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How to Live a Life that Matters

August 6, 2015

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Simple Clues that Pull Us into Our Destiny

December 17, 2014

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It seems that the clues to our life’s direction are doled out on a “need to know basis.”

For several years I was violently ill nearly every day.  I’d be fine, then suddenly I’d start projectile vomiting, the room would start spinning, and I’d be incapable of standing.  When this came over me there was nothing I could do except to ride it out.  My world had to stop until I recovered.  It happened at the worst of times, when I was driving or working, even when I was sleeping.  My doctor sent me off for every test imaginable, spending nearly a hundred grand in insurance money along the way.  One test was in a large hospital room.  I was strapped into a contraption similar to a carnival ride.  It spun me around violently and made huge sudden moves testing my inner ear’s ability to respond.  The doctors were dumbfounded; after a year of testing they had no idea how to help, and my life sucked.  Then the day came when a friend said they’d heard of someone who got dizzy from a shellfish allergy.  I told them I’d tried to eliminate shellfish for a few days but nothing changed.  I had also tried not eating nuts for a bit with no change.  My friend said to try to stay away for shellfish for a longer period.

That was sad.  I loved shrimp in particular and ate it several times a week.  Nevertheless I stopped eating shellfish and after two weeks the symptoms went away and stayed away.  I suffered for several years and saw a dozen doctors seeking relief.  In the end it was a simple comment from a friend that changed everything.  This has happened several times in my life, when some huge clue was revealed in the most unassuming way.

Another example lead to my current career.  After fifteen years of practicing law I’d become tremendously burnt out and depressed.  I made a couple of moves, first living in Atlanta and selling my artwork on a grassy knoll, then I moved to Scottsdale and did executive driving.  That was fun, but the heat in Phoenix was absolutely ridiculous.  I then moved back to my home town of Albuquerque, but I was tremendously unhappy with the work I was doing for a law firm.  The way they did business was far out of alignment with my values and destiny.  This went on for a couple of years, and in passing a lawyer friend suggested that I consider doing mediation full time.  When he said it my spirit leaped inside me.  I knew I’d just heard a huge life clue, and indeed mediation became a path that pulled together my wild collection of skills and gifts.

I suspect this happens to everyone.  We search for years trying to find our destiny, and then suddenly it appears.  This is the basis for the “Noble Pointer.”  I don’t have everything all figured out, and every day I find find myself in some new stink.  Somehow though, even when I don’t yet know the answers to my own problems I have the honor of sharing creative solutions for other people’s challenges.  Sometimes the simple word that comes to me completely changes someone’s life.  Knowing how much my own life has turned on simple revelations, it thrills me when I get to be the noble pointer for someone else.

What problem have you had for years that might have a simple solution?  Let’s talk…

The Power of Ignoble Struggle

December 9, 2014

There are noble struggles: the onslaught of bad weather, illness of oneself and of loved ones, death, war, and so much more.  The stories of how people endured such things encourage us all.  We respect and connect because no matter how hard we try such things happen to us too.

I believe, however, there is even more power in the Ignoble Struggle:  where we, perhaps knowing better, make stupid and/or impulsive mistakes that lead us and people we love into hardship, embarrassment, and depression.  The ignobile struggle garners little respect, yet it too connects us all…we’ve all been there.  It’s in the pretending that we haven’t that allows judgment to rise above grace in such moments.

Our commonality of spirit is sometimes best seen in our tendency towards failure; indeed it becomes the hook for many religions.  Religion offers promise of release from shame, and then, somehow, makes shame all the worse, giving us a new audience to gasp and gossip at our failures.  This judgment however is the failure of the people of religion; actually, the literature of faith is built on the folly of men.  Every significant person in the Bible is first shown as making huge errors, of being rejected for these errors, especially by religious folks, and then followed by the audacity of God who loves and empowers each failing saint as if their bad acts were the very things that redeemed them.

Indeed, it is through our failures and fruitless decisions that we find ourselves at the end of ourselves, left only to grasp at something bigger than we are.  It’s not our success but our failure that causes us to reach out to God, to our true friends, to the best of our society.  It is our failure that connects us.  It is our failure that transforms us.  It is failure that can and often does lead to wisdom and compassion—when we realize it’s power.

