Sunday May 17, 2015 at 7:00pm

Author Richard Hagenston presented on his 2014 book “Fabricating Faith: How Christianity Became a Religion Jesus Would Have Rejected.”

According to Hagenston, Jesus had such a hard edge when it came to Gentiles that he coined his own unflattering term for them: dogs. He limited what he was offering strictly to Jews.

Yet the religion that began in his name quickly transformed into a predominantly Gentile movement centered on blood sacrifice to obtain God’s forgiveness, a practice rejected by many Jews long before Jesus came on the scene. Furthermore the sacrifice was not just of an animal, but of Jesus himself. How did this happen? Hagenston exposes the roots of brutal justice underpinning traditional Christianity, but finds hope in a Jewish movement toward grace that preceded and influenced the historical Jesus.

Richard Hagenston is an ordained United Methodist minister and former pastor. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Wesley Theological Seminary and a master’s in journalism from Indiana University.

Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 7:00pm

Guest speaker Paul Keim on “Anthropodicy: Job and the Vindication of Human Dissent.”

We usually think of the book of Job as a theodicy, i.e., a vindication of God’s inscrutable ways with humanity. And indeed, the central portion of the book is dominated by three cycles of impassioned gainsaying of Job’s increasingly desperate protestations of his fate by a group of sincere apologists who strive to remind him that much more is at stake than his own misfortune.

Yahweh’s thunderous response from the storm (Job 38:1) is addressed to one who “darkens counsel by words without knowledge,” and seems to challenge Job’s very standing as a litigant. And yet, this is not Yahweh’s last word on the matter.

Though Job responds to the admonition in abject humiliation and submission, having spent himself with his protest from dust and ashes, and now repents in dust and ashes (42:6), what follows is Yahweh’s stunning declaration to the friends that they have not spoken the truth about God as Job has.

In this presentation, Paul explores the extent to which this vindication of Job over against the friends (42:7, 8) validates human protest against the apparent injustice and arbitrariness of the created order and establishes a generalized moral obligation to challenge all forms of graceless conventionality.

Some helpful definitions (courtesy of …

Theodicy • The theological discipline that seeks to explain how the existence of evil in the world can be reconciled with the justice and goodness of God.

Anthropodicy • An attempt, or argument attempting, to justify the existence of humanity as good (in contrast with theodicy).

Learn more about Paul Keim in our Biographies section.

Recordings of this presentation are available in our Transcripts & Audio section.


Sunday, February 8, 2015 at 7:00pm

Loren Johns was our guest speaker, with a presentation titled Anabaptist Approaches to Scripture: What Is Different and Why?Johns is Professor of New Testament and Director of the Master of Divinity Program at AMBS. Learn more about Loren Johns on our Biographies page.

Audio recordings of this presentation are in the Transcripts & Audio section.

Sunday, January 11, 2015 at 7:00pm

Our guest speaker was Karl Shelly with a presentation entitled, Can Mennonite Pastors Be Advocates for Justice?

After training as a lawyer and working on Capitol Hill, Karl Shelly accepted a call to join the pastoral team of Assembly Mennonite Church in 1998. Assembly is a congregation that has been at the center of the Mennonite debate about LGBTQ inclusion, and Karl has played a key role in helping the congregation shape its vision on this and other peace and justice issues. He will share his story of what brought him to pastoral leadership, what he’s learned, and how he’s carried his lifelong passion for peace and justice alongside his role as pastor of a growing congregation. Learn more about Karl Shelly on our Biographies page.

Audio recordings of this presentation are in the Transcripts & Audio section.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Guest speaker John Paul Lederach presented What a Healthy Church Would Look Like.”

Lederach is Professor of International Peacebuilding at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. You can learn more about John Paul Lederach on our Biographies page.

Audio recordings of this presentation are in the Transcripts & Audio section.

Sunday October 19, 2014 at 7:00pm

Dominican Father Thomas P. Doyle spoke on the topic of The Once and Future Church.” This presentation is intended to help the audience understand how the organizational hierarchy inhibits truth telling; how it undermines standing with those who are longing for justice; and how it interferes with righting the wrongs inflicted upon victims by those in power.

Tom Doyle was ordained a priest in the Dominican Order in 1970. He received a doctorate in Canon law in 1978 and also spent 19 years as a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force. He has worked as a parish priest, church administrator and teacher. He is also a certified addictions therapist. You can learn more about Father Doyle on our Biographies page.

Audio recordings of this presentation are in the Transcripts & Audio section.

Sunday September 21, 2014 at 7:00pm

Guest speaker Barrie Wilson, professor of religious studies at Toronto’s York University, on How Jesus Became Christian.”

With vivid descriptions of the Hellenistic world into which Jesus was born, Wilson examined the rivalry of the “Jesus movement”, informed by Matthew and adhering to Torah worship, and the “Christ movement,” headed by Paul which shunned Torah.

Audio recording of this presentation is in the Transcripts & Audio section.

Sunday June 15, 2014 at 7:00pm

Guest speaker Galen Guengerich on God Revised: How Religion Must Evolve in a Scientific Age.”

Having left an upbringing in a family of Mennonite preachers to discover his own experience of God, Galen Guengerich understands the modern American struggle to combine modern world views with outdated religious dogma. Drawing upon his own experiences, he proposes that just as humanity has had to evolve its conception of the universe to coincide with new scientific discoveries, we are long overdue in evolving our concept of God.

Learn more about Galen Guengerich on our Biographies page.

Audio recordings of this presentation are available in the Transcripts & Audio section.