This year ECCLESIAM launches anew seeking to explore larger issues. Quite a few noteworthy things happened within the church and around the world this summer. What methods can the church employ to cultivate an accountability culture and a confessional environment that invites healing? From mental health to creativity to personal temptation from the pedestal of leadership, we seek to cover and provide pensive, theological, and biblical answers forward through the many struggles that currently confront the church.
University campuses are buzzing, students have been moving in and getting settled, parents are either celebrating sending out their child into the wide world of academia or uncontrollably sobbing the inevitable empty nest and how “they grow up so fast”. For us here at ECCLESIAM, however, it means that summer break is over, professors are getting back into the swing of their teaching schedules, and quite a lot has happened over the summer that needs to be discussed, dissected, and parsed. With so much going on within the world and the church, what needs to be talked about?
Many people, especially those who are dealing with loss within their family due to sickness, natural disasters, accidents, and more, are trying to comprehend God in light of their experiences. This is the struggle we find in Fry’s comments. He is trying to take what he has heard from the Church and from Scripture and make sense of it in light of the evil and suffering we see around us all the time. How then can we as Christians respond to those who struggle with the reality of evil in our world today?
Media, as of late, has seemed to embrace religious, and sometimes even Christian elements within TV, movies and music. There has been a “resurgence” so to speak of media caring about religious subplots and overtones. However, is it really that media has really embraced religious expression, or is it doing what it has always done, intersect entertainment with life?
Recently, on November 25th, Fidel Castro, the revolutionary and long-standing political leader of Cuba, passed away. With such a political history, one that also included much persecution and pain for large groups of people, it should come as no surprise that there are people who are celebrating his death. However, as Christians, how are we supposed to react in times of death? Are we supposed to cheer on the death of those who are persecutors?
There has been somewhat of a stigma that too much theological learning, too much questioning, or too much interaction with those who might question some orthodox beliefs will lead one to lose his/her faith. Sometimes Acts 26:24 is even cited poorly as an attempt to credit those claims. We recently asked Dr. Craig Keener, F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary and author of over 20 books ranging from works for the church to dense theological tomes, how he understands the intersection of faith and learning.
There is a trend within culture that seems to have infiltrated the church. Culture, especially here in the west, tends to equate one’s importance – and therefore their worth – with what they do, who they know, and how much power, money, or influence they may have. To see how this might have influenced the church, how many Christians do you think would rather meet with the Carl Lentz’s, Judah Smith’s, Matt Chandler’s, and Hillsong’s of today than people who are being prostituted, substance abusers, homeless, and those considered “worthless” by society? Don’t get me wrong, the ministries of the aforementioned are amazing and important to bringing people to Christ.
But should the influence, ministry, money, or power one has make his/her worth more or less than others?
What are we as the church doing? We are missing the struggle, the pain, the hurt of those around us. We keep saying “come to my church, you’ll find Jesus”. We keep writing songs on how great God is, and the world keeps writing songs talking about their pain. Could it be that we are hindering people from finding Christ because we are not hurting along side of them (or showing the hurt that we have at least)?