Submitted by revanon t3_zu94b6 in IAmA

Every year since 2020 I’ve said that (fill-in-the-blank) year has been a doozy, and 2022 was no exception. It was definitely a doozy—I burned out on church ministry and left it for the foreseeable future, with my final Sunday coming back in May.

However! I remain an ordained pastor in good standing in my denomination, and I have discovered other ways in which to do ministry that have been very fulfilling and edifying—including this annual AMA. So, once again, ask me anything about Christianity, the church, the Bible, why the Muppets Christmas Carol will never be usurped as a Christmas Carol adaptation, anything.

My background: I’ve spent thirteen years in ministry, eleven of them as an ordained minister. I’ve served four different congregations, plus I did a brief stint as a chaplaincy intern for a hospital. I’ve seen some stuff and learned some stuff.

Usual disclaimers: I do these AMAs solely in my personal capacity—I am not a spokespastor for my employer, publisher, region, denomination, or Christendom itself. And I will not answer any question in such a way that would betray confidentiality or other professional ethical commitments I made when I was ordained.

Proof: and

Previous Christmas Eve AMAs:

(2) It's Christmas Eve, and I'm a parish pastor. AMA! : IAmA (

(2) Tomorrow's Christmas Eve, and I'm a parish pastor. AMA! : IAmA (

(2) It's Christmas Eve, and I'm a parish pastor. AMA. : IAmA (

(2) It's Christmas Eve, and I'm a parish pastor. AMA! : IAmA (

(2) It's Christmas Eve, and I'm a parish pastor. Ask me anything! : IAmA (

It's Christmas Eve, and I'm a parish pastor. Ask me anything! : IAmA (

Edit: Alright, that’s a wrap on this year’s AMA—see y’all in 2023, and have a wonderfully happy rest of the holiday season!



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dirtybabydaddy t1_j1hu408 wrote

Why do you think so many Christians in America (obviously not all, but certainly many) have been drawn to follow White Republican Jesus rather than Brown Socialist Jesus?


revanon OP t1_j1hv9k8 wrote

I answered this a bit elsewhere in my response about power and status, but to dig just a bit deeper, I think that politics in many ways comes down to the protection of one's power and status, even at the expense of financial success (like, just look at how Elon has flushed tens of billions of dollars on Twitter, but white supremacists get to tweet again).

For instance, it is more or less what Ronald Reagan promised when he campaigned on "welfare queens" against Jimmy Carter in 1980. Carter was considered a turncoat by many white Christians for enforcing the law against private segregation academies, and Reagan was pretty clearly saying that he would make Black Americans, and especially Black women, suffer without spelling it out. And even though a whole lot of people suffered economically during Reagan's first term--it was a significant recession--he won reelection in a landslide.

To me, there's a pretty direct line to draw from that to present day politicians basically running on a platform of, "I will make the people you hate suffer." And I think that many US Christians have decided that they will be good voters for those politicians first and good Christians a distant second.


TacoCommand t1_j1pge45 wrote

As someone who walked away from seminary and active duty because of the 2003 invasion, I deeply appreciate hearing a thoughtful pastoral/clerical response.


MonkeyBearDad t1_j1ht8fd wrote

What’s your theory on why so many truly hateful are drawn to Christianity? I mean, it’s so different from the teachings of Jesus and I just don’t get it.


revanon OP t1_j1hu129 wrote

I think that many people are drawn to whatever will give them power and/or status, and at least here in the States much of historically white, male-led Christianity has been wrapped up in both of those at the direct expense of pretty much everyone else.

In doing so, however, we forget that power and status were among the things with which Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness. Jesus successfully repelled that temptation. We, in large part, have not. Jesus was tended to by angels as a result. I'm not so certain that we will be.


texturediguana t1_j1kvd6n wrote

This one’s been bothering me, and your reply gave me a new perspective. Thank you.


Eastern_Pea8343 t1_j1iw7yq wrote

What are your thoughts on atheists, and do you believe they would still go to heaven, even if they don't believe, but are still good people thru out their lives?


revanon OP t1_j1j28p7 wrote

To bastardize C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, it is very likely that the cold-hearted, self-righteous prick who goes to church every Sunday is far closer to hell than the atheist.

To take him one step further in The Great Divorce, the gates of hell are locked from the inside. He suggests--and I can back this up with Scripture--that entrance to heaven may yet be possible after we die. If an atheist who left the world a better place than they found it dies still an atheist, I do not fear for the fate of their soul the way I would for the hatemongering Christian.


