Archive for the ‘Jesus’ Tag

Hocus Pocus Resurrection   3 comments

Meyers Beam Me Up

Robin Meyers believes that the resuscitation of Jesus’ body is less important than the idea of resurrection as a credible and meaningful principle for living:

“Resurrection is not about ‘beam me up, Scotty!’ It’s not about molecules disappearing and then reappearing. All that is hocus pocus. We don’t believe in Santa Claus anymore. We don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy. We should not believe in ‘beam me up, Scotty’ as an explanation for Easter.”

– Rev. Dr. Robin Meyers in “Saving Jesus Redux” from www.livingthequestions.com

For this and more provocative challenges to “pop” Christianity, check out the DVD series “Saving Jesus Redux,” 50% off the Home Edition now thru Easter, 2013. Simply create an account at www.livingthequestions.com and enter coupon code sjhe50fb

Meyers points

Robin Meyers is a United Church of Christ pastor, Professor of Rhetoric, and author of “Why the Christian Right is Wrong,” “Saving Jesus from the Church,”  and “The Underground Church.” You’ll find Robin in LtQ’s “Saving Jesus Redux,” “LtQ2,” and Living the Questions’ upcoming series on the origin and use of the Bible.

Jesus never heard of “Original Sin”   4 comments

Not only is Original Sin NOT in the Bible, Elie Wiesel says that Original Sin is alien to Jewish thinking (and therefore alien to Jesus’ way of thinking). Let’s ditch the whole thing, shall we?

Fox Original Sin

Matthew Fox says, “Jesus never heard of ‘Original Sin’.” The term wasn’t even used until the 4th century, so it’s “strange to run a church, a gathering, an ekklesia — supposedly on behalf of Jesus — when one of its main dogmatic tenets, Original Sin, never occurred to Jesus.” Sadly, Western Christianity is dependent on and chronically “attached to Original Sin — but what they’re really attached to is St. Augustine. The fact is that most Westerners believe more in Augustine (and his preoccupation with sex) than they do in Jesus.”

Matthew Fox Matthew Fox is an author, educator, activist, and Episcopal priest. His books include Original Blessing, Creation Spirituality and The Coming of the Cosmic Christ. He appears in a number of Living the Questions DVD series including Living the Questions 2.0 and Saving Jesus Redux 

A Christianity That’s Not Stuck   1 comment

 

Stephen Patterson thinks that Progressive Christianity is about “being willing to think critically about one’s faith and about the traditions of one’s faith and the resources like the Bible — to think critically about these things and not simply assume that it all has to make sense. Progressive Christianity means you’re free to explore and to question and to develop new expressions of faith that are more appropriate or true to what you think you’re discovering about Christianity. So, Progressive Christianity, I guess you could say, is Christianity that’s not stuck in some present stasis — let alone stuck in the past. We have to move forward.”

Progressive Christianity:

  • thinks critically about faith, traditions, and resources

  • doesn’t assume it all has to make sense

  • frees one to explore and question

  • develops new expressions of faith more appropriate to contemporary understandings

  • isn’t stuck in the past

 

PattersonStephen J. Patterson specializes in the study of the historical Jesus, Christian origins, and the Gospel of Thomas (an early Christian gospel not found in the New Testament). He is currently the George H. Atkinson Professor of Religious and Ethical Studies at Willamette University. He is the author of numerous books including Beyond the Passion: Rethinking the Death and Life of Jesus and The God of Jesus: The Historical Jesus and the Search for God. He is featured in the DVD series Living the Questions 2.0 and  Saving Jesus Redux. 

“Thinking Critically with Stephen Patterson” is an excerpt from a DVD series on the origin of the Bible currently in development by Living the Questions.

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Violence is our God. Hallowed be its name.   2 comments

Violence is our God

We spank children to teach them not to hit one another.  We sanction the killing of killers as a deterrent against killing. We advocate the arming of citizens to promote personal safety. Is it any wonder that people are being deluded into complying with a system that allies them with violence, not compassion; with death, not life?

Even our language is overwhelmed with a continual drumbeat of violence. From seemingly innocuous phrases like, “Shoot me an email” to the “war on poverty” to “He’s da bomb” and even the “Fight for Peace” are simply “to die for” in our culture.

We are a wholly compromised culture that can’t even imagine the existence of any alternatives. Why? Because violence is entertaining, exhilarating, and as Chris Hedges has argued so poignantly, it gives many of us meaning.

Book Cover high resFrom “The Myth of Redemptive Violence” in

Living the Questions:
The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity

by David M. Felten and Jeff Procter-Murphy

Available wherever books are sold or downloaded

www.livingthequestions.com

Another Version of Virgin…   9 comments

With Pope Benedict’s recent release of a book reflecting on the Nativity, the historicity of the Virgin Birth is yet again back in the news. It seems that Benedict is more concerned that barnyard animals are inaccurately included in most traditional Nativity scenes than the fact that insistence on a literal virgin birth is one of the reasons many thinking people leave the church.

Retired Episcopal Bishop Jack Spong sees it differently than Pope Benedict — and offers an alternative vision for interpreting the meaning behind the parable of the virgin birth. With apologies to Dr. Seuss: “Maybe Christmas, Jack thought, doesn’t come from a virgin. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a Spirit emergin’…”.

Spong Virgin Birth

Marcus Borg on Systemic Injustice   1 comment

Systemic justice is a result-oriented justice

Marcus Borg contends that Jesus has something to say about the way we organize ourselves in community — that when a society is structured to serve the self-interests of the wealthy and powerful it is not a just society. “If you have a society in which 1% of the population own 43% of the wealth, it is pretty clear that the 1% has structured that society so it kind of worked out that way — and they have a tremendous amount of power to sustain it.”

