Category Archives: Christianity

Organizations and individuals who self-identify as “Christians.”

Vegetarianism and Christianity

Jesus in the temple (Greco)

If you want to promote vegetarianism among Christians, there are basically two schools of thought.  (1) Some people cite the Bible, admit that Jesus wasn’t vegetarian (Luke 24:42-43), but say that vegetarianism is still a good idea because it is the original best diet for humans (Genesis 1:29), and Jesus wouldn’t like factory farming even if he ate meat.  (2) Others cite historical evidence and argue that Jesus disrupted the animal sacrifice business in the temple (Matthew 21:12-13, John 2:13-16 and parallels), was vegetarian himself, and taught vegetarianism (the views of James in apostolic times, and the Ebionites thereafter). Continue reading

The Jesus movement and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Qumran, Cave 4 (Effi Schweizer)Here’s what James Tabor says about the connection between the Jesus movement and the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran:

“The Jesus movement can best be described as a radical, nationalistic, anti-religious establishment, messianic, apocalyptic, baptizing, new covenant, wilderness-way movement–and that is precisely how the community behind the Dead Sea Scrolls can be described as well!”

So, is this right?  Continue reading

The Essenes and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Qumran, Cave 4 (Effi Schweizer)

Qumran, Cave 4 (Effi Schweizer)

James Tabor, whose writings never cease to challenge those thinking about the historical Jesus, has argued in a recent blog that the Dead Sea Scrolls were written by the group of Essenes as described by Josephus and Philo (the “classical Essenes”).  (He also says that the Dead Sea Scrolls were written by the group who occupied Qumran before and after the time of Jesus, which I’m not challenging.)  Tabor states “the parallels between the Qumran sect and the ‘Essenes’ as they are therein described [by Josephus and Philo] are overwhelming.”

The parallels between the Qumran sect and the Essenes of Josephus and Philo are not overwhelming.  Continue reading

Walter Wink

Walter Wink, 1935 - 2012

Walter Wink died on May 10.  The New York Times called him “an influential liberal theologian whose views on homosexuality, nonviolence and the nature of Jesus challenged orthodox interpretations.”  He was Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York.  He wrote a number of books, some of which won awards.  He also wrote the foreword for my book The Lost Religion of Jesus, which is his main connection to my life.

Walter Wink was someone who saw the connection between Christianity and real life.  An article he wrote for “The Fourth R” describes his life perhaps better than the New York Times obituary.  Here is someone who takes his life’s work seriously, seeks to connect scholarship to the real world, and sought to push scholars in that direction, as a lot of people would likely tell you.

What is likely less well known is that he also realized that Jewish Christianity and the Ebionites posed a fundamental problem for historical Jesus scholarship, and sought to connect that to the real world. Continue reading

Is the Gospel of Thomas Vegetarian?

Blessed is a lion that a man eats,
because that lion will become human.
Cursed is a man that a lion eats,
because that lion will become human. (Gospel of Thomas 7)

The Gospel of Thomas, discovered at Nag Hammadi, doesn’t contain anything obviously vegetarian.  In saying 12 Jesus advises the disciples to follow “James the Just” after he is gone.  Saying 71 has Jesus saying, “I will destroy this house,” which reminds us of the gospel sayings about the temple being destroyed.  Both of these hint indirectly at vegetarianism.  Continue reading

The Fish Stories in the New Testament

One of the big problems that people have with the idea that Jesus was a vegetarian is the “fish stories” in the New Testament — stories in which Jesus distributes fish as food to people, or in one case actually eats fish.  If Jesus was a vegetarian, then what are these stories doing in the New Testament?

We can get an important clue as to what they are doing in the New Testament if we take a quick look at what their effect is and has been.  From the point of view of a meat-eater, these fish stories are very convenient.  Jesus ate fish, therefore eating meat must be all right.  Continue reading

Religion and Vegetarianism — Some Surprising Results

Jesus in the temple (Greco)

Rachel MacNair, Ph.D., who has done some pioneering research on the psychology of vegetarianism, recently gave a talk on religion and vegetarianism at the International Peace Research Association conference in Australia. O. K., I wasn’t there, but I did have a chance to talk to Rachel about her research (which I hope will be published soon), and several conclusions about religion and vegetarianism stand out. (You can visit Rachel’s web site at Continue reading

Priestly Pedophilia: A Systemic Evil

By Clem De Wall

Except for the Catholic hierarchy, few have been satisfied with Vatican excuses for priestly pedophilia. Instead, there are outcries for reparations, admissions of guilt and swift punishment. Some advocate reforming the celibacy rule. I would go further, judging clerical pedophilia to be a systemic evil, curable only by abolishing the system.

