Category Archives: Faith Challenges

PUTTING CONTROVERSIES ASIDE FOR THE SAKE OF FAITH

Every religion contains diverse understandings of both the personhood and the message of its founder. This should in no way, however, undermine the integrity and rejoicing with which each religion offers its understandings to the world. Buddhism, for example, includes … Continue reading

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MORALITY, SPIRITUALITY, AND FOLLOWING THE RULES

You’ve heard it countless times: “if we make an exception for you, we will have to make it for everyone.” Maybe you’ve even said it to someone yourself. The thinking behind this statement seems to be that making an exception … Continue reading

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DOES GOD HAVE TO OBEY THE RULES?

In most religions, stories abound of gods and goddesses doing things that thoughtful believers and inquirers find morally repugnant and ethically indefensible. What kinds of things? Well, for one, demanding peoples’ loyalty while remaining indifferent to their suffering. Or inflicting … Continue reading

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IS IT POSSIBLE TO GIVE UP ON GOD?

Not without thinking hard about what a God should be like, if there is one. Not without giving up being angry that there isn’t. And not without giving up hope that there still might be. Not everyone meets the first … Continue reading

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HOW TO BE FAITH-FILLED WITHOUT BEING RELIGIOUS

Too often, “being religious” amounts to little more than being loyal to a particular religion’s institutions and traditions. And even worse, to those alone — other religions don’t count. Nor do those who subscribe to them. There is an important … Continue reading

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“COME NOW, AND LET US REASON TOGETHER”: IS IT STILL POSSIBLE?

In politics, rational discussion may be an idea past its prime. Reasoning together about social issues has become more pretense than inquiry, and its end winning rather than discovering. But what about in religion? After all, this invitation comes from … Continue reading

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HOW NOT TO HONOR A RELIGION’S FOUNDER

For all of their differences, many of the world’s religions share at least two important beliefs about their respective founders. The first belief is that he experienced a uniquely transforming relationship with the Sacred. Whether it was to Moses, Zoroaster, … Continue reading

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CHILDISH FAITH AND GROWN-UP FAITH: HOW BIG IS THE DIFFERENCE?

The religiously correct definition of Yahweh/Elohim/Abba/God/Allah goes something like this: the one supremely perfect, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, unchangeable creator and sustainer of all things. It takes a lot of work to understand this, and even more to believe it. Which … Continue reading

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WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WHEN YOU CAN’T BELIEVE WHAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE?

A lot of readers have asked me this question lately. They’ve also shared with me two answers to it that they have found especially unhelpful. One answer goes like this: pray harder for the wisdom to understand the belief in … Continue reading

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DOES FEARING GOD BUILD A STRONG FAITH?

Thoughtful interpreters of religious ideas have always understood the fear of God to mean an attitude close to respect and even awe, e.g., “the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 1:7) But many believers — and even more non-believers — see it … Continue reading

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