The Origin of Naughty and Nice

March 27, 2013

Alex_Grey-Adam_and_EveThis is an ongoing series where I’m putting my heretical spin on the statement of beliefs of a fairly typical and actually hip conservative church.  This is the type of church I spent most of my life in—both as a member and in a variety of ministerial roles including pastor.  Today we take a look at the origin of the species and the concept of original sin.

From the Church:

We believe that man and woman were directly and immediately created by God in His image and likeness. Though originally free from sin, mankind fell and rebelled, resulting in death, both spiritual and physical. All the offspring of Adam and Eve are then born sinful and morally wicked in nature, actions, and will, unable to wake themselves to spiritual life and to do good without God’s spiritual intervention.”

First, I’ll note that I looked for an Adam and Eve photo/painting to use in this post, and when I Googled for an image almost all of them featured a fairly modern white couple, albeit in different stages of nudity.  I actually don’t believe people evolved from monkeys (there really is no “missing link” to corroborate this), however the Alex Grey art here is way cool.

“We believe that man and woman were directly and immediately created by God in His image and likeness.”   I appreciate that the church here acknowledges that both male and female were made in God’s image.  My impression of most of the conservative church, and indeed most of the history shown in the Bible is that women were an afterthought, and not particularly God-like in image.  If woman is also made in God’s image, have you ever seen a Judeo-Christian painting of God as a woman?  I rest my case (however check this out).    It is extremely important to me that both men and women be seen as being in the image and equally from and within the breath of God.  A ton of bad theology arises from believing that women are less than men.

“Though originally free from sin, mankind fell and rebelled, resulting in death, both spiritual and physical. All the offspring of Adam and Eve are then born sinful and morally wicked in nature, actions, and will, unable to wake themselves to spiritual life and to do good without God’s spiritual intervention.”   This jumps smack dab into the concept of “original sin”—the idea that we are all born dirty and in need of a blood sacrifice to redeem us.   In the Genesis story of Adam and Eve, God pronounced them, along with all creation as “good.”  In Genesis 5 it states that God blessed Adam and Eve.  So, one thing we know is that God created us in “original blessing” not sin. Yes, the party line picks up with the apple story, where God is alleged to send all people ever to eternal torment unless they’ve said the sinner’s prayer in some denominational way.  If I told my child not to eat something, and she did so, I might indeed punish her or at least be fussy, however eternal torment seems quite excessive.  The church even believes that Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit, deserves not just eternal torment for Adam and Eve, but for all their children and even their children’s children times infinity.

This is where I impose my guiding light on interpretation of the Bible:  If a preacher/teacher talks about God behaving like an asshole, then the theology is probably off.  Moreover if what the Bible actually says shows God as being an asshole, then it’s not true.   I do believe that God is a God of grace and justice, so I get that there should be repercussions for bad behavior, however the punishment must be reasonable or THAT AIN’T JUSTICE, and it sure ain’t God.

What about the line from the church that says all people are unable to do good without God’s spiritual intervention?   Seriously, did they mean to say that?  Non-Christian folks do amazing awesome good things all the time—more often than not.  Actually, this does make sense in that God did intervene, way back when, at the time God blessed humankind and created us all to be Good.  It is when we connect with our truest nature of original blessing that goodness occurs.

It’s remarkable to me that most of the church seems content to assume that God could only be appeased by the vengeance of death—the blood sacrifice of animals and the occasional human in the Old Testament and the death of God as Jesus in the New Testament.  The folks who believe this are also repulsed by the thought of blood sacrifice by the Incas and other primitive cultures.  They might need to think this through a bit.  The problem of course is that most people’s theology is based on grace given as a result of blood sacrifice rather than the more reasonable idea that God’s love and grace was so intense that God did whatever it took to demonstrate passion and solidarity with humankind.  We will deal much more with atonement later—it certainly deserves it’s own post.

One last thing, I’ve done counseling with hundreds of people.  My experience is that the core belief that we are “born sinful and morally wicked in nature, actions, and will”  almost always leaves people fucked up.   It’s a lie.  The goal of God and the true teaching of Jesus is for us awaken to the Truth that we are good, we are blessed, and the very essence of God dwells richly within us. 

Jesus, the Son and Daughter of God

January 9, 2013
Jesus was often maternal, yet had to be a man to be accepted in the society in which the Christ Spirit appeared.

