Wealth Trumped Jesus in the American Pantheon

Ancient literature once chronicled the history of Mammon, a conniving god whose allure of wealth concentrates power and inspires devotion, but few speak of it as openly as Jesus or Milton[1] — at least in this area of the world since its invisible hand took hold of a fledgling nation.

The Worship of Mammon | Evelyn De Morgan 1909

This last election, however, was revealing. Wealth had several horses in the race, with one telling Wall Street bankers it’s important to be two-faced, yet none were as ardent or thoroughbred as Donald John Trump, the Trump brand being synonymous with immodesty.

That the “make a lot of money… don’t run for politics” president pays homage to Mammon above all else is hardly a secret; it’s the fervor with which his Evangelical base cast its lot for him, whose leaders continue their unpopular support for him, that truly surprises. Those who otherwise follow the “you can’t serve God and Wealth” Jesus backed Trump hoping he would be good for the economy and make America wealthy again. Not economically just, mind you, wealthy.

America is already a wealthy nation. The lie that the United States is poor Read more “Wealth Trumped Jesus in the American Pantheon”

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Greater than Jesus

I have been thinking a lot lately about why I call myself a progressive Christian. It could be that I’m getting close to ordination in a progressive denomination, or that I’ve spent the past two years hosting a “post-evangelical” podcast, or maybe it’s this election and the distance that I feel from the conservative church I once called home, a distance I feel sharply whenever I scroll through a Facebook news feed.

At any rate, I’m thinking and so I’m writing.
(and, secretly, I probably hope to close the growing distance a little)

I’m progressive because Jesus said his followers would be.

Not in those terms, of course, but clearly.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus is depicted comforting his disciples in preparation for his departure “to the Father.” He promises not to leave them orphans, commands them to trust in the miracles he did whenever they doubt his words and, with a hand under their chins (as I imagine it), he lifts their heads and says,

“Verily truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these because I am going to the Father” [John 14:12]. Read more “Greater than Jesus”

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Guest Post: Our Christmas Hope – An Advent Reflection

Have you ever wondered why we celebrate Jesus’ birthday during the winter? Have you ever wondered why we celebrate his birthday at all? It is not as if we know Jesus’ actual date of birth.

All we know is what the gospels reveal. We know that at the first Christmas, “there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night” (Luke 2:8). Shepherds in the Middle East only pasture their flocks at night when it is warm out. During the winter, it is too cold. Instead of being in the fields, the sheep like being snuggled together toasty warm in a nice pen. This means that more than likely Jesus was born in the warmth of the late spring, the summer, or the early autumn. This is Read more “Guest Post: Our Christmas Hope – An Advent Reflection”

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Why We Love The Rapture

I know you all want answers, and believe me, so do I.

– Captain Rayford Steele, Left Behind 2014.

eclypse by hexx696

I was a child of the late 90’s and an evangelical Christian so, naturally, I read the wildly popular Left Behind novels (and I loved them). Even though I eventually moved on from the unique theology that made them possible, I never quite let go of the feelings they afforded me.

That might be the reason I was fairly disappointed this weekend when I discovered that the newest Left Behind movie is hardly better than the one starring Kirk Cameron back in 2000. Read more “Why We Love The Rapture”

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Let’s Make A New Testament Law Code!

Out with the Old and in with the New,

let’s figure this stuff out;

those who are in, those who are out.

Preachers and theologians routinely tell me that Paul argued for a post-Law community of Christians united not by the outward markers of faithfulness, but by an inclusive ministry of the Spirit that moved past traditional boundaries (some of which were set up by Scripture itself).

Because in Christ the Christians are Law-completed (Rom 10:4).

Because the only covenant marker of any value is “faith expressed through love” (Gal 5:6).

ThouShalt

Yet some of these preachers and theologians will turn around and fashion a law code from Paul’s own words. Obviously they don’t call it a “law code,” because they’ve been trained by Paul to look beyond law; Faith alone! Christ alone! they shout from the mountaintop, yet quickly descend to hand out copies of their commandments, fresh and updated. Read more “Let’s Make A New Testament Law Code!”

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Purity Culture, Jesus, and the Markan Narrative

The evangelical obsession with purity.

Reminds me of ritual purity law.

Especially when it determines who is inside the circle.

And who is not.

Purity

The Gospel of Mark is full of little devices I like to call “Markan sandwiches,” though more reasonable people use the term interpolations. The author of Mark creates these textual sandwiches by starting a story, inserting a second, then finishing the first.

If the sandwich in Mark 5 were real, the text would be grilled cheese and the author Alton Brown. Read more “Purity Culture, Jesus, and the Markan Narrative”

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