ExperientialTruth t1_j1kizst wrote

Bro, your AMA has been delightful to read. I'm a humanist/agnostic atheist who grew up in the Lutheran church. I have a lot of respect for religions from an academic standpoint, but came to believe that faith is not a construct that fits with my beliefs. That said, and I made this point to someone in a totally separate thread, the tenets of say, Christianity, aren't bad and are a decent model to follow, so far as to be a good person whether faith is part of the personal belief system, or not.

I'm not a believer in Pascal's Wager; however, I've known and encountered so many unsavory Christians (not to mention other faiths' adherents) who would wilfully smile and gladhand come Sunday but never lift a finger for anyone but themself and their own. Many repugnant people, whose faith in salvation is effectively moral hazard, in the same way as an insurance policy may correlate with increased risk-taking. All this said, I'd rather aspire to be a good, decent person - of no faith.

Merry Christmas & happy holidays to you and yours.


revanon OP t1_j1kpfra wrote

Obviously as a pastor I believe that I am the best version of myself within Christianity, but I also understand how so many people have experienced Christianity in such a way that it made them worse people, or made them feel worse about themselves, that they felt they could not flourish within it. I mourn that as a terrible failure of the church for which we need to make amends.

Truth, Jesus teaches, sets us free, and if the truth of your lived experience is that Christianity has done much more harm than benefit to you, then an embrace of that truth can indeed set you free. Such truth, I think, is a more reliable cosmic insurance policy than a Sinners Prayer or a Bible tract. Truth is, was, and will forever be much more than that.


NiceTea4 t1_j1nfw5l wrote

This gave me a peace in my soul I’ve been craving for ages. This is a brilliant answer. Thank you. ETA: I am interpreting from context that, regardless of our belief system, a person that genuinely wants the best for others, tries their best to be kind and giving, strives to makes a difference, tries to be kind and empathize when they can, even if they aren’t sure about whether or not Jesus is the ONLY WAY, they probably won’t be destined to burn in hell. Right? Like if he IS the only way, what happens to the rest of us that try to lead with love but are hesitant to group up with any religion?


insaneintheblain t1_j1j9e0u wrote

I think the gates of heaven may be similarly locked - we knock on heaven's door, but the handle is on the other side.


Serious-Club6299 t1_j23q3me wrote

Which part in the bible indicates this? Is it true that whoever believes in Jesus will go to heaven or must they strive to love righteously as well?


pursual t1_j1jiv8l wrote

Convenient ideology, but not in line with the Bible. As Christians get called out more often for being pricks, they adopt ideologies similar to this.


revanon OP t1_j1jr0ox wrote

I was routinely bullied as a teenager for not having a sufficiently narrow ideology for my more fundamentalist peers, so believe me when I say my ideology is anything but convenient.


Skeptical_Goat t1_j1hnmd5 wrote

What's the nicest thing anybody has ever done for you?


revanon OP t1_j1hondv wrote

Ten years ago, the church I was the minister of was broken into over Thanksgiving weekend and almost set on fire. It was a small congregation with an older, historic building, running an annual deficit and I was losing all sorts of sleep over how much cleanup and restoration would cost us. People all around town chipped in money to make sure we met our insurance deductible--and this was before Gofundme had really become a thing. It was for the congregation absolutely, but with all the worry and stress I was carrying, it felt like it was a blessing to me as well. I continue to treasure my memories of the seven years I spent as that church's pastor.

(The insurance company went on to drop the congregation as a client, so they definitely ended up on the naughty list, but that's another story for another time.)


Mikhas_donaster t1_j1hoduj wrote

Do you believe in Santa?


revanon OP t1_j1hot5c wrote

I believe in Baby Santa, which is Santa coming to the earth as an infant like Baby Jesus, in order to rid the world of Santa Baby, which is one of the worst Christmas songs ever written.


crazy4finalfantasy t1_j1i1fgi wrote

What is your honest opinion on that fact that Christmas is actually a pagan holiday? Genuinely curious, I'm a life long non believer but my family is hardcore right wing bible thumpers (no offense) and I don't know anybody else who could answer this thoughtfully


revanon OP t1_j1i6czm wrote

There is no Biblical evidence of December 25 as Christ's date of birth--Luke is able to give us a range of a couple of years, but no specific date. I much prefer the honesty of noting that reality up front, and treating today as a day to honor the creation of Christ instead of insisting that today and only today must be His birthday. The analogy I use is that we have not a shred of evidence that the earth was created on April 22, but we still designate it as Earth Day. Nor is December 25 agreed upon by all Christians as the date of Christmas--I'm matrilineally Armenian, and Armenian Orthodox Christmas is January 6, the date of the Epiphany in Western Christianity.

