Building Bridges to Faith
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Six Pillars for a Growing Edge in Apologetic Dialogue

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What are the rules of engagement in dialogue? We assume that you desire to give a calm and reasoned answer for the vision of promise, hope, faith and love within you, the narrative vision that engages you, that motivates you and makes sense of your world. We assume that you are keen and willing to do some fresh work, reading and thinking. You sense the need for the Christian voice on campus and you are willing to step up to the plate, to become part of the answer. You are not going to assume that no one is interested in faith on campus. And you want to know the effective tools that are available to equip your personal dialogue with friends. Here are some parameters for discussion:

Dr. Gordon Carkner will offer a seminar on a Template for Dialogue, a strategic toolkit for engaging one's friends and deepening one’s faith at Missionsfest Vancouver on Friday, January 30, 2015 @ 3:00 p.m. in Room 3 at Vancouver Conventions Centre. 

  1. Worldview Discernment: mapping the pluralistic landscape of the various spiritual journeys we are likely to encounter in today’s society. Posture: You refuse to be overwhelmed by difference and diversity of convictions. The landscape of campus is a global village and you want to learn and listen much.

 

  1. Investigative Journalism: employing fruitful human questions one can use to make deeper connections and find points of spiritual contact on which to build. Posture: You are a detective or reporter with a heart. You have a need to know what people believe about important questions.

 

  1. Establish Common Ground: finding the best in people as a point of non-defensive and non-offensive conversational entry. What are the assumptions we can make from our common aspirations, our creaturehood and our will to the common good and human flourishing? If Jeremy Rifkin is right, i.e. that we are becoming a more empathic civilization, there is great hope for sharing insights on meaning. We can help each other solve problems and figure out life. Posture: With a level playing field, you will have a just discussion, an exciting discovery.

 

  1. Reckoning with Cultural Barriers to Faith: understanding and mobilizing idolatries, roadblocks, closed world systems, loss of transcendence as leverage in conversation. Every posture known to university students and faculty is vulnerable under critical scrutiny, whether the hegemony is scientific materialism, nihilistic skepticism, or a hardened religious fundamentalism perspective. This involves mapping the modern and postmodern perception worlds (social imaginaries) that people inhabit. There are also moral ideologies that prevent people from hearing what you are saying; one’s moral and intellectual bent are more interconnected than many people often realize. Dialogue invites people to enter an open field of discussion, rather than fighting like a trapped fox, who has been cornered by a group of friends in a residence bull session.

 

  1. Communicative Potential of the Poetic/Prophetic Edge: especially in the aesthetic oriented Postmodern/Late Modern Condition. Here we explore the language of epiphany, agape love and transcendence. Scientific rationality does not work in this arena. Modernism and scientism have been called into question and found wanting. Hermeneutics is more the game and the alternative way of seeing the world. We are on the Continental Philosophy frontier.

 

  1. Biblical Narrative and the Jesus Story: always the fresh opportunity to come to understand Jesus in context of issues, aspirations and questions of one’s interlocutor. Celebrating a robust Jesus story and kingdom teaching for today’s complex world. How indeed is Jesus the Yes and Amen to it all? What is the God of Jesus of Nazareth like? There is a lot more to Jesus than many people think. The incarnation is up there with the most profound events in human history.

Working Proposal

We are suggesting a fusion between cultural research, apologetics and great story telling as a point of leverage for Christian communications and dialogue on campus. We see apologetics as a tool for finessing our approach to people, and a means to remove the violence, triumphalism and narcissism in some forms of presentation. We call this a confident, dialogical, pro-active stance; one needs to take the leadership in raising the right questions, and setting the agenda for meaningful moral, religious and inter-religious discussions. This includes picking up on the discussions and questions that come up every day in every sector of family life, school, work and media. It encourages us to employ our full intelligence, love, creativity. We employ our fullest imagination to say who we are and make the good news understandable and commendable, in order to resonate with today’s university community. We want to help make space for God in the lives of people and to help turn their love and passion towards their creator-redeemer, where we believe there is substantial hope.

 

Observation

 God has left his fingerprints all over creation, from the expanse of the cosmos to the depths and contours of the human heart. It is our task to pay attention, examine the evidence, pick up the trail and discover how to discern the clues. This spectacular universe and the complex nature of humans intimates the possibility of a further knowledge of God, builds in longing for deeper explanation (creatio et anthropos). It is possible to move beyond cynicism and Nihilism, to restore one’s sense of wonder and hunger for discovery. Where does the evidence lead us? What are the possibilities of this all-important investigation? Strategically, we want to discuss ways and means to improve access, correct the misconceptions, confront the stereotypes, and to heighten people’s curiosity and awareness of God’s art, his deep vested interest in each human being and his tremendous offer of  love—a phenomenal gift.

~Gord Carkner

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