Theological educators and Christian academics came together in Los Angeles for Karam Forum 2018 on January 4-5, a time of collaboration, encouragement and equipping. We thought together about the nature of flourishing, the connection between theology and daily life, how we can draw economic wisdom from the Bible, the challenge of reforming educational institutions and our calling as scholars and educators. We honored a key leader in our community as he changes roles.
And we announced Karam Forum 2019! Mark your calendars for January 3-4, 2019 in the beautiful sunshine of Dallas/Ft. Worth. Speakers will include Miroslav Volf of Yale University, Rudy Estrada of LABI College, David Miller of Princeton University, Kevin Dudley of Made to Flourish, Mark Greene of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity and vocation curriculum author Helen Kim. The event will take place at the Riley Center at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, an ON partner school.
After an opening session from prominent Christian legal minds on the challenge of making law in a pluralistic society, Karam Forum’s “Rooted” session planted our time together in reflection on a fundamental question: What is flourishing? Opening remarks from session host Chris Armstrong framed a challenging talk from Andy Crouch on the need to embrace perseverance through suffering – the “pruning” of our lives through “high friction, low margin” activities – in order to truly flourish. We need, Crouch said, “not a prosperity gospel but a posterity gospel.” (Look for that address among our EWP Talks for use with students, coming soon!) Greg Forster moderated panel discussions with Mako Fujimura, Amy Sherman, Vincent Bacote, Brian Fikkert, Bruce Fields, Brent Waters and Sajan Mathews to unpack the implications of Crouch’s insight.
Karam Forum’s “Growing” session, hosted by Bacote, featured a panel discussion on how theology helps people discover God’s mission in their daily lives with Nathan Hitchcock, Deborah Gill and Jay Moon, moderated by Darrell Cosden. It also featured a discussion of how Christian higher education contributes to that mission in daily life perspective, with Sherman, Tod Bolsinger, Marty Harris and Mark Dalbey, moderated by Donald Guthrie. The “Fruitful” session, hosted by P.J. Hill, featured a panel of biblical scholars (Keith Reeves, Eric Tully and Joshua Jipp, moderated by Darrell Bock) wrestling with the difficult challenge of relating biblical testimony to modern economic dilemmas. We are listening carefully to feedback on how we can continue stewarding that important conversation in a way that includes diverse concerns, as we have always striven to do, and we will continue to strive for progress at Karam Forum 2019.
The event concluded with the “Tended” session, hosted by Forster. Charlie Self delivered an insight-packed address on the needs of God’s people and God’s world in the present moment, and the unique and indispensable role of our educational institutions in meeting those needs. We’re laboring diligently to bring you video of that talk – watch this newsletter for updates.
Gerry Breshears of Western Seminary has been a key leader and servant in the Oikonomia Network from its earliest days. He was an essential guide and voice of wisdom during the initial explorations of possibilities in 2009 that ultimately led to our network’s creation, and participated in the generative conversations in March 2010 at which the formal vision for the network was first cast. Since then, he has been invaluable to our community as a leader at Western, a member of the ON steering committee, a speaker at the network’s faculty retreat (see his notes from that talk, on the need for a big vision of what the gospel is) and an all-around leading light, mentor and friend.
As he steps back from his role on the steering committee – though not from his larger participation in our community – we couldn’t think of a better way to honor him than by putting his face on a Christian thought leader T-shirt, and handing out these shirts to everyone at Karam Forum. (Check out Ambrose, the awesome social enterprise that employs at-risk youth to make these shirts.)
What will startle and delight us at Karam Forum 2019? Mark your calendars and we’ll find out together!