language of “Jesus died for you” is misleading, at best.”

            The author clearly denies that Jesus, while laying down His life on the cross, was making a personal sacrifice of atonement for the actual sins of real persons. This is contradiction to the words of Jesus and the Apostles and church fathers. Eph. 2:13 states: But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Rom. 3:25: God presented Him as an atoning sacrifice through faith in His blood…2 Corinthians 5:21: For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. Isaiah 53:12: …He Himself bore the sin of many…

            Regarding the resurrection, the author states: “Coming back from the dead is [NOT] something you can expect to happen.” And also “I don’t think it’s helpful or healthy to suggest that resurrection is a present-day reality” And also “…we’re fighting over the historical accuracy of a bodily resurrection.”

            Again, the author is contradicting Jesus, the Apostles, and the church fathers on this matter. The doctrine of bodily resurrection is woven throughout the Torah. Jesus confirms this through His words and deeds, indeed the NT records that Jesus was not the only one bodily resurrected – Matt. 27:52-53: The tombs broke open, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After Jesus’ resurrection, when they had come out of the tombs, they entered the holy city and appeared to many people.…

            Why should we who believe NOT EXPECT this to happen to us at the time He sees fit? Especially when all the Apostles and church fathers explicitly state this hope as a foundational element of Christian faith, in accordance with the Torah and the words of Christ?

            Why exactly are the miracles of Christ “not a present day reality”? The author does not tell us how or why she thinks God flip-flopped on this.

            I was unaware that there was a “fight” among those who believe as to whether or not there was a “historical” bodily resurrection? This miracle that was eye witnessed by the Apostles and hundreds of others is considered a linch-pin of Christian faith. It defines faith in the person of Jesus Christ, in His words and deeds in which He claimed and demonstrated power over death, over and over again.

            The author holds a position of Teacher within a church, she has moved well beyond seeker, to something else. None of this discussion is about “requirements for salvation”, which is why I mention the crucified thief next to Jesus.

            Jesus extends the offer of salvation to sinners of all varieties and personalities and backgrounds, and for this I am extremely grateful. It is also true that Jesus does not leave us in the state He finds us, but profoundly changes us as we continue to follow, obey, abide, suffer, and grow. Jesus meets us in the power of His grace, changes us completely, and then says “take up your cross and follow me.”

            Doctrine IS to be expected from those who have been following, and especially from those who fill the position to instruct others.

          • jekylldoc

            Well, I think your doctrine is confused, but I am not at all interested in condemning you for it. I believe you could have a much more joyous experience of the way if you connected your faith to the substance of the faith,of the early church, but that is a generalization and I am perfectly willing to accept that your way may actually be overflowing with love and grace and an inspiration to everyone around you.

            Resurrection can be viewed as spiritual without at all compromising the faith. The example I gave of Paul’s interpretation of his own experience is meant to convey this to you, but I would suggest that the short ending of Mark, combined with the parable accounts in Luke and John (which are not mentioned in Paul’s accounting) convey the same message. “He is risen” is an affirmation about the Body of Christ much more than it is about the body of Jesus. And it is more important for children to understand that they can overcome threats with faith than to sign onto certain doctrines about what happens after we die.

            As for what Paul had to say about atoning sacrifice, I believe it was one of many images he used to convey the difficult concept of salvation by grace, and that atonement can be fully understood as an effect of a consecrating act of self-giving, rather than as Hebrews would have it, as an accounting transaction.

            Of course you are free to believe that literal interpretations are required of us. But you will then have to turn your back on the actual love and faith that Christ brings to progressive Christians as well as evangelicals. When we seek to convey that love through our teachings to our children, we understand that it conveys lack of faith to you, but we have concluded that trusting Jesus is not a matter either of relying on the literal accuracy of scripture or of agreeing with past interpretations in doctrine.

          • TH30PH1LUS

            If my doctrine is confused please identify where and specifically and how it deviates from the Scripture.

            The resurrection is either exactly what the Apostles said it was, or a lie.

            Everything is “spiritual” in the sense that the entire physical universe came from nothing by the power of the spoken word of God. The unseen is what is real, and the underlying foundation of the material universe.