I think that Constantine and his successors who infused Western European Christianity with non-Christian trappings did so to make the Empire's latest choice of religion taste better going down, and that it is possible to acknowledge that history while still cherishing family Christmas traditions and honoring the incarnation of Christ today.


crazy4finalfantasy t1_j1ig7vg wrote

Wow! Incredibly thoughtful and interesting take. I agree with you about Constantine and co adapting what worked to shift the populace towards this newer (at the time) faith. Thank you for the response and the food thought! Have a lovely day


rydan t1_j1l9nyq wrote

Nobody believes the Earth was created on April 22. That day was picked because it maximized attendance from college students. Earth was created on March 25. Citation


TacoCommand t1_j1pg50v wrote

Having grown up both High and Low Church, I appreciate the honesty from a pastor.

I'm assuming by your mention of the Armenian tradition that you aren't a Calvinist


wuzzzat t1_j1kpi35 wrote

So its safe to say there were no Armenians at the Capitol?


D1stRU3T0R t1_j1jyfw9 wrote

Pastor, even tho I'm kind of good with almost everything, I lost almost all my source of happiness, and this Christmas ain't helping with anything else. Even if God helped me on all my journey, thru university (finishing rn), health and rational thinking, love, etc, I feel like I'm losing everything slowly.

Grades are still good, only thing I want to keep going to escape already, but regarding my willingness, health, loveness, almost everything going down since my last broke up, and I don't know what to do to really escape from this. I feel like I'm waiting, waiting but I don't know for what I'm waiting honestly, and I feel how my time is wasted for no reason, which as far as I remember is a sin.

By reading your AMA it made me feel a little bit happier, thank you for this, but you have any recommendations on how to get back on track again? Feeling like one missing piece, maybe love again, could fill in every other problem, but I cannot get back the missing love that I lost. Any pray or help, recommendation?


revanon OP t1_j1kalje wrote

I am genuinely grateful and humbled that this AMA has had a happy impact for you, and believe me, I empathize with feeling as though you're missing the mark or a piece this year.

One Scriptural teaching that has made a huge difference to me this year is Jesus's teaching that sometimes the right hand must be cut off to save the entire body. Prior to my burnout, I saw that as, to use John's language, a hard teaching and one I continually struggled to accept. It took jettisoning congregational ministry in order to preserve the rest of my faith to understand the meaning and importance of that teaching. Which is not to say that the loss is any easier, but I can better understand why it had to happen that way. A loss so integral to who you are, such as of love or vocation, is like losing your right hand and it is deeply, profoundly painful. But Jesus is saying that amid the pain, life is saved--possibly for whatever God has in store next. I know that doesn't take away the pain, but I've learned that I am still capable of getting back on track despite the pain. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability here--I see it and appreciate it.


Queso_Hygge t1_j1ko869 wrote

My brother and I had to make the really hard decision not to join our family for Christmas services when we came home this year. This message is really encouraging, as tough as that experience has been. For certain reasons, we just knew it wouldn't be healthy to go back in there.


revanon OP t1_j1ktfj2 wrote

I can definitely empathize with your reasons and hope that it means you are more present, healthy, and whole for your family for the rest of your Christmas visit with them this year, and just in general headed into 2023.


Hanhula t1_j1j4339 wrote

I'm not religious anymore, but we used to go to the village services as a kid and my fave thing was the Christingle. Are you aware of these? Do you do them?

What are some of your other favourite international Christmas traditions?


revanon OP t1_j1j5bml wrote

I remember making Christingles as a kid a couple of times and loving the way they smell with the orange and the cloves. My favorite Christmassy craft, however, is to make an Advent wreath, which is super easy to do if you've got access to pine or cedar twigs somehow.

A lot of my other favorite holiday traditions are culinary, from cocktails to sweets, but most of all for January 6--Armenian Christmas--my wife and I cook up a huge dinner of kufteh, lavash, bulgur salad, dolmas, etc.


Bigram03 t1_j1k6uaa wrote

Why do we see such a big change in God between the old and new testament? Also, how can a God even change if they are perfect?


revanon OP t1_j1k9qmp wrote

I would submit that there is not so profound a change in God the Creator between Testaments (obviously, there is a big change in God the Son). God is plenty loving and justice-oriented in the Tanakh (Old Testament), and God is capable of wrath in the New Testament--witness the capital punishment meted out to Ananias and Sapphira. And I am by no means accusing you of this, but the framing of God the Creator as so very different between Testaments has led to antisemitic theology in Christian circles, so it is very important for me to take care with that topic.

