Richard Rohr Meditation: A Bigger God

In the Franciscan view, God did not need to be paid in order to love and forgive God’s own creation. Love cannot be bought by some “necessary sacrifice”; if it could, it would not and could not work its transformative effects. Duns Scotus and his followers were committed to protecting the absolute freedom to love in GodIf forgiveness needs to be bought or paid for, then it is not authentic forgiveness at all. Love and forgiveness must be freely given or they do not accomplish their deeply transformative healing. Self-serving love does not change the heart. It must be free and undeserved love or transformation does not happen. (Think about that and you will know it is true!)

I’m not sure many Christians recognize the dangers of penal substitutionary atonement theory. Perhaps the underlying assumptions were never made clear, even though thinking people throughout the ages were often repelled by such a crass notion of God. This theory has become a nail in the coffin of belief for many sincere, thoughtful individuals today. Some Christians just repress their misgiving because they think it implies a complete loss of faith. But I would wager that for every person who voices doubt, many more quietly walk away from a religion that has come to seem irrational, mythological, and deeply unsatisfying to the heart and soul. And these are usually not “bad” people!

Christianity can do so much better, and doing so will not diminish Jesus in the least. In fact, it will allow Jesus to take on a universal and humanly appealing dimension. The cross cannot be an arbitrary and bloody sacrifice triggered by a sin that was once committed by one man and one woman under a tree between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Frankly, that idea reduces any notion of a universal or truly “catholic” revelation to one planet, at the edge of one solar system, in a universe comprised of billions of galaxies with trillions of solar systems. A religion based on required sacrifices is just not glorious or hopeful enough or even befitting the marvelous creation. To those who cling to Anselm’s understanding, I would say, as J. B. Phillips wrote many years ago, “Your God is too small.” [3]

Punchiello, Eli, and Wemmicksville: Black Dots don’t Stick

Max was interested in helping children understand their value – not from the world’s perspective, but from God’s. Wemmicksville is a land created by Eli, the “God” figure of the story. He creates each Wemmick in Wemmicksville uniquely, each with its own look and personality. Each story and video is a new adventure with the citizens of Wemmicksville. Punchinello is the cent

 

The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction

For those of us who pay close attention in Sunday school, a troubling dissimilarity may begin to appear between what we are told of God’s personality and what we learn of it from His actions. For example, we are told that God is merciful, just, compassionate, and the very definition of love and forgiveness. However, the Bible lays out God’s primary qualities very differently: he is jealous, petty, unforgiving, bloodthirsty, vindictive, and worse! Originally conceived as a joint presentation between influential thinker and bestselling author Richard Dawkins and former evangelical preacher Dan Barker, the book we will be talking about today, God: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction (Sterling, 2016) provides an investigation into this rather serious discrepancy. Barker combs through both the Old and New Testament (as well as thirteen different Bible editions), presenting powerful evidence for why the Scripture shouldn’t govern our everyday lives.

Dan Barker is a former evangelical minister and current atheist. He is the co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, cohost of Freethought Radio, and cofounder and board member of the Clergy Project. A widely sought-after lecturer, debater, and performer, he regularly discusses atheism and lifes meaning and purpose in the national media, with past appearances on OprahThe Daily ShowThe O’Reilly FactorGood Morning America, and many others. He is here with me today to talk about this witty, well-researched book and explain to us how the evidence in it suggests that we should move past the Bible and clear a path to a kinder and more thoughtful world.