            From Colossians chapter 1 For in Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and firstborn from among the dead, so that in all things He may have preeminence.…

            The atoning act upon the cross IS His demonstration of love. Jesus said “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” And also “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” And also “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”

          • jekylldoc

            Deviates from scripture? The main problem, overall, is your idea that we are supposed to conform rigidly to scripture. Holy scripture is not a textbook or a statute. My favorite example is in Hebrews 10 where it says that no sacrifice remains for the apostate: God’s grace was evidently “used up” in this mechanistic view of grace. Scripture has some great, inspired revelations, but it is not a pipeline to the supernatural, provided by a stingy God who wants to test us and if we flunk, flush us down into eternal torment.

            The Spirit brings life.

            The second serious point of confusion in your doctrine is the idea that it is a lie if things did not happen exactly the way it was stated. I seriously doubt that that is the way most Christians of the time understood matters. John’s post-Easter story by the seashore is obvious allegory, and the story of the road to Emmaus looks like allegory to me. These are not lies, any more than the story of the Good Samaritan is a lie.

            God did not give us a spirit of fear. The imperial church tried to, but that is another story.

          • TH30PH1LUS

            King David thoroughly and eloquently refutes your low estimation of Scripture in Psalm 119. A personal favorite. Verse 89: Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.

            “Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.” Jesus in Matthew 24:35

            Isaiah 55:11 “So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”

            Proverbs 30:4-6 : Who has ascended into heaven and descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has wrapped the waters in His garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name or His son’s name? Surely you know! Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words Or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar.…

            Psalm 12:6 The words of the LORD are pure words; As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.

            Psalm 19:8 The commandments of the LORD are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are clear, giving insight for living.

            Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.

            1 Peter 1:25 But the word of the Lord remains forever. And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.

            Matthew 5:18-19 I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. So then, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

            Jesus demonstrates a unity of the Word & the Spirit; somehow you see division. You say life comes from the Spirit (as opposed to the Word), but Jesus says “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” and ALSO “The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.”

            You say the Scripture has inspired revelations BUT is not a pipeline to the supernatural… and something something “stingy God”

            The Apostle Paul says “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16

            I will address your secondary point at another time, but it seems to me that you have found some offense in the Apostle Paul’s warning in Hebrews, and have coddled that offense until it has unraveled your esteem and reverence for the eternal authority of God’s Word.

            How is it that Paul’s warning offends you, and Christ’s warnings do not? Matthew 13:1-9, Mark 7:6, Matthew 7:16-23

            Since you reject Paul’s authority, tell us more about the beatings, whippings, and stonings you’ve endured for the witness of the Resurrected Christ? The nights in jail, the court hearings, and false accusations? Tell us your stories about the healings and demonic exorcisms and miracles of the Holy Spirit that must certainly far surpass Paul’s experiences, since you claim superior revelation?

            Beware the forked tongue of the serpent whispering “hath God said?”

          • C J Dport

            While TH30PHILUS quotes scripture, you do not? Why? Do you not accept it or is what, “I believe,” of greater value? Where does scripture call for “turning the back” on the actual love and faith…, etc? Most fundamentalist, evangelical, doctrinal or main stream Christians (don’t know how you define them) exhibit true joy and “agape” love rather mere snowflake emotionalism. Are you saying that everyone, everywhere receives God’s grace and is a part of the Body of Christ? PLEASE tell me you are not teaching somewhere.

        • John Purssey

          All theology is interpretation. You just can’t accept that there are a range of interpretations. (I am not saying anything is truth.)

          • TH30PH1LUS

            John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

          • John Purssey

            Not to be confused with a translation of scripture.

            Proof-texting or cherry-picking a fragment from a discourse is just a bad approach.

          • TH30PH1LUS

            Seems to me that fragmentation and cherry picking is precisely what the author of this article is wrestling with in her list of things she doesn’t want to teach.

            Please elaborate on the “range of interpretations” within the NT regarding the following:

            1. The existence of Hell.
            2. The atoning work of Christ on the cross.
            3. The Resurrection of Jesus.

