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
The 3 books books covered in this progressive christian book study guide are by Spong, Pagels, and Kiddread more
Authors covered in this study guide are Sanford, Kidd, Cobb, Mesle, Holloway, Spong.read more
“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 Plumerread more
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.read more
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 …read more
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 …read more
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.read more
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.read more