There is a difference between worshiping Jesus and actually doing what he told us to do. I remember the documentary entitled “From Jesus to Christ” in 1998 on PBS Frontline. It was the serious beginning of my spiritual search for meaning. Becoming more familiar with the actual events of the period of the first 150 years of the common era (CE) helped me understand how … Continue reading Worshiping vs Following
I know from personal experiences that saying you doubt something in your church can get you in some pretty serious trouble. I will make a bold statement for you. I am sure you have doubts, probably even serious doubts, about what you are told to be facts in your church too. Even Mother Theresa had them so don’t even bother to deny it! But, all … Continue reading Doubts are seldom allowed In The Church…
This is the second of three revisits to my initial posts on a book that changed my spiritual view of the world. I do these revisits so that you might better understand where I am going now by showing you where I have come from March 12, 2013. I was certain if I could preach the perfect sermon the altar would fill with people overcome … Continue reading If Grace Is True – Revisit #2
Last week I gave you a catch-up on where I have journeyed in my spiritual life for the last six years. I ended that post with the one big remaining question that I will address here: Do we even need a “public” body of Christ? All the lavish religious cathedrals around the world have always disturbed me. It just seems to me that Jesus never … Continue reading The Public Body…
I started RedLetterLiving twelve years ago yesterday to try to answer the basic question of how strongly Christian churches follow the teachings of Jesus. That part of my spiritual journey lasted six years. It was during that period that I went from a passive Sunday morning observer to actively growing my spirituality. I grew a lot during those years and since. What I found during … Continue reading In Celebration of Twelve Years
I want to use the post as my official apology to the world for Evangelical Christians. I know that won’t mean much but it matters to me to apologize for this ugly group. I am a person who has proudly proclaimed that I am a “Follower of the Teaching of Jesus”, but no longer call myself a Christian. I am inspired by his teachings of … Continue reading A “Follower Of Jesus” Apology for MAGA Christians.
Sometimes I take a peak at the website I put up for the church I was once a member. I have been gone for three years now but nothing has changed on that site since I left. The pastor just doesn’t see the Internet as being valuable in reaching out to the community. But one thing that is updated is the text of his sermons … Continue reading The Sit Back And Wait Syndrome….
The Lord’s prayer is rightly the most spoken prayer in Christianity. But there are several statement in that prayer that are for the most part glossed over by many in the current day church. One of the most obvious is “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Here is what Martin Luther thought of these words: The good … Continue reading He Told Us How To Do It……
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – John 1:1, ESV The Bible is not the “Word of God.” It is inspired by the Holy Spirit. It contains words of God. It even talks about the Word of God… but it is still not THE Word of God. The Word of God is actually Jesus … Continue reading Mislabeling the Word of God – Red Letter Christians
Let’s continue on with our brief study of the Gospel of Mark. This time it will be about people’s faith and the Bread. I know that seems like two different things but let me try to tie them together. During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these … Continue reading About The Bread…
Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” “Why were you searching for me?” he asked.“Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not … Continue reading A Maturing Jesus??
This is the true purpose of satire: to mock power. It is, truly, the language of the powerless. From the biblical prophets, to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, to Swift, to Twain, to Orwell to our beloved Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, satire works best when the targets are the powerful and elite—be they institutions or people. Jesus’ sharpest comments were always directed toward the politically or … Continue reading Christians and Humor….
For example, let’s say we approach the Bible with this question: How should we treat our enemies? Matthew 5:44 tells us to love them. Romans 12:17–21 tells us to do good to them and never seek revenge against them. First Peter 3:13–17 tells us to suffer at their hands and set an example for them. Psalm 137:9 says we should joyfully dash their infants against … Continue reading The Old vs. The New….
Since the very beginning, the disciples of Jesus have tried to destroy the opposition. Instead of patiently awaiting the transformation of others, we’ve quickly divided the world into “us” and “them.” We haven’t even reserved this distinction for those of other religions. We’re intolerant of any deviation from the party line. Catholics thought Protestants apostate and damned. Protestants returned the favor, then splintered into a … Continue reading Exclusivity of Salvation..
