“The Bible and Prayer” Won’t Fix My Progressive Theology—They Created it.

Every day I invariably end up in some form of the same conversation.

I encounter a more conservative Christian, who takes issue with my stance on the Bible or sexuality or sin or salvation or politics, and once they realize that I’m neither embarrassed of these stances nor easily moved from them—they offer a similar solution to the diagnosed “problem” of my Progressive theology:

“You should try reading the Bible and asking God to reveal the truth to you.”—as if these are things I’d never considered.

The words are sometimes delivered as unintended insult, other times as judgmental scolding, and still other times as a poorly concealed middle finger. Either way, there’s an inherent arrogance in the suggestion itself, assuming that unless the conclusions I’ve come to match their conclusions, I must not have done the work. I must be rebelling against God. I must be darkened in my understanding; clouded by the Devil—or maybe Rob Bell.

My reply is always the same: “Reading the Bible and praying over it—is precisely how I became Progressive.”

For more than forty years as a Christian and two decades as a pastor in the local church, I’ve lived with the Bible:

I’ve read it for inspiration and for information.

I’ve studied it in seminary and in small groups and in solitude.

I’ve done hundreds of Bible studies and sat through months of sermons.

I’ve taught it and preached it and reflected on it for hours upon hours upon hours.

I’ve sat with it in silence and prayed over the words; listening intently for the voice of God.

And all of this has yielded the faith perspective I have today. This has been my long, purposeful path to Progressive Christianity.

The more I excavated the Scriptures and reflected on what I’d learned, the more I felt a shift in my understanding. Little by little, through this continual process of study and prayer and living, I found myself unable to believe things I once believed. Old sureties became unstable and new things became my bedrock. Over time, I gradually but quite surely began to see the Bible differently, and it has led me to this place and to the convictions I now hold.

No longer some perfect, leather-bound divine transcript, dictated by God and downloaded into a few men’s heads or dropped from the sky—the Bible for me became an expansive library written by flawed, failing human beings at a particular place and time in the history of humanity, recording their experience of God as best they could comprehend it.

In that library I could find wisdom and meaning, and through those words I could seek God and understand humanity, and craft a working religion to live within. But I could also bring other things to bear upon this journey; things like Science and History, things like nature and community and other faith traditions—and yes, my personal experience living as a never-to-be-repeated human being.

This is the path of all people of faith, if they’re honest; however conservative or progressive their theology. And this is the point.

None of us has the market cornered on the Truth, and we all bring the same things to our study and prayer and to our religion—we bring ourselves. We bring the sum total of the families we’ve lived in and the place we were born and the faith tradition we were raised in. We carry the teachers and pastors and writers who inspired us, the experiences we’ve had, and even our specific personalities. In other words: we all find our way—in the way we find our way. 

When another Christian instructs someone else to “read the Bible,” or “take it to prayer,” or to “ask God to reveal the truth to you,” they usually mean, “Do all of these things until you get it right—until you agree with me.” They are assuming their version of study and reflection are more valid than another’s.

And this is the beauty of Progressive Christianity: it doesn’t insist that others agree with it, it doesn’t claim superiority, and it holds its conclusions loosely. That doesn’t mean it has arrived at its present place impulsively, lazily, or ignorantly. Quite the contrary. I’ve met thousands of Christians who hold more liberal positions on all sorts of topics, who didn’t begin that way. They have come to those positions after years or even decades of careful, prayerful, faithful exploration. They are as intelligent, invested, and earnestly seeking as their more orthodox brethren.

And this is perhaps the conservative Christian’s greatest challenge, which was fittingly, the same one the Pharisees faced in the Gospels: to believe that others could have a genuine, real, and beautiful experience of God that didn’t match their own. People can read the Bible and pray and do every thing they do as honestly and lovingly as they do it—and wind up believing differently.

Christian, the next time your tempted to flippantly tell someone who doesn’t share your religious convictions or mirror your theology, that they should “try reading the Bible and going to God,” it might be helpful to seek a humility about your own beliefs and a respect of theirs; to entertain the idea that maybe their reading of the Bible and their prayerful life surrounding it—are the very reason they now hold those beliefs.

Maybe they have studied and prayed and listened.

Maybe God has revealed the Truth to them.

Maybe God doesn’t need your consent to do that.

 

 

 

222 thoughts on ““The Bible and Prayer” Won’t Fix My Progressive Theology—They Created it.

  1. This is an issue of Trust, Belief, Obedience
    Who are you trusting in?
    What do you truly Believe?
    Why do you do the things you do ? motive
    out of a pure heart, Do you seek the approval of mankind, recognition from others, or self satisfaction
    This is Truly a battle of the spirit

    Spiritual things are spiritually decerned and man cannot understand, comprehend, or think in a manor pleasing to God , unless he, she truly believes.
    Sin Separates us, you , mankind, women from God
    So if , I mean if you truly believe and you truly are His, Gods nothing in this world can take you away from Him, God.
    But that is between you and God.
    no one else.
    If you truly believe and trust God , no man can take your heart from god.
    He knows his sheep and they hear his voice.
    So if you don’t see him, YOU had better cry out to God For forgiveness, Repent of Your sin, Say NO to ungodly Lust, Idolatry, covetousness, things that create sin in ones life. And Turn to God , Thru Jesus Christ who wants to comfort you and restore you to God.

    Sin Separates all from God, Repentance , Self Denial, Turning Away from Sin, Changing ones life, Friends, Habits , Desires in life Restores you to God.
    Unless a person, man, woman Repents They cannot see the kingdom of God.
    Just another Religeous act of ritualistic events

      • What, the Freeman? No; he never reads John P’s words…he just waits for an opportunity to stick his nose in and muddy the waters.

      • Maybe Charissa. We suspect he is a recovering stroke victim, who was once organized and articulate, but the stroke robbed him of many brain cells, so what comes out is a disorganized and disjointed thought stream of long-memorized Bible verses. He is just trying to be as faithful and useful as possible with the brain cells he still has left—so we just read his posts anyway, realize what is going on, and try to be nice to him. We would hope that others would do the same with us if we were in his shoes. Well, this something approximating our current hypothesis concerning this matter. Does that help?

      • Elizabeth Sterling wrote “Sir, I’m just never sure what you’re trying to say.” Neither am I. Some of us here have come to the conclusion that Mr. Freeman is incapacitated in some manner and has difficulty expressing himself coherently. I have a friend with vascular dementia and there are days when he sounds just like Mr. Freeman so I try to be gentle with them both.

  2. It’s really very simple (to me). Follow the ten commandments, agree to disagree, keep Church and State separated, and keep in mind that God will be the final judge of your life. My Forrest Gump Manifesto for Life.
    If only the world could live so simply.

    • Jeanie, Christians, those who follow Jesus, do not have to follow the ten commandments–Jesus gave his followers 2: Love your God and Love your neighbor. If you do that, you won’t murder, lie, steal, have jealousy; you won’t bear false witness; you will honor your parents and you will honor God. Jesus also gave 6 tasks to be done, found in Matthew 25:31-46: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, comfort the ill and visit those in prison. Again, if you are following the commandments of Love, you would do those as a natural response to others.
      The big problem with those 10 commandments is that they are the FIRST 10; there’s about 600 more, which include the dietary laws, the ones for hygiene and the ones for religious identity (not shaving the beard, wearing a shawl/stole, covering the head in temple). I would suggest that Jesus’ 2 commandments are simpler to remember–and probably harder to follow because it requires thought and discretion on how Love will be. I think that in this case, Love is a verb, an action word for doing the same kind of things that Jesus himself did.
      Just a thought for you…

      • Kate GC, Yes, Jesus did say that all the Law and all the Prophets are summed up in the Two Great Commandments.

        I have always thought of the 10 Commandments as being part of the way we love. Living according to the 10 Cs is living a life of love. As is feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, providing for needs.

        You touch on something that was an issue for the earliest followers of Jesus who were all Jews and did live according to all those 600 or so laws. They continued to worship in the Temple as long as the faith was HQed in Jerusalem.

        In Acts, Peter has a dream of a cornucopia and from that dream, he learned that the kosher dietary laws no longer applied to those on the Way, which is what those earliest followers of Jesus called themselves.

        In the letters of Paul, we read his experiences with Gentile, non-Jewish converts to what was now being called the Christian faith, after Paul went to Antioch. In Galatians we read of people who came to that city to tell the Galatians that if they wanted to follow Jesus they also had to live as Jews. Paul was adamant that Christians did not. Uses some quite strong language too.

        So you see, your comments about the 10Cs being an introduction to 600Cs really has not merit because the Levitical Law does not apply to followers of Jesus since quite soon after the first Pentecost.

      • When you look at the Ten Commandments, eight are “do not”, one is “remember” and one is “respect”. They are 80% negative.

        I appreciate the ten Native American commandments:

        1. Treat the Earth and all that dwell thereon with respect.

        2. Remain close to the Great Spirit, in all that you do.

        3. Show great respect for your fellow beings.
        (Especially respect yourself)

        4. Work together for the benefit of all Mankind.

        5. Give assistance and kindness wherever needed.

        6. Do what you know to be right.
        (But be careful not to fall into self-righteousness.)

        7. Look after the well-being of mind and body.

        8. Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good.

        9. Be truthful and honest at all times.
        (Especially be truthful and honest with yourself.)

        10. Take full responsibility for your actions

        These are all positive actions and I find them to be very complementary to the original ten and Jesus’ two.

        • Love this, Patricia! Unfortunately, a lot of so-called “Christians” will never buy into “the greater good”; they don’t believe in it.

          • Susan, that is something that has always mystified me. How could they fail to believe in the greater God because surely the greater good is a way to glorify God.

        • Hello Patricia! I’m so glad to see you again here. I like those commandments as well as try, andsometimes fail, to keep. There is a lot of wisdom that lies beyond our current Christian religion and this is some of it. I would like to believe Jesus would have approved.

        • I am married to a First Nation’s person. As I learned about her spirituality, I was amazed at how much has a direct correlation to Christian principles and worship practices. But really, that should be no surprise. As many in the community say, “God did not get off the boat with the white man.” But that’s not something the explorers and then colonisers could understand steeped as they were in their Doctrine of Discovery and the idea of “terra nullius”.

          • Patricia, I agree with you that it should be no surprise. Did not God create all of humanity in God’s image and likeness? Is not part of the Imagio Dei the ability to recognize Truth and respond to God?

            Yes indeed. There is Truth to be found everywhere.

            A number of years ago I read an article in Scientific American that astounded me. It was about the human genome project. It reported that an astonishing number of Chinese people have Jewish DNA. The reason they gave was that when the Assyrians carted off the Ten Lost Tribes, the Assyrians deposited them along the Silk Road where they eventually assimilated.

            A century later Lao Tzu and Confucius are writing and a goodly portion of their work sounds much like the Hebrew Scriptures which has had me wondering ever since, how much influence did those Jews have on the culture in which they were inserted?

        • The Ten Commandments are God’s laws to His redeemed people, not to those stupid enough to cite Native folklore.

          • Percy Teavis, I find your comment to Patricia to be extremely rude. How dare you call her stupid?

            Those ten Native American commandments do not contradict the 10 Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, or any teaching of the New Testament, Early Church Fathers etc.

            Is it possible you only saw the words “Native American” and did not actually read them?

          • Percy, you might as well have held up a banner that reads, “I am an ignorant, uneducated racist.”

            I highly recommend that we all ignore him and hope that he crawls back under the slimy rock he just emerged from.

            For everyone else, it should be noted that “Native folklore” is the source of many of our pharmaceuticals. There is a race on to preserve native languages in South America because it is in their naming of the plants that we learn the plants medicinal qualities.

            • Patricia, I stand by my previous comment. If you think that the Native folklore can be in the same level as the Ten Commandments, then you’re not very smart or spiritually informed. Your statement is truly one of the most asinine I have read on this blog.

              • Given that you have completely misread my original post, I suggest that the word “asinine” belongs elsewhere. To clarify, I said that the Native American commandments were very complementary to the original ten and Jesus’ two. I did not say that they are on the same level. Others have read them and agreed that the “ten Native American commandments do not contradict the 10 Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, or any teaching of the New Testament, Early Church Fathers etc.”

                To further clarify, “Native folklore” would relate to the use of medicinal plants, the ways of nomadic herds, the best way to build a habitation, how to find clean water, etc. The Native American commandments belong in the category of Native Spirituality. When I first started studying Native Spirituality, I was struck by how similar many of the beliefs are to those held by Celtic Christianity.

              • Percy Teavis, I have often noticed that when someone has a lack of education and information in order to make a substantive rebuttal, they resort to insult.

                This is also what abusers and bullies do. You are a troll and not worth anyone’s time. Please go away if all you can do is ininsult and not discuss with actual evidence, facts, history to back up your assertions.

                If anyone demonstrates a lack of spiritual information, it is you because otherwise, you would know both Jesus and James forbid you from calling anyone a fool.

