The Christian Gospel for Americans: A Systematic Theology

A Summary for Tikkun

Image courtesy of Štěpán Vraný/Unsplash.

The Christian Gospel for Americans: A Systematic Theology by David Ray Griffin
Process Century Press, 2019

 

[Editor’s note: We asked David Ray Griffin, one of the most creative of current Christian theologians, to give our readers a summary of his latest book which presents an approach that rejects supernaturalism yet embraces much of what is profound and deep in Christian thought and practice. We at Tikkun embrace our Christian brothers and sisters as equal partners in building a Network of Spiritual Progressives and a movement for a world of love and justice detailed in my book “Revolutionary Love.” I think those of our readers who agree with much of our politics but feel skeptical about any spiritual or religious language may find some important insights in the article below that will help you understand how a progressive could also be a religious thinker.  — Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor, Tikkun  rabbilerner.tikkun@gmail.com]

 

I. Basic Ideas

 

 While this book is liberal in method, it is conservative in content. To say it is liberal in method means that it rejects supernaturalism–the view that God can perform miracles, in the sense of events that violate the laws of nature. The statement ment that it is conservative in content points to the fact that it affirms several doctrines that had wrongly been rejected as necessarily entailing supernaturalism.

This distinction points to an essential distinction. Most liberal theology should be qualified as modern liberal theology, because it is based on the modern worldview, one characteristic of which is an insistence that all perception comes through our physical sense organs. My theology, by contrast, is postmodern, understanding with William James and Alfred North Whitehead that there is non-sensory as well as sensory perception.[[1]] [This footnote needs to be inserted, so all subsequent notes need to be moved ahead.] Unlike modern theology, therefore, a postmodernism theology can affirm ideas that had wrongly been rejected as necessarily entailing supernaturalism, such as religious and ethical experience, the resurrection of Jesus, and the reality of demonic power.

 

Primary Doctrines

This theology attempts always to keep in mind the meaning of “gospel” – good news. Insofar as this attempt is successful, this theology focuses on the primary doctrines of Christian faith, which are unqualifiedly good news, as distinct from secondary and tertiary doctrines, some of which have delivered bad – sometimes horrible – news. The primary doctrines are rooted in the Bible, especially the teachings and presuppositions of Jesus of Nazareth. These primary doctrines include the following points:

  1. Our world was created by a good, loving,     wise, and purposive God, one who loves the world    and all creatures, great and small, unreservedly.
  2. Loving all of us, God desires that we treat each other with justice and compassion.
  3. God is uniquely powerful, being alone    capable of creating a universe.
  4. As the Book of Genesis suggested, God    created the universe not out of nothing but out of   chaos – out  of materials having their own power,   so God cannot unilaterally prevent all evil. The      world’s evils do not, therefore, imply that God is   evil or indifferent.
  5. The divine purpose, thus revealed, is to     overcome evil by bringing about a Reign of Divine   Values (traditionally called Kingdom of God) on     Earth, in which the present subjugation of life to     demonic values–lies, ugliness, greed, destructiveness, injustice, hate, and indifference-  -will be replaced by a mode of life based on divine values–truth, love, beauty, goodness, justice, and    compassion.
  6. The divine purpose is also to bring about an     even more complete salvation in a life beyond bodily death.
  7. Central to worship is Communion (the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist), in which we remember that     Jesus remained faithful in his opposition to the     empire, which led to his death on a Roman cross.
  8. Affirming the truth and saving value of Christianity does not imply that other religious    traditions have less truth and value.

A theology for the 21st century needs to express the gospel’s primary doctrines without having them undermined and discredited by secondary and tertiary doctrines formulated in bygone days.

 

II. Divine Power

 

The rejection of supernaturalism raises the question of divine omnipotence. This term is problematic, because it invariably suggests the idea that God could simply do anything (except the self-contradictory), [XX] an idea that entails an insoluble problem of evil. Rather than implying this, I portray God’s power as unique by being the only actuality that can create a universe. Surely there can be no power greater than the power to create a universe.

