The Rev. Dr. Matthew Skinner

Denomination: Presbyterian Church (USA) (PCUSA)
Organization: Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN

Matthew L. Skinner is Associate Professor of New Testament at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul and an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He holds degrees from Brown University and Princeton Theological Seminary.

Interested in the ways that Bible-reading shapes the theological imaginations of communities and individuals, he blogs to help people read the Bible more creatively and expectantly. "Too many people are afraid of the Bible," he says, "yet often for good reasons. It's a very strange book. At the same time, too many people are way too comfortable with it. But a little knowledge about what the Bible is and the world it came from can help us engage it more intelligently and faithfully."

His research interests focus on the Gospels, the book of Acts, and the cultural world reflected in the New Testament. He has contributed to, and various print resources for pastors and laypeople. His most recent book is The Trial Narratives: Conflict, Power, and Identity in the New Testament.


Articles by The Rev. Dr. Matthew Skinner

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ON Scripture: No Justice, No Peace (Luke 18:1-8) By Matthew L. Skinner

Monday October 10, 2016
Injustice and human misery offend the conviction that God is merciful, loving, and powerful. For a long time, therefore, the patterns of systemic injustice have gnawed at people of faith (even as such people remain complicit in the systems).

ON Scripture: Why We Can’t Wait (Luke 13:10-17) By Matthew L. Skinner

Monday August 15, 2016
Don’t mistake the story about a woman with a debilitating spinal condition as 'just another healing story.' It’s about more than Jesus astounding people with his power and frustrating his adversaries. This is not a story about power embarrassing weakness. It’s not a story about new things replacing the old. At its core, it’s a story about what God intends. It’s about the urgency of seeing God’s intentions brought to pass without delay.

ON Scripture: Exposing a Government's Abuse of Power, and Other Life Hacks (Acts 16:16-40) By Matthew L. Skinner

Monday May 02, 2016
The story in Acts 16 does more than show us how powerful societies -- whether ancient or modern – try to keep a grip on their dominance. While Acts 16 describes a steady stream of self-preservation that issues from the villains in Philippi, the story’s main point is to celebrate a divine victory.

ON Scripture: Learning from Mary in Our Age of Endless War (Luke 1:39-55) By Matthew L. Skinner

Sunday December 13, 2015
National Geographic magazine recently named Mary, the mother of Jesus, 'the most powerful woman in the world' as an appraisal of her ongoing influence and popularity. But do Mary’s words and example have a prayer of being heard and effecting change in this time of war?

Matthew Skinner: On Why People Give Money to Their Church

Friday September 11, 2015
Repeatedly the New Testament praises those who give generously to the needy and to support the people who provide leadership to Christian communities. Almost just as often, it tells those leaders not to be financial burdens to others or to create circumstances in which they appear to be unduly profiting from their preaching.

ON Scripture: Daring to Hope in the Stress of Uncertainty (Mark 16:1-8) By Matthew L. Skinner

Monday March 30, 2015
The author of Mark was a minimalist. We get an empty tomb, a promise, and frightened disciples who stay silent when they’re invited to share the news. Finis. Roll credits.

ON Scripture: The Super Bowl and the Church in a Culture of Dominance (1 Corinthians 8:1-13) By Matthew L. Skinner

Monday January 26, 2015
Americans enjoy football because, to a degree, football reflects the values of strength, courage, strategy, self-discipline, teamwork, and celebrity that American culture holds dear.... The problem develops when we let football (or other sports, or a military, or corporations, or other forces) define strength in terms of dominance.

ON Scripture: Why Work to Change the World? (Matthew 21:23-32) by Matt Skinner

Monday September 22, 2014
It’s hard to follow through on our commitments. It’s hard to do what we know to be right. We don’t need Jesus to remind us of all that. Most of us figured it out easily enough on our own. What, then, does Jesus contribute to our understanding of what a well-lived life looks like?

ON Scripture: Why You Ought to Leave the Church (John 4:5-42) By Matthew L. Skinner

Monday March 17, 2014
Religion has a way of making people do extraordinary things to create peace and unity. It also, as we know well, has a destructive capacity to turn people against one another. It can make us grip our convictions so tightly that we choke out their life.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Enjoy the Super Bowl; Be Suspicious of Its Values (Matthew 5:1-12) By Matthew L. Skinner

Monday January 27, 2014
If the outcome of Sunday’s Super Bowl comes down to the game’s final play, and you find yourself inclined to ask Jesus to help your favorite team win, remember: It’s quite possible he doesn’t know squat about tackle football. At least, when we read the opening sentences of his Sermon on the Mount (found in Matthew 5:1-12), it seems his values are light years away from the confident and muscular ethos that football teams rely on for success.

