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Tackling faith, politics, relationships, writing, & other impolite topics. Teacher. Podcaster. Newsletter: @Eric_Sentell on Twitter

If fundamentalists reinterpret the bible on slavery, why not about women and LGBTQ+?

Christian fundamentalists believe the bible is “inerrant and infallible” because it’s the Word of God. Yet they creatively reinterpret unambiguous scriptures about slavery to rescue the bible from itself.

If they truly believed it was inerrant, then they wouldn’t need to reinterpret passages that condone slavery as ancient Rome practiced it. There are many challenges to the belief that the bible as inerrant, but the slavery issue seems like the home-run counter-argument.

While fundamentalists rescue the bible from slavery, they also argue that other scripture “plainly” says that women shouldn’t preach and that homosexuality is a sin. …

How to listen, empathize, and love well (Pt. I)

Doubts are seldom allowed in the church. There’s an unspoken agreement that we’ll keep such thoughts to ourselves — that we won’t sully an otherwise pleasant Sunday morning, create tension at a comfortable Wednesday night bible study, or spark controversy among content believers. Instead, we’ll pretend to be equally comfortable and content.

Since we don’t share doubts, we can’t discuss them, learn from them, or deepen our faith thanks to them. We either feel alone in our questioning or remain blissfully ignorant of the questioners in our midst. Many of those questioners may struggle in their faith while “alone together”…

Of all the writing advice I’ve read on Medium, here are my favorite take-aways

If you’re like me, you’ve read a ton of writing advice. You’ve read many “how to write” books and essays, a bunch of “how to write on Medium” articles, and plenty of “how I made a gazillion dollars writing on Medium for an hour while wearing pajamas on my couch and eating ice cream with a toddler squirming in my lap” hot takes.

No doubt you’ve highlighted a book’s worth of material from those articles and archived many of them for future reference. But how often do you revisit those highlights and articles? …

A potentially good idea and a harmful hierarchy

Beth Moore threw gasoline on the debate over “complementarianism” with a pair of recent tweets.

Moore tweeted:

Let me be blunt. When you functionally treat complementarianism — a doctrine of MAN — as if it belongs among the matters of 1st importance, yea, as a litmus test for where one stands on inerrancy & authority of Scripture, you are the ones who have misused Scripture. You went too far.

I beg your forgiveness where I was complicit. I could not see it for what it was until 2016. I plead your forgiveness for how I just submitted to it and…

How to empower people

Many of us go to the supermarket, buy our shopping and go home. Very seldom would we reflect on the privilege of being able to do that. — Murray Edridge, Wellington City Mission

Once a month on my work commute, a long line of vehicles snakes from the Patterson Baptist Church’s front door through its parking lot and down the side-road running parallel to the highway.

The same day, dozens of cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans park wherever they can find space alongside the road running past the Marble Hill food pantry.

All of these people are waiting for someone…

“No Reasonable Person Would Believe That!”

Sidney Powell earned fifteen minutes of fame and a multi-billion dollar lawsuit for championing the Big Lie of a “stolen election.”

For weeks in November and December 2020, Sidney Powell joined Rudy Giuliani in asserting that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. She pushed conspiracy theories so kooky that even Rudy began distancing himself and the Trump machine from her.

The highlight of her involvement came during a TV appearance on Fox Business. She claimed to have “voluminous evidence” of massive voter fraud. …

A Famous Pastor Shows the Flaws of Christian Sex Ethics and Purity Culture

Tim Keller is the kind of Christian pastor and “influencer” whose statements make headlines in the Christian world and occasionally the secular one, too.

Recently, Tim Keller tweeted about sex outside of marriage. Then he tweeted a thread defending that tweet. And all the tweets reveal the problems with modern Christian sexual ethics and, hopefully, a better way to love.

I believe Tim Keller to be a person of good will, with good intentions. But I also think he desperately needs to check his privilege.

Purity culture dehumanized women by reducing them to sexual objects.

As a Christian, I believe…

And why that’s good news.

The problem of evil, or theodicy, has been debated in Christianity for millennia. It’s a challenge for every religion as well as non-religious people; suffering is a universal human experience.

But the problem of evil is especially thorny for the Christian deity. If the Christian God is all-loving, all-knowing, and all-powerful, then why is there genuine evil and suffering in the world?

An all-loving God wouldn’t want anyone to experience evil or unnecessary suffering. An all-knowing God would possess the knowledge to anticipate it. And an all-powerful God would have the means to prevent it.

Something’s got to give —…

Three Thought Experiments

What if you’ve never read the bible? What if the bible didn’t even exist? What if Christianity and other religions didn’t exist?

What would be your basis for believing in a deity?

Here are three thought experiments to help us answer that question.

Thought Experiment #1

It’s difficult to imagine a Western civilization unshaped by two thousand years of Christian theology and the bible.

Here’s a thought experiment to help us ease into imagining such a world:

  • You’ve never read the bible. You’ve never been taught about Christianity.
  • You are, however, vaguely familiar with Christianity’s major beliefs.
  • This familiarity with…

The Bible’s little-known metaphors for sin

What comes to mind when you hear the word sin?

Something bad you did?

  • An immoral act?
  • A selfish act?
  • Succumbing to a temptation?
  • An action you didn’t think was wrong at the time?
  • A frowned-upon behavior, like gossiping or violating your church’s taboo against drinking alcohol?

Something bad you are?

  • A character flaw like pride or anger?
  • A difficult temperament?
  • An internalized shame or guilt?
  • A tendency toward unhealthy thinking or behavior?
  • A mental health issue you can’t “pray away”?

If you’re a Christian in the Western world, you probably conceive of sin in one or more of these…

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