        • What is the origin of these commandments? All American Indian tribes adopted them? By what date were they codified? Did all Native Americans have one spiritual leader or doctrine?

  3. So True , Accountability, if we fail , we admit it, confess, turn to the bible for true answers and change our lives to fix the problem.
    But too many times we , us say one thing and blame others for what they do instead of changing our lives , surroundings, people in our lives.
    It takes us taking a stand for truth, saying no, turning away, making sure we don’t put ourselves in harms way .
    I have learned contentment , says paul , he did not just wake up with it.
    Suffering for truth , he did not just do it.
    Active application s
    commitment to do what is right NO MATTER WHAT THE COST , and there is alway s a cost and a reward for doing what is right, Just, obeying Gods Commands

  4. Well John , Whats your motive?
    Why do you do what you do?
    What do you have to gain?
    Being in business and a christian for more that 35 years , i used to go to church religeously, tell over s exactly like you write in the columns and just got burned out by others like this .
    Who always have hidden motives
    selfish, self seeking , just what ever they can get.

    Thru much anguish and hardship , God Gave me peace , a True Relationship, a heartfelt understanding of Spiritual things in his word, and a true commitment to him.
    NOT others , HIM . Jesus said that if i get the relationship in the right order i would care about huminity. not myself.
    God, Jesus Christ, Family, Others , Self on the last of the list.
    It is more important for me to have you and other know , hear , seek the truth than for you or others to like me, praise me, listen to me, love me.
    Where will YOU all God when you die. Pass on
    Where will you spend eternity
    God is showing all the world the truth, but they reject the cornerstone, building block, truth for the lie, lies of the world.
    They Seek Fame , Fortune, Acceptance of man over Holiness, Truth, Peace with God.

  5. Love what you have to say…today and always. But you have a “your” where it’s supposed t be a “you’re”. 🙂

    Keep it up, brother. I’m praying for you and our nation and our world.

  6. Thanks John. I’ve read the Bible cover-to-cover six times as a devotion and soul searching exercise. Each time I’ve come away from the process more progressive and more open to my fellow humans. Dogma on the other hand I have dropped in the garbage along the way. I live my life knowing I’m always in God’s grace by his design. I need no affirmation of churches, other well-meaning Christians or sets of rules. As Marian Williamson said, “God had a thought and that thought was love. From that the Universe was born. From there I became as did we all.” There is no way to become separate from that love/God.

    Daily I study, read, pray and become more filled with love for everything in the Universe. It is not a love with rules, judgements or heartache but an opening to all the glory of all creation.

    I don’t have time for hate and meanness or anything that distracts me from my relationship with God.

    I appreciate your open and progressive relationship with God and providing a forum through your blog to feel the acceptance from another human who believes we are all in God’s grace no matter what rules others try to bind our souls with.

    • Glenda Clemens, so very beautifully expressed. Thank you.

      Would you be able to point me to a really good definition of Progressive Christianity? Thank you.

  7. I happened to agree with this post. As much as I love my own version of “truth” and have admittedly been that person, occasionally, to point my finger and make those suggestions- I’ve now found the better question is- what has God spoken to you?

    I pray we can put our truths together, sans labels, to live out something that resembles Christ. And I hope we agree on Christ.

  8. Thank you! Some people just don’t get it. If I had a dime for every time some self-righteous Christian told me to read the Bible and pray that God would open my eyes, I’d be rich. I patiently try to explain to these people that I HAVE read the Bible… numerous times, in the original languages, and that I DO believe it… AS IT WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN, and not as it has been variously translated.
    And like you, it is precisely because of studying scripture and prayer, my own walk with God, that I am a progressive and not a conservative. More often than not, I found those who told me to read the Bible, pray for enlightenment, etc., were people whose total extent of Bible knowledge was memorizing a few pet verses from a favorite translation, and believing every word preached from the pulpit, without regard for whether or not their preacher knew what he was talking about.

    • And where in the Bible do you see that it is pleasing to God that two men fornicate with each other?

      • What if those two men serve in soup kitchens and build houses for the poor and take care of hurt animals, etc. Why don’t you let God decide what he will do with them at the end of their lives? As adult men, they hurt no one by what they do in their bedrooms. Do you feel the need to save them from themselves? Did God deem you worthy to judge?

        • I am afraid that the person you are speaking to does not have ears to hear. Some people are so superior they don’t think they need to look at their own heart and soul, they think they get to judge everyone else’s. The God that I worship is saying to them butt out, I will do the judging and you will be judged on how you cared and loved my people, not just those who believe as you, but all and I mean all of my people. Just saying, Peace and Love,

        • What if I feed the poor and helped wounded animals and also cheated on my wife? Would my good deeds excuse my sins?

          It’s up to God to judge in the end. I don’t dispute that and don’t claim to be a judge. But I also can’t be a “progressive” and tell people that their sins are not sins and “don’t hurt anyone.” They do hurt people They hurt the people who commit them and hurt others by their poor examples leading others astray.

          Two men in an immoral relationship can seek the Truth or they can seek out a progressive church which tells them what they want to hear.

          The point of my comment was that it’s also not for man to change God’s Word and 2,000 years of Church teaching and put a stamp of approval on behavior that God condemns.

          I don’t condemn anyone because of their sins and I don’t harass them about what they do. I’m well aware of my own sins and disorders and know that’s not my place. But it’s also not my place to tell someone their sin is not a sin, or worse, that it’s a virtue. That also is usurping God’s prerogative and for the sake of worldly approval.

          • From one Catholic to another: Do you really not see the difference between two people in a loving relationship, which is hurting no one else, and cheating on your wife, which would be a betrayal of her and of your wedding vows?

            God will judge. I will love my neighbor, as Jesus commanded.

            • A.R., Do you agree or disagree that for two men to have sexual relations is a sin? If it is, and our Catholic Church makes it very clear that it is, then they are hurting people. They are hurting each other, and they are hurting others by bringing darkness instead of light into the world. Of course they are less culpable if they are not Christians and do not understand that what they are doing is wrong, but they are still harming each other.

              If a man in a homosexual relationship came to you and expressed an interest in becoming a Catholic and partaking of the Holy Eucharist, and if he asked you if in order to do so if he would have to give up his sexual relationship with the other man, what would you tell him?

              The point of my post was not to “judge” but to point out that it seems that “progressive Christianity” means that things that were once called “sins” are no longer sins, and in fact it is now “hateful” to label them as such. So long as “nobody is hurting anybody,” anything goes.

            • Welcome A.R. The so-called Catholic to which you are speaking is a troll on this blog—one of the worst trolls I have ever seen anywhere on the entire Internet over the past 20+ years. His skills at evil and deception are becoming legendary here. I am a United Methodist, and I have numerous Catholic friends. This guy does not behave anything like them. If he is indeed Roman Catholic, I suspect he is a member of one of those extremely right wing conservative Roman Catholic “subsects” that attract people like Mel Gibson.

            • A.R., I am sorry to have to tell you this but “A Catholic Perspective”, today’s alias, will answer unequivocally “no” and treat you to a repulsive discourse.

              I welcome you to this blog, but some of us feel we must warn newcomers about “A Catholic Perspective.” He, as he claims, posts under a large variety of aliases and sometimes he uses two or three on the same day to have conversations with himself. One he uses a lot os anonymous, which makes it difficult as not all of the people who post anonymously are trolls.

              This person has two over-riding obsessions: the choices women make about their bodies and homosexuality. No matter what John P writes, this person will drag in his red herrings because he wants to destroy this blog.

              He has also told us that he thinks it is fun to bait people and upset them. When John P wrote a piece about rape and sexual assault, this person demonstrated no compassion or empathy with those of us who shared our stories.

              He needs medical attention of the sort none of us here are qualified to give him and I pray for him every single day.

              My best recommendation to you is this: do not engage him because eventually, he descends into filth and vulgarity.

                • Too true, Robin. I know that until I myself wised up and stopped engaging with the trolls, I made a huge fool of myself here, sinking to their level.

          • Joe Said:

            “What if I feed the poor and helped wounded animals and also cheated on my wife? Would my good deeds excuse my sins?”

            Yes—but in your case only. No one else?

            Are you aware that your posts are reading more and more like Sheldon talking?

          • Catholic Joe you said, “It’s up to God to judge in the end. I don’t dispute that and don’t claim to be a judge. But I also can’t be a “progressive” and tell people that their sins are not sins and “don’t hurt anyone.” They do hurt people They hurt the people who commit them and hurt others by their poor examples leading others astray.”

            Progressives believe that cheating on your wife is hurtful as well, not sure why you think they don’t. Perhaps you don’t know progressives as well as you think.

            • I trying to figure out what they think the problem is with being progressive because it sounds like what the writers of the early church were teaching Christians.

                • I was trying to google “Progressive Christianity” and I remain convinced that it is not particularly progressive at all, more like a return to “original Christianity.” So to speak. LOL

                  • Progressive / Emergent means that new Revelations abrogate previous Revelations from bible.

                    Progressive / Emergents believe that:
                    –All are Saved (Universalism)
                    –Man is good –just need Self-realization
                    –No Hell
                    –Atonement not substitutionary
                    –2nd chance Salvation

                    • So, God is unable or unwilling to speak to his people or guide his people—outside of the words of the Bible.

                      Good luck on that!!!!! Ignorance at its finest!!!

                    • Charles wrote “So, God is unable or unwilling to speak to his people or guide his people—outside of the words of the Bible.”

                      Wow, Charles, do people really believe that? God speaks to me through hymns, the Books of Common Prayer, collections of prayers by others, books, novels, movies, TV shows, nature, other people… I can’t find an end to the list of the many ways God speaks to me. I find I just have to prepare myself to receive God’s revelation wherever it may come from.

                      Here’s a book of prayers I find so realistic: Dear God, It’s All Gone Horribly Wrong: Prayers for Stressed Christians

                      https://www.amazon.com/Dear-God-Gone-Horribly-Wrong-ebook/dp/B00U70266Y/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1495389127&sr=8-14&keywords=Anne+Brooke

            • What if the wife doesn’t mind if the husband has a girlfriend. What if she goes further and wants him to bring her home so that she can be with her sexually as well. Now we have a married couple and an additional woman in a consensual relationship allegedly “hurting no one.” Is it a adultery? Is it a sin?

              • Hey Joe, great question, although I think the question is based on an assumption. I think it is true to say that the concept of “a consensual relationship” which introduces a third person into a existing relationship has changed over time.

                You know in the Bible it was written that God accommodated polygamy and men having concubines. Those relationships were considered to be acceptable at the time and it was always the poor treatment of people that God called out as sin.

                If a couple decides to do what you are describing they should be cognizant of the hardship they will encounter in our western (modern) society which does not approve of polygamy and has laws against it. They should consider how they treat the third person. Are they going to be used and discarded or will they be taken care of? What is the purpose?

                Isn’t it interesting that in our society people are allowed to get away with having an affair without any financial consequence and yet if a third person is welcomed to join in the relationship– as an agreement and contribute to a household– it would be breaking a law or considered sin.

                Adultery is unfaithfulness and adultery is betrayal however, if a wife allows it, then it is no longer technically unfaithfulness or betrayal. But, there are other considerations as well. There may be prohibitions in the church one goes to or laws in our society that prohibits it. Therefore, I think when anyone is considering these things– instead of reacting in a manner, “I can do anything I want” one also needs to think of the communities they chose to be a part of or the society they are born into.

                Furthermore, we have seen in history that the idea of what constitutes a family unit and marriage has changed over time. Therefore, in a democratic society we can suggest modifications to what defines marriage or relationships, if they are deemed to be insufficient, limiting , harmful.

                In some cases laws are created to control people but laws can also be made to free people.

        • Jeanie, I don’t recall seeing your name her before. If I have overlooked you in the past, please accept my apology.

          The person posing today as “A Catholic Perspective” is someone well known to us as a person who posts under a variety of aliases. This is one he has used in the past. He also posts on the same day as one of the many people who use “anonymous”. He also posts under other aliases on the same day.

          He has one purpose: to destroy John P’s blog. He has told us he enjoys deliberately baiting and upsetting people. He ignores appropriate boundaries and limits. He has no compassion for those of us who shared our stories of being raped, sexually assaulted, and sexually molested.

          There is more I could say, but if you continue to engage him, I am very much afraid you will find out for yourself.

          I pray for this person every day as he really needs help.

        • Jeanie, you clearly lack understanding of Biblical salvation. Two gay men doing “good” works won’t exonerate them from the judgment of God! Homosexuality is a wicked and abominable offense, and God had promised to judge all unrepentant sinners……even if they do so called good works! Clearly, you do not understand Biblical truth.

          • Percy Teavis, whenever a presumably straight man has such a strong negative reaction to homosexuality I find myself wondering which of these appliews?

            1) Is this man afraid of being raped by a gay man despite the lack of evidence that indicates gay men go around raping straight ones?

            If so, I am afraid I have very little sympathy for you because we women go through our lives being afraid we might be raped by a straight man. We start worrying about that when are around twelve years old.

