Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

Dr. Hugh Houghton, Reader on New Testament Textual Scholarship, in his office at Birmingham University. CREDIT: ANDREW FOX

he earliest Latin interpretation of the Gospels has been brought to light by a British academic – and it suggests that readers should not take the Bible literally.

Lost for 1,500 years, the fourth-century commentary by African-born Italian bishop Fortunatianus of Aquileia interprets the Gospels as a series of allegories instead of a literal history.

Dr Hugh Houghton, of the University of Birmingham, who translated the work, said it was an approach which modern Christians could learn from.

The find adds weight to the idea that many early biblical scholars did not see the Bible as a history, but instead a series of coded messages which represented key elements of Christianity, he said.

“There’s been an assumption that it’s a literal record of truth – a lot of the early scholars got very worried about inconsistencies between Matthew and Luke, for example.

“But for people teaching the Bible in the fourth century, it’s not the literal meaning which is important, it’s how it’s read allegorically.

The manuscript
The manuscript CREDIT: COLOGNE CATHEDRAL LIBRARY

“In contemporary Biblical scholarship a lot of the gospels are written with symbolism in mind.

“They are not setting out to be literal accounts but they are set out to be symbolic.”

He said that the Bible had to be “understood in the context that the authors were working in.”

The approach differs from the trend of biblical literalism adopted by modern evangelical and fundamentalist Christians, which interprets the Bible as the literal word of God which is not open to interpretation.

This has been the basis for beliefs such as the idea that the earth is 6,000 years old and that it was created in seven days.

Modern archaeologists have also used the Bible to search for evidence about the life of Jesus, with mixed success.

The 100-page document examines the Gospel of Matthew in great detail and also examines part of the Gospels according to Luke and John.

They are not setting out to be literal accounts but they are set out to be symbolicDr Hugh Houghton

It had been hidden for 1,500 years within an anonymous manuscript in Cologne Cathedral Library, until it was digitised by the University of Salzburg in 2012, but lay untranslated until Dr Houghton came across it.

He discovered the existence of the manuscript after an Austrian colleague read about it in a local newspaper and told him about it.

The work is thought to have been copied out by a scholar in around 800, more than 400 years after the original was written.

Dr Houghton said the book was an “extraordinary find”. It predates better-known writings by famous scholars including St Jerome, St Ambrose and St Augustine.

The biblical scholar, from the university’s institute for textual scholarship and electronic editing, has now produced an English translation of the text, which will be published alongside the Latin this week.

By Hugh Houghton/TheTelegraph

Posted by John the Revelator

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Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions about Sex and Desire
By Jennifer Wright Knust

What does the Bible say about sex? Unmarried sex? Same-sex sex? Sex with angels?

In Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions about Sex and Desire, (HarperOne 2011) Dr. Jennifer Wright Knust tackles serious questions regarding the Bible and sex in a clear, accessible manner. Knust teaches in the department of religion at Boston University where she is an associate professor of New Testament and Christian Origins. She is also an ordained American Baptist minister. Unprotected Texts is a meaty 343-page book with endnotes, a bibliography, and an index. It is available in hardback, paperback, and electronic editions and has been featured on NPR.

“Introduction: Why the Bible is Not a Sexual Guidebook” explains Knust’s interest in addressing issues of sexuality. Drawing upon her Christian upbringing and her experiences as a minister, a mother, and a biblical scholar, she aims to offer insight and greater complexity to overly simplistic moralizing of so-called biblical teaching regarding sexuality.

Chapter one “The Bible and the Joy of Sex: Desire In and Out of Control” explores biblical portraits of sex and sexual desire within and outside of marriage. It includes discussions of Song of Songs, Ruth, and King David’s sexual exploits.

In Chapter two “Biblical Marriage: There Is No Single View on Marriage Presented in the Bible,” Knust illustrates the range of types of marriages reflected in biblical texts and reviews varied and contradictory biblical teachings on marriage, celibacy, and divorce.

Chapter three “The Evil Impulse: Disordered and Ordered Desire” describes how within Christianity sexual desire becomes something to be tamed and controlled.

Illicit sexual behavior is discussed in chapter four “Sexual Politics: God’s Wife, Cursing the Canaanites, and Biblical Sex Crimes.” It highlights the ways in which notions of sexual perversion were used rhetorically against Israel’s enemies.

Chapter five “Strange Flesh” focuses on two forms of out-of-bounds sex: sex with angels and sex with foreigners.

Body parts and bodily fluids are covered in chapter six “Bodily Parts: Circumcision, Semen, and the Products of a Woman’s Womb.”

In the conclusion “So, I Hear You Have Five Husbands,” Knust reflects on the biblical account of a woman who has five husbands (John 4) and the lack of judgment offered by Jesus regarding her marital history. Knust ends with a serious caution to those who would seek easy answers to thorny questions regarding sexuality.

Knust writes in language that is accessible to an adult reader. She provides citations for all biblical quotations, and the endnotes and bibliography would be useful for those who are interested in conducting their own research on issues of sexuality. Her discussions highlight the ways in which biblical texts have been used within Protestant circles, but a reader from any or no faith tradition would find her work illuminating.

