Shuck and Jive

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Blowing Out the Light in Enlightenment

A question for reflection:

Can a people that believes more fervently in the Virgin Birth than in evolution still be called an Enlightened nation?

Garry Wills asked that question in a NY Times Op-ed piece just after GW Bush won the 2004 election. The political strategists banked on getting out the religious conservative vote. Wills' thoughtful article will take about three minutes to read, but I have been reflecting upon it for nearly three years. He asks a profound question.

The Virgin Birth, the resuscitation of the corpse of Jesus (and its subsequent travel through the Milky Way to heaven), the return of same body in the clouds in the very near future to take care of the infidels, dinosaurs and cavemen hanging out together in the Garden of Eden, Noah floating a boat with two of every kind of animal on board, Jonah spending three days in the belly of a fish (and being belched up to tell about it) are fun, funny, and entertaining tales.

Yet apparently according to polls, and Karl Rove would know, Americans think is it more pious to believe these tales as historically accurate and thus "true" than not to do so. People are taught that they are good, moral, and faithful to truth, beauty and God if they put these stories on a par (and even above par) with enlightenment thinking.

It is up to clergy to stop cowering to religious dogma and to the defenders of said dogma and to start preaching that it is no virtue to equate myths with history, superstition with science, and fantasy with reality.

Relying on "the science" of Creationism will not help you with your next flu shot. We did not learn to walk on the moon, cure diseases, and turn on the lights because we really, really, really believed that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

We have a lot of issues to deal with as a human race. The same science that brought us electricity also brought us nuclear missiles. Now, it is time for the voices of spirituality, morality, and ethics, to listen and to speak. The values of stewardship, compassion, wisdom, justice, sharing the bounty of Earth, non-violence, self-sacrifice, and love of neighbor and enemy, are the treasures in the field of our religious tradition.

But when the clergy are so afraid of fundamentalist bullies that they can't even help their congregations understand the historical roots of their own religious stories, we get what we deserve--a country that thinks it is virtuous to believe in the Virgin Birth as opposed to Evolution. To quote Wills:

The secular states of modern Europe do not understand the fundamentalism of the American electorate. It is not what they had experienced from this country in the past. In fact, we now resemble those nations less than we do our putative enemies.

Where else do we find fundamentalist zeal, a rage at secularity, religious intolerance, fear of and hatred for modernity? Not in France or Britain or Germany or Italy or Spain. We find it in the Muslim world, in Al Qaeda, in Saddam Hussein's Sunni loyalists. Americans wonder that the rest of the world thinks us so dangerous, so single-minded, so impervious to international appeals. They fear jihad, no matter whose zeal is being expressed. (Read More)

It may be time for clergy to encourage parishioners to tithe their income and give it to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The church is doing its best to blow out the light of enlightenment. Someone needs to keep it lit.


  1. John,

    I share your frustration with fundamentalism and I can’t think of anything good to say about scientific creationism either. The Europeans know in their flesh the result of political, ideological and religious intolerance, and it must indeed frighten them to think that the place to where they used to run away to escape it has now become its sanctuary.

    But you seem to be presenting the opposite side of the same coin. You seem to buy into the same literal mechanistic interpretations of the stories they tell minus their belief in them. That seems like sort of a reactive faith rather than a proactive one: “Tell me what you believe and I’ll believe the opposite”

    That may not be completely fair, but I wonder what your faith would look like if you took it to another level?


  2. I think my answer to your question would be no, and for the response that you stated: the flu vaccine, developing materials that would aid flying to the moon, or any other scientific advancement wasn't really generated based on a belief in the Bible. (In fact, I remember reading somewhere that some Christians actually protested items such as vaccines, because they went against God's will. I think some Christians also protested drugs that help in childbirth, because the pain was 'justified punishment' thanks to Eve).

    But if we start saying that science has to match up to one particular book, then we aren't seeing where science will lead us, but rather we're putting boxes around science.