  • lagibby

    This is a beautiful theological expression for all ages. I expected you would be getting major pushback in the comments and I see I was correct. Your concern about “damaging” theological interpretations are spot-on. So-called “blood atonement” has been used for centuries to beat people over the head and use guilt instead of love to draw people closer to God.
    However, I would also give a nod to the people who take “Jesus died for you,” as an expression of love rather than guilt. To many people, this is a precious expression that Jesus and God, to use a contemporary expression, “have our backs.” Oddly enough, I think the idea that “Jesus died for me,” and especially for my sins, is more meaningful if I see the message being directed toward me and my critics as being the cause of the necessity of the cross. Critics, in this case, like the ones slamming you for this essay.
    Jesus died to show US and OUR ENEMIES (not God) that we are loved for who we are and we are forgiven for not being perfect. That, to me, is the atonement of the cross: That human aggression and enmity killed Jesus and that Jesus/God forgive(s) us for being human and sometimes engaging in the same kind of aggression and enmity.
    That doesn’t mean that we get a free pass to continue such enmity. We should, instead, follow Jesus’ example of forgiving our enemies and seeking to treat all people with love.
    So I say to the folks who have posted previously with invective, whether veiled or obvious: God loves you. You are siding with the crucifiers when you hurl invective at others, whom God also loves. And God forgives you too.

    • TH30PH1LUS

      The Egyptian Book of the Dead, Siddhartha, and the Upanishad are also theological expressions. Their beauty does not make them truth.

      I won’t disagree that many have mishandled and misused God’s Word and left injured broken souls in their wake. This does not therefore mean teachers and pastors should edit and change God’s Word to suit our sensibilities, but rather that they should correctly use it.

      Anna Register is not the victim here, and I am not her enemy, because I criticized her article. Her article IS a criticism of the gospel. The real victims are those she abuses with her lies – namely Jesus and the Apostles, and the church fathers (whom she sets herself above by saying they all got it wrong and she is right), and all those within her care who are basically being taught Anna’s religion dressed up as Christianity.

      Anna is not perfect. I am not perfect. Only Jesus is that. It is not a matter of perfection at stake here, but the foundation of God’s Word as truth.

      Hell. A concept discussed over and over throughout Scripture, and preached by Jesus Himself. Anna knows better.

      Jesus’ death on the cross an act of personal and real atonement for the sins of real people. A core concept of the Apostles and church fathers. Anna knows better.

      Jesus’ bodily resurrection. Eye witnessed by the Apostles and hundreds of others. Anna knows better.

      I’m glad God loves me. I believe God loves Anna, and all those kids she teaches. Which is what makes her lies about Him so devastating. All that God did and gave and vindicated, and she has thrown all of that away, and yet insists upon using His name to validate it.

    • bamagrad03

      lagibby, your post, while well intentioned is factually inaccurate. Our original posts merely illustrated how the author is completely wrong as to the life and death of Jesus and its meaning. It’s in the Bible. There’s nothing invective about pointing out fact. I can show you specifically in the Bible where she’s inaccurate. Facts aren’t hateful, they’re facts. And misconstruing the gospel for our own personal feel good story, while again possibly well intentioned, is wrong.

      That doesn’t mean I think God doesn’t love the author, or that I can’t wish her well. But moral theraputic deism isn’t Christianity, so why masquerade as if it were? If I told you the sky was purple, telling me it’s blue isn’t hateful, it’s just pointing out a fact.

      • lagibby

        OK. Show me where I am “factually inaccurate” and we can discuss. I have a Masters degree in Sacred Theology from an accredited seminary and I’m fairly familiar with the New Testament, and the gospels in particular. The blood atonement concept that I refer to was introduced by Anselm in the Middle Ages, not by scripture. But show me, I’m open to discussing it.
        If we disagree, I won’t call your literal, fundamentalist interpretation non-Christian. I won’t even say it’s inaccurate. But it’s not the only interpretation. (“Many mansions,” you know.)

        By the way, sometimes the sky IS purple, and if you haven’t ever seen that — in a roiling thundercloud or a darkening sunset, for instance — I am sorry for what you’ve missed.

        • TH30PH1LUS

          The blood atonement was well established in the Torah long before Anselm.

          “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21

          God Himself replaced their vegetable clothing with the skins of animals He slew to establish the principle. Cain’s rejected vegetable sacrifice and Abel’s accepted sacrifice in the very next chapter corroborates.

