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What do you think God does these days?

The Rev. Penny Ellwood, Blue Springs, Mo., campus pastor, United Methodist Church of the Resurrection: Last Sunday afternoon as I was leaving our church, I noticed a new, 4-foot cross sculpture appeared to be tilting a bit. When I walked out to its ring of river rocks, a small bird began sharply trilling at me.

Is it enough to be good and spiritual, or must one be religious?

The Rev. Raymond Davis Jr., Greater Corinthian Church of Christ Non-Denominational, Kansas City, Mo.: In the gospels (Matthew 19:16-25), Jesus encounters a man inquiring about eternal life. He wanted to know what good thing he could do to have eternal life.

Old Testament refers to missing texts; is it incomplete?

The Rev. Betty Hanna-Witherspoon, Ebenezer AME Church, Kansas City, Mo.: African Methodists respond “No.” We say “No” because these books that are referred to in the historical writings do not keep us from the reaching the ultimate purpose of the Holy Scriptures.

What can I do if I can’t forgive someone who has hurt me deeply?

Duke Tufty, Unity Temple on the Plaza, Kansas City, Mo.: If you can’t forgive someone who has hurt you deeply, then you can’t forgive them.

Why do pilgrimages hold a place in religion?

Syed E. Hasan, Ph.D., Midland Islamic Council: In most religions, worship and prayers comprise two sets of rituals: those performed individually, and the ones offered collectively.

Voices of Faith: Are ancient dietary restrictions relevant in the modern world?

Kansas City Star

What is near-death experience light?

Pastor Emeritus Raymond Davis Jr., Greater Corinthian Church of the Christ, Kansas City, Mo.: Martyrs of the faith are known to have near-death experiences. But the kind where the person sees a “light” while in the midst of dying is not treated in Scripture. That’s not to say that such an experience has never been experienced. Having never been in such a situation, I don’t reject such a claim; neither do I endorse it. It’s a gray area for me.

Voices of Faith: Why do people attribute their good luck to the grace of God?

The Rev. Betty Hanna-Witherspoon, pastor of the Ebenezer AME Church, Kansas City, Mo.: A definition of grace is “an undeserved favor or gift; the undeserved forgiveness, kindness and mercy that God gives us.” African Methodists turn to Romans 3:23-24 to understand the free gift of salvation as grace, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Voices of Faith: Why do Christians get so excited over whether Jesus had a wife?

The Rev. Pat Rush, Visitation Church of Kansas City, Mo.: Because there is so much about Jesus’ personal life that is untold by the gospels, we refer to this as his “hidden life.” Since the earliest times, people have tried to imagine details about that period. Early examples are found in the apocryphal gospels, works that did not make it into the Christian New Testament canon.

Voices of Faith: Does God control who becomes our leader?

Rabbi Mark Levin of Congregation Beth Torah, Overland Park, Kan.: The Bible demonstrates how God’s greater purposes are achieved through the events of history. For instance, Joseph’s descent into Egypt with the entire Hebrew people achieved the slavery predicted in Genesis 15, but the same results might have occurred with a different series of events. Otherwise, Joseph’s brothers would not have been culpable for their deeds. As Joseph says at the end of Genesis, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”

Voices of Faith: How can one keep faith during depression?

The Rev. R. L. Baynham, pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church, Kansas City, Mo.: According to the “Wordbook” dictionary, depression is “a mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity.” Everyone in this world has at one time or another experienced this human feeling. Some are temporary and some are long-lasting.

Voices of Faith: Is it Scripture that the man is always the head of the household?

The Rev. Holly McKissick, pastor, Peace Christian Church, Kansas City and Overland Park, Kan.: No hats at the dinner table; call if you’re going to be late. Just as households have rules, so do cultures. Sometimes they are merely practical: Take off your shoes when you come in. Sometimes, though, they reflect power imbalances: Women do not speak until spoken to; slaves eat in the back room.

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