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    • Ed Taylor
    • Ed Taylor was born and raised in a small town in the Deep South within a very conservative religious environment. After graduating from high school, he received a bachelor degree in music education from a church-related college and then went directly to graduate school at a church-related southwestern university. There he received two masters – in sacred music and music education. Directly out of graduate school he was a minister of music at a church in another southwestern state.

      The next several years included jobs that lasted approximately two years in a Florida community college and a large church in a major southwestern city. At that point, he decided to return to school for thirty hours above the masters (an Educational Specialist degree). Next he landed in another Florida community college where he remained until retirement.

      During most of his years working in secular employment, he held part-time director of music jobs in churches.

      Over the years, he had approximately two dozen choral arrangements or compositions published by Warner Brothers, Broadman, Schmitt, Hall and McCreary, Music ’70, Abingdon and Kjos. And he also wrote articles for two music reference books and authored four books that were published by William Morrow & Co., McFarland & Co. and Greenwood Press.

      During his pre-retirement years, his favorite reading was often theology. Then after retirement, he discovered several writers who inspired him to dig deeper into his belief system. Some of the writers who inspired his spiritual growth towards Progressive Christianity include Leslie Weatherhead, Bruce Barton, John Shelby Spong, Brian McLaren, John Dominic Crossan, Marcus Borg, and Karen Armstrong.

Musing of a Progressive Christian Layman: Was Moses Hebrew or Egyptian?

Since Moses’ name is similar to the name of the Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose (or Tuthmosis) III, many scholars speculate that Moses was Egyptian royalty.

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Musing of a Progressive Christian Layman: Was Isaac the Son of Pharaoh?

I have recently read speculation that Isaac was the son of Pharaoh Thutmose (or Tuthmosis) III. If he wasn’t Abraham’s son, that might explain why Abraham was willing to sacrifice him. That’s always bother me. I know we’re supposed to obey God, but not if he tells me to kill my son. How could Abraham even consider something so hideous? No father should obey a voice, even if it was supposedly God, telling him to offer his son as a sacrifice. A father or stepfather would have to be suffering from dementia to consider an order that goes against every human instinct.

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Musing of a Progressive Christian Layman: Women in Church Leadership

  How can any 21st century woman believe that only men must lead in the home and church and that a woman’s role is to submit to male leadership? How can a woman attend a church that …

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Jesus Between Birth and 30

Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman - by Ed Taylor

Between Birth and 30

Unfortunately, the Gospels do not provide us with much information about Jesus’ early life.

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Crusade Against Catharism

Please, God, teach us to be accepting of others: those who worship differently, different races, sexual orientation, socio-economic level – any and everyone who is different from us for whatever reason. God, you created us and pronounced your creation good. We have no right to be judge and jury. Help us to look inward, recognize our own faults, confess them, and attempt to correct them. We never want to experience another Crusade.

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Moses

Moses is THE most important figure in Judaism. Not only did he lead the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt, he is credited with receiving the Torah from God.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Isaac

We’ve all heard the expression, “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” but the information about Isaac in Genesis certainly places him in a subordinate position to his father, Abraham, and his son, Jacob.

The first mention of Isaac was when God told Sarah that she would give birth to a son and that she should name him Isaac (which means “he laughs,” a reference to Abraham laughing when God promised him a son). Abraham, who was one hundred years old when Isaac was born, followed God’s command and named his son Isaac.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – The Tower of Confusion

Genesis 10:5 claims the land was divided according to tongues, but Genesis 11:1 insists that everyone on earth spoke the same language. If we believe the biblical account of the flood, then everyone was dead except Noah, his wife, their sons and their sons’ wives. Therefore, everyone was a descendant of this one family. If that is true, of course, everyone spoke the same language. If you do not accept the flood story as literal, then there were more likely multiple languages prior to the building of the Tower of Babel.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Does the Genesis Flood Story Hold Water?

The Genesis account of the flood was written by two Israelites (the Priestly account and the non-Priestly version) who were trying to tell a story that would help their fellow Jews better understand their place in the world. If a myth about a flood covering the earth and killing everyone and everything except for one man and his family and a select number of animals accomplished that goal, then it may be worthy. But the vengeful God who decided he had made a mistake so he wanted to start over is not my idea of God. A God who would destroy the world and its inhabitants – except for one “righteous” man and his family (who may not have been righteous) and a handful of animal species – is not worthy of worship.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – God Deserves Our Best: The Story of Cain and Abel

The first sixteen verses of the fourth chapter of Genesis is the story of Cain and Abel. The rest of the chapter is genealogy.

