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Who is God? Part 1: God is Love

Theology comes from two Greek words. Theos, meaning God, and logos, meaning word or reason. So, theology is simply words about God. The most fundamental questions for theology is “Who is God?”* People have answered the question in many ways, but as a Christian theologian there are two answers that I find the most compelling. An early follower of Jesus, possibly his disciple John, wrote a letter knowns to us ...

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Jesus Is Charlie And So Is Muhammad: The Subversive Power Of Forgiveness

When I first saw the “Je Suis Charlie” hashtags on Facebook, before reading (and reading and reading and reading) about the tragedy at Charlie Hebdo, my theological dyslexia kicked in, and I accidentally read “Jesus is Charlie.” When I noted my mistake in a comment on Facebook, a friend replied, “ Jesus is Charlie.” Caught up in the mimetic phenomenon of showing my solidarity with the victims of the vicious ...

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Jesus, Muhammad, and Traversing Hostility with Love

I have read two articles today on forgiveness. Amidst the violence of our world during that last few weeks, they both point us toward a better world. The first is an article by James Alison titled “Traversing hostility: The sine qua non of any Christian talk about Atonement.” James talks about the “intelligence of the victim.” The phrase indicates in part that Jesus understood the risks involved in his prea ...

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How Muhammad Responded to Insults: The Qur’an, Hell, and Charlie Hebdo

How do we make sense of the senseless and tragic violence committed by militants at the headquarters of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, especially when that violence is committed in the name of Allah? Suzanne Ross, my colleague at the Raven Foundation, calls the violence at Charlie Hebdo a sacred tragedy. Now, we generally associate “the sacred” with religions, but Suzanne clarifies that you don’t hav ...

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The God of Peace

Editor's Note: This article was written by guest contributor Matt Distefano. “You have heard that it was said, ‘an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” (Matthew 5:38-39 NASB) My assumption growing up in an Evangelical Protestant church was that the persecution I would eventually face ...

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The Nonviolent Atonement: God’s Grace upon Grace

She was 85 and nearing the end of her life. I’d never met her before. You might call her a “lapsed Christian,” or maybe she was one of the “nones.” She hadn’t been to church in decades. She called for a visit because she had anxiety about death. But what broke my heart was her anxiety about God. “Hi,” I gently greeted her. “Hello pastor.” She replied. She began telling me about her Catholic parents, her “fa ...

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The Subversive Peace of Christmas

Christmas is a time for celebration, joy, and family. But Christmas is much more than a sentimental holiday. Christmas is subversive. The Bible doesn’t tell us the specific date Jesus was born. Later Christians tradition gave us the date of December 25. It was chosen by Pope Julius around the year 350 and Christians have been celebrating Christ’s birth on that day ever since. But Pope Julius didn’t just ran ...

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A Civil War Christmas Carol

One of my U. S. history students recently asked me what my favorite Christmas song was. There are many that I love, and I told him that I couldn’t possibly choose just one, but as a historian—and a specialist on the American Civil War, particularly—I have always been deeply moved by I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. In its original form it’s not heard too much these days, although several contemporary Chr ...

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The Jesus Myth

  Editor's Note: This post was submitted by Andrew Robinson. Once upon a time there was a little girl named Emma who loved Christmas. She was infatuated with Santa Claus. Every year she would watch every Santa cartoon that came on. She would watch the news as the weatherman reported where in the world Santa was at this very moment, and of course, she would leave freshly baked homemade cookies and a big ...

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Advent: The Faith to Scream “It’s Not Okay!”

She sat in total shock. Her head rested in her hands as her long hair hid her face. She was silent for forty-five minutes. And then the river of tears began to flow. It was the most traumatic event I’ve experienced in ten years of ministry. The pain and distress of a murdered family member were unbearable. As she wept uncontrollably, her sister stepped into the void to hold her. “It’s okay. It’s okay,” her ...

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