Howard Zehr, Distinguished Professor of Restorative Justice at Eastern Mennonite University is known as the "Grandfather of Restorative Justice." He is the author of several books including, Changing Lenses: A New Focus for Crime and Justice (Amazon), and The Little Book of Restorative Justice (Amazon). He spoke to me about restorative justice and the criminal justice system.
Marcion is considered the "arch-heretic" of Christianity. He was said by an ancient critic to have "gnawed" scripture. He was the first to create a canon of scripture consisting of a version of Luke's Gospel and eleven letters of Paul. Professor Jason BeDuhn of Northern Arizona University has reconstructed this text and in doing so provides insight into the development of early Christianity. He is the author of The First New Testament: Marcion's Scriptural Canon.
I continue my series on early Christian history. The New Testament writing, Acts of the Apostles, has functioned as the earliest history of the church. But at most, it is "idealized history." Shelly Matthews of Brite Divinity School speaks about the rhetorical strategy of Acts in her new book, The Acts of the Apostles: Taming the Tongues of Fire (Amazon). She speaks with me on Religion For Life about how the author of Acts idealized Paul and tamed the egalitarian Jesus movement to make it more palatable to the elite reader.
We speak casually of "the Bible" and of "God" as if those words refer to specific entities that have a common definition. Stewart Harris, professor of law at Appalachian School of Law and the host of Your Weekly Constitutional (website, podcast, Facebook page, Twitter feed), argues that, particularly in a legal setting, this imprecision can lead to huge problems in regards to religion and public life. Join us for a fascinating discussion about bible, god, and law.
Robert Jensen is a professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas and the author of We Are All Apocalyptic Now: On the Responsibilities of Teaching, Preaching, Reporting, Writing, and Speaking Out. He spoke candidly with me about the meaning of apocalypse (an unveiling) and the need to say what we see in regards to economics, ecology, violence, and our future.
Travis Williams is Assistant Professor of Religion at Tusculum College in Greenville, Tennessee. He is the author of two academic books on the book of 1 Peter. He is the featured speaker at the Theologian In Residence series of lectures at Tusculum each Tuesday in February. More details can be found here. The title of his series of lectures is “The Situation and Strategy of 1 Peter: Examining the Formative Influence of Persecution on Christian Identity.” He spoke with me on Religion For Life about 1 Peter and persecution in early Christianity. The lectures held February 4, 11, 18, and 25 are free to the public and include lunch. You must register by mailing in the form in the brochure, by calling Eugenia Estes at 423-636-7304, or by email, eestes[at]tusculum[dot]edu.
The movement for acceptance and equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender people over the last 40+ years has been in many respects a church movement. The sanctuary is the arena and ordination to ministry has been the prize. RW "Obie" Holman describes the movement and the participants in his newly released book, Queer Clergy: A History of Gay and Lesbian Ministry in American Protestantism. He blogs at Spirit of a Liberal. He spoke with me on Religion For Life about the civil rights movement of our time.
Rev. Frank Schaefer is no longer a United Methodist Minister. He lost his credentials because he was found guilty of violating church discipline. His crime? He officiated at a wedding. The wedding was for his son, Tim, and Tim's partner. He was given a thirty day suspension, a time out to think about it and come back to church officials with his hat in his hand and say he wouldn't do it again. If he couldn't, he would have to give up his ministry. This is his career. His livelihood. He spoke to me about his situation and the agonizing decision he faced. His discipleship cost him his career. It is the going price for standing for love.
James Tabor is Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina Charlotte. He is the author of The Jesus Dynasty: The Hidden History of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity, and most recently, Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity which has just been released in paperback. This book is an excellent introduction regarding Christian origins, particularly regarding the difference between the historical Jesus and how Paul transformed him into something completely different, the Cosmic Christ. Read about Professor Tabor's exciting and controversial work on the TaborBlog.
N. T. Wright is a retired Anglican Bishop and leading New Testament scholar. He has just published a 1700 page volume on Paul called Paul and The Faithfulness of God. He spoke to me about this work and about the legacy and influence of Paul. N. T. Wright is my first guest in my series on Paul, Acts, and Christian origins. Visit his Facebook page for more information about him and his work.