Professor Joe Bessler in Melbourne







7.00PM FRIDAY, 20 JULY & 10.00AM – 4.00PM SATURDAY, 21 JULY

An introductory address (Friday evening) & four lectures with a light lunch & morning & afternoon refreshments (Saturday) on how creative shifts in biblical studies, philosophy & Christian thought have launched a new age of progressive theologies through which to reimagine the contours of faith & faithful practice.
Registration Essential: On Line at .

Professor Joe Bessler
Joseph A. Bessler is the Robert Travis Peake Professor of Theology at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Bessler specializes in the discipline of Constructive Theology. Co-Author of Law and Theology: Cases and Readings (Carolina Academic Press, 2005) and author of A Scandalous Jesus: How Three Historic Quests Changed Theology for the Better (Polebridge Press, 2013), he enjoys cross-disciplinary conversations that open up theological questions in new ways. In a new book project, Moving Words: How Theology Proposes to Lead Beyond God (Polebridge/Wipf and Stock), Bessler looks at the overlapping, rhetorical character of political and theological discourse, arguing that theology’s proposal structure enables the discipline to expand and grow in new and unexpected directions. He has worked closely with the Westar Institute, both in the latter years of the Jesus Seminar and in the beginnings of the God Seminar.
“Justice With Or Without God: The Priorities Of Progressive Theology”
In the mid-to-late twentieth century there were several creative shifts in biblical studies, philosophy, and Christian thought that launched a new age of progressive theologies to encourage individuals & Christian institutions to reimagine the contours of faith and faithful practice.

In this challenging series of lectures & conversations by Professor Joe Bessler we will examine these shifts, what are the emerging theologies that flow from them, how are constructive works of theology put together & why, & what are the progressive theological proposals that we want to offer our world?
Friday evening’s lecture, “The Many Ways This World Matters: Constructing Progressive Theologies,” will explore how quests for the historical Jesus, the turn to language in philosophy and theology, and the residual impact of the death-of-God theologies of the 1960s led to innovations in theology that would definitively challenge Christian theology’s preoccupation with other-worldliness. On Saturday morning, we’ll start with basic questions: how are constructive works of theology put together and why? And then we’ll dig in for a closer look that will challenge what we mean by the word theology itself. On Saturday afternoon, we’ll be ready to work together on the progressive theological proposals that we want to offer our world. Come join us for a progressively provocative weekend.

Friday Evening: “The Many Ways This World Matters: Constructing Progressive Theologies”

Our evening lecture will trace how mid-and-late 20th century quests for the historical Jesus, the turn to language in philosophy and theology, and the death-of-God theologies of the 1960s led the way in turning theology “to the world” as evident in the development of liberation, ecological, and post-colonial theologies, as well as challenges to the doctrine of God itself.

Saturday Morning, First Session: Connecting the Dots, Learning the Map.

If progressives are going to reimagine the task of theology, we first need to understand how and why the basic topics of theology fit together the way they do. Because many of us grew up with a more traditional Christian theology, we’ll first review how classical theology works, but we’ll immediately contrast it with more contemporary models.

Saturday Morning Second Session: What if God is not the Primary Topic of Theology?

In this session, we pick up our work where we left off, but go deeper. When we pay close attention to how the dots—the topics—are connected, we will see a public, even political structure of proposal —how the concerns that are on our minds and hearts as progressives—at the heart of constructive theologies. We’ll then see how and why progressive theologies give priority to that proposal structure, while re-imagining or setting aside the topic of God.

Saturday Afternoon, First Session: From Parables to Power: Imagining Our Theological Proposals

With the work from the morning in place, we’re now ready to imagine how our theological proposals take on words and structure, strengthening our capacity for reading and writing in this area of theology. Large and small-group conversation.

Saturday Afternoon, Second Session:   Like Scales Falling From My Eyes: Learning to See Differently

In this final session, we’ll look briefly at a famous sermon from process theologian, John Cobb. He was 90 when I heard him preach it. In the sermon he spoke not of his significant achievements but spoke confessionally of moments in his own professional life where, using the image from Acts 9:1-19, the scales fell from his eyes. In those moments, he was turned around; he saw the reality of Christian anti-Jewishness, Christian misogyny, Christian participation in the abuse of the earth, and Christian oppression of GLBTQI persons. And we see him coming to terms with that blindness. What scales have fallen from our eyes? With what issues do we need to come to terms?