  3. Hi Jodie and Heather,

    Thank you both.

    Jodie this post was not a faith statement certainly. I am speaking about something very specific. This is, deconstruction before reconstruction.

    I am not trashing the Bible, but I am criticizing a dogma that surrounds the Bible. This dogma is a veil that keeps us not only from seeing the Bible's truth and beauty but it also keeps us from seeing the world as it is being revealed to us through science.

    As far as my own faith is concerned, I live the stories of the Bible. My life is transformed by and through my absorption of them.

    I don't talk about my faith much, because it sounds like I am boasting.

    For me, resurrection is not something you believe happened, it is something you live. You take risks for justice, you forgive and forgive and forgive, and you hope beyond what appears to be obvious incompetence that human beings are essentially good, caring, loving, and that that spirit will eventually bear fruit on Earth.

    I believe that humankind will regard war as unnatural.

    I believe that there will be no hungry mouths.

    I believe that the injustice will end.

    I believe that we will live in balance with Earth.

    I believe that we are attaining a higher level of consciousness.

    So what? Do I live it? That is the point I need faith and a community to spur me on so I can live my faith and not just talk about it.


  4. Can a people that believes more fervently in the Virgin Birth than in evolution still be called an Enlightened nation?

    This overlooks the obvious that the Creator can intercede but that does not remove the laws of nature. Jesus did not stop the seasons.

    I also wouldn't equate evolution with Enlightenment. There are numerous mistakes in the original theory and it's claim that all changes are random is pure presupposition. What scientists are seeing is a radical and complex reprogramming at certain stages as well as unfathomable complexity at the cellular level.

    I agree with Jody that, while the Dr. Hams of the world drive us both crazy, "I support the opposite" does not pass muster as critical thought. You risk becoming a mere photographic negative of Dr. Ham. Now that would be an ugly picture!


  5. As a good postmodernist I have to object that the enlightenment wasn't all that enlightened on a variety of issues. I, too, lament the kind of stubborn ignorance that results in things like the Creation Museum - but the various good things about the enlightenment also obscure a dark side, which has resulted in more death and devastation than many eras previous. Afterall, electricity and refrigeration are fruits of the enlightenment, but so are nuclear bombs and sarin nerve gas.

  6. John,

    Let me poke just a little.

    There is deconstruction that disassembles and sorts and there is deconstruction that dynamites and sweeps away.

    I know what you mean about dogma.

    Why can't the resurrection be something you live AND something that happened?

    Maybe even 'because'?

    My perception is not so much that dogma tries to keep us from seeing the Bible, but that it keeps us from seeing >all< the Bible. Even probably >most< of the Bible.

    Bypassing dogma and seeing that nothing in the Bible itself on its own terms keeps us from seeing and understanding the world around us on >its< own terms (e.g. science, art, literature), the whole dogma thing looses its grip.

    Having lost its grip, there is no need to fight it either. Your faith is truly free.

    And being truly free it lives into its purpose and produces its fruit.

    You name a few quite nicely.


  7. Jodie,

    Thank you for pushing! As I wander around the blogosphere and find the "Jodie" comments, I always take time to read them in full. Why? Because you are insightful. I appreciate that.

    We have had a little banter on other blogs and I am pleased that you have come here!

    I think it was Anselm that said, "Theology is faith seeking understanding" or something to that effect. "Seeking" is the operative word here. I am seeking understanding of my faith in the resurrection of Jesus.

    I made an error in my last comment when I said, "Resurrection is not something you believe happened." I meant to say, the resuscitation of the corpse of Jesus is something you don't need to believe happened. I think it is a critical difference.

    I started my blog last August with the question, "What if we found the body of Jesus?" Meaning that what if we found the remains of Jesus, would that take away your faith? I would even add: would that take away your faith in the resurrection?

    The answer for me is no. Resurrection is different than the resuscitation of the corpse of Jesus.

