May 28, 2024

Why We Believe the Bible Is God’s Word Written First, who is the “we?” By “we” I mean Christians who think like I think. I’m not alone. Second, a complete answer to such a big question can never be offered in a blog post like this. Third, this answer is not intended to be a rationalist apologetic for the Bible, even though it may be part of one. We do not believe in “proof” outside of a priori and purely... Read more

May 26, 2024

Again: Ohlendorf and the OT Texts of Terror If you are just dropping in here with this blog post, you need to go back and read the previous one. This is an addendum and response to critics of what I said there. Very few, if any, of you who responded to the previous blog post “caught” the main point. Or, if you did, you ignored it. Let me repeat it: Otto Ohlendorf was right when, during his Nuremberg trial for... Read more

May 24, 2024

Nazi Otto Ohlendorf and the Old Testament Nazi war criminal Otto Ohlendorf defended his actions by appealing to the Old Testament “texts of terror” in which God is said to have commanded the genocide of Canaanites. His point, during his Nuremberg trial, was that genocide cannot automatically be considered a crime against humanity because God, the God believed in by most of his prosecutors and judges, commanded it. If the Jewish and Christian God, the God of the Bible, commanded... Read more

May 22, 2024

Can Anything Be Religion? Here, this time, I take off my Christian theologian’s hat and wear only my religion scholar hat. I hold three degrees in religious studies, two from a major secular research university (Rice, Houston, Texas). I have been involved in various program units of the American Academy of Religion including one that focuses on new and alternative religions especially in America. I have conducted non-sectarian research into new and alternative religions, presented scholarly papers at professional societies... Read more

May 20, 2024

The Political Meaning of Christianity: Relevance to MAGA Some of us have been reading and discussing The Political Meaning of Christianity by Glenn Tinder. This is my final post about it. If you have been reading the book, feel free to comment; if you have not been reading it, feel free to ask a question. The final chapter is entitled “Prophetic Spirituality.” Then comes the Postscript entitled “World Politics.” It is there, in the Postscript, that Tinder makes some comments... Read more

May 15, 2024

What Is the “Decisive Factor” in Salvation? Some Calvinists have told me (and other Arminians) that in Arminian theology the sinner’s decision to accept God’s grace unto salvation is “the decisive factor” in his or her salvation. And, of course, that is meant as a criticism of Arminianism. But is it a valid criticism? No. Some time ago I watched the movie, based on real events, “Thirteen Lives.” The movie is a documentary with fictional features. It portrays the underwater... Read more

May 14, 2024

A Prophetic Book for Conservatives and Progressives: Our Next Book for Discussion (First I will finish our current discussion of The Political Meaning of Christianity. Then, in a couple weeks, we will begin discussion of this excellent new book by Austin Fischer. Please order it as soon as possible. I guarantee it will inspire and challenge you.) Austin Fischer is lead pastor of The Vista (church) in Temple, Texas and my former student. In this case, the student has surpassed... Read more

May 12, 2024

An Evangelical Side Show? Controversy Again Youtube is filled with rage over this.  Should it be? Or does this just illustrate a weakness within American evangelical ranks? It happened in Springfield, Missouri. A mega church put on a Christian men’s conference. The church was packed with men and maybe a woman or two. The conference opened with a very muscular man climbing a high pole with a sword in his mouth, swallowing the sword, and sliding down the pole, stopping... Read more

May 10, 2024

The John Birch Society and the Republican Party People smarter than I and more “in the know” are claiming that the current Republican Party is adopting many of the ideas and policies of the John Birch Society. (You can look them up on Youtube if you doubt me.) What is the John Birch Society (JBS)? Well, I don’t have time or space here to go into its history or ideology. Look it up on Wikipedia. I found the article there... Read more

May 8, 2024

How a Christian Can Influence Culture for the Good Of course, there are numerous ways in which a Christian can influence society and culture for the good. I write here as an Anabaptist who does not believe in Christians using coercion or force to control “the public square.” But what can an Anabaptist-inclined Christian do beyond speaking out, beyond persuasion, beyond prophetic speech, beyond writing letters to the editor? I was watching a major network news program, on nation-wide television,... Read more

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