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Jesus Bible Studies

Picture Credit:
The Raising Of Lazarus
by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri (1619)

Jesus and the Bible


Jesus sets us free from the idolatrous use of the Bible to hurt ourselves and others.  Only God is absolute.  God in Christ is "The word of God made human (flesh)" (not words) in John 1:14.  The Bible never calls itself the word of God.  The Bible calls Jesus the word of God and the one who sets people free from sick abusive use of scripture to hurt people.  Be free!  Follow Jesus as your guide to all things.  Let the Spirit of Jesus guide you into a healthy use of the Bible for spiritual recovery from Bible abuse and from sick and oppressive religion.

Jesus accepted and included all people.  To use the Bible as a weapon to judge, condemn and exclude people is to abandon the Spirit and the example of Jesus.


Update added February 9, 2002:

What is the "essential Jesus"?  What do we know for certain about Jesus that is relevant and truly helpful to everybody today?  Do certain basic facts and clear certainties exist about Jesus that can form a basis for realistic objective logical faith?


The sources for knowing Jesus begin with the Four Gospels and the Book of Acts and go on to include your own personal spiritual experience and your own faith tradition, which might be helpful and might also be part of the problem.  Where do you get your spiritual information?  What have been your basic sources for religion, faith, spiritual direction and strength, and your vision of God and of yourself?

What have your parents, family and friends taught you about Jesus?  What has your church taught and conditioned you to believe?  What have you worked out for yourself?  What has been the role of gospel songs and hymns along with religious art and images in shaping your view of Jesus?  Many sources have shaped your vision of Jesus.


Jesus is a vague out of focus image for all of us.  Too many conflicting voices claim to speak the truth.  None do.  The voices that most firmly demand that they have the truth are often the most incorrect and misleading.  Religious groups and churches that claim absolute authority and demand absolute obedience are usually the ones that most reduce Jesus to a set of beliefs, doctrines, rules and propositions and that discourage people from thinking for themselves and enjoying the real freedom of the Spirit of Jesus in their lives.

Abusive religion is controlling and oppressive, not liberating and affirming.

I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church in South Carolina.  At the age of nine, I "accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior" and joined the church and was baptized "in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Sprit."  I have spent the past 60 years trying to understand and to enter fully into whatever that means

As I have struggled through my own personal "dark night of the soul" as a Gay Christian, I have found that a great multitude of other people also share the same struggle and spiritual pilgrimage.  We are "marching to Zion," but none of us know what "Zion" means or even really care.


Jesus is "the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1:29, 36)  But what does that mean?  Multiple layers of confusion and misinformation, along with political, religious and financial manipulations, and celebrations of ignorance in the name of God for the past 2,000 years of church history have darkened our access to Jesus.  We do indeed see Jesus "through a glass darkly" and not face-to-face.

Where is the shortcut to Jesus?  Does a basic simple direct uncluttered vision of Jesus exist?  Can we construct a brief overview of the details of Jesus that is easy to grasp and relevant to each individual here and now?  Is a "Jesus for Dummies" possible?  I think so.

The following "Twelve Steps" might be a helpful framework for new directions in knowing and following Jesus.


Step One: Admit that you have a vague incorrect view of Jesus and that religion has misled and confused you.

Step Two: Turn to God who is already within you as your basic source for knowing and following the Spirit of Jesus.

Step Three: Take the time to learn the basic content of the Four Gospels and the Book of Acts.

Step Four: Question everything in the Jesus traditions that does not make sense or ring true to you.

Step Five: Search for and write down a list of the actions and teachings of Jesus in the Gospels that demonstrate something human and accessible that you can realistically follow and do yourself, such as accepting and celebrating your own humanity and having compassion for other people.

Step Six: Find or start a small group in your home that can provide a setting for dialogue, discussion, encouragement, learning, changing and growing.

Step Seven: Fearlessly face and challenge the misinformation and confusions about Jesus that seem to interfere most with your own acceptance of Jesus as real and relevant to you.

