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February Gold Q&A: Go for the Gold!

It is time to schedule the Gold Q&A for February.   For me to provide the A's you need to provide the Q's.  What are you interested in?  It can be about most anything related to the blog in one way or another. I'm more likely to answer questions that are relatively short and to the point than those that go on for a long paragraph.  So be concise. I'll try to be informative.  And happiness will reign. To enter your question on to the list: send it to Diane at [email protected] The DEADLINE for your question is Friday February 10 , at midnight (whenever midnight is where you live).   I will record my answers that weekend (but not, uh, during the Superbowl) (go Chiefs!), and we will release the recording in both video and audio form --  for Gold and Platinum members only -- the following week. Ask some tough ones!  Or, even better, ask ones you're most interested in, even if you think they're softballs.  I'm looking forward to it! Bart  

2023-02-04T14:47:56-05:00February 4th, 2023|Public Forum|

Was the Roman Soldier Pantera Jesus’ Father? His Cousin? Platinum Guest Post by Omar Abur-Robb

I am pleased to publish this unusually controversial and interesting Platinum guest post of Omar Abdur-Robb.   Lots to think about here!  What do you think? ******************************   A Summary of an article: Discussing the conclusion of James Tabor related to the relationship between Jesus Pantera and Abdes Pantera, and presenting a new model for this relationship (Jan 2023). Omar Abur-Robb Library: https://omr-mhmd.yolasite.com   James Tabor has a conclusion in his informative book “The Jesus Dynasty”. He noticed a reference for a tombstone in Germany that was dedicated to a Roman soldier from Sidon with the name “Abdes Pantera”. This immediately grabbed the attention of Tabor and he started studying it. One of his conclusions in the book was that this soldier might be the true biological father of Jesus. Although I totally don’t agree with this conclusion (metaphysically or historically), but still, all of his conclusions represented about 30% of the book, while the other 70% were high quality of information, which made the book valuable. However, I am going to draw the attention to [...]

2023-01-31T14:08:24-05:00February 3rd, 2023|Public Forum|

January 2023 Gold & Platinum History of the Devil Bonus Lecture

Hey Gold and Platinum members, Here is the video of our recent webinar on the History of the Devil.  We're sending it out to everyone at the gold and platinum levels, those who were able to come and those not. It was a blast doing -- and apologies for the occasions that occasioned it (being late on the Gold Q&A's for a couple of months). Again, I hope you're enjoying the blog, and if there's anything I / we can do to make your experience better, let me/us know.  'til, then, here's the Devil: Z

2023-02-03T17:45:10-05:00February 1st, 2023|Public Forum|

Recreational Drugs in the New Testament? Platinum Guest Post by Douglas Wadeson

Here now is promised part II of Doug Wadeson's discussion of drugs in the Bible....  It's way out there, man. What do you think? ***************************** In the previous post I discussed evidence of psychoactive drug use in the Old Testament.  What about the New Testament?  Jesus’ mentor was John the Baptist who seemed to follow along the lines of Ezekiel, although not as extreme: John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins…John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey.   Mark 1:4, 6   But was it really locusts?  Allow me to quote from the blog of James Tabor, recently retired professor of Christian origins and ancient Judaism at UNC-Charlotte: The Greek word for locusts (akris/ἀκρίδες) is very similar to the Greek word for “honey cake” (enkris/έγκρίς) that is used for the “manna” that the Israelites ate in the desert in the days of Moses. According to this ancient text [Epiphanius: Panarion 30.13.4-5] [...]

2023-01-23T15:29:29-05:00January 30th, 2023|Public Forum|

Don’t Forget Gold and Platinum Members! A FREE Webinar this Saturday.

In case you missed it the first time, or caught it and forgot: there is a FREE webinar for all Gold and Platinum Blog members this Saturday.   Here's the original annoucment.  I hope you can make it!   ***************************** Dear Gold and Platinum Members, As you may have noticed (and, well, as several of you have pointed out!) we have had technical difficulties in posting the Gold Q&A's the past several months.  We think we've worked out the kinks now and hope it won't happen again.  But it's been a flippin' nuisance for all involved -- especially YOU, the ones to whom these things are promised! SO, as an attempt at atonement (which does not involve either animal or human sacrifice), I'd like to offer you a blog gift -- for gold members only:  a free webinar. DATE:  Saturday January 28 TIME:  3:00 - 4:30 pm EST TITLE:  "A History of the Devil" DESCRIPTION:   Christians have always believed in the "Devil" (aka Satan, Beelzebub, the Prince of the Power of the Air, or ... name [...]

