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    • Edward Simmons
    • Born in Savannah, Georgia in 1943, Dr. Edward Gordon Simmons has spent most of his life in Georgia. Graduating with honors from Savannah High School, he attended Mercer University and then did graduate study at Vanderbilt University where he earned an M.A. and a Ph.D.

      He taught history at Appalachian State University in North Carolina for one year before being drafted to serve during the Vietnam era. Choosing the Air Force, he served in California and South Dakota before ending his service at Warner Robins in Georgia.

      Finding little job opportunity for college history teachers in 1973, he began working for the Georgia Department of Human Resources and taught history courses for colleges in the Atlanta area on a part-time basis. His 34 year career in government service included the development and implementation of a management training program, serving as consultant and trainer for the top level of management of Georgia's largest agency, and participating as training manager in the development and implementation of two major statewide computer systems that eliminated the issuance of state benefits by paper checks and prepared state systems for the year 2000.

      Simmons retired from state service in 2005. In 2010, he returned to classroom teaching on a part-time basis with Brenau University, teaching continuing education courses for retirees and then teaching American History online to Brenau students all over the world. In the fall of 2011, he began teaching American History, Western Civilization, and World History on a part-time basis at Georgia Gwinnett College in addition to teaching at Brenau.

      His special interests include (1) the growing field of Big History with its combination of science and World History; (2) the study of Old Testament and New Testament history and archaeology; and (3) the American Civil War.

      A long-time Sunday school teacher in Presbyterian churches, Simmons is known for combining history, science, and historical criticism in confessional teaching of the Bible. He is a popular teacher of religion and history for the Brenau Center for Lifetime Study. He is also the author of the 2017 Illumination Gold Medal winner for Spirituality: Talking Back to the Bible: A Historian’s Approach to Bible Study. He also writes the Blog Talking Back!

The Urgent Question for Today: Why Do We Let Evil Prosper?

Our Current Situation. We live in a time in which the possibilities for evil are multiplying as fast and possibly faster than the good being accomplished by our innovations.

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January 6 and Beloved Community

The attack on  the Capitol on January 6, 2021, was a low point in the ongoing struggle against dark forces in the American character. It was also another moment when leaders of Christian churches betrayed the message of Jesus while claiming to uphold Christian principles.

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Peace, Health, and Democracy on Earth for a Second Pandemic Christmas

Jesus was best known for healing and exorcising. The crowds that came for medical help got more than they may have expected as they heard him speak about justice for everyone and love for neighbors and enemies. Spreading health and preaching compassion were at the heart of being the Prince of Peace.

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Values, Truth, and Spiritual Danger

Progressive Christianity and the Age of Trump

In a series of ruminations, Edward G. Simmons brings a lifetime’s experiences, along with biblical and historical insights, to the ethical problems faced by Christians living under the impact of President Trump.

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America is Compassionately Working the Problem

In the face of enormous danger and spreading death that seems pointless, there is a tendency to ask: “Where is God? How could God let this happen?” This is the same spirit that fills up space on cable news channels with critics complaining about all the things that are going wrong.

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The Problem of Incomplete Liberation

After a yearlong Covid imprisonment, Americans are celebrating liberation over Memorial Day in 2021. Masks are coming off, signs tell us businesses are hiring, and confidence is growing that the emergency is over. We celebrate because we think liberation is upon us—but the party has started before the victory is secure.

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An Evangelical Statement Against White Nationalism

I received notice of a statement that is being circulated to oppose the association of white nationalism with evangelical Christianity. Many Progressive Christians would not call themselves evangelicals, but I believe all of us can stand with the values asserted in this statement.

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Narcissistic Prayer versus the Lord’s Prayer

Can prayers be narcissistic? A great many prayers are in the first person, like the laments in the Psalms. “God help me, rescue me, forgive me, heal me” are typical petitions in the first person. But praying for oneself can become narcissism when concern for oneself supersedes loving our neighbors. 

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Light for the Midnight Darkness of the COVID Winter

 I have found two books to be especially helpful this Christmas. Living under COVID restrictions is like being imprisoned. Sermons written by Martin Luther King, Jr., while in jail speak directly to the concerns of today, although he was thinking of the situation in the 1960s.

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Living Through A Lawless Apocalypse

Progressive Christians rely on God’s message of love as our guide through the mounting crises in the United States and the world. It is not a message of waiting and hoping, as in the case of apocalyptic expectations. It is a message calling for action based on dedication to truth and loving consideration for others more than ourselves.

