Why Even Bother Being a Liberal Christian?

Some people have asked me, and I have asked myself, why, as a liberal Christian, did I continue to “believe,” or at least to act as if I believed?   I didn’t think Jesus was literally born of a virgin and I wasn’t sure if he was physically raised from the dead.  I didn’t think that he existed before he came into the world, let alone that he had been God from eternity past.  I didn’t think there was a hell ...

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How Biblical Discrepancies Can Be Theologically Liberating for a Christian

I have been trying to show that the portrayal of Jesus going to his death in Mark’s Gospel is radically different from the portrayal in Luke’s Gospel.  I’ve been making this comparison for a purpose, in order to show as clearly as I can that reading the Bible historically – seeing its discrepancies – does not compromise its value.  On the contrary, as I came to see as a committed Christian who was no longer a conservative evangelical, this way ...

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How Did Judas Iscariot Die? Readers’ Mailbag June 18, 2017

Two questions in this week’s Readers’ mailbag.  The first concerns the very strange tradition about how Judas Iscariot actually died, as found in the writings of the early church father Papias; the second is about modern evangelical Christian biblical scholars: how do they deal with the fact that our manuscripts contain so many textual variants?  If you have a question, feel free to ask, and I’ll add it to the ever growing mailbag.

 

QUESTION:

Papias didn’t think very highly of Judas. I ...

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A Very Different Portrayal of Jesus’ Death

I am talking about how I came to understand and appreciate the Bible once I realized that there were widely different perspectives presented in one author or another – even when talking about the same thing.  The example I’m using is the Gospel portrayals of Jesus’ death.  In my previous post I laid out how Mark depicts it; here I will discuss how Luke does.  What I came to see (back when I was a graduate student, still a committed ...

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How a Non-Historical Account Can Be Meaningful: The Death of Jesus in Mark

I am now at a point where I can explain how I read the Bible when I was a committed Christian who was not, however, a conservative evangelical convinced that the Bible was a completely inerrant revelation from God without any discrepancies or differences in it.  As I have already indicated, my new way of reading of the Bible did not denigrate the Bible at all, as often happens when people realize there are mistakes in it and come away ...

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A New Way of Reading the Bible

I have been discussing how I experienced a radical change in my Christian faith, from being a conservative evangelical to being a more open-minded and better informed Christian.  I can now begin to talk about how my new way of understanding the faith intersected with the scholarship I was involved with in pursuing the academic study of the Bible.

As a budding biblical scholar, I had come to see that the Bible was filled with problems.  As a believer with a ...

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How Can Paul Say that Jesus Appeared to “The Twelve”?

Here is an interesting question from my Readers’ Mailbag connected to the tradition that Judas Iscariot killed himself soon after Jesus’ death, leaving only eleven disciples.  Did Paul know about this tradition?  Why does he seem to think there were still twelve disciples after the resurrection?

 

QUESTION:

What do you think about Paul saying that Jesus appeared to the “twelve” (Apostles) after his resurrection? (1 Cor. 15:5) I find this to be a big mistake; given the multiple gospel stories about Judas’s ...

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More of What I Believed When I Was a Committed (non-fundamentalist) Christian

Yesterday I started explaining what it was I believed when I left fundamentalism but remained a committed Christian – one who realized that the Bible was not at all an infallible book but was still a person of faith.   I’ve never talked about any of this before in print, either on the blog or in any of my books.  One reason for wanting to do so now is that I think I must have given some people the false impression that ...

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What I Believed as a Committed but but non-Fundamentalist Christian

It is a little hard to encapsulate what I thought, believed, and practiced during those years when I had moved away from being a hard-core Bible-believing conservative (as I was in college) but remained a committed Christian (as I was for years after that).   The change did not come overnight so that one day I was one thing (a fundy) and the next I was something else (a liberal).  It was a gradual change marked by important moments and key ...

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Can (or Should) We Change the Canon of Scripture? A Blast from the Past

 

Digging around in posts from five years ago now, I came across this one –as interesting to me now as it was then!  Hope you think so too.  It’s a response to a penetrating question.

QUESTION:

Given the criteria used to determine what would go on to constitute the New Testament canon, how is it that Hebrews and the book of Revelation remain part of the canon? I understand that Christians came to believe that they were authored by the apostles ...

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