Patheos readers are quickly making themselves known in "the global dialogue on religion and spirituality through responsible, moderated discussions on critical issues across religious traditions." We know you are passionate about having conversations that matter in society today. We share that passion with you. Westar Institute — home of the Jesus Seminar — is dedicated to fostering and communicating the results of cutting-edge scholarship on the history and evolution of the Christian tradition, thereby raising the level of public discourse about questions that matter in society and culture.
Since 1987, The Fourth R has shared the latest thinking from religion scholars and writers—in non-technical language aimed at a general audience. A $30 subscription includes six issues annually.
[button url="https://westarinstitute.org/resources/the-fourth-r/fourth-r-subscription/" class="button" size="large" color="black" target="_self" lightbox_content="" lightbox_description=""] Subscribe [/button]
"Religious Naturalism and Its Place in the Family of Religions"
Donald A. Crosby, author of The Thou of Nature: Religious Naturalism and Reverence for Sentient Life (2013)
Religious naturalism deserves recognition as an important form of religious faith among the various religious stances and outlooks of the world. It does so especially today, when its significance is coming to be increasingly acknowledged, vigorously developed, and actively propounded. What is religious naturalism? Simply put, it is the recognition that to be is to be natural and the conviction that nature in all of its forms and manifestations is a proper focus of religious commitment.
"When a Man Lies with a Man as with a Woman"
Stephen J. Patterson, author of The Lost Way: How Two Forgotten Gospels Are Rewriting the Story of Christian Origins (2014)
People today widely believe that the Bible condemns being gay. They get this idea from, well, reading the Bible. But what did it really mean to “lie with a man as with a woman”?
"Write What You See"
Walter Wink, author of Just Jesus: My Struggle to Become Human (2014)
My first vivid encounter with Jesus took place in the fourth grade, when I was expelled from Sunday School for rowdiness. My parents punished me by making me skip Sunday dinner and stay in my room. For my comfort, my mother handed me the Revised Standard Version of the New Testament, which had just been published.
For Muslims the Qur’an is the word of God as revealed to the Prophet Mohammad over a period of twenty-three years. The message was an oral message and, since Mohammad was unlettered, the words were written on scraps of paper, tree bark, and animal skins. It was only after the death of the Prophet that his companions compiled the Qur’an into book form. For reasons known only to them, instead of compiling the revelations in chronological order, they assembled them in order of length, from longest verse to shortest.
"What Grabs Us"
Arthur J. Dewey, Xavier University, co-author of The Authentic Letters of Paul: A New Reading of Paul’s Rhetoric and Meaning (2010)
“That grabbed me!” This or some similar expression has been on our lips. A dramatic incident, a painting, a beautiful body, a wonder of nature, even a horrific accident, might have been the cause of such a declaration. The ecstasy may be momentary but we know, even if only for that moment, that we have been taken beyond the little confines of ourselves.