Since ancient times, mankind has struggled against chaos, often seeking to control differences and manage conflicts though violence and war. The Bible has played an insidious role in this history, though an alternate interpretation of its opening chapter would recognize an appeal to do good, not to harshly impose order, says Rev. Howard Bess.
Jesus’s social teachings and America’s founding ideals had common threads, particularly rejection of tyrannical rulers and promotion of the general welfare. But the Israelite society of Jesus’s day, like America today, had lost connection to its ethical roots, writes Rev. Howard Bess.
In the 1980s, the Reagan administration decried “liberation theology” as Marxist and quietly approved when right-wing regimes murdered priests and nuns. But new scholarship reveals that “liberation theology” was carrying forward the real-life demands of Jesus for social justice, as Rev. Howard Bess explains.
The issue of bullying in U.S. schools has attracted much attention of late. But the problem is not isolated to schools, with bullying evident in major institutions, from the U.S. government in its foreign policy to Christian churches demanding obedience to the Bible, as retired Baptist minister Howard Bess explains.
Christianity has two conflicting views of Jesus’s Crucifixion, that God sacrificed his Son to atone for mankind’s sins, or that Jesus demanded economic and political justice for the poor and was killed by Jerusalem’s power structure. The two interpretations lead in very different directions, as Rev. Howard Bess explains.
Rather than making serious efforts at peace settlements, President Obama is skating toward possible U.S. involvement in two more Middle Eastern wars, with Syria and Iran. And ex-Vice President Cheney has no regrets about the Iraq War. Such attitudes ignore a core principle of all major religions, writes Winslow Myers.
Despite originating in Jesus’s messages of peace, Christianity has been arguably the world’s most violent religion with its adherents committing genocide on all continents except unpopulated Antarctica. Again and again, Christian churches have blessed warfare, but a new generation is objecting, says Rev. Howard Bess.
Over the centuries, Christian churches and allied rulers have tortured and killed countless fellow Christians for deviating from doctrinal claims about Jesus’s divine identity. But the historical record that exists indicates that those doctrines were tragically wrong, writes Rev. Howard Bess.
For Christians, the search for the real Jesus can be a challenging pursuit, given the two millennia of doctrine, dogma and distortion that have built up around his teachings. For some followers, the key has been to strip away those traditions and find a purer historical understanding, says Rev. Howard Bess.
The failure of many mainstream Christian churches to embrace social movements of recent decades – from gay rights to women’s equality to peace activism – has alienated young people who see the contradictions with Jesus’s teachings of tolerance. Is it too late for established churches, asks Rev. Howard Bess.