Epiphany, Acts 15, and How the Church Makes Decisions

On Epiphany Sunday, Christians celebrate all sorts of events related to the stories surrounding the birth of Jesus.But in the Christian (Latin) West, the celebration of Epiphany has primarily centered on the story in Matthew of the Magi, priests from the East who had heard news of Jesus’ birth and came to worship him and bring him gifts.This story is celebrated as the very beginning of Jesus’ mission to the Gentiles, because the Magi, foreign Zorastrian priests, represented the non … [Read more...]

Theologians Opposing the Nomination of Jeff Sessions

I joined with many other Christian theologians and other faith leaders in signing a petition against the proposed nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General.The petition is here.For those uninitiated to the reasons why progressive Christian theologians would adamantly oppose Trump's nomination of Sessions, a recent Washington Post article provides a summary of 10 Things to Know about Jeff Sessions.Included in that summary is Sessions adamant and consistent opposition to … [Read more...]

“True Truth” isn’t the Answer to “Post-Truth”

We're living in a post-truth society now, they say.This is what all those conservative evangelicals once feared, right? The onslaught of postmodern relativism would usher in a thoroughly post-truth world, where ideologies (devoid of solid reasoning) reign supreme, where feelings rule over reason, where morality is simply up to the individual, where everyone is trapped in their own perspective, where Absolute Truth is demolished and truth becomes simply the truth that is true for me, … [Read more...]

Virgin Births aren’t as Miraculous as You Think

Virgin births are not nearly as miraculous as you think.They happen fairly regularly. Well, I don't know about regularly, but they do happen, and they aren't considered rare.There are documented cases among lizards, snakes, sharks, rays, turkeys, chickens, and other vertebrates -- including lots of insects.Scientists call virgin births parthenogenesis (literally, originating from a virgin). The female produces offspring asexually, apart from male involvement.Scientists know … [Read more...]

Is Evangelicalism Now Just Right-Wing Politics in Religious Garb?

For those of you brave souls, crying out in the wilderness, who still want to reclaim white evangelicalism from the "Trumpism" that has now come to largely define it, good luck.Neil J. Young just splashed a lot of cold water on you.In a piece called "Time to Face Facts: White Evangelicalism Has Always Been Right Wing," he takes on Richard Mouw's proclamation that, "“Despite Trumpism, I’m not quitting evangelicalism." Mouw, former president of Fuller Seminary, has been one of those alt … [Read more...]

Inerrancy: A “Comforting Gauze that Conceals Ugliness” (Worthen)

Here's Molly Worthen, writing about the conflict over biblical authority, and in particular the doctrine of inerrancy, during the intramural skirmishes in the evangelicalism of the 1970s: The problem was this: The doctrine of inerrancy was a comforting gauze that concealed a great deal of ugliness. It disguised the compromise and confusion that are unavoidable when moderns try to live by an ancient and often obscure text.The doctrine of inerrancy had always been, in its essence a means of … [Read more...]

Pietism is the “One and Only Consequence of Christianity” (Kierkegaard Says)

Yes, indeed, pietism (properly understood, not simply in the sense of abstaining from dancing and such externals, no in the sense of witnessing for the truth and suffering for it, together with the sense that suffering in the world belongs to being a Christian, and that a shrewd and secular conformity with this world is unchristian)--yes indeed, pietism is the one and only consequence of Christianity. - S. KierkegaardI'm looking forward to participating this Tuesday in a upcoming … [Read more...]

If Augustine’s Theory of the “Fall” is Right, What About Righteous Noah?

Augustine's theology of "original sin" has dominated and corrupted western theology for thousands of years.According to Augustine's reading of Genesis 3, the disobedience of Adam and Eve results in severe consequences: a dramatic change in human nature, which means that all subsequent human beings are sinners, too -- from the point of conception. We all inherited a corrupted sin nature, and also the guilt of Adam and Eve's sin. This inheritance is passed along through the procreative … [Read more...]

Into the Light of Christmas: From Ordinary to Extraordinary, from Facts to Meanings

This post is a contribution to the Patheos Book Club discussion of Thomas Moore's The Soul of Christmas.Christmas is a time to look toward the light.This is Thomas Moore's suggestion, in his beautiful little book, The Soul of Christmas.Moore points out Christmas was strategically placed on December 25, which was the day of the Roman pagan celebration of the "unconquered sun," the emergence of light from the darkness of winter. He writes, Sol-stice is the time when the sun is … [Read more...]

What do you Get When You Scratch a Neo-Evangelical?

Molly Worthen's The Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism, is a lively and fresh look into the strategic morphing of early 20th century fundamentalism into the conservative, white Protestant movement known today as evangelicalism, or by its more technical term, "neo-evangelicalism.""Neo-evangelicalism" was the term adopted by leaders of this movement who wanted to distance themselves from the perceived cultural backwardness of their fundamentalist forebears … [Read more...]