Monday, June 23, 2014

Answering Answers in Genesis

I came across this article on reddit and responded there so I decided to share my thoughts here as well. I don't spend much time here responding to blogs, as I like to reserve this space for deep reflection. Once in a while, I rant about closed-minded thinking, but I think critiquing actual arguments helps make that more interesting.

Tim Chaffey, Answers in Genesis (AiG), responds to a reader who believes that the Bible should not be "interpreted literally" and that we should just focus on the message of salvation.

Here is my response to Tim Chaffey:
Tim Chaffey: Title: Tim Chaffey, AiG–U.S., responds to a reader, who believes that the Bible should not be interpreted literally and that we should just focus on the message of salvation.
I do wonder if the reader would affirm this title. I somehow doubt s/he would, since "focusing on the message of salvation" means a decidedly deeper treatment of the Bible, rather than just a nonliteral approach to the whole thing. S/he clearly believes the story of Jesus is literal.
Tim Chaffey: however, being “open to other religious thought” is directly opposed to clear teachings in God’s Word.
This is mind-numbingly stupid. One can affirm all the cited verses and still be open to other religious thought.
Tim Chaffey: Why do you say no one can claim to know the true nature of God and how the earth was created?
Because nobody is capable of knowing the mind of God or how the earth was created. God told Moses he couldn't see God and live. What does that tell us about His true nature?
Tim Chaffey: In Genesis 1 and Exodus 20:11, the Lord told us that He made everything in six days. Why would you reject God’s revelation of Himself and the truth in His Word?
Exodus tells us the proper exegesis of the Genesis 1 story: to tell humans they ought to observe a Sabbath day. To reject this is to not keep the Sabbath. The same way rejecting Jesus' parables means to reject an underlying principle.
Tim Chaffey: You are certainly entitled to your beliefs, but if this is merely your opinion, then your claims are simply arbitrary. Do you have any rational reason for claiming these things?
If I were to hazard a guess, the reader is comparing AiG to the taliban because they are brainwashing children to oppose science education using a dogmatic hermeneutic to interpret scripture. AiG can pretend their interpretation is the only valid one, but ignoring the comparison is just a dodge.
Tim Chaffey: Not only is your argument a non-sequitir (i.e., supporting the Amish way of life does not follow from our acceptance of the biblical account of creation), it shows that you do not recognize the stark difference between historical (origins) science and operational (observational) science.
Historical vs operational science is an imaginary distinction dreamt up by AiG. There is no line so neatly drawn between the two. Maybe a proper understanding of scientific terminology would help AiG make their case that YEC falls into the realm of historical science, but this remains to be seen.
Tim Chaffey: The big difference is that evolutionists have no eyewitness testimony to help them interpret the circumstantial evidence, whereas creationists do: we have an accurate record (the Bible) from God—the infallible eyewitness of creation and all history.
It's nice to finally read AiG's real explanation of this harebrained idea. The Bible is not an eyewitness to creation, nor does it ever claim to be. God did not write the Bible, He inspired man to write it. And it wasn't written until hundreds of years after AiG says it happened. At least evolutionists look at fossil formations and recognize development patterns and find corroborative evidence.
Tim Chaffey: A few minutes of searching our website would reveal that Answers in Genesis employs several PhD scientists, and many of our employees hold advanced degrees in various disciplines of science, theology, history, etc.
Am I right in thinking Tim just vaguely referenced the AiG website to support the claim that their employees are well educated? This is a poor response to a question that deserves an answer.
Tim Chaffey: But our desire at AiG is to stay within the “box” of Scripture. Why would we ever want to think anything contrary to what the all-knowing, all-powerful God has revealed?
It would be nice if this was actually true. But AiG has airbrushed out the prevalent ancient cosmology model described throughout scripture. Unless they concede that the Bible's view of the universe looks more like a snowglobe sitting on pillars, they aren't reading it "literally". If AiG wants to admit they pick and choose what to take literally after that, then we can talk about who takes reasonable assumptions further. The problem for me isn't that YEC can't be a valid interpretation of scripture, it's that YEC must be decidedly inconsistent in order to make sense of the natural world. I don't understand what problem this solves for anyone in the 21st century.