As regards perfection, I would say that perfection is not a static state of being, because stasis is inherently imperfect as it precludes any additional positive dimensions. God's dynamic nature is a surer path to perfection, I would imagine.


Bigram03 t1_j1kasgb wrote

I mean he sacrificed children (Egypt curses among others), and destroyed the whole world the with flood.

Then in the new Jesus starts his ministry of love, and forgiveness and compassion.

Change and growth are predicated on being imperfect and seeking improvement. Why would change needed if one was perfect? How could he even be capable of change if all knowledge is already known?


pistol3 t1_j1ks90o wrote

You are correct that God is changeless from a moral perspective. God might change in relation to things like time, for example, knowing today is Dec. 24th, and tomorrow knowing it is Dec 25th, but the God of the Old Testament was morally perfect and the God of the New Testament identically morally perfect.


rydan t1_j1la1z3 wrote

yeah, you have to remember the people in the old testament weren't good people and he was just doing what they deserved to happen to them. Unlike today where everyone is highly educated and knows right from wrong.


pistol3 t1_j1mlmth wrote

What do you mean by right and wrong? Who determines what is right and what is wrong?


KingAdamXVII t1_j1hpgun wrote

How do you think Christ would spend his book earnings if he lived today? Scatter it to panhandlers? Or donate to a specific charity?


revanon OP t1_j1hpu5m wrote

Those, and I think He'd use at least some of it to short the stock options of every billionaire so as to increase their chances of entering the kingdom of heaven above that of a camel passing through the eye of a needle.


rydan t1_j1l9urs wrote

Shorting stocks does not take money away from shareholders. In fact it tends to increase stock prices. This is why when governments step in to stop shorting it usually collapses the market. Check Gamestop as a prime example. Gamestop had more shares shorted than actually existed and this resulted in their stock price increasing nearly 100 fold. The CEO became insanely rich as a result.


KingAdamXVII t1_j1htdkf wrote

I know this is a joke but it’s a pretty stupid and lazy one. Sorry. Shorting the stocks of every billionaire would just be like giving them money. It would be much easier for him to take away billionaires’ money from the comfort of his throne in heaven.

I was really just looking for a specific charity that you recommend.


revanon OP t1_j1hw3fq wrote

I guess if that was what you were looking for then...just ask that? Like, that's a great question just on its own!

I give regularly to the United Negro College Fund. There are lots of HBCUs here in the Deep South that need and deserve more financial support, and the UNCF includes a disclosure form in its mailed appeals stating how much money raised goes towards campaign expenses and how much goes directly towards its goals, which I appreciate as a straightforward way in which to build trust.


ZLVe96 t1_j1kj47e wrote

Why is believing in Santa considered childish, but believing in Jesus is not?


revanon OP t1_j1klvxn wrote

Santa is a wintery Willy Wonka who runs an entire operation on non-union elf labor, trafficks in fossil fuels for ill-behaved kids, and mushes reindeer whose veterinary care is murky at best.

Jesus of Nazareth challenges us to sacrifice for others, even if it means all we own, so as to love others as we normally love ourselves so that we may be the very best versions of ourselves individually and collectively, in this world and the next.

You don't see a difference?


ZLVe96 t1_j1krzvr wrote

They are both fables.

Magic guys living in a place you can't see. Judging your good and bad deeds. Rewarding or punishing you.

Time to move past the fairy tales.


pistol3 t1_j1ktvhj wrote

There is excellent historical evidence that Jesus of Nazareth was a real person who lived in the first century and died by crucifixion. This is well attested in Biblical and non-Biblical sources. Jesus-mythers are few and far between in serious academic circles.


rydan t1_j1lacg8 wrote

There is also evidence that a Saint Nicholas existed and gave presents to kids. Doesn't make Santa real.


pistol3 t1_j1mlhy5 wrote

The existence or non-existence of Santa has nothing to do with whether it is reasonable to believe Jesus was physically raised from the dead. You can’t use Santa to disprove Christianity.