— Marcus Borg in Living the Questions 2.0

Internationally known in both academic and church circles as a biblical and Jesus scholar, Marcus Borg was Hundere Chair of Religion and Culture in the Philosophy Department at Oregon State University until his retirement in 2007. Borg has been described by The New York Times as “a leading figure in his generation of Jesus scholars” and is the author of over twenty books, including the popular “Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time” & “The Heart of Christianity.”

“LtQ Clips” offer thought-provoking observations and comments on spirituality and religion from prominent authors, scholars, and thinkers. These excerpts from“Living the Questions” curriculum are designed to spark conversation in questioning the dominant pop theology of American Christianity.

Jesus is Coming. Look Busy!   2 comments

LtQ2 contributor Rev. Dr. Barbara Rossing speaks for many rational followers of Jesus when she acknowledges that the rapture is nothing but fear-based spiritual abuse. Calling it the “rapture racket,” she points out how the rapture industry preys on desperate people frightened by unscrupulous and misguided teachers.  In Episode 13 of Living the Questions 2, “Debunking the Rapture,” Prof. Rossing gives an overview of her book, “The Rapture Exposed.” Make sure to check out the clip below — before it’s too late!

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Sadly, even a lot of non-fundamentalist Christians are allowed to believe a soft version of the rapture claptrap (59% of Americans according to a 2003 poll by Time magazine). Many clergy run scared on the subject and can’t come right out and say that not only is the rapture not going to happen on this or that date, it’s not going to happen EVER. To do so would commit one to the study of historical context and a critical reading of scripture that might very well call into question many of people’s simplistic ideas about their faith.

What’s it going to be?  Jesus said love your enemies — unless they don’t believe the right things. Then Jesus is coming back to torture and kill them with extreme prejudice. God is love — unless you’re gay or lesbian and then God thinks you’re an abomination to be “cured” or killed.

The bottom line is that the whole idea of the rapture and the literal and violent apocalyptic second-coming is not only un-Christian but a betrayal of Jesus’ core teachings.

While there is absolutely nothing to fear from the ravings of apocalyptic preachers and fundamentalist personalities, their ridiculous claims continue to erode whatever reputation Christianity still has among thinking people. The challenge for 21st century followers of Jesus will continue to be one of offering an alternative to the fear and violence embraced by so much of the Church. The overall responsibility of disciples today is to bearers of hope and reconciliation to a troubled world;  doing our part to realize peace and bring healing to the nations, one person at a time.

Living the Questions contributor, Rev. Dr. Barbara Rossing

Barbara R. Rossing is professor of New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, where she has taught since 1994. She appears in both Living the Questions 2 and Dream, Think, Be, Do.

You can also see Prof. Rossing being interviewed on May 19th’s “The Last Word” with Lawrence O’Donnell. Video Link HERE

Christmas stories big on symbolism. History? Not so much.   1 comment

Marcus Borg in "Living the Questions"

It’s that time of year again. Shoppers are rushing home with their treasures — all to honor the birth of a 1st century Jewish peasant. If most folks even think about anything beyond the gifts and carols, the conventional wisdom is that we’re celebrating the occurrence of actual historical events some 2000 years ago — wisdom based on an assumption that the gospels are history.

But even a cursory reading of Matthew and Luke reveal conflicting story lines, characters, and theological agendas that show that they couldn’t possibly BOTH be historically accurate. But that’s OK. Neither one was ever intended to be history, but symbolism. The problem comes when well-meaning believers try to make them into something they were never intended to be.

In Living the Questions 2.0, Marcus Borg makes a case for moving from the magical thinking of pre-critical naiveté through critical thinking to a post-critical naiveté that can still appreciate the Christmas stories for their deeper theological meanings, not their supposed historical accuracy.

“I don’t think the truth of the Christmas stories is dependant upon whether Jesus was born in Nazareth or Bethlehem, whether there were wise men, whether there really was a star.  I think the truth of the stories is in their ancient archetypal religious symbolism, those affirmations that Jesus is the light and the darkness, and so forth.

“To hear these stories is using some of the most ancient archetypal language with one of their central affirmations being, Jesus is the light of the world, the true light that enlightens every person, with even them coming into the world.  That’s the star, the radiant glory of God, and the angels in the night sky.  It is the ability to hear the birth stories as true stories even though you know the star is not an astronomical object of history but probably the exegetical creation of Matthew as he interprets the sixtieth chapter of Isaiah as a literary creation.  Even as you know that Jesus was probably born in Nazareth and not in Bethlehem.  And even as you know that Herod the Great never ordered the slaying of all male babies in Bethlehem under age two, but rather that is the use of the story of the birth of Moses in the time of Pharaoh when Pharaoh issued a similar order and the author of Matthew is saying the story of Jesus is about the story of the true king coming into the world who the evil kings seeks to swallow up.  This is the story of the exodus all over again.  This is the story of the conflict between the Lordship of God known in Christ and the Lordship of Pharaoh and the rulers of this world and the rulers of this world always try to swallow up the one who is of God.  Is that true?  Post-critical naiveté is the ability to hear that as a true story.”

The birth narratives in Matthew and Luke are unlikely to portray much of anything that is “true” historically, but remain beautiful examples of engaging stories that conveyed the gospel writers’ claims of who Jesus was for their communities. Once we get over the need for the stories to be “true” factually, we can re-engage with them and appreciate the richness of their symbolism.

 

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