Cramming for the Finals: New Ways of Looking at Old Church Ideas

How can a fourth-century theology be relevant today? Is the Bible meant to be taken literally? Can Jesus be stripped of some of his titles? These are just a few of the questions that the author, a Progressive Christian Episcopal clergy person, answers in this provocative book.

Cramming for the Finals offers fresh ideas on how to look at God/Creator, Jesus the human, Paul, Mary (wife of Jesus), the Bible, Mariology, dogma, and doctrine. As the author takes you through his fascinating life’s journey, he reveals the tremendous power that the man Jesus, who was executed almost two thousand years ago, still can have on individuals and the world today.

You’ll discover new ways to look at ancient ideas, why we need to promote God and demote Jesus, how four-thousand-year-old ideas can work now, ways to think outside the institutional church’s tight little box, and how to save the church from itself.

This book challenges longstanding beliefs to make Christianity speak to people in the twenty-first century.

In Cramming for the Finals, Bil Aulenbach has imagined ‘the church of our dreams,’ where questions are more important than dogma, social action is more important than liturgy, and real people can work out the most meaningful way to become Followers of Jesus by practicing agape right here and right now.”
—Rev. Ken Wyant, member, Irvine United Congregational Church

Cramming for the Finals is the best explanation of progressive Christianity I have seen. I look forward to leading courses using this book.”
—Jacquelyn Marshall, author and Christian education instructor

Cramming for the Finals is a challenge to my present personal faith. As an encouragement for readers to examine their own faith journey, giving it 21st-century theological relevance, Dr. Aulenbach shares his personal nonclerical and clerical story. What is important today, he says, is how we do life, how we daily live life to its fullest. The Creation (God) and agape (Matt. 25:40) are key!”
—Rev. Canon Franklin S. H. Chun, Bishop’s Chaplain to Retired Clergy, The Episcopal Diocese of Hawai‘i

About the Author
Born at the end of the Great Depression in 1932, Bil Aulenbach was the son of a Philadelphia clergyman. A graduate of Episcopal Academy, Bil went on to serve in the Korean War as a Marine Corps Captain, he next attended seminary in Berkeley, and later earned an MSW from the University of Hawai‘i.

Bil and his wife, Annie, have three children and live in Southern California. Now retired, they love to travel, having already visited sixty-seven different countries.  They are members of Irvine UCC and are involved in local projects, as well as in Mexico and Ecuador.

Cramming for the Finals is Bil’s fourth book; he is the author of How to Get to Heaven Without Going to Church and What’s Love Got to Do With It? Visit Bil’s blog Peace Love Joy Hope

Review & Commentary

  • Jacob Hunnicutt

    I think Progressive Christianity just places less focus on a concern about afterlife, where more orthodox Christianity has traditionally made it very central. I personally see little value burning time in this life, the only one I’m sure I have, worrying about what happens when its over. Where does that get me? From my perspective a focus on the here and now just feels more genuine.

    • Newton Finn

      I fully understand your viewpoint. But it is not that of Jesus. Jesus was active in the world, healing suffering and confronting evil, based upon his firm belief in the yet-to-be-fulfilled Kingdom of God. He challenged the powers and principalities of this world because he was convinced that another world–an eternal world of truth, goodness, and beauty–was the ultimate backdrop of our seemingly-ephemeral existence. When liberal Christianity jettisons that fundamental framework to focus only on the here and now, only on this life, it deviates from the essential teaching of its founder. So be it, but more honesty about the discontinuity is called for.

  • Bil Aulenbach

    Thanks Newton for your thots. I don’t believe in an anthropomorphic god (the whys are explained in my book). Once I get that out of the way, almost all the dogma/doctrine of the church disappears, including afterlife. Because we live in the space age with some 2 to 4 trillion galaxies, each w/a 100,00 billions stars, I am even more convinced that this is it. In no way am I telling you what you have to believe. My book is simply food for a great deal of thinking and rethinking but thanks for your ideas.