Step Eight: Start over in your own spiritual journey by letting go of legalistic judgmental religious literature, people and groups.  Don't listen to the ignorant misinformation of fundamentalists and other forms of self-serving religious confusion.

Step Nine: Search for and find resources from other people both ancient and modern that also have struggled with their own understanding of Jesus and have challenged the traditions and tried to cut through the gloom to see the real Jesus.

Step Ten: Accept yourself as you are, just as Jesus accepted himself, and build a self-esteem basis for being able to accept and follow the real Jesus that is beginning to emerge in your personal search and study.

Step Eleven: Take others along with you in your journey of discovery and clarification whenever you have opportunity.

Step Twelve: Act positively and with compassion on what you are learning and experiencing about the real Jesus.


All of us are dummies about many things.  None of us completely master anything.  Abandoning traditional visions of Jesus is not abandoning the real Jesus.  Letting go of misinformation and confusions about Jesus is not letting go of the real Jesus.  The reason that we are dummies about Jesus is because we have been dummied by religious manipulations and misinformation.  The same abusive sick religion that has made GLBT people hate themselves and try to destroy themselves and each other is the source of our confusion and misinformation about Jesus.

Last week I began to use a new Dell computer with Windows XP, which is far different from what I had used before.  I was really lost and confused.  I immediately bought a copy of "Windows XP for Dummies" with high hopes that I could learn enough about this new operating system to do a better job in my writing and Internet ministries.  So far, I am still quite a dummy, but I am learning.


I have high hopes for positive changes in how all of us find relevant spiritual resources and healthy spirituality in a fresh look at who Jesus really is for us today in our rapidly changing world.  In every area of life, we are constantly being challenged to "let go and move on".  We either: "let go and move on," or we are dead in the water and sinking fast.

To live is to change.  To learn and grow demands and creates change.  Walking through new doors can be threatening.  Stepping off of familiar ground onto a new path can be scary, but staying put on trembling sinking ground can be deadly.  If the traditional abusive religious images of Jesus have not worked for you, let go and move on to something that does.

"Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse" is the natural prologue to "Steps to Recovering the Real Jesus."

Tell me what you think.

I have almost finished moving to my new place in Oakland.  I resist change as much as anybody else does!  Thanks for all of your expressions of support and encouragement.  I encourage you to move out of any spiritual house that does not work for you and move into a new place where the real Jesus can live with you and you can be honest and feel good about yourself as a disciple of Jesus.


Now that I have my own place for the first time in a long time, I plan to offer small group study sessions in my home as I did in Nashville.  If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area and interested in participating in this new opportunity for dialogue and study, please send me e-mail and let me know.

Rembert Truluck

I will preach at 10:00 AM and lead a 1:30 PM (after lunch) workshop on "The Truth About Jesus" at New Hope MCC in Santa Rosa, CA, tomorrow, Sunday, February 10, 2002.  For information: call (707) 526-HOPE.  Church is at 855 Seventh Street, Santa Rosa:  Take 101 N., Exit College Ave., turn right at College Ave, then another right at Beaver St., on Corner of Beaver St. and Seventh St.  (Thanks to Deacon Charles Metz for arranging all of this!)

Paul in Philippians 3:1-14 described how he had to move out of one spiritual house and into another place in order to have Jesus in his life: "I count all things (legalistic judgmental religion) to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them to be garbage (literally "animal feces"!) in order that I may gain Christ."  When Paul said: "forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus," he was letting go of abusive legalistic religion in order to know and follow Jesus.

For my book, contact Chi Rho Press and click on "PRODUCTS" and click on "Products by Category" then click "Gay & Christian".  Adam DeBaugh, Director of Chi Rho Press, has announced a number of changes in the work of Chi Rho Press, including a newly designed web site and improved faster service for ordering books online.  Look through the web site and learn how Chi Rho Press is offering better service to you along with the opportunity for you to become involved personally in publishing ministry.

Update for April 18, 2004

Teachers have always been underpaid, often misunderstood and frequently attacked as a threat to the status quo and to the authority of the church. The most famous ancient teacher, Socrates, was successful in setting into motion the questioning approach to teaching that made students learn to think for themselves and that continues to influence contemporary education at every level.  Socrates, however, was rejected by the authorities and made to drink poison and kill himself.