2023-01-25T14:09:34-05:00January 25th, 2023|Public Forum|

Vote on Your Favorite Platinum Post!

Dear Platinum members, We have had some provocative platinum guest posts , and now it's time  to vote to see which of the following will be posted on the blog at large.  Take a look.  To vote, just send a quick note to Diane at [email protected]  Your deadline:  this coming Saturday, 01/28/2022 midnight your time. And remember — you’re always welcome to submit a post yourself.  Is there anything connected to the blog that strikes your fancy that you’d like others to read about?  Any ideas/thoughts you’d like to have disseminated and discussed?  Here’s your chance.  It doesn't have to be highly learned and informed -- just something you'd like some feed back on .  If you're interested, just zap me a note -- or send me a post!   October 17, 2022 Suffering, Evil, and the Range Effect Dennis J. Folds December 9, 2022 Is It A Sin To Be Transgender? Doug Wadeson December 12. 2022 What Would the Apostle Paul Think of The Trinity Joel Scheller January 9, 2023 What Is a Viable [...]

2023-01-23T15:06:03-05:00January 23rd, 2023|Public Forum|

Paul and the Gospels: Platinum Guest Post by Ryan Fleming

One of the very big issues of New Testament studies is the relationship between the teaching of Paul and the preaching of Jesus.  Are these basically the same?  Irreconcileably different?  Weirdly unalike?  Understandably similar?  Something else? Here in this Platinum Guest Post, Ryan Fleming provides an intriguing approach to the question, which raises lots of questions and should arouse a range of different opinions.  What do you think? And what do you think of sending in a Platinum post of your own?  It doesn't have to be massively learned or informed: just whatever you want to address to a group of otherwise well-meaning, generous, and similarly-interested human beings.  If you have something, send it along!  Or feel free to ask me about it. In the meantime here's Ryan on Jesus and Paul. ****************************** The seven New Testament letters attributed to the Apostle Paul (Galatians, 1 Thessalonians, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Romans, Philippians, and Philemon) are generally believed to have been written between 48 CE and 59 CE, roughly 15 to 29 years after the time [...]

2023-01-16T11:33:50-05:00January 13th, 2023|Public Forum|

What Is a Viable Christian Theology? Platinum Guest Post by Joel Scheller

Here is a thoughtful and interesting guest post by fellow Platinum member Joel Scheller.  It deals with something we don't get a lot of on the blog -- reflections on what actually would be an adequate approach to theology by modern, sophisticated believers.  Even if you're not a believer, there is a lot of food for thought here. The title Joel gives to it will make sense when you start reading.  It's an interesting conundrum: in what is Christian theology to be rooted?  John Wesley had ideas about it -- and that is certainly interesting historically.  The system has come to be known as the Wesleyan Quadrilateral.  OK, what's it all about and is it time to rethink it within the Methodist tradition?  As an outsider I find it a fascinating question.  Here are Joel's reflections. ****************************** Is it Time to Revisit the Wesleyan Quadrilateral? The Wesleyan Quadrilateral, a termed coined by American Methodist Albert Outler, is a reflection of what John Wesley viewed as the structural elements that inform theology.  Those elements, as listed in [...]

2023-01-06T11:51:42-05:00January 9th, 2023|Public Forum|

A FREEBIE for Gold and Platinum Members Only

Dear Gold and Platinum Members, As you may have noticed (and, well, as several of you have pointed out!) we have had technical difficulties in posting the Gold Q&A's the past several months.  We think we've worked out the kinks now and hope it won't happen again.  But it's been a flippin' nuisance for all involved -- especially YOU, the ones to whom these things are promised! SO, as an attempt at atonement (which does not involve either animal or human sacrifice), I'd like to offer you a blog gift -- for gold members only:  a free webinar. DATE:  Saturday January 28 TIME:  3:00 - 4:30 pm EST TITLE:  "A History of the Devil" DESCRIPTION:   Christians have always believed in the "Devil" (aka Satan, Beelzebub, the Prince of the Power of the Air, or ... name your politician).  But you won't find him in the Old Testament (even though you might think you *have* seen him there.  Hey, ain't he in the Garden of Eden?  Or in the book of Job?).   Where did the idea [...]

