The Multi-sided Public Square

Truth and mercy have met together. Justice and peace have kissed. (Psalm 85:10)

Christians frequently differ on important issues, and it is a mark of spiritual maturity if they handle those differences creatively rather than engage in damaging verbal warfare.”1 (Raymond Brown)

In rediscovering what it means to live for God and His glory alone, Contemporary Christianity seeks to support Christians and the church to serve their communities at critical points of: cultural contention; communal conflict; and social change. We aim to engage Christian minds with issues in the public square, to inject new perspectives and provoke discussion. Continue reading

When words fail: religious literacy and post-multicultural possibilities

How do we reach out in compassion, and avoid a tabloid- type reaction to other faiths, whilst standing up for values that are important in our society (values often derived from a Biblical faith)? jenny_taylorDr Jenny Taylor is a cultural analyst, journalist, author and founder of Lapido Media, a consultancy specialising in religious literacy in world affairs. Jenny has reported from areas of conflict and poverty all over Asia and Africa, deciding to specialize in Islam and secularization. She speaks and writes on the connection between faith and culture, on which she has addressed parliamentary, Commonwealth and media gatherings. From 1988 to 1994 she was the editor of GO, the magazine for Interserve. She co- authored the book Faith and Power (1998), along with Professor Lamin Sanneh of Yale, and Lesslie Newbigin. She is a member of the Evangelical Alliance's Theological Advisory Group. A local perspective to Jenny's talk was given by two responders, Dr Gladys Ganiel (Research Fellow in the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice at Queen's University) and Will Leitch (Journalist and Broadcaster at BBC Northern Ireland). Click here to listen to the responders. Click here for a transcript of the lecture.  

Can we have a civil society, please?

(Note: This article first appeared on on 2 Dec 2012, and is distributed with the author's permission)

Is it just me, or is there anyone else out there getting more and more dispirited about the quality of public discourse? Arguments on an ad hominem basis; speeches with barbed phrases, and interviews that both lower the tone and lessen understanding of the issues apparently under consideration. Continue reading

The Redundant Church?

The church's services as chaplain to this democracy are no longer required. You've been given your P45; your severance pay is in the mail.

This is roughly what Walter Brueggemann said to a Presbyterian audience in America.* It is perhaps how the church in the UK feels when we hear, for example, that it is unlawful for prayers to be included on the agenda of council meetings. Continue reading

Something is better than nothing …

For many years, I taught in the American Studies Program on Capitol Hill, an interdisciplinary semester of study focused on nurturing in undergraduates the vision and virtues required to take up vocations in the public square. Formed by a deeply wrought understanding of Christian responsibility, the curriculum centred upon an exploration of the themes of truth, justice, shalom, and hope, set amidst concrete, contemporary policy debates ranging from welfare reform to Middle East politics. Continue reading