Jesus was often maternal, yet had to be a man to be accepted in the society in which the Christ Spirit appeared.

This is a continuing series taking a look at conservative evangelical beliefs (which is what I grew up hearing), and comparing them to my own somewhat heretical, wide path view of Christianity.  We begin with the well crafted and much considered statement of faith from a fairly typical (in fact a pretty hip) church.

From the Church:  We believe that the eternally existing Son of God came in time and space to take on flesh. Fully God and yet fully man, He was without sin. In perfect righteousness He came to fulfill the offices of Prophet, Priest, and King. He was crucified, buried, and raised to life. He ascended to heaven where He is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Luke 14:25-26; 22:69; John 1:1-3, 14; Acts 3:20-23; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 2:6-8; Hebrews 4:15; 5:5-6)

Why was Jesus male?  Why was he the “eternally existing Son of God.”  I don’t have a problem whatsoever with the eternal part, of even the “of God” part, yet why male?  Why is “God” male?   Even though Genesis is clear that God made man in His own image, “male and female He made them” somehow the female side of God got lost early in the game.  If Jesus is fully human AND fully God, then the Godness is both God and Goddess.  I think this diminished an otherwise decent religion when it really didn’t have to do so.  This pattern of misogyny is a key reason that I object to the Bible as being straight from the mouth and hand of God.  God was indeed speaking, however that voice was heard through the presuppositions of the writers.  You know I fully believe there were God breathed writings that were done by women and by men who were open to the divine feminine, however the church destroyed and otherwise hid those truths.

When the Christ Spirit came into the human we know as Jesus, I believe it was necessary for the being to be male in order for Christ to be heard in that culture.  He was not male because maleness is better, it was an accommodation of the culture.  Indeed there are many examples of Jesus’s teachings and actions that are markedly feminine and maternal.  There is so very much about Jesus that we don’t know….like what happened to him between the ages of 12 and 30, that I suspect that there is much about Jesus’s blended internal gender that has been suppressed.  Fortunately, there is enough reported that we know there was more.

I’m intrigued that the church’s statement here does not mention the name Jesus.  I do truly believe there is power, power, wonder working power in that name.  That said.  Jesus is not the name of the son of God.  Really.  His name at birth was Jehoshua ben Joseph, which would have been typically shortened to “Joshua.” So how did He become “Jesus?” When the stories of His life were first written in Greek, the Greek language has no “sh” sound, so the scribes changed His name to Jesu.  Ah, well.  The Rose of Sharon by any other name is still as sweet.

First, I do very much believe that there was something unique and seminal in the coming of Jesus. I do believe that the essence of God was rich within him, and that this incarnation brought healing and a path of redemption to all people who have and will ever live.   That said, I don’t believe that Jesus is the only example of the essence of God appearing on earth.  Indeed, the New Testament is full of passages that make clear that what was in Jesus can be fully manifested within ourselves.  A favorite verse of mine, Galations 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”  The language is here specifically “Christ” not Jesus, and I do make a distinction between Jesus, who was the seminal flesh incarnation of the Christ Spirit, and the Christ Spirit itself.  For those of us who will, it is in Christ that we live and move and have our being. (Acts 17:28)  I’m also persuaded by First Corinthians 15 which speaks of mankind falling away from God through Adam, and likewise all of man kind being restored to God by the incarnation of Christ.

So…back to the declaration from the church:   We believe that the eternally existing Son of God came in time and space to take on flesh.  I really like this statement.  It highlights that God, The Divine, exists in a dimension that is beyond the realm of human experience.  That is indeed one of the great mysteries of the incarnation—that the Christ spirit placed itself within the confines of our existence in time.  It also moves the incarnation to another level in that while Jesus the male bodied person was confined by time, the indwelling of God was both in and beyond this realm.  This is a key to why Jesus was able to make sweeping changes not just to human hearts and souls but to all of creation.  Jesus was just in time…and infinitely more as well.