All of the titles used of Jesus in the Gospels, such as "lord, rabbi, teacher, master, etc." are terms used for teachers.  Even the word "savior" (which means "liberator" or someone who sets people free) was used of teachers, who delivered their students from ignorance and misinformation.  The current hit movie, "The Passion of the Christ," which I saw this week, delivers an incredible dramatic emotional impact that demonstrates the extreme violence and acts of terrorism that killed Jesus, who was the greatest teacher of all time.

Jesus was rejected and destroyed by the authorities because of his teachings.

In spite of the brutality and violence of the movie, the main teachings of Jesus are also presented in brief scenes that are given along with his suffering and death.  Jesus is quoted saying, "I give you a new commandment that you should love one another just as I have loved you." (John 13:34-35).  Another brief teaching moment is given as Jesus broke the bread and poured wine into the cup and used the event of the last supper to interpret and teach the meaning of his death.


For most of my life I have been a teacher.  In churches, schools, colleges, interviews, radio and television, workshops, writings, and in my website and books, I have been a teacher, and that is all.  But that is enough.  In Nashville, I had the joy of teaching a weekly series of studies on "The Bible and Homosexuality" on local public television.  I also led a weekly home study group in my apartment in Nashville for three years, and the lessons that were developed there became the basis for my website and book.

As a Southern Baptist teacher, I wrote Southern Baptist Adult Sunday School lessons for 6 years and was a professor of religion at a Baptist University for 8 years.  In Atlanta and in San Francisco, I enjoyed teaching weekly classes on "The Bible as Your Friend" and produced a brochure for UFMCC with the same title that has been used by thousands of GLBT people to learn the true Gospel and to help others learn about the "Real Jesus."

Being a teacher has been a wonderful life!

As my life passes before me, I realize as never before what being a teacher really means to me.  I want to continue to teach.  My present time of having to wait for God and being forced to rethink my purpose and mission in life has been stressful and depressing.  Yet the receding light at the end of the tunnel is still there.  God has a purpose in all that we experience.  I am still "looking for the pony!"


The main pressure on me now is financial.  I still need your help and support to continue my ministry of writing, teaching, website, updates, e-mail ministry, travel and all of the rest of what I have been doing for the past 7 years. I am grateful for your encouragement and support.  Thanks to all of you who have sent financial help that has truly kept me going during the past few weeks.

Adam DeBaugh, my friend and publisher of "Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse," made a strong appeal for financial help for my ministry in his most recent "Chi Rho Connections" e-mail newsletter.  Adam made the offered that anyone who wants to make a tax-deductible contribution to my ministry can send a check to Chi Rho Press or can make a financial contribution by credit card online to Chi Rho Press, which is a non-profit organization, and Adam will forward the contribution to me.  Just say that your gift is for Dr. Rembert Truluck, and I will receive it.

See Chi Rho Press mailing address and website below.


I get the regular mailings from "Focus on the Family" and newsletters from James Dobson and others who are committed to the destruction of GLBT people.  The financial power of the anti-gay "Ex-Gay" religious/political establishment is staggering.  Most state legislatures are currently considering ways to outlaw same-sex marriages.  The President is pushing hard for a Constitutional amendment to forbid same-sex marriages.

I live in San Francisco/Oakland, which is the eye of the storm, where the forces of repression and discrimination are set against the forces of equality and human rights.  Armies are being recruited and trained against us.  Religious terrorism is still terrorism.

My website and book begin with this statement of purpose:

"Religious terrorists have distorted the Bible and used it to abuse, oppress, and hold hostage the spirituality and sexuality of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and Transgendered people.  This book (website) is a weapon to fight back."


The long respected Constitutional wall of separation between church and state has been breached.  Religion has joined forces with homophobia, misinformation, discrimination, oppression of despised minorities, and tactics of terrorism and personal abuse.  Logical, objective, reasonable, practical thinking has been abandoned for misleading untrue propaganda and an alliance of the worst elements and tactics of abusive religion and autocratic politics.  These same conditions faced Jesus 2,000 years ago!  So Jesus came to teach the truth and to die for it.

