Thursday, May 27, 2010 is empty of publication info!

Check it out:

I don't care if the copyrights are expired. To throw text out there without the context of publication date and place is a bibliographical sin and a shame.


Monday, May 24, 2010


On doctrines and confessions

Here's a glimpse of part of my take-home final in History of Christianity, Reformation to Present. The question was: How does my denomination and congregation demonstrate the "development of doctrines or confessions to protect the new belief system."


This subject is probably my favorite when it comes to the history of the United Church of Christ: The UCC accepts the confessions and creeds of our ancestors in the faith as their legacy to us of their own thinking in their own times and places. Rather than “update” them, or edit them, or modernize them -- vigilance in avoiding present gender bias in language use notwithstanding -- the UCC preserves historic statements at signposts marking where those who came before us sojourned.

It starts with the Bible as “the authoritative witness to the Word of God,” followed by the ecumenical creeds and statements of historic church councils and confessions of the Reformation. In the UCC’s covenantal tradition, “no centralized authority or hierarchy … can impose any doctrine or form of worship … Christ alone is Head of the church.” The UCC “therefore receives the historic creeds and confessions of our ancestors as testimonies, but not tests of the faith.”

Testimonies, not tests -- that is critical, I think, for allowing people, in Christian liberty, to evolve in their own thinking, and it is necessary for a denomination that insists that “God is still speaking.”

Specifically, the UCC happily embraces a theological heritage that includes the Statement of Faith of the UCC, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Definition of the Council of Chalcedon, Luther’s Small Catechism, the Heidelberg Catechism, Principles of the Christian Church, the Kansas City Statement of Faith of the Congregational Churches, the Evangelical Catechism of the Evangelical Synod of North America, the Barmen Declaration against Nazi theology and the Basis of Union of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church, which was a precursor to the union of the communions as the United Church of Christ in 1957.

In my own congregation, two other confessions are important enough to warrant permanent placement on the front of our weekly church bulletin: “Where head and heart are equal partners in faith,” and the 1629 Covenant of the Salem Church, which reads: “We covenant with the Lord and with one another and do bind ourselves in the presence of God to walk together in all his ways, according as he is pleased to reveal himself unto us in His Blessed Word of Truth.”

All of which explains how and why Mayflower Congregational-UCC Church can be so wide open to so many interpretations of what it means to follow Jesus. It has informed and excited and inspired me since I joined the congregation in 2005, and it is the source of my hope for further unity in the church.


Friday, May 21, 2010


Summer readin', some aren't

Yo, y'all. I've been decompressing from my first year of seminary.

The start of my voluminous summer reading list (fer fun, 'cause I am taking a break from school!), and some impressions:

Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years.

Wide-ranging, covering major expressions of the church and the faith now either ignored or wrongly seen as minor diversions, nooks and crannies.

Did God Have a Wife?: Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel.

Fun, feisty book by an eminent archeologist-anthropologist and former Christian who got my attention when early on he boxed Walter Brueggeman's ears for not taking archeology as seriously as he should. The author deftly and snarkily -- but with a smile -- summarizes, then outlines the accomplishments, and shortcomings of numerous books in what looks like a thorough historiography of the wider topic of folk religion in the ANE. ER seriously recommends this one to DrLoboJo.

The Book of Genesis Illustrated.

Oh, this is so cool: Genesis as graphic novel! Full frontal nudity! The spilling of blood! And there are: Lot's doin' the nasty with their old man in a cave at Zoar, after they escaped by the skin of their teeth, and without their suddenly salty mama! By a noted, if nor renowned, comic illustrator.

The Storyteller's Companion to the Bible Volume 9: Stories About Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels.

One of my professors is one of the editors. I'm consulting it for my own retelling of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

SO NOW, what're you reading this summer?


Sunday, May 09, 2010


I get more traditional ...

... the farther I get away from fundamentalist Christianity and the idolatry of insisting the Bible is inerrant, and the more I get seriously into historical-critical study of the Scriptures and theological study.

Note: I did not say I'm getting more orthodox.

I think what I'm getting is a whiff of that short, short period of time between the time of Jesus of Nazareth and the firming up of orthodoxy, especially as regards Jesus the Christ, and the development of the biblical Canon.

What is the Gospel? Ask me today, and I'll say:

The Incarnation.

But that's about metaphor and the attempt to make sense of mystery -- it's not about biology, which renders most of what Christians disagree about moot.

What is the call of all Christians?

Ask me today, and I'll say: Faith and works.

"Faith without works is dead" has never been clearer to me.

LOL. Who woulda figured I'd get revived at a flaming lefty seminary with -- GASP! -- Jesus Seminar peeps on the faculty? :-)


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