One of my favorite things about the Mere Fidelity podcast is that it gets three or four (at least) different people together directly discussing a given topic. With writing this sort of direct interaction happens only rarely and usually in contentious circumstances—we don’t respond to someone else’s essay unless we think it is wrong in significant ways.
That, for me, sums up what made the Future of Protestantism such a successful event. Drs. Peter Leithart, Carl Trueman, and Fred Sanders had an hour and a half (I think…) to share a stage and discuss a specific topic, directly interacting with each other’s ideas.
I had been wishing for an event like that ever since Leithart began publishing some of his “end of Protestantism”-type pieces and was gratified to finally see someone asking him the questions I’d been wanting someone to ask for months. The subsequent discussion brought greater clarity to the debate and helped many, myself included, to have a better sense of where Leithart in particular stood in relationship to historic Protestantism.
This brings me to next week’s event to be held at Biola University which is something of a sequel to The Future of Protestantism. This time they have shifted their focus to The Future of the Church. To aid in the discussion they have Pentecostal scholar Simon Chan, Anglican theologian Ephraim Radner, Catholic scholar Fr. Thomas Rausch, and Evangelical theologian Fred Sanders set to share a stage to discuss this important topic.
While the previous discussion was confined to American evangelicalism (and mostly reformed evangelicalism at that), this discussion should be a bit more wide-ranging. I’m particularly interested to see Chan and Sanders interact with Radner and Rausch.
I’m also interested to hear how Chan, a theologian working in a wildly different context than Radner, Rausch, and Sanders thinks about the church’s future. There’s a certain level of despair that can creep in when you think about the church’s future in the west. But when we look at the church’s future in the majority world a very different picture emerges. So I’ll be eager to see how Chan interacts with the others should the discussion drift in more pessimistic directions which would not necessarily be a shock given the challenges facing the church in the United States and Canada.
Anyway, here is what you need to know:
- The event begins at 7pm pacific time (10pm eastern time) and will be held in Calvary Chapel at Biola. So if you’re in LA you should just attend the event yourself.
- If you are not able to attend, a livestream will be available online. Learn more about that here.