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The First Christian Histories Paperback – September 5, 1986

ISBN-13: 978-0865542037 ISBN-10: 0865542031 Edition: 2nd, Revised and Enlarged

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Mercer University Press; 2nd, Revised and Enlarged edition (September 5, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865542031
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865542037
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,336,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

For more about my books, please see my book site at

ABOUT MY LIFE: When I was around twelve years old, I decided that I wanted to be a scientist and probe the ultimate mysteries of the universe: where all things came from, the meaning of life, and the final answers to all things. So I did a bachelors of science degree at the University of Louisville in chemistry, along with a good deal of math and physics, and then spent a year working on a Ph.D. at the Ames Atomic Energy Laboratory at Iowa State University in physical chemistry and atomic and nuclear physics.

At that point, I realized that the ultimate answers I was searching for did not lie here, and went to the School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, one of the ten top graduate theological schools in the United States. I spent four years studying there, earned a B.D. degree, and was ordained as a Methodist minister.

I then went to Oxford University in England, where I earned a doctorate in theology, studying the roots of western thought among the philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome and the Christian theologians of the first centuries A.D., the period when the basic Christian doctrines of God, the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and the nature of grace and human free will were all being established.

When I came back to the United States, I taught at the University of Virginia for two years, for thirty-three years at Indiana University, and also spent a year as a Visiting Professor at Boston University. I was also awarded a Prix de Rome for my work on early Christianity and Greco-Roman philosophy, and was given the chance to spend a year at the American Academy in Rome.

My book on The First Christian Histories won major national awards, and I also published a book called Images of Christ on the development of Christian ideas about the divinity and work of Christ over the past two thousand years.

Shortly before my retirement as Professor of History and Religious Studies at Indiana University in 2003, I began writing the series of books in which I have been laying out the system of philosophical and theological ideas I had worked out over the course of the preceding forty years of study and research.

In my most recent book, God and Spirituality, I talk about my journeys over the years, exploring various ideas about God and the spiritual life: pagan Greeks and Romans, ancient Hebrew authors, Christians (Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant) from all periods of history, the physicists Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking, the mathematician Kurt Gödel, existentialist philosophers, process theologians, New Thought teachers, and the great spiritual masters of the modern twelve step program.

I discovered the God who is the ground of being, out of which the Big Bang exploded 13.7 billion years ago. This eternal-ground-of-everything-else transcends all physical reality, and is not bound by most of the laws of physics, perhaps by none of them. In particular, God does not have to obey the Laws of Thermodynamics, because God represents a kind of supercosmic energy and dynamism which can never run down or wear out. Otherwise there would be no universe today, nothing at all. God has always existed, in a transcendental world where there is no death.

The transendental realm in which God dwells runs parallel to the material world which the natural scientists study. In this two-story universe, the human body and brain live on the lower level, in the physical universe ruled by the laws of nature, while the higher part of human consciousness comes from the transcendental realm, and can return there in near death experiences, visions, and in its ability to sense the numinous quality of the holy, the good, and the beautiful reflected in the world of nature.

The deterministic paradox means that human beings must forever search for the fantasy knowledge of Laplace's Demon, an imaginary omniscient observer who supposedly knows all the data in the universe and all of the laws of nature, and can use that to predict exactly what is going to happen at all points in the future. The unending search for this inifinite knowledge is the vital driving force of modern science. But paradoxically, every time the human mind works out why things absolutely had to happen in the way they did, Gödel's Proof explains how the mind discovers, in an act of self-transcendence, the possibility of changing what is going to happen by doing something different instead.

So what emerges is a world of continual creativity and novelty, in which human beings are given the gift of free will, and can learn to tap the power of the highest form of divine energy, the power of love. We can learn how to dwell -- even in this world -- in a universe of goodness, beauty, holiness, and forgiveness.

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