#27 - Can Suicide Be Forgiven?

December 27, 2018

In the last episode of 2018 we are tackling a difficult subject, "Can Suicide Be Forgiven?"  Recently, there was a horrific story of a Catholic priest who was officiating the funeral of an 18 year old young man who committed suicide.  The priest throughout the funeral referred to the suicide and insinuated that the boy may spend eternally in Hell because of his suicidal action.  The boy's father even interrupted his homily during the funeral and asked him to stop.  To no avail, the priest didn't stop, and the funeral ended in tears for many.  It is hard to imagine the pain of this family and the merciless action of this priest but this horrific event raises many questions:

* Where did this priest develop this idea?

* How has the church and culture dealt with suicide over the last 2,000 years?

* What about Judas?  Was his suicide forgivable?  Is he in Heaven? Is he in Hell?  

These and many other questions are dealt with in this last episode of 2018. It is our attempt to provide an historical analysis and a deeper dive into the context of scripture surrounding the betrayal and suicide of Judas.  You will find many thought provoking ideas that may help you wrestling with this most difficult subject either for yourself or for others in your world.  


#26 - The Canards of Antisemitism & The Church

November 1, 2018

If you are like me, maybe you have always been confused and puzzled at why so many target the Jews with hate filled rhetoric, killings, and overall blame for many of society's ills.  Questions that have puzzled me for years have been questions like,

“What drives this illogical behavior?”

“Why has the historic church led many of these canards throughout history?”

“What is the etymology that drives this theological slant?”  

Then after I began my study, I was awakened to the horrific shooting this past Saturday in Pittsburgh that distills the current reality of anti-semitism that sadly is becoming a common occurrence. 

Once again it raises questions of why the Jews?  What drives many anti-semitic rants? And what drives someone to the extreme violence of a synagogue massacre of innocent people worshipping in a synagogue?   This is no longer a medieval mindset. This is no longer a Germanic fueled frenzy from the Nazi’s. We have to recognize that what drives this undercurrent of extreme anti-semitic thinking in Western Civilization and more specifically the fuel of anti-semitism in the Christian history of Western Civilization.  So, I will attempt to provide a look at some of the Canards, the hoaxes, or fake information that has led to the core of many antisemitic behaviors of the past and I hope may shed some light on some of these current realities…

#25 - Salvation: Escape or Involvement?

October 19, 2018

When you hear the terminology of “salvation” what comes to your mind?  What is salvation? Is the concept of salvation to the mind of Jesus and his context different from our modern understanding, especially in the West?  Well, I led you just a little, because the implication of my question is “yes” there is a difference. So, let’s explore that difference, how it has evolved and what implications does this have for us today...

#24 -Pray without ceasing… 1 Thessalonians 5:17

October 8, 2018

Sometimes the subject of prayer can be laborious and difficult.  We hear the admonishment to pray continuely from the pulpit, but really what is prayer?  When the Apostle Paul encouraged us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to "pray without ceasing" what was the context he was operating from?  What if I told you that prayer is not esoteric as much as it is very concrete?  Find out what prayer without ceasing means from its original context of Jesus and Paul's day and how this can revolutionize your understanding of what prayer really is...

#23:The 3rd Commandment-What does it really mean?

September 21, 2018

Our last podcast we explored the connections between the recent religious scandals of the Catholic Church and the Megachurch in Chicago “WillowCreek Community Church.”  And it garnered quite a response. Like others it seems like the question that begs is this question, “Why is religious betrayal, the worst of all betrayals?” Why is religious betrayal seemingly the most difficult to overcome? What is it about religious evil that is most insidious?

We all may have a variety of opinions on the why, and I’m sure that most of our heartfelt rants are true, but to help us provide a plumb line, a level, a construct that we can all work in, I want to take us back to a familiar but often misunderstood passage of scripture in Exodus 20 and do a deeper analysis of the 3rd Commandment "Do not take the Lord's name in vain."  This background and anaylsis will help us unlock the answer to this most difficult question, “Why is religious betrayal the worst of all betrayals?”

#22: What do the scandals of the Catholic Church and WillowCreek Church have in common?

