A bit of Quaker history: 8-13-09
Identifying potential clergy: 8-15/16-09

The nature of salvation: 8-14-09

A month or so ago a small storm erupted in the American Christian world over something said by the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori. (I took this photo of her when she last visited Kansas City.)


I was traveling and busy with a million other subjects at the time, but I want to return to her remarks and to the uproar they caused to see if there's something all of us can learn from this incident.

Speaking to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, which was meeting in Anaheim, Calif., Jefferts Schori, whom I've met and interviewed, said that "the great Western heresy (is) that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God. It's caricatured in some quarters by insisting that salvation depends on reciting a specific verbal formula about Jesus. That individualist focus is a form of idolatry, for it puts me and my words in the place that only God can occupy, at the center of existence, as the ground of being." (Her reference here is to a common "Jesus prayer," with various wording, that confesses one's need for a savior and accepts Jesus in that role.)

I've used -- and linked you to -- the Associated Baptist Press account of this because I found it to be one of the more complete and fair reports on the subject.

The reaction to her remarks was swift and sharp.

For instance, the Rev. Canon Julian Dobbs of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), which is made up generally of people who have split with the Episcopal Church, called the statement "appalling and indefensible." Dobbs said Jefferts Schori's agenda has no place in faithful, biblical Christianity.

CANA, by the way, a missionary effort of the Anglican church in Nigeria, says of itself that it "consists of more than 75 congregations and 160 clergy in 21 states. CANA was established in 2005 to provide a means by which Anglicans living in the USA who were alienated by the actions and decisions of The Episcopal Church could continue to live out their faith without compromising their core convictions."

Among their core convictions is that it was unbiblical to elect and install V. Gene Robinson, and openly gay man, as bishop of New Hampshire.

But let's return to what Jefferts Schori said.

In traditional Christian theology, there is a creative tension between the self and the community. That is, although it is acknowledged that ultimately we will stand alone before God, we never do that unrelated or unconnected to what, in my Reformed Tradition, we call the covenant community. Indeed, the church is at its healthiest when it can maintain a good balance between individualistic theology and community theology. Beyond that, traditional Christianity would say that what matters most in this life is how we live out our individual faith within a community of faith.

My reading of Jefferts Schori's words is that she was trying to suggest that the over-emphasis often found in some Christian circles on individual salvation creates an out-of-balance religion. And I agree with her. But her words were not artfully chosen and did not, in the end, illuminate her subject in useful ways. She spread more heat than light by seeming to attack one approach to the faith rather than constructively critique it as a way of advocating a more communal approach.

In some ways, the bishop was guilty of what I've several times accused Pope Benedict XVI of, which is being tone deaf. That is, B-16 has said things that, had he considered ahead of time more carefully how his words would be taken, might have said them in a different way.

The reality is that Christianity is a team effort and cannot be thoroughly understood outside of that concept, despite the important and necessary emphasis on individuals deciding to make a commitment to Christ by accepting what we Christians call God's saving grace.

Perhaps the same p.r. person who should be pre-reading the pope's speeches could do double duty and pre-read Bishop Jefferts Schori's remarks, too.

(By the way, Jefferts Schori will be visiting St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Mission, Kan., on Oct. 25. She'll be free then to disagree with me in person.)

* * *


A mayoral candidate in Tulsa wants a creationism display in the local zoo. The editorial writers at the Tulsa World think that's an awful idea. Which it is, of course. Creationism is a religious idea that should be neither promoted nor disparaged by government. Why is that concept so difficult for some politicians to grasp? Oh, I get it: Because going against the concept wins them votes.



Bill, there's no need to make excuses or explain the statement. It sounds like Katharine Jefferts-Schori said exactly what she believes...there is no such thing as individual salvation or the need for a Savior, Jesus is not God or a Savior, and belief in Him as one's personal savior is idolatry.

About what you would expect from a liberal theologian and the leader of Episcoal Church these days. The Episcopal Church is nice social organization, I suppose, but like almost mainline denominaitons, it has abandoned Christianity and isn't really a Christian church any longer. The worst part is, that probably makes Katharine Jefferts-Schori very happy.

Will Graham

Ah, creationism in the news. Funny how anti theists can go on and on about that, why relying on conceptes like the "Big Bang" and "abiogeneis" to sustain THEIR faith; concepts that they can no more verify than they can even understand.

Even Stephen Hawking has said that the laws of physics...as we understand them...break down at the point of the "Big Bang", a term which describes a period of expansion AFTER the initial creation, whatever that was.

