Are you looking for more information about Westar? Please see our frequently asked questions below. You are also welcome to contact us.

Is Westar a religious organization?
No. Westar is an academic institute. Westar is not affiliated with any religious institution and does not advocate a particular theological point of view.
More about Westar’s mission

Do Westar scholars have individual religious convictions?
Westar Fellows, like critical scholarship generally, represent a wide spectrum of religious belief.

As critical scholars, Fellows make empirical, factual evidence—evidence open to confirmation by independent, neutral observers—the controlling factor in historical judgments, rather than putting dogmatic considerations first and insisting that the factual evidence confirm theological premises.
More about critical scholarship

What’s the advantage of voting on an issue?
The Fellows of the first Jesus Seminar adopted voting as the most efficient way of determining the degree of scholarly consensus on a given point. In a large group with a wide range of opinions, voting tends to compensate for the outliers and levels prejudices.

Fellows vote with colored beads, with each color assigned a number rating, so that votes can be quantified with a weighted average. The points on each ballot are added up and divided by the number of votes to determine the weighted average.

This system is superior to a system that relies on majorities or pluralities of one type or another. In a system that makes the dividing line between pink and gray a simple majority, nearly half of the Fellows would lose their vote. There would only be winners and losers. Under weighted averages, all votes count in the averages.

Voting does not, of course, determine the truth–it only indicates what the best judgment is of a significant number of scholars sitting around the table.
More on voting

Who can be a Westar member?
Membership is open to anyone. The Westar community includes two types of members:

  • Associate members (general public)
    Open to anyone interested in scholarship about religion and religious literacy. Associate members come from all walks of life, professions, and religious backgrounds. There are no academic or creedal tests for Associate membership.
    More about Associate membership
  • Fellows (religion scholars)
    Open to scholars with advanced academic degrees (Ph.D. or equivalent) in religious studies or related disciplines from accredited universities worldwide.
    More about Westar Fellows
    See a list of Fellows

Do I have to be a member to attend meetings?
No. The general public is welcome at our regional Jesus Seminar on the Road programs or our twice-yearly national meetings. Members receive discounts on some meetings.
Read more about member benefits