Tim Chaffey: Have you ever thought outside the box of evolution and millions of years that you (like we) have been taught to believe all your life in school, museums, science programs on TV, and so on?
Yes. The problem is when we choose stubborn rhetoric over scientific inquiry.
Tim Chaffey: Furthermore, the biblical teaching that simply by His spoken word (Genesis 1, Psalm 33:6–9) God created “the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them” in six days (Exodus 20:11) shows a vastly more powerful, intelligent, loving, and just God than one who needs to use billions of years’ worth of death, suffering, disease, bloodshed, and extinction to create.
And this is why I believe the YEC argument is purely theodical and not scientific. And this isn't even good theology.
Tim Chaffey: Why would God, for example, create the sun, moon, and stars so that man could measure days, seasons, and years (Genesis 1:14), and then wait billions of years before creating man, the first physical being who could tell time?
Because God is infinitely patient.
Tim Chaffey: And why would He create plants millions of years before man, birds, and most land animals, when plants were made to be a source of food for man, birds, and the other animals (Genesis 1:29–30)?
Oil comes to mind... But seriously, this is no more questioning God than what we see in Job.
Tim Chaffey: And why would He create billions of creatures to live and die and even become extinct millions of years before He created man to rule over them?
Why would He create billions of stars billions of lightyears away in order to fill our sky at night? Anthropocentrism much? We could ask these same questions of the stories we see in Genesis anyway. Why flood the earth so soon after creating mankind, for example?
Tim Chaffey: A god who would use evolution and millions of years to create would be weak and wicked, not the God of the Bible. And such a god would not be worthy of worship, especially if that same god lied about how long it took him to create everything (i.e., saying that everything was made in six days when it really was billions of years).
This simply requires an explanation. Why would that God be more wicked, weak, unworthy of worship, or a liar? Why should we believe Genesis is written in step logic rather than block logic? Why should we believe Adam was a person who could comprehend anything beyond what was instructional for him on a weekly basis? Like Sabbath rest?
Tim Chaffey: Actually, the Bible can be interpreted literally. The real question is, should the Bible be interpreted literally? And the correct answer is that each passage should be interpreted according to the standard principles of interpretation for that particular type of literature.
Yes... but the genre of Genesis 1-7 is not exactly "historical narrative" but origin myth. Nobody in the ancient world thought about historicity in their writing. It's pretty evident early Hebrews didn't either.
Tim Chaffey: Again, you are exhibiting cultural and chronological snobbery. So the people to whom the Bible was originally written existed before there were any discoveries and technological advances? Hardly...
...Are we still talking about "historical" science, AiG?
Tim Chaffey: Your comment was not only a put-down to intelligent people who lived long ago, but it was actually an attack on the perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture and the intelligence or integrity of God, who created man and gave him the mandate to study, manage, and rule over the rest of creation (Genesis 1:26–28).
Except the Bible isn't clear on these matters, and does not intend to be. That says nothing about God's intelligence or integrity, only that He cares enough to tell the first humans in simple language that they have a place in the world and how to operate within it.
Tim Chaffey: What we reject are the atheistic assumptions used to imagine the method and timetable of creation. The millions of years of evolution are not a discovery but an invention in the minds of Darwin and many others who attempt to use science to justify their denial of the God who made them.
Here we go. Conflating atheism with methodological naturalism once again. Well done.
Tim Chaffey: As someone who proclaims belief in God, you have no excuse for rejecting the truths He has clearly revealed in His Word about the “method and timetable of creation.”
Concern trolling. All the reader is doing is rejecting AiG's assumptions used to imagine the method and timetable of creation. The 6 days of creation are not a discovery but a poorly illiterate invention in the minds of AiG and many others who attempt to use science to prove God (to use your words inversely).
Tim Chaffey: Since God has always existed, knows everything, and has told us what He did, we will trust His Word any day over the ever-changing opinions of man.
Well someone should have told Job that what God did was so clear since the dawn of man. Oh, wait, God told Job that he could not comprehend it.
