Let Them Grow Together: God’s Solution to the Problem of Evil (Matthew 13:24-30 and 36-42)

July 16, 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’s show is “Let them Grow Together: God’s Solution to the Problem of Evil.”  We will read the parable of the Wheat and Tares from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 13, verses 24-30 and 36-42.  Then we will discuss the problem of evil, God’s solution to it, and our role in God’s plan.

 

Our panel of commentators include:

 

The Reverend Tom Eggebean,

Professor David Westfall,

Doctor of Philosophy Joseph Dowd,

Thantra Missionary Satya, and

My father, the Reverend Carl Procida

 

My name is Rich Procida, and I write biblical commentary at ModernLectionaries.blogspot.com. Let’s begin.

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What Happens in Rome Stays in Rome: The Great Trinity Controversy (2 Corinthians 13:5-14)

June 11, 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.

Did you know that the word “Trinity” is not used in the Bible?  There are passages from which scholars have derived the doctrine, but the New Testament never explicitly describes a Triune God.  Instead, the Bible describes God as infinite. [Jeremiah 23:2 and Revelation 22:13] So how do we get the Trinity?

On this Trinity Sunday, we will read 2 Corinthians Chapter 13, verses 5-14.  Then we will take a look at some of the early Christian theories of the nature of Christ and of the Trinity .  We will consider the implications of our study for our understanding of our faith, and we will use our scripture to guide us in dealing with disagreements and change.  Ultimately, we will ask whether the Trinity is a useful doctrine for today, or whether we should focus on lessons from scripture and on Jesus’ teaching rather than on Jesus himself?

Our panel of commentators include [Put camera on each individual as they are announced]:

The Reverend Tom Eggebean

Professor David Westfall

Doctor of Philosophy Joseph Dowd

Thantra Missionary Satya, and

My father, the Reverend Carl Procida

My name is Rich Procida, and I write biblical commentary at ModernLectionaries.blogspot.com. Let’s begin. . . .

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Religion is Politics: Following Jesus is Civil Disobedience (1 Peter 2:11-25)(Easter 4A)

May 7, 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’s show is titled “Religion is Politics: Following Jesus is Civil Disobedience.” We will read First Peter, chapter 2, verses 11 to 25 followed by my exegesis of the text.  Then our panel will talk about the passage and what Peter meant when he told these early Christians to accept the authority of human institutions and to honor the emperor.  The key to understanding Peter’s letter is to remember the Christians Peter is writing to were disobeying Roman law and custom by refusing to worship the emperor. Nowhere does Peter imply that they should do otherwise.

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Was Luther Wrong? James Tells Us How Not to Read Paul (Romans 8:1-11)

April 2, 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 read Romans chapter 8 verses 1 to 11, and we will discuss whether "Luther was Wrong: James Tells Us How Not to Read Paul" (Romans 8:1-11).  Luther misunderstood Paul's doctrine of salvation by faith. The author of James directly addresses this misinterpretation of Paul.

In Romans, Paul tells Roman Christians not to condemn those who do not follow the Law or despise those who believe differently.  In fact, he says we should allow one another to be "convinced in our own minds, because we will all be held individually accountable to God and must, therefore, follow our own conscience. Paul is not excluding those who do not share his opinion.

Many Christians think Paul teaches "salvation by faith alone and not by works."  The first problem with this phrase is that Paul is mostly talking about ritual practices such as circumcision and dietary laws, not good works.  The other problem with the phrase is that Paul never really says that, and James specifically refutes it.

 

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The Temptation of Christ and Discerning God’s Call: Choosing a Life of Service in a World that Values Wealth, Status and Power

March 5, 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 be reading from the Gospel of Matthew.  Then we will discuss "The Temptation of Christ and Discerning God's Call: Choosing a Life of Service in a World That Values Wealth, Status and Power (Matthew 4:1-11).

In all three gospels, immediately after Jesus is baptised, he goes into the wilderness to be tempted for forty days. The number forty is significant and has symbolic meaning.

There are a number of uses of the number forty in the Bible. Moses, for example, spent forty days and nights with the Lord on Mount Sinai. He returned with the ten commandments. (Exodus 34:28).  It rained for forty days and nights when God destroyed the world in a flood (Genesis 7). The resurrected Jesus appeared to his followers for forty days before ascending into heaven (Acts 1:3).  As David Ewart points out, the number forty indicates that God is about to do something holy and extraordinary.

God called Jesus to ministry at his baptism, and the temptation was a part of the process of discerning that message. What does the story of the temptation of Christ mean? Why is it important? What does it mean to be tested? Does this story contain lessons for overcoming temptation in our lives today. Is testing a part of discerning our calling and vocations? How and for what reasons are we tested? Have you had an experience that lead you to your vocation?