Modern liberal theologians have rejected the idea that God literally created the universe: God was said to create the world only symbolically. This statement reflects the fact that Christian doctrines are of three types with regard to truth: (a) Some of them are literally true; (b) others can be said to be true symbolically; and still others are (c) simply false. For example, the doctrine that God is love is literally true; the idea that there is a devil is symbolically true; and the idea that there is a literal hell is simply false.

III. The Creation of the World

 

Modern liberal theologians, rightly holding that theology should be in harmony with science, have said that, in light of neo-Darwinism, theologians can no longer consider the doctrine that “God created the heavens and the earth” literally true.

However, neo-Darwinism has been surpassed. In recent decades. It has been widely accepted, by both theists and atheists, that our universe appears to have been “fine-tuned for life” long before the emergence of living things.

The fine-tuning is exemplified by the constants of physics, such as the four forces of physics – gravity, the strong force, the weak force, and electromagnetism. For example, gravity is the weakest of these forces. But if it had been still weaker, the stars would have been red dwarfs, which would have burned for a very long time but not hot enough to support planets on which life could develop. However, if gravity had been a bit stronger, all the stars would have been blue giants, burning so hot that they could not have lasted the billions of years it takes life to develop.[1]

Another example of how the universe appears to have been fine tuned for life is provided by the “strong force,” which is a very powerful but short-range force. It exerts influence only within an atom’s nucleus, where it binds protons and neutrons together. The strong force determines the amount of energy released when simple atoms undergo nuclear fusion. When hydrogen in a star turns into helium, the helium atom is slightly lighter than the two protons and two neutrons that went into making it. So 0.007 of the hydrogen’s mass is converted into energy.

However, if this figure were 0.006 instead 0.007, protons and neutrons would not bond together. In that case, helium could not be formed, so there would be an all-hydrogen universe. But if this figure were instead 0.008, then protons would bond together without the aid of neutrons, so that no hydrogen would remain. “[W]hat is remarkable,” said Great Britain astronomer royal Martin Rees, “is that no carbon-based biosphere could exist if this number had been 0.006 or 0.008 rather than 0.007.”[2] As these examples illustrate, the “fine-tuning” is extremely fine.

Much of the fine-tuning involves ratios. For example, electromagnetism is much stronger than gravity, about 10 to the 36th power stronger – roughly a trillion, trillion, trillion times stronger.[3] Yet [if-delete] electromagnatism could not have been much different, or life would have been impossible.

On the one hand, if gravitational attraction were much stronger, stars would be smaller and would burn so hot that their life spans would be too short for life to develop. On the other hand, if the attraction were much weaker, planets would be much smaller, and a miniaturized sun would burn much more quickly. Hence, it might last only 10 thousand years, rather than the 10 billion years needed for the creation of the heavier elements, such as carbon and oxygen, which are needed for the evolution of life.[4]

To give a final example: Neutrons are heavier than protons, but only very slightly: The ratio of their masses is 939.56563 to 938.27231. If the mass of neutrons were increased by one part in seven hundred, hydrogen could not be turned into helium, so stars could not be formed. But if neutrons were slightly lighter, there would be an all-helium universe, hence no possibility for life.[5]

These are only a few of the many fundamental constants that had to be fine-tuned if life were to develop in our universe – 26 such constants, by one count.[6]

God the Creator

The evidence for apparent fine-tuning is so strong that there are virtually no arguments against it. According to physicist Paul Davies, “There is now broad agreement among physicists and cosmologists that the Universe is in several respects ‘fine-tuned’ for life.”[7] This agreement is shared by traditional theists and deists, which is not surprising, but also by atheists, such as [Stephen] Hawking,[8] who wrote:

The laws of science, as we know them at present, contain many fundamental numbers, like the size of the electric charge of the electron and the ratio of the masses of the proton and the electron…. The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life.[9]

But how is this remarkable fact to be explained? Here there are two major interpretations.