            In fact, several of us who comment here have shared our stories of rape and sexual assault in the comments to another of John P’s post.

            2) Is the man actually terrified that he himself is homosexual and how deep in the closet is he?

            I invite all who cower in the closet to come out into the light which pierces the darkness and allow the truth to set you free.

      • Dear A Catholic Perspective:

        Exactly what in Bill Carey’s observations got you thinking about two men fornicating with each other?

        Blessings!

        • The desire to “do it, but he cannot let his wife know or she would kick him out of the house for having adulterous thoughts. By they way. They call it adultery because only adults are allowed to do it. If children did it, it would be “childery.”

          Yeah. I’m nuts today.

      • Why do you make it sound dirty? How about two men falling in love and getting married? Sounds better. And where is it in the Bible? In your English translation? Nowhere. In the Hebrew Old Testament? 1 Samuel and Daniel.

        • Well, guess what, not all of us are buying what the Vatican is selling, which is discrimination in the guise of religion. Where they as concerned for children who were being molested by their own. No, they covered it up for years and served little altar boys up to the perverts. Their lost the right to sanctimonious judgement. Did you carry on about that the way you do about consenting adults who’s souls are their concern not yours. Get a life and take your hatred somewhere else.

          • There are many very good and holy priests and bishops and many saints throughout the ages. The sins of a few do not mean our doctrine is corrupt as it is founded in Jesus himself.

            People are free to do as they please and to sin as they please but it is not the place of the church or any church to say that sin is good. It is not right for any church or person to say that it is hateful for being truthful about sin.

            The Catholic Church has the duty and right to proclaim the truth and doesn’t lose that duty or right because of some people within the church who did evil. Their evil deeds do not other evil acts good or right.

            There are more perverts in the public school system than there were in the Catholic Church. I thank God that steps are being taken to prevent that from happening in the future, as they hurt many people and not only the obvious victims.

            It’s not “sanctimonious judgement” to state the truth that a homosexual act is intrinsically evil. And it’s not your place to give it your stamp of approval either. You are not to change God’s laws for the sake of approval or not to hurt someone’s feelings or because you don’t like them.

        • I know you think the Catholic Church is the be-all and end-all. You can hold that belief if you like. I wholeheartedly disagree. But here is a fact for you:
          The definition of sin is willful disobedience to the expressly stated will of GOD. It is NOT disobedience to the will of man, including the will of the church. In other words, if God says it is a sin, it is. If God doesn’t say it is a sin, it is not. I’m not about to take the word of the RCC for what God says, because the practices of that church blatantly contradict the instructions God already gave. (Clear example: Both Testaments expressly forbid creating any statue of any being who is in heaven. It forbids bowing down to them and burning incense before them. Catholicism has done those things for centuries, in direct violation of the CLEARLY stated, and REPEATED, will of God in the matter. So your church isn’t in a position to claim any special knowledge about what God says is sin, because the church is routinely sinning and condoning/justifying its own sin.)
          God’s will is clearly, and completely, stated in scripture in the original languages. Those texts never directly mention homosexuality. What they do not mention, they cannot condemn. The indirect mention found there is not negative. Therefore, homosexuality is NOT sin, no matter how many confused and/or corrupt churches claim it is. Period.

          • Thank you, that was a great comment and I believe all of it. One thing that has always confused me it how they can say God doesn’t make mistakes but somehow if you are born homosexual it’s a mistake. Doesn’t make sense. Anyway, great comment and even if the person you responded to doesn’t have ears to hear there are a lot of us who do. Peace,

            • Kathleen, nope, God doesn’t make mistakes. If people are born homosexual it is because it delighted God to create them that way. And that is all there is to it.

          • Yes I do think the Catholic Church is the “be all and end all” as it is for most Christians in the world and as it was for every Christian for over 1,000 years.

            Why do you claim the Bible as an authority? How do you know it is true? If there is a problem with understanding what is mean in a particular scripture, who is the final arbiter?

            Your problem with statues has been answered a million times and I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. Please see the linked article. I posted the first paragraph:

            “Catholics worship statues!” People still make this ridiculous claim. Because Catholics have statues in their churches, goes the accusation, they are violating God’s commandment: “You shall not make for yourself a graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow down to them or serve them” (Ex. 20:4–5); “Alas, this people have sinned a great sin; they have made for themselves gods of gold” (Ex. 32:31).
            https://www.catholic.com/tract/do-catholics-worship-statues

            That was the least of my problems while I was deciding to become a Catholic over 20 years ago. The Church claims that when the words of consecration are spoken by the priest or bishop, that the bread and wine become the real Body and Blood of Christ, and that was a stumbling block for me. I did come to believe it, and had several profound experiences in the beginning after my conversion, which confirmed that I had made the right decision. If the Church is right about that, everything else fall into place.

            That it’s wrong and sinful for two men to make sexual contact with each other is addressed by Paul, and by common sense. Even those Christian sects outside of Catholicism accepted that, until “progressive/permissive” Christianity reared it’s deceptive head and preached a message that appeals to itchy ears.

            The Catholic Church was started by Christ, and founded on Peter, the first Pope, and there has been an unbroken succession of popes and bishops to this day. When the Church speaks in matters of faith and morals, it is Christ speaking through her. Jesus didn’t say anything about the “bible alone” as an authority, and in fact said that he would teach the apostles “all things” and it’s clear from scripture that Jesus did and said so many things that they could not be contained in thousands of books. He also said that he would be with the Church until the end, and that the gates of Hell would not prevail against her.

            I really find it a stretch that you would say if it’s not explicitly in the Bible, then it’s not a sin. Would that apply even to killing an 8 month old healthy fetus? Smoking dope? Orgies?

            Again, who is your authority and interpreter and why should anyone see you as an authority?

            Putting the Bible into perspective:

            The Protestant Reformers said that the Bible is the sole authoritative source of religious truth, whose proper understanding must be found by looking only at the words of the text itself. This is the Protestant teaching of sola scriptura (Latin: by Scripture alone). According to this teaching, no outside authority may mandate an interpretation, because no outside authority, such as the Church, has been established by Christ as an arbiter to determine which of the conflicting interpretations is correct.

            There is perhaps no greater frustration in dealing with Evangelical and Fundamentalist Protestants, than in trying to pin them down on why the Bible should be taken as a rule of faith at all, let alone the sole rule. It reduces to the question of why Fundamentalists accept the Bible as inspired, since the Bible can be taken as a rule of faith only if it is first held to be inspired and, thus, inerrant.

            more here:
            catholic dot com search on “proving inspiration”

            • I’m not going to read your links. Why? Because the Catholic Church saying the Catholic Church is right is meaningless. It makes a lot of claims about itself, and about its origins… claims that are belied by scripture and secular history. And no matter how you slice it, your church has statues of God, of angels, saints, etc., the making of which is forbidden by scripture. Your church, for centuries, burned incense before the statues, placed offerings before them, etc. Do you really think this is different from idolatry? Do you really think people whose god was a statue thought the statue itself was god? No, they thought it was a visible representation of their god.
              You can’t tell me a thing about Catholic belief or practice, because not only was I once Catholic, I was headed for the priesthood, and studied Catholic theology.
              And the Bible? It says it is forever settled in heaven. It says God magnified it even above His name. And it says that NOBODY, not even an apostle or an angel, had the right to alter the original teachings of the first century church in any way.
              Your church claims the right to establish and change doctrines. The Bible denies it that right. Oh, and your church isn’t the original one, despite its own self-written history. The RCC didn’t come into existence until the Council of Nicea, when the bishops aligned with Rome and Constantine excommunicated all the other bishops, including those who were holding to the original teachings of the apostles.
              There is a form of Christianity that predates both Catholicism and Protestantism. We call it Apostolic, meaning “of or like the apostles.” It teaches ONLY first century doctrine, rejecting all the new doctrines and creeds your church invented in violation of Gal. 1:8-9. And Apostolics have been teaching that since the first century. Through most of Christian history, when your church found Apostolics, they tortured and killed them. Later, Protestants joined them in doing so. Only in the last hundred years have Apostolics been able, in most places, to worship openly and freely, because your church no longer has the political authority to murder those who challenge your man-made doctrines.
              Your church claims homosexuality is a sin. God didn’t say so. Your church did. That means they added to God’s written word. Adding to His word is a sin. He said so… at least three times. Homosexuality is not a sin, because He didn’t say it is.

              • Thank you for your answer. I doubt he will have ears to hear but I did and I found it enlightening. Peace and Love,

              • Bill, I agree completely with your analysis of the RCC, except for one tiny detail. You wrote ” The RCC didn’t come into existence until the Council of Nicea.”

                Actually, that’s not correct. The Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church both started in 1054 in an unedifying spectacle of pope and patriarch mutually excommunicating each other. It is claimed that happened over the filioque clause about the procession of the Holy Spirit but it really had more to do with temporal matters than theological.

      • And where in the Bible do you see that it ISN’T pleasing? Why don’t you keep your nose out of other peoples’ business?

    • Bill Carey, Nice to see you back. Love what you’ve written. I’ve heard many a sermon back in the day in which the preacher did not know what he was talking about.

      I’ll be honest, I don’t understand exactly what is “progressive” about a passion for social justice. As I have mentioned before my degrees are in Biblical and Theological Studies and Church History. I especially love the history in the centuries before the East/West split. All the writers blended social justice into everything they wrote because they saw a passion for social justice in Jesus and in the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures.

      Can you point me to a good definition of what it means to be a Progressive Christian? Thanks.

    • Dear Bill Carey:

      Always helpful when people who couldn’t differentiate between an Aramaic dative and an hapax legomenon deliver the sweet wisdom that you should try reading your Bible.

      Blessings!

    • You cannot believe it as it was originally written because those original manuscripts do not exist today—sorry to say. Just a small technical issue with what you said.

      • I hope you don’t think you’re telling me something I don’t know! Of course the original manuscripts no longer exist. But scripture DOES still exist in the original languages. We can be pretty sure the Hebrew text in use today is accurate because of the great care the Jewish people have taken in preserving it. It is still copied over, page by page, by hand. Even the slightest error, whether a misshapen letter, a misspelled word, or even a stray dot of ink, invalidates the entire page. No corrections are allowed. So even the original errors in spelling and grammar, made by the original writers, are carefully preserved.
        Although Christian scribes never took that great care of the Greek New Testament, we do still have a good situation. There are only a few small differences between the various ancient Greek manuscripts we have. (A word here or there, or alternate endings to Gospels… added paragraphs.) We can get a very good picture of what it is supposed to say.
        But the point I was making was that NONE of our English translations are faithful to the Hebrew and Greek texts. All take liberties designed to bring the Bible into agreement with the beliefs and prejudices of the church world.

        • Also, there is the witness of the Dead Sea Scrolls… texts over two thousand years old and the ones we are able to read conform to the comparable modern texts in the original language.

          I don’t think we modern folk can ever really appreciate the ancient folk, or the medieval folk and their commitment to faithful transmission of holy texts.

          Once Guttenberg invented the printing press and the texts were presented in printed form, I think we began to lose the idea of the spiritual nature of craft, of work.

  9. My broken record. Thank you, John. You just described the journey that my husband and I have been on for over 50 years. When I read this to my husband, his first comment was, “The man is a genius”. The second was, “He needs to continue, because the world needs to hear this and be encouraged”. We have had all of those questions and given all that advice plus we could probably add a few. Please continue because this is important work and perhaps there will be ears to hear. Peace and Love,

  10. Love this piece. Just love it.

    I guess I too am a Progressive Christian but if so, I have been one all my life, if being motivated to social justice is what defines me as a Progressive Christian.

    I’ll be honest, I don’t understand exactly what is “progressive” about a passion for social justice. As I have mentioned before my degrees are in Biblical and Theological Studies and Church History. I especially love the history in the centuries before the East/West split. All the writers blended social justice into everything they wrote because they saw a passion for social justice in Jesus and in the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures.

    One example is St. John Chrysostom, Chrysostom means golden-tongued because his homilies were so beautiful. Here is one and please tell me where there is any difference between this Early Church Father and John P.

    “John Chrysostom on The Rich and The Poor”

    From Homily XXXIV on I Corinthians 13: 8

    http://www.earlychurchtexts.com/public/john_chrysostom_on_rich_and_poor.htm

    • More from St. John Chrysostom:

      Why sow where the ground makes it its care to destroy the fruit? where there are many efforts at abortion? where there is murder before the birth? for even the harlot thou dost not let continue a mere harlot, but makest her a murderer also. You see how drunkenness leads to whoredom, whoredom to adultery, adultery to murder; or rather something even worse than murder. For I have no name to give it, since it does not take off the thing born, but prevents its being born. Why then dost thou abuse the gift of God, and fight with His laws, and follow after what is a curse as if a blessing, and make the chamber of procreation a chamber for murder, and arm the woman that was given for childbearing unto slaughter? For with a view to drawing more money by being agreeable and an object of longing to her lovers, even this she is not backward to do, so heaping upon thy head a great pile of fire. For even if the daring deed be hers, yet the causing of it is thine. Hence too come idolatries, since many, with a view to become acceptable, devise incantations, and libations, and love potions, and countless other plans. Yet still after such great unseemliness, after slaughters, after idolatries, the thing [fornication] seems to belong to things indifferent, aye, and to many that have wives, too.

      http://www.priestsforlife.org/magisterium/earlychurchfathers/chrysostom.html

      • Yes, well, while remarkably eloquent, St. John Chrysostom was also if I can be forgiven the anachronism, a rabid gynophobe and a flaming misogynist. He saw no good in women and felt they all needed to be subjected to the domination of men, no matter how abusive, because Eve gave that fruit to Adam.

