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Spokane’s Religion News Roundup: Feb. 24

By Tracy Simmons SpokaneFAVS.com Since you’re a dedicated SpokaneFAVS reader you already know more than 300 Buddhists swarmed to the city last weekend for the 65th annual Northwest Buddhist Convention. But did you know that it was a convention for Shin Buddhists? Do you even know what a Shin Buddhist …

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Whitworth professor to discuss challenges in contemporary Africa

The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa, religious violence in Nigeria andthe indictment of four high — profile Kenyans for post — election violence will be the topic of the second lecture at Whitworth University's 55th annual Great Decisions Lecture Series on March 8. Whitworth Assistant Professor of Political Science Megan Hershey …

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‘BUBBA’ and other new names rejected by Southern Baptists

By Adelle M. Banks Religion News Service As the Southern Baptist Convention recently weighed changing its name, denominational leaders were bombarded with suggestions. Hundreds of them. Most suggestions avoided the word “Southern” but one hinted at the denomination’s regional flavor: Baptist Ultimate Bible Believing Alliance, or BUBBA. In the end, …

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Meet R. Skyler Oberst, our pluralism writer

R. Skyler Oberst, a student at Eastern Washington University, recently returned to Spokane after interning for the Pluralism Project at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., where he worked closely with Diana Eck and other faith leaders. He wanted nothing to do with religious diversity, until one day he saw attackers …

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Meet Daya Goldschlag, our Zen writer

Daya Goldschlag was born and raised in the Bronx in a Russian-Hungarian-Italian Jewish family. When she was 19 years old she spent almost a year hitchhiking around Europe and the Middle East including Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan and Israel. “It opened my culturally-sheltered eyes to see how differently people’s lives …

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Is homosexuality OK in Jesus’ eyes?

Dr. Heller,

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I have a question about something that was brought up at Judy Shepard’s recent presentation on her son Matthew’s death. Her son was gay and was killed by two other young men out of hate for homosexuals. Judy is a Christian, and with a son whose sexual orientation is by the Bible’s definition a sin, this woman is caught between love for her son and the truth of the Bible. At one point in her presentation a question was voiced over how she felt about this contradiction. Her answer confused me. She said, “the New Testament gives us permission to move away from the teachings of the Old Testament.” She believes that Jesus’ call to love our neighbor regardless of their sins makes homosexuality OK. What are your thoughts on this? I’m a bit confused on how to feel about homosexuality and how to love these people without accepting their way of life as one approved by God.

Thanks for any insight on this issue,

- Travis

Your message raises a question on the way we very often come to a conclusion on biblical texts. Is it my personal experience that determines how we should interpret texts? Or does a right interpretation of a biblical text depend on interaction between the author of the text, its reader and the larger Christian community? Martin Luther went with the first option. Only personal experience counts. This choice led to the Reformation and a splitting up of Christians in thousands of different denominations.  The Roman Catholic and the Orthodox churches continue to stick to principles of biblical interpretation represented by the second option.

It’s not my goal to displease the lady whose son died in such horrible circumstances. But the harshest words on homosexuality can be found in the New Testament (Romans 1:26-27). Yes, according to God’s law and Jesus’ new commandment (John 15:12), we are called to love one another as Jesus loved us. Now, what does “to love” mean? It does not mean to disregard sin, any sins, including homosexual acts. Homosexuality is a human condition just as heterosexuality is. Both, homosexuals and heterosexuals, have a sinful nature; both can sin. To love people is not to accept whatever they do or hold. To love as Jesus loved is to show homosexuals and heterosexuals a path to life where all are offered healing from sin, including homosexual acts and sexual sins related to heterosexuality.  This lady just wants homosexuality to be OK! Does she want she and for her son to be totally healed from whatever sin? That’s the ultimate question.

- Karin

Dr. Karin Heller is a professor on the theology faculty at Whitworth University. Her blog, Table Talk with Dr. Karin Heller, features her responses to questions that students have asked her over the years.  Check back each week to see new posts, and if you have a question leave it in the comment section below.

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