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Christianity, God, and the Future of Religion

November 4–5, 2016
Beaverton, Oregon

  • What value, if any, does God have for human life?
  • What distinguishes theologies about Jesus from the theology of Jesus?
  • Why did the Church separate itself from study of the historical Jesus?

Instead of asking whether or not God exists, modern scholarship focuses on the human Jesus, the church’s transformation of Jesus into a divine being, and the fate of religion in the future. David Galston and Joe Bessler guide us through centuries of Christian thought and ask, what is God’s human future?

Photo of Joseph Bessler

Joseph A. Bessler is the Robert Travis Peake Professor of Theology at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he also serves as Associate Dean. He is the author of A Scandalous Jesus: How Three Historic Quests Changed Theology for the Better (2013).

Photo of David Galston

David Galston is a University Chaplain, Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Academic Director at Westar Institute, and academic adviser to the SnowStar Institute in Canada. He is the author of Embracing the Human Jesus (2012) and God’s Human Future (2016).

Program Details

Introducing the Historical Jesus

The Christian gospels express beliefs about Jesus. They do not reflect what the Jesus of history had to say. But, fortunately, they do preserve traces of what he really did say. In this opening session, David Galston will distinguish biblical theologies about a divine Jesus from the theology of the human Jesus. (Galston)
Friday evening, 7:30–9 pm

How Jesus Became Plato and God a Platonist

After the earliest period of pluralism, Christianity took the form of Christian orthodoxy. This form is found in the Nicene Creed and still remains the basic expression of Christianity today. Problematically, this form of Christianity is not based on the teaching of Jesus but the philosophy of Plato. How did Jesus become Plato and God a Platonist? (Bessler)
Saturday, 9:30–10:30 am

The Historical Jesus and the Rise of Modern Civil Society

Interest in the historical Jesus returned with the modern period and new debates over the control of modern civil society. As established churches began to lose their status and control, they closed the door on secular reasoning and historical Jesus scholarship. How wise was that decision? (Bessler)
Saturday, 11 am – noon

Trajectories for God’s Human Future

For many both in and outside the Church, traditional Christianity has faltered. It no longer addresses the important questions of life. In place of the tradition there have arisen new ways to consider religion, Christianity, and the value of God in human experience. This session seeks to open a conversation on God’s human future. (Galston)
Saturday, 1:30–2:30 pm

In Conversation

In this final session, Bessler and Galston will engage each other and the audience in conversation about the future of God.
Saturday, 3–4 pm


Southminster Presbyterian Church

Local Contact and Information

All events at:

Southminster Presbyterian Church
12250 SW Denney Rd.
Beaverton, OR 97008

For local information, contact:

Mark Hernandez-Mullins
(503) 608-0411
[email protected]


All Sessions

  • Individual Rate $75
  • Pre-registration Rate (by Oct 21) $60
  • Additional Family Members $50

Single Sessions

  • Friday Evening Lecture $20
  • Saturday Morning Workshop $30
  • Saturday Afternoon Workshop $30

Refunds are available until two weeks before the event if requested in writing, minus a $10 administrative fee. No refunds will be given after that date.