Illnesses are not cured by masking symptoms, but by attacking their cause. What is it about priesthood that allows, or even encourages pedophilia? Let’s look at the belief system supporting it. Continue reading

Eating at the Table of Demons

Jesus drives out the demons

One of the critical issues in the early church was the “table of demons.” Both the Ebionites and Paul discuss this with great energy. So, what is the “table of demons” and should we avoid eating there?

Paul discusses the table of demons at I Corinthians 10:21: “You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.” Continue reading

Why was Jesus killed?

Just before his death, Jesus went into the temple and disrupted the business supporting the temple operations, by driving out all those who were buying and selling the sacrificial animals. It was this act which led to his arrest and crucifixion.

Jesus was killed because he was a palpable and physical threat to public order. That public order was embodied in the temple in Jerusalem, where animals were constantly sacrificed to appease the desires of a bloodthirsty God — or to appease the priests, depending on your point of view. But why did Jesus do this? Continue reading

About Shemayah Phillips and

The Lost Religion of Jesus, by Keith Akers - coverFrom time to time I get questions about a negative review of my book, The Lost Religion of Jesus, posted on by Shemayah Phillips, as well as about his web site, [UPDATE 2021: the web site “” has ceased existence and has now been taken over by someone else not interested in the Ebionites; it was last functioning during 2016.]  Phillips says that my book is terrible, suggests that the Ebionites were not vegetarian, and that I’m advocating gnostic views!

Phillips’ review is cast as a response to the vegetarian issue: “Firstly, it is an apologetic book for vegetarianism with a religious ‘seal of approval’ applied . . .  the author’s previous loyalty to vegetarianism and non-violence . . . makes him jump at questionable sources identified as ‘Jewish-Christian’ which he lumps all together as ‘ebionite.'”

What is going on here? Have I got the Ebionites completely wrong? Were the Ebionites really vegetarian? (And, worse yet, am I really “gnostic”? Are my parents reading this?) Continue reading

Take This Bread — review

Take this Bread is an absolutely marvelous book. O. K., the author isn’t vegetarian (more about that later), but this book really conveys, better than anything else I’ve read recently, what it means to be a “believer.” If you want to get into Christian mysticism (a term that I do not recall she ever uses), but can’t handle St. John of the Cross, I’d really take a look at this book first. Belief is not something that happens to the mind, as if you have a vision of Jesus out of nowhere saying “hey, believe in me, already,” or read Thomas Aquinas and discover that he really does have the long-sought-after knock-down proof of God’s existence. Continue reading

“The Origin, Fate, and Aim of Vegetarianism” by Carl Skriver

Carl Anders Skriver (1903 – 1983)

[Update July 6, 2021: This is Carl Skriver’s lecture at the 1982 World Vegetarian Congress in Ulm, Germany; he died in 1983. Translation is by Michael Skriver, his son. Skriver is the author of “The Forgotten Beginnings of Creation and Christianity.” A reader kindly pointed out that this article, which I had originally put on my web site in 2005, had inadvertently been dropped, and I am now adding it back in.]

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends:

I had the honor to speak to you last time in Ronneby, Sweden, in 1973; and in 1965 in Swanwick in England. I’m very glad to meet you now again in Germany. In my long life, dear vegetarian friends have died, while others have been born or converted to vegetarianism. I still miss many faces from the “old guard”: Mr. Rudd, Mr. Mankar, Dr. Robinson, Dr. Røgler, and others. I greet both the old and the new friends and all fellow vegetarian workers. Continue reading

Is The Lord of the Rings Christian?

Lord of the Rings Minas Tirith LOTR-ROTK-Minas-TirithNote: this essay gives away several key elements of the plot of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. If you haven’t read the books or seen the movies and don’t want the plot spoiled, don’t read this essay.

Is The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) Christian in its intent or effect?

Various arguments could and have been brought forward to answer this question. Continue reading