While Knust’s work is written for a lay audience, it would be more beneficial for the reader who has had introductory coursework in academic biblical studies. The average reader may not be familiar with the Babylonian Exile, the Epic of Gilgamesh, or terms such “Pseudo-Pauline” of “pseudepigrapha. ”Although Knust explains her use of these and other terms, someone who is not already knowledgeable regarding such issues may feel overwhelmed.

In my experience as a biblical studies professor, I have found that even students who do not identify themselves as “evangelical” or “conservative” Christians have long-held and unexamined beliefs about “what the Bible says.” They expect to learn the “right” answer in my class. Unprotected Texts would be more helpful for those readers who are open to reading biblical texts not as a guidebook for life but as a literary work that may be interpreted in different ways. Citing the many controversies in which biblical texts have been used on both sides of arguments, Knust explains, “The Bible is complicated enough, ancient enough, and flexible enough to support an almost endless set of interpretive agendas” (p. 21). Readers who believe that there is single “correct” biblical interpretation may find her approach frustrating.

Also, Knust does not provide “yes” or “no” answers regarding which sexual acts are in- or out-of-bounds. Instead, she elucidates the textual, literary, and historical issues relating to biblical texts on sexuality. For example, in discussing the woman with five husbands (John 4) Knust writes, “The story has no single meaning. Therefore, the issue for readers of the Gospel is not whether a particular interpretation is valid but whether it is valuable, and why” (240). For readers who understand “biblical” teaching as involving clear-cut answers, Knust’s work will prove challenging.

Knust advocates a don’t-throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater stance that allows her to find biblical texts resonant and meaningful even if disturbing in some ways. For those who have ears to hear, it can be a liberating read that dispels many common misconceptions about the Bible and sexuality.

From Nyasha Junior

Posted by John the Revelator

I found this article to be interesting. Her book “Unprotected Texts” is an excellent read. We come to the subject of sexuality based on our personal perceptions, in other words “people drive their values from scriptures but live by the values they insert.” Believers argue too much simply to prove a point instead of understanding historicity of the landscape of scriptures. Professor Jennifer Knust does a good job, while covering a lot of ground. 

Even for nonbelievers, the Holy Bible can offer timeless inspiration, guidance, and drama. But, says Jennifer Knust, a School of Theology assistant professor of New Testament and Christian origins, it’s far too ambiguous to serve as a guide to sexual behavior, despite U.S. courts’ history of using it to justify sodomy laws that have only recently been struck down. In 1975, when Virginia’s sodomy law was challenged, a federal court upheld the statute, arguing that it was rooted in Judaic and Christian law — and quoted Leviticus as justification. It took twenty-eight years before the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated sodomy laws, including Virginia’s — in 2003, a year after Massachusetts had struck down its sodomy laws.
Knust’s 2005 book, Abandoned to Lust: Sexual Slander and Ancient Christianity (Columbia University Press), examines the use of sexualized vocabulary by Christian authors from Paul to Irenaeus of Lyons. Her next book, scheduled for release this year, scours the Bible for a unified perspective on sexual behavior.
“My main argument is that biblical texts do not speak with one voice,” says Knust, also a College of Arts & Sciences assistant professor of religion and an ordained American Baptist USA pastor. “There is no shortcut to sexual ethics through the Bible.”
Knust spoke to Bostonia about what the Bible does and does not say about homosexuality.
Bostonia: Does the Bible say anything at all about homosexuality?
Knust: The Bible doesn’t say any one thing about homosexuality. Arguably, it doesn’t say anything about homosexuality at all, in the sense that someone would think of that word and what it means today. The idea that homosexuality — as it’s understood in a contemporary American context — has anything to do with the way that same-sex attrac­tion and pairing might have been understood in the seventh century BCE or the first century CE is just preposterous.
The idea that we could go back and find a single sexual morality from the Bible is problematic not only because of the historical and cultural difference between ourselves and these books, but because the books themselves are contradictory.
Are there passages that do mention same-sex attraction?
The Song of Songs celebrates nonmarital desire, and in the context of early Jewish and Christian interpretation, that’s an occasion for queer theology. The Christian interpretation is, how do we imagine ourselves as the bride of Christ? But of course it’s men imagining themselves as the bride of Christ. In the rabbinic tradition, they’re imagining themselves as Yahweh’s wife.
How do you refocus people to think about the context of biblical texts?
We’ve lost a lot of the sense of why the text was written, what it was trying to address. We just don’t have the information we would need to understand the diversity of people and opinions — even the vocabulary of the time and assumptions that people would bring to the text. Think about medical literature in antiquity; the ideas are so foreign to our own medical literature. If we’re going to think about homosexuality as a biological category, what kind of biology are we thinking about? It would be ludicrous to use those texts today.
How do the texts reflect sexuality?
Human beings think about and talk about sexual desire — that is a constant. Are there passages that mention sexual desire between men in the Bible? Yes. Are there passages that allude to sexual desire between women? Yes. But details about how that same-sex desire is understood and represented have changed.
The reason people look to the Bible to come up with doctrinal or dogmatic statements about what sexuality is has to do with the overwhelming cultural authority of the Bible. If one can claim that the Bible is on one’s side, apparently the conversation is supposed to shut down. But it has the opposite effect, because a person will say, “The Bible is on my side, and it says x,” and the other person will say, “The Bible is on my side and says y.” There’s no way to solve that dilemma.
As long as we think we can get to some short­hand solution by beginning a sentence, “The Bible says …” we will continue to look to the Bible to say something, and not solve our problem. And we won’t hold ourselves responsible for the sexual decisions we’re making.
Is the Bible worth interpreting on these points if it’s on another cultural level?
I think it’s worth reading the Bible to have access to different ways of thinking about sexual desire and to notice our common humanity with people from long ago, who were very concerned about sexual desire, about their bodies, about how God related to the way they desired.
It’s a way of thinking with and through people who had similar questions to ours, but answered them in different ways. It’s like returning to our ancestral heritage, and we should take our ancestors seriously — if we consider the biblical authors to be our ancestors.
Do you get a lot of questions pointing to specific texts to try to prove a theory?
I’m a professor with the Massachusetts Bible Society, and someone asked a question online, “Did Paul and his world have any conception of faithful monogamous same-sex love?” I argued that Paul had little conception of faithful mon­ogamous opposite-sex love, let alone same-sex love. In First Corinthians he’s more concerned about celibacy, not about heterosexual love. For people to want to use that text to argue for same-sex love or heterosexual marriage, this is a prob­lem. It would make no sense to him; in his con­text slaves don’t get married, for example. In his context, celibacy is preferred, and the point of marriage is to protect couples from illicit sexual desire, not for procreation.
What about Leviticus?
One can’t help but note that in the holiness code, for example, the passage about men lying with men is identified as improper sexual behavior, placed along with sleeping with a woman who’s menstruating, committing adultery, committing incest or bestiality.
The framing of those laws is, don’t be like the Canaanites and the Egyptians. So is the point of the law to identify what the Israelite God thinks? That’s part of it, but another part is to put distance between the Israelites and the Canaanites and Egyptians. It’s also to accuse the Canaanites and Egyptians of behavior anathema to Yahweh.
Do you think people will ever stop using the Bible for their own arguments?
That’s my dream, that people will get the idea that there’s the notion of context. I’m moving beyond sex to the broader question of biblical authority. Biblical texts are fluid, not stable, and it’s questionable whether a Bible that we read today in translation has anything to do with the Bible that Paul read or even Augustine read in Latin because his Greek was kind of crummy. He was reading crummy Latin transla­tions. So I’d like to undermine the idea that these are the same books.
It also would be nice to talk about something constructive. There are wonderful texts in the Bible, and if we stop applying them in this sim­plistic way, maybe we could find something really beautiful — and stop using the Bible as a hurtful instrument.

