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TNP7 Audience Award Winner: Nadia Bolz-Weber



[Applause] hi thanks so much it's good to be here I fly a lot and whenever I'm asked by my seatmate on an airplane what it is I do for a living I've been known to say I work for a non-profit because when I say I'm a Lutheran pastor then I have to sit through whatever reaction that they have and I'm used to people sort of looking at me suspiciously either because they're pretty sure I just lied to them or because I now represent an institution they distrust or despise which I totally got but the reaction that's the most exhausting is from the people who for some reason feel guilty or like they have to justify to me why they don't go to church which in all honestly honesty I seriously don't care like at all one of the more interesting things folks will say to me is I'm not religious or anything I just hope that being a good person is enough to which I'm like well like enough for what avoiding the punishment of burning in the eternal fires of some kind of imaginary hell I mean no wonder people act weird when I say I'm a pastor since apparently just so many of them even those who literally have nothing to do with Christianity I broke her in a moral reward and Punishment system like we're all rats and some kind of cruel cosmic lab experiment receiving shocks from God for going the wrong way and little reward pellets for going the right way in some sort of existential maze but Christianity has completely lost the plot if it makes itself out to be some kind of sin management program it has also failed because when in reality this faith is about raising the dead it's about forgiveness and reconciliation and mercy and recently in a Q&A someone asked me what I thought Jesus would think of the church were he to return today assuming I'd say something like he'd wonder what was up with vestments and organ music but instead I said I think he'd wonder why his church doesn't talk about forgiveness nearly as much as he did so when I heard we were talking about forgiveness here this year I knew I had to mention a few things number one what about forgiving ourselves I'm part of two communities who practice confession in some form Alcoholics Anonymous and the Lutheran Church and my friend Richard Rohr describes the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous as quote America's single yet very important contribution to human spirituality and one of the things you have to do is to write a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself and then read that to someone else which is never easy in 1992 at the time of my first moral inventory I myself was so filled with shame about the things I'd done so filled with self-hatred that the person I chose to hear me read it out loud was Anna a woman who was literally dying of AIDS we'd met at a 12-step meeting I was attending in New York City and the only reason I trusted her to hear all of my crap was that I was certain she'd not be alive eight or nine weeks later we sat in her tiny primary color soaked department in New York while I fidget it with the papers on which I'd handwritten all my sins and misdemeanors and she offered me some tea and after placing a red cup and saucer next to me she took her seat and her breath rattled in and out of her dying lungs as my list of affairs and crimes and betrayals rattled out of mine Nadia she said when I'd finally read the last page we've all been there and that is in the past stop carrying it with you into the present she adjusted her oxygen tube for a minute before continuing and saying it's over girl and you're gonna be okay and finally just saying out loud all the things I hid all the things for which I was ashamed all the I tried to pretend wasn't there and have them received without pause or judgment by another person was everything I needed it was the beginning of freedom number two what about a forgiving God when I first experienced the confession and absolution in church the part where everyone stands up and says what bad people they are and the pastor from the distance of the chancel and the purity of her white robe says God forgives you I thought it was total why should I care if someone says to me that some God I may or may not really even believe in has erased the check marks against me for the things I may not even think are sins this obviously is the problem with religion for so many it makes you feel bad enough that you will need the religion to help you feel good again but eventually for me the confession and absolution in liturgy came to mean everything it gradually began to feel like a moment when truth was spoken out loud perhaps for the only time all week and it would crush me and it would put me back together and we have an absolution in my church that goes like this it says God who is gracious and merciful and slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love loves you as you are as a called an ordained minister of the Church of Christ and by his authority I declare to you the entire forgiveness of all of your sins in the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit like no one says that to me in yoga class you know what like and for me like I need to hear things like that eventually I began to see grace not as when God is a good enough guy to forgive me for my failings but like as when God is a source of wholeness and redemption and healing which makes up for my failings grace to me is like God's source code it is the spirits renewable resource in confession of sins or completing a moral inventory and speaking it to another person isn't the way we earned forgiveness it's just the way to force our egos into a posture where we can receive forgiveness there's nothing you can do that cannot be redeemed by God and don't let the language get in the way like I do not have a dog in your fight so if it helps there is nothing the universe can't make right or that Buddha cannot hold or that our Lady Beyonce cannot slay whatever what blessed be your name whatever name [Applause] whatever name you use for the mystery and transcendence and self giving love and creation whatever you call it I call it God it is enough in my job I take people's confession like we have a right for