Fully God and yet fully man, He was without sin.  What about “original sin”—the idea that because we are sons and daughters of Adam we are born in sin.  If Jesus is fully human then either the idea of original sin or Jesus being sinless is in question.  Personally I believe in “original blessing” for all of us.  If a baby dies a day before or a day after birth, does it go to hell due to original sin?  No way.  It’s also obvious that when it’s spoken of Jesus being without sin that there must be a whole other code happening of what is sin and what is not—Jesus often boldly broke Levitical law, to the horror of the Pharisees.  Apparently the rules changed when Jesus arrived on the scene.  Last it is crucial to meditate about the concept of being fully God AND fully man.  What so often prevents us from seeing the truths of the Bible is our western tendency to see everything in duality—either/or, good/bad, etc.  The idea of Jesus being fully God AND fully man can only be understood as mystery, holding two opposite truths as fully true at the same time.  It was within that Eastern mindset that Jesus dwelt among us.

In perfect righteousness He came to fulfill the offices of Prophet, Priest, and King.  What this statement is trying to do is connect Jesus to the prophesies of the Old Testament.   Sadly, in our modern context those terms hold very different definitions, if the terms mean anything to us at all. Jesus is relevant to every age, and it would not be unreasonable to look at modern parallels.  I’d spend some time on that, however I think the truth is actually backwards here…Jesus did not fulfill the offices by His incarnation.  Rather, the Christ spirit was always in the very best of those offices, and that perfect Christ Spirit was finally and fully revealed in the incarnation as Jesus.

He was crucified, buried, and raised to life.  I believe this.  It’s fascinating to me that through this process it was always women who stood at his side.  It was Mary the Mother and Mary the One who Loved Him that lay weeping at the foot of the cross.  It was the women who prepared his body for proper burial, and it was women who looked for him, were the first to see him alive, and indeed women who were the first evangelists—the first to announce “the Good News.”  How amazing it is that for evangelicals the crucifixion, burial and resurrection is so central to everything, and yet they resist women being in leadership.  For this conservative church I’m astonished that they do not mention the death and resurrection as being the moment of atonement.  I can only imagine that they see this as so perfectly obvious that it does not warrant a mention.  I believe, as I’ve touched on earlier, that what is referred to as the atonement was more fully manifested in the incarnation than in the death and resurrection, although those events are certainly intertwined into the whole.

He ascended to heaven where He is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Yes, I get this is scripture right out of the Bible, however it wholly misses the point.  How can they end their section on Jesus with that?  Jesus is not seated on a throne in a realm so far away that we can’t imagine a way to get there without dying,  The whole “on the throne” thing was symbolism that meant a great deal to the first century Jesus followers.  Sadly it doesn’t connect with the world today.  If the miracle and mystery of Christ is to maintain and invigorate the church we must see Him fully present and manifested NOW and HERE in the best of who we are and even in the redeemed world around us.

Beliefs in Motion: Part Two—The Nature of God

October 28, 2011

This is a continuing series taking a look at conservative evangelical beliefs, and comparing them to my own somewhat heretical, wide path view of Christianity.  We begin with the well crafted and much considered statement of faith from a fairly typical (in fact a pretty hip) church.

TODAY:  THE NATURE OF GOD

From the Church:  We believe that there is one true and living God, perfect in all attributes, one in essence, yet eternally existing in three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) each equally deserving of devotion and worship. (Deuteronomy 6:4; John 20:28; Acts 5:3-4; Romans 11:36; Colossians 2:9).

My Take:  First, note the painting here, which is from Peru and dates to around 1750.  I am fascinated by the idea that until personal ownership of Bibles (plus the ability to read) became common well into the nineteenth century that key Biblical concepts were conveyed by art.  This image is unsettling yet is a sweet attempt to convey the triune (three in one) nature of God.   I love the fact that in art we are not necessarily told what we must think…rather it spurs us to contemplate that which is beyond our plane of understanding: that if Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit are one, that they must also have been one within Jesus.  Because we can so easily identify with His humanity, it’s tempting to see Jesus as a seperate entity when He is much more.  This wrestling on just how God and Spirit and Flesh intermingle is the crux of the distinction between gnosticism and what became mainstream Christianity.  The Gnostics looked at Jesus and saw first God and Spirit; the winners of the third century war regarding the nature of Jesus won out on the idea that he was mostly human.  Of course neither side adequately grasped the mystery…primarily because they refused—especially the mainstreamers—to embrace the triune nature of God as mystery.  They sought to understand God with their minds through reason, when God is best understood through the heart in love.  Boy, did I jump ahead!   So here’s some key points on my view of the nature of God, and I’m basically going to go phrase by phrase on the statement from the church:

You know that every point here could be a book and probably is, right?