          “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” Exodus 12:13

          “Then Aaron must slaughter the first goat as a sin offering for the people and carry its blood behind the inner curtain. There he will sprinkle the goat’s blood over the atonement cover and in front of it…” Leviticus 16:15

          “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” Leviticus 17:11

          “When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.” Isaiah 53:11

          Jesus words in Matthew chapter 26: “for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.”

          The rest of the NT is in agreement with this principle, vividly described in Hebrews chapter 9. Here’s just two of many descriptive verses: “With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.” and also “In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.”

          The Apostle Peter agrees: “As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.” (from 1 Peter chapter 1) and also “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.”

          The Apostle John agrees: “All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us.” (from Revelation chapter 1) and also in chapter 12 “And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony.And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.”

    • bamagrad03

      I’ll also add that spreading a message that’s in direct conflict with what is in the Bible takes on the assumption that one knows more about Jesus than Jesus and Paul. Again, if you don’t believe in the Bible, that’s completely one thing. Doesn’t make you a bad person. But you have no business teaching something you don’t believe in.

      • lagibby

        I didn’t see anything in her essay that is “in direct conflict with what is in the Bible.” Except perhaps the statement that you needn’t take everything literally. If you do take everything literally, “that doesn’t make you a bad person. But you have no business” reacting to something you don’t understand by suggesting that someone with a more nuanced interpretation “has no business” teaching that interpretation.

        • TH30PH1LUS

          Conflicts:
          1. The existence of Hell is suggested as negotiable, when Jesus preached it.
          2. Author denies that Jesus’ death atoned for anyone specifically (“Jesus did not die for your kid”), that He “felt it was the right thing to do” – when Jesus and all the Apostles and church fathers say He did in fact lay down His life and shed His blood for the remission of sins.
          3. Author denies the bodily resurrection of Jesus from death, when this is exactly the claim of all the eyewitnesses, and is stated multiple times as a defining cornerstone of Christian faith.

          Paul hardly would consider this “nuanced” Galatians 1:8 & Romans 10:9
          Peter would hardly consider this “nuanced” Acts 2:32
          Thomas would hardly consider this “nuanced” John 20:27-29

          Taking truth and making it applicable to young minds is one thing, denying core doctrine and cloaking it as “Christian” is something altogether different.

    • Anna Register

      Thank you so much for this encouragement :)

  • Blestchick

    The irony that the sidebar ad while reading this was for the Resurrection eggs, ugh. Thank you so much for these words.

    • Anna Register

      Thank you for reading.

  • JeffB

    Thanks for the insights. Good to see there is reason at work in some churches. The posters below criticizing your progressive christian viewpoints are part of the reason the “Nones” continue to be the faster growing religious group. The number one reason they give for leaving – the just don’t believe in literal narrative. And if you don’t buy off on a literal interpretation, well, read some more below to get some more of that good loving feeling.

    • Anna Register

      Thanks, Jeff. I think opening ourselves up to the deeper possibilities this story carries can give us a much richer experience and understanding of who/what God is and who Jesus was.

  • Daniel G. Johnson

    Well, no.

    Easter is about physical resurrection.

    There is a depth to that…that you are unwilling to dive into.

  • Canbuhay

    If I were to say, “This post is extremely offensive. Please stop teaching these very hurtful ideas.” Would that cause you to stop?

    Just because an idea could hurt others’ feelings, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be taught. And neither should the gospel message be watered down to make sure that your feelings aren’t hurt. By arguing this way, you make the feelings of children your god, not God.

    Your message is not just condescending to children who already know that there is a right and wrong and that there are consequences to bad behaviour but it is teaching them that truth doesn’t matter. And that is offensive to God, the most important person you should care about not offending.

    • Canbuhay

      BTW, this article is extremely offensive and demeaning to Christian believers. But I will never ask you to stop teaching your ideas just because it offends me. Please be willing to do the same – Feelings are best experienced when they are based on facts, not the other way around.

      • John Purssey

        Too much of a generalisation. There are always some Christians who find what another Christian says as offensive/demeaning etc. I don’t find it offensive and demeaning and I am sure a lot of other Christian believers do not.
        Try a bit of empathic understanding, that is Christian praxis.

