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Showing posts from March, 2015

ch. 1 a long form book response to The Bible Tells Me So by Peter Enns

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Until last autumn, I had not read any of Dr. Peter Enns' books although I am a regular reader of his blog at Patheos, "rethinking biblical christianity..." I did write a brief review in November and after writing the long form book response to Flood's book Disarming Scripture, I thought it would benefit me to reflect more on this book as well. It is an excellent book and written in a more accessible style than Flood's. There are only seven chapters with numerous sub-headings in each chapter.

When the Old Testament is read literally and not as literature, as is typical in my background and for most American evangelicals, God does not come across as good. "Other parts of the Bible are shocking to read, even barbaric, and hard to defend as the Word of God in civil adult conversation. God either orders a lot of killing or does it himself - and even comes across as a bit touchy...If we read this anywhere else, we would call it genocide." p. 5-6

Maybe we ha…

Farting in church

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Guilty. Sometimes the pressure builds and I have this incredibly optimistic belief that it won't stink. And 85% of the time it doesn't. But that 15% will peel paint off the walls. The best part about farting in public is people will suffer through it in silence, since the culprit, me, is not identifiable, unless my shoulders are shaking as I try to hold in my giggles (yes, I failed to advance out of that Freudian stage of my life).

The good thing about farts is eventually they dissipate. The distraction they cause is short lived. Babies, however, have no inhibitions when it comes to movements of the bowel. They do not care what is coming out, nor how loud it is, nor the likelihood of its pending stinkiness. They do not care how much of a mess they make.  They do not care how big of a smile they make when they do blow the tanks. Their product's essence will linger until their parents remove them from the room, change their diaper, maybe their onesies, and wipe down their bab…

What is the most important part of the Bible for the Christian?

For 2000 years, as Christians have spread around the world they have spread the Good News. The first great missionary, St. Paul, writes to the church in Corinth in the mid-50's AD that the good news boils down to three things, 1 Cor. 15:3 For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received—that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures...

One of the earliest New Testament writings preserved to this day, written before the letter to Corinth, is Paul's letter to the church in Thessalonica. He commends this church for you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus our deliverer from the coming wrath. 1 Thess. 1.

This creedal formula shows up several times in the New Testament, outside of the gospels, and not just in Paul's writings. Peter's sermons in the Acts of …

am I a still a Christian?

John 6:29 Jesus replied, “This is the deed God requires—to believe in the one whom he sent...40 For this is the will of my Father—for everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him to have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 
I do look to Jesus.

I am not sure I have ever seen him clearly.

I can agree with the creed that he is fully God and fully man, that he died and that he rose again.

But I do doubt.

Sometimes I don't believe.

In most traditions and tribes of Christianity this does not make me ineligible for a heavenly afterlife. It's seen as normal covered by the grace of God.

I definitely struggle with the view of God portrayed in the Bible as well. Breaking free from the mindset that every part holds equal authority to every other part, a flat reading, has definitely helped me. The disconnect between some portrayals of God in the OT and Jesus in the NT are not as paralyzing for me when I prioritize Jesus' revelation of God over any other.

John 5:1…

god of the bullies

I have more experience with bullying than I wish I had. I grew up with a bully. I was bullied at school. I found safety in joining the bullies as well. I suffered from and contributed to the sickness of the world.

In elementary school I defend a kid getting bullied for his afro. In high school I'm making jokes using racist epithets.In junior high school a bully sits next to me on the bus ride home and punches me hard in the leg over and over again. When I get home I get into full contact fights with my younger brother.I sing songs of love to Jesus, then post on Facebook the most obnoxious verse about God I read that morning.
I need to explain that last one a little more.
Those commands to kill every man, woman and child? I'd make that my status for the day, but not ironically. A verse that portrayed God in an ugly way, I posted. Why? I wanted my friends to see how mighty my God was. How he could do whatever he wants. Including being a bully.

