The thrust of my ministry since the late 1980s has figuring out who the historical Jesus was. This is not easy because the New Testament mostly records the writers’ biases, not historical facts. Consequently, I’m constantly looking for information about what life was like back in Jesus’s time so I can place him into that context.… Read more >
Certain basic ideas are grounded in fact but become mired in fiction. Sometimes I feel like a broken record. I tell people a fact, but it just doesn’t register.
Here are some examples:
- My most frequently stated fact is this: Jesus was born a Jew, lived the life of a committed Jew, and died a Jew.
This past winter, I designed a new course entitled Learning the Art of Midrash (biblical interpretation) Using the Gospel of John. I’m a recent convert to the power of that Gospel (previously it never made much sense to me), and I wanted to use the many stories in John (none of which are literally true) to teach people how to use midrash to dig into a story and find the underlying truth often hidden in the details.… Read more >
For years, I refused to read any of John’s writings. I thought the Gospel of John was a bunch of mumbo jumbo and the Book of Revelation was full of craziness. Thanks to the Reverend Ken Wyant’s Bible study at Irvine United Congregational Church, I changed my opinion about the Gospel of John—but I still want to ban Revelation.… Read more >
I suspect the title of this blog post caught your attention right away! Why would someone ask such a strange question?
Paul did in the fifth chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians. He ranted about this situation for the entire chapter and told the Corinthians to expel the man who was living with his father’s wife.… Read more >
I kid ye not! The Faith of Donald J. Trump: A Spiritual Biography is a brand-new book cowritten by David Brody, a reporter for the Christian Broadcasting Network, and Scott Lamb, a Southern Baptist pastor.
I’m being a little facetious, but I thought that maybe the book would be ten pages long with a big preface, a very full foreword by Mike Pence, and an extensive epilogue by Franklin Graham (Billy Graham’s son) with many pages of endorsements by the likes of Sean Hannity, Dennis Prager, and Jerry Falwell Jr., all of whom have suggested that Trump “walks on water.”
I was wrong!… Read more >
Have you ever imagined Jesus as a no-nonsense tough guy? I suspect not! Too many people see Jesus as a saccharinely sweet Mr. Nice Guy, a doormat who wouldn’t hurt a flea. Many paintings depict him as a bit effeminate, with long, wavy, well-coiffed hair and a flowing white gown, which doesn’t strike most people as tough.… Read more >
In a previous blog post entitled “Mother Teresa and Doubting Thomas,” my editor included a painting by Caravaggio of Doubting Thomas sticking his fingers deep into the chest wound of the “resurrected” Jesus (also shown here). When my editor first showed me the picture, I thought that it seemed a little morbid, but when I looked again, I saw an opportunity for a blog post.… Read more >
Has your family ever had a rift that prevented members from loving each other? As a retired psychotherapist, I am always surprised at how many families have had or still have interfamily conflicts. Family rifts are more common than one might think. Fact is, it seems to be the rare family that doesn’t have conflict in its history.… Read more >
Our weekly Bible study group is currently reading the Gospel of Luke, written around the turn of the first century CE. Luke is religious history (accuracy isn’t important) about the pre-Jesus, told through the metaphor of resurrection. Our group has studied Jesus’s birth, his youth, and his baptism, and now we’re studying his early ministry.… Read more >