Will Graham

Iggy's 8:43 a.m. post yesterday was PRICELESS, and WILL be preserved for posterity on MANY BLOGS!

In it, he talks about chemical and surgical castration, and brags about his "sharp knives".

I think I understand where Iggy is coming from, and the root of his problem!

From wikipedia", the scholarly source relied on by atheists worldwide!


Wow, Bill, now there are actually CHRISTIANS wanting to display aspects of their faith in zoos!

I agree that community is extremely important to our lives -- but in my case, religious belief is no longer the essential tie that creates a community. Maybe because I feel like a lot of Christians wouldn't see me as one of them these days?

And as far as salvation, I believe Jesus accomplished that on the cross, for both believers and unbelievers: To me the challenge is spreading God's unconditional love to every corner of the globe (now isn't THAT a contradiction -- "corners of the globe?" LOL). And I just have a whole lot to learn about love.

Last night at 9:49 PM Will Graham wrote --

"Susan, your husband wanted to grow breasts so he could BREASTFEED!

That's NUTS!"

Just for the record, not that it's any of your business -- but my husband wasn't exactly wanting to "grow breasts." He just wanted the experience of being able to nurture his babies at the breast. And even if he DID want to grow breasts, breasts are not the same as genitalia --

Not that it's "nuts" when some men DO want to change their genitalia -- it's just of course problematic if the man is married to a woman who wants to stay married to a man, and of course it can be a problem if he has children who are used to calling him "Daddy." (Continued)


(Continued) Now, back to Will's assertion that it's NUTS for a man to want to breastfeed: This is misogyny at its worst. Sadly, there are many people in our society who share the misogynist's view that the care and nurture of children is animalistic and demeaning.

Whereas when the male in acadaemia wondered why on earth Red Biddy would want to enter his traditially-male course of study, he was NOT demeaning his chosen field -- he was just saying that he and other men wanted to hoard all the opportunities for themselves. I don't think he was calling her crazy for wanting to enter his field -- rather, he was calling her crazy for thinking she "could."

I think people can generally understand why some women are drawn to traditionally-male pursuits. After all, this is what the guys are doing so it's got to be more interesting than our frivolous feminine existences. But, again, our society still has such a low view of women, that men are seen as NUTS if they experience any desire to experience the breastfeeding relationship with their children.

I'm not saying every man "should" want to breastfeed -- any more than every woman "should" want to work on cars for a living -- but speaking of breastfeeding and working on cars, these are actually both practical arts that can greatly-benefit our lives and families whether we are male or female. Don't knock it 'til you've tried it!

adam harrison

Richard Dawkins is hawking a New Atheist Anti Semitic T Shirt!

Get em while they are hip!!



You would have to have never picked up a Bible to make a statement like this, how far from the truth can one get? Apparently, more than my ability to imagine. Theology should have a basis of the Bible. Too often theology is formed by cherry picking verses that can be taken out of context to fit a pre determined belief. We will all stand individually before God and be accountable. As to your comment Bill, take care of the personal responsibility to God, and it will take care of the community. Paul spent a lot of time on these issues, as did James. Take time to read it.


Also from last night -- yes, Will, I DO think our secular American society is immensely-superior to any Bronze-Age culture I've ever learned about -- certainly not perfect, but simply a much better world for women, as well as for children to be growing up in.

And I wasn't pretending not to know about the "historical context" of the Bible.

I think everyone knows that the Church was under severe persecution. But, again, Paul took a moment to share some of his rationale for limiting women: 1) He saw it as "shameful" for a woman to speak in church, and 2) He saw it as significant that according to Genesis: a) man came first, and b) woman was the one who got deceived and fell into sin.

Again, you seem to just be ignoring the facts staring you in the face while vaguely-accusing me of ignoring "historical context." If Paul's purpose was to protect women, he certainly could have just said that, rather than "pretending" to have a derogatory view of women.

Again and again and again, I keep reiterating that Paul's sexism doesn't negate the fact that he had some good things to say, any more than Darwin's or Nietzsche's sexism negates their positive contributions to humanity. It's the Biblical-inerrancy dogma that makes Paul's sexism so problematic.

Whereas science takes what's useful out of the morass of human errors and moves on, dogmatism insists on retaining the errors along with the useful stuff -- and it gets harder and harder to think while buried in all that clutter -- maybe that's where the phrase "blind faith" comes in?