Matthew Skinner: The Careless Biblical Interpretation behind Justin Lookadoo's Views on Gender

Wednesday November 27, 2013
By now, Justin Lookadoo's dating advice to young women and men has been thoroughly exposed and rightly mocked. Where did he get these crazy ideas that women are best left covered up and quiet, while men are just naturally prone to follow their lusts? Probably from the Bible. Oops.

ON Scripture-The Bible: I Know What God Looks Like (Luke 15:1-10) By Matthew L. Skinner

Monday September 09, 2013
In Luke 15:1-10, onlookers criticize Jesus for his joyful chumminess with some of society’s more despised members. He responds with two parables, stories meant to illustrate what he is up to. Both parables end with spontaneous, joyful celebration when their main characters (a shepherd and a woman) succeed in recovering things they had lost (a sheep and a coin).

ON Scripture: When “Homeland Security” Keeps Us From Encountering God (John 17:20-26) By Matthew L. Skinner

Wednesday May 08, 2013
How do we encounter God? Some assume it comes from adhering to tried and true practices and traditions. But sometimes we experience God through opening ourselves to what or to who is different. This has particular relevance for our time, as the United States struggles to figure out what makes for homeland security.

ON Scripture-The Bible: How to Survive the Sequester, Syria, and Other Threatening Headlines (Luke 13:1-9) By Matthew L. Skinner

Wednesday February 27, 2013
Current events, like much about our lives, frequently leave us hopeless, fearful, and uncertain. Religious faith isn’t a matter of wishing away these experiences; it involves perceiving God in the midst of our hardships.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Immigration Reform and the Challenges of Generosity (Luke 4:22-30) By Matthew L. Skinner

Wednesday January 30, 2013
When we extend generosity and justice to others, it alters our relationship to them. Especially when those “others” are foreign to us. Hospitality has ways of making the people who receive it come inside and stick around, whether we really want them to or not. We see this on display in Luke 4:22-30, which tells the second half of a story about Jesus’ statements to a group assembled in his hometown synagogue, in Nazareth.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Can We Speak of God’s Activity, in Triumph or Tragedy? (Luke 1:39-55) By Matthew L. Skinner

Thursday December 20, 2012
UPDATED: Sometimes, the worse the tragedy, the more abhorrent the theology it elicits. Still numb from the overwhelming evil perpetrated against helpless children and schoolteachers last Friday, now we have to read harsh words from certain Christians who seem compelled to speak for God in disorienting moments like these, and the results are frequently terrible. The rest of the church has a responsibility to get angry and repudiate the statements.

ON Scripture-The Bible: Dr. Matthew Skinner: Is It Possible To Govern “Biblically”? (Mark 10:35-45)

Wednesday October 17, 2012
Matthew Skinner on Mark 10:35-45 in this week's ON Scripture-The Bible lectionary resouce: Temptations to hold and wield power are usually tough to pass up. Power is alluring whether we imagine having it over others or on behalf of them, whether it’s power in society, at home, or in a workplace.

ON Scripture: Matthew Skinner on Jesus’ Death and the Future of Violence (Mark 9:30-37)

Wednesday September 19, 2012
In this week's ON Scripture lectionary resource on Mark 9:30-37, the Rev. Dr. Matthew L Skinner writes: If pondering Jesus’ crucifixion doesn’t make you uncomfortable, you probably aren’t doing it right. I’m not referring to the gore and humiliation, which makes crucifixion repulsive no matter who the victim is. Instead, my point has to do with considering the purpose or significance of Jesus’ death.

ON Scripture: Dr. Matt Skinner: What Makes a Family? (Mark 3:20-35)

Wednesday June 06, 2012
In this week's ON Scripture lectionary aid, the Rev. Dr. Matt Skinner explores Mark 3:20-35 and asks, What Makes a Family?

ON Scripture: Dr. Matthew Skinner on Mark 14:1-15:47: What Jesus’ Death Tells Us About Ourselves

Wednesday March 28, 2012
The Trayvon Martin story is tragic for many reasons.... As Christians move into the week that most defines our faith, a week of remembering and reliving Jesus’ death and resurrection, this idea of a broken system provides an poignant setting for us to consider the ongoing significance of what happened to him nearly 2000 years ago.