Our reading and panel of commentators will address these and other questions.

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United in Christ: Avoiding Division by Respecting Diversity

January 23, 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 be reading from Paul’s first letter to Corinthians.  Those testy Corinthians were in a ruckus over who they followed and what they believed.  Paul tells to be in “united in mind and purpose.”  

Have you ever had your faith called into question? Many Christians have a litmus test for deciding who's in and who's out. It is as if they have to double check to make sure we believe the exact same things.

Have you accepted Jesus as your personal savior? Do you believe that Jesus is God who took human form in order to die for our sins so that we can go to heaven after we die? Do you believe that anyone who doesn't believe these things will go to hell?

These are actually just the first questions people are asked. Throughout our lives we are told what it means to be a Christian, but many people disagree on the details. So we split up into different demoninations.

According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, there as as many as 33,000 different demonations around the world. While this number may be exagerated, there are at least thousands of different Christian denominations many saying that only they are saved. This type of division lead the Apostle Paul to ask: "Has Christ been divided?"

Today we will discuss Paul's instruction that we be in agreement with no divisions. Given the diversity of early Christianity, what could Paul have meant, and what should it mean for our modern pluralistic world today where we value and respect people of other cultures and religions? Is it something more than just agreeing to disagree?

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Incarnation and the Word: An Universalist, New Age, and Gnostic Reading of John 1:1-14

December 19, 2016

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’s show is entitled: “Incarnation and the Word: An Universalist, Gnostic, and New Age Reading of John 1:1-14”   After reading from the Gospel of John, we will entertain an alternative interpretation that tracks the text is a poetic way.  In one of the most treasured passages in the New Testament, John declares Jesus to be God. Christ is “the Word” by which God created the cosmos.  Our reading will track this revered text and interpret it spiritually and intuitively.  Afterwards, we will hear other viewpoints.

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It’s About Identity, Stupid! Why Third Parties are a Ruse and Hillary Clinton is Not Evil

October 10, 2016
Should we vote strategically, making sure that Donald Trump doesn’t get elected, or should we vote our conscience regardless of the result? Is Hillary Clinton a dishonest, corporate shill and warmonger who is only a little better than Donald Trump? Are third party candidates really a viable option?
In this election it is vital to make the right decision, because another dose of supply-side economics and deregulation is likely to lead to another financial crisis from which we may not be able to bail ourselves out. Bitter racial division and political polarization threaten to tear us apart. The threats of climate change, terrorism, and increasing economic inequality are killing people and destroying our world.
I am not exaggerating to say that this may be our last chance to take this country back and put it on the right track. Citizens United has all but handed the nation over to the corporations and the rich. We must use our vote wisely, because the further we go down the wrong road the harder it will be to turn things around.
In this show I will discuss Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, the problem with Hillary Clinton, the rise of Donald Trump, the choice, third parties, and the divided Left. It is my hope that this show will put the entire election into perspective, especially for liberals and progressives who are struggling with whether to vote for Hillary Clinton, a third party candidate, or whether to even vote at all.

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All Kinds of Evil: Economic Inequality and the Pursuit of Happiness (1 Timonthy 6:6-19)

September 26, 2016

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’s show is entitled: “All Kinds of Evil:” Economic Inequality and the Pursuit of Happiness.”  The “love of money” may be the root of much evil in the world.  Economic inequality may be a cause of much of the violence we see today.  

When so few have so  much while most people in the world have very little, battles over resources often erupt into violence.  Wars over power and wealth slaughter and traumatize people around the world.  A world of economic inequality is a world of conflict and violence.

Money is essential not only to the ability to care for oneself but also to one’s satisfaction with life.  Much of our happiness comes from our ability to provide for ourselves and our families.  Making sure people have enough to live on would go a long way toward improving their wellness and would likely lead to a more peaceful world.

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Think Impunity: Understanding Arrogance and Pride in the Bible (Sirach 10:7-18)

August 29, 2016

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’s show is entitled: “Think Impunity: Understanding Arrogance and Pride in the Bible.” In modern usage, “arrogance” or “pride” often describes someone who is haughty or “holier than thou.” In sum, someone who thinks they are better than others. This, however, does not represent a full understanding of the terms, especially as they are used in the Bible. We will be reading from an ancient Jewish text, the Book of Sirach, in order to better understand the meaning of these words.

I wrote the reading for today’s show back in late August of 2013. I wrote it near the beginning of the Syrian civil war when Hillary Clinton was running around saying “Assad must Go” and “It’s only a matter of time.” At that time, I chose to use Assad as an example of the Biblical meaning of the words pride and arrogance.  So Today, we will also be discussing the situation in Syria and the refugee crisis, as well other atrocities in the Middle East, particularly the Saudi Coalition invasion of Yemen and Bahrain.  

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