    Yet, I affirm (bet my life on it, in fact) in the resurrection of Jesus. Not only as an event that happened but as the first fruits of the event that is happening.

    We are participating in the resurrection of Jesus even now. This is what I think Paul was writing about. As we die to our old way of being we are reborn to a new way of being. We live the resurrection of Christ in our bodies now.

    We still wait for the fulfillment of that resurrection, but it has already begun.

    It has nothing to do with the corpse of Jesus. What if he was born 30 years later and was executed by Nero by fire and his ashes scattered to the winds?

    Would that have made his resurrection less real? Of course not!

    Paul (and as he announces hundreds of others) experienced Jesus's presence, his resurrection through mystical experiences.

    For Paul, that was evidence that the general resurrection (the kingdom of God, the arrival of the Son of Man, the New Creation) had already begun!

    We are living in the resurrection! Do you believe it? Do you see its fruits? Are you willing to participate in it?

    Those are the questions of faith for me.

    Many Blessings,

  8. John, you're more humanist than Christian.

    I think you're struggling because you're beginning to paint yourself into a theological corner, as evidenced by your conversation with Jodie on reurrection and resuscitation.

    Let me put it this way: do you belive in a corporeal resurrection of Christ, body and all? Or do you believe it was a spiritual one only?

    As for tithing to American science...John, if you've already debunked the Bible, why apply a tithe? it's a Biblical measure. Why not give everything away to science, and let it become the relgion you want...or would this be invoking Asimov's Nightfall??

    And Jodie, I'm a native born European and lived there for the first 38 years of my life. Greed, indifference, and unbelief are what motivates the European secular mind. All they want to live for is today, and to hell with tomorrow. They've gone back to the good old 1920s & 1930s...and guess where there secular hedonism ended up? Into the hands of fascism, where history shows that when civilsations become that way, they all end up that way.

  9. ** Meaning that what if we found the remains of Jesus, would that take away your faith? I would even add: would that take away your faith in the resurrection?**

    Actually, wouldn't finding the body of Jesus disprove the ascension more than the resurrection? A body simply means that Jesus would've lived a long life -- it wouldn't mean that the body didn't die and then resurrect three days later. It would simply mean that Jesus never ascended.

  10. Stushie,

    I will answer your question if you will answer mine.

    I do not believe that Jesus's corpse was brought back to life.

    Now, here is my question:

    Do you think the world will be better in 2107, just 100 years from now, than it is today? What does your faith tell you about that? Or, what do you hope will be the case?

  11. Heather,

    Thanks for your comments. Yeah, I suppose find the remains of Jesus would disprove the ascension as well in a literal sense. Although, in a literal sense, modern cosmology made the literal ascension absurd. As Carl Sagan calculated, even if Jesus's body ascended at the speed of light, he would as of today still only be a third of the way through the Milky Way galaxy.

    Ascension had a theological meaning. That the one raised also was at the right hand of God (as opposed to Caesar) meaning that Jesus (or the values of Jesus) ruled the cosmos, not the values of Caesar.

    The task then for us is to understand and participate in the values of Jesus (again, as opposed to the value of Caesar).

  12. Very slippery John... I wasn't asking about a corpse. I was asking if the resurrection was corporeal or spiritual. You didn't answer my question - an easy choice, John - corporeal or spiritual?

    As for 2107 - yes, I believe the world will be a better place. Fifty years ago, on June 17,1957 the Tuskegee boycott began to protest the gerrymandering of city zoning which excluded the majority black population from registering to vote. And where did the protest begin? In the AME Zion church pulpit - Christians making a great difference in the Civil Rights movement.

    So, in 2107, unless the Lord corporeally returns before then, the world will be a better place...because Christians will still be making a difference in the world.

  13. John,

    I should be nice to you. I don’t get too many compliments. I hope I can explore what you are saying without getting you fired. It sounds as if you might be laying claim to all the fruits of the tree but then deciding you don’t need the roots of the tree.

