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The Political Jesus

November 10–11, 2017
Beaverton, Oregon

The Jesus of history resisted the political and social realities of his day. Early Christians followed suit. Neither was necessarily successful in achieving their aims, but what can we really know about their attitudes toward the economy, immigrants, and war? And how did Jesus and the emerging Christ communities express concerns for justice and peace? If they were here today observing us and our world, what would they have to say about American politics?

Event Resources

First Century Voices 17

Arthur J. Dewey (Th.D., Harvard University) is Professor of Theology at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Formerly a regular on PBS’s Saturday Morning Edition (WVXU, 91.7 in Cincinnati), he is the author or editor of many works including Inventing the Passion (2017), Wisdom Notes (2016), The Gospel of Jesus (2d ed., 2014) and The Complete Gospel Parallels (2012).

Celene Lillie (Ph.D., Union Theological Seminary) is the Director of the Tanho Center and on the pastoral staff at Boulder First United Methodist Church in Colorado. She is the author of several books, including The Rape of Eve: The Transformation of Roman Ideology in Three Early Christian Retellings of Genesis (2017).

Program Details

The Political Jesus

Donald Trump won the election of 2016 with the promise to make America great again. Augustus Caesar made the same promise to ancient Romans. He promised to make Rome great again, and the Roman Senate foolishly believed him. Jesus espoused a very different version of greatness for his day and age. Has the time come for Americans to listen closely again to what Jesus had to say? If we did, what might we learn?
Friday evening, 7:30–9 pm

Jesus & the Art of Resistance

Jesus’ resistance to Roman Imperial theology was subtle. It was couched in parables and hidden in aphorisms. It included his practice of an open table, of eating together. Though subtle, his resistance did not go unnoticed. While emerging Christian communities might not have known a lot about the historical Jesus, they did know that being part of a Christ community meant resisting Imperial theology. Does America need to re-hear this good news?
Saturday, 9:30–10:30 am

Christ Communities and Resistance

Christ communities slowly emerged and came into de nition years after the death of Jesus. Prior to the time of Constantine the Great, these communities continued in various way to resist the oppressive nature of Roman Imperial theology. What were these communities? What do we know about them and how they practiced resistance? What do they have to say to the political situation in America today?
Saturday, 11 am – noon

Christian Resistance Today

Except in minor cases, early Christ communities lived under Roman Imperial theology and sought to resist the oppressive nature of life in an empire. Eventually, Christianity itself became an Imperial religion—the religion of an empire. In some ways, Christianity is returning to its former status as a resistance movement within an empire. What important questions can those early communities define for us?
(Dewey, Lillie)
Saturday, 1:30–2:30 pm

Discussion (Q&A)

Celine Lillie and Arthur Dewey will hold conversation and field questions about the political Jesus and our response today.
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 27) $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.