Let’s examine the Genesis story and then see if we can ascertain why it was included in the Bible.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – God Can Use Imperfect People – Part Two

Yes, God uses imperfect people. As 1 Peter 4:10 says, we should serve with whatever gift we have received.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – God Can Use Imperfect People – Part One

I am abundantly aware that God can do remarkable things with less than perfect people. Noah supposedly had “blameless behavior,” but after the flood, he got drunk on the wine he produced and, although he may not have been aware due to his drunken stupor, may have had sexual relations with one of his sons. Later in Hebrew Scriptures, we meet other imperfect people who were used by God: Moses had a stuttering problem, Gideon was afraid, Samson was a womanizer, Rahab was a prostitute, David was an adulterer and murderer, Elijah was suicidal, and Abram.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – And God Created…

Genesis opens the Hebrew Bible with two conflicting and irreconcilable creation stories. Obviously neither of these creation myths reported actual events. Even so, there are people who believe that the universe was created exactly as described there simply because this is what the Bible says, so it is fact. Those people despise the Darwinian evolution theory, so they stubbornly grasp for an alternative and end up with literalism or Creationism that demands unquestioning acceptance.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Do I Want to Go to Heaven? by Ed Taylor

Do I really want to go to heaven? The answer depends on what heaven is. If heaven is the eternal presence of God, then that would be awesome. But I do not believe that God resides in some celestial realm. God is in us, all around us, every day. So it is possible to be in God’s presence anytime, anywhere.

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The Christmas Truce of 1914

As December cold enveloped the Western Front, a very remarkable Christmas story developed – an unofficial truce was observed by an estimated 100,000 British and German troops on the first Christmas Eve of the war.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – The Christian Church

The church as we know it came about when one group of believers was opposed by a dissenting group. Then it became necessary for each group to define their concepts of Christianity and to label all others heretics.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Faith

The Greek word for “faith” in the New Testament is pistis, which occurs 243 times. As a noun, pistis is used as a technical term for “forensic evidence.” In other words, faith is not blind; we must investigate to establish the facts. I agree with retired Episcopal bishop, John Shelby Spong, who writes, “My problem has never been my faith. It has always been the literal way that human beings have chosen to articulate that faith.” To many Christians, faith means believing highly suspect claims, which is a problem for me. Thinking isn’t a sin. God created our minds and I’m certain that we were intended to use them.

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The Arian Controversy

One of the most serious theological conflicts in the history of Christianity occurred more than one thousand six hundred years ago. Known as the Arian controversy, many people who call them-selves Christian have most likely never heard …

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Why Preach?

When I was in the process of getting a master’s degree in sacred music, I had to take several classes offered at the theology school. One class, I don’t remember which one, assigned a paper entitled “Why Preach?” I really struggled with the assignment. As a future minister of music, preaching was not what I intended to do. As far as I was concerned, a preacher preached – that’s what church was – church on Sunday always included a sermon delivered by the minister. There was no alternative; each church service included preaching. The question, therefore, stumped me.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Church Music

The lyrics of the hymns and praise and worship songs of the church are, outside of the Bible, the way most people establish their belief system, which is reflected in the way they think about and live their faith. The lyrics may be good or bad, perceptive or trite, and may or may not teach sound theological concepts. Christians should carefully consider what they are singing because it shapes their theological perspective whether they realize it or not.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Hell

What Does Hebrew Scripture Say about Life After Death? There isn’t much in Hebrew scriptures about life after death. According to Ecclesiastes, death is final: “The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; …

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Heaven

Hebrew Scripture’s View of Life after Death It wasn’t until after the Babylonian Exile that the Pharisees accepted the idea of heaven and the resurrection of the faithful, but the Sadducees, the Essenes, and the community of …

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Christian Missions

I think Christian missionaries should live among the people exhibiting their Christianity in their daily lives. If the people see something in their lives that is missing in their own lives they will ask about it, which gives the missionary permission to tell them about their faith.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Grace and Salvation

For Christians grace is God’s gift of pardon. According to William Barclay the Greek word for grace was originally a military term. When an emperor came to the throne or celebrated a birthday, he would give his troops a donatirim (donation), which was a free gift that they had not earned; it was given out of the goodness of the emperor’s heart. This idea was picked up by the Christian scripture writers when they wrote about the grace of God. Grace is something that is unearned and undeserved – unmerited pardon.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Prayer

