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A Progressive Jesus for Progressive Religion

October 28–29, 2016
Fort Wayne, Indiana

The historical Jesus was a progressive teacher who raised important questions and sought fresh answers. Using rhetorical strategies such as parables and aphorisms that employ humor to undercut and undermine the powerful political structures of his day, Jesus envisioned an alternative way to look at the world, a so-called Domain of God. How might these same strategies enliven religion today?

Paul H. Jones

Paul Jones (Ph.D., Vanderbilt) is Professor of Religion at Transylvania University. He has authored several books, including The Church’s Seven Deadly Secrets (2012) and The Structure of Religion: Judaism and Christianity with William J. Leffler (2005).

Perry Kea (Ph.D., University of Virginia) is Associate Professor of biblical studies at the University of Indianapolis, Indiana. A Fellow of the Jesus Seminar since 1987, he currently serves as Chair of the Westar Institute Board of Directors.

Program Details

The Teaching of the Historical Jesus

In contrast to older quests of the historical Jesus that focused on his psychology and acts, the renewed quest asked after Jesus’ voiceprint. What forms of rhetoric did he use? What was his unique way of teaching? Why and how does the use of counterintuitive metaphors and edgy social commentary keep the historical Jesus relevant for our time? (Perry Kea)
Friday evening, 7:30–9 pm

Silencing Jesus with Philosophy

There are several ways in which the voice of Jesus failed to become the voice of the Church. Rather than hear the parables of Jesus and think about his vision, the Church usually interpreted his parables as allegories and recast his vision onto a supernatural world. The main challenge today is to hear Jesus again for the first time. (Perry Kea)
Saturday, 9:30–10:30 am

Jesus in the Early Movement

The only access we have to the historical Jesus is through texts, both inside and outside the Bible. They show how Jesus’ message was shaped by the confluence of ancient religion and politics. They reveal how he was understood in emerging Christian communities. How does knowing that early frame of reference help us assess Jesus’ significance for today? (Paul Jones)
Saturday, 11 am – noon

Silencing Jesus with Politics

Constantine reached a settlement with the Church in 325 ce. In this bartered deal, the Roman Empire got our bodies and the Church got our souls. This disembodied and spiritualized Christianity persists in U.S. politics today. Would a progressive Jesus change a nation that leads the world in rates of incarceration and arms sales? If so, how? (Paul Jones)
Saturday, 1:30–2:30 pm

Questions and Answers

The scholars will discuss the importance of a progressive Jesus and engage in questions and answers.
Saturday, 3–4 pm


Plymouth Congregational Church of Fort Wayne
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fort Wayne

Local Contact and Information

All events at:

Plymouth Congregational Church of Fort Wayne
501 W. Berry St.
Fort Wayne, IN 46802

For local information, contact:

David Grim
[email protected]


All Sessions

  • Individual Rate $75
  • Pre-registration Rate (by Oct 14th) $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.