private confession and absolution I take people's confession and honestly it's like so much more boring than you'd think like like seriously like often I'm like they're done and I'm like nothing personal but I'm super unimpressed by your sin like you should go out and try harder but this one time it wasn't like boring it was for real this this girl was had something super juicy and and she was really tense at the beginning and then we went through this process went through the right and there's a point where I say do you believe the word of forgiveness I'm about to proclaim to you comes from God and they say yes and I did the absolution and she relaxed and then we're like laughing and then she goes Nadia I'm so glad that you're my pastor because I just know that you've done much worse than that so a little service I offer my parishioners anyway so so I guess what I'm trying to say is like if you want to be more forgiving start with your own story there's a reason why in the 12 steps like confessing our is like the fourth and fifth step and seeking reconciliation with others happens after that it's the same reason Jesus taught his disciples to pray forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us not like he's trying to guilt us into it as if he's like wait I died for you and you can't even be nice to your little brother like God can manipulate us into being good if he can just make us feel bad enough for how much we owe him that doesn't actually sound like the God that I see in Jesus that sounds like a manipulative mother and I think the reason Jesus pairs God's forgiveness with ours is because forgiving people tend to be agents of what they've received God is the source we draw upon when we forgive I just know that my own heart is small and selfish and human and it's just not enough to get the job done which leads me to number three what about forgiving assholes I mean like I said like I don't have a naturally forgiving heart it's dark in here and I love I like love a good resentment as much as the next gal like holding on to a grudge or resentment can feel like just a big delicious feast that I can just return to again and again until I realized that I happen to be the main course but inevitably when I can't retaliate and harm the people who harmed me I just end up harming the people who love me and forgiveness was like a big deal to Jesus he he was like that guy in high school who had a garage band and talked about it like all the time it's embarrassing because so much talk about forgiveness can make this following Jesus thing feel like a Pansy's Anonymous meeting like our slogans like go ahead treat us like we'll totally forgive you and I just have like more fight in me and than that if someone does something wrong I'm not about to pretend otherwise but holding on to anger about the harm done to me doesn't actually come bat it I think it actually feeds it because it would seem that when we're sinned against when someone else does us harm that we're in some way linked to that sin like we're connected to that mistreatment like a chain through which we keep absorbing it and in the end we can actually absorb the worst of our enemy and on some level become endangered of even becoming them so what if forgiveness rather than being like a pansy way of saying it's okay for others to harm me is actually a way of drawing on God's source code of grace like drawing on it so deeply that I can wield bolt cutters and cut the chain that connects me to them like it's saying what you did was so not okay I refuse to be connected to it anymore in all fairness I should say this is just the kind of thing that got Jesus killed I feel like you should know that [Laughter] because he was going around telling people they were forgiven and he went about freeing people and cutting them loose and that kind of freedom is always considered to be threatening it just asked my friend dawn Dawn's the Lutheran pastor who lost his job for doing Dylan Klebold funeral Dylan Klebold was one of the Columbine shooters and Dawn had the gall to think that the promises committed to Dylan by God at his baptism were more powerful than the acts of evil committed by the teen I don't see that as saying that what Dylan Klebold did was okay I see that as a defiant proclamation that evil is simply not more powerful than good and that there really is a light that shines in the darkness and that the darkness cannot will not shall not overcome it [Applause] it's easier for me to think that when we forgive someone or something it's not an act of niceness it's not about being a doormat it's actually a lot more badass than that because forgiveness is nothing less than an act of fidelity to an evil combating campaign forgiveness is about being a freedom fighter and free people are dangerous people because free people are not controlled by the past free people laughs more than others free people see beauty where others do not free people are not easily offended free people are unafraid to speak truth to stupid free people aren't chained to resentments that's worth fighting for cuz I believe God makes all of it possible because God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves so if my work as a pastor and a theologian does nothing else in the world I wish it to do this one thing that those in my care may know this if you have been told that God is some kind of punishing capricious angry bastard with a killer surveillance system who is basically always disappointed with you for being a human being then you have been lied to the church has failed you and I am sorry for some reason religious folks have felt more comfortable with the punishment and reward system than with living in the source code of God's grace but friends all the grace and forgiveness and mercy and reconciliation of God is already yours draw on it and forget that hole I hope being a good person is enough that's not really even a thing [Laughter] but the mercy and love and forgiveness and reconciliation of God is a thing and it's enough all of it every single ounce of it is already yours it will not be taken away as a punishment it will not be granted as a reward it is your inheritance as freed children of God [Applause] [Applause] [Applause] [Applause] you