Tim Chaffey: Perhaps you could tell us why 2 Peter 3:8—a passage originally written in Greek in the context of discussing the attitude of scoffers leading up to the Second Coming of Christ—should be used to reinterpret the historical narrative of Genesis 1—a passage originally written in Hebrew explaining what God did during the Creation Week. This is not a responsible way to interpret the Bible.
Does 2 Peter 3 not tell us something about the true nature of God? Or were you using selective data to support your premise?
Tim Chaffey: Even if it was legitimate, what would it prove?
That hyperbolic language is one way the Bible talks about God and creation.
Tim Chaffey: It’s not complicated at all. But it is foolish and arrogant to reject God’s Word and twist its meaning to fit what sinful man thinks about origins.
Yet God trusted sinful man to write the Bible and interpret it, and develop other modes of inquiry such as the scientific method.
Tim Chaffey: The Bible also teaches that He was born of a virgin. Yet modern scientific consensus is against virgin births, resurrections from the dead, and miracles altogether. Why do you still believe these things despite what the majority of scientists believe?
Because the virgin birth is presented as an extraordinary event and fully acknowledged as such. There is reason to consider miracles. But we have insurmountable evidence that the earth is very old, and that the universe has existed long beforehand. If we had insurmountable evidence that Jesus was not born of a virgin, then we would have to reexamine that. No big deal.
Tim Chaffey: Why do you arbitrarily choose which portions of Scripture you want to believe and which sections to reject?
Who is rejecting any portion of scripture? Why do you reject the ancient cosmological model? Why do you believe this is the primary message of Genesis? Couldn't it be perfectly acceptable to believe that Genesis 1-7 was counter-polemic to surrounding polytheistic origin myths? Why does this more popular approach diminish God's word?
Tim Chaffey: Then why did God include these details in His Word? If God merely wanted us to know that He is the Creator and that He made us in His image, then He could have simply given us Genesis 1:1 and 1:26–27.
A better question might be, why did man write these details? Couldn't it be more about the theology of rejecting Sun worship and introducing monotheistic concepts within a palatable and relatable worldview?
Tim Chaffey: If Adam was not a literal, historical person who literally rebelled against God by eating a literal fruit, thus bringing in the Curse upon this world, then why did Jesus (a descendant of the literal Adam) come to die on the Cross?
Because the name Adam means "Man" and as such he is a proto-archetype of mankind. We all sin like Adam, we all eat forbidden fruit, and we all bring the curse upon this world. If you can't see Christ as a messiah representing and redeeming all mankind, then I have to question your understanding of Christianity.
Tim Chaffey: If we say the account in Genesis 1–11 is not true, then that opens the door for others to deny the rest of Scripture.
Of course, the word "true" does not necessarily mean "literal". We believe Jesus' parables were all true, but not literal. This also dismisses ancient writing styles by suggesting they meant to say something literal or historical.
Tim Chaffey: If this is what God has called us to do, then how could it possibly be a waste of time and effort?
I wonder what you think about the people working at Biologos. Are they doing what God has called them to do? Are their time and efforts being wasted?
Tim Chaffey: Furthermore, based on many of the positive comments we receive, we know this ministry has long been a blessing to Christians, and God has even used us on many occasions to lead people to salvation that can only be found in Jesus Christ.
And a curse for so many others, and countless led astray. Too many to be sure.
Tim Chaffey: Our primary desire is not to see people become young-earth creationists.
Then you shouldn't question the salvation of those who disagree with you on this issue. Yet you do so in the next sentence.
Tim Chaffey: God does not resort to multiple logical fallacies when correcting and rebuking people. Nor did He ever insist that people reject the plain meaning of His Word.
I've counted many fallacies in this very response, and a plain reading of scripture is often confused for ignoring presuppositional biases and ignoring context or respect for ancient audiences.
Tim Chaffey: I hope you will consider what I have written and make the commitment to trust God’s infallible and inerrant Word over the ever-changing fallible ideas of men.
Thanks but I'll stick to acknowledging all of what it tells me and just following Jesus. Not airbrushing out what I know is erroneous and pretending Christ's truth is at stake.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Noah: A Christian Filmmaker Review