1. “one true and living God”   I first typed out here a somewhat lengthy theological discussion of the plural names of God used in the Bible and the whole jealous God thing…like, how can the jealousy mentioned in the ten commandments happen if there really aren’t any other gods?  Wouldn’t it be better to say, “Yo, I’m not jealous, but it ticks me off when you think other gods are real, cause they ain’t.”  (That’s my gangsta rap version of God, which is just as valid as the other cultures we create his identity within—wink.)   So, I erased all my scripture references to say this, which I do think is from the heart of God:  What’s the largest living organism on earth?   Birch trees.  I’ve been on a narrow gauge train ride at the Colorado border and seen the white bark of Birch trees for as far as the eye could see.  Guess what…they are not individual things; they are all connected at the root and are one being.  I think when we consider God as living and as one that we should remember the birch trees.

2. “perfect in all attributes”   Perfect? Seriously?  God admits to jealousy in the ten commandments and is allegedly ordering the violent killing of the babies of Samarian sinners (Hosea 13:16), and commanding Israelites to rape virgin girls and enslave them (Joshua 21).   Sorry, no one is supposed to tell you about those verses…don’t think about them long or your head will explode.  There’s no way in hell God had anything to do with that ugliness…even in the Bible stories themselves God is often co-opted by evil men as a justification for doing horrid things.  The Holy Spirit is seen in the movie “The Ten Commandments” racing through Egyptian villages and killing innocent first born folks; as a first born child I have a problem with that.  …and what of Jesus?  was He perfect?  did he ever have zits? was he really secure about his penis size?  We know that he ran off from his parents and disappeared for a few days.  As a parent I’ll tell you that is not an attribute of perfection, and somebody needed his holy butt popped.  Respectfully, God, as portrayed in the Bible, is not perfect.   God as love is perfect.

3. “one in essence”   Birch trees.  That’s all you need to know.

4. “yet eternally existing in three persons”   I still think they lose some folks with the one god in three persons thing.  The problem is the term “persons.”  That dog/god won’t hunt.  As soon as you try to make God be three people there’s just no way to make it work.  The triune nature of God can’t be defined…at least not adequately…in terms within our understanding.  By the way, the “eternally existing” thing implies that God has been looking at his Holy Calendar watching the days go by and wistfully missing the dinosaurs—at least when they were babies and still cute.  God is beyond eternal; God exists outside the dimension of time.  We’ll likely come back to that.

5. “(Father, Son and Holy Spirit”)   This is as good a place to stick this as any:  God, as exhibited in any of the three forms, moves fluidly within being male, female, in between and beyond.  (Don’t throw rocks at your computer screen….you’ll hurt yourself more than me.)  You likely get that when it says in Genesis: “and God (plural here) made man in his own image, male and female he made them” this indicates God’s image includes male and female.  The Holy Spirit is often referred to in the feminine, yet has very masculine attributes at times as well.  Jesus was certainly identified as male at birth, and frankly had to be male in that culture to heard, however if you read the Gospels looking for things Jesus did that were nurturing, empathic, sensitive, maternal…it’s a fascinating study.  You gotta love the imagery of Matthew 23:37 where Jesus speaks of wishing he could gather the people of Jerusalem to himself, just “as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.”  Read The Shack.

6. “each equally deserving of devotion and worship”  I’m likely going amend this later, however for now I’m really numb on the devotion and worship thing.   Is God really an insecure narcissist who needs or desires our praise?  I really don’t think so.  I believe the Bible and traditional Christianity  goes way too far in personifying God.  If God is truly omnipotent, and if he totally has his act together, he is really beyond the praise and worship thing.   So why does the Bible and the church talk about worship so much?  I suspect it’s US that needs to worship God, not God who needs to be worshipped.  Indeed we are the narcissists, and we’re not going to get past our whiny egos until we see who we are in perspective of the bigger reality, which is:   dude/sis…you’re a birch tree.

(I saw God smile with that last line.)

My Belief in Motion on the Nature of God:   God is a mystery, and we can best grasp God’s nature as we consider love and our interconnectedness.