      • davewarnock

        I’d be interested to hear what facts you’re referring to. There are no ‘facts’ to prove that Jesus even existed, much less was supernaturally raised from the dead. Bring em

        • TH30PH1LUS

          Publius Cornelius Tacitus – Roman senator & historian references Christ and Nero’s persecution of Christians as a way to shift blame for the fires. “But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the Bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements Which could be presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero From the infamy of being believed to have ordered the Conflagration, the fire of Rome. Hence to suppress the rumor, he Falsely charged with the guilt, and punished Christians, who were Hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was Put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign Of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time Broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief Originated, but through the city of Rome also, where all things Hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their Center and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first Made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an Immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of Firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.” Annals 15.44.

          Pliny wrote a letter to Trajan in 112 seeking official legal guidance for prosecuting the crime of being of Christian. Describing them: Christians were “meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang an alternate verse a hymn to Christ as to a god, and bound themselves to a solemn oath, not to do wicked deeds, never commit fraud, theft, adultery, not to lie nor to deny a trust. . . ” – Epistles X96

          Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, written around 93–94 AD, includes two references to the biblical Jesus in Books 18 and 20.

          Lucian of Samosata was a 1st Century satirist who wrote a story ridiculing Christian beliefs noting the founder was crucified.

          Origen’s refutation of Celsus (wish I had time to dig into this because of the detailed arguments)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celsus

          Copies of the uncensored pre-1631Rabbinic writings reference Jesus http://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/talmud_jesus.htm

          The overwhelming majority of New Testament scholars and Near East historians are in agreement on the existence of Jesus.

    • Anna Register

      Thank you for your comment. Interestingly, nowhere in my article did I mention protecting feelings. My aim in treating these sorts of stories with care is to respect the varying developmental stages of the children in my care in addition to protecting their self-image and psychological health. I’ve known too many people who, as adults, still carry so much shame because of the way these stories were presented and some of the theological views of their churches growing up – I’m unwilling to damage someone psychology. Note – I clearly stated that I’m not suggesting NEVER teaching these stories – simply to respect our childrens’ personhood and take note of when it is developmentally appropriate to share such things. It’s a simple algorithm, really – if you wouldn’t show it to your child on the 5:00 news, why open the floodgates in a space that is supposed to be safe an nurturing – i.e. the church.

      • Canbuhay

        Interesting. Why do you think Jesus died on a public road for all humanity to see, including children? Why do you think psychological health for a child means hiding them from the reality of death and punishment? Why is protecting self-image so important that children aren’t taught about the reality of sin?

        There are age appropriate tools, and I commend you for acknowledging that Christians need to teach these important biblical truths. But when I work with kids and youth – I speak to youth all the time and have my own youth group – I’ve found honesty is always the best policy. It sounds to me that more adults need to learn that practice, even if it affects their “self-image.”

      • Canbuhay

        Oh and BTW, when did Jesus ever taught that the church was “safe?” The New Testament was written to believers who were being tortured and killed for their faith, including kids. They wouldn’t recognize a church that valued “safety” over truth.

  • John III

    This is a great illustration of how liberalism and Christianity are different religions. Paul would say that if Christ is not bodily risen from the dead, we are of all people most to be pitied. The resurrection does not teach us that new life pops up unexpectedly – the resurrection was prophecied and it is in that one resurrection of Christ that a new creation is breaking into this present evil age.

  • jeremy Smither

    Six of one half dozen of the other, who cares how you teach fake ideas ,spin it anyway you want, teaching a kid jesus was born from a virgin died came back from the dead then lifted into the sky without the aid of technology breaks so many scientific knows i can’t count them all “religion allows people to believe bye the millions what only a lunatic would believe on their own.

  • davewarnock

    Excellent article! Well written, Anna. There would be a lot fewer emotionally damaged adults if they had heard this as a child- rather than the toxic message that a literal interpretation of the scripture presents. Thank you.

  • John Purssey

    Personally, as a child I was never traumatised by hearing the Easter stories, and the idea that it could I heard of only when I was an adult. I wonder how widespread is the traumatising reaction. I am no child developmental psychologist, but it does seem that children can be more matter of fact about these stories, (and also grisly fairy tales), than parents/adults give them credit for.

  • Joel Lawler

    Very well written Pastor Anna.

