The Things That Defile Us: The Syrophoenician Woman and The Demons of Bigotry (Matthew 15)(Proper 15A/Ordinary 20A)

May 17, 2018

Welcome to Bible Study for Progressives, a show where moderates, liberals, and leftists of all faiths and ideologies come together to discuss scripture, spirituality, and politics.

This show features our own Bert Newton, the author of “Subversive Wisdom: Sociopolitical Dimensions of John’s Gospel.”  Bert has been teaching a class called “Parody and Subversion in Matthew’s Gospel.”  This is a recording of one of those classes.

In this session, we tackle Matthew chapter 15. The chapter begins with Jesus accusing the Pharisees of “teaching human precepts as doctrine.” He says it’s not the things that go into our mouths; it’s the things that come out that defile us.  Then Jesus turns around and calls a foreign woman a “dog.”

Purity rituals reinforced Jewish identity but also lead to division and prejudice. All cultures have purity codes that can also lead to discrimination and abuse.  Hatred and violence are systemic evils that infect the human heart and are described as demonic in scripture.

The Syrophoenician woman confronts Jesus and defeats him in a debate. The demon is excised, her daughter is healed instantly,” and Jesus praises her great faith. After his encounter with the Syrophoenician woman, Jesus passed by the sea and went up a mountain where he healed the crowds and feed four thousand men “besides women and children.”

We are to welcome the foreigner and the outcast and treat everyone with respect because God loves them. In the feeding of the four thousand, God welcomes gentiles into the kingdom of heaven.  God loves all the nations of the world.

Join us as we consider what Matthew is telling us about purity and bigotry. What do we need to do to overcome hatred? How can we welcome others into the kingdom of heaven? 

I hope you enjoy this special edition of Bible Study for Progressives.  This is Rich Procida. Enjoy.

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Walking on Water and Crossing the Sea: Jesus and the Exodus (Matthew 14:22-36)(Proper 14A/Ordinary 19A)

May 1, 2018

Welcome to Bible Study for Progressives, a show where moderates, liberals, and leftists of all faiths and ideologies come together to discuss scripture, spirituality, and politics.  Today, we will examine the story of Jesus walking on the water. This show will feature our own Bert Newton, the author of Subversive Wisdom: Sociopolitical Dimensions of John’s Gospel. 

Bert has now turned his attention to Matthew. He’s been teaching a class called “Parody and Subversion in Matthew’s Gospel.”  This is a recording of one of those classes.

In this session, we will read Matthew chapter 14, verses 22 to 36, and ask how ancient readers would have understood the story. Given their grounding in Hebrew scripture, early Christians would have seen allusions to Moses, the Exodus, and the crossing of the Red Sea in the story of Jesus walking on the water.

Just like Moses, Jesus is the savior of the nation of Israel.  Just as in the crossing of the Red Sea, Jesus performs a miracle and he and the disciples cross over the sea.  Just as in the Exodus, Jesus is leading his people to freedom.

In Matthew, Jesus is portrayed as the new Moses. He is the new liberator, delivering us from oppression and teaching us the way to the promised land which is the kingdom of God. The purpose of the story is to encourage us to keep the faith, to continue in the movement even when it looks hopeless. 

Join us as we dig deep into this famous story and ask what relevance it has for today’s world and for us?  It’s important to remember that Peter walked on the water, too, even if only for a moment. We too can walk on water just like Peter did; we too can change the world if we only have enough faith. 

I hope you enjoy this special edition of Bible Study for Progressives.  This is Rich Procida. Enjoy.

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The Meaning of The Feeding of The Five Thousand (Matthew 14:13-21)(Proper A13/Ordinary A18)

April 21, 2018

Welcome to Bible Study for Progressives, a show where moderates, liberals, and leftists of all faiths and ideologies come together to discuss scripture, spirituality, and politics.  On this show, we will be talking about the meaning of the feeding of the five thousand as told in the Gospel of Matthew. This show will feature our own Bert Newton, the author of Subversive Wisdom: Sociopolitical Dimensions of John’s Gospel. 

Bert has now turned his attention to Matthew. He’s been teaching a class called Parody and Subversion in Matthew’s Gospel.  This is a recording of one of those classes.

In this session, Bert reads Matthew 14, verses 13 to 21. He then talks about the biblical background and the social and literary contexts in which the story of the feeding of the 5000 is told.  He says that the passage is about the politics of abundance and the day of liberation when all will be fed, and no one goes hungry.