In the 1990's I started attendin…

Gestational themes in the Bible and me

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It takes about 40 weeks to prepare a human in the womb for the world. Forty weeks or 280 days takes about 9 full moons.


Noah sat on his boat for a little over nine moons. It rained on his boat for forty days.Moses lived in exile for 40 years.The children of Israel were liberated by Moses after 400 years of Egyptian slavery.Moses went up on the mountain to talk with God for 40 days.The Israelite spies visited the Promised Land for 40 days.Moses prayed for Israel for 40 days.The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.The prophet Elijah fasted for 40 days.David began the liberation of Israel after 40 years of Philistine oppression.Jonah gave Nineveh 40 days to repent.Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days before he began his ministry.Jesus appeared after his resurrection for 40 days.The Lenten season lasts for 40 days.
Forty is about new birth, a difficult period of growth in preparation for transition.

I remember first asking Jesus into my heart when I was five years…

ch. 10, a long form book response to Disarming Scripture by Derek Flood

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Derek Flood has written an excellent book explaining the issues I covered in my blog series this past autumn. My series is titled "Not everything Biblical is Christian." His book is titled Disarming Scripture. Cherry-picking liberals, violence-loving conservatives, and why we all need to learn to read the Bible like Jesus did. It is certainly a mouthful, but his examples are better than mine and deserve a thorough treatment here. Flood's book is ten chapters long and I intend to speak about each chapter in separate blog posts. I heartily recommend this book for the thinking Christian.


Chapter 10 is titled, "Re-thinking biblical authority." Flood introduces this chapter with a serious question. "If there are things endorsed in the Bible like genocide and slavery which we can and must clearly recognize as wrong, then in what sense can we say the Bible is inspired, let along infallible or inerrant?" p. 229 Even before we can ascertain what the Bible is w…

ch. 9, a long form book response to Disarming Scripture by Derek Flood

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Derek Flood has written an excellent book explaining the issues I covered in my blog series this past autumn. My series is titled "Not everything Biblical is Christian." His book is titled Disarming Scripture. Cherry-picking liberals, violence-loving conservatives, and why we all need to learn to read the Bible like Jesus did. It is certainly a mouthful, but his examples are better than mine and deserve a thorough treatment here. Flood's book is ten chapters long and I intend to speak about each chapter in separate blog posts. I heartily recommend this book for the thinking Christian.


Chapter 9 is titled, "Undoing judgement." Flood shows in the chapter how even in the gospels Jesus subverts his culture's contemporary violent images with his teaching. First, he starts with a section from Jesus' sermon on the mount.
Matthew  5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for t…

ch. 8, a long form book response to Disarming Scripture by Derek Flood

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Derek Flood has written an excellent book explaining the issues I covered in my blog series this past autumn. My series is titled "Not everything Biblical is Christian." His book is titled Disarming Scripture. Cherry-picking liberals, violence-loving conservatives, and why we all need to learn to read the Bible like Jesus did. It is certainly a mouthful, but his examples are better than mine and deserve a thorough treatment here. Flood's book is ten chapters long and I intend to speak about each chapter in separate blog posts. I heartily recommend this book for the thinking Christian.


Chapter 8 is titled, "A practical guide to enemy love." In it Flood defends the Anabaptist vision for peace, but seeks to clarify that pacifism is not a commitment to inaction but action to end suffering. Those who think inaction is always the way to respond are victims of their own unquestioning obedience. Those who go down this route cannot find in themselves a way to counsel wo…

ch. 7, a long form book response to Disarming Scripture by Derek Flood

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Derek Flood has written an excellent book explaining the issues I covered in my blog series this past autumn. My series is titled "Not everything Biblical is Christian." His book is titled Disarming Scripture. Cherry-picking liberals, violence-loving conservatives, and why we all need to learn to read the Bible like Jesus did. It is certainly a mouthful, but his examples are better than mine and deserve a thorough treatment here. Flood's book is ten chapters long and I intend to speak about each chapter in separate blog posts. I heartily recommend this book for the thinking Christian.


