Hi everyone! We are looking for dedicated volunteers to lead and participate in local study/discussion groups on religion, history and theology. You can find local groups and learn more about starting your own by following this link …read more
Calling all community groups and churches! We are looking for Spring 2015 hosts for Westar’s regional programs, called Jesus Seminars on the Road (JSOR). JSORs bring religion scholars into conversation with interested non-specialists across North America. Led …read more
All night I lay on my bed
I sought him whom my soul loves.
I sought him but did not find him.
Mary, we did not know you.
Kept hidden for centuries you were despised,
A Queen not seen, under harlot’s disguise.
Mary, we did not know you.
The lectionary-based TEENTEXT GRADES 9-12 resource helps older youth connect the text on the page with events in their daily lives. These resources guide students into the text, and through a series of open-ended, text-related questions, they begin to see the Bible as a vital, dynamic relevant resource–one that can inform them throughout their lives. These resources enable any interested and committed adult to facilitate the discussions, since the leaders aren’t expected to have THE answer, or to be Biblical scholars or theologians. They simply need to be good listeners and open to their own spiritual growth. This process also allows the students to share leadership.read more
The idea of a second coming of Christ is a mystery, if not explicitly controversial. Jesus’ followers apparently believed he would return during their lifetime after he was crucified. When that didn’t happen, later followers gradually changed the belief into an indefinite “someday.” After two thousand years of waiting, most Christians no longer look for it to happen in their lifetimes and acknowledge that Jesus may have been speaking metaphorically about his return. It is just as likely that those words were put into Jesus’ mouth by the gospel writers themselves. Wishful thinking?read more
Bonhoeffer believed that in the future a religionless Christianity—stripped of its religious garments—would be limited to two things: prayer and action.3 He believed that through these two acts Christians would learn to see the world from a new perspective, with the eyes of those at the bottom of society—the people that Matthew called “the least of these.” For Bonhoeffer, prayer—especially intercessory prayer—becomes important because it creates a powerful sense of empathy and solidarity with the people one brings before God. This, in turn, motivates one to engage in “righteous” action—the seeking of justice in human society.read more
In A Joyful Path, Year Two, we focus on some of the main tenets of Progressive Christianity and Spirituality, giving our children the foundation they need to walk the path of Jesus in today’s world. It has stories and affirmations written to help children clarify their own personal beliefs while staying open to the wisdom of other traditions.read more
During the fourth century, Christianity digressed from the concept of one God into the vague and mysterious doctrine of the Trinity. The Catholic Church reportedly devised the Trinitarian doctrine to answer the charge of worshipping three gods – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. Trinitarianism became a part of the Roman Catholic doctrine as a result of the first ecumenical council of Nicaea in 325 CE.read more
“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 emeritusread more
The shocking thing about the story of Jesus is that it turns common wisdom on its head.read more
“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 emeritusread more
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.read more
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.read more
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.read more
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.”read more
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.read more
“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 Universityread more