Articles by Dr. Greg Carey
Wednesday March 17, 2021
Naturally, we Christians turn to the Bible when we have moral questions. Christianity and its Bible have been turned to all kinds of uses, some good and some evil. Here in the United States, we’ve done so especially with respect to matters of race, gender, and sexuality, piling up verses on one side or the other to support what we already believe.
Friday January 29, 2021
The parable of the Prodigal shows us who’s really lost. It’s not the younger brother who was returned home to an extravagant welcome. Instead, it’s his righteous brother who refuses to come to the party. This older brother’s refusal closes the whole chapter by playing out the role of the Pharisees and scribes.
Monday December 21, 2020
For Christians, hope is our most fundamental strategy. And Advent is the season for hope.
Thursday November 19, 2020
I’ve always admired those Christians who remain positive through the toughest of times. You know the ones. Their faith seems never to waver, their demeanor beams positivity, and they express gratitude as naturally as a New Yorker says “How ya doin’?” It may not be fair to say I admire them. I envy them.
Friday October 16, 2020
The Senate hearings concerning the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for the United States Supreme Court are a very big deal indeed. On social media I’ve seen lots of discussion of her philosophy of legal interpretation, known as originalism....
Tuesday September 22, 2020
In his Church Anew article, Dr. Greg Carey writes that we resort to “It’s all a matter of opinion” when facts make us uncomfortable.
Wednesday August 19, 2020
Nobody wants to hear my opinions on Constitutional matters. As Paul would say, may it not be! Instead of pursuing the constitutional question, let’s examine what freedom means in a Christian context. Let’s think about gospel freedom.
Tuesday June 09, 2020
In this latest Church Anew post, Dr. Greg Carey writes about how the Good Samaritan parable challenges privilege and promotes authentic relationships.
Wednesday June 03, 2020
People are hurting. George Floyd’s murder. COVID-19 deaths. Violence. What does all of this mean? In this Church Anew article, Greg Cary offers some wisdom.
Saturday September 23, 2017
Recently a group called the Coalition for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood – no, really, they call themselves that – created a small stir by issuing the 'Nashville Statement.' The statement and the lack of attention it’s receiving reveal the degree to which the old religious right has lost its capacity to influence public conversations.
Saturday September 09, 2017
Liberal and fundamentalist Christians fear one another. But it is different with conservatives. Conservatives fear that liberal ideas will capture other conservatives – or perhaps persuade themselves. They say so all the time. Liberals hold no commensurate fear. We just want flowers and cake for all the weddings.
Wednesday January 18, 2017
When I was in middle school, I committed an act of vandalism significant enough to elicit a police investigation. Three weeks passed before I was called into the principal’s office to meet the detectives. I thought I’d gotten away with it. I still managed a firm denial, but the police already had a confession from my friend and accomplice. Also, an eyewitness had pegged us. We were busted.
Monday August 08, 2016
Our cultural moment feels ominous. In electoral politics we could scarcely imagine wider dissatisfaction – or greater gaps in perception. Our leading presidential candidates have earned unfavorable polling ratings among the highest ever reported. Partisan animosity runs at historically high levels: Democrats and Republicans regard one another more negatively than they have in twenty-five years. This combustible environment stresses us out.
Tuesday June 07, 2016
Wicked theology basically amounts to providing biblical cover - a pretense - for systems of inequality and exploitation. We need to call it when we see it.
Friday March 25, 2016
Many churches follow the Revised Common Lectionary, a three-year schedule of Scripture readings for the church year. Each year features one of the Gospels. The Gospel for this year, Year C, is the Gospel of Luke. (The Lectionary does not devote a year to John but scatters readings from John across all three years.) Luke presents a distinctive understanding of Jesus’ death.
Monday January 25, 2016
Lots of our public conversations these days relate to boundaries. In a presidential election year, with seemingly countless candidates and endless debates, it’s hard to avoid the angry voices and fierce scowls.