One view is that the fine-tuning was the work of a cosmic mind. For example, in a book asking whether science has buried God, mathematician and philosopher of science John Lennox, declared: “[T]he more we get to know about our universe, the more the hypothesis that there is a Creator . . . gains in credibility as the best explanation of why we are here.”[10]

Some erstwhile atheists have even been converted to this view. For example, philosopher Antony Flew, one of the world’s best-known atheists, came to consider a “divine Mind” the “only viable explanation [for] the origin of the laws of nature.”[11] Another convert was astronomer Fred Hoyle, who had been so opposed to theism that he had rejected the “big bang” theory in favor of a steady-state view of the universe, because it seemed less suggestive of theism. But after studying the evidence for fine-tuning in relation to carbon, Hoyle was led to his well-known conclusion: “Some supercalculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom.”[12]

The Multiverse Hypothesis

However, many scientists cannot accept this view, because mainstream science has long held that “God” cannot be an answer to a scientific question. Science-based thinkers have generally been deeply committed to the idea that life came about by accident.

In response, some scientists and philosophers came up with an alternative hypothesis. According to this view, our universe is a tiny portion of a “multiverse,” comprised of billions or even trillions of universes, each with different laws. Given so many universes, the argument goes, one of them was bound to just happen accidentally to have the laws and variables needed for life to emerge, so the belief that there are billions or trillions of universes removes the need for theism: If our universe were the only universe, the argument continues, it would be implausible to hold that it had come about without a purposeful creator. The possibility that our extremely fine-tuned universe came into existence by chance would be so improbable as to be virtually impossible.

So an apparently fine-tuned universe would mean that scientists would need to accept theism. This line of thought led scientists who were opposed to the idea of a divine creator to promote the multiverse idea, which allows them to retain their belief that the existence of life was an accident. In Stephen Hawking’s words, ”the multiverse concept can explain the fine-tuning of physical law without the need for a benevolent creator.”[13]

Most scientists and science-based philosophers have accepted the multiverse because this idea seems scientific. However, the multiverse idea has been subjected to withering criticism. For example:

  1. In an essay asking “You Think There’s a Multiverse?” physicist Lee Smolin said that this idea is not scientific, because it makes no firm predictions.[14]
  2. Princeton’s Paul Steinhardt made the same criticism, saying that the multiverse ideas is “not even a scientific theory,” because “it allows every conceivable possibility.”[15]
  3. According to Australian Luke Barnes, the multiverse idea “will surely forever hold the title of the most extreme extrapolation in all of science, if indeed it can be counted as part of science.”[16]

The discovery of fine-tuning, plus the fact that the multiverse hypothesis faces insuperable objections, means that there has been a remarkable turnabout with regard to the idea that our universe was divinely created. Whereas this idea was ridiculed in intellectual circles in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, now in the 21st century, science points strongly to the idea that our world was divinely created.

 

IV. The Rise of Human Beings

As shown in the previous section, a scientific discovery has helped us understand how our world could have been created. That discovery was made by astronomy. Another recent scientific discovery, this one in microbiology, has now made it possible to understand how human beings, with their consciousness, could have arisen.

Since the 17th century, the most serious philosophical problem, called the mind-body problem, was how the brain, assumed to be made of insentient neurons, could have given rise to the mind or soul, with its consciousness. As one recent philosopher put it,

How could the aggregation of millions of individually insentient neurons generate subjective awareness?[17]

But what if the neurons are not insentient?

Philosophers and scientists had long assumed they were. But microbiologists discovered that bacteria are sentient. In 1974, two microbiologists wrote an essay entitled “Decision-Making in Bacteria.”[18] That was an astounding discovery. But by now the idea is commonplace in microbiology. The leader of this movement was Lynn Margulis, who became famous for her discovery of “symbiogenesis.” Her worldview, she said, “recognizes the perceptive capacity of all live beings.”[19] More simply, she said, “consciousness is a property of all living cells,” even the most elementary ones: “Bacteria are conscious.”[20] She then explained how this discovery dissolves the mind-body problem, saying: “Thought and behavior in people are rendered far less mysterious when we realize that choice and sensitivity are already exquisitely developed in the microbial cells that became our ancestors.”[21]

The crucial point here is that bacteria are far more primitive than neurons, so there is no reason to continue assuming that neurons are insentient. Given this perspective, the rise of human beings can be explained without any appeal to supernaturalism.

