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Filtering by Tag: Religion

Buechner on Remembering

Thomas Whitley

I was looking for this quote the other night, but mistakenly thought it was a Bonhoeffer quote. Glad I found it. Frederick Buechner on remembering:

When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart.

For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost. When I’m feeling most ghost-like, it is your remembering me that helps remind me that I actually exist. When I’m feeling sad, it’s my consolation. When I’m feeling happy, it’s part of why I feel that way. If you forget me, one of the ways I remember who I am will be gone. If you forget, part of who I am will be gone. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” the good thief said from his cross (Luke 23:42). There are perhaps no more human words in all of Scripture, no prayer we can pray so well.

P.S. Does anyone know the original source of this quote?

Churchgoers More Likely To Support Torture

Thomas Whitley

CNN has just posted an article about a disturbing survey that has just come out.

Survey: Support for terror suspect torture differs among the faithful

White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified — more than six in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only four in 10 of them did.

Sam Harrelson and I will likely talk about this on our next episode of Thinking Baptists, but I’m curious what you think about this. Is torture okay? Should Christians have a different response than “broader culture”? Is this an issue that should not even be questioned?

Read the article and respond in the comments.


Thomas Whitley

The Jewish festival begins tonight at sunset and ends at sunset on 16 April. If you’re not familiar with Passover, it celebrates the Israelite Exodus from Egypt. Here is the basis from Exodus for the festival:

And this day shall become a memorial for you, and you shall observe it as a festival for the L-RD, for your generations, as an eternal decree shall you observe it. For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove the leaven from your homes … you shall guard the unleavened bread, because on this very day I will take you out of the land of Egypt; you shall observe this day for your generations as an eternal decree. - Exodus 12:14-17

To any Jew that comes across this, I hope this Pesach is one of great memory and great celebration.

Shalom Aleichem!

Saying What is Heard

Thomas Whitley

That was the title of the final sermon by Dr. Fred Craddock at this past weekend’s CBFNC General Assembly. As I have reflected on all that I took in this past weekend I have come back to that message and a few quotes that I jotted down during it.

“Don’t let our culture dictate to you that words don’t matter.”

“The most difficult thing in the world to do, if it’s important, is to say something.”

“Nervousness is the way the body honors the seriousness of the moment.”

“Preach sermons that are not preachy.”

The usual mantra that is espoused is that any one can “talk the talk” but we must “walk the walk.” Dr. Craddock turned that around and issued a call to “talk the talk.” I am a person who isn’t talkative because I believe that words do matter, but Dr. Craddock helped me to see even further than I did on my own.

What about you? Do you give proper weight to words and language?

How do you feel about preaching sermons that aren’t preachy? That is, is a narrative sermon acceptable to you, one that sounds much more like a conversation than a traditional sermon?

Why Churches Should Twitter

Thomas Whitley

I am in Fayetteville, NC at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina’s (CBFNC) General Assembly. One of the break out session that I went to today was “Communicating Faith in an Online World.” On the whole it was pretty good, though it was aimed more at those who were less involved in the tech/online world.

The session leader, Richard Wood, gave out a short list of resources. They are:

- Richard Wood’s website
- Digital Ethnography by Dr. Michael Wesh at Kansas State University
- Rhett Smith’s series on Formulating an Online Strategy for College Ministry (follow link and search for title)
- Your Own Personal Gutenberg by Shawn Coons & Neal Locke
- Blogging as Spiritual Discipline and Pastoral Practice by Bruce Reyes-Chow
- The Case for Facebook and Other Social Networks by Bruce Reyes-Chow

NOTE: The above resources are not endorsed by me. I am simply recreating a list of resources given to me.

The end of the session was my favorite part, though, because we talked about Twitter - what it is, how it works, how it’s helpful, etc. Myself and one other person tried our best to “teach” the others present about Twitter and it’s benefits, especially for churches/ministries.

We came up with a lot of reasons, such as how was it is for others to keep up with what you or your organization is up to, being involved in the real-time conversation and drawing in people that you may not otherwise affect (as most people on Twitter are accustomed to following people/organizations they do not actually know).

I’m curious, though, what you think. Did we miss some benefits of Twitter for churches? I know how much I love Twitter and how large of an impact I believe it can have, but what about those who are skeptical?

I Hope

Thomas Whitley

There has been some request that I post the sermon I preached recently on Psalm 130. I am posting it below.