See "The Passion of the Christ" and feel the full impact of what happens when religion and politics join forces to eliminate a teacher.

We have no choice but to rally our own resources and fight back with the truth and whatever spiritual power and opportunity for action that we have been given.  I need your help, and I am not the only one who does.


Mel White and Soulforce now have two separate websites.  They are given below.  Take a look at both of them and study the new Mel White site.  See the Soulforce website for exciting opportunities for you to get involved in current Soulforce Actions and Civil Disobedience.

Troy Perry and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches have long been on the frontlines of this war.  See the website for UFMCC below.

My friend Rev. Jay Neely is leading a new coalition of GLBT supportive churches from his home base in Atlanta: "International Christian Community Churches."  See their websites below.

Connect with your local GLBT Community Center, PFLAG, local GLBT religious support group, such as Dignity (Catholic) Integrity (Episcopal), Honesty (Southern Baptist), or Methodist, Presbyterian, Mormon, Pentecostal, and many others, including even Jehovah's  Witnesses.  Volunteer your help and support.  You can find all of them on "Yahoo!"  and in my website section on "Resources".  Find a local MCC or other gay positive church and get involved.  You can make a difference.

By all means, don't play "Rip van Winkle" and sleep through this revolution!


Today I received e-mail from Dylan, "a 19 year old Christian gay guy from Tasmania, Australia."  He told me how his bible-study-group told him to be completely honest in the group.  He told them he was gay, and they kicked him out of their group after he "refused their attempts to convert him to heterosexuality."  He has written letters to all of the local churches, "asking them to question themselves, trying to force them to see the evil they are working." 

Dylan has written a new longer more detailed letter to send, and his e-mail was written to ask me to read his letter and give him my feedback and help.  Of course I will reply to him later today.  His letter is a great challenge to the prejudice and misinformation that prevails in abusive religious institutions.  He is doing what he can to join the battle.  What can you do that fits your situation and your personality?


You can send my website (http://www.otkenyer.hu/truluck/) to everyone that you know who needs to see it.  My website receives over 5 million hits a year.  Buy copies of my book and start your own home study and recovery group.  I am sending 5 copies of my book to Korea to be used by a friend who teaches school in Korea and leads a Christian GLBT study group.

If you know of ways that I could generate more financial support through my website, book on "Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse" and my forthcoming book on the theme of "YOUR JESUS WITHIN," please write and tell me.  If you have a group or know of a group, club, church or group of churches that would like for me to come and lead a conference, workshop, revival or anything else, please tell them to write to me or send me e-mail for information.

Rembert Truluck
You can call me at 510-208-3532:
Leave a message and your number for me to call you.

PO Box 24062
Oakland, CA 94623

Chi Rho Press:
To make a contribution online:
In the "Special Instructions and Comments"
Designate your contribution "For Dr. Truluck".

Write to Adam DeBaugh and Chi Rho Press at:
PO Box 7864
Gaithersburg, MD 20898
Phone/fax: 301-926-1208

To order my book online:

SOULFORCE: http://www.soulforce.org.

Mel White's Justice Net website

Troy Perry and MCC

Rev. Jay Neely and International Christian Community Churches:

(This material was added on October 21, 2000)

"The Real Jesus: Rescuing Jesus from Religion" is the theme of the Bible Studies that I am writing now.  The more I meditate upon the vision of Jesus in the Gospels and my own personal experience of Jesus in my life, the more I am convinced that the historic church has misrepresented Jesus far beyond anything we have realized while under the hypnotic spell of traditional religion.

My daily e-mail usually contains many questions from you about why I still use the Bible at all or even see any value in Christianity.  I am grateful for all of this e-mail that makes clear to me the desperate need to catch a fresh vision of the real Jesus of the Gospels and the real Jesus who is available to you and me through the Spirit of God working and living in us.