I think we need some method of communicating with God and prayer is the logical answer. But prayer in which we stop everything we are doing, get down on our knees, fold our hands and pray is not my idea of prayer. I think we should try to communicate with God any time we have a second to think about God or ask God to be with a loved one or friend, or share anything in our life with God. While driving, when watching TV, while on the lake alone, working in the garden, any of those times and many more, we should take a moment to commune (talk, whatever word you want to use) with God. It may be that those moments are more for us than for God, but I like to think that God listens and cares. I admit that I get awfully frustrated when I feel God is not listening because my petitions are not immediately answered in the way that I have requested. I know God’s answer may be “no,” but that is difficult to swallow.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Sin

Can we actually believe that because Eve persuaded Adam to eat a forbidden apple the entire human race is doomed to hell? Can we truly believe that for several thousand years there was no chance for any human to be saved, even though none of them had anything to do with Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden? Isn’t it ludicrous that a child born today is doomed because Adam and Eve disobeyed God? That creation/damnation scheme sounds more like devil-worship than God-worship.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – The Evil One

When it comes to the existence of the devil, people normally have one of two reactions: they dismiss the devil and scoff at the idea that there is such an entity, or they exalt the devil, and attribute far more to him (or it) than is deserved. In a recent Gallup poll, 70% of Americans believe in the devil. Half of those surveyed believe that he (this evil force is most often referred to in masculine terms) is a personal force, while the other half believes he is an impersonal force.
Let us see what the Bible says about Satan, the devil and the evil one.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – End Times

Eschatology is the study of last things, the final events in history, the ultimate destiny of humanity, the end of the world. Major issues in eschatology include the rapture, the second coming of Jesus, the tribulation, Millennialism, and the last judgment.
Most of the Christian books I have read do not seriously concern themselves with eschatology, but the Left Behind series of books made it a popular topic. All twelve novels in the series made the New York Times bestselling fiction list – note: the fiction list. Prior to the Left Behind novels of the 1990s, Hal Lindsey’s 1970s bestselling books, including The Late Great Planet Earth, were also bestsellers.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – The Holy Spirit

The phrase “God-with-us” is normally ascribed to Jesus, but I like the phrase as a description of God’s spirit. In 1600 CE, Socinianism defined the spirit as “energy flowing from God to man.” I agree with that definition; God’s spirit is a power or an influence.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – The Trinity

During the fourth century, Christianity digressed from the concept of one God into the vague and mysterious doctrine of the Trinity. The Catholic Church reportedly devised the Trinitarian doctrine to answer the charge of worshipping three gods – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. Trinitarianism became a part of the Roman Catholic doctrine as a result of the first ecumenical council of Nicaea in 325 CE.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – The Bible

We need to acknowledge that the final week in Jesus’ life is a blending of separate biblical accounts. In other words, the story grows and develops as each successive gospel writer imaginatively retold the story. There may be some historical memory in their stories, but the details are not historical.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Passion Week (or Holy Week)

We need to acknowledge that the final week in Jesus’ life is a blending of separate biblical accounts. In other words, the story grows and develops as each successive gospel writer imaginatively retold the story. There may be some historical memory in their stories, but the details are not historical.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – the Resurrection

We need to subject the resurrection stories of the New Testament to the same critical analysis as we did the crucifixion. So let us examine Paul’s writings and the gospels in an attempt to discover what the event we call Easter really was.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – the Crucifixion

One of the most reliable facts concerning Jesus is that he was crucified during the reign and by the action of the Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate, who served by appointment of the Caesar from 26-36 CE. The Roman senator and historian Tacitus referred to Jesus’ execution by Pilate in his Annals, which was written circa 116 CE. Beyond that, however, there is not much historical evidence.

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Affimations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – The Christian Church

Did Jesus Found the Church?

According to Leo Tolstoy, the famous Russian novelist, in his magnum non-fiction opus, The Kingdom of God is Within You, the idea that God or Jesus founded the church is “so utterly untrue and unfounded that one is ashamed to refute them.” Only the modern Christian church would even assert such a notion. Jesus could not have founded the church as we presently understand the word. Nothing like the idea of the church with its sacraments and its claim of infallibility can be found in Jesus’ words or in the ideas of other men of his time.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Judas Iscariot

Judas Iscariot, the anti-hero of the story of the crucifixion, has been heaped with scorn and ridicule over the centuries. “Judas” is not used as a child’s name because it became the synonym for betrayal, for being a back-stabber. In Christian art, he is portrayed in dark, sinister tones. Events in western Christian history from the Inquisition in the fourteenth century to the expulsion of the Jews from almost every country of Europe at one time or another, to Martin Luther’s call for the burning of synagogues, to the violence and killing frenzy of the Holocaust in the twentieth century are all rooted substantially in Judas and because he was a Jew, applied to all Jews. Even his name is identical with the name by which the entire Jewish nation was known… Judas is simply a Greek spelling of Judah.

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