Category Archives: Church

Does the Bible call gays “dogs”?

Rainbow Dog by Stephen Wolfe via Flickr (2010; CC-BY-NC)Short answer: No.

The question arises because Steven Anderson, who founded and preaches for the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona, attracted attention a couple of weeks ago for positing this metaphorical equation against LBGTQ individuals in the wake of the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Specifically, the Friendly Atheist (Hemant Mehta) has drawn attention to a recent sermon in which Anderson ranted, “LGBT. They’re sodomites. They’re dogs. That’s what the Bible calls them: Dogs. DOGS!” To conclude his post, Mehta himself claims, “This is faith-based hate speech. You can say it’s not loving, you can say you disavow what he’s saying, but you can’t say the Bible has nothing to do with it.”

More properly, you can’t say that Anderson’s reading of a 400-year-old translation of the Bible has nothing to do with it. But before we go blaming the Bible for Anderson’s hateful sermon, let’s see if Anderson is accurately representing the Bible.

Spoiler alert: He isn’t, although he thinks he is; a problematic translation coupled with a misapprehension of the relationship between side-by-side verses has misled Anderson into misunderstanding his source. But demonstrating that is a process requiring several detailed steps. There is no shortcut and no tl;dr version. Also, please note that my purpose here is to investigate the meaning, translation, and use of two biblical verses—not to articulate a general biblical theology of sexuality, which takes a lot more work.

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Fear the walking dead blog

Photo of a human skullYes, okay, I admit it. Referencing a popular media property in the post title is more or less clickbait. If you’re reading this, I guess it worked. Anyway, it seems the last time I blogged was in August 2015, and the last time I tweeted was in December. I have a pattern of starting strong, then blogfading as things get busy. But to tell the truth, I miss being part of the Bible-blogging community, so I’m going to try to give this another go, taking inspiration from both Ezekiel 37 and the Hooters’ “All You Zombies.”

I do have several things on my mind that I want to share with friends and colleagues far and wide, and questions I want to ask. I also have these recurring intentions of using Higgaion as a kind of accountability tool, keeping me moving on my research to avoid the shame of having nothing to really blog about. Maybe that will help me make good progress on my two SBL presentations for November 2016 and my Stone-Campbell Journal Conference presentations for spring 2017 (I can’t remember if it’s March or April in 2017).

But I’d also like to  know: what’s on your mind? I’m especially keen to learn what kinds of Old Testament related topics (yes, there should probably be some hyphens in there, but I thought they looked ugly) would be of interest to other folk who, like me, self-identify as members or heirs of the Churches of Christ, Christian Churches, Restoration Movement, Stone-Campbell heritage, or whatever label you want to use. How is the Old Testament being heard and used in our churches these days? What parts of the Old Testament cry out for more of our attention?

So please use the comments section here to let me know what topics interest you, and in the coming weeks I‘ll try to share with you some topics that interest me. Maybe there’s some life left in this old blog after all.

Martin Luther on astrology

“… Augustine condemned all astrology. Although it contains much superstition, yet it should not be entirely despised, for it is wholly given up to the observation and consideration of divine themes, a zeal and diligence most worthy of human beings. Therefore we find that many most highly talented and excellent persons have exercised themselves in astrology and obtained pleasure from it.” — Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, vol. 1 (ed. John Nicholas Lenker, 1904), 74

Not that Luther was ever reluctant to disagree with Augustine, but I can’t help wondering which “highly talented and excellent persons” Luther had in mind, and why they were so important to him that he characterized astrology as good clean fun rather than pagan drivel.

Pepperdine Bible Lectures 2013 via iTunes U

70th Annual Pepperdine Bible Lectures program bookDuring the first week of May each year, Pepperdine University hosts the Pepperdine Bible Lectures, drawing several thousand members of Churches of Christ to campus for three and a half days of preaching, worship, and Bible study classes.

In past years, Pepperdine has contracted with an independent firm to record and distribute the Bible lectures. Those recordings were convenient, but could get expensive. This year, Pepperdine decided not to subcontract the recordings, and to try to make the recordings available for free via iTunes U. Not all classes were recorded, and speakers weren’t informed of this until Thursday night.

Sadly, my own class—“As Far As We Know: Genesis 1 and Contemporary Science” was not recorded, though I could easily have carried my own recording equipment had I known about the new procedures. On the other hand, Richard Beck’s two-day series on “Love Wins” (part 1, part 2) and Jeff Childers’s two-day class entitled “‘Eucatastrophe!’ Says J.R.R. Tolkien” (part 1, part 2) are among the 65 sessions published so far.

So head on over to the 70th Annual Pepperdine Bible Lectures page in the iTunes store, browse the selections there, and find something interesting to help you pass the time during an upcoming commute, workout, or similar activity.

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Posturing for praise and prayer: standing, kneeling, and bowing

A young African American man kneeling in prayerRichard Beck’s account of kneeling for prayer at the San Buenaventura Mission during his recent visit to the Pepperdine Bible Lectures touched a nerve with me.

The old kneeler creaked loudly in the silent space, with a big echoing knock when it hit the floor. I knelt and took out my prayer book for morning prayers.

In many Church of Christ worship services nowadays, including the song services preceding the keynote sermons at the Pepperdine Bible Lectures, a sort of expectation has developed that the congregation will stand during songs that refer to standing. Continue reading