I saw the Noah movie recently, and I was thoroughly impressed. Both as a Christian and as a filmmaker.

I believe in storytelling. Stories are an immensely powerful contribution to the cosmos; in fact a solely human one. I believe narrative is more valuable than facts when it comes to retelling history, and I don't see this as a negative thing at all. We humans are very intelligent. We have the capacity to extract symbols, lessons, and patterns from our history and this separates us from any other created being we're aware of.

Noah is a perfect picture of this. Ancient Mesopotamian flood stories concern the epics of Ziusudra, Gilgamesh, and Atrahasis. Yet Moses retells these polytheistic tales as an amalgamated monomyth.

With regards to the Bible and Noah's story in particular, adaptation to film is a daunting and laudable task. We need to recognize this first and foremost. We have four short chapters in Genesis from which to draw from unless we visit extra-biblical texts, so thank God they did just that. The rabbinic literature gives us a fully fleshed character of Noah, tells us what the land was like, and paints a cinematic backdrop picture of despair. From this we can see the protagonist too troubled by doom to provide wives for his children. Our hero in this epic is about as equally stupid as he is wise.

What we also get from the rabbinic literature is a sense that Noah had the power to change God's mind all along. This is certainly a question we all ask about Noah's faithfulness, whether his faith was virtuous or lacking. This causes us to question whether God was wiping the creation slate clean of corrupted humanity, or if all this was done in vain due to Noah's obstinance.

What a proper movie about Noah needs to remind us of is that Genesis is a Jewish text. We typically forget this by interpreting and then translating while ethnocentrically cleansing ancient Jewish narratives. Christianity has neutered the world in trying to recast an untenable law, and this becomes problematic when we try to look at our human selves in the mirror of history. A filmmaker's role is to show us humanity, and let us ask questions without resolve. The Bible writers already do a great job confounding the wise and stumbling the prude. Christians can and should see this adaptation as a unique opportunity to revisit the Old Testament with the revelation and fervor that the New Testament writers had. We have a unique opportunity to discover signposts to Jesus inside Jewish storytelling, and this is a wonderful thing.

From a Christian perspective, it's really great to see a film that does not shy away from, but successfully captures the essence of Biblical themes. Barrenness, child sacrifice, ancient cosmology, birthright, tabernacle, God's silence, fallen (and fully integrated) human nature, and misguided zeal. Inside Aronofsky's Noah we can also see Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and Jonah. I also saw some New Testament parallels as well: Inverted Saviour, baptism, incense, grace, and mercy.

For anyone looking for a literalist interpretation of Noah, this movie should rightly question your current ideas about reading the Bible literally. This film captures the world the ancient writers lived in and wrote about. Living in the 21st century, we have airbrushed some of these ideas out, and we need to recognize that. Their earth was flat. The only thing sphere-shaped was the sky. Their whole world was flooded. We need to enter this world and embrace it for the pre-scientific logic that it has. Of course we now recognize that stars are billions of light years away, that only the Mesopotamian basin probably flooded, and that the earth is a sphere revolving around a much larger sun. We can't pick and choose some of these facts while dismissing others, and we can't succumb to cognitive dissonance to inform our theology.

If liberties like giant rock-encrusted fallen angels bothers you, and the plausibility of Nephilim skeletal remains does not, then let's be honest, Aronofsky's film is not based on a comic book – our faith is. We need to celebrate and embrace liberty in narrative as a larger vehicle for truth, because that's exactly what Noah's story is: a liberating adaptation of stories from surrounding cultures.

Other noteworthy reviews:
16 Random, Non-spoiler, Thoughts on Noah

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Is Hell Good for the Gospel?

For most of my life I struggled with the notion that the gospel message meant Jesus took my place on the cross and suffered God's wrath instead of me. Something prompted me to find out if this was always part of the gospel message. As it turns out, the dominant view held by the Church for the first 300 years was Moral Influence, which evolved to what would remain the dominant view for 1,000 years as Ransom Theory (Jesus tricked the devil) and Christus Victor (Jesus conquered death for all). It wasn't until the 11th century that Anselm's idea that God is offended by sin took over, and it wasn't until the 16th century that judicial punishment became a catalyst for Jesus' death that has shaped much of Protestant thinking today.

My criticism of the "divine courtroom" idea is that the only plaintiff I see in scripture is Satan. It is Jesus who tells us that God is not offended or repulsed by His beloved creation; it is our shame that creates an illusion of disconnect. So I think this penal substitution idea has more to do with John Calvin who was a lawyer, and likely read the Bible through this lens.

I believe the intention of the Reformation was to return to our early Christian roots, and I believe this was right in spirit (which is why I consider myself Protestant), but it was executed poorly.

As Mark Driscoll likes to say, bad theology is reactionary exegesis. So as a reaction against Catholic Indulgences (clergy atones with money for past sins to avoid temporal punishment), the gospel message was devolved into a form of psychological torture by trying to counter this.

Christians are supposed to be afraid of God. We are supposed to be afraid of judging other people in a way that God would not. But instead we are afraid of the possibility that God is not merciful enough to love us as we are, just only as we should be. I take great comfort knowing that this is not really fear, but lack of faith. What strikes me as alarmingly inconsistent is we do not trust that God is good and merciful enough to love his enemies. Because nothing could be more scandalous.

It's very clear from scripture that God's love for humans does not depend on our first loving him, being righteous, or having faith in him. If God loved only believers and hated his enemies, then "love your enemies" would require us to meet a moral standard higher than God himself, and that is clearly absurd.

But don't God's enemies burn in hell?

