“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.”
So, I’m someone who thinks that Jesus was a real, historical person if for no other reason than that he was connected to other, real historical people in clumsy ways (like his connection to John the Baptist, being baptized by him).
In addition, the New Testament books go out of their way to insert arguments going on in the time they were written in order to settle them. One of those is that Jesus’s disciples just stole his body out of the tomb and lied about the resurrection. In the earliest gospel, attributed to Mark, there’s just the mystery of his disappearance, but by the time of the gospel attributed to Matthew, they have to explain why there’s this rumor the disciples took the body in addition to going into more detail about Jesus after he came back to life.
Continue reading Lewis’s trilemma isn’t complete
Dr. Jarvis J. Williams wrote:
Privileged majority readers often attempt to make their culturally informed readings normative for every community.
However, when privileged people read and listen to racially marginalized voices and (more importantly) study the bible in the same sacred church spaces as racially marginalized voices, then those whose privilege shapes their biblical reading will be more likely to see their privileged blind spots when they humbly submit to and listen to those who don’t share their racially and socially privileged status.
Black and brown bible readers may think that certain biblical and theological truths will be worked out exactly the same way in black, brown, or multi-ethnic contexts as in majority white cultural contexts. Or they might be tempted to think that every white reading of a text is a right reading of a text and non-white readings of texts are wrong or suspicious readings of texts, until receiving a stamp of approval from someone from the white majority interpretive community. Reading black and brown authors who love the bible and labor rigorously to understand it in its original context will help white and black and brown Christians to be sensitive to, and aware of, their blind spots. Every bible interpreter has them and brings them to the text.
Continue reading The Bible is large and contains multitudes: why reading diverse voices is good
The other day I was at a bar with a friend, sipping longnecks at the end of an otherwise empty table, conversating lazily about this, that and nothing really.
I know what you’re thinking. No, it wasn’t the Crawl On Inn, and no, I didn’t see Bubba®. This isn’t that kind of column.
Anyway, about halfway through the first beer, some feller gripping a bottle of Coors Light moseyed up, stood right next to our table and started talking to us. Never seen him before in our lives, but there he was, joining in our conversating without any invitation. He was pretty far ahead of us, and slurring a bit, so that may explain why he didn’t mind intruding, and why a few minutes later, without any prompting, he didn’t mind pulling up a stool.
And we didn’t mind, either, because the drinks in our hands were the last we paid for ourselves that night.
Continue reading It’s hard to run into a rich person these days
The Texas Board of Education made its ruling on the science curriculum last week. Evolution supporters won a battle in removing the phrase “strengths and weaknesses,” but lost the broader conflict as more doubts of evolution, and even the Big Bang, were inserted.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Chairman Don McLeroy is a dentist who believes the Earth is several thousand years old. Which is fine for him to believe personally, just not when his beliefs put millions of students at an educational disadvantage in virtually every science I can think of, except, possibly, dentistry.
The difficulty of this debate has never been especially clear to me, from either side. From the side of science, it’s fairly obvious why evolution is taught and not alternatives: rebuttals are long, and time is short.
Continue reading How one goes to heaven, not how the heavens — or biology — go
If anything I say here offends you, I wasn’t trying to. There are two things you don’t talk about over dinner, but if that extended to newspaper columns, I wouldn’t have much to write. Religion and politics offend easily, and taken together the problem is even worse. Actually, this is my point, that under no circumstances should we put either at risk by mixing them.
Read no more than that, and you’ve read enough.
In 2004 I saw bumper stickers around town that read, “Christians remember November.” And this agitated me to no end.
Continue reading Christians remember: WWJVF – Who would Jesus vote for?