Welcome to Crucible of Thought! I'm Brandon, and I was a member of conservative evangelical congregations for 45 years. This blog is about things that I've learned since 2020, as I've been undergoing a process of "deprogramming," "deconstruction," "reconstruction"... pick whatever term you want, but basically a process carefully examining many different aspects of my social, political, and religious beliefs to see what really actually aligns with the Bible and specifically the teachings of Jesus, more than what aligns with the host of dogmatic statements I inherited in years of church training. I'm not trying to persuade anyone: I'm sharing my process, in the hopes that it inspires and enlightens others. I welcome you to join me as we move forward in our faith together.

The Conditional Power of Testimony

What’s the difference between a powerful testimony, and a sad story that we perceive as condemning the one who experienced it? Often, it’s only our dogma. We listen and swing from “that’s amazing” to “that’s horrible” in moments, based on our preconceptions of how valid that story is. Maybe, though, we can learn quite a bit from people whose stories don’t fit our existing framework of understanding.

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The Minions of P.T. Barnum

P.T. Barnum is famously reputed to have said “there’s a sucker born every minute.” I’d add a modern corollary that says “there’s a grifter born every minute to feed those suckers,” especially in today’s social media world. The recent bridge collapse in Baltimore brought plenty of Barnum’s minions out of the woodwork. What can we learn from this?

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Yes, Them Too

Is God’s salvation truly limited to those with right beliefs? Or is Gal 2:20 better translated as living within the faithfulness of God’s son? One puts the burden on us to believe correctly. The other rests in the completed work of Jesus. And that covers everyone, not just those who believe the right things.

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