2023-01-05T12:13:24-05:00January 5th, 2023|Public Forum|

What Would the Apostle Paul Think of The Trinity? Platinum Guest Post by Joel Scheller

Now here's an intriguing question about early Christianity, posed and answered by Platinum Blog member Joel Scheller in a guest post for all you other Platinums.   One way to put the question is this: Would the apostle-Paul have been considered an arch-heretic in the fourth century?  A good case can be made!  Read on. And think about contributing a post yourself, on any topic connected to the blog.  Have an idea/thought?  Get it out there! For now -- here's Joel's most recent contribution.  He'll be happy to address your comments. ****************************** I find it interesting that so much Christian teaching is based on the Apostle Paul’s influence and yet the doctrine on the very nature of God for most Christians seems out of step with what Paul has to say on the subject. To start off with, The Nicene Creed was originally provoked by the question of how Jesus was God in relation to God the Father, with the inclusion of The Holy Spirit in the creed as almost an afterthought, and whose relationship in [...]

2022-11-29T10:59:06-05:00December 16th, 2022|Early Christian Doctrine, Paul and His Letters|

December Gold Q&A

It is time to schedule the Gold Q&A for December!   My plan is to record it this weekend -- which means I need your QUESTIONS. So you have something to ask?  It can be holiday related, non-holiday related, and anything-related-to-the-blog related.  Go for it!   I'm more likely to answer questions that are relatively short and to the point than those that go on for a long paragraph.  So be concise, I'll try to be informative, and the world will be a happy place. To enter your question on to the list: send it to Diane at [email protected] The DEADLINE for your question is this Saturday, December 17 midnight (whenever midnight is where you live). As has become our wont, we will release the recording in both video and audio --  for Gold members only.  I'm looking forward to it! Bart  

2022-12-14T11:55:31-05:00December 14th, 2022|Public Forum|

Is It A Sin To Be Transgender? Platinum guest post by Douglas Wadeson MD

Fellow Platinum Blog member Doug Wadeson, MD, is not afraid to take on the difficult questions.   Here's one I've never thought of posting on!  And one that is as important as it is interesting. As you know, these guest posts are by Platinum members for Platinum members; and occasionally we vote on one to be posted to the entire blog.  If you too want to come up with one -- go for it! But for now, here's Doug's post on transexualism and the Bible.  He will be happy to respond to your comments. ****************************** I recently read of a horrible incident in which a political candidate in Santa Rosa county, Florida, suggested that doctors who assisted with gender reassignment of young people should be hung from trees.[1]  Reportedly this comment was greeted with applause from the audience rather than outrage.  Applause for the suggestion of lynching someone?  Seriously?  Unfortunately, the negative, even hateful attitude toward transgender people and gender reassignment often comes from those claiming to be Bible-believing Christians.  Does the Bible say that having gender [...]

2022-11-28T15:33:09-05:00December 9th, 2022|Sex and Sexuality in the Bible|

Our Platinum Webinar: The Infancy Gospels!

Dear Platinum Members, Remember (or if you didn't hear about it the first time, then "member!"):  We have our December webinar THIS THURSDAY, Dec. 8, at 8:00 pm ET. I've decided to do something related to Christmas but in an indirect way, a talk on the apocryphal Infancy Gospels.  Or at least two of them:  The Infancy Gospel of Thomas (not to be confused with the Coptic Gospel of Thomas), which tells tales of the mischievous Jesus from ages 5-12, allegedly written by his brother Thomas; and the Proto-Gospel of James, which tells stories about Jesus' *mother* and her miraculous birth and life, to explain why she was fit to bear the Son of God, allegedly written by his brother James. These are two impeccable authorities: Jesus' own brothers.  What could go wrong? I hope you can come.  I'll give the talk and then have Q&A.  CAn't wait! Here’s the link: https://unc.zoom.us/j/97717226646?pwd=VG1rOFBDcnppV1FNQktJejZsVVZsZz09 Any questions or concerns, let me know!

