SBC DIGEST: New MBTS journal addresses cultural engagement; SWBTS devotional relays encouragement for everyday evangelism

by SBC Seminary & BP Staff, posted Thursday, June 06, 2019 (6 months ago)

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In today's SBC Digest: New journal Permanent Things from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary addresses cultural engagement; devotional encouraging everyday evangelism published by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

New MBTS journal to address cultural engagement

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) -- A new journal titled Permanent Things, primarily focusing on Christian cultural engagement in a fallen age, was released June 5 by the Center for Public Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Midwestern President Jason Allen said the new journal will be helpful in "equipping the church of Jesus Christ for theological engagement in a fallen order and a secularizing public square."

Permanent Things, to be published yearly, will have limited printed editions but can be accessed via Midwestern's website at www.mbts.edu/permanentthings.

Allen noted that Permanent Things editor Owen Strachan, MBTS associate professor of Christian theology and director of the Center for Public Theology, has been a key source for the evangelical community of "insight and resources for ministry and Christian interaction in the public arena" since the CPT's launch in 2016.

Permanent Things "takes this work to another level," Allen said, "as it will offer readers timely, much-needed articles on a host of issues that people will be confronted with on a daily basis in our lost and morally-confused culture."

Through the Center for Public Theology, launched at the Southern Baptist Convention's 2016 annual meeting in St. Louis, Strachan has leveraged blog posts, podcasts, lectureships and social media to promote the center's work and ideas showing the vitality of the Christian worldview against every alternative.

The journal is "a venture into the theological discipline of Christ and culture," Strachan said. "Permanent Things is a Baptist equivalent of the long-appreciated Books & Culture, First Things and The City, each a journal of thought and letters from a distinctly religious standpoint.

"Our charge is to assist the church in thinking in a distinctly Christian way in a climate in which such assistance is in short supply." From an evangelical standpoint, he said, topics will include a biblical conception of the family, church and public square.

Strachan said the first issue of Permanent Things, which received its name from the writings of T.S. Eliot, features reflection on matters modern and ancient, including posthumanism, the films of Christopher Nolan, the meaning of conservatism, the "Intellectual Dark Web," Christian statesmanship, and manhood and womanhood.

In the journal's inaugural edition:

Michael Plato, assistant professor of intellectual history and Christian thought at Colorado Christian University, conveys a summary of two major contemporary challenges to Christian anthropology: transhumanism and posthumanism. "Many of us are hearing these terms," Strachan said, "but few pastors know how to engage these challenges, new as they are. Plato's article will help prepare the church on this front."

Brett McCracken, an editor for The Gospel Coalition described by Strachan as "the best young film critic of our time," writes an original piece on the films of Christopher Nolan, one of the industry's leading directors, showing that Nolan addresses timeless questions with subtlety, finesse and depth yet resolutely avoids Christian answers.

Midwestern Provost Jason Duesing offers what is described as "a reflection on evangelical statesmanship that is Inklings-like [referring to the literary group founded by J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis]. In fractious times, Duesing produces an essay that rightly calls for both conviction and graciousness. This is a crucial element of leadership in 2019."

Freelance writer and Ph.D. student Esther O'Reilly conveys an overview of the Intellectual Dark Web, an amorphous movement that has received surprisingly little attention in the evangelical community.

Other contributors to Permanent Things include Strachan, Andreas J. Kostenberger, Bruce Ashford, H.B. Charles Jr., Andrew Walker, Jonathan Leeman, Thomas Kidd, David Talcott, Costi Hinn, Abigail Dodds and Don Sweeting.

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New devotional relays encouragement for everyday evangelism

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FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will release a new evangelism devotional at the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in Birmingham, Ala.

Titled "And You Will Be My Witnesses: 31 Devotionals to Encourage a Spirit of Everyday Evangelism," the book features devotionals that exposit a select passage of Scripture from the Gospels and Acts pertaining to evangelism.

Published by Seminary Hill Press at SWBTS, the devotional is edited by Matt Queen, who holds the L.R. Scarborough Chair of Evangelism ("Chair of Fire") at Southwestern, and Alex Sibley, managing editor of Seminary Hill Press.

"Most, if not all, evangelism devotionals are topical or subjective in their approach," Queen said. "However, 31 Devotionals differs from other evangelism devotionals in that every day's entry presents a text-driven application of evangelistic encounters in both the Gospels and Acts."

Sibley said the devotionals are designed to lead readers in application-based study of the Scripture so that, when read with an open Bible, they will "illuminate the Scripture's teaching on various aspects of the evangelistic task, highlighting how the likes of Paul, Peter, John, Stephen, Philip, John the Baptist and Jesus Himself went about proclaiming the message of God's salvation for the world."

"God's Word has a lot of wisdom and encouragement to offer for the task of evangelism, and this resource aims to bring that wisdom and encouragement to light," Sibley said. "Our hope is that these devotions will help readers see the heart of God, drive them toward a deeper understanding of His Word, and move them to share the Gospel at every opportunity."

The devotionals are written by Southwestern Seminary professors, doctoral graduates and current doctoral students.

"Though written by scholars, they are not written in such a way that only scholars can read them," Queen said. "They are written by everyday evangelists for the benefit of everyday evangelists."

Contributing authors include Queen, Sibley, D. Jeffrey Bingham, John D. Massey and Carl J. Bradford.

Visitors to Southwestern's booth in the exhibit hall at the SBC annual meeting will receive a free copy of the book. Those unable to attend can order the book online at SeminaryHillPress.com, where it is already available for preorder.

Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston with reporting by T. Patrick Hudson, assistant professor of communications and history at Spurgeon College and institutional editor for Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the communications office at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
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