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Christianities Never Heard: Lost Thoughts and Heresies Re-Considered

"Super" Jesus Seminar on the Road

November 7–9, 2019
Auburn, California

Take a journey with top scholars of religion into unknown, unpopular, and lost forms of Christianity. From Heresies we never heard of to biblical ideas misunderstood, this conference offers to the public insights from scholarship in religion that seldom reach the news or enter the public conscience. Come join the Westar Institute and the First Congregational Church of Auburn to celebrate and learn about alternatives, heresies, and other insights on the forgotten paths of Christianity.

Sarah Morice Brubaker is Assistant Professor of Theology at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and author of The Place of the Spirit (2013). Her shorter writing has appeared in The Christian Century, Religion Dispatches, Geez Magazine, This Land Press, and Salon. She currently serves as program chair of the Liberal Theologies Consultation of the American Academy of Religion.

Photo of Jason BeDuhn

Jason BeDuhn is Professor of the Comparative Study of Religions at Northern Arizona University, a Guggenheim and National Humanities Center Fellow, and the author of numerous articles and books including The Manichaean Body (2000, winner of the American Academy of Religion Best First Book Award), Truth in Translation (2003), Augustine’s Manichaean Dilemma (vol. 1 2010, vol. 2 2013), and The First New Testament: Marcion’s Scriptural Canon (2013).

Bernard Brandon Scott is the author and editor of many books, including The Real Paul: Recovering His Radical Challenge and The Trouble with Resurrection. A charter member of the Jesus Seminar, he is chair of Westar’s Christianity Seminar. He served as chair of the Bible in Ancient and Modern Media Section of the Society of Biblical Literature, as well as a member of several SBL Seminars including the Parable Seminar and Historical Jesus Seminar. He holds an A.B. from St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology, an M.A. from Miami University, and a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University.

Karen Bray (Ph.D., Drew University) is an Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Wesleyan College and a candidate for Unitarian Universalist minister. She is interested in how secular institutions and cultures behave theologically. Her work has been published in various academic journals.

Program Details

Thursday November 7

Being Fair to Heretics

“Heresy” is a derogatory word commonly used to shame Christians of different persuasions. Find out how this misleading characterization has silenced diverse understandings of the Christian faith from the start.

7:00-8:30pm with Jason BeDuhn

Friday November 8

The Body is not a Heresy 

Part of the history of “shaming” heretics has included shaming the physical body and human sexuality. It is time to overcome the power of this distorted version of Christian faith.

9:30-10:30am with Karen Bray

Good News Never Heard

The earliest expressions of Christianity were filled with pluralism, but many forms of the “Good News” were later hidden behind the label of heresy. Today, we can reveal what was hidden.

11:00am-12:00pm with Jason BeDuhn

Augustine's Presumptions; Our Mistakes

Augustine is likely the most influential theologian and philosopher on Western thought and culture, yet some of his theological assumptions have caused great harm. Uncovering Augustine’s assumptions also means discovering our mistaken beliefs.

1:30-2:30pm with Sarah Morice-Brubaker

Break Out Session


Resurrection or Immortality: Chose One but not Both. 

Resurrection of the physical body and the immortality of the soul are two ways Americans understand life after death. Yet, the two are not compatible, and one isn’t even in the Bible!

7:00-8:30pm with Brandon Scott

Saturday November 9

Talking Back to Augustine: Good Ideas the Doctor Dismissed 

The powerful presence of Augustine in history sometimes makes it impossible to hear genuinely good idea he dismissed. It’s time to talk back to Augustine.

9:30-10:30am with Sarah Morice-Brubaker

The Absent God in the Kingdom of God 

The Kingdom of God (basileia tou theou) appears to be the main expression the historical Jesus used to introduce a parable. This raises critical questions about the God of Jesus and where is God in the parables of Jesus.

11:00am-12:00pm with  Brandon Scott

Decoloniality: the New Good News

Decoloniality is one of the key words used in Westar’s Seminar on God and the Human future, but it can be difficult to understand. Unpacking the meaning of decoloniality gives us a chance to resurrect the  “Good News” in ways that address historical perversions of a liberating faith.

1:30-2:30pm with Karen Bray

Panel Discussion

3:00-4:00pm with Brandon, Karen, Sarah, and Jason


First Congregational Church of Auburn UCC

Local Contact and Information

All events at:

First Congregational Church of Auburn UCC
710 Auburn Ravine Rd.
Auburn, CA 95603

For local information, contact:

Barbara Grandstaff
[email protected]


All Sessions

  • Individual Rate - Early Bird (by Oct. 24) $100
  • Individual Rate (after Oct. 24) $120 
  • Additional Family Members $100

Single Sessions

  • Thursday Evening, 7–8:30 pm $20
  • Friday Morning, 9:30 am to noon  $30
  • Friday Afternoon, 1:30 to 4 pm $30
  • Friday Evening, 7–8:30 pm $20
  • Saturday Morning, 9:30 am to noon $30
  • Saturday Afternoon, 1:30 to 4 pm $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.

Lodging: Discounts available at Auburn Holiday Inn, by registering via this link: Jesus Seminar - Westar. Prices are: Thurs night--$129.99,  Friday and Saturday nights -- @$159.99. Discount is available through Oct. 7th.