Oversoul_7 t1_j1mzn8n wrote

So as an ex-Christian who studied theology at a very expensive private university, the actual historical evidence that is “non-Biblical” is scant to say the least. What I have found is that there are a woefully few number of purely non-Biblical unbiased books, lectures, documentaries etc… that have sound historical evidence. Now as someone who still understands that the Bible is an important book of both historical and mythological sources, I understand why the discerning Christian is eager to include concepts and conclusions from the Bible in determining the veracity of the life of Jesus. It is really a brave and dedicated Christian who will not include the Bible in their defense of Christ’s actual life… but its what the rest of the world really needs to hear from in order to entertain the idea that He lived as an actual historically important person. ❤️‍🔥🌹


pistol3 t1_j1n9fir wrote

At a bare minimum Tacitus confirms Jesus was a real person who lived in Judea, was executed under Pontius Pilate, and had group of followers called Christians who believed in a “mischievous superstition” that broke out after his execution. I’m trying to think of a good reason not to include Biblical sources, like Paul’s epistles (7 of which are undisputed), when trying to ascertain the beliefs of those who followed this “mischievous superstition” mentioned by Tacitus, but I can’t think of any.


PhartN t1_j1kfs6g wrote

Why is it that there is not one single piece of real tangible evidence that god exists (at least none that I have seen or been made aware of)?


revanon OP t1_j1kntyg wrote

Faith isn't the same as science, and neither are meant to take the place of the other.


PhartN t1_j1kozjz wrote

To have faith that humans devised something so reliant on the faith that humans are faithful to honesty is a major flaw in the system of Christianity. I would argue that religious “faith”preys on science. The science of biology and chemistry in our DNA.

Edit: also, that’s a go away answer.


Old-Tip-4898 t1_j1l148a wrote

If you asked "Why is it that there is not one single piece of real tangible evidence that art exists?" what are people supposed to say? If I say "What about Michelangelo's 'David'?" you can just say "Michelangelo was a hack. That's not real art." and repeat the process with each new example. Because art and science aren't the same as one another and don't work the same way. Trying to come up with an example of art/theology that pleases you personally doesn't seem like a good use of anybody's time.

Besides, there are plenty of not-tangible, not-visible things we know to exist. I am not nearly as smart as this guy. But I know that even if you couldn't touch or see the plague before van Leeuwenhoek, you still died if you caught it.


texturediguana t1_j1kugks wrote

How can faith prey on science, when they regard fundamentally exclusive domains?

People argue against objective evidence from the perspective of faith, but I’d argue they are just sticking their fingers in their ears. Faith concerns belief, that which is unprovable or unknowable. Science concerns everything except that.

Edit: typos, and, I completely sympathize with your frustrations. Using religion to fight fact is counterproductive for everybody.


rydan t1_j1la4gg wrote

Why should faith have any place anywhere? Have you seen what happened to all those people that invested crypto recently? What is to say religion isn't a similar scam?


pistol3 t1_j1kspqh wrote

What do you mean by “tangible evidence”? There are plenty of philosophical arguments for God, some even using evidence from science as a premise (like the Kalam Cosmological Argument).


lenorewillow t1_j1jg4j3 wrote

What do you think of the gospel of Mary Magdalene?


revanon OP t1_j1jrn72 wrote

It is a very interesting theological text, especially given the rich history of women mystics in Christianity. Until it can be dated more precisely, though, I'm not sure it's best utilized as a historical text.


LoserBetaGirl t1_j1kdwq8 wrote

Can god microwave a burrito so hot that he, himself could not eat it?


revanon OP t1_j1kl99y wrote

I believe in a God who only makes burritos from scratch.


DigaLaVerdad t1_j1jz0sd wrote

What denomination do you belong to?


revanon OP t1_j1k4sbs wrote

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). We are a spin-off from the Presbyterians dating back to around two hundred years ago during the Second Great Awakening. I have served both Disciples and Presbyterian (PCUSA) congregations and have been very happy having a foot in both camps, so to speak.


rydan t1_j1laf76 wrote

Why is that one correct and the Presbyterians not? And what happened to all the people before you discovered the Truth and broke away?


Portarossa t1_j1kef2p wrote

What was it about this year that burned you out on church ministry? What would it take to get you back into the pulpit?

Merry Christmas!


revanon OP t1_j1ks3rw wrote

I explain several factors that led to my burnout in this Twitter thread:

I would add, on top of everything in that thread, that more and more I experienced my ethnic identity be perceived as bad and unwanted, to the extent I was told not to talk about how my ethnicity influences my faith because the church comes first. The frequency with which who I am became a weapon was more than I could bear.

I would have to think about what would lead me to return to the pulpit. I could see myself in interim ministry for pastors on sabbatical, or churches in need of a few months between pastors, but I do not know when or even if I will ever serve as a settled pastor of a church. But in the meanwhile, I continue to seek other opportunities to do ministry and live out my call.