    Many years ago I asked myself what doctrines of Christianity I could discard and still keep my faith. I decided way back then that if Jesus is not God’s incarnation, and if He did not – in your words – resuscitate, then my faith would be cast adrift. Everything else was negotiable. I haven’t really asked myself that question since then. I suppose, hypothetically, that if one day someone found the corpse of Jesus, I would a) wonder who it is then that I’ve been talking with ‘out there’ all this time, and b) I would be amused at the colossal misunderstanding the Church has been operating under. The truth is that for me it would be like asking what if it turned out the moon was just a canvas laid over a very large frame. It would still illuminate the sky, and still run the tides, but dang! Think of the implications!

    Of course there are many people who say they believe just as you say. Granted, most of them don’t try to keep up careers as church pastors. Are you sure that is what you believe, or is it really more of a bold exercise? The written record goes to great lengths to grapple with the significance of a corporal resuscitation. The Jews and the Greeks would have had no problem if the apostles had been saying it was only a figure of speech. And then there is this … Presence… that ultimately matches what we read in the text and convinces us He lives… I mean, work it from the other direction. If the body of Jesus did resuscitate (already stretching human language to express) and if then the living corporal Jesus who had died on a cross and was alive again did something we have no words to explain even today but which back then they called “ascended into heaven”, what of it? Does that encumber you in any way? Is there a part of your own cosmology that falls apart if it turns out that is exactly how things played out?

    What I am really hearing from what you said is that you are taking a prophetic line that says God is more interested in having us live by faith without claiming a belief in the doctrines of the faith than having us claim a belief in the doctrines of the faith without actually living them. What good is all the right doctrine in the universe if we still won’t do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God? That’s what this is really all about isn’t it? If that’s the case, right on brother. (I’ll send flowers to your funeral)


  14. John,

    I know from personal experience how good Jodie can be at challenging you. And we should all feel challenged by this question, because no matter which side of the fence you stand on it is THE question of our faith. Christianity stands or fall on the truth of the Resurrection, it is extremely important how we define it therefore.

    I'm not going to attempt an answer right at this moment, but the conversation here has spurred a couple reflections.

    I think "resuscitation" is the wrong word. If you want to argue about resuscitation of a corpse I am happy to agree that this is not the meaning of the Resurrection. Both champions of the enlightenment and literalists misinterpret the doctrine when they construe it in this way.

    Scripture, makes it clear that there is both continuity and discontinuity in the experience of the risen Christ. He is corporeal in the sense that he can be felt, seen, heard, experienced etc... On the other hand, he seems to exist in multiple places at once, passes through walls and locked doors, appears and disappears, is difficult to recognize etc...

    I am not suggesting we read scripture as a scientific account of the apostles observations of an actual event. However, Church tradition has been pretty emphatic that we ARE talking about an actual event and it's been universally insistent upon that event including something corporeal. I think we should not lightly cast out the tradition, because if the tradition as we've received it is not right in the essentials then we don't actual have access to the gospel at all. The transmission of the gospel to our present time relies on a certain amount of trust in the tradition we've received.

    More than this, I think there is theological wisdom in affirming the corporeal reality of the resurrection - it is a statement of God's intention to redeem this world. It means not that God is offering us some escapist otherworld exit, but that we have hope of the general resurrection.

    On the other hand we make a HUGE mistake if we say that it was resuscitation, because that is no hope at all! That means the Resurrection isn't a "new creation" at all. It isn't the inauguration of the coming kingdom, but it's just a repeat of the same tired old shit. We don't want that.

    I don't think agreement on doctrinal matters is paramount. As Jodie says - it is more important that we show the fruits of faith in our lives than that we have all our ducks in a row doctrinally. I would feel honored to count you as a colleague in ministry, and I can even see how a belief like yours is very courageous. Not so much because of the flak you get from conservatives, but because it takes some hutzpah to say my faith wouldn't be shaken by a scientific discovery that went against the assumptions of my religious tradition.