Chapter 7 is titled, "God and the state sword." Flood introduces his readers to Anabaptist interpretation of violent New Testament passages. Jesus' instruction to acquire a sword; Paul's instructions about submitting to the government; soldier metaphors for spiritual warfare. If one has not grown up under such theology it is fascinating to learn how an entirely legitimate …

ch. 6, a long form book response to Disarming Scripture by Derek Flood

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Derek Flood has written an excellent book explaining the issues I covered in my blog series this past autumn. My series is titled "Not everything Biblical is Christian." His book is titled Disarming Scripture. Cherry-picking liberals, violence-loving conservatives, and why we all need to learn to read the Bible like Jesus did. It is certainly a mouthful, but his examples are better than mine and deserve a thorough treatment here. Flood's book is ten chapters long and I intend to speak about each chapter in separate blog posts. I heartily recommend this book for the thinking Christian.


Chapter 6 is titled, "Reading on a trajectory." Flood takes the work of William Webb and takes it past Webb's idea of trajectory in certain areas. This is Flood's proposal, "we cannot stop at the place the New Testament got to, but must recognize where it was headed." p. 124 At first blush this sounds anathema to conservative Christians. But consider slavery as a…

ch. 5, a long form book response to Disarming Scripture by Derek Flood

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Derek Flood has written an excellent book explaining the issues I covered in my blog series this past autumn. My series is titled "Not everything Biblical is Christian." His book is titled Disarming Scripture. Cherry-picking liberals, violence-loving conservatives, and why we all need to learn to read the Bible like Jesus did. It is certainly a mouthful, but his examples are better than mine and deserve a thorough treatment here. Flood's book is ten chapters long and I intend to speak about each chapter in separate blog posts. I heartily recommend this book for the thinking Christian.


Chapter 5 is titled, "Facing our darkness." Based on his previous chapter, in which he discusses ethics as necessary for Biblical exegesis, he supplements the earlier idea of faithful questioning: faithful questioning motivated by compassion. p. 91 More than any of the previous chapters Flood shows multiple examples from within the Old Testament in addition to inter-Testament ques…

ch. 4 a long form book response to Disarming Scripture by Derek Flood

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Derek Flood has written an excellent book explaining the issues I covered in my blog series this past autumn. My series is titled "Not everything Biblical is Christian." His book is titled Disarming Scripture. Cherry-picking liberals, violence-loving conservatives, and why we all need to learn to read the Bible like Jesus did. It is certainly a mouthful, but his examples are better than mine and deserve a thorough treatment here. Flood's book is ten chapters long and I intend to speak about each chapter in separate blog posts. I heartily recommend this book for the thinking Christian.


Chapter 4 is titled, "The divorce of ethics from exegesis." Citing the research of Rabbi Anson Laytner, Flood agrees that the multi-vocal nature of the Old Testament that continued in the Talmud and throughout Jewish culture. "...it's said that Jewish exegesis is often more comfortable with asking questions than it is with giving answers. After all, the very name of '…

Freshman racism

That freshman frat boy from a Jesuit prep school caught on tape leading an obnoxiously racist chant? I know him. Not literally. But I was a good kid with black friends who spoke stupid obnoxious racist words around some of my white friends. It's on tape as well. A literal tape from 27 years ago when we made mix tapes and played them on our boom boxes.

Why did I say that stuff? Because doing something shocking, for humor in my case, made me feel brave and cool. Yep, I felt brave saying racial slurs around a few white friends.

The bravery was displayed in violating a social contract. I did it and lightning did not strike me dead.

I don't know how serious the social contract of racism is down in Texas or Oklahoma. I am sure alcohol brought it even less so in the eyes of the beer goggler.

Social contracts are powerful things, even in the church. They are neutral, so can be part of great good and great evil.

The kid on that frat bus who filmed the sing along and shared the video on…

The Bible as a parallel pilgrimage

I just finished listening to episode 8 of Rob Bell's podcast "The RobCast" titled The Enduring Relevance, Astonishing Power, and Unexpected Brilliance of the Bible. He shares a similar theology to Derek Flood, whose book I've been responding to chapter by chapter here.