Always lovely to see you here!


Portarossa t1_j1kunlo wrote

>Always lovely to see you here!

Well Jesus got to hang around with sex workers, so I'm just doing my bit to continue the tradition :p

I'm glad you're still doing the AMAs even after leaving the pulpit, though! The yearly 'Be kind' message is always a good reminder, whether it's religious or secular.


throwRA_17297 t1_j1kjuo9 wrote

I recently had this conversation with a friend of mine who’s about to be ordained (Catholic, doing his diaconate rn), so I’m curious if you’d say the same:

Do you think an atheist could fake their way into becoming a priest/pastor?

My friend says no, he thinks you just wouldn’t survive the seminar because your sermons wouldn’t be convincing if you don’t genuinely believe. He says they’d definitely notice.

(I say yea, it can be done. Of course there’s not really any reason to and the ethical implications are something else, but I’ve been successfully pretending to be a devout Christian for ten years now - for safety reasons, not in order to dupe Christianity or something. I’m relatively confident I could convince anyone of my belief.)

Oh also, please don’t take this the wrong way, this whole discussion was just born out of curiosity, and although I’m an atheist I think Christianity, like other religions, has a lot of fascinating facets that are worth learning about. :)


revanon OP t1_j1konig wrote

IIRC, the Unitarian Universalists do ordain atheist pastors, so an atheist would not (and should not) have to fake it there.

But more to the core of your point--yes, someone could fake their way thru the process, just as they could in other professions. There are doctors and nurses who discredit medical science, biologists who discredit life science, journalists who discredit journalism, etc. If they made it to where they are, of course there can be pastors who faked it as well. As to why that is, I think we as a society will make choices to reward fakery rather than truth for reasons of convenience. I wish that were not so, for my profession and for others.


rydan t1_j1lan3b wrote

Shouldn't god speak to you though and tell you something isn't right with this person? I know when I was in Intervarsity they'd pray over who should be on the leadership team and only pick the ones god himself appointed. Strangely it was always the popular ones.


Ok-Swimming-1702 t1_j1j5xll wrote

Is Jesus coming tonight? I’m throwing a party, a Christian party.


revanon OP t1_j1j8ipq wrote

Would you recognize Him if He did?


Oversoul_7 t1_j1myaeo wrote

Most Christians will not recognize Jesus as He is Brown, Socialist, and LGBTQ… its that last part that many Christians will not accept… But for those that do, its been an amazing time to serve. ❤️‍🔥🌹


Ct-5736-Bladez t1_j1koyw5 wrote

Hello and merry Christmas pastor,

Something I have been wondering since this evenings service and can’t get a straight answer from google and I hope you can answer this potentially complicated question.

What is the difference between all the different churches (catholic, Methodist, Protestant, United Methodist, etc etc etc); if it all Christianity then why the different churches if it is all coming from one book?


revanon OP t1_j1kquks wrote

The practice of Christianity has had many different priorities over the centuries, and most of those splits have had to do with some combination of theological, political, nationalistic, etc. priorities.

We treat other books thusly too--we highlight what we think is important and minimize what we think isn't. Like, it is Christmas Eve--think of just how many adaptations of A Christmas Carol there are.

With the church, those differences have felt much more dramatic because we so often say that salvation is at stake, persecute the losers, and so on, to our detriment and disrepute.


Ct-5736-Bladez t1_j1krrll wrote

Ah I see, that makes a lot of sense. Your analogy helped a lot; thank you very much for responding and again, Merry Christmas!


lurking_1234 t1_j1kg9jm wrote

Have you read the book Conquered Fool? If so, what did you think of it?


davearneson t1_j1l7jwx wrote

I have read that there are a lot of clergy who lost their faith after studying biblical criticism but who remain in the clergy because that is their source of income and community. What do you make of that?


JavaJan13 t1_j1ldjfg wrote

How did you come to believe in the particular version of the particular god that you do?


IAmAModBot t1_j1hqnbu wrote

For more AMAs on this topic, subscribe to r/IAmA_Specialized, and check out our other topic-specific AMA subreddits here.


XmasJ t1_j1jwdsf wrote

Hello Pastor, Merry Christmas to you and yours!

My question is: Do you believe in a pre-trib rapture?

Also, if you have one to share to keep up positive spirits in today's world...what is your favorite bible verse?

