My basis of morality is this: does this action enhance life, or does it denigrate life? Does it build up or does it tear down?
Perhaps the most telling witness against the claim of accurate history for the Bible comes when we read the earliest narrative of the crucifixion found in Mark's gospel and discover that it is not based on eyewitness testimony at all.
I was baptized as an infant. I was confirmed as an adolescent; I was active in my church's youth group and in my university student group. I was married before the church's altar; trained at the church's seminaries, ordained deacon and priest at age 24.
The biblical texts that we Christians have used for centuries to justify our hostility toward the Jews need to be banished forever from the sacred writings of the Christian church.
Many of the characters who appear in the pages of the Fourth Gospel are literary creations of its author and were never intended to be understood as real people, who actually lived in history.
There is no way that the Fourth Gospel was written by John Zebedee or by any of the disciples of Jesus. The author of this book is not a single individual, but is at least three different writers/editors, who did their layered work over a period of 25 to 30 years.
The audience that I try to reach are members of what I call the church alumni association. Now they are people who have not found in institutional religion a God big enough to be God for their world.
A lot of people hear me attacking their certainty. I don't have any interest in doing that. I'm interested in penetrating the meaning of certainty.
The cross reveals that we're called to a deeper, fuller experience of what it means to be alive and open to new dimensions of life which our religious boundaries - creeds, atonement theologies - have kept us from experiencing.
Our English language really says if you're not a theist, the only alternative is to be an atheist. What I'm trying to do is develop a language that will enable us to talk about God beyond the, what I think, are sterile categories of theism and atheism.
I think the best way to view the Gospels is to view them as a magnificent portrait being painted by Jewish artists to try to capture the essence of a God experience that they believe they had with Jesus of Nazareth.
If I were a child of Tibet or of Arabia, I suspect the path I'd walk would be the Buddhist path or the Muslim path. And I don't mind saying that I don't invalidate any of those paths.
In the first gospel, Mark, the risen Christ appears physically to no one, but by the time we come to the last gospel, John, Thomas is invited to feel the nail prints in Christ's hands and feet and the spear wound in his side.
It appears to be in the nature of religion itself to be prejudiced against those who are different.
Apologetic explanations do not develop unless there is a reality that has to be explained and defended. Jesus was undeniably a figure of history.
My sense is if the Episcopal Church can't stand challenge within its own ranks, then it is not a church I would want to be a member of anyway.
Plenty of people out there think of me as the Antichrist or the devil incarnate because I do not affirm the literal patterns of the Bible. But the fact is I can no more abandon the literal patterns than I could fly to the moon. I just go beyond them.
I never really liked the Gospel of John because I never could find the humanity of Jesus in it. I thought it presented Jesus as a visitor from another planet; in addition, John's gospel is and has been interpreted as a document that fuels anti-Semitism in the church.
I admire our ancestors, whoever they were. I think the first self-conscious person must have shaken in his boots. Because as he becomes self-conscious, he's no longer part of nature. He sees himself against nature. He looks at the vastness of the universe and it looks hostile.
In academia, I discovered that issues and insights, commonplace among the scholars, are viewed as highly controversial and even as 'heresy' in the churches.
Oh the Christian church has encouraged enormous immaturity among the peoples who are its primary adherence.
Jesus represents the possibilities of a new dimension of existence that transcends all the boundaries that restrict us from opening ourselves to God and allowing this source of love to flow through us.
I believe God is real, but I believe God calls me beyond myself to take responsibility for my life and to try top work to allow other people to be themselves and to take responsibility for their lives.
The Christ path is the path I've walked all my life, so it's normal and natural. And I have no reason to abandon it because it leads to where I want to go.
I live on the other side of Copernicus and Galileo; I can no longer conceive of God as sort of above the sky, looking down and keeping record books.