The Bible says God loves wrongdoers, unrighteous people, and even his enemies; not just people who believe in Christ. Where a distinction is made is between all being purified and reconciled by Christ's death and some being saved by his life. These are two different things.
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. ~ Paul, Romans 5:10

So what does it mean to be saved by his life? Jesus lived his life as a sacrifice for others. The great commission is a call to be refined by God's love, and to be subservient to his will. He invites us to get an early start on hell.
Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. ~ Isaiah 48:10
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father. If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.~ Hebrews 12:7-8
Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die... This is what makes the gospel sound so foolish. But this is what makes the gospel so necessary – we are invited to participate in the salvation of everyone by joining Jesus in dying to the sin of our ego and being resurrected into a life of corrective discipline filled with significant challenges and monumentous victories.
This is right and it pleases God our savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. There is one God and one mediator between God and humanity: Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a payment to set all people free. ~ 1 Timothy 2:3-6
So let's be afraid. Let's be afraid of doubting God's goodness. Because who would want to be that guy who used fear of death to coerce people into heaven?

What we want––what we need from Christianity is real good news: really real unconditional love. No doctrinal stipulations, no deathbed ultimatums, and no limit to God's saving power and mercy. What started my investigation was wondering why the gospel couldn't just be about this man named Jesus: the Saviour who gives us life more abundantly by liberating everyone from sin and death. Well as it turns out, that's exactly what the good news has been from the very beginning. Taste and see, no strings attached.
All men are Christ's, some by knowing Him, the rest not yet. He is the Savior, not of some and the rest not. For how is He Savior and Lord, if not the Savior and Lord of all? ~ Clement of Alexandria, 150 – 215 AD

Further reading:
Eternal Torment vs Universal Reconciliation
The Church Fathers on Universalism
The History of Hell (Mark Edward)
A Hell of a Question

The film that got me thinking:

Friday, March 28, 2014

Religion: Man Made. For Men.

Troll Question:
Why does God hate women?
The meme misquotes and misinterprets what's going on.

For example, in Leviticus we are dealing with someone who is an indentured servant (this was not lifelong slavery but a way to work off debt). It's not treated as adultery on her part because she is engaged. It's not dealing with rape because there was a specific word for forcible sex and it's not used here. Both are punished because both have committed a sin. Also, it doesn't say he was her master. It could have been anyone.

In Exodus, it's also not dealing with rape; she's coming into the household with a marriage in mind, not to be raped.

If no one has slept with her, but they decide a marriage should not take place, she goes free. If not, she's married by the father or son. The reason she does not go free (meaning leave) is because she is married. She is given the rights of a daughter.

So it seems this meme was created by someone who is misreading the Hebrew Bible, and unfamiliar with Ancient Near Eastern law. Rather than assuming the bible promotes one univocal message about men and women, it may be better to consider that there are multiple perspectives within its pages. Given this poor treatment of the Bible, it is fair enough to assume the other religious texts quoted have likely been misconstrued as well. I have not explored those texts, but I am interested in hearing any Buddhist, Jainist, or Muslim interpretations of them.

Much controversy.
I should mention that Christians that are complementarian and teach male headship do not look to the Old Testament to support their interpretation, but look to Paul's second letter to Timothy. However, historical and cultural context tells us much about what Timothy was dealing with in Ephesus. Paul gives us certain clues that Artemis mythology pervaded the church there, and he chose to use Genesis counter-narrative to address it. If male headship feels patriarchal and 'un'complementary, that is probably because it is. Paul's letters were written in submission to laws of a culture under Roman occupation after all.

I think it's important to recognize that human history is deeply patriarchal, regardless of our true equal nature. So seeing egalitarian themes in ancient texts, especially the Old Testament, can appear nuanced and subtle. It was Jesus who really set the stage for female equality in leadership, and it was only a seed that was planted at that. We have limited material from the early church, but we do have reference to Lydia, Junia, Priscilla & Phoebe as influential women in high leadership positions, even instructing men. It should also be noted that the first witnesses of the resurrection were women - Mary & Martha. This is important because utilizing women in a culture that suppresses women gives a massive amount of integrity to the historicity of the resurrection claim. And it would seem the apostles received this message.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.~ Paul, Galatians 3:28

Jesus gives us all proper status as equals. If we truly love Jesus, we need to elevate women and give them equal human status like Jesus did.

