Biblical miracles about Jesus – the virgin birth, walking on water, the resurrection – have caused rationalists to dismiss his very existence as just an ancient myth. But there is another possibility, that a real historical figure emerged as a doomed but popular leader and his followers then padded the story, 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.
Some of our special stories in February that focused on the neocons’ bid to reassert influence, the drone debate, reflections on Iraq War lies, and dark historical chapters of the Reagan administration.
The American Religious Right has been eager to tear down – or chip away – the wall that separates government from religion and thus declare the United States a “Christian nation.” But the principle of a secular state has served the country well, says retired Baptist Minister Howard Bess.
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.
Evangelicals remain one of the principal obstacles to the full acceptance of gay Americans as people deserving equal rights and equal respect. But even in those religious circles, pressure from more tolerant Evangelicals – especially the young – is breaking down the barriers, Rev. Howard Bess writes.