BY KIMBERLY CORNUELLE/Commonwealth

Posted by (comments)John the Revelator

What was Kim Burrell thinking? Didn’t she know that we are living in an age characterized by the mythical Argos Panoptēs—an age where anything we do can be instantly available to billions through social media? Did she honestly believe that she could preach an offensive sermon and get away with it? Didn’t she know that many of the bigoted and outdated teachings in the Bible have no place in our enlightened society?

Let’s be honest. Although that ancient book still plays a prominent role in Judeo-Christian religious traditions, its content is seriously out of touch with modern American values. Yes, I am fully aware that “Christians” of both conservative and progressive ideologies often extract pet portions of the Bible to serve their politically expedient purposes. However, for a significant number, its teachings are a most meddlesome inconvenience that if embraced will place them in a permanent state of cognitive dissonance.

The Bible is a Relic of a Superstitious Past

Think about it. On January 20, 2017, the world will witness the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States of America. As did the majority of his predecessors, professed Christian, Donald J. Trump, will likely place his hand on a Bible and repeat the words of a presidential oath.

In the hyper-superstitious age in which the ceremony was first conceived, this act was supposed to evoke a preemptive fear in the president being sworn in. After touching that leather-bound talisman, he wouldn’t dare dishonor biblical principles less something bad happen to him!

Well, we’ve seen how well that’s worked! After taking their “solemn” oaths, American presidents have forcefully and repeatedly thrust their middle finger at the very Bible that was supposed to guide their ethics. They have had no problem enforcing laws that promote slavery, segregation and mass incarceration.

They have repeatedly reneged on treaties made with the tribal nations from whom this land had been stolen. They have demonstrated primary allegiance to the lucrative military industrial complex by continuously stoking the flames of global unrest with myths of WMDs and the liberal use of child killing drones.

The Bible is a Convenient Political Prop

Like his predecessors, when Donald J. Trump places his hand on the Bible on that fateful Friday, he will do so with the full knowledge that this is a meaningless ritual. For Trump, the inaugural Bible could very well be My New Order, a collection of Adolf Hitler’s speeches from which he is alleged to have drawn inspiration.

As far as he’s concerned, this revered book is nothing but an irrelevant, but convenient, prop! Its only purpose is to appease the gullible masses who are still beguiled by the myth of a “Christian” America.

The same is true for Vice President-elect Mike Pence. He will also take an oath on some noteworthy Bible with the full knowledge that he doesn’t embrace much of the social justice mandates contained therein. Like most of the cold-hearted “evangelicals” that voted for his ticket, he has chosen to identify with the thieves and callous clergy in the story of the Good Samaritan.

Forget this “love thy neighbor” foolishness. Hurry up and build the wall! Scrap the Affordable Care Act! Defund the government program that many women depend on for their unique healthcare needs! Siphon more money from the poor and middle class and deposit it in the portfolios of the wealthy!