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Life and Mobilization Versus Liberty and the Pursuit of Death

On the 4th of July 2020, how can we recognize true American patriots? No matter how many flags are waved or used to decorate clothing, the legitimate patriots will be wearing a mask across the nose and mouth.

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The Spiritual Danger of Donald Trump:

30 Evangelical Christians on Justice, Truth, and Moral Integrity

What should Christians think about Donald Trump? His policies, his style, his personal life? Thirty evangelical Christians wrestle with these tough questions. They are Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. They don’t all agree, but they seek to let Christ be the Lord of their political views.

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COVID-19 As a Prophetic Event

The viral pandemic of 2020 is being documented in remarkable depth by cable news media. Story after story demonstrates how a historical event is prophetic by exposing and judging short-comings in our society – and by pointing to necessary corrections to avoid a longer-lasting global catastrophe.

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Does God Care?

Much of human life is spent in an illusory world that is mistaken for reality. The sun comes up each morning, runs its course, and day by day we fall into routines that we pretend will never end. When crises come, as we know they will, false confidence and phony optimism are shattered by calamity. Overwhelmed by anxiety and grief, we feel mistreated, betrayed, or helpless. Then comes the thought: “Am I all alone? Does God care?”

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Review of Walter Brueggemann book: “Interrupting Silence”

Overcoming the Evil of Silence

In 2018, the evangelical scholar Walter Brueggemann boldly departed from the twin evils of American Christian Evangelicals – fawning approval and cowardly silence about the evils of privilege and oppression that have resulted in “our socio-political circumstance.”

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What Is Progressive About Progressive Christianity?

Three questions need to be clearly explained to the American public. What is Progressive Christianity? Secondly, what does progressive mean in the context of this religious movement? And, why is Progressive Christianity especially needed in our time?

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Talking Back to the Bible: A Historian’s Approach to Bible Study

Millennials seeking a new approach to spirituality, those who identify with the “emerging church” identified by Marcus Borg and others, anyone interested in Christ’s Jewishness and the elimination of anti-Jewish bias from Bible study, and women, LGBTs, and others who seek a Biblical approach that overcomes insistence on obedience to questionable Old Testament commands will be intrigued by the new book by Edward G. Simmons.

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A Crisis of Fault-finding, Narcissism, and Dishonesty

Americans have been losing confidence in our political and religious institutions since the 1960s. The fundamental reason is well-founded suspicions of dishonesty among political and religious leaders. Outright lying was not always the problem, rather it was failure of courage to acknowledge political and religious truths that became increasingly obvious despite efforts to deny or obfuscate.

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Faith, Hope, Compassion – Paul’s Answer to the Global Stress Epidemic

When Paul dictated a paean to love in his message to Corinth, he was not thinking of wedding ceremonies; rather, he was imploring the community to overcome internal conflict.

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Is Molly Bloom a Feminist Role Model?

Without mentioning religion or spirituality, the movie Molly’s Game dissects the American soul by revealing an underground world of gambling and male domination. It shows how our national ideal of material and financial success, with all the trimmings of status and power, can lead to unharnessed greed, self-destruction, and actualization of hell on earth.

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Values to Build a Life On – Part V

Dedication to Truth as the Highest Value.

Who among us would want a friend like Jeremiah? He was a determined truth-teller who had the nerve to stand at the entrance of the Temple and declare the fragility of what Judah considered inviolable. In the days of Hezekiah, the Assyrians who had eliminated the Kingdom of Israel failed in their siege of Jerusalem. After the reforms of Josiah, the sanctity of the Temple was considered even safer. Yet Jeremiah saw folly in an alliance of Josiah’s son with Egypt against Babylon and assumptions of Temple safety.

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Values to Build a Life On – Pat IV

Dedication to Compassion for All Humanity

The 22nd chapter of Proverbs seems like a random list of statements that are right brain rather than left because they wander around a labyrinth rather than go straight to a clear point. Yet a message of compassion stands out that begins with how children are raised.

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Values to Build a Life On – Part III

Dedication to Citizenship in God’s World

n the 21st century, political campaigns appeal to American voters as taxpayers, as members of a party, religious or identity group, and sometimes as patriots. Citizenship and the obligations of public service that come with it are seldom mentioned. Success in the business or corporate world is admired because national prosperity is an important political goal. Self-interest that is at the heart of the Free Enterprise System and built into legal requirements for corporations is emphasized at the expense of non-profitable ideals of duty, honor, service.