        Even though there never was an actual Eve and Adam because that story is part of the Wisdom literature of the Hebrew Scriptures and must never be read literalistically.

      • Dear A Catholic Perspective:

        Do the priests for life support live birth for anything more than producing canon fodder for imperial wars to enrich the petty bourgeoisie? Can you provide citations to prove this?

        Blessings!

  11. Thanks JP, this mirrors my own journey. The more I read the Bible and sat in a chair at a fundamentalist church service the more I was jarred by the contradictions between their rigid doctrines and the Gospel of Peace as explained by Jesus. It forced me to face the inadequacies of religion and the limits of the bible– and either run from Jesus or seek a deeper relationship with God as my faith was challenged.

    • Yes, Kathy A, that was my experience but not in the fundamentalist church but the Roman Catholic where I’d ask a question and the priest would pat me on the top of my head saying. “There, there, my child. You don’t need answers to such questions. Let me give you my blessing.” I felt quite insulted because I did indeed need answers to my questions but as I got older and had those same questions and got the same answers, albeit, without the pat on the head, I left the RCC. Fell in with some evangelicals who did encourage questions, scholarship, and academics. But then I discovered Church History and what the early church taught.

      • Gloriamarie, thanks you for sharing your experience. I think you are a strong person and I appreciate that about you. You said the priest said to you “There, there, my child. You don’t need answers to such questions. Let me give you my blessing.”

        Yes, that was patronizing. In my experience my questions and doubts about church teachings was met with ” Doubt means your are double minded and it is the sin of Satan and if you make the mistake of looking back at your old life you will turn in to a pillar of salt like Lot’s wife!!” It was always a treat that I was standing on the end of falling off a cliff into hell.

        Fear never helped me keep in line. Fear only made me feel helpless, powerless and unable to make a decision which ramped up my anxiety. This is why I tread gently with fundamentalists because of how damaged I was psychologically.

        John Piper tells a story of when he was at seminary and he was being taught the doctrine of election and how he struggled with the idea of a righteous God who sends good people to hell. He said it traumatized him and broke him and he almost quit. After his experience he embrace ideas such as the doctrines of depravity and predestination.

        I took this to mean he doesn’t mind if people are traumatized by an angry God– just listen to Paul Washer talk about how he doesn’t care if young people have self esteem. But, these religious leaders admit they don’t care about people’s feeling or psyches. Fundamentalism is essential about beating a person down and breaking their spirit. From my experience they think that as the only way one can come to Jesus.

        • I apologize for all the spelling errors as I typed quickly and did not proof read. I hope it doesn’t detract from what I wrote.

          • Kathy A, to tell you the truth, I was so enthralled by what you wrote that I did not notice any errors.

            Thank you for the compliments.

            Fear does not make for a lasting faith that will grow over time. It is a very serious error and I said as much back in the day when people were passing around those hateful little Chick comic books which were written to terrorize people into becoming Christians.

            Reformed Theology is something I despise. It teaches us that “God’s first intention is last in execution,” said William Perkins in A Golden Chain. By this, he meant that God’s first intention is that some people are born to be damned and some people are born to be saved.

            I rebelled against that the first time anyone ever said it to me because I find it repugnant. God is a god of love. Also, God gave us free will. I am convinced, based on my reading of Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin, that Calvin lifted one verse out fo context.

            This verse “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Something I was taught was that there is this writing tool called Hebraic Hyperbole in which an author repeats the same word over and over in order to emphasize the point. The point is that we are called to be conformed to the image of the Son.

            Calvin interpreted this as a linear thing. Human beings live in a linear fashion. Human beings invented the construct we call time. Human beings have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

            God is outside of time. Time has no meaning to God. God is omni-temporal from a human POV. All of God inhabits all of time simultaneously. God knows the choices we will make but God doesn’t control them.

            Something I’ve said a lot in my life is that Jesus didn’t come to start a church, Jesus didn’t come to make us Christians, Jesus came to make us better people by following Him, His example.

            With all my heart, I believe Reformed Theology is abusive in the way it is practiced today. When I was in seminary I was privileged to take some classes with J I Packard. Jim was an extremely loving man. The way he understood Reformed Theology was that we were all servants to each other and we were to meet people’s needs. Yes, Jim Packard believed social justice was part of Reformed Theology.

            However, we have seen a dramatic shift in the way Reformed Theology is being practiced. More and more the emphasis is on proving one is of the elect and how does one prove that? By being blessed by God with abundance and wealth.

            Yes, Reformed Theology paved the way for that repulsive heresy, the Prosperity Gospel.

  12. John just gets better and better! Such eloquence and graciousness here. As for all the trolls, just bear in mind that there were people present for the Gettysburg Address who thought Lincoln gave a poor speech! ☺

  13. One can read the Bible, and conduct Bible Studies a Trillion times, but if one doesn’t believe what he is or she is reading, and is simply not willing to obey, then they will not profit.

    “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”
    Luke 6:46 NKJV

    Many so called ” Pastors” and “believers” refuse to make Jesus their Lord, but chose instead to be their own Lord.

    When one has decided to be their own Lord, they are reduced to trying to understand God’s Word with their natural mind, and consequently cannot know what His Words truly mean.

    If a person is not born again, then the Bible’s Words just seem like ordinary human words, written by imperfect human beings.

    However, being born again causes you to know this truth:

    “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
    II Timothy 3:16‭-‬17 NKJV

    Once a person’s spirit has been born anew, into the family God (which only happens when we truly make Jesus our Lord, and not ourselves), then our spirit is in a position to discern and perceive what God’s Words mean).

    “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
    I Corinthians 2:14 NKJV

    Reading the Bible without a born again spirit (ie, without having dethroned yourself, and making Jesus your real Lord) causes people to masquerade as “interpretation,” issues that really speak to their unbelief, and unwillingness to obey the Lord.

    It is impossible for a person to be born again, and love sin, and teach others to love sin.

    “Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God.”
    1 John 3:7‭-‬9 NLT

    By the grace of God, I pray that the deceptions spoken here are destroyed, and the light of God’s truth flood the hearts of every reader here, setting all free from the grips of sin, including the author…in the name of Jesus.

    • Who are you, to judge your fellow humans? Who are you, to say what God has told them/should tell them?

      “2For with the same judgment you pronounce, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to notice the beam in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while there is still a beam in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:2-4)

      Let me stress the 2nd verse: “For with the same judgment you pronounce, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Be very careful how you pronounce judgment on others and whether they are “born again” or not–in your opinion. How you judge them will be the same standard God shall use to judge you, as Jesus said.

      Jesus gave his followers 2 commandments–clue: neither of them is about judgment–Love God and Love your neighbor. Jesus IS Love and Christians are called to live that Love in the world. Nothing more, and nothing less.

      You prove John P’s point about ” “read the Bible,” or “take it to prayer,” or to “ask God to reveal the truth to you,” ” simply meaning “Do all of these things until you get it right—until you agree with me.”

    • Dear LP:

      Isn’t that what John Pavlovitz said — folk cite a text or two, and moralize from a position of pretended spiritual superiority?

      Where’s the difference?

      Blessings!

    • WQell, LP, I was wondering if you ever going to make an actual point. “By the grace of God, I pray that the deceptions spoken here are destroyed, and the light of God’s truth flood the hearts of every reader here, setting all free from the grips of sin, including the author…in the name of Jesus.”

      Dear LP, I am sorry to tell you something. You have not understood what John wrote. It is also possible that you are exactly one of the people he wrote about. I don’t know you, so I can’t say.

      But I am very sorry that you think John’s words are deceptive. I strongly disagree with you. I hear the Holy Spirit speaking in every single word.

      TWELVE SIGNS OF A SPIRITUAL AWAKENING

      An increased tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.
      Frequent attacks of smiling.
      Feelings of being connected with others and nature.
      Frequent overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
      A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fears based on past experience.
      An unmistakeable ability to enjoy each moment.
      A loss of ability to worry.
      A loss of interest in conflict.
      A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
      A loss of interest in judging others.
      A loss of interest in judging self.
      Gaining the ability to love without expecting anything in return.

  14. Thank you so much, my brother. All my life I struggled with the ideas of Jesus and Love framed against the Old Testament God–a God of anger, jealousy, murder and retribution. I wrestled with “God so loves the world that He sent His only begotten Son” and “(He) will send the unbelievers to eternal damnation, to suffer in the fires of Hell”. I had a terrible, terrible time with the Genesis story because to me, it boils down to this: God decided to create the world. He decided to create man and woman–KNOWING that they would taste of the fruit–and He STILL put the Tree in the Garden. (This is like a parent, placing their beloved child/ren in a playpen and then throwing in a poisonous fruit, telling them not to eat it. In the vernacular, WTF??) He KNEW they would, but he set them up to fail anyway. So He CURSED them and threw them out of the Garden–thus setting the stage for painful childbirth and hard labor just to exist. And of course, THEN He had to send His Son, part of Himself, to die a horrible death.
    I think Christians have focused on the wrong parts of that story as well–Jesus spent 3 years, traveling and teaching; we have the records. But everyone focuses on his death as if that was the only reason he came to Earth. His death means NOTHING. His resurrection, if such a thing took place, is so much more meaningful, is so much more about redemption than his dying. BUT his teaching is so much more than either of them. His message was Love, his life was Love, his name to me means Love. Jesus = Love. So to be a Jesus follower, all that’s needed is LOVE. And to have love, offer love, and live love, just like the Carpenter from Nazareth did.

    (And the part about a man who had been good and godly all of his life, only to once speak against God being sent to Hell, and a man who had been evil, who on his deathbed recanted and asked for forgiveness going to Heaven? What was that about? If one single act can save or condemn, what is the point of life at all?)

    I walked away from the Christian churches more than 10 years ago and I am on a different path now–one that feels more like the words of Jesus than any of them. I feel sorry for the Christian church in the US–they are losing members by the score and feel threatened by “others” who are “persecuting” them. Sorry, Christians haven’t been persecuted in this country, ever. Christianity has been the de facto religion of the nation since 1776. Instead of moaning and crying about persecution, perhaps the churches would do better to take a long, hard look at themselves and see where they have left the path Jesus laid out–and try to understand if that is why they are decreasing in number.

    • Kate GC, I so agree with you, I have always been bothered with this single minded worship that leaves out the ministry of Jesus. I would also add what about once saved always saved, Doesn’t matter what you do. I don’t think so. Thank you for putting into words some of my journey. Peace and Love to you,

  15. You avoided a more difficult discussion by not addressing why this happens in the first place. Why do some people insist that the bible is the literal “download” as you described it while others like you have a much more fluid interpretation? Is this method the creator of all reality would use to inform his creation of his presence? Does this even make sense? Perhaps the reason lies in the initial assumption that it must be true. If you remove the presupposition that the Christian god doesn’t exist, a much more logical and rational conclusion is possible. This conclusion is that the Christian god probably doesn’t exist and the Christianity, like all other religions before and since, have simply been created by humans.

    Isn’t it fairly clear that the reason some probably cling to the literal interpretation of the Bible is because once you start deciding for yourself which parts are literal, the discussion becomes wide open and there could be as many beliefs as there are people? Many find this dangerous and, in my experience, is one of the things led me to the eventual abandonment of the religion completely. I care about what is true. I don’t care about what some other person interprets as true from an old book and tries to convince me of. You need to be able to demonstrate that something is true. Insisting that “you just know” or that “god revealed himself to me” doesn’t really work to advance the conversation. Honestly, I find discussing this with people with fundamentalist beliefs a less frustrating process because at least you know where they stand. The “progressive” belief system is one that tends to vary by individual and those that hold it really can’t (or don’t want) to discuss the basics of their belief and what convinces them that Christianity represents a system founded upon empirical truths. They mostly just tell you that they believe it, well, just because they think it’s true.

  16. It is amazing to me that so many come unglued in l-o-ng notes to John, but they really seldom get into his essay. I am 66 and got preached like they are attempting to do for 40 years. I found my way to the real LOVING Jesus afterward through the words of the love in the Bible.

  17. I wish I knew how to embed a picture into this comment section because I just saw a cartoon that is so perfect for today’s conversation but since I don’t know how to do that.