The most exciting discovery that I keep making about Jesus in the Gospels is how totally human and accessible Jesus is.  The first picture of Jesus in both Luke and John say that Jesus "listened."  Jesus listened, asked questions, took people seriously as they were, and allowed people to be honest and tell the truth about themselves without rejecting or condemning them.  The first view of Jesus at the age of twelve in Luke 2:46-52 shows Jesus sitting in the midst of the teachers in the Temple listening to them and asking them questions.  Sitting was the posture both of the teacher and the disciple.  The teachers "were amazed at his understanding and his answers."

The first appearance of Jesus in John after his baptism was in John 1:35-42, where two of the followers of John saw Jesus and began to follow him.  Jesus turned around and said: "What do you want?"  They said: "Teacher, where are you staying?"  Then Jesus said: "Come and you will see."  They stayed with Jesus all day and when they left, one of the two, Andrew, found his own brother Simon Peter and said to him: "We have found the Messiah," and he brought him to Jesus.  That brief clear demonstration of ministry has never been improved by making it more complicated.

Jesus "LISTENED" and "ASKED QUESTIONS."  At the end of the ministry of Jesus in Luke 23:43, a murderer being crucified next to Jesus asked Jesus to accept him.  The last words of Jesus included his acceptance and affirmation of this most outcast of all outcasts.  The last words of Jesus in John 21 include his questions to Peter and Peter's questions to Jesus.  Jesus concluded it all with the simple invitation that Jesus always gave: "You, follow me."

The first step in all evangelism is listening.  The first step in effective counseling and therapy is listening.  The first step in following Jesus is listening.


In Luke 8:49-56, Jesus raised up the child that was presumed to be dead and expressed his practical compassion when "he gave orders for something to be given her to eat."  These recurring human touches of the ministry of Jesus are a great encouragement to me to know that the little things we do to respond to human need are clear ways in which we demonstrate the Spirit of Jesus within us.

Jesus continuously gave practical simple instructions: "Go wash."  "Get up and walk."  "Stay awake."  "Follow me."  "Love your neighbor."  "Come to me."  "Give a cup of water."

Whenever Jesus said: "Go thou and do likewise," as in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10), Jesus was telling his hearers that they were to ignore all of the religious traditions and rules in order to help other people.  The Jews had no dealings with Samaritans or with Gentiles.  A bowl or cup ever used by a Samaritan would be destroyed for fear that the religious Jew might accidentally use it and become terribly unclean.  The Gospels and Acts make it clear that Jesus declared all things and all people to be "clean."

Prejudice and religious oppression and abuse put other people at a distance from us and excuse not only our neglect of their needs but usually also justifies our hateful and destructive behavior against them.  Jesus gave no basis for homophobia, self-righteous condemnation of others, or any of the other attitudes that have come to characterize popular religion in the minds of millions of people.


Jesus did not come to establish a new religion.  He came to challenge and destroy the abusive use of sick religion to demean and punish people.  Jesus came to replace religion with something far better: himself!

Simplicity was the basic approach of Jesus.  A little child, a poor widow, a beggar at the door, hungry children, whoever works hard and is weighed down, the disabled, the oppressed, and all humans were the message and ministry of Jesus.  Jesus entered fully into the humanity of all people and invited us to follow him and do the same.  Denying your humanity is a denial of Jesus and his calling to you to follow him.  We are not called to play god and decide what is right or wrong for other people.  Adam and Eve made that fatal mistake and it continues unchecked throughout the institutional church in all of its forms and expressions.

The fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis is also the fall of religion and everything that it has come to represent in its worldly splendor and power and in its incredibly intricate divisions and hostilities.  When parents molest and abuse their own children, they are expressing the same kind of horror that religion has committed against the multitudes of people who have looked to religion for hope and found only abuse, oppression, rejection and self-hate.


The real Jesus is not a dead man hanging on a cross, a statue or painting, stained glass or pictures of a shepherd carrying and being followed by cute sheep.  Jesus is the presence of the Spirit of God within you.  The real Jesus is your own honest humanity expressed in inclusive unconditional love.

