What do scholars of religion say about the importance of Westar?

[testimonial client="—John Dominic Crossan, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois"]An extremely literalist and fundamentalist understanding of the Christian Bible is presently dominant … in matters from medicine through education to foreign policy. Bob [Funk’s] vision of a laity schooled in biblical scholarship—schooled, that is, in an alternative understanding of the Bible based on historical context—is even more desperately needed right now than when Bob created the Jesus Seminar in 1985. [/testimonial] [testimonial client="—Don Cupitt, Life Fellow and former Dean of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, England"]In our modern liberal democracies it often seems that two entirely different conversations about religion and philosophy are going on simultaneously, and that they know little about each other. There's the public conversation that goes on in the churches, in the media, and amongst ordinary people; and there's the academic debate that goes on in the universities. Bob Funk's achievement at Westar was to find a way of bringing these two different worlds together, with great benefit to both. [/testimonial] [testimonial client="—Lloyd Geering, Professor Emeritus, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand"]I at first judged Westar's Jesus Seminar to be engaged in an impossible task, but not now. Its achievement of uncovering the footprints and voiceprints of the original Jesus (long hidden behind dogmatic constructions), has been of inestimable value to both church and society by showing the relevance of the Jesus tradition to the modern secular world.[/testimonial] [testimonial client="—Richard Holloway, Bishop of Edinburgh and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Retired"]Westar is a rolling theological jazz session. Its Fellows are highly trained and disciplined thinkers who mine the Christian tradition for its ancient wisdom; but they are also in tune with the best thinking of the time in which they live. By listening deeply to both the past and the present, they discover new truth for our day.[/testimonial] [testimonial client="—Karen King, Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts"]From its beginnings Westar has emphasized the importance of democratic conversation about religion, conversation that is informed, critical, and engaged. It has worked hard to break down the distance separating academic scholarship in universities and seminaries from the public controversies on burning issues surrounding the Bible, authority, and intellectual integrity.[/testimonial] [testimonial client="—Robert J. Miller, Rosenberger Chair of Christian and Religious Studies at Juniata College, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania"]Westar's accessible publications and its public education programs make it the best source for honest information about critical scholarship on the historical Jesus and the origins of Christianity, and about the implications of that new knowledge for contemporary faith.[/testimonial] [testimonial client="—Stephen J. Patterson, George H. Atkinson Professor of Religious and Ethical Studies at Willamette University, Salem, Oregon"]The Seminars of Westar are unique. Nowhere else do scholars in our discipline gather for regular, sustained, focused discussion of critical historical questions related to the origins of Christianity. Before Westar no one could imagine how powerful this could be.[/testimonial] [testimonial client="—Anne Primavesi, Fellow of the Centre for the Interdisciplinary Study of Religion, Birkbeck College, University of London"]“Climate change” is a hot topic today, affecting not only our lives and our common futures but also our religious thinking. It calls for a different kind of wisdom that sees and responds to the multifaceted nature of the world and the diversity of religious traditions. Westar offers a uniquely sustainable micro-climate for the growth of creative dialogue; rooting it in academic scholarship and sharing its fruits 'on the road'. This makes an invaluable contribution to a viable, shared religious vision of our world's future.[/testimonial] [testimonial client="—Bernard Brandon Scott, Darbeth Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Phillips Theological Seminary, Tulsa, Oklahoma"]Westar has become the focal point for progressive religion in the USA. Its Origins of Christianity project is building on the earlier work of the Jesus Seminar and its Jesus Seminars on the Road serve as an outreach program increasing religious literacy around the country.[/testimonial] [testimonial client="—Thomas Sheehan, Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Stanford University, California"]Westar's achievement has been to open up an honest dialogue between scholars, clergy, and lay people on the crucial issues of Jesus, Judaism, and Christianity. To the dismay of the culture warriors who loudly attribute their late-arriving orthodoxies to Yeshua of Nazareth, Westar fights ignorance with information and hysteria with history, and in the process runs the risk of actually making religion interesting and exciting.[/testimonial] [testimonial client="—John Shelby Spong, Episcopal Bishop Emeritus of Newark, New Jersey"]One of the most supportive institutions in my life and ministry was the Jesus Seminar. It forced contemporary biblical scholarship into the public awareness and enabled me to become an effective teacher to those I served. I want that resource to be available to the next generation of clergy.[/testimonial]