I was the worship leader at my church recently, which meant I started the service, made announcements, read the scriptures, and sat up front looking saintly. I like doing that, but I am always stymied when introducing and ending the lessons.
I like to start the lessons by giving a little background on the reading because jumping into the middle of a biblical book can be confusing.… Read more >
There are six church seasons: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost.
Christmas is probably most people’s favorite. I like it as a secular holiday but not as a religious one—I see no reason to celebrate fairy tales. We have no idea where, when, or how Jesus was born, but we sure spend a lot of energy and money celebrating the unknown.… Read more >
Did Jesus really rise from the dead? Or is this a fairy tale?
This issue, along with who God is, could keep the twenty-first-century reformation from moving forward.
Progressive thinking is often considered heresy because it questions doctrines such as a god living above us or physical resurrections. A dead man coming back to life defies the laws of nature, which say that dead is dead because the body shuts down and the decomposition process begins instantly.… Read more >
My class is still charting the twenty-first-century reformation. Getting this reformation off the ground isn’t easy. The biggest obstacle is the image of God as a white man sitting on his throne in his mansion above a flat, three-tiered earth, running everything and judging everyone. Even with photos from the Hubble Space Telescope of at least two trillion galaxies and no signs of God, heaven, or hell, the ancient image remains in our minds, prayers, preaching, and teachings.… Read more >
As reported in last week’s blog post, the people in my Charting the Twenty-First-Century Reformation class and I are combatting the anthropomorphization of God (giving him human qualities) by renaming this power or force Creation or the Ground of All Being or Higher Power.
This creates a huge problem for the institutional church, which has built its theology on the ancient model of a flat, three-tiered earth with God living in a mansion above it.… Read more >
The story of Doubting Thomas (John 20:24-29) takes place at the end of the Gospel of John. Like the rest of the Gospel, the Doubting Thomas tale is not a true story but rather what we call religious history. The truth is inside the story. The surface story says that Thomas the Twin (rumored to be the twin brother of Jesus, but that idea has never been substantiated) was not in the room for Jesus’s first appearance to the disciples after his crucifixion.… Read more >
I first discovered the Reverend David Keighley and his poem “Leaving Home” years ago in a newsletter published by Bishop John Shelby Spong. I read “Leaving Home” every Friday as part of my early morning quiet time, when I do prayers (Progressive Christian style), relevant readings, and prep for the day.… Read more >
One day in a class at church, someone brought up the idea of the soul, starting a conversation about souls and what they do after we die. I listened for a while and then asked, “What is a soul?” For the next half hour, we discussed souls.
Allow me to share some of the ideas I heard and, in parentheses, I’ll share what my mind was saying to me.… Read more >
A friend emailed me this statement from a seminary professor: “The bulk of Christians seek salvation.” My friend likes to bait me, and he did so again. In a return email, I used a form of teaching that Jesus used often called didactics, which means one answers a question by asking a question.… Read more >
These letters stand for two of the most important words in the church today—they should be the cornerstone for the church of the future.
We remind congregants at every service that we are an “O & A” church. In my new book, Cramming for the Finals: New Ways of Looking at Old Church Ideas, I suggest that a church can’t be truly Christian unless it is “O & A.” That’s a strong statement, and there are those who would argue vehemently with that idea.… Read more >