Thursday January 21, 2016
Jesus' parables -- vivid short stories and comparisons like the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, and the Laborers in the Vineyard -- make up the most distinctive element of his teaching. Lots of Jesus' contemporaries used parables, but nearly all interpreters agree that Jesus' stories stand out for what one commentator called their capacity 'to tease [the mind] into active thought.'
Tuesday November 03, 2015
Last week I learned that a friend is giving up golf. Now, you may not care for golf, but this is a big deal. Doug is in his early 80s, he's always been a pretty good golfer, and in his retirement he would play four or five times a week, maybe more.
Greg Carey: Bluesin' the Gospel: A review of Gary Burnett's book "The Gospel according to the Blues"
Thursday October 29, 2015
Despite its essential role in opening the way to other musical forms, the blues remains a bit of a niche genre. I remember touring the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame in Cleveland, where the blues were presented, along with bluegrass and gospel, as a precursor to rock. At that moment I determined to sample blues music from the early part of the twentieth century.
Monday August 24, 2015
The Epistle of James insists that hearing the word of God necessarily entails living it out: Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves (1:22, NRSV). Some contemporary Christians excel in works of justice and mercy, while others seek moral purity. James recognizes no such distinction.
Saturday April 04, 2015
During the church’s highest holy season, Indiana’s religious freedom bill has captured our public conversation. Nuclear negotiations with Iran, a presidential election in war-torn Nigeria, and outrageous violence in Kenya notwithstanding, we can’t take our eyes off the Hoosier State and its Religious Freedom Restoration Act. For Christians, the controversy raises a pressing question: does religious liberty authorize Christians
Friday March 27, 2015
We Christians are approaching Holy Week, the week we set apart to contemplate the events surrounding Jesus' arrest, his crucifixion, and his resurrection. We don't ordinarily go for the morbid -- most of us don't, anyway -- but the mystery of Jesus' death and resurrection lies at the heart of our faith.
Monday February 16, 2015
These days ISIS, more than any other global power, evokes the specter of violence and death. Boko Haram kidnaps girls by the thousands. The Soviets – I mean, the Russians acting like Soviets – impose their violent will on the Ukraine. Terror abounds all over the globe. In depicting the psychic harm war inflicts upon our souls, American Sniper breaks its own box office records; meanwhile, Americans learn that we’re about to go to war again. It’s ISIS that makes us shudder.
Friday February 06, 2015
Every once in a while someone asks for advice: 'How do I learn more about the Bible?' In church we act like the Bible is important, but few among us feel confident we understand it -- or even that we know what's in it. Here's my best shot at the question.
Monday December 29, 2014
Optimism tends to accompany a new year. But we leave 2014 somewhat broken and disappointed. The online magazine Slate has christened 2014 'The Year of Outrage.' I bet the name sticks. Slate’s snappy multi-media calendar links the most outrageous news story for every day of the past year. What was so outrageous, and who found themselves offended?
Tuesday November 25, 2014
Recently another Jesus hoax appeared in the media. Media producer Simcha Jacobovici has collaborated with a professor named Barrie Wilson on a book called, 'The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Ancient Text That Reveals Jesus' Marriage to Mary the Magdalene.' I don't wish to be rude, and I will freely admit I haven't read the book yet, but the entire premise is utter hogwash.
Thursday September 04, 2014
Paul knows something important. There's a spiritual dimension to sex. Sex affects our whole selves -- our relation to God, our relation to one another and our relation to ourselves. What we do with our bodies matters, and it's much more than a matter of biological drive or personal preference.
Monday June 30, 2014
From our frustrations with diets and New Year’s resolutions to the deepest insights of Buddhist spirituality and modern psychology, we grieve the clash between what we wish we’d do and what we actually find ourselves doing. Why do we find it so difficult to live up to our highest aspirations?
Sunday June 08, 2014
Some years ago I met Maya Angelou when she came to Baylor University, the fine Texas university where I have taught for the past twenty-five years, to give a campus-wide lecture. During her stay she did two things that I have never forgotten.
Tuesday June 03, 2014
If ever we met a tragic hero, it would be Job. I like Job too. I admire him. But this week I noticed something about Job that complicates my relationship with him. Job holds something in common with Robert E. Lee: They both owned slaves.
