Millions of people from all parts of the world will celebrate Easter because they, like I, believe what the early Gospel writers wrote about: that Jesus was raised from the dead and life eternal with Jesus in the kingdom of heaven is ours through faith in Jesus. Hallelujah!
By the time Jesus got to the outskirts of Jerusalem, the Jewish leaders -- the priests, the Pharisees, the Sanhedrin -- were concerned about the large number of people who apparently had joined up with him. Was Jesus about to launch a campaign to anoint himself as the expected Messiah?
This strange early twentieth-century expression of religious faith is not widespread -- confined to a small number of churches in the southeastern United States -- but has its roots in a literal reading of a cluster of biblical metaphors.
This is one of the issues we find in modern, "biblical" archaeology: the need to locate everything mentioned in Holy Writ. Scripture is the only place Dalmanutha is mentioned. It is not found in other sources of the time.
There are basically two kinds of scholars: The "scholars' scholar," who concentrates on very advanced levels of research that other scholars understand, and the "laymen's scholar," who focuses on scholarly matters of a less intense nature that the average layperson understands.
I left the movie Man of Steel pleased that the modern version of Superman was actually good but pondered on the depiction of any superhero of any sort could be compared to Jesus. Or is this just plain sacrilege?
So, the question really remains -- who killed Jesus? If we read the Gospels poorly, as with what is labeled "face value" or "plain sense", we will always have to decide between the three usual culprits: God, the Romans, or the Jewish leaders.
For those who believe God's Spirit does work in the world through signs and miracles, tragedies can function as intellectual puzzles, but they should never stop us from responding with heart, head and hands.
Voting should be an easy affair: people of faith should vote for the candidates whose policies would most embody a love of God and neighbor. It seems so easy, but it isn't if we are honest with ourselves and gracious toward those who disagree with our political persuasions.
I don't know what theological changes are needed to save American evangelicals, but I really don't think that we're destined to howl in the graveyard forever. The pigs are headed for the lake, and I believe for the first time in my life that the evangelicals are going to make it.
The Bible is neither an operating manual nor a policy book. In all its soaring ideals and unsettling messiness, it reflects to us -- sometimes clearly, sometimes dimly -- what we might find near to God's heart.
Jesus trys to protect them with a strong prohibition against divorce. Perhaps this sheds new light on the recent discovery of a fourth-century fragment of papyrus which contains the line, "Jesus said to them, 'My wife...'"
The question lingers unanswered through time, waiting for us: Is God really OK with something like this? Couldn't God's relinquishment of Jesus be tantamount to moral negligence? Couldn't there be a neater, more peaceful solution?
When it came time for me to preach on one of the hard texts in the Gospel, where Jesus compares a woman begging him for help to a dog, I asked, "Did Jesus just call that woman a bitch?" And then I remembered Latrice Royale.
Pious readers encountering this question may be shocked or offended. It borders on being disrespectful, even unseemly. Yet that's the question that kept coming to mind as I read the passage many preachers will be dealing with this coming Sunday.
The astonishing (and scary) aspect of religion turned into legal or ritual or cultural (patriotic) observance is that Jesus, as marginalized one, as crucified one outside the city walls, is once again left out of the picture! God is abandoned. There is only lip service.
I am appalled that those expressing the most disrespectful attitudes toward women tend to do so in the name of God. Well, I have some biblical news for the politicians out there: The people who get to speak for God are called prophets.