Jesus’ “Bad” Table Manners

The traditional beginning of the Communion story is “On the night that Jesus was betrayed…” But we did more than betray him that night; we denied him multiple times and abandoned him to the “powers that be.” We expressed shock that any of us would desert him, let alone betray him, and we each said, “Is it I, Lord?” Was our fear of authority figures and the awareness of Jesus’ and our vulnerability already palpable at the meal? Regardless, both believers and betrayers were welcome at his table.

read more

Spiritual AND Religious

A sermon for Pentecost 12B – John 6:35,41-51

Bread, Bread, Bread, the gospel according to John: “I am the bread of life. I am the bread that came down from heaven. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, and if you eat it you’ll never die. I myself am the living bread come down from heaven. If any eat this bread they will live forever.” Bread, Bread, Bread, for five weeks in a row, preachers all over the world are doing our darnedest to serve up Jesus as the bread of life, bread for the world, bread that comes down from heaven, bread that provides eternal life. Bread, Bread, Bread. I who am not supposed to be letting bread pass my lips; I have been called upon to create sermons that will satisfy the lectionary’s insistence that we gorge ourselves on words and images which offer up Jesus as bread for the world.

read more

The Galilean Sandals

FREE! Children's eBook

It starts with a fifth grade field trip, and a pair of magic sandals. Arthur and Rosa can somehow “become” Ben and Rachel who lived around the time of Jesus. As they figure out how their sandal traveling experiences are interconnected, they hear Jesus’ message through the eyes and ears of his followers.

read more

PATHWAYS Theological Education

An Online Institute for Progressive Christian Theology

PATHWAYS Theological Education, Inc., is a Progressive Christian learning community seeking to empower transformative leadership for justice and peace within and beyond the church by engaging heart and mind to consider what it means to know, love and serve God in today’s changing world. 

read more

Suppose it was like this…

Jesus was a man born in the usual way. Mary and Joseph were his parents, and he had some brothers and sisters. His home town, Nazareth, was a small hamlet occupied mostly by poor peasants who eked out a living on small plots of land that were increasingly appropriated by the wealthy. Four miles away, the city of Sepphoris was a bustling scene of government projects that provided day labor for the peasantry, and often Joseph took Jesus with him to the city as they sought to support the family.

read more

Jesus and Fig Trees

Did you ever read something in the Bible and wonder what you just read? So, you read it again. It still makes no sense. You try again. Nothing.

Here’s an example from Matthew 21:18–19. Jesus arrived in Jerusalem and was hungry. He saw a fig tree, but he went to it, he found no fruit, only leaves. Jesus said to the tree, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the tree “withered at once.” Huh?

read more

Jesus’ Encounter with a Literalist

Scripture Lesson: John 3.1-21

Nicodemus may not have been the first or last literalist that Jesus encountered, but he is one whom most of us would least imagine to be one. He was “a leader of the Jews,” which meant he was well-educated and versed in the scriptures. He would have been very familiar with the nuance of words, and the various meanings that religious words might have. So it seems odd that he would not have known what Jesus was talking about when Jesus spoke with multivalent words.

read more

From Common Sense to an Age of Reason

The progressive faith movement has deep roots in the 19th century in the writings of Voltaire, in France, and Thomas Paine, in the United States. Paine foresaw that a revolution in favor of democracy would lead directly into a revolution in religious beliefs and practices. Three major periods of revivals in America has kept evangelical faith alive in America while France moved more decidedly in the direction of a more secular approach to life. Still, Paine’s “Common Sense” inspired the birth of democracy in the USA and it led to his writing of “Age of Reason” to encourage religion to focus on moral living and to dismiss creedal or doctrinal theology. What we modern progressives call the primacy of orthopraxy over orthodoxy. Rather than beliefs about heaven, hell, salvation, and invisible beings, progressives believe in freedom, justice, equality, and working for the wellbeing and happiness of all.

read more

Eternal NOW! — BRUNCHtalks4

Can a first century understanding of Hell and Heaven free Christianity from its obsession with the next life and our cultural nonsense about heaven and hell? Exploring a progressive approach to the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth opens us to a Way of being in the world that is eternal now. Our BRUNCHtalks continue to explore what it means to be “Progressive in Approach: Christ-Like in action!”