I Hope Psalm 130

My goal is to be as honest with you as possible this morning, because if I can’t be open and honest and vulnerable in my church, then where can I be?

For those of you who don’t know, I lost someone very close to me 3 ½ weeks ago. Daniel Goodman was my professor and mentor, but more than that he was my friend. I spent hours in his office talking about school, politics, music and a host of other unproductive and nonacademic topics. We e-mailed back and forth almost constantly. We went to concerts together and in October we traveled to D.C., Savannah and Charleston studying Jewish-Christian relations in America. Danny had a way of drawing you in. Everyone wanted to be around him and many of us wanted to be him. I was always amazed at how he captivated a classroom and even more amazed when I found out that he had put off the more academic endeavors (writing scholarly articles, writings books, etc.) until this semester so that he could spend time with his family, specifically his two sons. He was such a great model and he did such great work.

I have experienced loss before in my life, but never such senseless loss. I ask, as we often do of situations like this, why? I know I will not get an answer that is suitable to me. For one, I am theologically opposed to many of the rehearsed answers that get thrown around after things like this happen, such as, “God must have needed another angel;” “We know that it was part of God’s plan;” and the other countless responses that are simply cover ups because we’re too scared to admit that we have absolutely no idea why someone so young and doing so much good in the world should die.

It doesn’t make us bad people or bad Christians to say that we don’t know. It makes us honest. And if what we truly desire with God is a relationship and truly believe that God desires relationship with us, then honest we must be. This is where I am. Darkness is all around me and I am crying out in confusion and disbelief and anger and agony. This is how I approach this psalm. I share all of this with you because I think it is important to how we understand this psalm. We are too quick to jump to “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits and in his word I hope” and we forget the rest of the psalm. In doing so, we see this in a completely positive light that I am convinced is at odds with the perspective from which it was written. The psalmist is not bursting with joy when these words are being written.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

This is heart-wrenching anguish. The psalmist is desperate, as I am desperate, for a word of hope. One of the beauty’s of the Bible is its ability to speak to us where we are. At different stages in life we glean different things from the Bible. Psalm 130 was recited in unison at Dr. Goodman’s funeral. Since then I have not been able to get this psalm out of my head. It meant something completely different now. No longer could I breeze through the words and say, “Oh yeah, this psalm is about hope. We’ve got to have hope.” No, no longer could I be that flippant. For, over the past 3 ½ weeks I have felt this psalm, I have lived this psalm.

So, let me tell you how I read this psalm today. I hear in the words of the psalm what I see reflected in my life. I believe (in my head) that hope is true and necessary and that it comes from the Lord, but I don’t feel it right now. It’s hard to hope when I see so much waste. It’s hard to hope when I feel so much pain, but I really, honestly believe in hope. So there is a disconnect in my life right now, but I think the psalmist experienced this same disconnect. The psalmist is desperate for a word from the Lord and he is waiting anxiously for it, he is hoping for it. The anticipation is building.

God I need You to hear me, I need You to listen. But I know my place in the grand scheme of things. I know that You are holier than I. Nevertheless I have cried out to You and I am waiting for You to respond. I am waiting for a word from You. O Lord, how badly I need a word of hope. I am waiting. It is dark and I need the light of day.

An experience that comes to mind every time I read verse 6 is when I was camping one time during college. I was helping lead the guys ministry for Campus Crusade and since I am an Eagle scout I was asked to plan and lead a guys camping trip. I was excited to take all of these guys, most of whom had never been camping, to a place that is near and dear to my heart, Uwharrie National Forest. Oh yeah, and I didn’t mind showing of my camping skills. I had been bragging, sort or, to these guys for a few weeks before we went about how I love to sleep in a hammock. They asked all sorts of things like didn’t I get cold, is it really comfortable, etc. I assured them it was the best sleeping they’d ever do. I still agree with that statement, but this particular weekend it was not the best sleeping ever. I took two of my tents and my hammock with me. I helped them set the tents up so they could sleep in them and then I tied up my hammock. When we were going to bed that night there was one more space in one of the tents and one of the guys asked if I was sure I didn’t want it. I assured him I was fine, I would be plenty warm and way more comfortable than him. So we went to sleep, but not for long. Well, at least for me anyway. I woke up absolutely freezing at about 3:30. I decided I would be fine if I could just go back to sleep, so I tried to and after a little while I was successful. But that didn’t last too long. I woke up again at 4:30 and this time could not go back to sleep. So I laid in my hammock awake from 4:30 to 6:15 waiting for the first break of dawn so I could start a fire. The sun has never taken so long to rise. This experience helps me understand this psalm and where I am in my life better. Waiting in the freezing cold waiting for daybreak was miserable. I regretted decisions I had made, I prayed, I laid there with utter anticipation. It felt like morning would never come, but I knew one thing. Morning will come. Morning always comes. I remembered this. The psalmist, too, in his despair remembered where hope came from. He may not have felt very hopeful at the time, but he knew that his hope came from the Lord. He remembered the love of the Lord and that the Lord had redeemed him. Dr. Goodman taught me that in Judaism memory is sacred. So, when I am in the depths and feel as if there is no hope, I know I can remember. That sacred memory, then leads me to hope. For, when I say I remember it certainly means that I remember the past, the good and the bad, but above all, when I say I remember, it means that I hope.