    For myself, I think there are important theological reasons to maintain a more traditional view of resurrection. It certainly isn't resuscitation of a corpse. It certainly isn't a spiritual ecstatic experience in the apostle's imagination. It's something more mysterious and wonderful than that.

  15. Aric, I have respected a lot of what you have written in your blog, but this subject hits a bit of a hot button for me.

    On this one issue, this is where so much of Christianity loses me. I get so tired of beating my head against the way of otherwise progressive-minded Christians, who seem so rational in other areas (including in how the Bible should be interpreted), suddenly throw their rationality out the window when it comes to the subject of the resurrection. People who otherwise go through their life on a day to day basis in full acceptance of the reality of an ordered universe that follows the laws of physics suddenly dismiss all of that and believe that someone was resurrected from the dead in total defiance of how we know the world to behave. It's like they have reverted to their childhood beliefs in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Sure, I expect this kind of thing from religious conservatives, but it actually kind of blows my mind that this takes place in more liberal forms of Christianity.

    I probably wouldn't be so sensitive about this issue if I didn't find myself serving the role as a second class citizen in every friggin' liberal Christian church I visit. In theory, I don't actually have any problem with sharing a church with people who believe in a literal resurrection. To each his or her own. But the problem is that this belief is touted as the official party line everywhere I go, and anyone who doesn't buy into it is relegated to the status of "doubter" or "questioner" because we don't live up to the standard dogma--they are relegated to second class citizens within Christianity.

    For those who consider Jesus's physical resurrection to be a cornerstone of their faith, I actually don't have a problem with that per se. What I do object to is when someone suggests that not only can their own faith not survive the idea that Jesus was not physically resurrected, but that somehow the entire Christian faith depends on it. Sorry, but it doesn't. It simply doesn't. People who believe in the resurrection need to speak for themselves and not for others. Some of us simply don't need a literal physical resurrection to sustain our faith.

    I have no problem with the idea that someone else's faith is predicated on a literal, physical resurrection, but the fact is that my belief in God and my interest in following the Christian traditions is simply not based on it.

    I expect conservative Christians to believe in the literal resurrection because that's just they way they interpret the Bible. But liberal Christians ought to know better than to take literally the resurrection stories in the New Testament--inconsistent as they are with one another, so clearly mythological in tone, so clearly reflective of evolutionary Christology as you proceed from Paul to Mark to the other synoptics. I just don't get it. It seems like wishful thinking even pervades religious liberalism.

    This is the sort of thing that just makes me want to give up on my quest for finding progressive Christianity altogether. I was feeling cranky around Easter time this year over this subject, and I am feeling even more cranky now. Maybe I should just become a Buddhist. If Christianity does not want thinking, intelligent people in its faith, then maybe those people need to find themselves another faith.

  16. Mystical Seeker,

    Hey! It's good when we hit each others buttons - so long as we can continue to respect one another and hopefully even learn. We shouldn't get into the habit of expecting to always agree with some people and always disagree with others. People, just like life are complicated and multivalent.

    I am sorry you have received poor reception and treatment by any Christian of any persuasion. We are not really very good at living our faith liberal or conservative. You vented a great deal of frustration in your comment, which is understandable, but I hope you will also distinguish between me - someone you have never met and only have the benefit of reading text I type without my intonation, body-language or other signals to convey meaning - and people from your past who mistreated you. I personally do not see how, even if we are diametrically opposed on this issue (which I don't believe we are), it should effect your or my ability to be brothers in Christ.

    Now to respond to the actual substance of your comment.