God bless~


revanon OP t1_j1k5a8z wrote

While I believe in an eventual Second Coming and Final Judgment, I do not personally adhere to any version of the Rapture.

My favorite verse varies from moment to moment and mood to mood, but one of my longtime favorites comes from Exodus 4 and was read at my ordination: Who gave speech to mortals? Who makes them speaking or not, deaf or hearing, seeing or blind? Did not I, the Lord? Go, and I will be with your tongue and teach you what you are to say.


Tripledit t1_j1kp93e wrote

Have you ever had to exorcise a demon (or something of the sort)? Can you tell us how you did it and what happened?

(Edit: added second question)


revanon OP t1_j1kpxn0 wrote

I have not performed an exorcism, merely watched Anthony Hopkins perform them in the movie Rite.


texturediguana t1_j1kxbig wrote

In what moment were you closest to giving up the faith?

And another one: why would a being capable of creating a universe do so?


revanon OP t1_j1kxz2t wrote

I don’t know what would be closest for me. I definitely needed a few months away from the church after I burned out on congregational ministry, but I never felt like giving up my faith. Maybe when my wife had a very much wanted pregnancy end in a miscarriage that required surgery? I remember sitting in the hospital chapel and having some extremely unkind things to say to God. But even then, I never deeply felt like walking away. So I don’t know.

I think God created the universe for the same reason artists create art, writers create stories, etc.: when it is who you are, you are at your sacred best when you create. Maybe God could’ve still been God without creating the heavens and the earth, but then God would not have been God the Creator.


Oversoul_7 t1_j1n2cs8 wrote

Thank you for your vulnerability and honesty. I, to have found my most important spiritual experiences and deepening of faith have occurred when I allowed myself to express my anger directly towards God.


Proud-Butterfly6622 t1_j1kxhqr wrote

Merry Christmas Pastor! Favorite Christmas treat? Favorite Christmas memory? If you have children, do they believe in Santa? Hope your holidays are filled with love!!


revanon OP t1_j1kydg5 wrote

My favorite Christmas treat is pretty much any kind of dessert…cookies, gingerbread, peppermint, you name it.

Favorite Christmas memory…probably when my parents gave me a Nintendo 64 for Christmas and my dad was up all Christmas night playing Mario Kart on it like a little kid. Also the first Christmas when I finally got to retire from playing Joseph in the church Christmas pageant after doing it more times than Chris Hemsworth has played Thor.

I do have a kid, and like me, she cares more about the cookies than about Santa right now, which suits me just fine.


Oversoul_7 t1_j1n2kp5 wrote

I love this memory of the Nintendo 64. Brought back some beautiful moments from my own childhood on Christmas Day. Thank you. 🙏🏽


Old-Tip-4898 t1_j1l20bx wrote

Fair enough on The Muppets. But is "Scrooged" fun, or just too mean-spirited right up until the end?


Salami_sub t1_j1l5q33 wrote

This AMA is a breath of fresh air. Your stance on many issues and the way you approach the subject is awesome. Coming from the opposite side of the belief spectrum I’d just like to acknowledge that. Merriest of Christmas’s to you and yours!

So what’s on the Christmas table Pastor?


marketingtheory t1_j1l6osi wrote

Merry Christmas, Pastor! Thanks for taking the time to do this. What’s an advice you feel like sharing with someone who used to be Christian but currently just searching for some meaning to life?


AggressiveSpatula t1_j1lkw3w wrote

Do you believe that Christmas is secular? I was having this discussion in another thread and from what I can tell, a lot of Christian’s and atheists are inclined to see Christmas as religiously neutral whereas a lot of Jews (myself included) see it as very religiously slanted, and can often feel otherised by it. What’s your take?


Admin-12 t1_j1lo74w wrote

Do you think Jesus would have like grilled cheese and tomato soup?


twinkle_red_star t1_j1pw97r wrote

it's written that 600 000 hebrew slaves (2-3m if u include women n children) left Egypt during exodus. I did a study of ancient cities n realised even Egyptian empire at its peak, its only about 1.5m people. There is basically no cities that size 3000 years ago to feed n support that many people, let alone slaves.

How do you justify the numbers given in Exodus?


musicmastermike t1_j1yixhm wrote

How can we put the tmas back in Christmas?


Serious-Club6299 t1_j23q9lk wrote

Is there any evidence of artifacts in the bible or recorded phenomenons?


Serious-Club6299 t1_j23qda4 wrote

How does the bible explain evolution, dinosaurs and homo sapiens? Were dinosaurs before Adam and Eve?