On our trip in October we visited the Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C. I have a few favorite quotes from the museum, but there is one that is quite apropos. It stands out from the rest of the quotes in the museum because it is unlike the rest. It is a quote out of Anne Frank’s diary. I assume that if we haven’t all read The Diary of Anne Frank that we are at least aware of it. The diary contains the inner thoughts of a young Jewish girl who lived in hiding from the Nazis for two years, from the ages of 13 to 15. At times when I am upset and ready to battle her words disarm me:

That’s the difficulty in these times: ideals, dreams, and cherished hopes rise within us, only to meet the horrible truth and be shattered. It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.

The hope in her words takes me back every time I read them. Her words are so at odds with how I think a Jew should be feeling in her situation. She should be angry at the Nazis and angry at God as Elie Wiesel and many other Jews were, but she wasn’t. She was hopeful. This is pure, honest, unadulterated hope. It’s a word that I need to hear. It’s a word we need to hear.

This morning I hope. It is not easy, as you know, but I hope and I am calling you to hope with me. Let us hope for the future to be better than the past and better than the present. I assert, along with the psalmist: “hope in the Lord, for the with Lord there is steadfast love and with the Lord there is plentiful redemption.” The psalmist did not keep hope to himself, but called all Israel to hope with him. I cannot hope by myself. We must hope together. We must cry out together and wait in anticipation together and hope together and experience the love and redemption of the Lord together.

I have been honest and vulnerable with you this morning in hopes that you will see that it’s okay. It’s okay to have questions without answers and to need hope. I do. The psalmist did. To be sure, I have experienced pain and suffering. I know how real evil is in this world. I know how much waste is in the world. It is in the midst of this pain and suffering and evil, in spite of these, and perhaps because of these, that I must assert as my final words two small, yet abundantly meaningful words: “I hope.”

As you can probably tell, I am a manuscript writer. I do not always, and did not this time, stick exactly to the manuscript, but this will at least give you a general idea of where my thoughts are/were on this passage.

Thinking Baptists, a.k.a. A Must Listen

Thomas Whitley

I’ve been eager to announce this for a while now and finally can. Thinking.FM is officially up and running. The site’s creator, mastermind and Chief Thinker said this about Thinking.FM:

As you can probably tell, this is a podcast network composed of niche shows in various areas. Being a longtime podcaster and web content fanatic, I’m incredibly excited about the opportunities in this space.

We should have our shows up on iTunes as soon as things are cleared, but in the meantime, feel free to subscribe to the individual shows (or the main feed) over in the sidebar. We’re officialy rolling out of private beta on Monday February 16 with our weekly shows.

I am co-hosting the religion podcast, Thinking Baptists. Our first show is up and ready for listeners. A few highlights include:

- The Pope and Interfaith Dialogue Blunders
- Eisebraun’s on Twitter
- Obama and Religion
- BIG IDEA Segment: Darwin vs. God
- Wrestling with God

Please go check out Thinking.FM. There is a lot of great other content as well that deals with topics from science, to NASCAR, to religion, to science fiction.

Moving in the Right Direction

Thomas Whitley

The Pope issued this statement today:

“any denial or minimization of this terrible crime is intolerable,”

The Pope is, of course, speaking of the Holocaust.

The Pope is also planning to visit Israel soon, possibly in May. This is an important step forward in the recent relationship between the Vatican and Jews worldwide in the wake of comments made by Bishop Williamson, a member of the ultra-traditionalist Society of St Pius X (SSPX). Williamson told Swedish television in an interview broadcast on January 21: “I believe there were no gas chambers.” He also said that no more than 300,000 Jews died during the Holocaust.

