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Myth-Busting the Christian Right

The Christian right’s pundits present this set of abstract concepts – moral “values” sanctity of life, and Christianity – as their core values. Over and over again they have successfully framed complex issues as oppositions between these core values and their opponent’s position. This has worked partly because, instead of engaging in an analysis of these concepts, they equate them with a set of public policies that are assumed to meet the conditions that define them. Thus it would appear that if you do not support their policies, you cannot support moral values, the sanctity of life, or Christianity. A closer examination of the fallacious reasoning underpinning each of the Christian right’s core myths will follow.

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Myth-Busting the Christian Right- page 2

We can never know with any certainty whether or not Jesus claimed to be divine, since he didn’t sit down and write on that topic, or any other.What we can know, from reading what evangelists recorded about his life and teachings, is that his ethic was not reducible to exterior rules of normative behaviour, but emphasized the intention of the agent over catalogues of right and wrong acts.

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Topics: Theology & Religious Education. Resource Types: Articles.

A God for the Gaps?

Many of our problems derive primarily from two outdated ideas: the Bible as the literal and inerrant Word of God, and the divinity of Jesus. If we could accept that both these ideas are no longer helpful, many of the theological problems of our faith would be resolved. An improvement in our relations with other faiths would also become possible.

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The Doctrine of God

Classical theism, the reigning doctrine of God in Christendom, affirms that God is void of body, parts, passions, even compassion, wholly simple, wholly immutable, independent, immaterial, the supreme cause and never the effect. What creatures have, God does not. I challenge this doctrine, on five grounds.

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Easter is the Celebration of the Justice and Compassion of God

Most Christians are familiar with the stories in the Gospels and many verses in the Epistles declaring that the Lord is risen. Many people believe the stories of the resurrection of Jesus are historically true. Others have difficulty believing they are true in that sense but understand them as metaphors pointing to the truth. Either way, whether you believe or understand, the issue is what do these stories mean? We can begin our search for the meaning of the stories by knowing that New Testament scholar John Dominic Crossan has stressed: "Never, ever separate the life from the death and resurrection of Jesus. Ever. Not the life from the death, not the death from the resurrection."

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Jesus Reconsidered (Jesus Seminar Guides Vol 1)

Featuring Marcus J. Borg, Robert W. Funk, Roy W. Hoover, Perry V. Kea, Robert J. Miller, Ruth Schweitzer-Mordecai

In Jesus Reconsidered, readers will hear the diverse voices of pioneering scholars, some of whom put their reputations and careers on the line when, in 1985, they chose to go public with scholarship that had been common knowledge in scholarly circles for more than a hundred years.

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Listening to the Parables of Jesus (Jesus Seminar Guides Vol 2)

Featuring Robert W. Funk, Lane C. McGaughy, Robert J. Miller, Bernard Brandon Scott, Paul Verhoeven

This concise, well-edited book brings together insights from world-renowned scholars into the interpretation of parables.

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Giving Thanks as a Life Changing Dynamic

Jesus was not born into a privileged life. He was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth and did not live under easy circumstances. But he still lived in gratitude. In fact he made giving thanks for life a foundational dynamic of his teaching. He seemed surprised by other people's inability to live happy, fulfilling lives with little or no gratitude. "Why do you worry so much about what you eat, what you wear?"

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Topics: Jesus Studies and Theology & Religious Education. Texts: Luke. Resource Types: Articles.

Response to the God Question- A Word to the Spiritual Seekers

Have you done much thinking "outside of the box?" We are being enjoined on all sides to do so. In fact the plea to "think outside of the box" has become such a cliche that it has lost most of its power to startle us into thinking in new ways. But it is still a useful image.We live inside boxes, assumptions as to what is true and how things are to go. "What I believe is the only truth" and "We've always done it that way" is the hue and cry of those who are quite happy within their boxes or are afraid to peek out.

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Topics: Theology & Religious Education. Resource Types: Articles.

Jesus Did Not Die for Us, Jesus Lived and Died for Us

In the April 1995 issue of Theology Today, theologian Murray Joseph Haar lamented what he regarded as a "rampant" sickness within the American church. He wrote, "The symptoms of this illness sound like this: 'Jesus died for my sins, His pain my gain, He died to set us free, Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away my sins, I have decided to accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior." With words like these, many Christians proclaim and define their faith in the efficacy of Jesus' death on their behalf. I contend that these words of faith indicate precisely the nature of the sickness at the heart of American Christianity." He calls the sickness, a "rampant, individualistic, self-serving redemptionsm." (1)The sickness continues today. The common understanding and frequent statement of many Christians is that "Jesus died for us." Standing alone, that is a distortion of the Christian faith, for it separates the life of Jesus from his death. A dramatic depiction of this separation is seen in Mel Gibson's film The Passion of The Christ. In the film the passion of Christ was almost entirely limited to his death. There was no understanding that his death was the consequence and fulfillment of the passion of his life.

