Thursday, 29 May 2014

Much Maligned.


God has been much maligned.

Not only do people hold Him responsible for all the bad things that happen on earth, but His priests and ministers slander Him daily in their attempts to explain life.

God is not responsible for what happens to us.
These things are the result of human actions taken out of free will.

God is compassionate and trustworthy.
He will not let us down.

The priests and ministers of the Church have painted an image of an angry, vengeful, even violent God in their attempts to explain what happened to Jesus.

This is not revelation.
This is conjecture.

Well may we say that the blind lead the blind.

God is not waiting to punish us for our sins.
God did not punish Jesus in our stead.

God punishes no one.

He is our loving Father and He will not reject us.

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Monday, 26 May 2014

The Greater Vision.


Who had the greater vision Jesus or Paul?

Jesus' vision is all about Love.

Paul's vision makes Jesus a human sacrifice for the sin of Adam and Eve.

Jesus never mentioned Adam and Eve.

Jesus did not call himself a human sacrifice.

This theology comes from the mind of Paul.

When there is a conflict whose vision do you follow?

I am prepared to say that Paul is in error when he makes Jesus a blood sacrifice for our sins.

What kind of God requires blood for sin?

Jesus' God is our loving Father, full of steadfast love and mercy, as revealed to Moses and David and Jonah.

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Thursday, 22 May 2014

The Greatest Commandment.


What did Jesus say was the greatest commandment?

"'"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind."'"  Matthew 22:37 (NRSV)
"'And a second is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.'"  Matthew 22:39,40 (NRSV)

So the heart of Jesus' teaching is Love.

Not morality, not obedience, not good works, not repentance, not purity, not sacrifice, not fear.....

But Love.

If you follow these two commandments you will find God.


[Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.]

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Monday, 19 May 2014

The Answer.


Do you find that the things you were taught as a child about God and life have come into conflict with what you are being taught in school and college?

You are not alone.

But there is an answer.

Progressive Christianity, which is based on up to date Biblical scholarship, offers a way of reconciling what the Bible teaches with modern scientific facts.

The Bible was not written by God.
The Bible was written by human beings over a long period of time and in a number of historical and cultural contexts.

This method of reading the Bible gives us leeway to harmonize religious beliefs with science.

Not everything that is written in the Bible is absolute fact.
Because the Bible was written by human beings in response to God it contains errors which are due to human assumptions.

For example when God reveals His name to Moses - "'The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,'"  Exodus 34:6,7a (NRSV)
There is added on the end - "'yet by no means clearing the guilty, but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children, and the children's children, to the third and fourth generation.'"  Exodus 34:7b (NRSV)

The last was added onto the holy name of God because the writer of Exodus 34 could not transcend his worldly ideas of natural justice.
This passage is refuted in Ezekiel 18.

This is not an example of God changing His mind, it is an example of human beings' understanding of God evolving over time.

The writer of Ezekiel 18 had a clearer understanding of God than the writer of Exodus 34.

Likewise the myth of Adam and Eve was created to explain why men toil and women suffer in child birth.  The idea that humankind is fallen from a state of perfection in the past is in conflict with the scientific facts about how the universe and humanity evolved.

To read this as a myth rather than literal history gives us leeway to accept the scientific facts about creation and still believe in God.

So there is an answer.

Progressive Christianity provides that answer.


[Scripture quotations (marked NRSV) are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission.  All rights reserved.]

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Thursday, 15 May 2014

Atheists and Gays.

                   
                             
Photo Credit: Maruku San via Compfight cc

"Atheists just want to sin."

Where did that come from?

Perhaps it derives from Romans where St. Paul claims that God gave people up to sins because they did not honor Him as supreme.
They became stupid and homosexual.

This, of course, is nonsense.
And it paints a very peculiar image of God.

I am prepared to say that St. Paul was mistaken.
His logic is erroneous.
His list of evils that follows is offensive and he says they deserve to die.

This is not the God that I know.
As an openly gay Christian who enjoys full membership of the Uniting Church in Australia I worship the God of Love who has no prejudices against gay people.
Quite the contrary, I experience help and support from the divine for my sexuality.

So, despite the fact that some Christians consider that because I am gay I must be full of wickedness and evil, I know that God supports gay and lesbian people in His Church.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Gay Rights.

The great issue of our time is gay rights.

Just as Christians used the Bible to support slavery so are we constantly confronted by Christians quoting archaic Old Testament texts that condemn homosexuality, and the writings of St. Paul which are full of prejudice and disgust.

As we move into the 21st century people are becoming more and more impatient with those who rely on such texts to support their prejudice.

For Christianity it is the final nail in the coffin.

If Christians do not change and condemn such prejudice then the religion of Jesus will die.  It cannot support the weight of opinion against what its adherents are doing.  It is offensive.

In Africa, Russia, and India gay people are being scapegoated in the shadow of AIDS.  The persecution and torture of gay people has a distinctly religious quality to it.

But the momentum of the age cannot be reversed.
Aquarius governs homosexuality.
The Age of Aquarius will see the acceptance of gay relationships and gay marriage as a natural part of the diversity of life.

Homosexuality occurs in nature.
King penguins and orange breasted parrots have high numbers of same-sex couples.  Fruit flies can change their sex when needed.

So the accusation that homosexuality is unnatural is unfounded.
Homosexuality is found everywhere in nature.

It is just one expression of God's good creation.

And as such should be celebrated.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

The Great Leap Forward.

If we follow the human image of God over the ages we will find that it evolves.

From the Old Testament tribal god Yahweh who protected and punished the Israelites, and required blood sacrifices to atone for their sins.
To the New Testament universal God who was said to punish Jesus as a final blood sacrifice to atone for the sin of Adam, thus redeeming humankind.

The New Testament, however, also contains an image of God as a loving Father who forgives and reconciles His children on earth.

2000 years has passed since the time of the New Testament.
Humankind has evolved during that 2000 years.
We are now entering a New Age.

Humanity no longer accepts the idea that God required Jesus suffering and death to atone for the sin of Adam.
We no longer accept that Adam's sin was responsible for the sufferings of humanity.
These concepts are offensive.
They insult God and humanity alike.

The time has come to reject these concepts and their brutal image of God.
The loving, merciful God that Jesus showed us is the essence of the New Paradigm.

Humanity has evolved enough to conceive of God as totally loving and good.
We no longer need a God who requires retribution and damnation.
We no longer need a devil or a hell.

This is the time of the great leap forward for humankind.

We can move forward into the New Age and leave the old image of God behind.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Falling in Love With Love.

Jesus said to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.

But Progressive Christians tend to depersonalize God.
They talk of energies and forces, the universe and everything.

It is difficult to love an abstract concept.

If, however, we say that God is Love, we can solve the problem by falling in love with Love.

Love is an abstract concept but it is also tangible.
We can relate to love as something we can experience.

So, rather than wasting our time trying to love something intangible, we can relate to God as Love and fall in love with Love.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Healing.

Rather than being a moral wowser the Church should be a place of healing.

We should give love to all those we encounter.

This love will heal the wounds of hatred and fear.
It will be a healing balm to the broken-hearted.

And we can turn to God without fear or anxiety.
Knowing that God is the source of Love.
And the Father of all.