    The Naked Pastor signed it. In very deep water a man is floating on a question mark, his arms outstretched, saying “Let me help you” to a man tied to an exclamation point which is sinking. “Neverrrr,” is the response.

  18. Then there’s this….

    Saturday 20 May 2017 by Davywavy
    God urged to spend less time helping people win sports events

    God has been asked if he could spend less time helping people score winning touchdowns and concentrate on the important stuff.

    Jehovah, who is widely credited with successful performances at major sporting events, has been told that whilst that’s great and everyone is grateful, it’d be better if He could focus a little more on natural disasters and outbreaks of major diseases.

    Call for his His divine intervention are usually answered when there’s a three-point lead and only two minutes on the clock with everything to play for, but slightly less so when there’s a nuclear meltdown or a burning tower block.

    “I’m an Aston Villa fan so I appreciate the need for divine intervention as much as anyone, but I’ve got say there’s probably better things God could be doing with his time than watching over us when we’re a goal down in extra time,” said concerned citizen Simon Williams.

    “I wouldn’t want him to think we’re ungrateful for any miraculous long shots He wants to send our way, but only if he’s dispatched His legion of Angels to stop any massacres which might be occurring in Syria at the same time.

    “Don’t stop with the granting of your Divine grace to sportsmen, but paying a bit more attention to places where there isn’t a major sporting event would be great too, that’s all I’m saying.”

    When asked, God said He was too busy to answer any questions as he was deciding whether to help a sprinter run a bit faster than the guy next to him.

    http://newsthump.com/2017/05/20/god-urged-to-spend-less-time-helping-people-win-sports-events/

  19. Thanks John! Wish conservatives could just arrive at the conclusion that there are no two things alike in the entire universe then realize there are currently 7 billion different beliefs – or however many people there are. Once that is understood it is simple to know this universe was never designed for perfect sameness but diversity. Isn’t that the issue? Those who believe ‘if its not like them’ then is is somehow wrong!

  20. Thank you John and to so many of you here. Because of you I have not walked away from church and I feel now more than ever that I need to stay in order to be a witness and to proclaim the true, progressive life and ministry of Jesus. I cannot continue to allow these cultists to erase Jesus’ message of love and inclusivity which has endured for 2,000 years.

  21. In a earlier post I accused the “pastor” of being a fundamentalist. I said that because he had said basically who was going to hell in a earlier post. Then, he talks about punishment of Trump voters and how stupid they are, etc. etc. I am a registered Democrat and not a Trump supporter. But, I grew up in a Fundamentalist church where we based Catholics and anyone else who didn’t believe like we did. When we got called out members would use Jesus as a shield and run into the little Church and call names and use the hate to make their belief stronger. That is why I can’t accept Christianity. Because it is a system of people who believe stuff (sometimes crazy stuff) and then, tell people who don’t think like they do that they are going to hell. Your pastor even picks on the daughter of the President. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care about Trump or his family, I am just explaining why your pastor is a fundamentalist like the old hell fire and brimstone preachers. Dont’ agree throw them into hell

    • Tom, I am truly sorry you had such a miserable experience. People do believe a lot of garbage, teach a lot of garbage and subject their kids to a lot of garbage,

      I have to disagree with you if you are calling John P a fundamentalist. I confess I am really not sure who you mean by “pastor” as John P has been a pastor for 20 years or so.

      You wrote “That is why I can’t accept Christianity. Because it is a system of people who believe stuff (sometimes crazy stuff) and then, tell people who don’t think like they do that they are going to hell. ”

      I realize you have suffered. I don’t want to minimize your suffering. I would say, though, that your experience might be limited to this one group and if so, not all of us who follow Jesus do this kind of thing.

      The Episcopal Church, for instance, has fairly high standards for who they will ordain and they have to pass some rigorous tests before they ever are. We are not a judgmental bunch. In fact, we are a litte too polite sometimes. I’ve never heard an Episcopal priest preach about hell fire and brimstone.

      Now I always have to say that, yeah, people still do hurt each other in the Episcopal Church. I’ve been very badly hurt. However, my faith rests upon Jesus and not on other people. Jesus is very real to me and I am thankful for that every day.

  22. Thank you. By pastor i mean the guy who writes this blog seems like a fundamentalist with all the anger and cutting down.

    • Thank you, Tom, for the clarification. I was confused.

      I can assure you, though, John P, the author of this blog, is not a fundamentalist at all. He self-identifies as a Progressive Christian and while I am not entirely sure what that means, I do now that the idea of Progressive Christianity causes exploding heads among the evangelicals and fundamentalists. In fact, the ones who hang out here use “he’s a progressive Christian” as if it is an insult.

      Hope this helps.

  23. Thank you John for again broadening what God may has in store for us and our lives. Spiritual growth can occur when we stop trying to control the lives of others and let God exert his influence into our lives. I am still a church refugee enjoying progressive Christianity. I’ve been a progressive since my teen years and feel as strongly about social justice issues and their importance in my faith and beliefs now more than ever. I love the Lord and strongly believe that we shall overcome as long as we hold true to our beliefs.
    Giving thanks! I appreciate JP’s blogs. It keeps me growing in the faith!

    • AH! Thank you, Jules. I don’t understand why anyone would have a problem with any of those eight points.

    • I would add one caution here—one we all tend to forget. Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals have a tendency to LABEL any sort of Christian belief system that is even slightly different from theirs into one massive lump thy call “Progressive Christianity.” For example, they tend to believe that the people they label as “Progressive Christians” do not believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ. For example, they would say that my church, The United Methodist Church, is Progressive Christianity and say that we do not believe in the divinity of Jesus. One fundie visitor to the John P. blog did that to me a while back right here on the blog. Here is what The United Methodist Church OFFICIALLY believes with regard to God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit:

      ” Triune God – There is but one living and true God, everlasting, without body or parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness; the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible. And in unity of this Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

      God the Father – We believe in the one true, holy and living God, Eternal Spirit, who is Creator, Sovereign and Preserver of all things visible and invisible. He is infinite in power, wisdom, justice, goodness and love, and rules with gracious regard for the well-being and salvation of men, to the glory of his name. We believe the one God reveals himself as the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, distinct but inseparable, eternally one in essence and power.

      God the Son – We believe in Jesus Christ, truly God and truly man, in whom the divine and human natures are perfectly and inseparably united. He is the eternal Word made flesh, the only begotten Son of the Father, born of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. As ministering Servant he lived, suffered and died on the cross. He was buried, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven to be with the Father, from whence he shall return. He is eternal Savior and Mediator, who intercedes for us, and by him all men will be judged.

      God the Holy Spirit – We believe in the Holy Spirit who proceeds from and is one in being with the Father and the Son. He convinces the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. He leads men through faithful response to the gospel into the fellowship of the Church. He comforts, sustains and empowers the faithful and guides them into all truth. ”

      The point I want to make here is that Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism brainwash their people from birth into uncritically believing in massive falsehoods. Their shotgun understanding and use use of the term “Progressive Christianity” is but one of many ways that they do this.

      • Thank you, Charles, for explaining very well one of my beefs with the fundamentalists. Brainwashing is exactly what they do. They discourage critical thinking of any kind. I would like to say to them, “Use your own brain, folks, that was why you got one”. Peace and Love,

      • Thank you, Charles, because honestly, I can’t see anything wrong with any of those 8 points and as I have said, the people I know who label themselves as Progressives are very faithful to the teachings of the early church.

        So I guess my confusion stems from this “Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals have a tendency to LABEL any sort of Christian belief system that is even slightly different from theirs into one massive lump thy call “Progressive Christianity.” They are failing to differentiate what it is the Progressives actually say about themselves and only see a lack of uniformity with evangelical/fundamentalist belief system.

        It breaks my heart that Christians have to argue with each other over petty nuances instead of celebrating that we have much more in common than not because we all share Jesus.

        One can’t help but notice the many voices of those who are disillusioned by their experiences in various churches in the USA. Hard not to be, really, if one is a critical thinker. Herd not to be when one is a caring, compassionate, tender person.

Refuge is offered in the Facebook group ”Celebrate What Christians Have in Common” where a daily buffet is spread of Asceticism and art, cartoons and quotes, comics and contemplation, memes and meditations, music and musings, photographs and prayers, just about anything that is one of the many voices from the many flavors of Christianity.

        There is one discipline required of all who join: one must not utter a negative word because this space is a refuge, a respite, a place of peace and quiet. If one chooses to engage in discussion one may only write about one can affirm in the selection. No arguments, no vitriolic words, no spammers and trolls will be tolerated,

Please come and celebrate what Christians have in common and let us together remember our faith is based upon God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and not the actions and choices of frail, sinful human beings.

        https://www.facebook.com/groups/1409874399270377/



  24. Ever since I dropped out of religion and politics and burned my bible, no offense to Mr. Pavlovitz, my learned that all political and religious beliefs are inherently cancerous. I learned that anybody who threatens my well-being for who I was born as must imperatively be shut down.

    “Free speech” and tolerance be damned.

  25. John, thank you for once again speaking what is in my heart. I look forward to reading your wise words every day. God bless you!

  26. Thank you, we are right there with you. As Christian being attacked by other Christians for our beliefs, we are being attacked by their trust in a very evil man. We find this very odd and hurtful. We will hold fast, stand strong and keep loving.
    Followers in Christ, Mary

  27. Thank you Gloriamarie. I’m definitely not the scholar most are on this site and have hesitated to join in. One thing I’ve noticed is how judgemental and punishment oriented some can be, and they don’t even see it. That’s the main reason I never was able to join a formalized religion as I couldn’t understand a God who was so full of wrath and religious people who perpetuated that wrath. I figured I would always try to do the best I could do and not be a hypocrite. God will judge me at the end of my life, not anyone else. At least when they do, it doesn’t much matter.

    • Jeanie, I agree with you. I am not any biblical scholar either but I know that God is much bigger than a lot of people try to make Him/Her and not petty as so many want to make Him/Her. We get lost in the forest and don’t see the trees. That is my take. I feel that as long as I do the best I can, for all I can , with as open a heart as I can, God will say, You done good and in the end that is all that counts. Peace and Love,

    • Dear Jeanie, I am uncertain what you are responding to as I have made several comments here. You wrote “I couldn’t understand a God who was so full of wrath and religious people who perpetuated that wrath.” Fortunately for me, I grew up raised as a Roman Catholic and not as a Reformed Protestant, evangelical or fundamentalist. I may have issues with the RCC, but i was never taught anything but that God is a God of love, maybe too busy to deal with my petty concerns but Mary was always there for me.

      Things happened that drove me from the RCC and those reasons remain valid today, and no, Joe Catholic or A Catholic Perspective or whatever you are calling yourself today, I will not discuss it with you.

      Out there in the non-RCC world, I discovered there are forms of Christianity which are as every bit as doctrinaire as the RCC they criticize for being doctrinaire. And just like the RCC, they have an “us vs them” mentality. Either one is a member of their tribe or one is the enemy. We see this very dynamic played out here in many of the comments.

      As an intellectually inclined person, in college, I earned a BA in Biblical and Theological Studies, which included the study of koiné Greek. Later I went to seminary and pursued a Master’s in Theological Studies, concentrating on the history of the early church where I learned just how far Christians in the USA had drifted from those early roots. This is not the place to write the treatise that would require, but I’ll end this comment by saying that as a result of many factors, including my studies, I ended up in The Episcopal Church which I consider to be the best possible combination of Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and select portions of the Protestant Reformation.

      The Anglican Communion, of which TEC is a part, unites around a way to pray, a way to worship and not around doctrine and dogma. Every day I post many of our prayers to my FB group, Celebrate What Christians Have in Common.

      • It is very interesting to learn the paths of others, thank you Gloriamarie for sharing some of your life experience. 🙂

    • Jeanie. I find you very refreshing, please continue here, with your voice.

      This- “I figured I would always try to do the best I could do and not be a hypocrite.” There’s utter truth in that simple statement.

      Christ met me in the midst of a big mess, knowing I’d likely continue being (but hopefully less of) a mess… And instructing me to risk true, loving relationships with messy others; doing “the best I could”.
      I can do that, with His help.

      You have given me lots to reflect on. Please don’t hesitate to join in. I appreciate your voice.

  28. I feel the same way, John. Every reading on the sermon on the mount cuts to the quick every theological gymnastics I have heard from other Christians to justify not doing what Jesus wants them to do because they take exception to “how liberals want it done” and yet their way is too little, too late. Why would Jesus care that certain people want to increase the number of Ceasar’s coins we must pay to make this happen? The objections I have heard to this are not Christian objections, they are Capitalist and radical Individualist objections, American objections.

    If we want to call ourselves a Christian nation and don’t want to effectively help the poor then what kind of Christian nation are we? I say effective because charity is not enough.