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Comments
  • THE FUCK! I'm left kinda speechless! We need more pastors like this! This makes me feel so much more okay, and like I'm not the only one with this kind of faith and struggling intertwined with each other. Fuck! I feel so much more loved from what she had to say, than from any other standard mainstream pastor I've heard in my life! This was SO MUCH MORE REAL AND HONEST!! Omg it was so…. Good!!

  • The ELCA is NOT Lutheran nor Christian.

    Why would anyone stay in an apostate church body? Join a Bible believing confessional Lutheran Church that actually subscribes to their confessions without apology and preaches Law and Gospel.

    The Book of Concord and the Bible are just heritage heirlooms to the ELCA. They don’t represent Lutheranism or Christendom in anyway.

  • what a breath of fresh air. it's all about love and forgiveness I was a LCMS Lutheran for over 50 + yrs.. and while I loved my church, I always felt there was something missing. and switched to ELCA Lutheran it was a really hard decision and I prayed and prayed about it.. I fell in love with the ELCA church .. it's total acceptance of all, its message of love, its non judgmental attitude.. it's inclusion of women in the clergy and church service… that's what God is all about people, it still blows my mind some of the old thoughts that were just assumed to be correct. I have never felt closer to God It might not be for all people, but for me I've finally found my home. And as we say in the Lutheran church .. God's Peace be with you!

  • Without God's grace we are nothing. I don't agree with everything she says but the message of grace and forgiveness is there.

  • Yep. She's cool. She's different (good thing)but listening, the message of forgiveness, grace through faith is there and knowing Jesus is paramount.

  • the concept is to love God above all others, things, possessions, pride, Self interest . You seek/ attempt to honor Gods purity, righthousness, love and through his Son the Christ Jesus, forgiveness of sin . Read scripture, the Holy Bible both Old and New, study the Word with others.Ask for understanding of it in prayer . My question to Nadia would be
    1. what do you believe sin of an individual to be ?
     2. Can you explain in depth what constitutes sin .?
    3. What of Christs Word of " Go and sin no more ."
    .4 Does she promote that with the same fervor as she does of being non judgemental .?

  • Well, we can name our institution all or anything we want never the less, the real question is, am i truly in the Kingdom of God? 1 cor. 6: 9-10 ; Luke 16:16 ; Mathew 25: 34-46, Please Take your time to read this powerful verses, Thank U.

  • I am worried about our younger generation listening to this very confused and irreverent woman. She is preaching her own gospel, a religion of "self." When you do not know the Word of God, you do not know Jesus. Without Jesus you have a foolish religion without the Holy Ghost, a Christianity without the risen Christ, forgiveness without repentance, grace without justification, a Heaven without a hell and a monologue with no truth. Let us worship Him in spirit and in truth because the rest is mere vanity.

