June 3, 2019
The Church is divided. The traditional line of division within western Christianity between Protestant and Catholic has receded. The Church is now divided between liberals and conservatives and between North and South.
The recent schism in the Methodist Church over gay rights illustrates the point. At its general conference in St. Louis this year, the delegates rejected gay marriage and LGBT clergy. Conservative Methodists in America combined with representatives from Africa, Asia, and South America to defeat the inclusive One Church plan and opted for the Traditional plan instead.
The balance of power in the Church is shifting to the South. While Western Christianity is in decline, Christianity is growing throughout Asia, Africa, and South America. This shift is often misdescribed in the West as "Post-Christendom.”
How can make Christianity more compassionate and liberating?
Can we practice our faith and do justice advocacy separately with other groups separate from our religious activities and at the same time remain true to our calling as religious,spiritual, or ethical people to be a blessing to others and compassionate toward all the people of the world and to all of life?
What future do you see for Christianity or for your faith or belief system?
We will talk about these and other issues with Professor of Philosophy Joseph Dowd.
My name is Rich Procida and I write about Progressive Christianity, politics and the supernatural at Modernlectionaries.blogspot.com and at LAProgressive.com
May 22, 2019
This is a recording of a discussion between myself and New Age podcast host Lynne Mystic Healer and her co-host Andy Miller on her show Spiritual Emergency Training. Andy had some questions for me regarding Christianity and the usefulness of the Bible, and Lynne expressed some of her feelings about Christians. Their objections and comments are typical of progressives and those in the New Age movement. This discussion is important because we are often divided along religious and ideological lines and we need discussions to help us understand one another and to resist those who seek to divide us. We also discussed a number of topics including my recent article at LAProgressive.com entitled “Progressive White Men Need to Step Up, Not Back!” This article is also about division. I hope you enjoy this cross-posted episode of Bible Study for Progressives with Rich Procida.
April 21, 2019
Individual ideologies and theologies give us incomplete pictures of reality. The world is too complex. No Ideology or theology can explain everything. Every ideology and every theology overlooks or misses something. There is always something that resists symbolization. This is the view of Slovenian philosopher Slovoj Zizek who I have accessed primarily through a book called “The End of Evangelicalism? Discerning a New Faithfulness for Mission Towards an Evangelical Political Theology” by David E. Fitch.
An “irruption of the real” occurs when someone takes the beliefs and tenets of his or her faith or ideology to the extreme. Jesus did this when he put his life on the line because he believed that the one and all-powerful God of Israel would save him, overthrow the rulers and authorities of this world, redeem and restore Israel to its rightful place among the nations, and take dominion over the world (Mark 14:62 and 15:34). The truth is suddenly revealed often in a humiliating fashion so that people are forced to confront the fact that what they thought would happen, what they believed, didn’t come to pass, at least not as they expected.
This is the story of the Gospels. The disciples expect the Messiah to be a victorious king who would defeat Israel’s enemies (Mark 10:37). Something amazing did happen, but it wasn’t what they expected.
That something was the resurrection and the rise of the Jesus movement. Not all “irruptions of the Real” are victorious as the resurrection. Most end in humiliation and the reexamination and reformulation of one’s beliefs. Without the resurrection, Jesus’s ministry would have ended the same way, another prophet and martyr killed by the authorities (Mark 15:34).
But that’s not what happened. Some of Jesus’s followers, including Peter and James, had visions of Jesus after his death (1 Corinthians 15:5). This led them to believe that God had raised Jesus from the dead.
On this show, we examine Fitch’s concept of an “irruption of the Real” and apply it to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. We will talk about Zizek’s concepts of “master signifiers” and “sublime objects” and the role they play in motivating us to organize around ideologies and beliefs. Fitch, an Evangelical himself, uses Zizek to demonstrate how some Evangelical beliefs became disconnected from what they meant generations ago and now fail to serve God’s mission in the world.
April 8, 2019
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).
March 24, 2019
Recent polling has shown that most Americans have New Age beliefs, including many of those who attend church on Sunday and who consider themselves to be Christians. What do you feel about the New Age movement? How about the “prosperity gospel" or the supernatural? How should the Church respond to the rise of New Age beliefs in the Church and in the wider culture?
Many Christians today have no problem with New Age beliefs. We simply compartmentalize our lives. On Sundays we are Christians, but with our friends, we share our New Age beliefs.
How can the Church welcome the strangers among us and remain true to its mission? On today’s show, we will consider the New Age movement, the prosperity gospel, the supernatural, and the mission of the Church. We will talk about the future of Western Christianity in America.
We have with us,
Author, Bert Newton
Professor David Westfall,
Aleitha Dragonfly, the Rev. Carl Procida, and myself, Rich Procida.
March 17, 2019
Have you ever had an experience of God or of the supernatural? I have. Paul based much of his faith upon his experiences of Christ. For Paul, the risen Christ is the Good News!
Paul said that if Christ has not been raised, then our faith is in vain. We will read 1 Corinthians 15:1 to 11 and go over the context and issues raised by the text. Then we will talk about salvation and grace, bodily resurrection, and the supernatural. What did these things mean to Paul and first century Christians, and how should we understand them today.
With me today is Bert Newton, the author of “Subversive Wisdom: Sociopolitical Dimensions of John’s Gospel.”
My name is Rich Procida, and I write about scripture, politics, and the supernatural at ModernLectionaries.blogspot.com.
March 10, 2019
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?
March 1, 2019
On this show, Professor of Old Testament Studies at Biola University, Ron Pierce examines the relationship between “land” and ”covenant” in the Bible. This is the third in a series of classes using a film giving voice to the views of Palestinian Christians. In this context, Dr. Pierce asks us to consider how the Church should respond to Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
Dr. Pierce is addressing an older and more conservative audience. My mother, Dicksie Mathison, worked with Dr. Pierce to bring this series of classes to her Sunday school class. In this lecture, Dr. Pierce focuses on the biblical themes of “Land” and “Covenant.” His approach transcends the political divide to provide his Evangelical audience with a scriptural basis upon which to reflect upon the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. .
January 27, 2019
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.
January 20, 2019
The story of Jesus being thrown out of the synagogue might remind some of us about our own experiences at church. Many people have been hurt at Church, and some of us may have stories to tell.
We will also talk about the call to social justice advocacy and activism. Why should Christians be involved in social justice advocacy? If Jesus came to bring good news to the poor, shouldn’t we be engaged in that mission, as well?
Finally, we ask what it means to “fulfill scripture?” Is Jesus being the Messiah the only lesson we get here, or is “fulfilling scripture” something we do together when we bring good news to poor, release to the captives, and freedom to the oppressed?
We will read the first half of the story of the rejection of Jesus at Nazareth from the Gospel of Luke. Then, I will talk about God's priorities and Jesus' mission in the context of that rejection. Finally, we will have our panel discussion.
Our Panel of commentators include
Professor David Westfall,
My father, the Rev. Carl Procida, and
Author, Bert Newton
My name is Rich Procida, and I write about scripture, spirituality and politics at Modern Lectionaries.blogspot.com.