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.

“This is a wonderful book for those who are trying to sort out their faith, their religion, and what they believe about these subjects. It is also great for anyone interested in what is happening to the church today. Be prepared, for Aulenbach does not hold back or mince words. It is, however, written in a way that is very personal and at times downright funny. Anyone leaning in the progressive Christian direction will love this book, and trust me, you will learn a lot.”
~Fred C. Plumer, President,

“In Cramming for the Finals, Bill 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

Life is a journey, and for me, it has been an interesting one–especially the faith part. How has your life’s journey gone? Has it been good? Or has it been a bummer? Is faith a component of that journey? Has it ever been? Would you like it to be? Or do you see it as a waste of time?

My real faith journey began in the Marine Corps in 1954. How it happened was different from others’ experiences, but almost everyone’s journey is unique. My next step, after the Marines, was in an Episcopal seminary, a liberal one, studying to be a clergyman. But when a fire engine broadsided me and my buddy Brad, killing him, my journey took a very interesting, different twist. Doubt became a key component because I had learned that blind faith without lots of doubt does not build a strong faith. In my quest for solid answers, I found that my faith became even stronger. Maybe they weren’t the church’s standard answers, but the answers I found seem to make my life rich and fulfilling.

The Bible was an important ingredient, but I had to take a very different look at this document, which dates back 4,000 years and hasn’t had a word added since about 120 CE. The world has changed radically since then, especially during the 20th and 21st centuries. So I had to learn to read that book through very different eyes to make it alive and vital to my daily living.

The church’s dogma, doctrine, and tradition have not changed much since the 5th century, but with a little tweak here and there, I have been able to develop a theology that fits comfortably into the 21st century. I have lived that theology for the past ten years, and I never thought that my senior days were going to be so exciting, invigorating, and fulfilling. I look forward to each day.

So much so that I have written another book, Cramming for the Finals, an action-packed formula about how to get and make the most out of your life every day.

Visit Bill’s Blog Peace Love Joy Hope

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