    I think you make rather loose use of terms like "progressive" "liberal" "conservative" "rational" and "literal". You seem to equate being rational with being progressive/liberal and a naturalist. You say that acceptance of a "literal Resurrection" is irrational. Now I have a feeling that what you mean by "literal Resurrection" is similar to what I rejected by the terms "rejuvenation of a corpse". If you mean, on the other hand acceptance of a Resurrection "according to the literature" - then you have me there, I do believe in an actual event something similar to the textual record. So then I have to respond to your charge that it is irrational.

    Once again you seem to use this word too loosely. I gave plenty of reasons why I hold this view. I think, actually, that it is the most rational position for a Christian to take. However, you seem to mean something like "empirically unlikely" or even "impossible" when you say it is irrational. My reasons were not empirical in nature - they were theological. I think it is appropriate for a minister to reason theologically and it is damaging to the church to suggest that theological reasoning should have to be subject to empirical testing because then you have made the scientific method your God. When we are asking questions of truth we are already beyond the realm of "testable observations".

    In response to your statement that belief in the Resurrection goes against how we know the world to actually behave - that is precisely the point. The definition of a miracle is that which doesn't conform to the laws of nature. It is unique. It is unverifiable. It is by definition against the rules. Furthermore, the theological purpose of the Resurrection is to break the fundamental rule of existence - death. No one is trying to argue that somehow a natural event occurred which we could prove in the same way we can prove nuclear physics. There is a question which is anterior to the question of proof, which is not an empirical question, but a philosophical one: do you admit the possibility of miracle? Every person answers this question in their heart and it shapes their perception. If you do not accept the possibility of miracles you will not accept any justification for them. I highly recommend C.S. Lewis book "Miracles" for a highly rational look at the problem.

    You do yourself a disservice by equating belief in the Resurrection with a security blanket, because you shut yourself off from being able to understand the majority of Christians who do. True, that faith may be immature in many, but one can be naive in any school of thought.

    I feel comfortable talking about the Resurrection as a cornerstone of the faith in more than a personal sense, because the historical record in this instance does bear witness to the fact that it has always and consistently been the belief of the overwhelming majority of Christians. I am perfectly happy to acknowledge (and be in fellowship with!) the minority, like yourself, who do not feel it is central, but it is pretty difficult to read the NT without seeing it written on every page. You don't really understand the NT unless you see it all through the prism of the Resurrection, just as you don't understand the OT unless you read it through the lens of Exodus-Exile-New Exodus/Return From Exile.

    As for the inconsistencies in the NT record. Of course it is inconsistent. No I don't spend my time worrying about whether Jesus really broke bread in Emmaus in exactly that way, or whether he really cooked fishes on a beach in Galilee. The Gospels are trying to record their limited understanding of an event that is totally unprecedented in human history. Again, I am not trying to reason empirically from scripture. I'm reasoning theologically.

    I certainly don't want you to give up on Christianity. I'm sorry you feel like you need to insult me by calling my faith 'wishful thinking' or intimating that believing in the Resurrection requires one to be unthinking and unintelligent. Buddhism certainly has a great deal to commend it.

    I am happy to continue this conversation in anyway you want, but I fear this thread is too restrictive to explore the topic effectively. You may emails me:
    sabedoriaclark at


  17. Aric, I apologize if I insulted you. It was not my intention to do so. What I was doing was venting a lot of pent up frustration, and it so just happened that you were on the receiving end of it when it happened. My frustration over being unable to find a satisfactory outlet for my religious desires was what brought that tangent on. I should not have taken that out on you.

  18. Thanks all!

    It is a great discussion (and an important one, I think).

    Jodie wrote:

    "What I am really hearing from what you said is that you are taking a prophetic line that says God is more interested in having us live by faith without claiming a belief in the doctrines of the faith than having us claim a belief in the doctrines of the faith without actually living them. What good is all the right doctrine in the universe if we still won’t do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God? That’s what this is really all about isn’t it? If that’s the case, right on brother. (I’ll send flowers to your funeral)"

    Yes, that is what 99% of it is about! The other 1% is about faith seeking understanding. How do we understand and attempt to clarify the meaning of Resurrection? I think to do that I have to openly ask questions about it. What might it have meant to the various authors who made the claim in their time--and what can translate into our time.