 Join us for this class on the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. Find out what it’s about, and hear what God is telling us through scripture. Jesus’ banquet is for all the people.

Here it is. Enjoy.

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The Intersection Between Religion and Politics: A Debate and Disscussion

March 11, 2018

Today's show features a debate and discussion between myself and the Keith Giles. Mr. Giles argues that religion and politics should be separate and the Christians shouldn't even vote. I argue that religion is political, has always been political, and will be political in the foreseeable future. The question is not whether religion is or should be political. Instead, the question is what type of politics will it be?  

Keith Giles is the author of "Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics to Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb." Rich Procida is an author and attorney who writes Biblical commentary at ModernLectionaries.blogspot.com and produces the Podcast "Bible Study for Progressives. I recorded this debate and discussion live at the Think Meetup in Irvine California before a mixed group of Christians, atheists, and people of other faiths on March 5, 2018.  Sit back, relax and enjoy. 

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Take Up Your Cross: Follow Jesus by Joining the Resistance (Mark 8:27-38; Lent 2B)

February 25, 2018

Welcome to “Bible Study for Progressives,” a show where moderates, liberals, and leftists of all faiths and ideologies come together to discuss scripture, spirituality, and politics.

On this show, we will read Mark chapter 8 verses 27 to 38 as ask what it means to “take up one’s cross and follow Jesus.” Jesus was tortured and executed by the authorities.  Does following Jesus mean being willing to die for our faith?

    And what does it mean to die for one’s faith? Is it limited to dying because one is a Christian, or does it include suffering with the marginalized and oppressed? I believe “taking up our cross” means putting our lives on the line for justice, mercy, and faith (Matthew 23:23).

    People don’t like the idea of martyrdom, and “taking up one’s cross” sounds a lot like martyrdom, especially when Jesus tells the disciples how he will be killed by the authorities. A martyr is someone who dies because of his faith.  To kill someone because of his religion is always a political act, especially when the authorities carry out the execution.  

    The Gospels and the Bible are political documents.  The stories are filled with political intrigue. The political implications of the God’s reign should not be ignored.

The combination of religion and politics is controversial. On this show, we will consider this controversy in the light of scripture. For citations to scripture, please see my article “Take Up Your Cross: Following Jesus by Joining the Resistance” at modernlectionaries.blogspot.com.

 

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The Prophet Who Had to Die: Jesus and The Misuse of Scripture (Deuteronomy 18:15-20)(Epiphany B4)

January 29, 2018

Welcome to “Bible Study for Progressives,” a show where moderates, liberals and leftists of all faiths and ideologies come together to discuss scripture, spirituality and politics.

In a world of fake news and political extremism, discerning truth from falsehood is important. Uncovering lies about the Bible is vital not only for Christians who seek truth from their scripture, it's vital to anyone who seeks to prevent religion from harming us. False biblical interpretations have led to terrible injustices throughout history all the way to the present day.

Honesty is the first rule of discernment. How are we to deal with some of the more difficult biblical texts? We have to deal honestly with scripture if we are to discern its true meaning.

On this month's show, we will read Deuteronomy 18 verses 15 to 20. The religious-political leaders of Israel likely relied upon this and other verses to justify executing Jesus.  How we interpret the Bible can have life and death consequences.

We will lay out basic principles for discerning scripture. Then we will talk about what it means to be a prophet and how we can better discern false from true prophets. For the citations to scripture, please see my article “The Prophet Who Had to Die: Jesus and the Misuse of Scripture.”

Our panel of commentators include:

Author, Matthew Distefano

Professor Joseph Dowd

Author Lisa Snow,

Professor David Westfall,

And my father, the Reverend Carl Procida.

 

My name is Rich Procida, and I write at Modern Lectionaries.blogspot.com.

Let’s begin.

 

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Who is Jesus: The Infancy Narratives, the Historial Jesus, and the Savior of the World (Luke 2:22-40)(Christmas 1B)

December 31, 2017

Welcome to “Bible Study for Progressives,” a show where moderates, liberals, and leftists of all faiths and ideologies come together to discuss scripture, spirituality, and politics.

On this show, we will read Luke chapter 2 verses 22 to 40 and talk about Jesus. Who was he and who is he now? What was he like as a child? What should we believe about him today? To answer these questions we will briefly overview the infancy narratives, examine the findings of scholars, and consider the work of Christ.