Dolores Lear

Fnu: last night.
"To: adamh and Will Graham
"I have a question for you both.
Would you be happy if god sent you both to hell, just to see if I would stop being a atheist for .0002 of a god second?"

"Jefferts Schori, - said that "the great Western heresy (is) that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God."

The Genetics of Each Parent is in their Genetic and Physical Makeup, and Each Person in a family, has a different Makeup and environment from each other, even in their relations with their family.

Then add All the God Beliefs on Earth, to divide Humans, and we have a very confused Body Birth Killer Society.

"The reality is that Christianity is a team effort and cannot be thoroughly understood outside of that concept, .."

Matthew 24:38 KJV "For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that No-e entered into the ark. And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."

The Noah/Atlantis Flood did kill most of that world population. The Saved Ones have a world population again.

Humans are eating, drinking, etc., and the Judgment Day Fire Catastrophe is set up by Humans.

God/Us our Ancestors did not cause the Planetary Flood, but the Noah/Atlantis High Tech Pollution and Nuclear Bombs did.

God/Us will not cause the Planetary Fire, but Man's High Tech Pollution and Nuclear Bombs will.


Dolores Lear


God/Us, do not Kill, Control Purebred Birth, and have Eternal Physical Life After Birth, on Planets and in Spaceships.

Today, High Tech Humans could Clone Equal Human Clone Helpmeets. Body Birth makes Killer Humans that Destroy Each Other and their Home Planet.

Religion teaches each will be Judged by God, the Good to go to Heaven, the Evil to go to Hell. Jesus was Celibate, was Regenerated to Purebred, and was Saved.

Revelation 7:3,4. "Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel."

Revelation 14:3b-4a. "and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins."

So how do we reconcile this, with Each 7 billion or more Humans to be Judged at the Religious Judgment Day?

Or will the Judgment Day be after the End Times Nuclear 'Arm'ageddon?

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org


Just finished reading John's Gospel...

John 21:25
"The world itself could not contain the books that should be written."

John says that a single book couldn't contain all the things that Jesus did. Yet the author of Acts claims that he included everything that Jesus did in his "former treatise" (the gospel of Luke).

Christians, Think!
Creationism in zoos?

Don't have a problem with it as long it is in the "loon" section of public zoos (I would even vote for a "bond" on it) and they can display anything in private zoos for all I care.

The $25+ mln "Creation Museum" came in close. Reviews of scientific community and YouTube commentaries have been devastating to these "irrational" creationists.

So, I think "creationist loons" should be heard. They just need to know when to shut up.


Jefferts said, “Beyond that, traditional Christianity would say that what matters most in this life is how we live out our individual faith within a community of faith.”

How about live as a X in the real world and try to get along in all of society instead of just the X society. She is correct to say there is too much tension when people separate from the general community.

This is how the Xianity will have to morph in order to survive. John Shelby Spong has said this often.

Bill said, “Creationism is a religious idea that should be neither promoted nor disparaged by government. Why is that concept so difficult for some politicians to grasp? Oh, I get it: Because going against the concept wins them votes.”

I agree two times here. It’s all about votes and then they do what they want when they get into office.

How many historians do you think use the Bible for history. Why not throw all the history books away and use the bible. Want to use it as a science book, too? I’m sure most scientists would be for that. Over half the world doesn’t believe in the creation story.

Will, being in denial about the real world is not healthy.

Peace For the Sake of Goodness Cole


"Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity."
Ecclesiastes 12:8

Qohelet states that all is futile under the Sun. One should therefore ignore physical pleasures and put all one's efforts towards that which is above the Sun. This is summed up in the second to last verse: "The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone" (12:13).

"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,"
Deuteronomy 30:19

"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6



May I ask you a question? If God directly told you to do something, something that you didn't like, something you found repulsive, something that went completely against your nature, but you knew it was God that told you do it, would you do it?



Your words are only slightly less appalling than Katharine Jefferts Schori. You really have to twist yourself up in a knot to come out with anything positive out of her statement. Why can't she just mean what she says? And what she says is in direct denial of the work of Jesus, the Apostles, and the Early Church. To hear her, that Ethiopian Phillip talked to in Act 8 had no business getting "saved" - he just needed to be part of a group.

I also found it interesting that for no necessary reason you felt obliged to tell us one of the groups that came out against her heretical statement also peskily held on to other Biblical teachings. The nerve of these Christians, wanting to obey God's explicit commands - how annoying.

