Jesus is one of the best-known names on earth, though we don’t know much about him other than he was Jewish, he was born in Galilee, he was an itinerant preacher who was crucified as a criminal, and his message changed the course of civilization. When trying to figure out who the real Jesus was, one often has to compare information from the Gospels and history and then draw conclusions.… Read more >
John 5:1–18 recounts the story of Jesus healing a man at the pool of Bethesda.” I reviewed it the other day, and suddenly a light bulb turned on in my mind.
Don’t forget: Not one story in the Gospel of John is literally true. John is full of figurative truths, metaphors, and gross exaggerations but light on details, which leads to much speculation.… Read more >
Happy what? Baloney Day? January 6?
January 6 is really the feast day of the Epiphany, when the church celebrates the Magi bringing gifts to the infant Jesus in Bethlehem.
This story is found in the Gospel of Matthew 2:1–12. It first appeared nine decades after Jesus was born. This tale was never intended to give accurate information about the birth of Jesus.… Read more >
This is the third part of a six-part series about an imaginary journey to an Episcopal seminary where I ask hard questions about Christianity and priesthood. Without twenty-first century answers, I may have to drop out. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
I am attending my first New Testament class to learn about Jesus and his message.… Read more >
“Are you a Christian?” is a question I hear often because I label myself as an a-theist. That means I don’t believe in an anthropomorphic god living in a mansion above a flat earth. My answer to whether I’m a Christian is more complex than a simple yes or no.
If someone asked, “Do you believe that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ or Messiah?”, I’d give a definite yes!… 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 >
I subscribe to the Monastic Way, a monthly newsletter published by Sister Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun from Erie, Pennsylvania. Sister Joan is progressive, a writes prolifically, supports prison ministries, and travels around the world making the good news good and women relevant.
The July 2018 issue of the Monastic Way was about Mary of Magdala.… Read more >
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 >