And while Pence pushes his “conservative” agenda with the dogged tenacity of his mentor, Dick Cheney, tens of millions of Bible thumpers in the Bible Belt and beyond demonstrate their assent with a resounding, “Amen!”

The Bible is an Obstacle to American Freedom

Whereas the conservatives’ repulsion to the Bible is guarded by a conniving cloak of acceptance, progressives are more honest. As far as they are concerned, the socially liberating sections of so called “scripture” are not enough to redeem its bigoted and outdated parts.

A book that clearly promotes discrimination should not have a place of honor in a society where individual citizens are promised the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It is a dangerous book that—although protected by free speech—must be delegitimized, which brings us back to Pastor Kim Burrell.

This award-winning gospel singer and pastor has been under fire for the past week because she is apparently in agreement with the biblical teaching that homosexual behavior amounts to sin. This is definitely out of sync with twenty-first century American mores, when even the Supreme Court agrees that marriage should not be defined by gender.

In fact, there are several other biblical teachings that don’t fare well in our progressive society. For instance, did you know that sex before marriage, anal sex, pornography and even masturbation are also classified as sin?

Which brings me to another series of questions: Would the response to Kim Burrell’s “bigotry” have been as visceral had she described pre-marital sex or pornography as “sinful” and “perverted”? Would Pharell Williams and Janelle Monae have turned on her so quickly, as if they were genuinely shocked and surprised that an African American Christian minister held those beliefs?

In all their dealings with her, did they detect anything in her behavior that even suggested that she hated an entire category of people simply because of their sexual identity or lifestyle choices?

The Bible informs “Personal” Belief and Behavior

What many people don’t understand about biblical religion—and religion in general—is the fact that a person’s belief is supposed to influence their “personal” behavior. Those who are not a part of the institution are not expected to embrace the beliefs.

In a society that claims to cherish freedom of religion, it should be expected that some will hold personal beliefs that others will find offensive. The challenge in a pluralistic democracy is creating an environment in which people with contrary convictions can act civilly in the public sphere.

The test of civility is not whether a person believes a certain thing that may be deemed offensive, but how she behaves towards the person who does not share her beliefs. Demanding that a person discards what she believes is the “Word of God” is an immature response to the complex phenomenon we call “religion.”

The truth is, on one issue or another we are all ideological “bigots” in the eyes of those who feel discriminated against. I wonder how many of us support efforts to normalize sexual relationships between close kin? I wonder how many agree with the ACLU’s decision to defend NAMBLA, an organization that promotes pedophilia?

Since we are all subject to the “bigot” label, a person who adheres to the bigoted teachings of a book that clashes with popular societal mores should not be surprised when Ellen disinvites her from her show. They are operating under two irreconcilable world views. However, Ellen should realize that in disinviting Kim, she is behaving just as bigoted as the one whom she accuses of bigotry.

With a broad ideological brush, she has apparently chosen to lump Kim Burrell among the fanatics at the Westboro Baptist Church. In doing so, she has missed an opportunity to understand why a person who believes homosexual behavior is a sin has no problem befriending people in the LGBTQ community.

Like Trump, Pence and their crew of callous conservatives, Ellen, Williams, Monae and their well-meaning band of progressive activists have missed an opportunity to experience the true message of an ancient book that is so offensive to modern society: “If you truly love God, you must also love your neighbor even as you love yourself.”

By Keith Augustus Burton/Huffpost

Posted by John the Revelator

Imagine if we turned the Bible and Christianity’s highest values back on the Religious Right. This Saturday, February 11, the most conception-obsessed members of the Religious Right will be gathering at Evangelical and Catholic churches, loading teenagers into busses and cars, and surrounding Planned Parenthood with protest signs. Some will pray and sing church songs or shout Bible quotes or carry pictures of the Virgin Mary. But most will carry signs that say things like “abortion stops a beating heart” [so does oyster-eating] or “aren’t you glad your mother didn’t have an abortion?” [Yes; glad also that she didn’t have a headache that night] or “it’s a baby” [an acorn is an oak tree?] or “one life ended, one destroyed” [actually, factually not]. Some may carry “fetal squish” pictures—not images of common early abortions but of the rare fetus that dies or is aborted late in gestation. In other words, they will try to sway the rest of us by speaking our language—the language of science, human rights and secular ethical values; and they will appeal to our moral emotions: compassion, love of life, and disgust.

Those of us who cherish the freedom to choose our own lives and families—and to live by our own moral values—could learn a thing or two from the more sophisticated of these protestors, both what they say and what they want to hide.