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Values to Build a Life On – Part II

Dedication to Religious Traditions Updated with Democratic Values

Few Millennials or Centennials read books. Freshmen in my history classes prefer online assignments with video clips, diagrams, cartoons, and very short narratives. They like online textbooks with chapters that are short with links to interesting visuals. They read books only when they must. The Bible is something that hardly ever interests them at all. Having grown up a Protestant in the Old South’s Bible Belt, it’s hard to believe how knowledge of the Bible and Judeo-Christian history have declined since the mid-20th century.

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Values to Build a Life On

Part I: Introduction

Knowing the end of a career or life is approaching, one naturally looks over personal values, how they changed over the years, and what to share with those who follow. A “Last Lecture” has become a common way for academics to speak to posterity, even if the lecture is not given in public. Ministers sometimes deliver a “Last Sermon” at the end of their careers. Some of my friends in their 70s have shared drafts of their final thoughts with this fellow septuagenarian. The late Marcus Borg went even further upon reaching 70 by writing “Convictions”, a final book explaining his understanding of progressive Christianity and describing changes in his beliefs since a very Lutheran upbringing.

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Peace on Earth to Angry People of Good Will

  At Christmas we think of peace and talk about good will, but in the 2018 season we are focused on anger in our country. At a time of general prosperity, political processes in America and Europe …

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A Secular and Spiritual Examination of the Soul of America

The Presidency is not merely an administrative office. That’s the least of it. It is more than an engineering job, efficient or inefficient. It is pre-eminently a place of moral leadership. All our great Presidents were leaders …

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Nature, Destiny, and the Garden in Eden

A central problem in Christianity is represented by opposing views of the Genesis account of the origin of humanity in a special garden. One set of voices looks at the opening chapters of Genesis and shouts “Believe it!” They go so far as rejecting modern science and constructing museums to display early life on earth the “way it must have been.” Another set of voices calls out “Unbelievable!” This extreme often considers Genesis irrelevant and needing serious revision.

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Christian Values and Male Entitlement

As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all …

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Responding to Those Who Persecute

What if I simply do my job, even if it requires abhorrent treatment of asylum-seekers and their children, because I am told that law or a new policy requires it. What if I make statements to the press or in court that I know are false because superiors have ordered me to do it? What if I am near retirement and stand to lose my pension by refusing to knowingly traumatize children. Choosing to follow Jesus by refusing to participate in acts of persecution calls for extraordinary heroism in Trump’s America.

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Political Salesmanship and Christian Morality

  The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’ (Matthew 13:13)   Has overt Christian involvement in politics made public …

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Updating Four Absurdities of Christianity

Our country is experiencing a cultural outbreak of resistance to basic decency, normal moral standards, and general respect for human rights. “Conservative” forces are celebrating new liberty to disregard “political correctness” as speech typical of talk radio and too many social media platforms moved unapologetically into governmental communications. Recognizing the dignity of every person in our society is being denounced as onerous and a violation of religious freedom. This is a rebellion against updating language and upgrading treatment of previously downgraded human beings.

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Hyper Change and Religious Trauma

After retiring as bishop, John Shelby Spong told us Why Christianity Must Change or Die, speaking as someone in exile from a church that was alienated from modern reality. I would like to add “Why is change so difficult?” and answer from the perspective of history in combination with science.

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Christians As Truth Seekers and Agnostics

Christianity should encourage and honor the ongoing search for truth. This requires tolerating absence of certainty and respect for emerging scientific knowledge, which leads to updated understanding of human rights and morality. Lessing’s statement about the true value of a person should reflect the view of all who follow the Judeo-Christian tradition, for it focuses on devotion to God through the unending quest for truth rather than holding to cultural idols.

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The Political Role of Forgiveness: Amnesty, Mulligans, and Enabling

Eleven million is a significant number. In a week when we remember six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust, let us not forget there were eleven million victims altogether because five million non-Jewish victims were also exterminated by the Nazis. This should also be a week for remembering another eleven million terrorized people – the undocumented immigrants living under an American-style terror.

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Jesus as Critic of Hypocrisy, Then and Now

The very lifestyle chosen by Jesus showed little concern for the separateness purity required. Jesus was a practicing Jew who observed the Sabbath and kosher requirements; but he objected to the pride, self-righteousness, and pettiness of criticisms by scribes and Pharisees as he emphasized serving God through ethical action more than ritual observance. Jesus did not criticize purity in temple worship; however, extending temple purity to normal life resulted in focus on oneself rather than on ethical behavior toward others. His emphasis was on serving God through actions that recognized the rule of God now and helped prepare for complete realization of God’s sovereignty and justice in the future. Present and future depended on actions now.

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