Nearly all our information about Jesus comes from the Gospels. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is described as "the savior of the world." Most Christians, whether liberal or conservative, share some version of this view.

The stories of his resurrection combined with the persistence of his followers sparked a mass movement that spread throughout the Empire and across the world. By his teaching, death, and resurrection he brought us "the way" to salvation. The question is: How did he do this?

Many of us are familiar with the modern view of Jesus as a human sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin, but there are other ways by which Jesus brings salvation to the world. Knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, the original languages of the Bible, helps us to understand the full meaning of the word "salvation." Once we recognize the full meaning of "salvation" we can begin to see the many ways by which Jesus came to save the world.

Come as we discuss this broad topic.

Our panel of commentators include:

Reverend Keith Giles, author of "Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics to Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb,

Reverend Bert Newton, author of Subversive Wisdom: Social Political Dimensions of John's Gospel,

Media Psychology Specialist Lisa Snow,

Professor David Westfall,

Journalist Winston Chua

And my father, the Reverend Carl Procida.

My name is Rich Procida, and I write at Modern Lectionaries.blogspot.com.

Let’s begin.

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Judging the Nations: Separating the Sheep from the Goats at the End of Time (Matt 25:31-46)

November 26, 2017

Welcome to “Bible Study for Progressives,” a show where moderates, liberals and leftists of all faiths and ideologies come together to discuss scripture, spirituality and politics.

On this show, we will read Matthew 25:31-46 and talk about Matthew’s prophecy of the final judgment. The metaphorical account of the Son of Man returning in glory to judge the nations speaks to us about the importance of caring for others. The prophecy warns us that God judges us based upon what we do, what we fail to do, and what other do in our name.

Will we welcome the stranger, or will we cast refugees aside and deport millions of immigrants? Will we care for the needy, or will we cut the budget for social services and give tax breaks to corporations and the rich? Will we protect the civil rights of our citizens, or will use the police and the military to abuse, torture and kill?

At stake is our very salvation. In the prophecy, the "Son of Man" cast those who failed to care for the needy into the eternal fire. Whether you agree with Luther or James, faith without works leads to death.

 

Come as we discuss these issues and the implications of Matthew's prophecy.

Our panel of commentators include:

 

Professor of New Testament, Retired, Rev. Dr. Dwayne Day,

Doctor of Philosophy Joseph Dowd,

Media Psychology Specialist, Lisa Snow

And my father, the Reverend Carl Procida.

My name is Rich Procida, and I write at Modern Lectionaries.blogspot.com.

Let’s begin.

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Paul’s Solution to Division and Prejudice (Romans 14:1-12)

September 17, 2017

Welcome to “Bible Study for Progressives,” a show where moderates, liberals, and leftists of all faiths and ideologies come together to discuss scripture, spirituality, and politics.

Today we will talk about the conflict Paul had with Peter and James over circumcision and the Law. Using the research of Reza Aslan, from his book "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth," we trace the conflict and consider the tolerant and universal nature of Paul's response.

We will also consider Paul’s answer to division and prejudice. Early Christianity was no model of unity or coherence in matters of doctrine. Christianity was more diverse than today. Can we simply tell people, as Paul does, not to despise or condemn one another and then expect them to do it?

Our nation is divided. Americans are attacking one another. Attacks on minorities, transgendered persons, migrants, and Muslims are attacks on fellow Americans, and the right is not the only one dividing us. Identity politics is dividing us, too.

The focus on our differences and organizing around things like race and ideology foster separatism and extremism. Come as we discuss early Christian divisions and Paul's solution to prejudice and division. Then we will apply those lessons to current events. For the citations to scripture for this show, please see my article “This Flap over Food is About More Than We Think” at ModernLectionaries.blogspot.com.

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The People of God and the Kingdom Seekers: Universal Salvation and the “Remnant” in Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Romans 11:1-32)

August 20, 2017

Welcome to “Bible Study for Progressives,” a show where moderates, liberals and leftists of all faiths and ideologies come together to discuss scripture, spirituality and politics.

Today we are going to talk about “The People of God and the Kingdom Seekers: Universal Salvation and the “Remnant” in Paul’s Letter to the Romans,” and we  address the recent tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia where a Nazi sympathizer rammed his car into a counter-protesters injuring many and killing a young woman named Heather Heyer. We will read Romans, Chapter 11, verses 1 to 32 .  Then we will discuss the issues raised by the the text and apply what we learned to the current political situation.

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