The Worker, the Immigrant, and the Refugee: The Good Samaritan in Contemporary Context (Luke 10:25-37)

July 11, 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. On this show I will read from the Gospel of Luke the story of the Good Samaritan and then apply its lessons to the problems of the world. Along the way I will share with you some of my experience working in social justice advocacy. Our panel will add their views about that and about the tragedy in Dallas where 5 police officers were killed as well as the continuing murder of black people by police officers across the country.


The story of the Good Samaritan guides as we respond to yet another gun related tragedy. Though organizing can be difficult, and even impossible at times, it takes courage to fight back. Shootings and murders shouldn’t happen anywhere, and our protests should be places of nonviolence.  It’s up to us to get involved and keep the movement out of the hands of the haters, and it’s up to the leaders of our movements to disassociate from those who advocate violence.

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“God Shows No Partiality:” Understanding the Language of Salvation (Acts 10, Easter C)

March 26, 2016

In this Easter program, we read the story of Peter and Cornelius in Acts Chapter 10.  Here we find Peter saying that those who act justly are acceptable to God. So we talk about the meaning and usage of the words salvation, believing, sin, and forgiveness as used in the Bible. Salvation, for example, means freedom from oppression and release from captivity such as in the release from the Babylonian exile. I also focus on understanding sin, because it is essential to understanding the meaning of forgiveness and salvation.  Relying on the work of Marcus Borg, I describe "sin" by the using of three metaphors: hubris, sloth, and idolatry. By understanding the fuller meaning of these words and the matrix in which the story is told, we can then understand the lessons the story teaches us about our violent and unjust world.  "Greed, hatred and violence lead to poverty, injustice, and war." This sheds a new light on what it means to "fear" God and do what is right (Act 10:35).

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I Pledge Allegiance to Jesus: Responding in Faith to the Promise of Salvation (Romans 10:5-15)

February 12, 2016

On this show Professor David Westfall and I discuss what it means to believe?  What does Paul mean when he says that "if we confess with our lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved?" Is it universal or exclusive?  What does the word "salvation" mean as used in the Bible?  How is our faith connected action?  How are religion and politics intertwined?  What are the connections between spirituality, compassion, righteousness, and justice?  We then discuss the free exercise and establishment clauses of the Constitution.  What the difference between the separation of church and state and the reality of religion and politics?  Can religion and politics ever be separated and, if so, should they be? 

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Jesus: A Spiritual Man Confronts Religious People (Luke 4:21-30)

February 1, 2016

Today we discuss the rejection of Jesus at Nazareth.  The story seems to turn on a dime.  One minute they are gracious, the next they want to throw him off a cliff.  What happened?

What did Jesus mean when he said "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing?"  What did he mean by saying that prophets are never accepted in their hometown?  Why did the congregation become enraged?
We also address other questions, including asking what people mean when they identify as "spiritual but not religious."  What is the difference between being spiritual and being religious?  Can people be both spiritual and religious? Is there such a thing as being spiritual yet not religious?
By reading the story in it's cultural and literary context, we better understand the meaning of the story. I offer a provocative commentary, as always, and Professor Westfall comes back with his more moderate approach.
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God Called a Writer: Paul’s Mystical Conversion Experience (Galatians 1)

January 26, 2016

On this show we read Galatians 1:11-24 and discuss mystical experiences. Written in honor of Marcus J. Borg, we talk about "The Varieties of Religious Experience" as American philosopher William James called them.  I describe my mystical conversion experience.  

We talk about Paul's mystical experiences and about how it provided him with his "vocational calling."  I tell of my vocational callings, and how we can all be inspired. 

We compare New Age spirituality with the many claims of mystical and supernatural experiences throughout the history of the Church and in every religion. Finally, Professor Westfall and I clash on New Age and Pagan religions.

 

 

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Being a Supernaturally Gifted Servant of God (1 Corinthians 12:1-11)

January 18, 2016

On today's show we talk about spiritual gifts and the supernatural.  It's important to take the spiritual gifts literally so they can be activated for the common good.  Not all spiritual gifts are what we normally think about as supernatural.  Professor Westfall provides us with a list of spiritual gifts all designed to be utilized in the Church.  Other gifts, however, are supernatural.  How do we discern our spiritual gifts, and how do know that our experiences of the supernatural are real?  Have you ever studies the paranormal?  What do you think of prophecy, spirits and speaking in tongues?  Do you believe in ghosts, angels spirit guides, or other supernatural beings?  How do we experience and incorporate the supernatural into our faith and our lives?  These are some of the questions we discuss as we read 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 and apply biblical teaching to our lives.

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The Wise Men and the Golden Rule: Politics in Matthew’s Nativity Story

January 11, 2016

Today we look at the story of the Jesus' birth where the Magi to go King Herod, and Herod plots to kill Jesus.  We consider the current election and what we are looking for in a Commander and Chief.  Are we looking for King Herod for President.  We also discussion the connection between religion and politics and how it relates to the separation of Church and State. 

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Recipe for Mass Murder: Guns, Media Violence and the Slaughter of the Innocents

December 28, 2015

On this show we discuss the problem of violence, and we remember the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012.  We will read Matthew's story of the Slaughter of the Innocents, and we will compare it to gun violence, police brutality, and war. We examine the causes of structural, institutional and state sponsored violence, and we ask how we can extradite ourselves from the cycle of violence that our world seems caught up.

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Escape to Judea and the Great Reversal: The Drama of the Magnificat (Luke 1:5-56)

December 21, 2015

In today's show we read from the Gospel of Luke and ask why Zechariah was struck mute, and why Mary raced off to see Elizabeth, the wife of the priest.  The law is an issue; Mary could be accused of adultery.  The story actually posits a number of reversals as Mary's song reveals: God feeds the hungry and sends the rich away empty.  The greatest reversal of course is the resurrection where a man executed as a criminal defeats death and becomes the King of Kings.  Jesus' birth also presents another reversal.  Professor Westfall and I will discuss the difference between the written law as applied by the religious authorities and the Law of God properly applied, and we will address the perils of literal interpretation.

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