Dolores Lear

'How about live as a X in the real world and try to get along in all of society instead of just the X society."

These teachings of being separate from the rest of the world, came from Jesus' Movement of Celibate Males that were not to Live as the Heterosexual Male lived.

This was not a new idea with Jesus. At his time there were the Essenes Communes. And other Holy Celibate Males/Monks that lived separate from Society.

300 years later, Instead of separating from the Jewish and Roman Society, the Jewish and Roman Christians, began another Religion. It did not include Male Celibacy like Jesus taught.

We still have Monks, Priests and Nuns that live in Separate Housing. But Christian Heterosexual Humans cannot live separate from the rest of the world. They make up the larger percentage of Humans.

And Celibate Humans came from Heterosexual Birth, as well as GLBTs. Jesus' fetus was artificially inseminated into Mary, by the Holy Spirit. Other Sons in the Christian Bible, were also inseminate into Barren Females by God or Angels.

We do artificial insemination today, by High Tech Science. And also Clone animals. So all this Supernatural Cloning and Birth, in Scripture and Myth is not supernatural today.

Are Humans going to accept the Supernatural in Religion and Myth was High Tech Science? Will we start Translating All Scripture and Myth with High Tech?

And find the Truth of High Tech Eternal Human Asexual Physical Human Male and Female Clone Life, After Birth, on Planets and in Spaceships? Like God/Us and the Angels?

Or, Keep Killing Each Other and our Home Planet, no matter our Sexual or Religious preference, until Life as we Know it cannot Exist on Earth?


Strange News
Mermaid Sightings Claimed in Israel

Fire Used to Make Better Tools 75,000 Years Ago

Men Not Choosy in One-Night Stands

I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is 'Who in the world am I?' Ah, that's the great puzzle!


Peace For the sake of Goodness Cole

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org


Yes, it's a threat and I am glad it's coming from me - for your delusional mind.

You stated you wanted people going on welfare sterilized and thugs killed on sight?



It is definitely a treat to you from me... I am glad you understand it. Once again, I want to make sure that I am threatening you, your salvation, your delusional religious mind and your inner sanctity wrapped up in the delusions of divinity.

I think you are already in the "loon" section voluntarily through the illogical and nonsensical comments you have been making about "reality" as society perceives it and "imaginary actuality" in your brain.

Oh, I just "libeled" an anonymous person... Looks like Bill Tammeus will be getting sued for "aiding and abetting" on this blog (as "a.theist" has been insinuating as well as crazies like adamh/will graham). Also, I will be sued for "slander and libel" of an anonymous person who will need to prove in a court of law his reputation has been damaged in public and not that he is just offended? Oh, anonymous people have a reputation to uphold? I am intrigued that you "willingly" go to blogs and then demand "protection" for "stupid" and "illogical" and even "sacreligious" stuff you say on them - thus proving that you create you own "morality of relativism".

Hence is my threat to you. You should practice what you preach - will you subject yourself to sterilization per your own "loon toons" if you were on hard times and had to draw welfare?

Yes, to the delusional mind of the anonymous people rationality is a threat... I look forward to an anonymous "a.theist" serving a "libel, slander or defamation" suit. This will be so hilarioius and revealing that it will play pretty well into "atheism" vs. "theism" game.

Bring it on, "a.theist" - I'd love to look into your delusional eyes in the court room. Or in the "loon toon" section of a zoo.

Or I would settle for a coffee house chat with you. I'd actually prefer a law suit, if you don't mind?

adam harrison

Susan, its not PROBLEMATIC if a man wants to grow breasts.

Its not misogyny, because I admire breasts!


And the string of false analogies like "working on cars" that you use to justify that NONSENSE is hilarious.

Your breastfeeding rants are just SPAM, as NUTS as your glorification of our secular society as being a so morally superior; secular governments killed a 100 million people in the past century...many times the number killed in all the wars in history...45,000,000 have been murdered in the womb since Roe v Wade, infanticide and euthanasia are becoming accepted, weapons that could totally eliminate life have been perfected, and you think men who want to grow breats are the issue to deal with.

Spamming, that all your rants have become.

You are a MORAL RELATIVIST who does not even believe in Truth.

adam harrison

Spong is an atheist.

Who ya kiddin, sports?

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org

Stopped by another church today and spoke to a Pastor there for about 30 min. A very liberal Christian congregation that takes on a "Universalist" approach to Christianity, there is no hell according to the pastor (this is what she beleives) while others in the congregation may have other views. Gays and women are all equal before god with straight people. Leviticus condemning people was just a writing reflecting the laws of the times, but surely not the law of god.