He has still not recanted, saying he needs more time to review the evidence, but nevertheless, the Church has taken a step in the right direction by letting everyone know that they will not accept anyone in their ranks denying or minimizing the Holocaust.

NOTE: Full story can be found here.

Is Obama "Blurring the Line"?

Thomas Whitley

At this past week’s National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama announced that he will be establishing a White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Obama is maintaining that this does not breach the separation of church and state, but I seriously wonder. He said this of the new office:

“The goal of this office will not be to favor one religious group over another – or even religious groups over secular groups. It will simply be to work on behalf of those organizations that want to work on behalf of our communities, and to do so without blurring the line that our founders wisely drew between church and state.”

That very well may be the goal of this office, but if the President is intent on not “blurring the line” between church and state, then why maintain in the name “Faith-Based”? Why not have it be the Office of Neighborhood Partnerships or something like that and simply include “faith-based” organizations along with non-religious organizations?

The President’s words are great to hear, but they need to be backed up by more action, in my opinion.

In other news … well, its really related, but I needed to show some separation, at that same breakfast President Obama spoke about the “Golden Rule”:

“Jesus told us to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself.’ The Torah commands, ‘That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow.’ In Islam, there is a hadith that reads ‘None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.’ And the same is true for Buddhists and Hindus; for followers of Confucius and for humanists. It is, of course, the Golden Rule – the call to love one another; to understand one another; to treat with dignity and respect those with whom we share a brief moment on this Earth.”

These are great words, to be sure, but I’m pretty sure that Torah “quote” is from the Talmud, not the Torah.

NOTE: I forgot to cite my quotes. Sorry. They came from this Reuters article.

Psalm 130

Thomas Whitley

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness that you may be feared.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; My soul waits for the Lord More than watchmen for the morning, More than watchmen for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, And with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities. Psalm 130

What I’m preaching on this morning. The title of my sermon is “I Hope.”

Holocaust Denying Bishop Apologizes ... Sort Of

Thomas Whitley

Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, reported today (original article can be found here) that Bishop Richard Williamson, who has recently been reinstated from his 20-year long excommunication by Pope B16, has written a letter and apologized. This letter, though contains no remorse for what was actually said about the Holocaust.

The letter was posted on Williamson’s personal blog and addressed to Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who has been dealing with the rehabilitation of Williamson and other renegade bishops who had been excommunicated. The Holocaust denial had outraged Jewish groups and many others. It was not immediately clear if Williamson’s letter, which contained no apology for the content of his remarks, would ease that anger.

“Amidst this tremendous media storm stirred up by imprudent remarks of mine on Swedish television, I beg of you to accept, only as is properly respectful, my sincere regrets for having caused to yourself and to the Holy Father so much unnecessary distress and problems,” Williamson wrote.

If you ask me, which you obviously did because you’re reading this on my blog, I’d say this isn’t much of an apology. It’s like the child who is sorry that he got caught stealing cookies from the cookie jar, but who isn’t actually sorry he stole them. It smacks of immaturity and recklessness.

While some Jews have severed ties with the Vatican, Mordechay Lewy, Israel’s ambassador to the Holy See, “said the Jewish state has good relations with the Vatican, despite the flap over Williamson’s comments.”

I’m in agreement with the some 50 Catholic members of the US Congress in their letter to B16:

“We do not question your reasons for revoking the excommunication of Bishop Williamson or your right to do so, but we fail to understand why the revocation was not accompanied by an emphatic public rejection of his denial of the Holocaust,” the letter said.

“The bishop’s remarks about the Holocaust echo those of neo-Nazis, Islamist extremists, racists and others who choose hatred and violence over peaceful co-existence among peoples of all races and ethnicities.”

Lifeway's Warning Labels

Thomas Whitley

I am absolutely appalled by this. Lifeway has begun putting warning labels on books that

…may have espoused thoughts, ideas, or concepts that could be considered inconsistent with historical evangelical theology.

These waring labels are marked Read with Discernment. Should we not read everything with discernment, Lifeway? Especially books that you accept without question.

The announcement (which can be found here) goes on to say that the reason they are still making these books available is

…because we believe the books do present content that is relevant and of value to Christians and/or because pastors, seminary students, and other ministry leaders need access to this type of material, strictly for critical study or research to help them understand and develop responses to the diversity of religious thought in today’s postmodern world.

