Who Do You Say that I AM? Part 2

Matthew 16:13-28

  This sermon is the second in a series of three sermons responding to questions about Jesus’ identity. You can explore the part one here Part Two of this exploration of Jesus’ identity includes three reflections interspersed …

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Who Do You Say that I AM? Part 1

Matthew 16:13-20 and Romans 12: 1-8 – a sermon

“Who do you say that I Am?” For most of my life I have been trying to figure out who I think Jesus was and is. Your very presence here on a beautiful summer morning, suggests to me that many of you have also tried to figure out who Jesus was and is. From time to time, I suspect that most of us have believed that we have worked it out; that we know just who Jesus is. But Jesus, just like every person we have ever known and or ever loved, Jesus keeps changing on us.

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Treasure Map: Christians United in the Search

For 2,000+ years, Christians have studied the words of Jesus, the Apostles, Ancient Israelite prophets, psalmists and lawmakers in the Bible. We have been locked in theological debate over the meaning of life and how to achieve the union with God we so desire.

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Faith Communities Rise in Support of Housing for the Homeless: Talking points for religious leaders

(I wrote this in my role with the campaign in Los Angeles to get neighborhood acceptance for permanent supportive housing projects, now funded by our recent successful campaign for City Measure HHH, which provides $1.2 billion for construction of thousands of units. It was one thing to convince voters to pass this ambitious proposal; it is quite another to convince citizens to support the construction of such units in their neighborhoods. We are mounting a sub-campaign to enlist religious leaders and communities to help lead this effort. These talking points also may be useful in other cities which are struggling to address the crisis of homelessness.)

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FaithandReason® presents The Challenge of Paul, featuring John Dominic Crossan

The D. L. Dykes, Jr. Foundation (DLDF), producers of FaithandReason®, will distribute, free of charge, The Challenge of Paul, an extraordinary video learning experience with John Dominic Crossan (Themes 1 and 2, plus a digital resource guide – a $150 value) to 1,000 or more churches across the country.

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The relevancy of The Old Testament today

Are there parts of the Old Testament that are said to be relevant today and why?

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Resistance Bible Study

(This is the introduction to a weekly Bible study I’m starting for students at USC. A few days ago, I finished reading a remarkable little book that my dear cousin Judy sent me: On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder, a Yale history professor who incisively diagnoses the present danger posed by Trump and the Republicans to the survival of democracy in this country, and offers prescriptions for action. I closed the book, took a deep breath, and resolved to do something new and different toward that end. This “Resistance Bible Study” is the result. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes! Any “musings” readers wishing to do their own version of this, please go for it – and keep me posted, too.)

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Heeding messages. Whose messages?

This article about messaging is in three parts:

• Part One: Michelangelo’s Biblical Errancy
• Part Two: Meaning and Message Are Intertwined
• Part Three: Asking You to Choose to Believe in Awe

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A Second Look at Jesus

If you are certain that your understanding of Jesus’ person and ministry is correct because it comes from the biblical gospels, then your first reaction to this article is that I am writing fantasy. Let me reassure you that I am very familiar with the content of the bible, I have studied theology, and I served in parish ministry for thirty-five years with a rather traditional view of Christianity.

However, seeds for change were planted during my ministry, and in retirement I have had opportunity to study the writings of a number of prominent theological scholars who have helped me to understand the gospels as ‘time sensitive’ writings. This has led to a radically different understanding of Jesus and his ministry, a change that has stimulated my faith journey. I will attempt to summarize my journey.

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How do we know we have a soul?

The truth of the matter is that nowhere in the entire Bible are the terms “immortal” or “everlasting” linked with the word “soul.” Although it can be confusing because of our common usage of the word soul today, scriptures state very clearly that a soul is mortal, meaning that it dies. (Ezekiel 18:4, 20) Therefore, the Bible calls someone who has died, simply a “dead soul.”—Leviticus 21:11.

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John 3:16 incomplete without 1st John 3:16

I have friends who seem to think believing that Jesus died for them is all they need to do. Some of them even treat other people badly and when I say something to them about being more Christian they just quote John 3:16 to me. What are your thoughts?

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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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When was the concept of the Devil introduced?

I can’t respond fully to all the questions, but let me share some thoughts. The pre-Christian world is a mighty big place, so I’m going to focus on the origin of what is called the satan in the Jewish tradition. An excellent book, by the way, is that of Elaine Pagels’ The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans, and Heretics.

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Do you “stand” on the bible or do you have a “stand” on the bible?

So, don’t mistake the liberal tendency towards tolerance (which allows you – in broad strokes – to believe what you want and do what you please) to remain silent when what you believe and advocate fails to respect the rights or freedom of others. You can claim that your “stand” is the definitive interpretation of what the Bible says, but so did the slave-owning, sexist, and racist Christians of the past – and so do the discriminatory, misogynistic dogmatists of today.

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Do Your Job – Part IV

Part 4 of a 4-Part Series

In his World Peace Day Message for 2017 Pope Francis states, “To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence.” This is a fine example of a bishop being what a bishop is commissioned to be by Jesus (Mt 28:19). He is teaching the disciples of Jesus “to obey all that I have commanded you.”

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Using the word “God” and balancing tradition and wisdom

These questions were put to me by an Italian philosopher on the occasion of the publication of my book on education, The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human, into Italian. I felt they were deserving of sharing with an American audience as well.

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Do Your Job – Part III

Part 3 of a 4-Part Series

An institution is a humanly created means to achieve an end. All the activities within it are designed by human beings to reach that end. An institution is like a hammer. It is a tool devised by humans to do a job. But, the hammer in order to do the job for which it was developed, e.g. put a nail in a piece of wood, must be employed according to its own intrinsic logic. The handle is held and the head of the hammer hits the top of the nail. To use a hammer contrary to its own logic, for example, to hold the head of the hammer and hit the side of the nail with the handle, is to misuse the tool and render it ineffective to achieve the end for which it was created. Once the tool is chosen its intrinsic logic must be obeyed. 

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The Prodigal Pig

You can call me Wilbur. No, you are not hallucinating: I can talk. And yes, as you can see if you look carefully, I have been circumcised. And no, I do not recommend having it done unless you are an infant who won’t be able to remember.

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