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A Scandalous Jesus: How Three Historic Quests Changed Theology for the Better

“Bessler makes an innovative argument about the question of the historical Jesus and he makes it well. He challenges my own skepticism about the historical Jesus, awaking me from my skeptical slumbers.” — Clark Williamson, Christian Theological Seminary emeritus

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Hosanna in the Highest

The shocking thing about the story of Jesus is that it turns common wisdom on its head.

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A Beginning-Intermediate Grammar of Hellenistic Greek

“A clear and intelligent presentation displaying a linguist’s understanding without the linguist’s jargon. Our online Biblical Greek Forum treasures this work enough that its members have labored at digitizing it and making it available to the scholarly community. We are delighted to see it back in print.” —Carl Conrad, Washington University emeritus

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – The Bible

We need to acknowledge that the final week in Jesus’ life is a blending of separate biblical accounts. In other words, the story grows and develops as each successive gospel writer imaginatively retold the story. There may be some historical memory in their stories, but the details are not historical.

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Jesus: The Ethical Teachings of a Social Deviant

Series on the Teachings of a Galilean Sage: The Sermon on the Mount, PART II

The social world order seems to erupt in chaos and violence on a regular basis these days. Regimes hold on to political power at all costs, while those who are more often than not economically oppressed demonstrate and confront government forces with little more than their willingness to stand in opposition.

If this all sounds like pure political commentary, consider this: The socio-political landscape in first century Palestine, CE, wasn’t much different. The practical means by which the imbalance of power was wielded by some over others may have been rather primitive by today’s technological standards; but the end game was the same.

The itinerant Jewish peasant teacher and sage who would long be remembered as uttering such impractical non-sense as “turn the other cheek” and “love your enemy,” was the same historical figure that was executed as an insurrectionist, not a “resurrectionist.” As I’ve put it bluntly elsewhere, Jesus didn’t die for our sins, but because of them.

But the historical Jesus’s message deviated so radically from the “you have heard it said, but I say to you” literary device employed that it constituted a world view that did not simply turn everything upside down; but attempted to right what becomes a distorted “default” assumption of human nature that too easily concedes it is only human instinct to regard ourselves as prejudicial and self-centered creeps.

Jesus’ teachings to “turn the other cheek” and “love one’s enemies” is an invitation to an inward journey of the self; and a call to reclaim our true huma n nature.

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Study Guide for the 8 Points of Progressive Christianity 2012- PDF Download

The background material and the questions of this Study Guide were designed to stimulate conversation and to raise issues that might not otherwise come up. None of these materials are intended to make a final theological, Christological, or canonical argument. The last thing we would want to do is to tell anyone how he or she should believe or approach their faith. We simply offer this as a starting point to the conversation and we look forward to the continual evolution of our faith.

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Timelines in Jewish History- a website resource

This is the web version of a Jewish history project I prepared a few years ago, “Timelines in Jewish History, 1000 BCE – 1925 CE, with Parallel Timelines in Relevant General History.”

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Take Two Giant Steps Back

Many Christians today are increasingly unsure about how to “take” the Bible. To borrow from the childhood game “Mother, May I?” I’d suggest we take two giant steps back. We need to move ourselves back to challenge two assumptions that block our comfort with the Holy Bible.

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Didache: The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles

“An outstanding resource from North America’s leading Didache scholar. A crisp, fresh translation, helpful notes, and a compact bibliography make this the ideal student’s companion to the Didache. Jefford’s unique expertise also makes it an essential item on any serious scholar’s bookshelf.”

—Stephen J. Patterson, Willamette University

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Fred Plumer on the Christian Movement and Jesus

“The truth of the matter is that the Christian movement, or what we now call the church, was always progressive. Jesus and his followers were change agents and that frankly, is what got them all into trouble.” ~ Fred Plumer

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Acts and Christian Beginnings: The Acts Seminar Report

Acts was long thought to be a first-century document, and its author Luke to be a disciple of Paul—thus an eyewitness or acquaintance of eyewitnesses to nascent Christianity. Acts was considered history, pure and simple. But the Acts Seminar, a decade-long collaborative project by scholars affiliated with the Westar Institute, concluded that it dates from the second century. That conclusion directly challenges the view of Acts as history and raises a host of new questions, addressed in this final report.

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Progressive Books Group Study Guide #6

Click Here to Download this Study Guide.   Books / Material Covered in this Study Guide: The Once and Future Faith by the Jesus Seminar Emptiness & Brightness by Don Cupitt Honest to God by John Robinson …

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Progressive Books Study Guide #5

Click Here to Download this Study Guide.   Books / Material Covered in this Study Guide: Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus by Norman Perrin There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem by Wayne Dyer Christ: A Crisis …

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How Christianity Can Change, Not Die- Preview of Theology From Exile Volume III

The Year of Mark

The political, social, spiritual, and economic history of most of the Western world has been defined by the belief articulated in the literal application of John’s gospel to personal and social piety. If Christianity is to survive with any relevance to postmodern, twenty-first century realities, the theology of condemnation and substitutionary atonement associated with the fourth gospel has to be scrapped. Not only is the future of Christianity at stake. This theology threatens the further evolution of human consciousness, and life as humanity has known it thus far on Planet Earth.

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Study Guide for the book Zealot, by Reza Aslan

The material we are exploring is controversial; the subject matter is often tied to deeply held beliefs. The intention of this study guide is not to change your mind but to challenge your beliefs. That is, our initial objective is not to believe what the author proposes but to be open to consider the validity of his proposition. In so doing, we empower our beliefs through the dynamics of our evolution of consciousness — the purpose of this discussion group.

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Evolution and Faith VII – Death of the Church- Sermon Video

I’d like to invite you into a conversation we’ve been having at the First Presbyterian Church of San Rafael these last weeks of Lent, a conversation about evolution and faith. We’re not talking about a six day creation, with God resting on the seventh. I really, really hope that argument’s over and done with. No, we’re talking about evolution as the way in which everything unfolds in all of creation. We are looking at a creation that evolves and opens towards unity, or shalom, in the presence of God.

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