August 28, 2018

What do the scandals of the Catholic Church and WillowCreek Church have in common?  The last several weeks have brought us some of the biggest scandals in modern church history. The Catholic Church in Pennsylvania has had over 300 priests abuse 1000+ minors in the last several decades, according to their own records.  And then one of the largest megachurches and arguably the most influential church in the US, WillowCreek Community Church in Chicago, IL has had their founding pastor Bill Hybels step down as multiple accusations of sexual misconduct have been appropriated against him.  

Though these are two very different entities, what do they have in common?  Find out why the very structures that have supported their past success, are also what fueled their downfall. 

#21: Born Again, What did this mean in its original context?

August 14, 2018

Born Again!  This well known phrase comes arguably from the most famous passage in the New Testament scriptures in John 3.  The dialogue is between two Jewish Rabbi's and teachers of the law, Nicodemus and Jesus.  In Nicodemus' late night private meeting, he comes with a curious mind to know if he is the Messiah, the one he has been looking for all his life?  Jesus responds with what looks like at first an enigmatic phrase to Nicodemus, but what is shocking once we see the original Judaic context, is this phrase was extremely familiar to Nicodemus.  So, the focus of this episode #21 is, "What did this phrase mean in its original context and why did this throw Nicodemus off his spiritual game?"  You will find the original context quite enlightening!  Enjoy! 

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#20: The Kingdom Suffers Violence and the Violent Take It By Force

July 18, 2018

Have you ever heard a charismatic preacher pound the pulpit and say something like, “We are in a war with the devil.  And in a war only the most violent wins. In fact, Jesus said it from his own lips, that only the violent men of God will prevail over the devil.  Only the strong warriors for God will take the kingdom by force?” If you have been involved in a charismatic church or heard a TV evangelist, chances are you may have heard something like this.  They have used this text from Matthew 11:12 as their clarion call to rally the troops and especially try to appeal to the testosterone of men. It is a spiritual infomerical to call the men of the church to stand up for God and beat the snot out of the devil… so to speak.  

It sounds really good.  It seems to preach well.  It gets some resounding AMENS, especially for some of the wives who want their man to be a man of God.  But is this really what Jesus is saying??? When this passage from Matthew 11:12 gets quoted as a proof text, it sounds really good.  But when you measure it against the other teachings of Jesus, then it doesn’t measure up with the love and grace that is characteristic of most of Jesus’ teachings.  So, how do we reconcile this passage? Is Jesus saying something altogether different? What does he really intend to teach in this passage about the Kingdom of God or Heaven?  

#19: Was the Church Complicit in Fueling Anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany?

June 26, 2018

Was anti-semitic ideology an outlier?  Was it on the fringe or was it apart of the fabric of theology and church life in Germany? Did the pastors and priests of Germany knowingly preach and teach a theology of anti-semitism in the pulpits? And what can we learn from this period of church history that may help guide our behavior today?  

#18: The Good Eye, The Evil Eye – Matthew 6:22-23

June 5, 2018

What did Jesus mean in Matthew 6:22-23 when he said you need to have a "good eye" not an "evil eye?"  Was this some kind of esoteric teaching that was a spiritual riddle?  Or was this something much simplier once the context is uncovered?  Find out more about the Hebraic context and why it matters in interpreting this enigmatic passage...

#17: Women’s Role in the Church

May 17, 2018

Can a woman be a leader in the church? A pastor? Recently, two events in Evangelical Christianity has elevated the controversial subject of the role of women in the church – Beth Moore's open letter to men regarding how she is treated as a women in a male dominated religious culture and Dr. Paiger Patterson's comments about a 16 year female and advice he gave to a woman who was being physically abused by her husband.  Once again, no where in the modern world are women are treated as second class citizens, but the church is still affirming women to regulated roles of subjugation.  Why? How can this be justified?  Can we take a different approach? 

#16: When did priests become celibate and why?

May 4, 2018

Have you ever wondered, “Why are priests in the Catholic Church celibate?  Has it always been this way? When did this monastic celibacy start and why?” Well, it seems that priestly celibacy, or rather the lack of it, is consistently in the news, for some kind of sexual abuse, ever since the newspaper “Boston Globe” broke the scandal of Priestly pedaphelia in 2002... (Listen for full episode)

#15: Tithing, Is It Biblical?