They want us to think that it’s not about religion. Despite the smattering of non-religious opponents, it is. Ignoring this means we constantly fight a defensive battle on our turf, not theirs. Key take-away: Define this as a fight about theology, which is what it is. Use theological terms that are Christianity’s insider jargon and quote the Bible.
They want us to think that they are on the side of women, that their stance against abortion comes from a deep place of love and concern. It doesn’t. Their conception obsession is deeply rooted in misogyny, and concern for women is a thin veneer. Here is what the anti-abortion movement would look like if it were driven by love. Key take-away: Expose the deep underlying religiously-motivated disdain for women. Quote degrading Bible verses, church fathers and modern pastors.
By trademarking the term “pro-life,” abortion foes try to stake out the highest of the moral high ground. They don’t have it. Their crass indifference to the lives around them—to the wellbeing of both vulnerable people and even the whole web of life—shows their self-appointed title as defenders of “life” to be total bullshit. Key take-away: Shine a light on self-righteous hypocrisy. Expose the Religious Right’s indifference to Christianity’s own highest values, including compassion and reverence for life.
I said that abortion foes try to speak to us in language we understand, by appealing to our sources of authority, science and conscience. When we appeal to people who are on our side or neutral or secular, we should do the same. We must work to end abortion shame and stigma, to convey that abortion is normal and that family planning as a whole—including abortion until it becomes obsolete (we are headed that direction)—is a positive social good.

But when it comes to confronting and neutralizing abortion protests, we should attack the home turf of the abortion foes, not defend our own turf. We should speak in language of the protesters and convey that their position is a threat to their own core values. (Remember, this is what they do to move us.)

At the same time, they are playing to a broader audience, and we can, too. To outsiders, we can neutralize the tradition of incessant clinic protest by framing it as a theological dispute (most people want to keep theology out of healthcare), that is driven by archaic, ugly gender scripts (no thanks!), and that is being played out by people who have little moral credibility (everyone hates a mean-spirited, self-righteous hypocrite).

Here are a few examples of what the counter-protest signs might look like. *Some may make sense only to Christians and former Christians. **Thank you to all the former Bible-believers who offered suggestions on Facebook. ***If you have ideas of your own as you read the list, please add them in the comment section.

Define this as an insider dispute about theology

God aborts 60%. Who are you to judge the Almighty?
Fact checked: The Lord says he’s ok with it
God prescribes abortion potion – Numbers 5:22-27
Kill fetus, get fined – Kill woman, get death –Exodus 21:22-23
Infant becomes person after birth – Leviticus 27:6
Fetus fetish is idolatry
This is what bibliolatry does to people →
Conception obsession is a religious cult
Don’t say you follow Jesus if stopping abortion trumps love, truth, peacemaking, compassion, feeding the hungry, caring for the poor . . .
Life begins at ejaculation – Ask Onan
If the baby goes to heaven And the doctor goes to hell If the woman gets forgiveness What’s the problem pray tell!?
The Bible doesn’t define when life becomes “a living soul.” Don’t put your words in God’s mouth
Expose deep underlying misogyny

Wife is man’s property – Exodus 20:17
Girl babies twice as unclean as boys – Leviticus 12:1-8
Women should keep silent – 1 Cor. 14:34
Sell raped daughter to rapist – Deut. 22:28-29
Female? Cover your head or cut off your hair – I Cor. 11:6 [with picture of hijab]
Women will be saved through childbearing – 1 Tim. 2:15
Women make men dirty – Rev 14:4
Woman is a temple built over a sewer – Tertullian
Woman, you are the gate to hell – Tertullian
Man alone is the image of God – Saint Augustine
I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children. –Saint Augustine
Woman has a faulty and defective nature – Saint Albertus Magnus
The production of woman comes from a defect – Thomas Acquinas
Women were made to be either wives or prostitutes – Martin Luther
The second duty of the wife is constant obedience and subjection – John Dod, Puritan
Women are made to be led, and counseled, and directed – LDS Apostle Herber Kimball
Every single book in your Bible was written by a man – Mark Driscoll
Shine a light on self-righteous (religious) hypocrisy

Pro-guns, pro-greed, pro-Trump = “pro-life” Hmmm. Woe to you, Pharisees, hypocrites! Woe to you, Pharisees, hypocrites Woe to you, Pharisees, hypocrites Woe to you, Pharisees, hypocrites
”Pro-life” Trump Hypocrites =“False prophets, ravening wolves” – Jesus
Woe to you Pharisees, hypocrites! — Jesus
Pharisees →
Take the log out of your own eye –Jesus
Judge not that ye be not judged – Jesus
[picture of immigrant child] – Let the children come unto me—Jesus
Jesus focused on real people
Pro-fetus, against Child Protection
Pro-fetus, oppose rights for children
Pro-fetus, defend parent right to hit kids
Pro-fetus, against UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
I was hungry and you did not feed me – Jesus If a man says ‘I love God’ and hateth his brother, he is a liar- 1 John 4:20
Jesus supported healthcare for women
Jesus cared for women, no matter what [echoes Planned Parenthood motto]
The screwed-up priorities of “pro-life” Christians kill real children
Trump Voter? Don’t talk to me about choosing life
Voted for Trump? Maybe that’s not the voice of God you are hearing
Planned Parenthood doesn’t organize counter-protests, because they don’t want to escalate conflict and because they have a job to do providing contraceptives, cancer screenings, STI tests, abortions and other basic healthcare for their patients. They have no desire to get involved in theological disputes. But I think it’s time for the rest of America, meaning religious moderates and non-religious Americans, to go on the offense against the Religious Right. For decades now—really, ever since Roe v Wade–we’ve been playing way too nice.

At some point in the future, pregnancy almost always will happen by mutual consent of two people who want to co-create a child. But we’re not there yet, in large part because patriarchal religious conservatives have opposed sexual health literacy and better birth control every step of the way. Right now, we could make elective abortion virtually obsolete if the Religious Right had any interest in doing so. They don’t. That means, for now, the only way that young men and women can live the lives of their choosing and form the families of their choosing and stack the odds in favor of flourishing children—is to have access to abortion so they can end ill-conceived pregnancies.