  • I am worried about our younger generation
    listening to this very confused and irreverent woman. She is preaching her own
    gospel, a religion of "self." When you do not know the Word of God,
    you do not know Jesus. Without Jesus you have a foolish religion without the
    Holy Ghost, a Christianity without the risen Christ, forgiveness without
    repentance, grace without justification, a Heaven without a hell and a monologue
    with no truth. Let us worship Him in spirit and in truth because the rest is mere
    vanity.

  • I live in Christchurch, New Zealand, where a little over four days ago at least 50 people were killed in an act of hate. I was angry, with him, I wanted to see the worst possible outcome for him, but I have begun to understand how a survivor who lost his wife and children can forgive this man. Nadia, you explain it so well. I left religion a long time ago, you may have won me back.

  • If we put anything above Jesus we lose the plot. Even if we put good things like love, peace and happiness above Jesus.

    Jesus isn't cool. He isn't uncool. He is mighty to save. He renews our hearts and minds. He is holy, he wants us to be holy. When we have the Holy Spirit in us we want to talk about Jesus Jesus Jesus! Name above all names.. Even Beyoncé.

  • Wow. So many led astray. Just have some basic New Testament knowledge to see the Errors. Her words are mixed with Truth and Error. Do you not alter the words of Christ.

  • Actually most churches do talk about forgiveness if there sermon is about a sin it always ends in forgiveness you act like churches are always telling you your horrible there not it seems to me you do not finish a "real" sermon instead you turn to the next cool Ted talk. Forgiveness is the definition of the church. Yes the church has at times done horrible things but that isnt the true church it's when the church becomes like the pharisees and are righteous that's when it's bad but most churches arent that. Just becuase they speak a hard truth doesnt mean they dont end it in jesus. Just saying

  • Who is this human piece of garbage? Would it be possible for someone to hold her head under some holy water until the bubbles stop? She looks like Tim Burton in drag.

  • 😟 "And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book."

    -Revelation 22:19

    You can't make the Bible say what you want it to. If you don't agree with it then call yourself what you are…an Atheist. God is the Bible!

    "In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God."

    -John 1:1
    Yes there is a heaven and a hell…God knows we are flawed and that's why He sent Jesus to die for our sins. You don't go to hell for sinning and making mistakes. You repent and change your ways from that. You go to Hell by rejecting Jesus as your lord and savior.
    Jesus said this…
    "Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."
    -Matthew 25:41

  • What a wonderful and life giving message. When preaching the Gospel is stripped of religious trappings and traditions and false condemnations people are healed.

  • [Talking about forgiveness]: “This is what got Jesus killed, I just want you to know that.”

    Um no. What got him killed was proclaiming to be the Messiah, and God Himself. To the pharisees and priests, this was blasphemous, and worthy of death.

  • There is just enough truth mixed in with lies to seriously deceive those who have little to no knowledge of the Word of God.

  • The apostle Paul asks in Romans 6, “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can keep on showing us more and more kindness and forgiveness?

    Of course not! Should we keep on sinning when we don’t have to? For sin’s power over us was broken when we became Christians and were baptized to become a part of Jesus Christ; through his death the power of your sinful nature was shattered. Your old sin-loving nature was buried with him by baptism when he died; and when God the Father, with glorious power, brought him back to life again, you were given his wonderful new life to enjoy.”

    Please read this entire chapter, Nadia.

  • was Jesus the most gracious man who ever lived on the earth when he addressed the prostitute, "neither do i condemn you, go and sin no more"? I think so…so why does the pastor Nadia Botz-Weber is so eager to prove she is not condemning the "sinners", though she is constantly condemning Churches for their attitude toward "sinners", but never mentions go and sin no more, like Jesus did?

  • Try reading Marxianity by Brannon Howse for a full explanation of this sort of thing. It goes a lot deeper than you’d think.

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