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Joel L. Watts
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Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is the author of "Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary" (Wipf and Stock, 2013) and a co-editor of From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013). He blogs daily at http://unsettledchristianity.com.

Entries by Joel L. Watts

The UMC Is Not Heading for a Split -- unless 0.00064 Percent Count as the Majority

(0) Comments | Posted May 28, 2014 | 5:59 PM

I greatly appreciate Sarah Pulliam Bailey's recent article "United Methodist Church Faces Schism Over Same-Sex Marriage Doctrine." It is filled with great truth and insight into our current struggles -- but it lacks one thing, the voice of the vast middle. Between the two extremes of the United...

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The Uncomfor(ming)table Middle in the #UMC

(1) Comments | Posted April 9, 2014 | 2:09 PM

When I was moving out of the cult of fundamentalism to a more robust and liberating faith, the Rev. Mark Stevens advised to me to refrain from being as liberal as I was once fundamentalist (and the reverse is true as well). I am eternally grateful for that piece of...

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I'm Calling a Mulligan on the American Church

(8) Comments | Posted March 4, 2014 | 11:55 AM

A mulligan is not exactly a second chance, but the removal of the first instance without penalty. American Christianity is in the slumps. We are losing members because of our anti-gay stance, our anti-science stance, and our anti-sex stance not to mention our long history of abuses and current trend...

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I'm a Parent or a Tech Guy, but I'm Not Prepared to Be Both

(0) Comments | Posted February 19, 2014 | 2:16 PM

I needed help. A few weekends ago, I realized my 11-year-old daughter has friends with parents who don't care what their child does online. Because of this, I discovered a Twitter and Instagram account maintained by other children at my daughter's middle school.

If you can imagine all of the...

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The Best Prophets and Theologians Question You and God

(10) Comments | Posted January 9, 2014 | 1:41 PM

Most of us, regardless of religious preferences, are familiar enough with the term prophet, although I suspect many of us would care nothing for real one. No, I do not mean those you see on television or who casually place the word before there names. No, rather, I mean to...

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The Economics of Jesus -- Capitalism or Socialism?

(53) Comments | Posted December 4, 2013 | 2:26 PM

Jon Moseley, a Tea Party member, declares Jesus Christ is a capitalist. He writes against Pope Francis's Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel. Jon sells vacation packages to the Bahamas. The Holy Father is a trained theologian, chemist, and philosopher who is the spiritual leader of the...

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Was Jesus a Roman Invention?

(29) Comments | Posted October 11, 2013 | 5:10 PM

Joseph Atwill, a computer scientist, has taken to calling himself a 'bible scholar' complete with startling revelations threatening to undo Christianity. It appears anyone can now call him or herself a bible scholar, and their production scholarship, without anyone questioning their credentials.

With a few hundred dollars, an individual...

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Review of Killing Jesus: A History

(60) Comments | Posted September 25, 2013 | 11:26 AM

I recently live-blogged Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard's latest book, Killing Jesus: A History. You can find them here.

Simply put, there is nothing here beyond an attempt at agenda-driven drivel produced for the lowest common denominator. I wish I had my day back.

There are numerous issues with...

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Dalmanutha Has Not Been Found -- It Doesn't Exist

(51) Comments | Posted September 20, 2013 | 6:21 PM

Dalmanutha has not been found. Well, it has; we've known the location of Mark's mysterious town since Matthew wrote his Gospel in the latter quarter of the first century.

Ken Dark has written:

It is hard to imagine that a Roman-period coastal community of this size is nowhere mentioned...

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Mr. Rogers Can Still Teach Us (About Biblical Context)

(81) Comments | Posted September 6, 2013 | 5:34 PM

Fred Rogers (1928-2003) is perhaps one of the most beloved characters from many of our childhoods. For those of you too young to remember, he was the guy with the soft, unassuming voice who brought us education and morality lessons disguised as puppet shows.

Currently, there is a gif...

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Are the Gospels Made-up?

(258) Comments | Posted July 29, 2013 | 5:49 PM

That's a pejorative way of asking it, isn't it? We have a lot of emotional baggage attached to the words 'made-up' and 'fiction.' When we hear these words, we immediately think false! Add those words to the stories about Jesus in the New Testament and you have a religious war...

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A Family Discussion: A Progressive Response to the UMC, IRD, and LGBT

(55) Comments | Posted July 23, 2013 | 10:57 AM

I write this in conjunction with Rev. Christopher Tiedeman, Pastor of Forest United Methodist Church and blogger.

There is an echo chamber into which many conservative United Methodists are shouting that the denomination still upholds the definition of marriage exists only between one man and one woman.  In the wake of...

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Romans 1.26-7: The Bible 'Says' Homosexuality Is a Sin?

(2320) Comments | Posted July 19, 2013 | 12:04 PM

"The bible says" is often the excuse employed by homophobic Christians who believe scripture requires a condemnation of homosexuality. The bible is a neutral object. It only "says" something when we act upon it. This is why we as actors must use this prop in a Shakespearean manner and not...

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Hollywood's New Address

(0) Comments | Posted July 16, 2013 | 5:59 PM

Two iconic directors have recently warned of an impending implosion in Hollywood. The forecast is bleak, with tiered tickets, shuttered movie studios, and the loss of artistic quality. With audience appreciation in decline and independents rising, are we likely to see a return to what made Hollywood great?

There...

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Review of The Address of Happiness

(0) Comments | Posted June 25, 2013 | 11:33 AM

There came a time in reading this brief, beautiful book when I sat in my chair, looked out my sixth floor window and wondered if it made sense to continue. A sudden burst of emotion had sprang from the pages to knock me back, to wet my eyes...

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What if Jesus Was Real?

(389) Comments | Posted June 19, 2013 | 1:22 PM

That's a difficult question for many to read. It could mean, possibly, this author believes Jesus was not real or at least has doubts as to the existence of a Jesus. And maybe that is why the question is put the way it is. After all, it is less of...

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Clinton/Christie 2016?

(71) Comments | Posted June 18, 2013 | 7:15 PM

In the middle of the Civil War, a time trying the souls of all, a presidential election was held. It had to be. The presidential election of 1864 was a marvelous display of what is right with the American political process, even if it had to take place during the...

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A Theologian's Review of Man of Steel

(9) Comments | Posted June 17, 2013 | 5:19 PM

I am unsure as where to start.

This movie is everything one could hope for in a Superman movie in today's current cinematic sphere. It has the naturalness of "realistic," as much as realism is attached to a story about aliens and a man who can fly. Several key story...

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Finding a Christian Way Forward on Gay Marriage in the Things Unsaid

(120) Comments | Posted June 10, 2013 | 10:00 AM

In a recent op-ed signed by three prominent and esteemed biblical scholars, it was put forth that the Bible does not contain a single definition of marriage. They are quite right. As usual, the anti-gay rights side has attempted a rebuttal while others are...

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Abusive Theology, Oklahoma and Us

(83) Comments | Posted May 24, 2013 | 12:34 AM

It would seem when John Piper tweets, the world takes notice in much the same way it notices the words Pat Robertson says -- with much gnashing of teeth. Almost immediately after the monster of massive currents touched down in Moore, Okla, John Piper tweeted Job 1.19: "and behold, a...

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