    I can’t image Jesus taking a child into his arms and saying – “You’re so horrible that I am going to have to be tortured and murdered for you. If I don’t, you will get the punishment that you deserve which is to burn alone forever in hell.”

    I have the privilege of being one of Anna’s volunteers with the kiddos. I LOVE being able to look in those sweet faces and tell them that “You are loved. No matter where you go, no matter what you choose to believe, no matter who you love, no matter what you grow up to be, no matter what and this never changes….NEVER, EVER forget that You are loved.”

    • TH30PH1LUS

      I don’t disagree with your thought, even though it is obviously exaggerated. I cannot imagine ANY Sunday school teacher communicating these ideas in that way to small children. Not because Hell isn’t real, or that the atonement for sin wasn’t necessary, but because these concepts can be (easily) communicated in an age-appropriate way. I will say, on the other hand, that Jesus did not “edit himself” in front of large crowds of all ages, or refrain from saying hard and even offensive things or even discussing Hell – simply because children were present.
      Good Sunday School teachers have for many generations more or less adequately done this. While I’m sure there must be a few bad apples that have been stuck in classrooms having no business communicating to anyone, my main issue isn’t that the Word of God be communicated in an age appropriate way – but that the author doesn’t actually believe in them. The bodily Resurrection of Jesus IS ground zero for the message of Christianity. It IS the evidence that God has begun His work of a new creation, and validated everything that Jesus said and did by establishing Him as King and Lord over this new creation. Anna states that she does not believe the message of the Apostles and church fathers on this matter, and thus is teaching a gutted, dead mangled version of Christianity.
      Children ought to be told they are loved and valued, and what’s more, shown that in fact they are. Many examples of Jesus blessing children, telling adults that we must come to God as children, that He places great value and worth on children. IN a society where more black babies are aborted than born in New York City, America desperately needs to hear again the words of Christ elevating the value of children in the economy of heaven. Love however, does not mean that we fail to provide guidance and truth or set expectations or standards. All tears are not an evil. This denial of the foundational truth of the Gospel is what has weighed heavy on my heart for Anna, and for all around her.

    • TH30PH1LUS

      Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Deuteronomy 6:7

      You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. Deuteronomy 11:19

      We will not conceal them from their children, But tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done. Psalm 78:4

      From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:15

  • T Whitfield

    I won’t call you a witch–although Wiccans are in attendance at Vanderbilt Divinity, perhaps you all hang out together–but you are a complete heretic. You have essentially watered down the Easter story to a point where it is unrecognizable. People like you are one of the reasons why Christianity is so weak in America and throughout the world. The message of Jesus, His birth, death, resurrection, and ascension are not weak–they are powerful! And have sustained believers for > 2000 years and will continue to sustain believers until He returns in glory.
    Your brand of theology is infused with works righteousness “you can be courageous too,” and “I’m okay, you’re okay” secularism. And quite frankly, well, how can I say this, you obviously don’t know much about the Old Testament, the New Testament, how they are related, human nature, children, nothing. It literally made me sick to read someone calling themselves a “Christian” and writing this “safe space” version of the Resurrection story.
    The job of a Christian teacher, preacher, and evangelist is to “proclaim the Gospel.” That means you personally do not get to pick and choose what is taught. Jesus gave clear mandates on that. You are to teach the truth. And to think, you are warping the minds of small children, well, you’ve read the NT so much, hopefully you read what Jesus said about the millstone
    I agree with the person that said “Mixing liberalism with Christianity” – doesn’t work, this is indeed the sick results. The person who talked about truth is spot on. Atonement is taught as early as Genesis 3:15. Extremely offensive to Christians—YES!
    Children are resilient. After all, it is children who have been taught the TRUE and AUTHENTIC message of Easter and have lived to pass it on to Christians living today.
    Please just quit promoting yourself as a Christian. Without the Resurrection, there is NO Gospel. Don’t you get that?

    NOTE: “Divinity” can be used as an adjective for anything. Vanderbilt DIVINITY has been super liberal even since the 90’s or earlier. It is not a purely Christian seminary, but also includes Islam, Hindu, etc. etc. etc. This article reveals the pluralism present in at least some of the student’s thought. One of Satan’s subtle lies is that seminary=Christian, but don’t be fooled.