A couple of days ago I tried to make a point about #AllLivesMatter drawing on the biblical prophets. This week, a Facebook friend made a similar point in relation to Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Plain in Luke’s Gospel.
I live in a neighborhood where most of my neighbors have much darker skin than I do. I wish more of my city were like my street. Demographic maps based on census data show that my city’s neighborhoods, like most, tend not to be diverse. Even if it were not my friends and neighbors that we are talking about when unarmed black men are killed by police, I would not be able to stay silent. But I suspect a big issue is precisely that not only the “all lives matter” crowd, but even people like me saying “black lives matter,” are often making theoretical statements about other people, living in other neighborhoods.
And so I felt the need to say something more personal, to my friends, neighbors, and colleagues.
Having finished a study of 1 Corinthians, my Sunday school class proposed as its next topic to focus on the question of how works like Paul’s letters ended up as scripture—what the process is, and also how it changes the way we read them.
Recently in my Sunday school class, we continued a discussion that started the previous time, sparked by Hebrews 12, which depicts God as one who disciplines—or more literally “whips” or “flogs”—his children for their benefit. There was general agreement that, while some ancient people may have viewed misfortunes that came their way as divine punishment, there are good scientific, moral and even biblical grounds for challenging that viewpoint.
There are things which, when you are an inerrantist, never cross your mind, and yet when you cease to be one, you wonder how you could possibly have failed to think those thoughts, notice those things, and ask those questions.
Apparently the term “Maundy Thursday” comes from the Latin phrase “mandatum novum” meaning “new commandment.” The reference is to John 13, which features the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, followed by his statement about a new commandment he has given them, to love one another.
We actually reached this passage in my class on the Gospel of John yesterday, and had an interesting discussion about whether this commandment is “new,” and if so, in what sense.
Someone asked a question along these lines on Facebook recently, asking what one piece of evidence in particular persuades people to adopt the view that they do.
There are multiple things that I find particularly indicative. The reference to a dome in Genesis 1 is itself significant. But the point becomes even clearer if one knows other creation stories from the Ancient Near East.
Am I the only one who remembers a time, not so long ago, when Christians thought that their goal should be to bring the Christian message to those who needed to hear it, and not merely to surround themselves with other Christians to exchange Christian greetings with one another?
Doctor Who: Shada: The Lost Adventure by Douglas Adams, by Gareth Roberts. Drawn from one of Douglas Adams’s never-completed and never-aired episodes of Doctor Who, this story focuses on a megalomaniacal moral theologian. For anyone familiar with the show, it will be no spoiler to say that the entire universe is in danger as a result—and that the doctor saves the day.
The New York Times, the Harvard Gazette, The Huffington Post and other media outlets are breaking the news that Karen King, a scholar well known for her work on the phenomenon usually referred to as “Gnosticism,” has come into possession of and has been studying a Coptic papyrus fragment which is likely to be authentic, dates from around the 4th century, and has Jesus mention his wife.
Many of the recent discussions about “free speech” in connection with the internet video about Islam called “Innocense of Muslims,” the violent reactions to it, and the apologies for it, seem to me to miss the point.
A discussion I’ve been part of on Facebook illustrates something that I have said before on numerous occasions: ultimately, for those approaching the Bible as a sacred text, one has to choose between showing respect for the Bible above all, or giving ultimate authority to a doctrine of Biblical inerrancy.
Ultimately, We don’t have a crime problem or a gun problem – or even a violence problem. What we have is a sin problem. And since we ordered God out of our schools and communities, the military and public conversations, you know, we really shouldn’t act so surprised when all hell breaks loose.