Wednesday April 30, 2014
Ken Wilson, founding pastor of Ann Arbor's Vineyard Church, has just authored the best book available for folks who want to explore LGBT inclusion in the church.
Monday April 14, 2014
On Easter Sunday no less than other days of the year, many fear that their own faith is inadequate. They worry that they don’t understand enough. They obsess that maybe they lack full conviction. John’s resurrection account speaks directly to the nature of our believing.
Monday March 03, 2014
Eve’s choice embodies all the complications of human maturity. Contrary to her representation at the hands of the advertisers and some preachers alike, Eve seeks wisdom – and she finds it.
Friday February 14, 2014
I have a lot to learn from Dr. King. Only God knows how frustrated, angry, or disappointed he must have been, but he never gives up on his critics.
Tuesday January 21, 2014
This week the Boston Globe asked the question 'Can the evangelical church embrace gay couples?' Now that most mainline Christians decline to label LGBTQ folk as a special class of sinners, and now that the larger society has less patience for sexual intolerance than it once did, the evangelical world is experiencing the pressure in new ways.
Wednesday January 15, 2014
I don't quite know another book like this one. Kate Cooper's 'Band of Angels' introduces us to dozens of early Christian women from the church's first five centuries.
Saturday January 11, 2014
I don't recall meeting a person who had reasoned her way to faith. Surely some people do. The great C. S. Lewis claimed to have come to faith through an intellectual journey. By and large, however, the vast majority of believers come to faith through relationships.
Friday December 20, 2013
What would happen if we went to the mall and encountered a black Santa? Santa with a Hispanic accent? Somebody needs to run this experiment.
Wednesday November 27, 2013
I often find myself asked to explain what 'being evangelical' is like. It's as if other people regard evangelicals as alien life forms -- a suspicion that makes sense after watching the bizarre behavior some evangelicals display in the media.
Friday November 22, 2013
One common take on Christian origins pits James the brother of Jesus against the Apostle Paul. We find this view in Reza Aslan's bestselling Zealot, which has led to my fielding a couple of questions from friends. According to this view James led the very Jewish Jesus movement in Jerusalem, while Paul developed a radically divergent form of Jesus devotion among Gentiles that spread all over the Mediterranean.
Thursday November 14, 2013
A Joel Osteen tweet crossed my Twitter feed the other day: 'You were not created to be unhappy in order to keep everyone else happy. You've got to run your own race.' I couldn't resist the temptation to reply: 'That's fine self-help, but it has nothing to do with Jesus Christ.'
Monday October 28, 2013
I probably shouldn’t admit how much I like Halloween. I’m too much of a slug to deck out my house, I rarely wear a costume, and I haven’t been to a wild party in years, but I love the excitement children bring to the whole process. Then again, there’s the classic It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown – what’s better than that? I’m pretty much a sucker for Halloween. I was already an adult when I learned how we came upon Halloween
Monday August 05, 2013
ON Scripture now appears on Mondays! This enables preachers and teachers to use the resources more effectively for next Sunday. This week, Dr. Greg Carey explores Luke 12:32-40: It all sounds so… demanding. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Be dressed for action (NRSV). Imagine yourselves as slaves who remain ready for their master’s return – not knowing when it might come.
Thursday August 01, 2013
Reza Aslan's Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth has taken off as a cultural phenomenon. But as yet I cannot find a serious review by a practicing biblical scholar. This brief review amounts to my attempt to respond to the questions I'm receiving about the book from every corner.
Thursday July 18, 2013
In his bestseller Proof of Heaven, Dr. Eben Alexander recounts his journey to heaven during a near-death experience. But a recent blockbuster Esquire story by Luke Dittrich casts profound suspicion upon Alexander's account.
Monday July 15, 2013
We're hearing it over and over again: an enormous chasm separates white and black Americans when it comes to the matter of Trayvon Martin's death and George Zimmerman's culpability. If my social media feeds can substitute for scientific evidence, by far most of my African American friends believe Zimmerman should have received a guilty verdict, and most of my white friends believe he was legally innocent.