There is no "original sin", Adam & Eve is a story, Old Testament is a story, even Jesus was the greatest story ever told. He may or may not have been son of god or god himself, could have been a messiah, prophet, human - doesn't matter. It is all a story that connects us with god through the Holy Spirit.

We had a good time chatting. I'll check out their book and Bible study and we have been invited by this pastor to come to any of our events and she said she'll be glad to talk to folks who are interested in their church about attending our freethinking events around town.


PreacherDJ, you are wondering if I would do something God told me to do, even if it was repulsive and went completely against my nature.

Well, I spent a few days digging through a child's poop after she said she'd accidentally swallowed some sort of a tiny ball she'd been playing with. I didn't hear a voice from God telling me to do this -- but I think He wanted me to make sure the item passed, since I wasn't sure but what it might have been one of the magnetic balls off of a game she had.

Turned out it was Barbie's tennis ball (I wish God had told me I didn't need to go through all that!) -- so after we found it Barbie was free to go out and play tennis, only she was usually completely naked with her clothes all hidden somewhere ... just more of an indoor girl, I guess.

So, yeah, I guess I can make it through some repulsive ordeals, though I puked every time while the child stood there laughing at me. And I hope I'd have the guts to crawl through raw sewage if it was the only way to save lives in a war or some other catastrophe.

I'm taking your question as -- if I KNOW this is something God wants me to do, which to me means it's the good and right thing to do. As an example, drawing on an article Cole linked to, if I heard some voice telling me I needed to go cheat on my husband and have a one-night-stand with some obnoxiouly-behaved man who repulsed me -- I'd say, "Hell, no!" because I'd know it wasn't God (I'd say no even if it was someone I liked).

But, then, what if this could somehow save lots of people from a grave danger -- or even save some young girl who he was threatening to rape if I didn't comply (unlikley, I know). In that case I hope I'd have the guts to follow through.

adam harrison

By the way, Susan, Will never said the care of children was animalistic and demeaning.

Where the hell did you pick up that lie? Because he thinks men who want to grow breasts are NUTS? They are nuts. Get over it.

And who are you to judge? You don't even believe in truth, since you could be wrong about ANYTHING and EVERYTHING.

Funny you have never described abortion as demeaning, of course, what else could we expect from a MORAL RELATIVIST whose standard is what she "feels" with her "whole being"?

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org

Cole wrote>>>>>>>>.This is how the Xianity will have to morph in order to survive. John Shelby Spong has said this often.
Spong has two remarkable videos on YouTube and a few snippets - comments about hell, e.g. - first one is 1 hr 20 min http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZM3FXlLMug and other 50 min http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwNmj5h1zds I am just starting second video and it looks to me that he is pretty clear that Christianity will have to go into the direction of "spritualility" - i.e. "personal liberation theology" where all the fables of historical Judaism and Christianity will need to be wrapped and understood in the historical context of stories and realities of the past.

He is clear that people wrote the books of the Bible and that people claimed they knew the mind of god. It appears to me that he undestands that Jesus is nothing but a book cover for theism just like Islam and Mormonism are.

I have not heard him talk about "new age" religions like Raelism or Scientology and other weird "invented" and "documented" cults, but I would assume that he will have a similar view on them as well.

In reality, Spong is a "deist", he is not a "theist" as theology to him is a constraint of the human mind that is trying to define the undefinable though we can get a glimpse.

He is clearly agnostic/or even atheistic about the god of the Old and New Testament. Goes to show you that there are Christians and then there are Christians and then there are Chrisitans.

Spong is one of those representing a fascinating reality of a rational brain that is still holding onto irrational ideas. Spong is somewhat "half pregnant" to me, yet a refreshing breath of air in the stifling cesspool of religion.

He is acting though as a shaman to me, a shaman of the 21st century, on a different level. He's a shaman I would not mind having a beer with though.

Red Biddy

Bill wrote that his reading of Bishop Schori's words was that: "over-emphasis found in some Christian circles on individual salvation creates a out-of-balance religion."

Sounds to me, as if Christians should adopt a Single Payer Plan. Non-conformists could keep their individual plans, if they are happy with them, but shouldn't expect as good treatment come Eternity, unless they belong to a Group Plan.

But which Group ? Now there's the rub ! When each group thinks they have the best plan, how do you choose which one is best for you !

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