2022-12-06T20:34:40-05:00December 6th, 2022|Public Forum|

November Gold Q&A

Dear Gold Members, First I'd like to apologize for a mess-up on the monthly Gold Q&A's.  It was not until a few days ago that I learned the October one had not been posted.  (Don't hesitate to tell me sooner next time!)  That was a complete snafu.  We collected your questions and I recorded the Q&A and then there was a communication breakdown.  I was out of the country and something fell through the cracks; we're not sure what or where, but we're taking steps to make sure it doesn't happen again.  So, sorry 'bout that.  The October Q&A is being posted now -- hopefully by tomorrow. The November Q&A is a different matter.  I have had a family emergency over the past couple of weeks that took me out of action (not just blog action!).  But I'm now able to get back on with life as we know it.  But that's why the November Q&A is and will be late.  On the upside -- you'll get TWO Q&A's in December! And there's another bit [...]

2022-11-29T10:48:10-05:00November 28th, 2022|Public Forum|

December Platinum Webinar!

Hey Platinum members!  I'm pleased to announce that our next Platinum Webinar for the blog will be on Thursday, December 8, at 8:00 pm ET. Topic TBA.  But I'll do my best to choose something interesting, and will let you know what it is anon. Here's the link: https://unc.zoom.us/j/97717226646?pwd=VG1rOFBDcnppV1FNQktJejZsVVZsZz09 Any questions or concerns, let us know. And thanks for being Platinum members: if we can improve your experience, let us be the first to hear you shout!  

2022-11-29T10:50:44-05:00November 28th, 2022|Public Forum|

A Challenge Grant to the Blog! Can You Help Match It?

Holiday Season Donation Challenge! I am very pleased to announce that we have received a $20,000 challenge grant from an anonymous donor on the blog.   For the challenge to be met, we need to raise another $20,000 among us.  C’est possible?  One can always hope! I am posting this request for gifts to meet the challenge to the Platinum members of the blog, hoping that we can find some generous assistance with us to meet the goal.  It’s obviously a good time of year for generosity; given the state of the world, no time has ever been better.   Every penny we bring in will go directly to our charities to support both disaster relief and the ongoing problems of hunger. Can you help us out?  We will appreciate anything you can donate, from a buck or two to, well, 20,000.  If you choose to make a donation, please do not respond here as a comment on the blog but write us to indicate the amount, and then simply go to the Blog site, scroll down [...]

2022-12-02T15:18:54-05:00November 26th, 2022|Public Forum|

October Gold Q&A

Dear Gold Members, How tempus fugits when you're havin' fun!  Time for our October Gold Q&A.   Have a question?  Give it a shot.  It can be anything related to the blog. To enter your question on to the list: send it to Diane at [email protected] The DEADLINE for your question is this Friday, October 21 midnight (whenever midnight is where you live).   I will record the session soon thereafter and we'll get it released by  October 27  or so. Questions that are short and to the point (a sentence or two) are more likely to be chosen.  And feel free to ask a tough one.  Outsmart Bart! Bart  

2022-11-01T10:45:29-04:00October 17th, 2022|Public Forum|

Suffering, Evil, and the Range Effect  Platinum Guest Post by Dennis J. Folds, Ph.D.

In this Platinum Guest Post for all you Platinums, Dennis Folds addresses one of the most consequential and intractable problems of human existence, with his own views of the matter.  This is certainly to be controversial?  Do you want to controverse?  Feel free to make comments! *********************** The problem of suffering has plagued theologians for centuries, and continues to haunt thinkers today, including the prodigious progenitor of this blog. Its cousin, the problem of evil, similarly challenges religious scholars to explain how a just and loving God (JLG) could create a world in which people experience extreme suffering, especially when caused by the intentional (evil) actions of other people. Many conclude that JLG doesn’t exist, and if there is a God, it doesn’t have the attributes we wish it had. In this post I’ll argue that the experience of suffering and the perception of evil are inevitable consequences of biological consciousness, because of a psychological phenomenon called the range effect. As such, suffering and evil are insufficient reasons to reject all notions of a God.  [...]

2022-10-06T17:35:16-04:00October 17th, 2022|Reflections and Ruminations|
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