Supportive Engagement

“Your indiscretions are worse than mine ANY DAY!” When Christians Simply Yell On behalf of the Institute for the Art of Biblical Conversation (IABC) The parent of Coffee With Paul  (CWP): A chief goal of our gatherings (live or online) is to promote intelligent Christian conversation about our ancient sacred writings. We are pursuing the opportunity of an incredible, lively, open, generous, electrifying, and thoughtful atmosphere of the discussion of biblical texts, concepts, and ideas. Unfortunately, that is a rare thing among Christians. Far too…

“Help Will Not Come from Elsewhere”

I just finished (yesterday) watching the new Cosmos series with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. I really like this entire series. I plan to watch it several more times. It does a good job of tying into the original series, done by Carl Sagan. I watched that original series as it came out in 1980 on PBS on Sunday nights. (I was preaching at the time, and I would preach shorter sermons so I could get home in time to watch the new episode.)  Tyson is not…

“It Has No Handles”: How Do You See Yourself?

A verse I am drawn to in Isaiah 45 is verse 9.  The overall idea seems to be clear:  the clay should not try to tell the potter his job or sit in judgment about what he has produced.   (Anybody with kids understands this point.)   The context of Isaiah 40-54 helps here, where there is a constant refrain “For I, I am God, and there is no other!  I am with you!  I have made all things, and I am doing a new thing! I…

Halloween: A Different Kind of Outrage

This is Halloween week so we get to hear from well-meaning Christians (once again) the outrage against and denouncement of this particular “holiday” that allows children to dress up as ghosts and goblins—or other horrible creatures (like Elsa of Frozen)—that will surely scar them for life. I’ve always been amused at the “Christian dress up” replacement events held at churches where children can dress up like a “biblical character”—except, of course, the witch at Endor, Jezebel, Rahab, Tamar, Bathsheba, Judas, Goliath, Herod, Pilate, Legion, or…

A Friendly Open Letter to Neil deGrasse Tyson
on Science, the Bible, & Creationism

Heavily revised Saturday, January 16, 2016 Dr. Tyson, First of all, I’m a big fan of your work.  I enjoy watching, listening to, and considering everything I have found where you are speaking.  So I begin with a “thank you” and appreciation. Along with that, I am not a scientist and will not attempt to speak as though I am one. I am, however, a trained and experienced biblical scholar, and I’m writing to ask you a favor.  It would be helpful if you would…

Theological Tartar

This is more of a personal posting.  This morning I received an email from someone I’ve never met in reply to my recent post on aliens.  However, this letter then turns to a question of a more personal search for truth.  So, I want to share this letter verbatim without the name of the person who wrote it.  If he or she wishes to “own” the letter, that is up to that person.  The idea of “theological tartar” to describe traditional religious baggage will show…

Did Jesus Die for Aliens, Too?

“Thus Bible-believing Christians don’t (or can’t) accept the belief there are aliens on other planets.” Ken Ham, Creation Museum (email I received today) I don’t know Ken Ham personally and would not make personal comments in any case.  My response, here, is purely about the position taken and the way it was presented.  And I couldn’t decide whether to speak softly, using the back door, or more directly.  So here goes. The quote above, including the entire letter that was sent, is just embarrassing nonsense. …

PROBE—–Conversation with the Bible

There are many ways or “systems” to help you read the Bible.  All can be useful if you actually use them.  Too often, Bible readers just skim the top and do what they’ve always done. If you want to read through the Bible in a year or six months or three weeks, you can find schedules to do that. Far too often these have you jumping hopscotch style all over the place.  Frankly, this is madness.  In the long run, it destroys any contextual awareness…

Heart Prints

The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming 400 page book:  Engaging Paul:  Shades of Conversation in 1Thessalonians.  Publication of this book is currently scheduled for sometime this fall (2014).  The book is a focused effort on whether it is possible to engage the apostle Paul (an author no longer living) in lively, personal conversation.  Much of academic literary criticism today denies that it is.  This book will challenge that notion.  The following excerpt is adapted from chapter 4:  “Text and Conversation.” Heart-Prints and Texts…

4th of July, Biblical Civilization, Atheism, and Conversation

To all US citizens, happy 4th of July. May this be a time of reflection on the best of our hopes, while we also consider the worst of our failures as a diverse and imperfect people. In honor of this day, I recently recommended to the very energetic online Coffee With Paul Bible Study partners two fairly recent academic (you have been warned) discussions: Biblical Criticism and the Decline of America’s Biblical Civilisation, 1865-1918  by Mark Noll, 2013 Astor Lecture, Oxford University.   The lecture is…