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MA Biblical Studies

One year ago this week, I shared publicly that I might be losing my faith.

I was tired of pretending, tired of double-thinking everything I said or wrote or posted in order to maintain a facade of “faithful Christian.” After months of wondering how I would say it, the post came together in one day. I never used the word “deconstruction,” and I never said I wasn’t a Christian. I walked the middle line, but walked it confidently. When I clicked “publish,” I closed my laptop, hopped in the car with a friend, and drove to the beach at White…

Christian leaders are saying people who deconstruct or leave their faith do so because they don’t trust God, they are caught up in the ideologies of the world, they are angry at the church, or they never truly knew and experienced Jesus.

That is not my story. This is.

I didn’t want this. I was so in love with Jesus. I had a relationship. He was my best friend, my foundation, my motivation, my waking and final thought. I prayed without ceasing because I felt Him with me in every moment. I started the prayer ministry at my Christian university…

What if gender bias in the Bible nearly erased a central part of Jesus’ gospel message?

The story of the woman anointing Jesus is one of the few stories present in all four Gospels. It is also the only story that Jesus ever says will be told “wherever the gospel is preached.” Why did Jesus see the story as so important? And why don’t we usually see it that way today?

Mark and Matthew were the earliest Gospels. In them (Mark 14:3–9, Matthew 26:6–13), the story goes like this:

  • An unnamed woman
  • Anoints Jesus’ head
  • Immediately before Passover
  • Jesus says…

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Fear not; I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. (Luke 2:10)

I grew up immersed in the Biblical nativity story. I remember spending Christmas Eve out in our barn with our sheep, pondering the beauty of Christ’s birth in a stable. I imagined myself as Mary, afraid and unsure but faithful. Year after year, I delved eagerly into the themes of hope, joy, peace, and love found in every verse and every prophecy. And for me, Immanuel — God with us — was the center of everything.

But suddenly now I find myself…

Photo by Maria Oswalt on Unsplash

If you’re approaching the November election anything like I am, you’re desperate not to vote for Trump and yet struggle to actually vote against him because of one issue: abortion.

I grew up staunchly pro-life because I believe unborn children are individuals worth protecting. Throughout my life, you would have found me praying outside abortion clinics, giving speeches on when life begins, volunteering at pregnancy resource centers, writing letters to the editor, and helping in my university’s pro-life club. I still want to see an end to abortion. …

Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

Hello, friend. I see you. We’re standing here together in the middle ground.

If you’re anything like me, you probably didn’t expect to be here; it wasn’t in my five-year plan. Maybe you’re relieved. Maybe you’re terrified. Maybe you’re some of both. I sure am.

If you’re anything like me, you grew up with internalized ideas about “those people,” people that maybe we are now. Those internalized ideas have caused me to make a lot of assumptions about myself, and they’ve caused a lot of people to make assumptions about me.

So wherever you’re at in your faith journey, I…

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Hell. Possibly one of the most influential ideas in history, holding the power of eternal punishment for believing the wrong things. As an evangelical teenager I found myself sobbing on the floor as I realized how many people were going to hell every moment, and how little there was I could do about it. My tears dried and I got up off the floor, but I couldn’t escape the “reality” of hell and still maintain my loyalty to the Bible. Could I?

In my Christian university, a professor leading a group discussion slowly raised the idea of universalism. The class…

A year ago I faced yet another tragedy, and it felt like the straw that broke the camel’s back. I looked to the sky in agony but couldn’t bring myself to pray. And I haven’t since.

A year ago, I felt so unprepared for what I was facing: letting go of everything I thought I knew about God, about reality, about hope. I was terrified. I was in a master’s of biblical studies; I studied harder, and yet the things I kept learning confirmed that nothing was as I had thought. On the “good” days I thought this was a…

Photo by Jeppe Mønster on Unsplash

I still feel a bit in a daze from the past few weeks. The aftermath of the death of George Floyd has taken a surprising toll on me, and for most of it I haven’t been able to put a finger on why.

Yes, I am horrified by what has happened to the black men and women who have lost their lives in the last few weeks, and that has weighed on me. I have spoken out, and that has weighed on me. I have listened to the many, many stories black people are sharing to help us understand modern…

Shelby Bennett

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