January 27, 2023

I realize that the “love and justice” part of reading the Bible with a bias toward love and justice might sound a little vague. So I want to offer another angle on this, with a few more specifics. The angle: aligning our biases with God’s.  We’ve explored the idea (in the love and justice post) that we as humans are never without bias. We’ve also explored some of the ways these biases have gone badly awry, and what that might... Read more

January 20, 2023

If we—as Christians often do—ever think we have all the right answers about the Bible, a look at historical abuses of scripture may give us pause. That has certainly been the case for me.  What makes reading the Bible a complex thing is not just that translation is complicated and often ambiguous. And it’s not just that both New Testament writers and historical theologians alike often read scripture very differently from the way many modern-day Christians do.  It’s also that... Read more

January 13, 2023

A little over four years ago, I took a seminary class on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (The Theology and Ethics of Dr. Martin Luther King, to be precise—or Martin Luther King class, for short. Taught by Dr. Hak Joon Lee). A whole class on Dr. King! I count myself fortunate.  I want to share a few things I remember from Martin Luther King class, things I still think about often.  The Need for Change is Urgent I remember reading... Read more

January 11, 2023

A pastor I like and respect once said that he found it much more valuable to know Hebrew than Greek. (Hebrew is the original language of the Hebrew scriptures, often known by Christians as the Old Testament; Koine Greek is the original language of the New Testament.)  He said that Greek basically just used different words from English to describe the same things. Whereas Hebrew offered a window into a whole different mindset and way of seeing the world. I... Read more

January 6, 2023

In one of my preaching classes in seminary, we were asked to write and preach three different sermons on the same passage: one in our own usual style, one in the style of 20th century Swiss theologian Karl Barth, and one in the style of 4th-5th century North African bishop Augustine. This was an assignment toward the end of the quarter. First, we had spent several weeks reading Augustine and Barth’s sermons and other writings. We studied, compared, noticed themes,... Read more

January 2, 2023

People often either love or hate the Bible.  Those who love it sometimes love it with a rather simple kind of love. They swallow it whole—or at least they swallow whole what their pastors and other respected spiritual authority figures tell them about it. And those who hate it—well, they see the (very real and valid) problems with it, and with how it has been used. And they want nothing to do with it.  Of course, not everyone falls in... Read more

December 28, 2022

Recently I’ve been exploring the question: When we read the Bible, what are we looking for? One angle is that we’re looking for guidance. Another is that—at our best, at least—we’re looking to avoid authoritarianism. So if we are looking for guidance, in some form, but we are looking to avoid authoritarianism—what, then, are we really looking for? What kind of guidance? What kind of non-authoritarian values, beliefs, and practices? I would like to suggest this: When we read the... Read more

December 20, 2022

Looking to the Bible for guidance, as I wrote about last week, is a little more complex than it might seem.  One part of the complexity is this: The idea of looking to the Bible for guidance can easily get twisted. In particular, it can get twisted into authoritarianism.  Or, authoritarian leaders can twist it to uphold their own oversized authority. This is a problem. How, then, do we read the Bible for guidance but avoid authoritarianism? Biblical: A Magical... Read more

December 16, 2022

These days, to me, the Bible is both holy and confusing. It’s inspired, and it’s complex—and taking it seriously means something much more complicated (but also much more hopeful and interesting) than reading it as literal instructions straight from God to us. In this world of ambiguity, some questions arise. If the Bible can mean so many different things to different people—and to different churches and denominations, not to mention different racial groups, ethnic groups, socioeconomic classes, genders, sexualities, and... Read more

December 12, 2022

As 2022 comes to a close, many people start thinking about New Year’s resolutions for 2023. What does it look like to do so as a person of faith? How do we connect our religious or spiritual traditions with our hopes and dreams for a new year? How do we make religious New Year’s resolutions? Connect to Your Purpose Religion, at its best, connects us with our deepest sense of purpose in our world. As we consider what New Year’s... Read more

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