Quote Mined Theology

**This is an organized collection of inspirational quotes I've shared via Facebook over the past year. These are some of the people that have influenced my thinking as of late.**

Come up with a very wise quote and you will be remembered forever.
~ Anonymous

Chaos is found in greatest abundance wherever order is being sought. It always defeats order, because it is better organized.
~ Ly Tin Wheedle

You must translate every bit of your Theology into the vernacular...if you cannot...then your thoughts were confused.
~ C. S. Lewis

Don't be in such a hurry to condemn a person because he doesn't do what you do, or think as you think. There was a time when you didn't know what you know today.
~ Malcom X

It is better not to judge. To live in the fear of God means to be afraid to judge someone else in a sinful way, and not as God would judge them.
~ Elder Sophrony

I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.
~ Dorothy Day

Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.
~ Carl Jung

I dare you to trust that I love you just as you are, and not as you should be.
~ Jesus, in the words of Brennan Manning

When a difficult past is your only framework for the future, it might be time to re-imagine your present.
~ Kurt Willems

May all your expectations be frustrated. May all your plans be thwarted. May all of your desires be withered into nothingness. That you may experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child and sing and dance in the love of God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.
~ Jean Vanier

Perhaps the most dangerous temptation to Christianity is to get itself officialized in some version by a government, following pretty exactly the pattern the chief priest and his crowd at the trial of Jesus. For want of a Pilate of their own, some Christians would accept a Constantine or whomever might be the current incarnation of Caesar.
~ Wendell Berry

Confound authority with creativity. You'll get away with it. Over and over again.
~ Aivan Levy

Every presenter has the potential to be great; every presentation is high stakes; and every audience deserves the absolute best.
~ Nancy Duarte

People who are not creative may not value creativity, even if they can identify it.
~ John Cleese

The fact is that politicians do make decisions based on the information they have at hand and these can result in unintended consequences. Politicians remember stories because they are visual and if the story is centered on an issue in their riding, they are even more likely to be sensitive to the issue.
~ Murray Porteous

The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common, they don’t alter their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views.
~ Dr. Who

Enforced uniformity confounds civil and religious liberty and denies the principles of Christianity and civility.
~ Roger Williams

The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don't tell you what to see.
~ Alexandra K. Trenfor

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
~ Aristotle

At times the Bible endorses values we should reject, praises acts we must condemn, and portrays God in ways we cannot accept. Rather than seeing this as a sign of disrespect, we should regard engaging in an ethical and theological critique of what we read in the Bible as an act of profound faithfulness.
~ Peter Enns

There are biblical justifications for violence that claim God desires violence. And yet, the Bible also critiques those justifications.
~ Bruxy Cavey

No one is to be called an enemy, all are your benefactors, and no one does you harm. You have no enemy except yourselves.
~ Francis of Assisi

Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I have found that it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.
~ Gandalf

From afar I thought it was a monster, closer I realized he was human, face to face I realized he was my brother.
~ African Proverb

Most of us undergo evolving into a human being at such an early age that we feel this transformation is innate. But North Korea reminds us that it's not.
~ John Green

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
~ Apostle Paul

It is not the strongest nor most intelligent species that survives, but the one most adaptable to change.
~ Charles Darwin

If all insects on Earth disappeared, within 50 years all life on Earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the Earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish.
~ Jonas Salk

We're in a time when human beings have become so powerful—we are such an abundant animal now. We've got technology that amplifies our impact on the planet at consumptive demand, a global economy that has made us so powerful that we're altering the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the planet on a geological scale. That's why scientists call this the 'Anthropocene Epoch'.
~ David Suzuki

There can never be any real opposition between religion and science; for one is the complement of the other.  Every serious and reflective person realizes, I think, that the religious element in his nature must be recognized and cultivated if all the powers of the human soul are to act together in perfect balance and harmony.  And indeed it was not by accident that the greatest thinkers of all ages were deeply religious souls.
~ Max Planck

Under the present brutal and primitive conditions on this planet, every person you meet should be regarded as one of the walking wounded. we have never seen a man or woman not slightly deranged by either anxiety or grief. we have never seen a totally sane human being.
~ Robert Anton Wilson

There is a long tradition of Christian thinkers who assume that salvation is the goal of all religions and then argue that only Christians can achieve this goal.
~ Stephen Prothero

The real question is not whether life exists after death. The real question is whether you are alive before death.
~ Osho

A carefully cultivated heart will, assisted by the grace of God, foresee, forestall, or transform most of the painful situations before which others stand like helpless children saying “Why?”
~ Dallas Willard

Moral relativism is the sort of thing one talks about once the room has cleared of anyone whose morals are not ready to be embraced.
~ Anonymous

Why do you call me good? Only God is truly good.
~ Jesus

Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that men never learn anything from history.
~ George Bernard Shaw