 

V. Jesus and the Roman and American Empires

My theology is centered around the fact that Jesus preached an anti-imperial gospel.[22] This is not surprising because, as one Jesus scholar put it,

Trying to understand Jesus without knowing how Roman imperialism determined the conditions of life in Galilee and Jerusalem would be like trying to understand Martin Luther King without knowing how slavery, reconstruction, and segregation determined the lives of African Americans in the United States.[23]

This chapter, accordingly, looks at the Roman empire as a basis for understanding both the nature of America’s empire and also the person our religious tradition has called the Christ – our central revelation of God, to whom Christians have pledged their ultimate loyalty.

Rome used its overwhelming power to establish an empire. In conquering peoples, Rome portrayed itself as pacifying them, bringing peace to them, by incorporating them within the Pax Romana.[24] But this was “pacification” through military might, which the Romans used ruthlessly. As a Caledonian chieftain at the time put it, the Romans “rob, butcher, plunder, and call it ‘empire’; and where they make desolation, they call it ‘peace.’”[25]

The Romans used its power not only to conquer but also to terrorize and thereby intimidate their conquered subjects to keep them in line. One of the chief means of terrorist intimidation was crucifixion, which was considered the worst form of death The idea was that people would be intimidated by learning about the terribleness of crucifixion, which Josephus called “the most wretched of deaths.”[26]

The victims of this tactic of state terrorism were displayed in prominent places for all to see.[27] As one Roman put it:

Whenever we crucify the condemned, the most crowded roads are chosen, where the most people can see and be moved by this terror. For penalties relate not so much to retribution as to their exemplary effect.[28]

The use of crucifixion was not unique to the Romans. It had been used by Alexander the Great and many prior hegemonial powers. By the time of the Jesus movement, however, it had become a distinctively Roman symbol of intimidation.[29]

Both Galilee and Judea were, nonetheless, under Roman rule, and this rule was devastating militarily, culturally, and economically.

Militarily, the Romans were brutal, employing systematic slaughter, the destruction of villages, and mass enslavement.[30] In Galilee, the Roman legions had, by the time of Jesus, killed tens of thousands of people and enslaved many more.

Culturally, Roman imperialism meant flagrant violations of the people’s traditions and sensibilities. Because the emperor was declared to be divine, any acknowledgment of him was considered idolatrous by the Jewish people. And yet King Herod, to curry favor, built temples and even whole cities named for Augustus Caesar. He also built numerous other pagan buildings and monuments and engaged in what was considered “the shameless worship of foreign gods.” Herod even, after deciding to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple, had it built in grand Hellenistic style.[31]

Even stronger cultural resentment was directed at the client rulers in Judea, the high priests of the Jerusalem Temple, who since the Roman subjugation of the region had been selected by representatives of Rome. The criterion for appointment was not piety and reverence for tradition but subservience to Roman rule. Herod, in fact, appointed Jews from the Hellenistic world, who had no prior relation to the Palestinian people. Their aloofness from the people was shown by the fact that, amassing great fortunes from the revenues they extracted from the people, they lived in great luxury in elegant villas overlooking Jerusalem.

Besides being regarded as illegitimate for these reasons, the high priests violated the Temple by offering sacrifices in honor of the Roman emperor. Moreover, “the high priest and temple authorities,” Marcus Borg said, had become “the mediators of imperial rule.”[32] Given all of these facts about the temple, it is not surprising that Jesus was an “anti-temple prophet,” as had been John the Baptist.[33]

It was the task of the high priests to collect the tribute to Rome, which they did brutally, using hired thugs to do the collecting.[34] Given the emperor’s claim to be divine, moreover, the tribute was regarded as “a direct violation of the Mosaic laws against idolatry.”[35]

The volatile nature of this issue is shown by the fact that the issue of payments to the Roman empire was involved in a revolt at about the time of Jesus’ birth, another revolt when Jesus was about 10 years old, and the big Jewish revolt about 36 years after his death, which led to the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple.[36]

