Did Jesus Plan to Start a New Religion? Matthew Thiessen’s Answer

I came to the same conclusion. Pauline Christianity and other variations were never a part of Jesus’s supposed plan depicted in the Hospels.

The Amateur Exegete

I know, I know – I’ve been on a Matthew Thiessen kick as of late. First, my review of his fantastic book Jesus and the Forces of Death. Then his interview over at the OnScript podcast. Now, this post. But let me briefly explain why I am a bit obsessed. Thiessen reminds me of Paula Fredriksen, the author of Paul: The Pagans’ Apostle (Yale University Press, 2017). No, it isn’t the hair. Rather, both Fredriksen and Thiessen write in such a clear and compelling way that you come away from their work not only with the feeling you’ve learned something of value but also with a model to pattern your own writing after. I know I’m no Fredriksen or Thiessen but I feel like if I can write half as well as they do then both of my readers will be better off for it. I digress.


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Scam bank callers and the easiest way to spot it.

Nadine Callan

Preamble: Today I was sitting in my suite and my landlady called me. She needed help with her computer. She had someone that she thought was from the bank on the line and they were accessing her computer. Since she didn’t understand what he was wanting her to do she told them to speak to me and I grabbed the phone and immediately started to yell expleativatives at the top of my lungs. I also completly powered down her computer before he could do any more damage. He began to protest his innocense I made it quite clear that I was not buying it. She had informed me after that he did not want her to pass the phone to me. He had requested the first 4 digits of her card number. He had also given her an ID number. Stating the call was in regards to someone trying to…

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Is Christianity A Cult Of Human Sacrifice?

The Non-Alchemist

Ever the provocateur, Sam Harris once called Christianity “a cult of human sacrifice.” According to Harris, it “is not a religion that repudiates human sacrifice, it is a religion that celebrates a single human sacrifice as though it were effective.” While it’s not fair to talk about Christianity simpliciter this way, I don’t think he’s completely off the mark if we’re talking about believers who embrace morally problematic theories of atonement like penal substitution. I would contend that for those Christians, an essential part of the good news of the gospel is that human sacrifice fundamentally works as long as its the right kind – a thesis I’ll defend in this post. Though some people don’t want to own this conclusion, it really is inescapable.

Let’s get clear on what we’re talking about first. The penal-substitutionary theory of atonement (PSA) is “a view…that stresses Christ’s death as a perfect payment…

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A Conversation with Non-Alchemist

Two of my favorite bloggers!

The Amateur Exegete

Yesterday evening I had the privilege of speaking with @AlchemistNon over on his YouTube channel. Topics included deconversion, inerrancy, contradictions in the Bible, philosophy of religion, and more. For those unfamiliar with @AlchemistNon, he is an agnostic who has had a similar trajectory religiously as I have had (minus the KJV Onlyism, the stint at Pensacola Christian College, and a few other [horrible] things). His deconversion story, told in brief and broad strokes, can be found here and it is interesting in its own right.

What I love about @AlchemistNon is his methodical approach to the subjects he addresses. It isn’t simply his intelligence or breadth of knowledge; those are enviable as well. What he does so very well is to focus on the key issues related to a topic, articulate both sides of the issue, and then present his case succinctly and with clarity. He serves as an excellent…

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The Evil God Challenge

The Non-Alchemist

Have you ever been lying awake at night and suddenly wondered – What if there’s an all-powerful deity working towards our ultimate misery? Probably not. Even if you have, I doubt that you’ve lost a second of sleep over it because the idea sounds so outlandish. Though life can be a vale of tears, isn’t there too much joy in the world for us to take this hypothesis seriously? Surely things would look much different if such a being existed, and so based on the totality of our experience we can have a strong prima facie confidence that he doesn’t.

But suppose someone actually believed in such an entity (let’s call him Yahweh). They might defend their claim by saying things like: “The reason there’s so much joy in the world is because Yahweh gave us free will. Without free will, we would be robots and there would never be…

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Dr. Anthony Pinn: Humanism and Race

Graceful Atheist

Click to play episode on anchor.fm


My guest this week is Dr. Anthony Pinn. Dr. Pinn is the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities, the Professor of Religious Studies. the Founding Director of the Center for Engaged Researchand Collaborative LearningRice University, and the Director of Research of the Institute for Humanist Studies. Dr. Pinn has written a number of books on the intersection of humanism and race. In this episode, we discuss his book, When Colorblindness Isn’t the Answer.

We spend so much of our time making fun of and belittling theists.
That’s not very productive.
You don’t transform the world that way.

I learned quite a lot from Dr. Pinn. Both about humanism and the experience of black humanists. Ultimately I was challenged to change my behavior, to “do my homework,” and to understand that it will take dismantling of white supremacy in humanist communities in order…

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The Iron Law of Oligarchy by Robert Michels

Elpidio Valdes

It’s time for some RealPolitik!

Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy is a book by the sociologist Robert Michels, published in 1911 and first introducing the concept of iron law of oligarchy.

This work analyses the power structures of organizations such as political parties and trade unions. Michels’s main argument is that all organizations, even those in theory most egalitarian and most committed to democracy – like socialist political parties – are in fact oligarchical, and dominated by a small group of leadership.

Let me share some of favorite parts:

Part 1: Leadership in Democratic Organizations

Democracy is inconceivable without organization. … Organization, based as it is upon the principle of least effort, that is to say, upon the greatest possible economy of energy, is the weapon of the weak in their struggle with the strong.

The chances of success in any…

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