Monday June 17, 2013
When I'm invited to teach in churches, I often invite questions from the group before I begin my planned presentation. This helps me understand where people are coming from and helps the audience pursue the questions they care about. The overwhelming majority of questions I receive involve historical matters.
Friday May 31, 2013
It happened on Facebook, but it could have been anywhere. I shared a HuffPost piece on Pope Francis' declaration that God has redeemed all people, even atheists, through Christ. Friends chimed in with their opinions. One friend weighed in with perhaps the most common response, John 14:6.
Friday May 10, 2013
If so many people do just fine without biblical scholarship, why should professional interpreters tell them how they ought to read the Bible?
Friday May 03, 2013
Two religion professors, Linda S. Schearing and Valarie H. Ziegler, have teamed up for a delightful new book that takes an analytical, often hilarious and occasionally touching, look at the first couple's continuing influence in our culture. What do we learn about ourselves through our appeals to Adam and Eve?
Thursday April 11, 2013
Candida Moss says Christians need to get over their martyr complex. Her new book, "The Myth of Martyrdom," identifies two significant problems with how we imagine Christian martyrs.
Wednesday April 10, 2013
Interpreters have probably made too much of the nuances of Greek vocabulary in this passage, but we can readily see why Peter is grieved. The last time he stood by a charcoal fire, he failed miserably three times. Now Jesus brings Peter back to the scene and puts him through another three-fold interrogation.
Wednesday April 03, 2013
The resurrection story implies that bodies matter. Jesus’ resurrection is not merely a spiritual thing – the apparition of his ghost, or his ongoing spiritual influence. The Gospels all insist that the resurrection includes Jesus’ body.
Monday March 11, 2013
I like Rob Bell though I have never met him. I admire him. I hope his book will succeed, and I can easily imagine myself giving his book to someone I love and teaching on it in a church I serve. God bless him. I also have a question -- and I'm eager for to see how this book addresses it.
Saturday February 02, 2013
An important new book by Robert M. Royalty Jr. points out that Christian heresy did not emerge when some misguided Christians deviated from a "pure" and "original" orthodoxy. "Orthodoxy" did not precede "heresy." Instead, diversity marks Christianity as far back as we can see.
Sunday January 20, 2013
Just this month a task force representing a significant group of Protestant churches published a document, "Scripture and Moral Discernment." For the first time, an ecumenical team working on behalf of several denominations has provided genuine guidance concerning the Bible's role in shaping our ethical lives.
Sunday November 11, 2012
When we Christians are tempted to lob Bible verses at one another like hand grenades, we might do well to consider Jesus' example.
Wednesday November 07, 2012
Is poverty what it used to be? Or has poverty grown so shameful that we dare not speak its name? So determined are we keep poverty out of view, we erase the presence of the poor from Jesus’ teachings. The widow we encounter in Mark 12:38-44 provides a case study in poverty and oppression. Unable to confront poverty, we have turned her into something safer – an example of generosity.
Monday October 01, 2012
It's common to hear Christians saying things like "We're all sinners who need God's grace," and "Whoever is without sin, let them cast the first stone." ClichÃ©-ish though they may be, they carry a great deal of truth.
Monday August 27, 2012
It's common to see people deriding "liberal" biblical scholars, as if the world is just full of people whose dearest wish is to undermine the Bible and turn Jesus into nothing but a symbol for a bizarre mushroom cult.
Saturday August 18, 2012
Hiding behind the Bible doesn't exempt us from responsibility for our beliefs and behaviors. The Bible is a complicated book. Using the Bible to condemn sexual minorities requires that people make a series of choices and assumptions. Let's examine those choices and assumptions.
Wednesday June 27, 2012
In this special Bible study from Odyssey Networks on Mark 5:1-20, Greg Carey explores how Jesus handled the healing of a demoniac, and what it tells us about community and mental health.
