One Psalm – Two Radically Different Uses

David Van Biema recently wrote about how two radically different Christian causes have used Psalm 139: Starting in the 1970s anti-abortionist evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics began using the text to suggest that God's involvement makes abortion unthinkable, and Starting in the 1990s gay and lesbian liberal Christians began using the text to suggest God's foreknowledge and acceptance. So What? While the Bible has long been used to defend both sides of an issue, I cannot think Read More …

Review of The Best of Will Willimon

Meet the Author Since 2004, William H. Willimon has served as  a Bishop in the United Methodist Church responsible for overseeing 57,000 members and 792 pastors in North Alabama.  Previously, he served for twenty years as Dean of the Chapel and Professor of Christian Ministry at Duke University.  Willimon is the author of over sixty books including two best sellers: Sinning Like a Christian: A New Look at the Seven Deadly Sins and Thank God It’s Friday: Encountering the Seven Last Words from Read More …

Trusting in Trump

Cathy Lynn Grossman's March 6, 2012 USA Today article explores a recent American Bible Society survey that finds "more Americans would follow Donald Trump's financial wisdom than the Bible's."  Half of those surveyed (50%) would follow Trump's counsel while only around a third (32%) would take advice from the Bible. So What? The Bible, however, did receive favorable treatment from those who do not currently follow its teachings: roughly a quarter (24%) of those "who do not follow what the Read More …

Quotes to Ponder

William Bole  (pictured at right) is an American journalist whose "writing is situated on the borders between religion, ethics, politics, and intellectual life."  Recently he wrote a blog post that included several quotes from progressive pastor William Sloane Coffin's book The Heart is a Little to the Left: Essays on Public Morality (1999), including: Socrates was mistaken. It’s not the unexamined life that is not worth living; it’s the uncommitted life. It is a mistake to look to the Read More …

Viewing the Bible as Holy

M. Craig Barnes is the Robert Meneilly Professor of Pastoral Ministry at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and the Pastor of Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, PA.  His "Faith Matters" article in the December 13, 2011 edition of the Christian Century explores how his view of the Bible developed over time.  It includes these words: The more I understand about the Bible's dust-and-grit humanity, the more holy it becomes to me.  Long after I'd left behind my father's theory of the Read More …

Review of The Bible Made Impossible

Meet the Author Christian Smith is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame.  His research areas include "religion in modernity, adolescents, American evangelicalism, and culture."  Smith has written several books, including The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture (2011), Souls in Transition: The Religious & Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults (2009, with Patricia Read More …

Jesus as Facebook’s Most Liked?

Jennifer Preston's recent New York Times article explores how a Facebook page about Jesus became the most popular page of all: For the last three months, more people have “Liked,” commented and shared content on the Jesus Daily than on any other Facebook page, including Justin Bieber’s page, according to a weekly analysis by AllFacebook.com, an industry blog. The Jesus Daily is the creation of the 41 year old medical researcher Dr. Aaron Tabor.  Tabor writes most of the content himself and has Read More …

Review of Beginnings

Meet the Author and Translator Meir Shalev is well-know internationally for his writing. He is a columnist for the most widely circulated Israeli daily newspaper: Yedioth Ahronoth.  Shalev has authored six novels, including the Brenner Prize winning A Pigeon and a Boy (2009).  Additionally, Shalev has written five works of nonfiction, including Beginnings: Reflections on the Bible's Intriguing Firsts (2011).  His writings have been translated into more than twenty languages and he has Read More …

How Americans Interpret the Bible

According to the latest research by Gallup, within "most major U.S. subgroups, a plurality or majority holds the view that the Bible is the inspired word of God, rather than the actual word of God or a book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts."  The chart below illustrates how views of the Bible have changed over time. So What? Currently, 3 in 10 Americans are biblical literalists who believe that the Bible is the actual word of God.  Preference for the literal perspective is Read More …

Reuniting Old Friends

This morning I am preaching at Naples United Church of Christ in Naples, FL.  You can read the full text of my sermon, Reuniting Old Friends, here. For more information about the books referenced visit my reviews of Missional: Joining God in the Neighborhood (2011) by Alan J. Roxburgh To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, & Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World (2010) by James Davison Hunter Putting Away Childish Things: A Tale of Modern Faith (2010) by Marcus Read More …