I once considered human freedom the most persuasive argument against the salvation of every person. My friend asked, “How can you believe God would send his children to hell?” I replied, “God doesn’t send anyone to hell. They send themselves. God simply respects their freedom.” Human freedom was the linchpin of my theology. We were saved not by grace, but by our decision to accept … Continue reading A Simple Truth….
For what good is grace—this unconditional love of God—if it is not extended to those who deserve it the least but need it the most? God is love. Holiness and justice are not competing commitments. God has not chosen to turn his back on us or to punish us as our sins deserve. God has chosen to redeem us. Nothing requires God to condemn us, … Continue reading To Those Who Need It The Most…..
We can’t have it both ways. We can’t honor the words of the men and women of the Bible while ignoring their example. They trusted their experiences with God more than the words of those who preceded them. They believed in a God of fresh words. How can we canonize their words but ignore their radical obedience to the voice of a living God? We … Continue reading Having It Both Ways…
This is an ongoing post about the book “If Grace Is True” by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland. Here are the words for today. Many people are suspicious of experiences with God. The believers in Jerusalem were suspicious of Peter’s experience. You may be suspicious of mine. Some argue that such experiences aren’t trustworthy, that infallible Scripture is the only safe guide in our search … Continue reading Suspicious of Experiences With God…..
I got to thinking the other day about how I am different than I was ten years ago and especially twenty years ago. Although much is the same a lot has also changed in my life in those years. I have a friend at the soup kitchen where I volunteer who proudly wears a T-shirt that says “Thank God, I am not the man I … Continue reading On The Path….
Gulley, Philip; Mulholland, James — If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person We are not to worship the Bible; we are to worship the One the Bible reveals. Too often, we clutch desperately to our Bibles, memorizing only those verses that support our views and panicking when anyone suggests God might speak a fresh word. We belong to a long tradition of … Continue reading The Sola’s…How Did We Get Here?
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered.“No one is good—except God alone. Mark 10:17-18 These words have always troubled me to one extent or another. Let me explain why. The story which they came … Continue reading Except God Alone….
Our personal experiences invade all our perceptions of life. It is who we are and how others see us to be. I want to spend this post talking about personal experiences and how that relates to Christian outreach. What do our perceptions have to do with religion. Let’s face it we are a product of our experiences. I just finished watching a program in which … Continue reading In Their Shoes…
Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions. You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of … Continue reading Merely Human Rules….
Here are some thoughts from Randy Oftedahl over at QuakerQuaker: Now I believe there are many paths, and God in His love for human variety has given us an infinate number of ways to follow the Spirit, depending on what best speaks to our condition. But sometimes I think Quakers, perhaps because we have a particular history as a “peculiar people” or more distinctive worship … Continue reading Religious Superiority….
All of this makes me wonder if pews are misleading in churches. They trick people into thinking that Christians learn best by sitting quietly in rows, listening to lectures, and memorizing ideas about the faith. But churches should not be lecture halls. The above short quote got my attention. It is from a book by Diane Butler Bass entitled Christianity After Religion: The End of Church … Continue reading Churches Are Misleading….
Today I will continue my discussions of a book by Tony Jones entitled The New Christians; Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier. I’m sure if there are any pastors or theologians who accidentally come across the blog post their first reaction is to adamantly disagree with the title that all theology is local. Here is what Tony Jones says about that: theology is not universal, nor … Continue reading All Theology Is Local….
One thing that seems so hard for many fundamentalist Christians is the idea that much of their religious traditions and beliefs come from man, not God. They seem totally unable to even conceive of that idea. Without that acknowledgement they have doomed their version of Christianity to the trash heap of time. Science, that they generally deem as the enemy, will eventually become just be … Continue reading Man’s Fingerprints…..
Despite recent trends the U.S. is still pretty much an inclusive society. As the saying on the plaque at the Statue Of Liberty goes we welcome all others to our shores. The resulting diversity is in my mind one of the primary reasons we have been such a strong and prosperous country. Elitism is by definition exclusive. It wants more and more for a smaller and … Continue reading Inclusiveness…..
Let’s get back to Luke 6 for our study today. “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on … Continue reading Do What I Say….