    Aric wrote regarding resurrection:

    "It certainly isn't resuscitation of a corpse. It certainly isn't a spiritual ecstatic experience in the apostle's imagination. It's something more mysterious and wonderful than that."

    I am with you completely!

    And Seeker wrote:

    "If Christianity does not want thinking, intelligent people in its faith, then maybe those people need to find themselves another faith."

    And I am with you on that. I find issues of theology and faith all too often to be about power rather than search for what is true and in applying that truth to what is good. It could mean that the PCUSA and other Christian denominations decide that those who challenge assumptions and ask questions will not be welcome. If that were to become reality, I would with great sadness hang up my stole and seek other pursuits. But we aren't there yet.

    Stushie wrote:

    "John, you're more humanist than Christian."

    I don't know if that is true or not or an insult or not--and I am not sure what the difference is exactly. As I understand both terms, I am both a Christian and a humanist. However, I usually regard labels as having meaning only for those who use them.

    I just received the latest issue of CSER Review (The Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion). On the back page, it had the results of a poll:

    34% of Americans affirm evolution.
    77% of Europeans affirm evolution.

    Does that make you wonder?

  19. Oh, I guess I have one more thing. I don't think that Resurrection is a miracle. I am not convinced that it was originally conceived of in that way. It think it was, yes, a symbol of God's great clean-up and meant pretty much the same thing as the phrase Son of Man or Kingdom of God in the synoptics.

    Believing or not believing in corpses coming back to life has nothing to do, as I see it, in whether there are or are not miracles (whatever they are supposed to be).

    C.S. Lewis convinces me about as much as Jerry Falwell. He was a great literary critic who got weird.

    Resurrection is a symbol for divine justice and peace that is sweeping through. Participate in it or not. My hunch is that the vast majority of church-going Americans have decided not. But they believe in the literal resurrection! Halleluyah!

  20. If the resurreection wasn't a miracle and was never originally conceived in that way, then why did the apostles and first century Christians lay down their lives for faith in a Resurrected jesus Christ, who was expected to corporeally return?

    I just don't buy this, John. You're heading down your own path to oblivion...and that's your own choice, but to take a whole congregation with you - that's cultic and has more similarities with Jim Jones.

    As for Mystic Seeker not accepting that belief in Christ's bodily resurrection is the normal tradition/interpretation...that's his/her individual opinion, but not one that is shared by the Church.

    Check out all the main denominational churches, Mystic Seeker, across the entire world - read their faith staments, mission statements and their creeds -you'll find that the orthodox position of the whole church is to accept the corporeal reality of the Resurrection.

    You may not personally like it, but, as we say in Scotland, tough! That's what the Church believes and will go on believing to the end of time and into eternity.

  21. Why do the Fundamentalist Suicide bombers lay down their lives and the lives of others if the belief in an afterlife isn't true?

    I am not making a comparison between first century Christians and Muslim suicide bombers. I am using your logic. It is no proof.

    Read my next post on Bultmann, Stushie. You will see that there are many Christians who hold differing views from yours.

  22. More in response to Jodie and Aric,


    I am honored to have you as a colleague in ministry as well. The same for Stushie and my pals in the consistory. I didn't mean to knock you on my statement about CS Lewis. I have heard quoted to many times to me to count. I simply don't find him persuasive, although I honor others who do find him persuasive.

    I think there are many ways Christians throughout history and today grapple with Resurrection. My next post on Bultmann is one way.


    I am not afraid of being fired. If so, so what? I think integrity is far more important. Obviously, the pendulum has swung in the U.S. toward fundamentalism--but (by the power of the Resurrection!) it will swing back.

    Historical scholarship of early Christian origins is not such a big deal. The church has somewhat managed the Copernican Revolution, and not quite yet, Darwin. I am sure it will do fine.

