Public faith: links to some challenging ideas from Rethinking2014

Rethinking 2014

As I’ve expressed in two previous posts, I am still processing many ideas from the Rethinking Conference in Sydney 3 weeks ago. It seems I am not the only one! Here are a few links, both to reflections from those who attended the conference, and to some transcripts and summaries of ideas from those who presented at the conference.

Mike Stevens

My friend Mike blogged his three key “learns” from the conference:

  1. Develop a thick faith
  2. Engage in robust conversation
  3. Pursue gospel outcomes

If you want to unpack what Mike means by that, read his whole post here.

Will Briggs

Another conference attendee, Will Briggs from Tassie, has blogged a “brain dump” of what he gleaned from the conference in three parts, starting here, which contains some excellent summaries of the whole range of speakers and topics.

Mark Scott

One of the sessions that I most enjoyed was a talk by Mark Scott, Managing Director of the ABC. I’d love to get a transcript, but at this stage all I can find is this brief article highlighting a few key ideas.

Mark spoke about the challenges of the “new media” environment and its inherent contradictions. Most significantly, he spoke about the challenges for Christianity, which no longer has a dominant voice in our society. He encouraged Christians to see themselves as outsiders, who should not expect a presence in public conversation as an entitlement, but as based around the compelling nature of the contribution we have to make. We need to be thoughtful and intelligent contributors to public debate, as demonstrated by Volf so well on QandA.

Mark also highlighted the danger in the new media environment that Christians will retreat and create their own echo chambers, living only in that bubble. He suggested that our best example for how to engage in a post-Christian culture is to look to the pre-Christian engagement of the early church, finding points of connection to engage with people, demonstrating who we are in how we engage, and providing a compelling alternative as we engage with issues around the whole of life.

Greg Lake

I’d encourage you to read the transcript of Greg Lake’s talk given at rethinking, which is on his blog. Greg got lots of people at the conference talking with his honest insights into both the realities and the political complexities of issues surrounding Australia’s response to asylum seekers. He worked in management at both Christmas Island and Nauru, but ultimately found himself unable to reconcile his faith with what he was being asked to do in his job. That is not to say that he now sees himself as a “whistle-blower” or even a refugee advocate, and I was impressed by the way he worked hard to maintain his integrity in the way he left the Department. But I think his perspective is a really important one to listen to when it comes to our conversations around this issue, and particularly engaging with many in our country who may not be asking the same questions I am. The Centre for Public Christianity have a 10 minute audio interview with him as well.

Miroslav Volf

Finally, if you want to know more about why I found Miroslav Volf’s talks so engaging, CPX also have a 10 minute video interview with him, which gives a great overview of his position on public faith. If you have more time, you can also listen to the session he did in Adelaide on a different topic – forgiveness and reconciliation – where he shares some of his own personal story which powerfully illustrates his theological argument. (His main talk starts at the 7 minute 55 mark, and goes for about 40 minutes, followed by some Q & A.)

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