"We tend to equate hospitality with parties and social gatherings or gracious resorts and expensive restaurants. To us hospitality is an industry, not a practice, one that summons Martha Stewart to mind more quickly than Jesus Christ. But to ancient Christians hospitality was a virtue, part of the love of neighbor and fundamental to being a person of the way. While contemporary Christians tend to equate morality with sexual ethics, our ancestors defined morality as welcoming the stranger.
Unlike almost every other contested idea in early Christianity, including the nature of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity, the unanimous witness of the ancient fathers and mothers was that hospitality was the primary Christian virtue. From the New Testament texts that unambiguously urge believers to 'practice hospitality' through St. Augustine's works in the fifth century, early Christian writings extol hospitality toward the sick, the poor, travelers, widows, orphans, slaves, prisoners, prostitutes, and the dying."
"When Christianity entered into the world, people were not Christians, and the difficulty was to become a Christian. Nowadays the difficulty in becoming a Christian is that one must cease to become a Christian."
"The Christian faith, while wildly misrepresented in so much of American culture, is really about death and resurrection. It's about how God continues to reach into the graves we dig for ourselves and pull us out, giving us new life, in ways both dramatic and small."
"Most Christians were trained to think that we would be punished for our sins, but I’ve come to believe we are punished by our sins."
"The Hebrew scriptures contain a record of Israel’s diverse and changing views concerning God, where the experience of the Babylonian Exile was a major turning point in the emergence of monotheism (the belief that only one God exists) out of monolatry (many gods exist but only Yahweh is worthy of worship). [...]
Studying the Bible and Israel’s past is a regular reminder to me that my ultimate object of trust is God, not the Bible (or how I understand the Bible). That’s not knocking the Bible. It’s acknowledging that the Bible—even where it talks about God—is a relentlessly contextual collection of ancient literature that takes wisdom and patience to handle well, and in doing so drives us toward further contemplation of God here and now."
"Getting the Bible right and adhering to it in a literal fashion is not the goal of Christian education, it's how to think Christianly in the world that you're in."
"...how vital the community is for how we perceive God. And when they mishandle you [...] it's not just because your social network disintegrates and we all need one, maybe it's because we actually perceive God through each other, it hurts, and it's hard to recover from that. If there's a commercial for the community nature of the Christian faith (not the individualistic nature), that's it."
"Salvation is not a private deal with God. We are bound by the action of God in Christ to the entire creation that 'waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God' (Rom. 8:19). Any understanding of salvation that separates us from others is false and sooner or later cripples our participation in what God in Christ is doing in history, saving the world."
"My personal attitude toward atheists is the same attitude that I have toward Christians, and would be governed by a very orthodox text: 'By their fruits shall ye know them.' I wouldn't judge a man by the presuppositions of his life, but only by the fruits of his life. And the fruits — the relevant fruits — are, I'd say, a sense of charity, a sense of proportion, a sense of justice. And whether the man is an atheist or a Christian, I would judge him by his fruits, and I have therefore many agnostic friends."
"Prayer is the breath of a new-born soul, and there can be no Christian life without it."
"Christianity is not about avoiding punishment or gaining reward. It is about loving God and loving what God loves. And what God loves is the whole of creation."
"Christianity is Christ living in us."
"I think Christians should argue more, because it's healthy. They don't do it as well as the Jews do. If we look at the New Testament, Jesus is frequently arguing with fellow Jews, and what that means is it puts him right in the heart of Judaism rather than takes him out of Judaism. If you look at rabbinic literature, post-Biblical Jewish literature, it's "Rabbi This says this, rabbi That says that, some third rabbi says some third thing, the people do what they want, and they've been arguing over this stuff for two thousand years. The reason we can do it so well is because at the end of the day, we're all still Jews.
Jews never settle down just to be a religion and just to be a belief system. Jews have always kept an ethnic component or a people-hood component to who we are. So our arguments take place in the family, and just as a relatively healthy family will have certain disagreements, at the end of the day, you're all still brothers and sisters and parents and children.
What happens in Christian communities is if you argue too much, if you disagree too much, you put yourself out of the community, because if you get into a tradition by belief you get out by belief. I think if Christians took baptism more seriously, they'd be able to argue better. Because baptism means you're in the system, and it's not something that washes off."