Jubilee: Worldview for the Thinking Student
I just returned from our annual Jubilee Conference.
The main speakers were Anthony Bradley, Kelly Munroe Kullberg, Chuck Colson, and Donald Miller.
Each main session was excellent:
Anthony Bradley challenged students to “spit in the face of 'American-Dream' Theology” and instead to embrace the implications of creation- fall- redemption- restoration.
Kelly Munroe Kullberg told the story of starting the Veritas Forum at Harvard and now at many other schools. She captivated us with her humility and the ability she has to gently and caringly share the gospel with students.
Chuck Colson hit a home-run with a clear explanation of our calling to take part in God’s redemptive work on earth. He even quoted Abraham Kuyper.
Donald Miller explained the three aspects of narrative story telling: (1) A character that is good because he or she cares more for others than him- or her-self, (2) That character’s ambition to do something grand, and (3) the conflict to arrive at that ambition. Miller challenged students to ask themselves if they like the character they are in their story (Do I care for others or am I selfish?), what their ambition is (Am I being sucked into the consumerism narrative that says our highest ambition is to shop?), and see if their struggles in life are the inevitable conflict that arises from doing God’s will (“If you are a person who only wants a Volvo, your story sucks.”).
I also liked the breakout sessions I attended. Of great interest was a panel discussion on Faith and Politics with Anthony Bradley, a Research Fellow for the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, Ron Sider, President of Evangelicals for Social Action and author of the new book The Scandal of Evangelical Politics: Why Are Christians Missing the Chance to Really Change the World?, James Skillen, President of The Center for Public Justice and author of The Scattered Voice: Christians at Odds in the Public Square, and Michael Gerson, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, named by TIME as one of “The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America,” new opinion writer at The Washington Post, and author of the new book, Heroic Conservatism: Why Republicans Need to Embrace America's Ideals (And Why They Deserve to Fail If They Don't).
Anthony Bradley acted as the moderator.
Ron Sider advocated against a Libertarian approach to politics that would say that the government needs to have a “hands-off” approach to civil life. He stated that the Bible states that the king is responsible for economic justice. The government is not the first or even the primary institution to solve poverty, but it is one of the ones to do so, especially in its role to be sure that systems are just for the sake of the poor. He was for Welfare reform and he is in favor of Earned Income Tax Credit.
Jim Skillen offered his tremendous insights into how Christians should approach the high calling of politics – he is always pushing us to not jump first to policy issues before thinking deeply about a political theology. According to Skillen, government is just one of many different institutions in society, each with its own sphere of sovereignty. Government is different from the other institutions in that it defines the parameters of a just society so that society is structured so that all can flourish. He asked us to redefine poverty, not based on amount of money or on income a person has, but on what he calls “capability deprivation” (a concept developed by economist Amartya Sen). There are a lot of reasons why people are capability deprived: education, break down in the family, culture, communities, churches, and health.
Michael Gerson said that he feels that the separation of church and state is a legitimate one – but that we have to define what we mean by this. In the areas of Soteriology (salvation), Eschatology (end times), and Ecclesiology (church polity), the two need to be clearly separate. But in the area of Anthropology (humankind), the church and the state need to be in constant conversation. Faith always has had a role to play in influencing the state in the area of human rights. Gerson believes that the growing tide of secularization is seeking to take this out of public discourse, which, in fact, would give the secular voice the only favored voice in politics.
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