ON Scripture: Dr. Matt Skinner: Where Can God Be Found? (John 2:13-22)

Wednesday March 07, 2012
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ON Scripture: Matthew Skinner on Mark 1:40-45: The Inconvenient Truth About Taking Care of the Poor

Wednesday February 08, 2012
In this week's ON Scripture lectionary resource, the Rev. Dr. Matthew Skinner reveals that exploring Jesus’ concern for the poor and excluded reminds us of the close connections among wealth, health, and social acceptability.

Theological expertise in the digital age

Tuesday January 17, 2012
Guest blogger Matthew L. Skinner, a biblical scholar, opines about the place of Bible software in the Christian life.

ON Scripture: Matt Skinner on Mark 13:24-37 - Advent: One of Those Dangerous Religious Ideas

Wednesday November 23, 2011
Here comes Black Friday, even earlier than usual. Bell-ringers are appearing outside stores. Advertisers are shifting the consumerism-as-therapy machine into high gear. And Christians say: This is a good time to think about the world falling apart. We’re not trying to be morose. We’re starting Advent.

Matt Skinner: New media make the Bible accessible; Bible readers too

Thursday November 17, 2011
Today we read the Bible on the same screens where we see the daily news, our work-related email, and photos of loved ones. With everything else residing only a click away, we discover new potential for reading the Bible in more direct contact with all of the other aspects of our lives.

Dr. Matt Skinner and Josh Stanton: Online tools enriching the study of sacred texts

Thursday November 10, 2011
Too many people have not looked seriously at other traditions’ texts. And too many interpreters do not interpret in ways that invite “outsiders” into the conversation. Here's how online tools can help.

ON Scripture: Dr. Matt Skinner on Matt. 22: The Heavy Cost of Paying "The Emperor"

Wednesday October 12, 2011
It couldn’t hurt for Jesus to show up and weigh in on America’s current economic and political challenges. It might be helpful if he issued a declaration about who should pay taxes, and how much. Then again, this would likely get him killed all over again.

ON Scripture: Matt Skinner on Matt. 20:1-16: Justice Comes in the Evening

Wednesday September 14, 2011
Our notions of justice usually cannot help but be influenced by our own circumstances and by our opinions about what we and others deserve. We insist justice has to do with equality, but a lot of the time it's a word we toss around to keep people and things we don't like at bay. And then along comes Jesus, eager to mess even more with our regular attitudes about what's right or fair.

ON Scripture: Faith Within the Chaos (Matt. 14:22-33)

Wednesday August 03, 2011
In the first weekly ON Scripture post tying the week's RCL texts to current events, Matt Skinner looks at this week's debt ceiling debate in light of Matthew 14:22-33.

Dr. Matt Skinner: The Spiritual Dimensions of Work and Unemployment

Monday July 11, 2011
Unemployment brings spiritual as well as psychological and economic affliction. There's more at work than shame, frustration, and financial setback.

Matt Skinner: Pentecost: When Christians Dream

Monday June 13, 2011
Please don't refer to Pentecost as "the birthday of the church." The day is much more interesting -- and risky -- than that.

Matthew Skinner: Understanding Jesus' World

Monday May 23, 2011
Unless we have a basic awareness of the events and social attitudes that shaped the fears, longings and questions that were active in the cultures the Bible emerged out of, we may miss a good deal of what the Bible has to say.

Matthew Skinner: Pontius Pilate Vs. Jesus: Was It a Fair Trial?

Friday April 22, 2011
Judas and Pilate are important parts of the story not just for their own sake. As the gospels present them, they also inform us about Jesus.

Matthew Skinner: A Christian Understanding of the End Times

Tuesday March 29, 2011
Despite the history of failed speculation about a precise advent of the new future, some Christians keep going with exuberant talk about the end of days. What's the truth about what's ahead?

Matthew Skinner: Reading the Four Gospels: The Power of Different Perspectives

Wednesday March 23, 2011
Christians have a habit of trying to harmonize the discrepancies found in the Bible. Yet this practice contributes to stripping the Bible of what makes it interesting, and what can make it speak powerfully.

Matthew Skinner: The Parables: Understanding Jesus' Strange Good News

Wednesday March 16, 2011
Jesus has his moments when he speaks plainly, but much of what the Gospels convey is a lot more elusive. That's what makes his teachings so evocative, and sometimes offensive, and sometimes restorative. This is particularly true with his parables.

Video by The Rev. Dr. Matthew Skinner

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The Rev. Dr. Matthew Skinner - Day1 Conversations with Peter Wallace

Thursday August 25, 2011
In this conversation Day1 host Peter Wallace sits down with The Rev. Dr. Matthew Skinner at the Festival of Homiletics to discuss the new testament, his path to teaching at Luther seminary, and the ideas and challenges of a conversational approach within churches.