The Left has been squishy and apologetic about abortion care—leaving providers unprotected, and allowing brave, prudent young women to be shamed for making the best decisions they could under difficult circumstances. We’ve let the Religious Right bully all of us, including moderate Christians, into doubting our own moral convictions.

Sometimes, the only way to stop a bully is to hit back. In the spirit of courageous, unflinching, nonviolent resistance, we need to figure out together what that means. So, don’t forget to share your thoughts.

Oh, and if you decide to counter-protest on Saturday, remember that while you are taking a stand on behalf of women and families, Planned Parenthood employees will be serving them. Don’t interfere with traffic, stay away from the entry, keep off private property, and silently let your sign do the talking for you. Don’t distract from the ugly behavior of the Religious Right by engaging in ugly behavior of your own. You are a role model for any children and teens who have been dragged along; be the change fundamentalist parents don’t want their kids to see in the world.

Written by Valerie Tarico

Posted by John the Revelator

They’re two christian shows I regularly enjoy, “Unbelievable” and “The Jude 3 Project” both for different reasons. My issue is the christian aesthetic. I believe people can worship any deity they please without worrying about being smeared or maligned. Did you discover god or were you born into an already made world. People act as if what they believe, I’m speaking of christians in this instance that their view or way is the only way. This is so destructive and distracting. Not to seem or sound one sided, all these groups feel the same from all the Abrahamic religions. The problem that arises is the fear of the lord is the beginning of wisdom. To some this verse has meaning to others, its meaningless, void of structure. People spend so much time defending the word they don’t take time to read it. Study to show thyself approved or always be willing to give an answer; as long as it agrees with the christian dogma. As an insider for a very long time and now and outsider I’ve noticed one important thing. That is that people derive their values from scripture but insert their own values.

A question I ask myself. How does one believe and why they believe the way they do. You have to believe it to be true or not. There’s no middle ground, we are surrounded by all types of beliefs, some rationed some not so much. When we look to our limited belief system, me as a black person not as easy as you think since I don’t have a faith, it makes more sense to me. Especially  if i’m trying to reason to have a firm footing. In my earnest opinion you first have to alleviate faith, faith is nothing more than fear disguised as truth. Secondly to balance everything you need history as well as science. Lastly you really have to grapple with textual criticism. You also have two deal with black or white, it does make a difference. Think about it this way, Europe has never created a religion it was the darker races since everything started in Africa as it is known today. This can easily be proven from science as well as your bible.

As I told someone teach Jesus/Yashua is black as well as the inhabitants of the bible, whats wrong with this. It’s quit simple. Think of a black child who gets his affection and discipline from the mother and father but god is white. He or she see’s his parents as the first god figure. That goes to all races. Thats traumatic when the child grows up and see’s first hand, blacks were and are second hand citizens today and the god is white. Simply look at the political climate and how laws are being passed especially in the south to strip blacks of their voting rights. For some they are thinking what this has to do with race; everything! The person who ask the question needs to not worry, it doesn’t affect you. The culture that creates the religion creates the god in their image. We aren’t claiming any type of racial supremacy, its sad to go into a black church with a white Jesus image, we don’t go into white churches with a black image of Jesus even with all the information from the scriptures. This is religious dogma 101 from I speak. We know to much we have too much information, time to teach better truths. Think about the statement from MLK that Sunday is the most segregated day of the week. Please, lets have honest dialogue we learn from one another. If the church is divided, how does the world see hope.

Written by John the Revelator

When it comes to the Bible, modern Americans are at a distinct disadvantage. They know both too much and too little.

They know too much because they live in a society in which references to the Bible — positive and negative — are frequent, creating a false sense of familiarity. They know too little because they have not read it, or have read only selected portions of it, or have allowed others to read it for them through the filtering lens of later theological doctrines or political opportunism. And that’s a pity because the Bible, by which I mean the 24 basic books common to all Bibles (equivalent to the Jewish Tanakh or Hebrew Bible and to the Protestant Old Testament) is deserving of the same careful attention and close reading that we regularly bestow upon other classic texts.

It has been my experience teaching a university course on the Bible, that a close reading of the Bible is often hampered by several misconceptions. I ask my students — as I ask readers of the book based on the course — to correct five common misconceptions in order to encounter the Bible as if for the first time.

Correction #1

The Hebrew Bible is not a book. It was not produced by a single author in one time and place. It is a small library of books composed and edited over nearly a millennium by people responding to a wide range of issues and historical circumstances. Because it is not a book (the name “Bible” derives from the plural Greek form ta biblia, meaning “the books“) it does not have a uniform style or message.