Beliefs in Motion: Where I am for a few minutes Part One

October 27, 2011

To appreciate how shockingly wide open my spirituality has become I have to note that I spent decades in a conservative evangelical church and family.   On the inside this was never really who I was, however it was all I knew—my entire social network and the religious path in which I received affirmation from key people in my life.  To escape this I left everything, married a sho’ nuff pagan, and I’m in the midst of many years of evolving into what was implanted into me as God’s deepest dream for my life.  I still have a long way to go, however I want to do this excercise where I kind of riff on the statement of beliefs of a conservative church I recently visited.  There were lots of things I liked about the church…the music was amazing!  However it horrifies me to hear for the gazillionth time the conservative evangelical party line.  Frankly it’s hard for me to grasp that the pastor really believes what he’s saying, however I think he actually does.  (Note I’ve spoken with several pastors who confided in me that they DIDN’T believe what they were preaching, but they couldn’t afford to lose their job by speaking their truth.)  The entire statement of beliefs is here.   I’ll hit the eight points one at a time.

Today…The Authority of the Bible:

From the church:  We believe that the Scriptures comprised of 66 books contain the only written revelation, given by the Holy Spirit to human authors. The Word of God is free from errors in the original manuscripts, constituting the only infallible and sufficient rule for life and godliness. (Psalm 19:7-9; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21; 3:16)

My Take:  In that there are numerous lengthy books on the topic, all I can do is hit some highlights:

1.  Many moons ago I actually memorized each of the scriptures the church cites as authority.  The circular reasoning of “The Bible is true because the Bible says it’s true” would carry more weight if the Bible as we know it today existed when these verses were written.   When the Psalm passage was written the “Bible” consisted of the first five books of the Old Testament.  When the passages from Timothy and Peter were written the Old Testament had fleshed out a bit, however there was no recognized collection of works which were or were to become the New Testament.

2. There are over forty thousand denominations—-that’s forty thousand groups of folks who said their unique understanding of the Bible was so worth fighting for that they could not align with any other Christian group.   Even if the Bible were “infallible and sufficient,”  it is so very unclear that basing one’s Christian faith solely on the Bible can do as much damage as it does good.

3. Remember that for more than three quarters of Christian history, the average person had no access to “The Bible.”   There were significant splits on issues, however the church was much more cohesive and just as loved by God when Chritianity was shared by word of mouth and by art.

4  I love reading about the formation of the canon: the collection of books we now call “The Bible.”  It was done by a contentious democratic vote by misongynist men with religious and political agendas.  Read The Jesus Wars.     I don’t believe the men who created the canon were led solely by God, nor do I think they got it right.

5.  I was just about to toss out the whole Bible upon which I’d based my life when I discovered the books of Richard Rohr, D.E. Paulk, Marcus Borg, Bart Ehrman, and others.  Father Rohr in particular showed me a non-dualistic approach to understanding the New Testament that helped me see the teaching from the mindset in which it was written.  This has given me a renewed respect for the Bible…although I still approach it with caution.

6.  There were dozens of other books, which thousands of Christians believed to be THE truth and Word of God, which were tossed out and destroyed seventeen hundred years or so ago when the 66 books of what we call the Bible were chosen.  I believe many of those books, particularly the Gnostic Gospels, have much to teach us about the nature of Jesus/God/Holy Spirit.  Because I believe the early fathers of the church and the Roman government systematically massaged the new testament books to exclude and reduce the importance Jesus intended regarding women, I tend to believe parts of the gnostic gospels are often closer to the truth than what we have in the established canon.

7.   Like the men who created the canon, the King James Version was shaped by a religious and political agenda which was not in alignment with the heart of God.  I don’t like it one bit.

8.  Last, and perhaps most important, I believe God is still speaking to people like you and me, and what we’re hearing is often as valid and true as anything in the traditional Bible.  When we read something in the Bible, or when a preacher states what something in the Bible means, and in our heart of hearts it doesn’t ring true….I think we must trust the voice within, and at least investigate further.

My current Statement of Belief regarding the Authority of The Bible:   The Bible is a fascinating historical record of people seeking to know and understand God which, put in its historical context and considered with other spiritual writings,  teaching, art, as well as God’s voice within us, has great value today as we pursue Divine revelation.