Register early for best rates.

The Political Jesus

September 14–15, 2018
Normal, Illinois

The Jesus of history resisted the political and social realities of his day. Early Christians did the same. Neither one was necessarily successful in their aims, but what do we know about their attitudes toward the economy, immigrants, and war? How did Jesus and emerging Christ communities express concerns for justice and peace? Looking at the world today, what would they say about American politics?

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).


A PDF will open in a new window with event details including schedule and contact information.

Program Details

The Political Jesus

Arthur Dewey

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

Arthur Dewey

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

Celene Lillie

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

Celene Lillie

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?

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


New Covenant Community

Local Contact and Information

All events at:

New Covenant Community
210 W. Mulberry St.
Normal, IL 61761

For local information, contact:

Susan Ryder
[email protected]
(309) 454-7362


All Sessions

  • Individual Rate $75
  • Pre-registration Rate (by Aug 31) $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.


A PDF will open in a new window with a printable registration form.