Friday June 22, 2012
In Mark 3:20-35, Jesus' opponents attribute his ability to cast out demons as the work of Beelzebul. In other words, they take the work of salvation and liberation and call it demonic. What brings life to some people, others call sin. This is sounding way too familiar.
Wednesday June 20, 2012
Modern readers struggle with miracle stories like this. ... We’re prepared for Jesus’ healing miracles because they directly benefit desperate people. But “nature miracles” like stilling the storm challenge the boundaries of our imaginations.
Monday May 07, 2012
What about healing on the Sabbath--didn't Jesus transgress the Law then? Didn't Jesus touch lepers and bleeding women? What about eating with unwashed hands? Do not all these examples show that Jesus occasionally but intentionally violated the Torah? In a word, no.
Friday April 20, 2012
John Dominic Crossan's new book, "The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction about Jesus," may spark controversy among some churchgoing readers. However, for readers who aspire to take the Gospels seriously, Crossan has some important things to say.
Saturday March 17, 2012
There's a problem with penal substitution. Biblical sacrifices do not represent human attempts to purchase forgiveness; instead, they offer a ritual means of acknowledging the costliness of sin and alienation from God. Through sacrifice, God reaches out to mortals and invites their response.
Saturday March 03, 2012
I teach at a theological seminary, where we prepare religious leaders for service in the church and the world. Often I'll ask students, "What is your gospel?" That is, what is the core message that directs your ministry? That may sound like an innocent question, yet most seminarians find it intimidating. How does one boil down one's faith to a straightforward proclamation?
Saturday February 18, 2012
In the third part of his series on the book of Revelation, Dr. Greg Carey asks, If Revelation brings good news for the oppressed, what's not to like? Typically Revelation has faced four major sets of objections.
Saturday February 04, 2012
Part 2 of 3 on the Book of Revelation: This might come as a surprise to many, but Revelation's interpreters have arrived at a general consensus regarding why John wrote the Apocalypse, particularly the circumstances surrounding Revelation's composition.
Wednesday January 18, 2012
Readers almost always gravitate to the same question. Why do Simon and Andrew, then James and John after them, abandon everything to follow Jesus? Mark leaves no doubt as to the immediacy of their response.
Thursday January 05, 2012
The truth is, no academic interpreter of Revelation understands the book as a roadmap for the future, much less as telling contemporary Christians that these are the last days.
Friday December 16, 2011
In their forthcoming book "Hijacked: Responding to the Partisan Church Divide," Mike Slaughter and Charles E. Gutenson (with help from Robert P. Jones) call Christians, especially evangelicals like themselves, to passionate and charitable engagement with the public sphere.
Tuesday December 06, 2011
The theological question many ask is "Why did Jesus die?" I am asking a different question: How did Jesus get himself killed? This question has theological implications, but it is not simply theological. This is a literary and historical question concerning how human actions led to Jesus' death.
Thursday November 03, 2011
It's not rare to encounter people who claim that Paul "invented" Christianity. The basic idea is that Jesus taught a pure and ethical form of Judaism that focused on God and gracious living, while Paul developed a religion that worshiped Jesus rather than God.
Sunday October 16, 2011
In previous posts I reflected on early Christians' passion to keep in touch with one another and on the diversity of early Christian communities. In this final entry I shall reflect on women's contributions to the movement.
Wednesday September 21, 2011
In this week's ON Scripture lectionary resource, Dr. Greg Carey writes, "Ezekiel speaks compellingly to the current situation in the United States. But is the prophet’s message true?"
Monday September 19, 2011
In an earlier post I reflected on how the earliest groups of Christians built community and stayed in touch with one another despite the challenges of communication in the ancient world. In this post I will address the diversity we encounter in those earliest churches.
Wednesday August 24, 2011
In this week's ON Scripture column, Dr. Greg Carey writes, "Few Christians abandon everything for the gospel’s sake. Most of us simply fit our Christianity into the open spots on our calendars. But in this passage Jesus links the life of discipleship with his own path."
Tuesday August 23, 2011
The earliest churches displayed one particularly remarkable trait: a passion to keep in touch with one another.