    • It never has been enough. And if we leave it up to these groups that pick and choose who is worthy there will be a lot of people hurting because unless you pray a certain way or look a certain way etc you won’t be helped. I know because my husband fought this for over 40 yrs. The local congregation wanted stipulations on who could be helped and who couldn’t, he never accepted that and so there was constant friction. Or they wanted a list of who in the community he helped, so they can look down on them. He wouldn’t do that either and so there was constant friction. He stuck to his principals but would have made life easier if he had caved. Glad he didn’t but that is not the way we take care of the least. We should be about making sure that we help them and keep their dignity intact. Peace and Love,

      • Kathleen, you and your husband are examples of what it really is to follow Jesus. I feel it is a privilege to be getting to know you.

        • Thank you, we tried, we stumbled but when you know better you should do better, so we continue the fight for the least. Peace and Love,

    • Robin, I wholeheartedly agree. In fact, so much so that this is the sig I use in every single email I send.

      “If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.” Stephen Colbert

  29. The lesson that christians need to learn is the one that few manage to grasp: KEEP IT TO YOURSELF. Religion has no public place in a civilized society, only private individual belief.

    * Don’t talk about it to those who don’t want to hear it.

    * Don’t expect or demand others obey your religion.

    * Don’t try to create a theocracy (i.e. laws, rules or policies based on your religion); theocrats are the enemy of democracy.

    The only ethical, moral and kind christians I have ever met were the ones who NEVER talked about it. I learnt their beliefs by accident.

    • I second that, we learn far more by someone’s behavior than their words. That can make people far more curious and interested in how you arrived at your behavior than all the words in the world. Peace,

    • P Smith, I agree with you. In my opinion, people learn far more about Jesus from the way His followers act, behave, live and treat others. Something is mistakenly, albeit popularly, attributed to St. Francis is “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.”

      Sums it up it seems to me.

  30. I’ve heard arguments like what John has posted here many, many times, and I still think it is completely foolish.

    God is an all wise, all knowing​, all powerful, and infinite, and He would never leave the judgment of His Word to poor sinners like all of us.

    The author of the Holy Scripture is not human beings, but the Holy Spirit, who Himself is Good and a third member of the Holy Trinity.

    Therefore, when we speak of the “inerrancy” and the “infallibility” of the Word of God, we are not talking about translations, but the original manuscript, though the accuracy of certain translations are reliable and trustworthy.

    Now, if we doubt the Scripture’s authority and trustworthiness, then how do we make authoritative claims about our relationship with God and His Son, Jesus Christ??

    How can I know that I am saved and headed for heaven if the Bible is suspect? If the Scripture says that the Church is the “Pillar and Foundation” of “the truth”, what other entity has been commissioned by God to represent Him on Earth?

    If you reject the Scripture, then you have no objective source of Truth, and it is for that reason why I totally reject what John has written here.

    • John has not rejected Scripture, only misinterpretations of Scripture. gdd or William Carey can do a much better job than I because they can read the original languages. I can only read koine and I can tell you the Bible has been translated with an agenda. There are nuances in the English translations which do not exist in the Greek.

      I refer you to these books:

      Gay Books

Reasonable and Holy: Engaging Same-Sexuality
      by Tobias Stanislas Haller
      Reasonable and Holy addresses the conflict over homosexuality within the Anglican tradition, demonstrating that the church is able to provide for and support faithful and loving relationships between persons of the same sex, not as a departure from that tradition, but as a reasonable extension of it. It offers a carefully argued, but accessible means of engagement with Scripture, the Jewish and Christian traditions, and the use of reason in dealing with the experience and lives of fellow- Christians. Unlike most reflections on the topic of homosexuality, Reasonable and Holy examines same-sex relationships through the lens of the traditional teaching on the ends or goods of marriage: procreation, union, the upbuilding of society, the symbolic representation of Christ and the Church, and the now often unmentioned remedy for fornication. Throughout, it responds to objections based on reason, tradition and Scripture. Based on a series of popular blog posts, it includes a number of independent, but related resources in the form of side-bars and single-page expansions of particular themes, suitable for reproduction as handouts.

      God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships
      by Matthew Vines
 As a young Christian man, Matthew Vines harbored the same basic hopes of most young people: to some-day share his life with someone, to build a family of his own, to give and receive love. But when he realized he was gay, those hopes were called into question. The Bible, he’d been taught, condemned gay relationships.

      Feeling the tension between his understanding of the Bible and the reality of his same-sex orientation, Vines devoted years of intensive research into what the Bible says about homosexuality. With care and precision, Vines asked questions such as:

      • Do biblical teachings on the marriage covenant preclude same-sex marriage or not?
      • How should we apply the teachings of Jesus to the gay debate?
      • Can celibacy be a calling when it is mandated, not chosen?
      • What did Paul have in mind when he warned against same-sex relations?

      Unique in its affirmation of both an orthodox faith and sexual diversity, God and the Gay Christian has sparked heated debate, sincere soul search­ing, and widespread cultural change on the issue of what it means to be a faithful gay Christian.

      Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe
      by John Boswell
      Both highly praised and intensely controversial, this brilliant book produces dramatic evidence that at one time the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches not only sanctioned unions between partners of the same sex, but sanctified them–in ceremonies strikingly similar to heterosexual marriage ceremonies.

      Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century
      by John Boswell
      John Boswell’s National Book Award–winning study of the history of attitudes toward homosexuality in the early Christian West was a groundbreaking work that challenged preconceptions about the Church’s past relationship to its gay members—among them priests, bishops, and even saints—when it was first published thirty-five years ago. The historical breadth of Boswell’s research (from the Greeks to Aquinas) and the variety of sources consulted make this one of the most extensive treatments of any single aspect of Western social history.

      Now in this thirty-fifth anniversary edition with a new foreword by leading queer and religious studies scholar Mark D. Jordan, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality is still fiercely relevant. This landmark book helped form the disciplines of gay and gender studies, and it continues to illuminate the origins and operations of intolerance as a social force.

      Gay Unions:In the light of Scripture, Tradition and Reason.
      Rev. Gray Temple (Jr.)
      Gray Temple presents the argument for the sacramental equality of gay and lesbian couples, which is to say they are entitled to full participation in the sacraments, including Marriage. Gray Temple bases his discussion on the Anglican concept of discerning the will of God through Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. In the argument from Scripture, Gray Temple’s basic premise is that we cannot presume to know what the Bible says to us if we do not understand what the biblical writers thought they were saying. He discusses the ways in which the concept of sexuality in the minds of biblical writers was very different than ours. He carefully analyzes the most often-cited biblical passages assumed to prohibit homosexual activity and shows why they are not saying what we think they are saying. In the argument from Tradition, Gray analyzes the roots of various traditions coming to the conclusion that traditions generally evolve to maintain privilege. Tradition has been used, for example to bar women from ordination. We are veering dangerously away from the Anglican tradition of the via media. In the argument from Reason, he presents answers to assumptions about homosexuality both from an impassioned liberal stance and from a stance designed to lead to a dialogue engaging the hopes and fears of the conservative and liberal sides.

      As a liberal charismatic who prayerfully came to the conclusion that his homophobia was not a stance favored by God, Temple is in a unique position to take on this topic. Gray Temple deeply understands the ethos of conservatism and his understanding of that ethos provokes him to engage conservative arguments with rigor and sympathy.

Gay and Christian? Yes!
      by Rev. William H. Carey
      Can a person be Gay and Christian? Many churches say no. Many quote Bible passages that make it appear that God condemns homosexuality. But if we take a closer look, reading the scripture in the original Hebrew and Greek, we discover that God never condemned homosexuality, and that same-sex marriage existed in Bible times.

      Hounded by God: A Gay Man’s Journey to Self-Acceptance, Love , and Relationship, by Joseph Gentilini
      is based on years of journals that this spiritual gay man kept.  It chronicles his coming out experiences, dealings with family and friends,  his commitment to his partner, Leo Radel, and, most importantly, his relationship with God.

      Confessions of a Gay Married Priest: A Spiritual Journey by Maurice Monette,
      who was a member of a religious order for 30 years, and has been married to his partner for 24 years.  The book is an autobiography which chronicles the high points and low points of the spiritual road that Monette trod.  The book has been praised by several high-profile Catholic leaders.

      Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships by James V. Brownson

      This thought-provoking book by James Brownson develops a broad, cross-cultural sexual ethic from Scripture, locates current debates over homosexuality in that wider context, and explores why the Bible speaks the way it does about same-sex relationships.

      Fairly presenting both sides in this polarized debate — “traditional” and “revisionist” — Brownson conscientiously analyzes all of the pertinent biblical texts and helpfully identifies “stuck points” in the ongoing debate. In the process, he explores key concepts that inform our understanding of the biblical texts, including patriarchy, complementarity, purity and impurity, honor and shame. Central to his argument is the need to uncover the moral logic behind the text.

      Written in order to serve and inform the ongoing debate in many denominations over the questions of homosexuality, Brownson’s in-depth study will prove a useful resource for Christians who want to form a considered opinion on this important issue.

      • John rejects the authority of the Scripture when he make claims that are not true!

        For the record, why did you give me a litany of homosexual literure the to read when that was not my argument?

        I don’t need to argue the issue of homosexuality because I’m very clear on the issue, and since I have been exposed to the Hebrew and Greek languages, I know what the Scripture says and don’t say about homosexuality.

        I support the Biblical norm for human sexuality, which is heterosexuality, and biology and science support’s the Biblical norm, although one does not need to quote the Bible to know that there is something terribly wrong with homosexual sex. Let me be clear, no one or no organization can change, alter, refute, or successfully argue against that from my perspective, so please save yourself some time.

        • Percy, I don’t have time to waste on people who refuse to be educated and informed by actual evidence, facts, and truth. If you want to turn your back on the truth, that is your choice to make and the consequences yours to bear.

          In the meantime, I have very important work to do and all are invited to join me to rid the world of the influence of people who think as does Percy>

          One way to persist in resistance is my FB group, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff, where I post actions, petitions, info, actual news, evidence, facts. There’s a pinned post that I highly recommend people read. I also ask a screening question so I can keep the spammers and the trolls out. All who read this are invited.

          https://www.facebook.com/groups/gloriamariesprogressivepetitions/

    • I believe the Bible, although inspired by the Holy Spirit, was indeed written by man with his limited understanding of the world.

      I refuse to believe that the Bible is the “end all, be all” of wisdom.

      I refuse to believe that the World is 6000 years old because it is written in the Bible.

      I refuse to believe that the story of the Sons of god and Daughters of Men and Giants upon the Earth is written by the Holy Spirit because it literally doesn’t make sense, in Hebrew or any other language. It is like splinters of past stories retold and retold generations before the writing of Genesis; and the Holy Spirit wrote that down that way?!?

      Sorry, I don’t buy that. That is still a form a belief of “inerrancy” and the “infallibility” of the Bible. I don’t worship scripture.

      To me it is a guide, not a god.

    • FYI There is no accurate translation of the Bible into English. Every commonly available translation was edited by the translators to bring it into harmony with common church teachings and beliefs. With almost 40 years experience researching scripture in the original languages, I can not only make that statement, but also state categorically that homosexuality was never called a sin in the original languages. In fact, it wasn’t even directly mentioned. The indirect mention is not negative in any way.

      • If you were to have a dispute or a question about a particular scripture passage, to whom would you go? Do you have any authority higher than yourself?

        The early Church fathers were very much opposed to homosexual practices, as is the Catholic Church which Christ started. Your opposition to the Church regarding “worshiping statues” or something to that effect is ridiculous and that has been laid to rest a million times. It is forbidden to worship a “graven image” but it’s not forbidden to make one. A letter of the alphabet is a “graven image.” So is a photograph of a loved one.

        ——————————————————————

        The famous Tertullian, sometime called “the Baptist,” wrote about A.D. 200, “The coupling of two males is a very shameful thing” Early Church Fathers, 3.509. Tertullian was not politically correct.

        John Chrysostom wrote, “[The pagans] were addicted to the love of boys . . . . As for their passion for boys, whom they called their paedica, it is not fit to be named” Homilies on Titus 5, A.D. 390. Later, he wrote, “All of these affections [in Rom. 1:26–27] . . . were vile, but chiefly the mad lust after males; for the soul is more the sufferer in sins, and more dishonored than the body in diseases” Homilies on Romans 4, A.D. 391. He added, “[The men] have done an insult to nature itself. And a yet more disgraceful thing than these is it, when even the women seek after these intercourses, who ought to have more shame than men” Homilies on Romans 4, A.D. 391.

        Chrysostom, who died in 407 and was known as “the golden mouth,” said that homosexual acts are worse than murder. That took courage but then he also criticized the Emperor’s wife (and other women) for dressing extravagantly! He was banished for his faithful preaching. I don’t think that has happened to any preacher recently.

        Augustine wrote, “[T]hose shameful acts against nature, such as were committed in Sodom, ought everywhere and always to be detested and punished” Confessions 3:8:15, A.D. 400.

        Jumping to the thirteenth century, Thomas Aquinas thought homosexuality second only to bestiality, and historian R. W. Southern opined that “the only relevant generalization which emerges from the penitential codes down to the eleventh century is that sodomy was treated on about the same level as copulation with animals.” Maybe modern preachers should be even tougher on perversion and only a loser would declare that such preaching or belief is hateful.