Lifeway, are you afraid that people will begin to think for themselves? Are you afraid that people will learn that there are other, more peaceful, more egalitarian ways to view the world? Furthermore, do you not realize that much (most) of the Bible is “inconsistent with historical evangelical theology”? I think the Bible deserves one of your fancy warning labels as well, what with people hammering stakes through others’ temples, other people having more than one wife and multiple concubines and it being acceptable, Abraham and Moses and everyone else pre-exile being polytheistic (henotheistic at best), and young ladies tricking their father so they can have sex with him.

Give it some thought, Lifeway, and quit being so scared. It’s really not becoming.

Not-So-Progressive Revelation

Thomas Whitley

As usual during my Ethics class we talked about something completely unrelated to Ethics. Tonight it was “progressive revelation.” Honestly, I was pretty zoned out for much of his soliloquy. I did regain consciousness long enough to see what was written on the board though:

“Progressive Revelation - Its culmination is Jesus”

In actuality, the “is” was not italicized, but rather was underlined three times. My question is one of simple logic: how is it progressive if it has a culmination? Answer: it’s not. Progressive revelation starts from what it desires to be the end and says that everything that went before was only partially true or pure or contained only some partial understanding while that which I uphold contains all truth and is the fullest understanding possible. It would be much more honest of proponents of progressive revelation if they would simply say that anything that is not what they consider to be the truest and fullest revelation is simply untrue. I say this because if progressive revelation were taken to the fullest of its implications, then its proponents would have to understand Islam as superseding Christianity, Mormonism superseding Christianity and Islam, etc., but they are wholly unwilling to support this view.

My other point of contention with Christian Progressive Revelation is that it firmly upholds supersessionism, insofar as it relates to Christianity superseding Judaism and Gentile Christians superseding Jews as God’s chosen people. This is a view that I vehemently oppose.

So, adhere to progressive revelation if you want to, but if you do chose to adhere to it, do it logically and rationally. Do not say that you believe in progressive revelation if by that you really mean, “I think I have the absolute hold on truth and everything that came before was merely precursor to what I have and everything that follows is heresy.”

On another note, that is still somewhat related, please stop reading the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) into the Hebrew Bible (commonly referred to as the Old Testament). As much as many people hate to hear it, Isaiah had no idea who Jesus the Nazarene was when he was writing (his “suffering servant” model that so many apply to Jesus was actually most likely in reference to Cyrus) and the Abraham and Isaac story was not a foreshadowing of Jesus and his act of being a sacrifice. The Hebrew Bible is very important, for me at least, and is very influential in my own faith, but let it stand on its own without reading it christocentrically.

Not a Good Move

Thomas Whitley

The Pope (B16 as I like to call him) has just made a bad move. He reinstated Bishop Richard Williamson, who is:

“…a member of the ultra-conservative Society of Saint Pius X who rejects the reforms of the Second Vatican Council and recently said ‘there were no gas chambers’ during the Holocaust.”

Williamson was excommunicated by Pope John Paul II in 1988.

In comments to Swedish television broadcast on Wednesday and widely available on the internet, Mr Williamson said: ‘I believe there were no gas chambers and only up to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, instead of 6 million.’

‘I believe that the historical evidence is hugely against 6 million having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler,’ he said.

‘There was not one Jew killed by the gas chambers. It was all lies, lies, lies!’

What is B16 thinking? Can anyone help me out here? Better yet, can someone please help B16 realize how ridiculous this is? Not only is he infuriating Jews worldwide, he is setting a negative precedent for how he may interact with other religions.

What's Your Atonement Theory?

Thomas Whitley

My wife and I were having a discussion the other night about atonement theories and that prompted this post. What is your atonement theory? Here is a list of some popular ones:

- Gusat Aulen’s Christus-victor
- Irenaeus’ ransom or bait and switch
- Anselm’s idea of satisfying a debt
- Calvin’s idea of the appeasement of the wrath of God
- Luther’s Christ as the fishhook
- Hugo Grotius’ governmental view (God as governor)
- Abelard’s view that Christ’s love is the sole cause of redemption
- Horace Bushnell’s vicarious sacrifice

If you pick one of these, why? If you operate from a different theory of atonement what is it and why? I am curious because I am having difficulty finding these theories very meaningful for me.