    Is your faith cast adrift is Jesus was not born of a Virgin? Or if he is not coming again? Or if the Bible is filled with errors? Or if substitutionary atonement is ultimately a product of the Middle Ages?

    So, who have you been talking to all these years? I might suggest that you are talking to Jesus. That is cool. I do too. Some think of him as an ishta devata

    He is real where it counts.

    In the meantime, let us live the resurrection.

    You know, folks, it is so bizarre to me that people can talk about faith until they are blue in the face about the Virgin Mary appearing in Peoria or Jesus's corpse flying about the Universe, but when it comes to matters that really count, faith disappears.

    If God could do all of that, don't you think God could help us make peace instead of war? Don't you think God could figure out a way to feed hungry people? Don't you think that God could help us make this a world where no one goes without and we live in harmony with one another?

    That is what my faith is about. Is your faith, folks, not strong enough?

  23. Read my next post on Bultmann, Stushie. You will see that there are many Christians who hold differing views from yours.

    Bultmann? You pulling a rabbit out of the theological hat John...there's a name from the past that I utterly disdain and loathe.

    Many, many, many, many more Christians believe in Christ's corporeal resurrection that don't John...

  24. Fair enough, Stushie. I respect your views.

  25. Kudos to you stushie!!! We think alike. (mostly)

    I think most people confuse the Bible with a science book. I find it amusing to hear people talk about scientific theories that are supposed to "oppose" what the Bible says. Do you know what a theory is? An educated GUESS. So what can you PROVE?

  26. Actually, a theory is much more than merely an educated guess, in terms of application of the scientific method. I'm not scientist by far, but in short, the American Heritage Science Dictionary defines theory as: a set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena. Most theories that are accepted by scientists have been repeatedly tested by experiments and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.

  27. This is useless. None of you can even speak without getting all"scientific". It is no wonder only the same few people are on here. Normal people can't even understand what you are saying. I am a college graduate, and consider myself somewhat educated. However, these blogs are very long and confusing. As much as I hate to,(And I know John does to)I am going to leave it up to you scientists. John I do have something I want you to hear, so watch the mail. Don't worry, it won't hurt you.

  28. Isn't it interesting how "enlightenment" is always associated with getting away from a literal reading of God's Word (light) and moving wholesale into fanciful arguments based on humanism and the world's wisdom (darkness)?

    Wasn't it Paul who said: "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones." (Romans 1)

    Isn't it interesting how those who support such "enlightenment" also embrace the very thing that God said is a shameful lust -- homosexuality?

    And as for the the "wisdom of enlightenment" Paul also said: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments." (Colossians 2)

    You might sound very wise and enlightened to yourselves and to each other, but God is not pleased. And He issues a stern warning through His prophet Isaiah:

    "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter." (Isaiah 5)

    YOu're playin' a dangerous game here folks.

  29. John said: "Fair enough, Stushie. I respect your views."

    No you don't, John. I've read some of your other posts.

  30. To Alan Harstone --

    I had quit reading Shuck for some time so I'm not sure how long you have been posting here, but your comments are appreciated!

  31. Alan,

    Welcome back! Knew you couldn't stay away!

    Person in the Pew,

    Welcome back to you, too. BTW, which pew are you in?

  32. John Shuck's post is typical liberal elitism, moaning about the election of someone they dislike, and putting it down to a lack of "enlightenment" of the American people. And of course there is the obligatory sneering at people who dare to believe in the Virgin Birth and the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    This blog is SO not original. It is basically the New York Times op-ed page dressed up in vestments.

    Heterodoxy, and a politicized "faith" is boring and redundant. You can predict what these leftist clerics will say before they say it.


  33. "This blog is SO not original. It is basically the New York Times op-ed page dressed up in vestments."

    That's funny, Presbyman, since your website looks like the retired editorial board of the National Review with a Wal-mart haircut.