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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God is too big for just one religion

Joseph Campbell taught that all religions are true as long as they are taken poetically and metaphorically. However, when we try to take a religious text as being historically or factually “true,” then they all become false. God doesn’t write books. While we may wish for absolute truths, the fact of our spiritual lives is that we have to think critically and morally interrogate our beliefs constantly as we navigate our way between truth and “fake news.”

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Liberating the Gospels: Reading the Bible with Jewish Eyes

n this boldest book since Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, Bishop John Shelby Spong offers a compelling view of the Gospels as thoroughly Jewish tests.Spong powerfully argues that many of the key Gospel accounts of events in the life of Jesus—from the stories of his birth to his physical resurrection—are not literally true. He offers convincing evidence that the Gospels are a collection of Jewish midrashic stories written to convey the significance of Jesus. This remarkable discovery brings us closer to how Jesus was really understood in his day and should be in ours.

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Resurrection: Fact or Fantasy?

Did Jesus really rise from the dead? Or is this a fairy tale?

This issue, along with who God is, could keep the twenty-first-century reformation from moving forward.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Cain in the Land of Nod


The Judeo-Christian story of creation is assumed by biblical literalists to be an accurate, historical representation of the beginning of the universe, with Adam and Eve firmly ensconced as the first human beings to inhabit the earth, and the Garden of Eden as the first habitat. Those who accept this as literal fact are faced with numerous challenges, and in this essay I will focus on one of the most common… the origin of Cain’s wife, whom he meets in a foreign land known as “Nod,” to which he is banished for the crime of killing his brother. To address this issue, I will focus on Genesis 4: 9- 17 (RSV):

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King David the Louse

King David has long been one of my Biblical heroes—or so I thought. The story of David versus Goliath is a powerful metaphor for facing life’s challenges. The little guy takes on the big and the powerful—and wins.

I always envisioned the great King David as the prototype for who and what the Messiah should be: a powerful leader, admired by all, who would lead the chosen people to achieve the highest standards.

Then I bought the Great Courses DVDs on the Old Testament, which consist of twenty-four thirty-minute lectures by Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, a Biblical scholar from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

In lecture sixteen, Dr. Levine talked about who King David really was. That lecture was an eye opener—and not a nice one!

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Hastening Change in the Church

In this episode of Faith And Reason 360 we are honored to welcome author, scholar, and scribe of the popular monthly newsletter “Connections,” Barbara Wendland.

Join us as Barbara discusses the need for a radical update of creed, attitude, and structure in the Christian church, whose practices, Wendland says, are outdated—and this behind-the-times attitude, though revered as traditional by many, comes at the expense of Church success. The world has changed dramatically since the 3rd century; is the Church ready to catch up?

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Progressing Spirit

An inclusive and pioneering exploration of Theology, Spirituality and Current Events

With thousands of subscribers around the globe, Progressing Spirit is the world’s leading outlet for an intelligent, inclusive, and pioneering exploration of today’s theological, spiritual, and social advancements.

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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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What Jesus Really Did

Christian fundamentalists believe that the most important event in the New Testament is that Jesus died for your sins. Those to whom this makes no sense believe that what matters most is the teaching of Jesus, epitomized, I suppose, in the Golden Rule- “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I would like to argue that neither the “sacrificial death” nor the “teaching” is what Jesus was really about.

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The Source of Early Stories

I have a lot of respect for the non-literal interpretation of the New and Old Testament, but there are certain parts that I cannot see any metaphorical value in.
 My stumbling blocks are these:


1. What is the metaphorical message given by the genealogy found in genesis and in the gospels? It is the former that precisely gives young earth creationists their earth age.


2. What is the metaphorical value of the various horrific laws laid down in Deuteronomy or Leviticus? I can’t see a non-literal interpretation of telling us to destroy people who have sex if a woman is on her period.

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