From narrative texts to legal texts, from cultic instruction to erotic love poetry, this library contains works of diverse genres each of which sounds its own distinctive note in the symphony of reflection that we call the Bible. As is true of any collection of books by different authors in different centuries, the books in this collection contradict one another. Indeed, they sometimes contradict themselves because multiple strands of tradition were woven together in the creation of some of the books. The compiler of Genesis placed, side by side, two creation stories that differ dramatically in vocabulary, literary style and detail (who is created first — humans or animals?). A few chapters later, two flood stories are interwoven into a single story despite their many contradictions and tensions (does Noah really take the animals on board two by two?). Proverbs extols wisdom, but Ecclesiastes scoffs at its folly and urges existential pleasure. Deuteronomy harps on God’s retributive justice, but Job arrives at the bittersweet conclusion that despite the lack of divine justice (in this world or any other), we are not excused from the thankless and perhaps ultimately meaningless task of moral living. That such dissonant voices were preserved in the canon of the Bible, their tensions and contradictions unresolved, says something important about the conception of canon in antiquity. Ancient readers viewed this anthology as a collection of culturally significant writings worthy of preservation without the expectation or requirement that they agree with one another. Just as an attempt to impose harmony and consistency on the short stories collected in the Norton Anthology of English Literature would do great violence to those stories, any attempt to impose harmony and consistency on the diverse books collected in the Bible — to extract a single message or truth — does great violence to those books.

Correction #2

The Hebrew Bible is not a book of systematic theology (i.e., an account of the divine) delivering eternally true pronouncements on theological issues, despite the fact that at a much later time, complex systems of theology would be spun from particular interpretations of biblical passages. Its narrative materials provide an account of the odyssey of a people, the ancient Israelites, as they struggled to make sense of their history and their relationship to their deity. Certainly the Bible sometimes addresses moral and existential questions that would become central to the later discipline of theology but then so do Shakespeare and Frost and that doesn’t make them theologians. The Bible’s treatment of these questions is often indirect and implicit, conducted in the language of story and song, poetry, paradox and metaphor quite distinct from the language and tenets of the post-biblical discipline of theology. To impose the theological doctrines of a later time that not only do not appear in the Bible but are contradicted by it — creation ex nihilo, the doctrine of original sin, the belief in life after death — does another kind of violence to the text.

Correction #3

The Hebrew Bible is not a timeless or eternal work that stands outside the normal processes of literary production. Its books emerged from specific times and places. Reading the Bible alongside parallel materials from the many cultures of the Ancient Near East shows the deep indebtedness of the biblical authors to the literary heritage of the Ancient Near East. The ancient Israelites borrowed and adapted literary motifs and conventions from their larger cultural context and an awareness of those motifs and conventions produces richer, more coherent readings of the biblical text than are otherwise possible.

Correction #4

The narratives of the Hebrew Bible are not pious parables about saints, nor are they G-rated tales easily understood by children. Biblical narratives are psychologically real stories about very human beings whose behavior can be scandalous, violent, rebellious, outrageous, lewd and vicious. At the same time, like real people, biblical characters can change and act with justice and compassion. Nevertheless, many readers are shocked and disgusted to discover that Jacob is a deceiver, Joseph is an arrogant, spoiled brat and Judah sleeps with his daughter-in-law when she is disguised as a prostitute!

The unfounded expectation that biblical characters are perfectly pious models for our own conduct causes many readers to work to vindicate biblical characters, just because they are biblical characters. But if we attribute to these characters the reputation for piety manufactured by later religious traditions, if we whitewash their flaws, then we miss the moral complexities and the deep psychological insights that have made these (often R-rated) stories of timeless interest. Biblical narratives place serious demands on their readers. The stories rarely moralize. They explore moral issues and situations by placing biblical characters in moral dilemmas — but they usually leave the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.

Correction #5

The character “Yahweh” in the Hebrew Bible should not be confused with the god of western theological speculation (generally referred to as “God”). The attributes assigned to “God” by post-biblical theologians — such as omniscience and immutability — are simply not attributes possessed by the character Yahweh as drawn in biblical narratives. Indeed, on several occasions Yahweh is explicitly described as changing his mind, because when it comes to human beings his learning curve is steep. Humans have free will; they act in ways that surprise him and he must change tack and respond. One of the greatest challenges for modern readers of the Hebrew Bible is to allow the text to mean what it says, when what is says flies in the face of doctrines that emerged centuries later from philosophical debates about the abstract category “God.”

Setting aside these misconceptions enables readers to encounter and struggle with the biblical text in all its rich complexity — its grandeur and its banality, its sophistication and its self-contradiction, its pathos and its humor — and to arrive at a more profound appreciation of its multi-faceted and multi-vocal messiness.

By Christine Hayes/Huffpost

Posted by John the Revelator

Christian author and publisher Mack Major warned over the weekend that “Christian women are losing their salvation” by using dildos, which he called a “direct path to Satan.”

“Too many Christian women are losing their salvation because they masturbate,” Mack wrote on the Eden Decoded Facebook page. “Dildos and all of those other sex toys have been used for thousands of years in demonic sex rituals. It’s one of the main ways ancient pagan societies worshiped their demonic gods.”
“Masturbation is a direct path to Satan,” he added. “There’s nothing normal about it. And shame on any Christian that says so.”

On the Eden Decoded website, Mack urged readers not to be “ignorant of Satan’s devices.” And he suggested that the ancient city of Pompeii was destroyed because it was “completely engulfed in a culture of pornography, homosexuality, wild orgies and the worship of the little god with the huge member known as Priapus.”

“Many of you who are reading this have sex toys in your possession right now,” he noted. “And whether you want to accept it as fact or not: those sex toys are an open portal between the demonic realm and your own life.”