If you have no idea what anything in the above list means, take this as your opportunity to research the different ideas about atonement. If you do understand the list, hopefully you can offer something constructive about one of the theories from the list above or offer some theory I haven’t listed.


What I "Learned" Tonight

Thomas Whitley

Tonight I “learned” two things. One was from a discussion board for my worship class and the other was from my Ethics professor. I say that I “learned” these two things for two reasons. The first is that I was already aware of these views/positions. The second is that I vehemently disagree with both of them and typically when someone truly learns something, they respond by subscribing to it.

Lesson 1
The comment on my Worship class’ discussion board was in the context of responding to reading the first chapter of Robert Webber’s Ancient-Future Worship: Proclaiming and Enacting God’s Narrative. One of my class members responded to another class member with the following comment:

Worship could never be possible without reading Jesus back into the OT narratives and texts. Although not specifically named in many, if not most OT references, Jesus is present from Genesis to Revelation, therefore He was included in OT worship forms.

This is a very common view that I have major problems with. I will not expound on all of them now, but I will mention a few. This view is typically called, in academic circles, supersessionism. Supersessionism is the belief that Christians superseded the Jews as God’s chosen people and as such receive God’s blessing and Jews now receive God’s damnation.

Besides the fact that this view is rather poor theology (it is likely very good christology if by good christology one really means high christology, but it is not good theology), and is not, in my understanding, good and appropriate work with the biblical text, this view is also very demeaning and does great harm and a great disservice to Judaism.

Furthermore, to say that it is impossible to have an Old Testament/Hebrew Bible (henceforth HB) worship without reading Jesus back into the narratives and texts of the HB says that for the thousands of years of recorded human history before Jesus the Nazarene came on to the scene no one really knew God and they were not capable of worshiping God. I, for one, will not say that Israelites and Judeans did not know God or that they were incapable of worshiping God because Jesus was not yet alive. That is quite a ridiculous view.

Moreover, my classmate’s response fails to realize that in actuality Jesus is never explicitly named in the HB. As difficult as it is for many to realize, the prophets that were writing in HB and during that time period had no clue who Jesus was (perhaps “would be” is more appropriate) and they were not predicting the future. Prophecy in the HB, as a trade and class, was about recounting history and speaking about present events and situations in the world view (ethos) of religion. Though the HB prophets are typically read as predicting the future, a solid exegesis that is informed by good historical studies will show that they were not.

That is all that I will say on this topic, for now.

Lesson 2
The second thing that I “learned” tonight was espoused by my Ethics professor. He said that you cannot read the New Testament (henceforth NT) and not be Trinitarian. Trinitarianism is the belief that God is only one being, yet three persons, manifested as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Many of you may well hold this belief and that is perfectly fine, but my question to you is this, how many of the NT authors were Trinitarian? Answer: none. Does the Bible speak of the Trinity? Answer: no.

The doctrine of the Trinity has as its origin the Council of Nicea in 325, when the debate came to a head about whether Jesus and God the Father were “of the same substance” or not. Before then many people believed that Jesus was fully divine, just as many others believed that Jesus was fully human. Proclaiming that Jesus was fully human and fully divine and “of the same substance” as God was not a prerequisite up to that point of being a Christian.

Trinitarianism is an acceptable view to hold, but it is not biblical. I am perfectly fine with people holding to beliefs and convictions that are not biblical, so long as they recognize it as such and do not attempt to beat down those who do not hold to those same views and treat them (or tell them) that they are not Christian because of it. Many of you reading this post probably already have doubts about my Christianity. Regarding that, I really do not care. I do not say that to be callous, but my relationship with God is just that, my relationship with God. It is not yours and it certainly is not yours to make judgments about. But, if you do insist on making judgments, which we all do from time to time, please make sure that your judgments and arguments are sound.

I am not a Trinitarian for two main reasons. The first is not so much that it is not biblical, which has been established, but that there is no evidence that Jesus himself or his earliest followers believed anything of the sort. It is simply a doctrine of the church, not a core, foundational belief. The second reason is that I am a monotheist (I believe there is only one God) and I have the same questions/problems that Jews and Muslims have of most Christians. How can I call myself a monotheist and yet say that there is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. My faith, for me personally, must follow logic as far as possible and in this case my ethos simply will not allow me to subscribe to both views, monotheism and Trinitarianism. They are mutually exclusive.

What do you think?