Bell speaks of the progressive nature of the Bible. He thinks it is the wrong question to ask why did God command/permit all these terrible/Unchristian things throughout the Bible. He started from the repugnant directions on enemy women captured as war booty in particular. I covered this topic last autumn. He agrees that it is terrible. But, he notes, it makes in incremental progressive move by forcing the Israeli captors to acknowledge the women's humanity. In essence, not only is God's revelation progressive but the flourishing of all humans progresses as well.

Finally, Bell asks his listeners to give the Bible as much grace as we give ourselves in our own pilgrimages through life. Just like …

a long form book response to Disarming Scripture by Derek Flood ch. 3

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Derek Flood has written an excellent book explaining the issues I covered in my blog series this past autumn. My series is titled "Not everything Biblical is Christian." His book is titled Disarming Scripture. Cherry-picking liberals, violence-loving conservatives, and why we all need to learn to read the Bible like Jesus did. It is certainly a mouthful, but his examples are better than mine and deserve a thorough treatment here. Flood's book is ten chapters long and I intend to speak about each chapter in separate blog posts. I heartily recommend this book for the thinking Christian.


Chapter 3 is titled, "Paul's conversion from violence." Flood does a great job in this chapter showing Paul's practice of selective quoting of the Old Testament and re-visioning those passages sometimes in direct contrast to their original intents. According to N.T. Wright Paul's zealotry against the early church, before his conversion, came from a culture that celebra…

a long form book response to Disarming Scripture by Derek Flood ch. 2

Derek Flood has written an excellent book explaining the issues I covered in my blog series this past autumn. My series is titled "Not everything Biblical is Christian." His book is titled Disarming Scripture. Cherry-picking liberals, violence-loving conservatives, and why we all need to learn to read the Bible like Jesus did. It is certainly a mouthful, but his examples are better than mine and deserve a thorough treatment here. Flood's book is ten chapters long and I hope to speak about each chapter in separate blog posts. I heartily recommend this book for the thinking Christian.

Chapter 2 is titled, "Reading the Bible like Jesus did." As Jesus overturns or rewrites Old Testament teachings in his Sermon on the Mount he pulls back and declares, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill." Matthew 5:17. But in the eyes of his religious opponents he was destroying the law. Flood points out the sem…

a long form book response to Disarming Scripture by Derek Flood ch. 1

Derek Flood has written an excellent book explaining the issues I covered in my blog series this past autumn. My series is titled "Not everything Biblical is Christian." His book is titled Disarming Scripture. Cherry-picking liberals, violence-loving conservatives, and why we all need to learn to read the Bible like Jesus did. It is certainly a mouthful, but his examples are better than mine and deserve a thorough treatment here. Flood's book is ten chapters long and I hope to speak about each chapter in separate blog posts. I heartily recommend this book for the thinking Christian.

Chapter 1 is titled, Confronting Violence in Scripture. Flood is not the first Christian to notice the contrast between Jesus in the New Testament, who teaches enemy love and blessing as the full and final revelation of God, and the violent, tribal god in the Old Testament. How can God be love according to St. John yet command wholesale slaughter in the Old Testament? One of the most frequent…

breaking legs for God

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The Apostle John thoroughly describes the scene when Jesus dies at his crucifixion. This part struck me tonight as I meditated.
John 19:31 It was the day of preparation, and the Jewish leaders didn't want the bodies hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very special Sabbath, because it was the Passover). So they asked Pilate to hasten their deaths by ordering that their legs be broken. Then their bodies could be taken down. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus. 33 But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs. (NLT)by James Tissot ca. 1890
These guys were hanging on crosses, being executed in one of the most barbaric ways concocted by the Romans. I am sure it appears merciful to ask Pilate to hasten their deaths by breaking the legs, hastening death by suffocation. John is clear that mercy is not the motive of these religious leaders. No, they were motivated by religious in…