So much religious garbage has been dumped on the human race that the simplicity of the real Jesus has been long lost and forgotten.  Books, interpretations, dynamic convincing leaders, charismatic prophets and institutional power and permanence have so hidden the real Jesus that the clear promise of Jesus has been replaced with fear and failure.  Jesus made it clear and simple: "I will not abandon you.  I will come to you."  "I will give you my Spirit to be your teacher and to show you what you need to know along the way."  There is no institutional or administrative substitute for John chapters 13-17.

Institutional legalistic judgmental religion makes people miserable.  Jesus, however, said: "I am telling you these things so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  This is my commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you." (John 15:11-12)

Nobody has yet improved on the real Jesus.  Why do so many people keep trying?

This Update added Dec. 7, 2003:

Today is the anniversary of the Japanese bombing of the U. S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in 1941, an act of "terrorism" that launched World War II and radically changed the world far more than 9/11 has.

What relevance does the Gospel of Jesus have to our present world and to your personal life in particular?

Do the Bible and the story of Jesus really matter anymore?  I think that they do.  I am beginning to organize and write my next book, which is an attempt to provide 52 weekly lessons plus other material to help all people (not just GLBT) use small group study and dialogue to follow a year of weekly sessions on "the real Jesus" who can still be relevant and practical today.  This is all based on and follows up on my "Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse" web site in 1997 and my book, published in January 2000 by Chi Rho Press.


The simple human Jesus of the Four Gospels has been distorted and blurred by hundreds of years of interpretation and misrepresentation.  Jesus has been reduced to many statements of doctrine and dogma.  Images of Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven or sitting at the right hand of God have overwhelmed and replaced the clear humanity of Jesus in the Bible.

When I was pastor of a church in Louisville, Kentucky, during my doctoral work at seminary, Sherry, a divorced woman came to our church with her children.  She asked if it was OK for her to come to church as a divorced person.  Of course I said yes!  She joined our inquirers class and entered into the programs of our church.  I asked everyone in the inquirers class to read through the Gospel of Mark in one sitting and notice what they learned about Jesus that they never knew before.

When Sherry talked with me about what she learned about Jesus she had a great joy in her voice and said that she learned that Jesus got angry just like she did!  She said she always had seen Jesus only as a painting or a statue in church, but now she saw Jesus as somebody who was like her and who could understand and help her after all!  Sherry was my teacher, and I thank God for what she taught me.

Sherry long ago helped me to focus my thinking on the power of the "human Jesus" to help all of us in practical ways to deal more effectively with our own self-esteem and our problems and issues in life.  The purpose of my new book is to explore and apply this readily available but often overlooked human dimension of Jesus in the Gospels.  The miracles of raising the dead, healing the sick and walking on water are a lot of fun, of course, but the real Jesus with whom we can relate every day is the human Jesus who is just like me!


The first study that captured my attention and became a basic lecture in my university classes as well as Lesson 13 in "Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse" was "How Jesus Handled Anger" based Mark 3:1-35.  See my web site material on this.  I also made this material available in a "gospel tract" type of brochure.  One reason this special area of concern was so appealing to me was my own great difficulty in handling my own anger and the anger of others directed towards me.  This need has not grown any less urgent as I write this in December 2003!

Taking a look at the details of how Jesus handled his own problems with people and with his own hunger, thirst and fatigue seems to me to be a very important part of getting to know the "real Jesus".  My book on "Steps to Recovery" included a lot of material along these lines.  More is needed.  My next book is now under way.


What incident or experience in the life of Jesus in the Gospels has most clearly spoken to you and helped you in a practical way to deal with your own problems and issues?  What happened to Jesus that you have seen as a parallel to your own experience?  Write e-mail and tell me.  Give me permission to quote you.

This may overwhelm me!  But I am already overwhelmed by a lot of stuff as it is!  I had rather spend time learning how the real human Jesus has informed and encouraged your life than anything else I can think of right now.

Thank you for reading and responding to all of my updates and especially to this one.

Rembert Truluck
December 7, 2003

How Jesus Handled Anger

Take a look at what I have added on "Jesus Bible Studies"

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