Economically, the effects of incorporation into the Roman empire were devastating to Galilee, as the region was “drawn into an increasingly centralized economy where some people prospered mightily and others sank into helplessness and debt.”[37]

Although most of the peasants were earning only a subsistence living, the overall tax burden took 40 per cent or more of their total income.[38] To pay these taxes while retaining enough crops and animals to feed their families, many peasants were forced to borrow money, using their land as collateral. Their debts often became greater each year, until they were forced into foreclosure, so that more and more land passed into the hands of aristocratic families.[39]

This loss of land was a catastrophe, because like people in most agrarian cultures, the peasants of Galilee “cherish[ed] one goal above all others: family survival on the land of their ancestors.” By the time of Jesus, there was “a crisis of debt and dispossession that touched and transformed the lives of nearly every peasant family in Galilee.”[40]

Given these conditions, it is not surprising that Jesus, standing in the tradition of Amos and the other prophets, preached an anti-imperial gospel. At the center of Jesus’s message was the idea of the kingdom of God, which as Horsley said, “the kingdom of God” is a political metaphor and symbol. In Jesus’ preaching and action the kingdom clearly includes the social-economic-political substance of human relations as willed by God.” [41]

The traditional picture of Jesus, which was based heavily on the Gospel of John, is very different from the picture of Jesus as reconstructed by Jesus scholars from the Synoptic Gospels. Rather than understanding his task as that of dying for the forgiveness of sins, he saw his task as that of proclaiming, by word and dead, the coming Reign of God.

Given the nature of Jesus’s life and death, American Christians today should be anti-imperialistic, rather than basking in the pleasures of Empire, as did the Roman populace two thousand years ago – ignoring the terror and poverty brought to other provinces by Roman rule.

The Divine and the Demonic

Although Rome saw itself as divinely authorized to impose its Pax Romana on the world, the nature of this “peace” was far from divine. It was not even benign. Jesus and the final book of the New Testament regarded it as the very opposite of divine – as demonic. This fact raises the question of whether Christians today should regard the American empire as demonic.

Before discussing this issue, however, it is necessary to deal with a prior question: Is the notion of demonic power necessarily a mythological idea, which can no longer be taken seriously by contemporary minds, or is it possible to develop a nonmythological notion of demonic power? This theology argues that it is.

The New Testament’s has a mythological but realistic view of the demonicAlthough the authors of the various New Testament writings believed our world to be essentially good, because created by God, they shared Jesus’ view that it at present was under demonic control. The Gospel of Luke, for example, has the devil say that the kingdoms of the world are under his control (4:5-6). The Gospel of John speaks of the devil as “the ruler of this world” (14:30, 16:11). The First Letter of John says that “the whole world is in the power of the evil one” (5:19). Paul speaks of “the present evil age” and of Satan as “the god of this age” (Gal. 1:4; 2 Cor. 4:4). And the New Testament view of this matter–that the world is the scene of a deadly battle between the divine and the demonic–is the theme of the New Testament’s final book in its entirety.

The New Testament, we can say, has a view of the demonic that is mythological but realistic. It is mythological, because it understands demonic power in terms of an individual creature with power, knowledge, and cosmic scope rivaling deity itself. Given the qualitative difference that must exist between the creator of the universe and any of its creatures, this view of the demonic must be regarded as mythological: No creature could approximate the omniscience, omnipresence, and unique power that belong to God alone.

And yet this picture is realistic, because it regards the demonic as a real power, with genuine autonomy, which is driving the world in a direction diametrically opposed to divine purposes.

Jeffrey Russell, in his well-received volumes on the history of the idea of the devil, has argued that the New Testament view is best called “semidualistic monotheism.”[42] In contrast with full-fledged dualism, a semidualistic position does not hold, as would a fully dualistic position, that the demonic is fully autonomous and equal to God in cosmic scope and power. But it does allow some real autonomy to the demonic.

There is no one right way to understand the demonic. But in the present book, it is understood as having two characteristics. First, the demonic involves creaturely power that is exercised in a way that is diametrically opposed to divine purposes. Therefore, demonic power would involve creaturely power that is exercised on the basis of greed, hate, or indifference, and therefore without the intent to promote the welfare of those affected by it. Second, creaturely power is powerful enough to threaten divine purposes. The rise of human beings and then the warfare system introduced the potential for human power to become so destructive.