“As long as you have those sex toys in your home, you have a doorway that can allow demons to not only access your life at will, but also to torment you, hinder and destroy certain parts of your life as it relates to sex and your relationships.”

“PLEASE TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK OF THIS ARTICLE”

Written by Edward Davids/RS

Posted by John the Revelator

In her book, Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women, author Sarah Bessey writes about the stereotypes that the word feminism carries for some within the church, particularly within evangelical traditions.

“In some circles, using the word feminist is the equivalent of an f-bomb dropped in church — outrageous, offensive,” she writes.

Although it’s been mistakenly labeled as a movement that derides motherhood, marriage, and homemaking, for Bessey, feminism is about returning to the roots of her faith — to Jesus’ ministry.

Women played an important role in the earliest days of Christianity. The Jesus of the Bible spoke directly to women and refused to treat them differently from men. The gospels portray them as disciples during Jesus’ ministry and the first witnesses of the resurrection. They’re mentioned in Paul’s letters as the leaders of house churches and missionaries in their own right.

Over the centuries, this fluidity in gender roles slowly faded away. Branches of Christianity that allowed women to act as leaders were declared heretical. According to New Testament scholar Karen King, earlier texts that showed evidence of women in leadership were eventually erased or even rewritten.

But that didn’t stop women from making their presence known within the church, and not just as saints. Christian women were preachers, abolitionists and suffragists. They wrote music and founded churches. Although they didn’t always have the support of mainstream churches, they were willing to disturb the status quo to stand up for what they believed was right.

As we wrap up Women’s History Month, HuffPost Religion asked a diverse array of Christian women to share what the word “feminism” means to them and what it could mean for the church. Some women said that they believed that Christian feminism is about acknowledging women’s equality before God, while other women chose not to identify with the term, and pushed back with the idea that the feminist movement doesn’t take the experiences of women of color into account.Full Content

carol kuruvilla/HuffPost

Posted by John the Revelator

Christianity is the most popular religion in the world, and the center of gravity for the faithful is in Africa.
As The Economist recently reported, Black people are the most devout Christians. Although Europe remains the continent with the largest number of Christians, church attendance in Europe is falling due to “creeping secularism,” an emphasis on individual spirituality over organized religion among younger people, and affluence.
The Economist report makes the point that in richer countries, such as those among Western Europe, citizens attend services less frequently. This makes the U.S., with its 58 percent church attendance among self-identifying Christians, somewhat of an outlier.
“The odds that an individual will attend church are 15 percentage points higher in the world’s 29 most unequal countries than they are in the most equal ones,” The Economist reported. “And people on the lower rungs of their own country’s economic ladder tend to be more observant than those at the top.”
In America, which is a wealthy nation with unusual inequality, African-Americans and Latino immigrants are poorer than the national average, and very devout.
While a mere 9 percent of the 100 million people living in Africa were Christians in 1910, 55 percent of the billion people living in Africa today are Christian, according to the Centre for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Of five sub-Saharan nations–Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Zimbabwe—90 percent of self-identifying Christians reportedly attend church regularly, meaning there could be as many as 469 million churchgoers in Africa. To put that in perspective, 335 million people who attend church live in Latin America, which is 60 percent more than in Europe, according to The Economist.
It is instructive to examine why the formerly colonized—for our purposes, people of African descent—are the most religious Christians. Why is it that the people who are the most entrenched in poverty and suffering the most, whether Black people in Africa or Black people in America, thump their Bibles the hardest?
Surely, one can understand the role of liberation theology, of social justice Christianity, the notion of Jesus the Black freedom fighter who rights wrongs and helps Black people as they struggle through hard times.
But what happens when the colonization of a people is mental? Missionaries came to Africa to “soften up” the local populations, making them pliable and ready for white supremacy, the exploitation of their land, resources and bodies inherent in colonization. They were given, and gladly clung onto, the least empowering narratives–of God as a white man and a white master, and the notion of blind faith and forgiveness, and enduring suffering in life so that you go to Heaven once you die. But what about having Heaven on Earth? What of the concept of accumulating wealth so as to provide a secure future for one’s children and successive generations? We are not talking about prosperity gospel, which is simply pimping with a collar and cross, but rather a demand for basic human rights, of economic security, dignity, freedom, and justice.

In other words, if our devoutness is related to our continued exploitation and economic subjugation, then what benefits have we derived from our faith, when Christians in the advanced world are not made to sacrifice their wealth for their faith? And that’s wealth they stole from Africans, by the way, with compounded interest.
The key for Black people is to channel their faith—whatever their religion, or lack thereof– in a manner that speaks to their condition, their culture and their values. Certainly, Kwanzaa is an effort to make Black spirituality real, regardless of one’s religion, in promoting strong values, perpetuating institution building, and bringing about positive outcomes in the community.
“I’m saying that you are closer to God the further you get away from organized religions that are all handmaidens of conquest,” Dr. John Henrik Clarke once said. “And these belief systems that had their origins in Africa–all of them, and there is no exception–turned on African people. Everything that was brought into this continent–everything, every idea, every so called religion–was meant to dominate and to control. Every element that was put into the making of every major religion started in Africa. Why is it you are so naïve, you let people redress something you invented, send it back to you and enslave you through it?”

Written by David Love/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by John the Revelator