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Honest to God

The common belief in God is usually called theism or more precisely supernatural theism. It is the concept that God is a Being in heaven who created the world and from time to time intervenes in the world to assert his will. In her book The History of God, Karen Armstrong states that this concept of God is evident in the history of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is this concept of God which the atheist authors of the five books deny. It is my contention that Christians should also be atheists about such a concept of God. If I were asked by a pollster if I believed in God I would, as an ordained clergyman, say No!

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Topics: Theology & Religious Education. Resource Types: Articles.

Source Code: The Paradoxical Teachings of the Historical Jesus

 This work employs the critical-historical research of Crossan, Funk and other leading historical Jesus scholars in order to demonstrate that a language of paradoxical reversals informs the very texture of Jesus’ experience of the Kingdom of God of God. By showing how the same paradoxical structure can be identified within the deep structure of the most memorable parables and aphorisms of Jesus that have been handed down to us in the synoptic gospels, I argue that a language of paradox can re-activate the earliest memory of the historical Jesus prior to his indoctrination in the Christian tradition proper. And in offering an over-arching criteria for what is historically authentic about the many words that have been attributed to Jesus of Nazareth, I argue that it is possible to uncover a “source code” for the original teachings of Christ, and thereby provide a fruitful way in which to distinguish the Founder of Christianity – Jesus of Nazareth, from what was Founded – the Christian Church.    This work employs the critical-historical research of Crossan, Funk and other leading historical Jesus scholars in order to demonstrate that a language of paradoxical reversals informs the very texture of Jesus’ experience of the Kingdom of God of God. By showing how the same paradoxical structure can be identified within the deep structure of the most memorable parables and aphorisms of Jesus that have been handed down to us in the synoptic gospels, I argue that a language of paradox can re-activate the earliest memory of the historical Jesus prior to his indoctrination in the Christian tradition proper. And in offering an over-arching criteria for what is historically authentic about the many words that have been attributed to Jesus of Nazareth, I argue that it is possible to uncover a “source code” for the original teachings of Christ, and thereby provide a fruitful way in which to distinguish the Founder of Christianity – Jesus of Nazareth, from what was Founded – the Christian Church.       

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The Structure of the Real

 This article is a brief summary of my recently completed doctoral thesis, a work that reveals a radical new insight into the mind of Jesus of Nazareth.  By turning to the parables of Jesus that have been recorded in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), it is clearly demonstrated that the same linguistic structure – a stable pattern of “paradoxical reversals” (X is Y, as Y is X) informs all of Jesus’ most memorable teachings on the Kingdom of God. In other words, the same “stable pattern” of paradoxical reversals underpins all of the parables of Jesus that have been recorded in the synoptic gospels. And by offering a simple formula for what is historically authentic about the many words that have been attributed to the historical Jesus, it is now possible to uncover a “source code” for the original teachings of the one who is called the Christ and re-activate the “dangerous memory” of Jesus of Nazareth prior to his inscription in the Christian tradition proper.    

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Build and Sustain Faith Communities by Feeding the Hungry

This presentation was given by Fred Plumer at the Common Dreams Conference in Sydney, Australia last month. It clearly lays out 8 steps and goals for churches and spiritual communities that want to build and sustain their communities by feeding the hunger that people feel for spirituality, purpose, a mission, and clear path.

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A Startling Vision for the 21st Century Church

Tom Thresher makes a powerful argument for a new kind of Christianity that transcends Christianity as we know it today. A fascinating discussion that may and open your eyes to a new vision of Christianity, even startling! 

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What Does a Progressive Christian Church Do With Its Children?

That question is at the heart of a project begun by several members of New Covenant Community (NCC), a TCPC congregation in Normal, Illinois. NCC is a union congregation affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), …

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What Can Progressive Christians Say About Resurrection?

[An excerpt from James Adams' new book, From Literal to Literary.] Each year, when Easter roles around, many people outside the church experience a kind of wistfulness. They love the festival, but they don’t think that they …

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