Faculty to discuss issues from Christian perspective
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
Making the best of a bad situation has become a way of life this year, but the trick is to make the alternative the best it can be.
That was the challenge facing the Grand Canyon University’s One Foundation program, normally a monthly Lunch and Learn for faculty. Because the pandemic precludes large gatherings, the six sessions in the 2020-21 academic year had to be online. But that won’t detract from their value.
The goal, said College of Theology Dean Dr. Jason Hiles, is simple:
“How do we come at a moment like this, a historical moment, and give something that is actually constructive and helpful? The content coming out of One Foundation is going to be pretty rich.”
With a theme of “Kingdom Treasures,” each session will focus on discovering the unique worldview resources available within Christianity for a life of faith, hope and love during a time that is marked by the global pandemic, political conflict, racial tension and intense human suffering.
“We’re trying to get a number of different perspectives on some of these hot-button issues, but not like the cultural dialogue where everybody’s mad all the time,” Hiles said. “It’s from a Christian perspective where people are trying to say, ‘How do we redeem this situation, how do we live with this situation, how do we love one another?’”
The format will be the same as in past years: an opening dialogue by Theology faculty, followed a panel discussion led by representatives of another college.
The only changes from past years: The start time will be noon, and reservations will not be required for participation.
And there’s one other important addition to the program: The new TheologyCommons.org website has valuable content for faculty. For example, chapters 16 and 17 of the Christian worldview eBook are exclusively devoted to faith integration and academic discipline and vocation.
Additional content also will be posted throughout the year on Living Faith, the College of Theology’s blog.
Faculty can get a head start by viewing three introductory videos:
- Sept. 18: Part 1 (Kingdom Treasures)
- Sept. 21: Part 2 (Guiding Principles)
- Sept. 28: Part 3 (Theological Virtues)
The six One Foundation livestreams and their content, as described in an email to faculty:
● Oct. 12: “Character Formation in Times of Difficulty”
The global pandemic of 2020 gives rise to questions about God’s purposes in the midst of difficulty and suffering. In the spirit of the early church father, Irenaeus, this session will explore the ways in which God works within the midst of suffering and pain to form us for his purposes by strengthening our character and deepening our faith in Christ. Watch
● Nov. 9: “Christian Civility and Public Discourse”
During the course of another contentious presidential election process, the diversity of political opinion and opinions about other topics has drawn attention to the notion of civil discourse. For Christians, discourse about politics and other topics represents one of the many ways in which Jesus’ call to love others should be applied to our daily interactions with neighbors and even our “enemies.” This session will explore the opportunities and challenges one faces in demonstrating the love of Christ within the context of conversation and controversy. Watch
● Dec. 7: “Kingdom Diversity (Part 1)”
From beginning to end, the Bible demonstrates that God loves people from every nation, tribe and language regardless of the various identities that tend to divide us (race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, class, etc.). In the midst of many divisive factors within our culture, this session will explore the biblical vision for unity and diversity within God’s Kingdom. Watch
● Jan. 11: “Kingdom Diversity (Part 2)”
This session will continue the previous discussion about the biblical vision for diversity within God’s Kingdom. Dialogue within this session will explore practical ways that Christ followers can begin to live into the reality that Jesus Christ has broken down the “wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14) in order to create for himself a new community by faith made up of people from all nations, tribes and languages (Revelation 7:9). Watch
● Feb. 15: “Justice in Biblical Perspective (Part 1)”
Justice is pervasive in the biblical narrative. Within Scripture, God is revealed as a just God who requires justice from His people and who will ultimately ensure that justice is one day a reality on earth just as it is now in heaven. The vision for justice, however, differs significantly from secularized visions of justice at play in the current cultural dialogue. This session will compare and contrast biblical justice with the concept of justice in alternative worldviews. Watch
● March 22: “Justice in Biblical Perspective (Part 2)”
This session will continue previous discussion about the biblical vision for justice and alternative conceptions of justice within non-Christian worldviews. Dialogue within this session will explore practical ways that Christ followers can begin to strive for personal justice and promote justice within their respective vocations and communities. Watch
The year will conclude with two Series Conclusion recorded videos, on April 12 and April 26.
The goal, Hiles said, will be to “layer the conversation without just hitting it right on the nose at every point” and to hear from diverse groups of people.
“We don’t want to just jump into controversy,” he added. “We’re trying to help people think from a Christian perspective.”
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].