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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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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An Early Christian #MeToo and #TimesUp Movement

  Reading Laura Swan’s The Forgotten Desert Mothers as the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and the #TimesUp movement for equal employment for women were getting underway, I couldn’t help but notice the parallels with the women who, …

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The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love

In the history of the Western World, the Bible has been a perpetual source of inspiration and guidance for countless Christians. However, this Bible has also left a trail of pain. It is undeniable that the Bible is not always used for good. Sometimes the Bible can seem overtly evil. Sometimes its texts are terrible.

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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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Paul for the People: John Dominic Crossan Imagines a “Letter to the Americans” in His New Video Series

By Peter Laarman for Religion Dispatches

Crossan follows 201o’s “The Challenge of Jesus” with the newly released “The Challenge of Paul,” available free of charge to up to 1,000 congregations, colleges, or seminaries.

Intrigued by the idea of bringing high-end critical pedagogy to the people, I asked Crossan how his passion for biblical studies led him to want to engage with laypeople – and what that experience has been like.

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A Review of John Shelby Spong’s “Unbelievable”

By Zachary Houle

Once in awhile, a book comes along that completely shatters your Christian world view… Unbelievable basically takes all you think you knew about the church and the Bible, and aims to turn everything on its head.

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If I Called Myself a “Christian”

  A Call for a New Christology   You can read and/or print a pdf copy of this commentary Here. NOTE: An earlier 2-part Words & Ways commentary in 2011 approached the question posed in the title, …

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Cherry Picking Religion – Roy Moore’s Twisting of Faith

By Rabiah Ahmed for Patheos

The Roy Moore scandal grows everyday; there are more accusers, more accounts of disturbing behavior. But even as the evidence mounts, Moore’s defenders remain steadfast. What is most striking is the language used by his supporters to say that Moore’s predation upon minors was not only unremarkable, but somehow ordained by God.

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God: A Human History

In Zealot, Reza Aslan replaced the staid, well-worn portrayal of Jesus of Nazareth with a startling new image of the man in all his contradictions. In his new book, Aslan takes on a subject even more immense: God, writ large.

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Sermon: God and the Universe

It’s that old approach that St Anselm wrote about in the 11th c, fides quarens intellectum, faith seeking understanding. It’s important to distinguish faith and belief. Faith is an attitude of trust, and belief is trying to make sense of that attitude. What you believe is serious, but not too serious. Karl Barth, who wrote many, many books, including his voluminous Church Dogmatics, once commented that the angels would have a good laugh when they saw him pushing a wheelbarrow full of his books through the pearly gate. That we all agree in our belief is not the point. Each of us is seeking understanding. Agreement is not the point. Openness and respect is.

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