Various Types of Demonic Power America

Henceforth, for reasons of space, the remainder of this book can only be outlined. One dimension of America’s demonic power is its drive, especially since the demise of the Soviet Union, [has been its drive [to] create, [a] universal empire in which it could [create] treat all peoples the way Rome had treated its subjects. This drive led to dozens of examples of bringing about regime changes in countries that posed no threat to America. Especially remarkable was the large number of false flag attacks.

There are also two examples of the development of extremely demonic power, meaning human power that is strong enough to destroy human civilization: nuclear weapons and fossil fuels.

Whereas much of the book is devoted to sin and the demonic, it also portrays four dimensions of Christian salvation, one of which discusses how global democracy could lead to an approximation of the reign of God on earth.

Conclusion

The book shows that liberal theology need not be vacuous. Thanks to the discovery of the fact that our universe has been fine-tuned for life, it can speak of God as literally our creator.

It can also speak of the resurrection of Jesus, as long as one does not insist on the resurrection of the body. There is moreover, no need to insist on this. As Marcus Borg pointed out, St. Paul was the first New Testament author to speak of the resurrection of Jesus, and he said nothing about “the empty tomb” or the “resurrection of the body.” Rather, Paul spoke of the appearances of Jesus. Paul said that on the road to Damascus the risen Christ appeared to him, and he included himself in the list of people to whom the risen Christ appeared.” Paul thereby treated “his own experience of the risen Christ as similar to the [experiences of] others.”

Borg thereby reaffirmed that view that had been articulated by B. H. Streeter, a professor of Biblical Exegesis at Oxford University and a member of the Archbishop’s Commission on Doctrine in the Church of EnglandWriting in the early 20th century, Streeter said that the resurrection appearances to the disciples were visions “directly caused by the Lord himself, veritably alive and personally in communication with them.”[43] Borg also said that “apparitions do not involve a physical body, even though what is seen often includes seeing a person in bodily form.”[44]

John Cobb affirmed this same view by speaking of “the resurrection of the soul.”[45]

 

NOTES

[1] John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford University Press, 1986), 336.

[2] Martin Rees, Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces that Shape the Universe (Basic Books, 2000), 54-57.

[3] “Gravity is Really Weak?” Stanford Solar Center.

[4] “The Strength of the Force of Gravity as an Example of Cosmic Fine Tuning,” God: New Evidence; “What If Gravity Was Weaker or Stronger?” Science Bits.

[5] Oliver Sacks, “My Periodic Table,” New York Times, 24 July 2015; Paul Davies, The Goldilocks Enigma: Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life? (Mariner Books, 2006), 141-43.

[6] Ethan Siegel, “It Takes 26 Fundamental Constants to Give Us Our Universe, But They Still Don’t Give Everything,” Forbes, 22 August 2015.

[7] Paul Davies, “How Bio-Friendly is the Universe?” International Journal of Astrobiology, 2 (2003).

[8] Many people assumed that Hawking was not an atheist because he had spoken about the possibility of knowing “the mind of God.” In 2014, however, Hawking said: “Before we understand science, it is natural to believe that God created the universe. But now science offers a more convincing explanation. What I meant by ‘we would know the mind of God’ is that we would know everything that God would know, if there were a God, which there isn’t. I’m an atheist.” Alan Boyle, “’I’m an Atheist’: Stephen Hawking on God and Space Travel,” NBC, 23 September 2014.

[9] Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time (Bantam Books,  1988), 125.

[10] John C. Lennox, God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? (Lion Hudson, 2007), 68.

[11] Antony Flew with Roy Varghese
, There is a God: How The World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind (Harper Collins, 2007), 121.

[12] Sir Fred Hoyle, “The Universe: Past and Present Reflections,” Engineering and Science, November 1981.

[13] Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design (Bantam, 2012), 153, 165.

[14] Lee Smolin, “You Think There’s a Multiverse? Get Real,” New Scientist, 20 January 2015.