        So, dare I say that the modern Bible haters are wrong about condemnation of homosexuality being of recent origin! Of course, real scholars are aware of the above facts.

        http://donboys.cstnews.com/early-church-fathers-condemned-homosexuality

        • You evidently don’t read well, so let me try to spell out one of the ten commandments for you:
          “You shall not MAKE for yourself ANY carved image or ANY likeness of who/what is in heaven above…” That’s Ex. 20:4. The command not to bow down to them or burn incense to them only came AFTER the command not to make them in the first place.
          You asked about a dispute regarding a passage, to whom would I go? Dispute with whom? I read scripture in the original languages. I don’t have to rely on the flawed translations, nor on any confused theologians’ understanding of those translations. Now, in disputing with such individuals, the authority to which I go is the Hebrew and Greek texts themselves. And that’s where your argument against homosexuality falls flat on its face.
          You see, it doesn’t matter what any of the so-called Church Fathers thought or wrote. Their words are not forever settled in heaven. They carry no more weight than the Talmud, because like Talmud, they are only commentary on scripture, not scripture itself. And because they are commentary, they are opinions, not the word of God. They are prone to error, and sometimes contradict each other. (And from what I’ve read of the Church Fathers, they often contradict scripture, not understanding it, or believing that church doctrine overruled scripture.) What matters in the face of eternity is the only thing that is forever settled, and that is what God Himself dictated as scripture to the prophets and apostles. That is eternal and unchanging… not in the flawed translations, but as originally delivered.
          It is only there that we may determine what is sin and what is not, because it is there that God gave His laws for mankind. If He said it’s a sin, it’s a sin. (You know, like making statues of people in heaven, bowing before them, burning incense before them.) And no church in the world can alter that command. (Gal. 1:8-9 – not even an angel or an apostle can alter the original) If God, on the other hand, did NOT call something a sin, it doesn’t matter who else claims it is, because they don’t have the authority to overrule God in what He accepts and doesn’t accept. And God did NOT say homosexuality is a sin… EVER. It’s not even directly mentioned in the Hebrew and Greek. Indirect mention? How about two same-sex marriages in the Hebrew text? Neither was condemned by God or any extant prophet. And in the case of one of those, it specifies that GOD put the two into their relationship.
          Your Church Fathers wrote a lot against pederasty. That writing is often mistranslated and misinterpreted these days to make it sound like they were writing against homosexuality. When it comes to homosexuality, ignorance abounds in your church. For that matter, when it comes to what scripture teaches, the same could be said: ignorance abounds. Your church declared their sacred tradition to be equal to the word of God. But Jesus said such traditions made the word of God of no effect. He said people who substituted the commands of men for the commandments of God worshiped in vain.

          • Not only did God call homosexuality a sin in both the Old and New Testaments, but He called it an abomination.

            Something He particularly detests, and hates, because it is unnatural and goes so far away from His design (the union between a man and woman in marriage).

            The original hebrew or greek has and will never lead to any “interpretation” that does not clearly identify homosexuality as sin.

            It is your flesh and it’s love for sin that leads to such an “interpretation.”

            The Bible reveals that following the sinful nature of the flesh will lead to destruction.

            Jesus came to set us free from that sin nature, and those who humble themselves and go to Him for help and strength to find that freedom, will receive it.

            • It is fascinating how desperately people cling to their ignorance and hatred, and the lengths they will go to maintain their ignorance and hatred.

              Although there is truth in this paragraph, “The original hebrew or greek has and will never lead to any “interpretation” that does not clearly identify homosexuality as sin.” As long as one is interpreting with a mind to making the Bible support your hatred, absolutely this will happen. However, If you read the original Hebrew and Greek for what they clearly say, there is no interpretation necessary, the meaning is clear.

              This paragraph is also true: “It is your flesh and it’s love for sin that leads to such an “interpretation.”” But I think the shoe is on the other foot. It is your hatred and ignorance and lack of awareness of your own sin that forces you to your unfounded interpretation.

              And finally, homosexuality is natural. It is found in all kinds of life on this planet, not just in humans. It has a purpose in the survival of the tribe that is different from the procreation (although there is nothing stopping homosexual people from procreating if that is their desire).

              • Your love of sin, particularly the sin of homosexualility, has led to your hatred of God and His Ways.

                Loving and practicing the sin homosexuality is a rejection of the Lord.

                If there is anything I do hate, it is the destruction that will eventually come to the lives of those who call sin good, and continue to live in it, even as they teach others to.

                God hates sin for the very same reason,..the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23).

                • Are you saying I am a sin just for being bi? I’m a sin for existing? Are you for real? Do you actually believe your strict and dogmatic form of Christianity is greater than doing what Jesus said for us to do, to love your neighbors and your enemies as you love others?

                • I find your remarks to be bizarre. Nowhere have I expressed a love of sin. I am a good person who lives my life in a highly moral and ethical way that is grounded in Jesus’ commandments. I do not hate God and God’s ways, far from it. You must be talking about somebody else and confusing them with me.

                  You keep mentioning the “sin of homosexuality” as if that is a real thing. It certainly isn’t something that can be found in the Bible. Further, sinning requires action and homosexuality is not an action, it is a state of being, like being left handed. I specifically mention left handed because until fairly recently, people who were left handed were treated to the same vile remarks and oppression that fall upon the gay community. We realised that the prejudice against people who are left handed is unfounded and people corrected their beliefs and their behaviours. Since it has been amply proven that homosexuality is not spoken about negatively in the Bible, and science, through the field of epigenetics, has shown us that all sexual orientations are created in the womb, it is high time for a change of belief and behaviour.

                • The destruction then, by your own pronouncement, will come to you. Homosexuality exists throughout God’s creation, in well over 1000 species. He created it, and He called His creation “good.” His word in the original languages does not even remotely suggest it is sin. But you call it sin. That means you are calling what is good a sin. Ready for that destruction?

              • Patricia, when I see such an expression of homophobia as LP demonstrates, I wonder which of the following is the reason for the homophobia:

                1) Is he terrified he will be raped by a gay man despite zero evidence that gay men rape straight men.

                If so, I find I have little sympathy with a straight man’s fear of rape because straight men have been raping women for millennia and too few of them are doing anything to prevent it.

                2) Is he terrified that he himself is gay and is deep, deep, deep in the closet hiding from himself and all who would treat him as mercilessly as he treats homosexuals?

                If so, all I can say is come out of the closet. Be the person it delighted God to create. Embrace the truth of who you are and allow the light to pierce the darkness so the truth can set you free.

              • Throughout history, Jewish and Christian scholars have recognized that one of the chief sins involved in God’s destruction of Sodom was its people’s homosexual behavior. But today, certain homosexual activists promote the idea that the sin of Sodom was merely a lack of hospitality. Although inhospitality is a sin, it is clearly the homosexual behavior of the Sodomites that is singled out for special criticism in the account of their city’s destruction. We must look to Scripture’s own interpretation of the sin of Sodom.

                Jude 7 records that Sodom and Gomorrah “acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust.” Ezekiel says that Sodom committed “abominable things” (Ezek. 16:50), which could refer to homosexual and heterosexual acts of sin. Lot even offered his two virgin daughters in place of his guests, but the men of Sodom rejected the offer, preferring homosexual sex over heterosexual sex (Gen. 19:8–9). Ezekiel does allude to a lack of hospitality in saying that Sodom “did not aid the poor and needy” (Ezek. 16:49). So homosexual acts and a lack of hospitality both contributed to the destruction of Sodom, with the former being the far greater sin, the “abominable thing” that set off God’s wrath.

                But the Sodom incident is not the only time the Old Testament deals with homosexuality. An explicit condemnation is found in the book of Leviticus: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. . . . If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them” (Lev. 18:22, 20:13).

                Many homosexuals argue that they have not chosen their condition, but that they were born that way, making homosexual behavior natural for them.

                But because something was not chosen does not mean it was inborn. Some desires are acquired or strengthened by habituation and conditioning instead of by conscious choice. For example, no one chooses to be an alcoholic, but one can become habituated to alcohol. Just as one can acquire alcoholic desires (by repeatedly becoming intoxicated) without consciously choosing them, so one may acquire homosexual desires (by engaging in homosexual fantasies or behavior) without consciously choosing them.

                Since sexual desire is subject to a high degree of cognitive conditioning in humans (there is no biological reason why we find certain scents, forms of dress, or forms of underwear sexually stimulating), it would be most unusual if homosexual desires were not subject to a similar degree of cognitive conditioning.

                Those opposed to homosexual behavior are often charged with “homophobia”—that they hold the position they do because they are “afraid” of homosexuals. Sometimes the charge is even made that these same people are perhaps homosexuals themselves and are overcompensating to hide this fact, even from themselves, by condemning other homosexuals.

                Both of these arguments attempt to stop rational discussion of an issue by shifting the focus to one of the participants. In doing so, they dismiss another person’s arguments based on some real or supposed attribute of the person. In this case, the supposed attribute is a fear of homosexuals.

                Like similar attempts to avoid rational discussion of an issue, the homophobia argument completely misses the point. Even if a person were afraid of homosexuals, that would not diminish his arguments against their behavior. The fact that a person is afraid of handguns would not nullify arguments against handguns, nor would the fact that a person might be afraid of handgun control diminish arguments against handgun control.

                Furthermore, the homophobia charge rings false. The vast majority of those who oppose homosexual behavior are in no way “afraid” of homosexuals. A disagreement is not the same as a fear. One can disagree with something without fearing it, and the attempt to shut down rational discussion by crying “homophobe!” falls flat. It is an attempt to divert attention from the arguments against one’s position by focusing attention on the one who made the arguments, while trying to claim the moral high ground against him.

                “Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection” (CCC 2357– 2359).

                Paul comfortingly reminds us, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

                Homosexuals who want to live chastely can contact Courage, a national, Church-approved support group for help in deliverance from the homosexual lifestyle.

                https://www.catholic.com/tract/homosexuality

                • When I see such an expression of homophobia as Joe demonstrates, I wonder which of the following is the reason for the homophobia:

                  1) Is he terrified he will be raped by a gay man despite zero evidence that gay men rape straight men.

                  If so, I find I have little sympathy with a straight man’s fear of rape because straight men have been raping women for millennia and too few of them are doing anything to prevent it.

                  2) Is he terrified that he himself is gay and is deep, deep, deep in the closet hiding from himself and all who would treat him as mercilessly as he treats homosexuals?

                  If so, all I can say is come out of the closet. Be the person it delighted God to create. Embrace the truth of who you are and allow the light to pierce the darkness so the truth can set you free.

                • “But today, certain homosexual activists promote the idea that the sin of Sodom was merely a lack of hospitality.” Rather a lot of theologians do to, because that is what the Bible says in Ezekiel 16:49. “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom; pride, fulness of bread, and prosperous ease was in her and in her daughters; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” Hospitality is not “mere”. In that time and place, hospitality could be the difference between life and death.

                  Verse 50 speaks of haughty and detestable practices that you are imagining to refer to homosexuality. I find your behaviour here to be haughty and detestable. Does that make you gay?

                  As for comparing the potential rapes of the virgin daughters or the angels to homosexuality, that is vile beyond description. These are acts of sexual violence, not expressions of love and intimacy. The Bible says all the men of the town participated in this attempted violation. The vast majority would be straight men intent on sexual violence. How has this arrived in our time as a condemnation of gay men and not a condemnation of straight men and their societally-required propensity to violence?

                • You truly are ignorant. Here’s a newsflash for you: The Jews have NEVER believed Sodom was destroyed because of homosexuality. Why? Because both the book of Ezekiel and the Mishnah (pre-Christian Bible commentary) list the sins of Sodom, and homosexuality isn’t on the list anywhere. The Mishnah goes into great detail, and still never mentions homosexuality. So when the ignorant Catholics of medieval Europe believed the Muslim Moors, whose Quran taught that Sodom was destroyed because of homosexuality, the Jews knew better. There is nothing in the Hebrew and Greek texts that even remotely links Sodom to homosexuality, and there is no such word as sodomite found in those texts. But it’s in all your English Bibles. Care to explain that?
                  Lev. 18:22 and 20:13 are also not invoked by the Jews, because in Hebrew, both verses mention a place, a woman’s bed, and neither contains any kind of comparison phrase (“as with a woman,” etc.)
                  I will say it again, because I’ve already noted your poor comprehension of written material: The Hebrew and Greek texts never directly mention homosexuality, and never condemn it. Your church learned that from the Muslim Moors and taught it to the rest of Christianity over the centuries. But it was, and remains, a lie.

