Nothing irks some folks more than losing a God who is wrathful, angry, retributive and punishing. This is only because we want so much to believe that God takes sides, and that side is inevitably our side.
So much of Jesus’s teaching subverts this sacrificial way of thinking.
One example is the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector found in Luke 18:9-14, where what counts as righteousness is completely and totally turned on its head!
If, in fact, as I argued in my last post, that Jesus begins his ministry by asking what God without retribution looks ...
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There's a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in
The religious ego -- our 'inner Pharisee' -- demands perfection, is embarrassed by our failings and punishes us for them with self-loathing. Co-opting the God-given conscience, it ascends to the judgment seat reserved for Christ alone and points the accusing finger of condemnation. The fruit is anxiety, shame and an intense desire to shrink back, to burrow into the mud and hide out our years. It reminds us of our inadequacy and sets ...
Ecce Homo by Antonio Ciseri, 1871
Sympathy for the Devil…or PilateBrian Zahnd
Please allow me to introduce myselfI’m a man of wealth and tasteI’ve been around for a long, long yearStole many a man’s soul and faithAnd I was ‘round when Jesus ChristHad his moment of doubt and painMade damn sure that PilateWashed his hands and sealed his fatePleased to meet youHope you guess my nameBut what’s puzzling youIs the nature of my game
–The Rolling Stones, Sympathy for the Devil
In his fascinating novel, The Master and Margarita, Russian writer ...
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" (Matthew 16:13-15).
More than two thousand years ago, Jesus asked his closest disciples the same question that he has asked humans ever since. Who do you say that I am? The answer his disciples gave then, and that you and I give today, ...
My seminary Hebrew professor, former colleague, and friend, Al Groves, who is of blessed memory, was a wonderful, honest, and pastoral man. When dealing with the theological difficulties that arise in the course of reading the Bible, Al would say, “God lets his children tell the story.”
That is a great way of putting it. The Bible is what happens when God allows his children to tell his story–which means the biblical writers told the story from their point of view, with their limitations, within the cultural context in which they wrote.
When children ...
On Sunday the Gospel reading was the temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4:1–11). After church someone asked me if I thought the temptation of Jesus was literal. The questioner was struggling with what seemed to be a cartoonish contest between Jesus and the devil. This person was particularly perplexed by the idea that Jesus would actually be tempted to worship Satan.
So when asked if I thought the temptation account was “literal,” what did I say? I said, yes and no. I certainly believe Jesus encountered Satan in the wilderness and was tempted. But I don’t think ...
No Country for Old Men
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." —Luke 4: 18-19
Out in the endless, desolate desert of west Texas, a hunter looking for antelope stumbles on a crime scene. Abandoned cars and trucks are pock marked with bullet holes, and a half dozen or so dead bodies are scattered around.
In that odd and somewhat glib euphemism used ...
The first weekend showings of Noah (the movie) starring Russell Crowe and Emma Watson were accompanied by some surprises and an utter lack thereof. I'll start with the latter to get it out of the way.
No surprise: Evangelical panic
I don't think anyone should be surprised at the usual course of Evangelical reactions decrying the movie for its 'biblical inaccuracies.' (Though I confess to wondering if the Westboro Baptists picketed anywhere). Of course, citing inaccuracies implies that the measure of faithfulness to Scripture is somehow photocopying Genesis 6-9 into ...