[15] Maggie McKee, “Ingenious: Paul J. Steinhardt,” Nautilus, 25 September 2014.

[16] Luke Barnes, “The Fine-Tuning of the Universe for Intelligent Life,” ArXiv E-Prints, 21 December 2011.

[17] Colin McGinn, The Problem of Consciousness: Essays Toward a Resolution (Basil Blackwell, 1991), 1.

[18] Julius Adler and Wung-Wai Tso, “Decision-Making in Bacteria,” Science 184 (1974): 1292-94.

[19] Lynn Margulis, “Gaia and Machines,” in John B. Cobb, Jr., ed., Back to Darwin: A Richer Account of Evolution (Eerdmans, 2007), 167-75, at 172.

[20] Dick Teresi, “Lynn Margulis Says She’s Not Controversial, She’s Right,” Discover Magazine, April 2011.

[21] Lynn Margulis, “Gaia Is a Tough Bitch,” Chap. 7 of John Brockman, The Third Culture: Beyond the Scientific Revolution (Simon & Schuster, 1995.

[22] Ibid., 129.

[23] Richard A. Horsley, Jesus and Empire: The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder (Fortress, 2003), 13.

[24] Horsley, Jesus and Empire, 197.

[25] Tacitus, Agricola 14.1; quoted in Horsley, Jesus and Empire, 31.

[26] “Under the Roman Empire, the victims were beaten before being crucified. Then they were required to carry the cross or the crossbeam to the place of execution, they were stripped naked, and their forearms were nailed or bound to the beam, which was raised up and affixed to the stake, or they were simply nailed to the stake. The body was partly supported by being seated on a peg on the upright, and the feet were bound or nailed to the stake with an iron nail through the heals. Death would come slowly, by asphyxiation, often after several days of excruciating pain. . . . Crucifixion was thus a method of slowly torturing the victims to death.” Richard Horsley, Jesus and the Powers: Conflict, Covenant, and the Hope of the Poor (Fortress Press, 2011), 180.

[27] Ibid., 27.

[28] Pseudo-Quinteilian, Declamations, 274.

[29] K.C. Hanson and Douglas E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus: Social Structures and Social Conflicts (Augsburg Fortress, 1998), 92.

[30] Horsley, Jesus and Empire, 29, 34.

[31] Horsley and Silberman, The Message, 17; Horsley, Jesus and Empire, 32, 85.

[32] Borg, Jesus: Uncovering the Life, 118.

[33] Ibid., 118.

[34] Horsley, Jesus and Empire, 15, 20, 30, 33, 46, 85; Richard A. Horsley, Jesus and the Spiral of Violence: Popular Jewish Resistance in Roman Palestine (Harper & Row, 1987), 286-87; Horsley and Silberman, The Message, 78-79.

[35] Horsley and Silberman, The Message, 83.

[36] Horsley, Jesus and Empire, 41, 99.

[37] Horsley and Silberman, The Message, 4.

[38] Marcus Borg, Jesus: A New Vision (HarperSanFrancisco, 1991), 95; Richard A. Horsley and John S. Hanson, Bandits, Prophets, and Messiahs: Popular Movements in the Time of Jesus (Harper & row, 1987), 54-56.

[39] According to the Holiness Code of Leviticus, debts were supposed to be forgiven and land returned every 50 years, called the Jubilee (Leviticus 8:8-55). Accordingly, the permanent loss of land would not occur. However, the Jubilee was only sporadically observed, if ever.

[40] Horsley and Silberman, The Message, 26-29.

[41] Horsley, Jesus and the Spiral, 170.

[42] Jeffrey Burton Russell, The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity (Cornell University Press, 1977), 228, 248.

[43] B. H. Streeter, Foundations: A Statement of Christian Belief in Terms of Modern Thought (Macmillan, 1912), 136.

[44] Marcus J. Borg and N. T. Wright, The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions, 2nd ed. (HarperOne, 2007), 132-33.

[45] John B. Cobb, Jr., “The Resurrection of the Soul,” Harvard Theological Review 80/2 (1987), 213-27.

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