read more

The miracle of being

I have been on a journey much like John Spong’s for almost 67 years. I have followed his work over the years with interest and used to be on his regular mailing list. I just finished his “last Book” and found it both enlightening, and frustrating. I appreciated the insights and the bio of his and our shared journey, and resonate with many of his conclusions. Where I part company is his “insight” that we human’s alone have “self-consciousness,” which allows only us to grasp: life, death, fear, joy, God, spirit etc. Sadly Spong trots out the age old notion that humans are mentally & spiritually superior to the “lower” beings on our planet. This attitude has justified our human lethal domination of this planet to the detriment of every species including human beings. Worst of all it is a conjecture that can neither be proven nor disproven (which I personally think is the easier of the two tasks) because we humans lack the ability to communicate with our fellow travelers. Stating this opinion and maintaining it as “fact” throughout the book diminishes, Bishop Spong’s logic and conclusions, because it is so basic to every argument that follows. I pray that as we humans expand our own spiritual consciousness we will outgrow all of the assumptions we’ve nurtured about our innate superiority.

read more

Getting Started Suggested Reading List

We are often asked by readers for a reading list for those who want to learn more about Progressive Christianity. Below are some suggestions to get you started:

read more

God: The Evidence: The Reconciliation of Faith and Reason in a Postsecular World

In the modern age science has been winning its centuries—old battle with religion for the mind of man. The evidence has long seemed incontrovertible: Life was merely a product of blind chance—a cosmic roll of an infinite number of dice across an eternity of time. Slowly, methodically, scientists supplied answers to mysteries insufficiently explained by theologians. Reason pushed faith off into the shadows of mythology and superstition, while atheism became a badge of wisdom. Our culture, freed from moral obligation, explored the frontiers of secularism. God was dead.

read more

A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Why does God exist? How have the three dominant monotheistic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—shaped and altered the conception of God? How have these religions influenced each other? In this stunningly intelligent book, Karen Armstrong, one of Britain’s foremost commentators on religious affairs, traces the history of how men and women have perceived and experienced God, from the time of Abraham to the present.

read more

Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why

When world-class biblical scholar Bart Ehrman first began to study the texts of the Bible in their original languages he was startled to discover the multitude of mistakes and intentional alterations that had been made by earlier translators. In Misquoting Jesus, Ehrman tells the story behind the mistakes and changes that ancient scribes made to the New Testament and shows the great impact they had upon the Bible we use today. He frames his account with personal reflections on how his study of the Greek manuscripts made him abandon his once ultraconservative views of the Bible.

read more

Who Wrote the Bible?

The contemporary classic the New York Times Book Review called “a thought-provoking [and] perceptive guide,” Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard E. Friedman is a fascinating, intellectual, yet highly readable analysis and investigation into the authorship of the Old Testament.

read more

Reading Between The Lines, Adult Curriculum (Electronic and Hard Copy)

Reading Between The Lines is a lectionary based life-centered biblical resource designed for small group youth and adult education in church and home, for individual study or as an aid to preachers. One of the texts from the Revised Common Lectionary is chosen each Sunday. The exploration begins with encountering the story found in the biblical text. The focus then shifts to how this story is happening in the world around us. Finally the questions turn toward how the story is an event in the lives of the people in the group. The journey through the text seeks life-giving questions that wait to be lived.

read more

Nationalism, World Cup and Jesus

What does it mean to be a patriot?

Does it mean wearing a jersey with your favorite team’s colors? Does it mean waving the flag? Does it mean painting your face? Or hanging it from your front porch?

read more

Be Subject to the Governing Authorities

Within the last few days, Attorney General Sessions and Press Secretary Sarah Sanders each invoked biblical authority to justify the separation of parents and children seeking entry into the country. The reference was to Paul’s letter to the Jewish Christians in Rome to whom he advised “be subject to the governing authorities”, who are put there by God. Through the ages, this phrase has been used by slave owners to justify slavery, by Nazis to justify extermination, by Royalists in pre-revolution America to insist on loyalty to the king, and by just about anyone who wanted to promote dictatorship.

read more