Registration is essential (as this is a catered event). Register on line at 
You may register for the full series or, if you are unable to attend on Saturday, only for the Friday evening lecture.
Admission Costs (per person):
(Before 2 July)
(From 2 July)
Member of PCNV

(Before 2 July)
(From 2 July)
Member of PCNV

Full program cost includes light lunch plus morning & afternoon refreshments on Saturday. Gluten free & vegetarian options available

PCNV April 2018 Newsletter Now Available

The April 2018 PCNV Newsletter is now available with news of recent meetings, John Shelby Spong's new book "Unbelievable. Why Neither Ancient Creeds Nor the Reformation Can Produce a Living Faith Today" and a review of Michael Morwood's new book: "Prayers for Progressive Christians. A New Template"

To download the newsletter click here [309KB; PDF]

PCNV February 2018 Newsletter

Here is the first newsletter of the Progressive Christian Network of Victoria for 2018.

At the start of a new year it is appropriate to think about possible developments that could provide fresh direction and energy to the network. There is an update on actions in response to the suggestions from the Gathering of Members associated with the AGM in November and a request to you to keep up a flow of creative and practical ideas that could make PCNV more effective.

There is also a list of dates, topics and speakers for PCNV programs up to the middle of this year. They are varied and will present us with challenges as well as stimulus.

How Progressive Christian Understandings Affect Your Life: The Resource Booklet from the Series

In April to July 2017 the Progressive Christian Network of Victoria offered four monthly programs about practical implications for our lives of progressive Christian understandings. The topics were  God, Jesus, The Bible, and Hope. Many requests were received for access to the resource notes for further group or personal use. The resource booklet is now available to download for free.

PCNV December 2017 Newsletter

This newsletter includes a report on the outcomes of the discussions at the Gathering of Members associated with the AGM in November. That provides an appropriate overview of what this Network is about as members looked back at what PCNV had meant to them and looked forward to possibilities for the future.

How to obtain videos of the recent lectures by Professor Hal Taussig or books by him is described on pages 7-9 with reviews of one of his major works.

The dates and programs for four of our public meetings for 2018 are listed on page 9.

Click here to download the newsletter [282KB; PDF]

PCNV August 2017 Newsletter

The August PCNV Newsletter is now available with reports from the last two "implications series" meetings and notice of Lesley Taylor's September session re the spirituality of the every day.

PCNV June 2017 Newsletter

The PCNV June Newsletter is now available with reports from the current "Implications" series being conducted by the Network and an excerpt from Andrew Hamilton's item in The Conversation entitled Religiously Literate and Radical Communities. 

Click here to download [1MB; PDF]

PCNV April 2017 Newsletter

The PCNV April Newsletter is now available with news of the coming "Implications" series of meetings in April, May, June and July, a report on the last meeting featuring Reem Sweid from Muslims for Progressive Values and  a review of the book They Cannot Take the Sky. 

PCNV March 2017 Newsletter

The PCNV March Newsletter is now available with a report of the address by Julian Burnside at the February 2017 Network Meeting and a review of Robert Manne's book "The Mind of The Islamic State" amongst other things. Click here to download the newsletter. [468KB; PDF]

“What has happened to our values?” with Julian Burnside

We hope to bring you the podcast from this past event coming soon....

The Progressive Christian Network of Victoria invites you to “What has happened to our values?” with Julian Burnside
WHEN: Sunday 19 February 2017 3.00pm to 5.00pm 
WHERE: Ewing Memorial Centre of Stonnington Uniting Church Corner of Burke Rd and Coppin St., Malvern East. Melway 59 G12 Parking in Coppin Street.
JULIAN BURNSIDE AO QC is well known as an eloquent and passionate advocate for justice and human rights. He is a barrister based in Melbourne and specialises in commercial litigation.
He is a former President of Liberty Victoria, and has acted pro bono in many human rights cases, in particular concerning the treatment of asylum seekers.
He acted for the Ok Tedi natives against BHP, for the Maritime Union of Australia in the 1998 waterfront dispute against Patrick Stevedores. He was Senior Counsel assisting the Australian Broadcasting Authority in the “Cash for Comment” inquiry and was senior counsel for Liberty Victoria in the Tampa litigation.
He is the author of a number of books including Watching Brief (Scribe 2007), a collection of his essays and speeches about the justice system and human rights, and From Nothing to Zero (Lonely Planet 2001), a book of letters written by asylum seekers held in Australia’s detention camps.
In 2004 he was elected as a Living National Treasure. In 2009 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia. In 2014 he was awarded the Sydney Peace prize.
In this address Julian Burnside will address a question in the minds and hearts of many Australians: “What has happened to our values?”. In considering what is making Australian society more unjust he will outline an alternative approach to the present unjust and inhumane treatment of refugees arriving by boat.
PCNV meeting cost is $7 ($5 for members). All moneys received for this meeting will be donated to assist asylum seekers.