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Guided_by_His_Light t1_j1kohq1 wrote

  1. Please read and explain Jeremiah 10 in correlation with Christmas.

  2. What time of year do you think Jesus was born? and please support biblically why you think so.

  3. What do you believe is more important, the celebration of Jesus’ birth, or the purpose of his death & Resurrection?


revanon OP t1_j1kw071 wrote

  1. I do not believe the Tanakh (Old Testament) correlates with Christmas. The Tanakh stands and exists on its own merits, even if Christianity had never existed.
  2. As I noted elsewhere here, there is no solid Biblical evidence to support any individual date of the birth of Jesus.
  3. I believe the Resurrection is why we have all heard of Jesus, otherwise He would have been in history simply another inconvenient Israelite executed by the empire. But to make it to the Resurrection, we need the Incarnation. Without it, there is no Resurrection--just as there is no Resurrection without Crucifixion. They are all important.

Guided_by_His_Light t1_j1kzbj4 wrote

> 1. I do not believe the Tanakh (Old Testament) correlates with Christmas. The Tanakh stands and exists on its own merits, even if Christianity had never existed.

Are you always so evasive with handling Scripture? I guess I just need to lay it out there directly:

Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good.,Jer.10.2,Jer.10.3,Jer.10.4,Jer.10.5&version=KJV

Blatantly, very much points and correlates with the practices of Christmas. So, explain.

>2. As I noted elsewhere here, there is no solid Biblical evidence to support any individual date of the birth of Jesus.

That’s not what I asked. And to the contrary, there are many evidences to a specific time of year. Do you know what time of year that is?

>3. ⁠I believe the Resurrection is why we have all heard of Jesus, otherwise He would have been in history simply another inconvenient Israelite executed by the empire. But to make it to the Resurrection, we need the Incarnation. Without it, there is no Resurrection--just as there is no Resurrection without Crucifixion. They are all important.

It’s the Death & Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Full Stop. Jesus is literally the Word of God, he existed from the beginning, see John 1. The Birth of Jesus may be an honorable mention, but it does not compare to what he’s done for us. God’s performed Many miracles, in fact his Creation of All things is by far his greatest work, but we wouldn’t put that miracle ahead of His work to Save us, just we shouldn’t place the birth on par with his sacrifice for Us.

What is the Gospel about? What is the real Good News? His Birth? Or His resurrection? By what act are we saved by? It’s clearly the resurrection.


redhead-rage t1_j1kko4q wrote

How many children were sexually assaulted in the church this year?


rydan t1_j1laud4 wrote

He said pastor not priest.


Oversoul_7 t1_j1n1p4a wrote

There are plenty of examples of pastors who have been convicted of sex crimes. Although many believe its just a Catholic problem, it is not. There is a larger proportion in the Catholic church, primarily due to the way it is structured and the hierarchy of power. Christian denominations, even the most popular ones, pale in comparison to scope and numbers of Catholics. Even within individual denominations, powerful Christian groups with large numbers of the faithful, tend to not share hierarchal power with the overarching body of leaders in that group. There is only one Pope and all power stems from his position down to all Catholics. But, for example, there isn’t just one Pastor that is at the top of all Evangelicals. Because of this redistribution of power, Christian groups are more apt to make decisions at either local or district levels when it concerns allegations. This leads to less cover-ups by highly ranking individuals to avoid controversy.


redhead-rage t1_j1lwdlt wrote

You honestly think that makes a difference with these pedo freaks?


cushd13 t1_j1i111l wrote

"Ordained." Come back to Holy Mother Church and repent your heresy. Please?


revanon OP t1_j1i6ze5 wrote

I kinda almost love how politely you asked me to, that's definitely not how demands of repentance usually work on the internet.

My Protestantism is actually deeply intertwined with my ethnic identity--I'm a fourth-generation Armenian Congregationalist, and that faith identity was integral to my family's flight to the United States during the genocide during World War One. I have relatives who have chosen Catholicism, and in fact received much of my theological education from the Dominicans and Jesuits and have a deep love of Catholicism. But I was raised in a faith tradition that has given my family strength for generations and could no sooner separate that from myself than I could my ethnic identity.


cushd13 t1_j1i7b31 wrote

While I appreciate your cultural roots and your loyalty to your family, extra ecclesiam nulla salus.


insaneintheblain t1_j1j8ytz wrote

"The world is kept alive only by heretics: the heretic Christ, the heretic Copernicus, the heretic Tolstoy. Our symbol of faith is heresy"
- Yevgeny Zamyatin