            • LP, please read the following

              Gay Books

Reasonable and Holy: Engaging Same-Sexuality
              by Tobias Stanislas Haller
              Reasonable and Holy addresses the conflict over homosexuality within the Anglican tradition, demonstrating that the church is able to provide for and support faithful and loving relationships between persons of the same sex, not as a departure from that tradition, but as a reasonable extension of it. It offers a carefully argued, but accessible means of engagement with Scripture, the Jewish and Christian traditions, and the use of reason in dealing with the experience and lives of fellow- Christians. Unlike most reflections on the topic of homosexuality, Reasonable and Holy examines same-sex relationships through the lens of the traditional teaching on the ends or goods of marriage: procreation, union, the upbuilding of society, the symbolic representation of Christ and the Church, and the now often unmentioned remedy for fornication. Throughout, it responds to objections based on reason, tradition and Scripture. Based on a series of popular blog posts, it includes a number of independent, but related resources in the form of side-bars and single-page expansions of particular themes, suitable for reproduction as handouts.

              God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships
              by Matthew Vines
 As a young Christian man, Matthew Vines harbored the same basic hopes of most young people: to some-day share his life with someone, to build a family of his own, to give and receive love. But when he realized he was gay, those hopes were called into question. The Bible, he’d been taught, condemned gay relationships.

              Feeling the tension between his understanding of the Bible and the reality of his same-sex orientation, Vines devoted years of intensive research into what the Bible says about homosexuality. With care and precision, Vines asked questions such as:

              • Do biblical teachings on the marriage covenant preclude same-sex marriage or not?
              • How should we apply the teachings of Jesus to the gay debate?
              • Can celibacy be a calling when it is mandated, not chosen?
              • What did Paul have in mind when he warned against same-sex relations?

              Unique in its affirmation of both an orthodox faith and sexual diversity, God and the Gay Christian has sparked heated debate, sincere soul search­ing, and widespread cultural change on the issue of what it means to be a faithful gay Christian.

              Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe
              by John Boswell
              Both highly praised and intensely controversial, this brilliant book produces dramatic evidence that at one time the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches not only sanctioned unions between partners of the same sex, but sanctified them–in ceremonies strikingly similar to heterosexual marriage ceremonies.

              Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century
              by John Boswell
              John Boswell’s National Book Award–winning study of the history of attitudes toward homosexuality in the early Christian West was a groundbreaking work that challenged preconceptions about the Church’s past relationship to its gay members—among them priests, bishops, and even saints—when it was first published thirty-five years ago. The historical breadth of Boswell’s research (from the Greeks to Aquinas) and the variety of sources consulted make this one of the most extensive treatments of any single aspect of Western social history.

              Now in this thirty-fifth anniversary edition with a new foreword by leading queer and religious studies scholar Mark D. Jordan, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality is still fiercely relevant. This landmark book helped form the disciplines of gay and gender studies, and it continues to illuminate the origins and operations of intolerance as a social force.

              Gay Unions:In the light of Scripture, Tradition and Reason.
              Rev. Gray Temple (Jr.)
              Gray Temple presents the argument for the sacramental equality of gay and lesbian couples, which is to say they are entitled to full participation in the sacraments, including Marriage. Gray Temple bases his discussion on the Anglican concept of discerning the will of God through Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. In the argument from Scripture, Gray Temple’s basic premise is that we cannot presume to know what the Bible says to us if we do not understand what the biblical writers thought they were saying. He discusses the ways in which the concept of sexuality in the minds of biblical writers was very different than ours. He carefully analyzes the most often-cited biblical passages assumed to prohibit homosexual activity and shows why they are not saying what we think they are saying. In the argument from Tradition, Gray analyzes the roots of various traditions coming to the conclusion that traditions generally evolve to maintain privilege. Tradition has been used, for example to bar women from ordination. We are veering dangerously away from the Anglican tradition of the via media. In the argument from Reason, he presents answers to assumptions about homosexuality both from an impassioned liberal stance and from a stance designed to lead to a dialogue engaging the hopes and fears of the conservative and liberal sides.

              As a liberal charismatic who prayerfully came to the conclusion that his homophobia was not a stance favored by God, Temple is in a unique position to take on this topic. Gray Temple deeply understands the ethos of conservatism and his understanding of that ethos provokes him to engage conservative arguments with rigor and sympathy.

Gay and Christian? Yes!
              by Rev. William H. Carey
              Can a person be Gay and Christian? Many churches say no. Many quote Bible passages that make it appear that God condemns homosexuality. But if we take a closer look, reading the scripture in the original Hebrew and Greek, we discover that God never condemned homosexuality, and that same-sex marriage existed in Bible times.

              Hounded by God: A Gay Man’s Journey to Self-Acceptance, Love , and Relationship, by Joseph Gentilini
              is based on years of journals that this spiritual gay man kept.  It chronicles his coming out experiences, dealings with family and friends,  his commitment to his partner, Leo Radel, and, most importantly, his relationship with God.

              Confessions of a Gay Married Priest: A Spiritual Journey by Maurice Monette,
              who was a member of a religious order for 30 years, and has been married to his partner for 24 years.  The book is an autobiography which chronicles the high points and low points of the spiritual road that Monette trod.  The book has been praised by several high-profile Catholic leaders.

              Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships by James V. Brownson

              This thought-provoking book by James Brownson develops a broad, cross-cultural sexual ethic from Scripture, locates current debates over homosexuality in that wider context, and explores why the Bible speaks the way it does about same-sex relationships.

              Fairly presenting both sides in this polarized debate — “traditional” and “revisionist” — Brownson conscientiously analyzes all of the pertinent biblical texts and helpfully identifies “stuck points” in the ongoing debate. In the process, he explores key concepts that inform our understanding of the biblical texts, including patriarchy, complementarity, purity and impurity, honor and shame. Central to his argument is the need to uncover the moral logic behind the text.

              Written in order to serve and inform the ongoing debate in many denominations over the questions of homosexuality, Brownson’s in-depth study will prove a useful resource for Christians who want to form a considered opinion on this important issue.

              • Offenses against chastity

                2351 Lust is disordered desire for or inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes.

                2352 By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. “Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.”138 “The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.” For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of “the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved.”139

                To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.

                2353 Fornication is carnal union between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of persons and of human sexuality which is naturally ordered to the good of spouses and the generation and education of children. Moreover, it is a grave scandal when there is corruption of the young.

                2354 Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials.

                2355 Prostitution does injury to the dignity of the person who engages in it, reducing the person to an instrument of sexual pleasure. The one who pays sins gravely against himself: he violates the chastity to which his Baptism pledged him and defiles his body, the temple of the Holy Spirit.140 Prostitution is a social scourge. It usually involves women, but also men, children, and adolescents (The latter two cases involve the added sin of scandal.). While it is always gravely sinful to engage in prostitution, the imputability of the offense can be attenuated by destitution, blackmail, or social pressure.

                2356 Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life. It is always an intrinsically evil act. Graver still is the rape of children committed by parents (incest) or those responsible for the education of the children entrusted to them.

                Chastity and homosexuality

                2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

                2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

                2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

            • You saying something does not make it true. You can claim that the Hebrew and Greek texts call homosexuality a sin from now till kingdom come, and it still won’t be true. You can claim that God called it an abomination for the same period of time, and it still won’t be true. You’ve made the mistake of believing the English Bibles are an accurate representation of what the Hebrew and Greek texts say. They are not. And not just on this subject.
              The Hebrew and Greek texts don’t even directly mention homosexuality. Deny it all you like. Won’t change a thing.

  31. The Dearth of Patristic Theology in Evangelicalism
    May 22, 2017 by Brandon D. Smith

    During my graduate work at Criswell College, I was fortunate to have a systematic theology professor who had studied patristic theology in his doctoral work, and a patristic theology professor who majored in the discipline and wrote his (now published) dissertation on early Christian exegesis and Irenaeus. I was more spoiled at the time than I realized.
    As a Ph.D. student in theology, I’m spending more time than ever reading the patristics, and I’ve begun to realize how little definitive work on patristic theology has been done by evangelicals. Aside from a few notable contributions by evangelicals, the field is mostly dominated by Catholic theologians and the occasional non-evangelical Protestant. (I do think, however, that this is going to change. Evangelical theologians and pastors in my generation seem to care more than ever about patristic retrieval.)
    On Twitter last week, Seumas Macdonald tweeted a short thread with some thoughts on why there’s been a dearth of evangelicals working in patristics. The first tweet in the thread is below, and I encourage you to click through and read the rest.
    Reasons why there are relatively few evangelicals in patristics: 1/ Some Evs aren’t sure there were any Christians between Paul and Luther.
    — Seumas Macdonald (@jeltzz) May 17, 2017
    To summarize the five-tweet thread, Macdonald makes the following points:
    Some evangelicals act as though church history started with the Reformation.
    As such, evangelicals short-sightedly read earlier church history through a Reformation lens.
    Most evangelical seminary tracks contain only one early church history course, and there’s likely not a patristic specialist there to teach it.
    Evangelicalism, thus, is caught in a vicious cycle of marginalizing patristic theology and thus marginalizes those who specialize in the field.
    In worst cases, evangelicals who focus on or fall in love with patristic theology end up leaving evangelicalism for more (perceived) friendly denominational/theological/ecclesiological pastures.
    There’s so much more to be said, for sure, but Macdonald is onto something here. I remember during my graduate program, many of the undergrads moved from Baptist or other evangelical churches to Catholic or non-evangelical high church traditions. They did this, largely, because they felt as though evangelicalism isn’t tied to the tradition of the church, and so they were unable to connect with Christians of the past through evangelical ecclesial structures (or lack thereof).
    I can’t say I blame them. I was tempted at times myself. But—sorry for the shameless plug—but this is precisely why we founded the Center for Baptist Renewal. The Baptist tradition and other similar evangelical groups are not—or at least should not be—disconnected from the great Christian tradition. Personally, I’d rather be a catalyst from within than a critic from without.
    The “allegorical” readings of the Patristic Fathers, the Catholic flavor of the first thousand or so years of church history, etc. are not reasons to abandon pre-Reformation theology. And yet, so many evangelicals immediately bristle at this notion on the principle that we should care more about the five solae of the Reformation. These five truths recovered the gospel in many minds. I recently wrote a study on the five solae, so I understand this sentiment and greatly appreciate the correctives that came with it. The Reformation was an act of God—I truly believe that—but we should consider two things.
    Primarily, we should be willing to learn from those in the midst of the expansion, canonization, and creedal development of Christian orthodoxy. If we’re truly orthodox Christians, then we affirm major creeds like the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed(s), and the Chalcedonian Creed. The affirmations forged and fought for in these creeds are essential to Christian faith and practice, and yet we take for granted the time and context in which these theological foundations were laid. We act as though we can take the creeds and leave everything else, however the creeds didn’t happen in a vacuum.
    Secondarily, we shouldn’t forget that the Reformers relied heavily on the early church, especially the work of Augustine. Not even the Reformers cut themselves off from the great tradition. It’s a common joke to say that all of Western theology is a footnote to Augustine, but it’s especially true of the Reformation.
    Denominations are fine, even important at times. They help us build accountability, missional partnerships, and communal identity. But we can’t become so polarized and dichotomized within our denominations that we fence ourselves off from the bloodline of Christianity—the theological heritage of two millennia of Christian thought. I think Timothy George said it well:
    I believe in an ecumenism of conviction, not an ecumenism of accommodation. We do not advance the cause of Christian unity by abandoning our biblical understanding of the church. But how do we hold these together? Three things: First, recognize the centrality of Jesus Christ. The closer we come to Jesus Christ, the closer we come to one another as brothers and sisters in him. Second, study the Bible together. The Bible belongs to the whole people of God, not just to one denomination or church tradition. We can clarify differences and find a deeper unity by going deeper into the Scriptures. Third, prayer. Jesus prayed to his heavenly Father (John 17:21) that his disciples would be one so that the world might believe. We can join our prayer to the prayer of Jesus and in so doing become a part of its fulfillment.
    May we continue to recover and retrieve pre-Reformation theology and tradition, keeping our denominational distinctiveness without sacrificing our Christian theological heritage.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/brandondsmith/2017/05/the-dearth-of-patristic-theology-in-evangelicalism/?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=socialnetwork

  32. I want to tell you about a book I started yesterday around 5 PM and I couldn’t put it down because it is such a delight and an incredible page turner. Also, each chapter ends on a cliffhanger which is impressive in a non-fiction book, especially one about the Bible.

    One does not have to be a believer in anything in order to enjoy this fascinating book with all of its dips into language, customs I knew nothing about, insights into how people in the ancient world thought.

    I can’t wait to have time to pick it up today. Furthermore, I suspect that as soon as I finish it I will start it all over again to search for what I missed.

    WHAT IS THE BIBLE? How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything

    Author is Rob Bell, yes, author of Love Wins.

  33. As far as I can tell, the Bible has nothing to say about progressive or conservative. It does have a lot to say about faith versus religious law. However, the one item of faith the New Testament and the old focus on is the Messiah, both his appearing and what it means to the believer. Jesus stated quite clearly that he was I AM and that the only way to eternal life was to accept him as the Messiah, the Savior. Seems to me that all of the rest of the arguments aren’t worth discussing until that one is settled.

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