April 23, 2018

So, let’s ask the big question, “is tithing a biblical concept?”  Should we tithe today? Why is the NT silent on this topic? How does God really want us to give in generosity? Well, to begin our framework to answer these questions, let me begin by telling a story… Listen for more...

#14: From Cathedrals To MegaChurches - A brief history how buildings shape our faith

April 9, 2018

Can the church truly be a church without a building?  How much do we allow the building to shape our framework of faith? In America specifically, how did we get to such a Walmart mentality towards our church buildings?  What is the connection between building the Cathedrals of the Middle Ages and the Mega Churches we have today?  What drives the architecture of our buildings and how does that impact how we live out our faith?

Well, let’s dive into this topic, “From Cathedrals to Mega Churches: A brief history how buildings shape our faith”  

#13: What Is Faith?

March 29, 2018

What is faith?  Is faith a leap of the mind?  Is faith a leap of action?  This episode will tackle the misconceptions and confusion surrounding this often used term.  An what we will find will surprise you! 

#12: The First Heresy - How Marcion’s Ideas Continue to Influence the Church Today

March 22, 2018

You may have heard, "We are not under the Law, we are under Grace" or "The Old Testament is a bunch of rules of do's and dont's, while the New Testament is about God's Grace."  These phrases are now part of the popular venacular in many church circles today, but what if I told you that these were rejected by the early Church?  In fact a man named Marcion, who first championed many of these ideas, was rejected and excommunicated by the early church fathers for this kind of thinking.  Though Marcion's teachings were considered the first great heresy and were rejected, how did these ideas continue to live and also grow in their influence on the church today?  Come find out in our podcast "Stuff We Missed in Church History!"

#11: Betrayal, Forgiveness, Healing - Part 2

March 12, 2018

As a Jewish Rabbi, Jesus works from a different vantage point as he teaches to a primarily Jewish audience on the subject of forgiveness.  It is a very different framework than most of our Western contruct of "I'm Sorry."  Learn what you missed on forgivness from the Hebraic framework of Jesus' teaching from three major passages of scripture:

1. Matthew 6 - The Lord's Prayer..."forgive me my sins, as I forgive those who sin against me"

2. Matthew 18 - Jesus responds to Peter's question on forgiveness of 7 x 70

3. Matthew 5 - Leave your gift at the altar and go and be reconcile to your brother

#10: Betrayal, Forgiveness, Healing - Part 1

March 1, 2018

What if I said, that our current understanding and methodology of FORGIVENESS is not the healthiest?  It seems to perpetuate a dysfunctional irresponsibility more often than not, and doesn’t provide the kind of healing that restores the soul?  What if, on closer inspection, that Jesus’ teaching shows us that we have some of it right, but some of it wrong, and if we could correct that portion that we have misunderstood, then we could restore most of our relationships, healing many of our scars, and we could be psychologically, emotionally, and more spiritually healthy?  Journey with us, to find out what forgiveness is not and what the reality of forgiveness looks like...

#9: The Historical Division of Bystander Indifference

February 22, 2018

Bystander Indiffernce.  Our current cultural climate has it's roots in modern history where rhetoric villifies groups and individuals as subhuman, and once we arrive at this point, history shows us the consequences to our social fabric is disasterous.  This week, two events, the school shooting that killed 17 innocent students in Parkland, FL and the death of Billy Graham, have an unusual connection of response.  Find out what this unusual connection is and why knowing our modern history from the Holocaust can help us create unity and not division when sudden events happen.

#8: The Symbol of the Cross & The Religious Imagination

February 19, 2018

The symbol of the Cross is fixated in the imagination of western culture, but its orgins are not what we think they are.  What if I told you...

  • The Cross was not the symbol of Christianity for the first 300 years after Christ…
  • The Cross as a literal symbol was non-existent those 300 years… not in artwork, not in mosaics, not in places of worship, not anywhere…
  • That a majority of Jews worldwide, see the Cross as a symbol of anti-semitic hatred...
  • The Cross as a symbol of Christianity was popularized by the Roman Emperor Constantine with his vision on the Milvian Bridge…

Have I whetted your appetite yet?  Did I get your curious quotient up?  Are you ready to learn some amazing facts of history that shed light on a symbol we thought we knew?  Let’s see some of the stuff we missed in church history regarding the symbol of the cross.