Announcing The Christward Collective Initiative

The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (a name that admittedly doesn’t sing like The Gospel Coalition, does it?) just announced fusion_tranquil_christward_logoThe Christward Collective, a sort of portal they describe as,

an attempt to help introduce the reader to various aspects of theology, together with the experiential benefits that ought to flow from them. Whether systematic, biblical, exegetical, historical or pastoral theology, we are seeking to help further equip believers for growth in their relationship with Christ and other believers. In short, we long for all believers to care deeply about theology and to see the ‘cash value’ of diligently pursuing such study. This site is a place where ‘doctrine and life meet.’

There are some solid guys contributing to it, and so I heartily commend it.

Japan + Jonathan Edwards = A Surprising Work Indeed

My oldest daughter, who is much smarter than her father, just forwarded me the latest monthly e-mail newsletter from Yale University. Honestly, I thought it was a joke, something straight out of The Onion.

I’m glad I was wrong.

The headline of one of the sections? “Global interest in Jonathan Edwards spurs new interest in Japan.” Japan? Jonathan Edwards? Together?

Yes. And it only gets better.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

For the American revivialist (sic) and philosopher who wrote A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God in the Conversion of Many Hundred Souls in Northampton in 1737it would no doubt be equally surprising that the International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan recently announced establishment of the Jonathan Edwards Center Japan, affiliated with the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University….

The Jonathan Edwards Center Japan will serve as a research, education and publications hub for study of Edwards and early American history and develop links with the academic community in Japan, including, but not limited to, Sophia University, a private research university in Tokyo.

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), pastor, revivalist, Christian philosopher, missionary, Yale College graduate, and president of Princeton University, is regarded by many as North America’s greatest theologian. He is the subject of intense scholarly interest because of his significance as an historical figure and the profound legacy he left on America’s religious, political and intellectual landscapes.

“Our plan is to pay sustained critical attention to Edwards’s and early American historical thought,” said Edwards scholar Anri Morimoto, a professor at International Christian University. “Jonathan Edwards was an important American theologian and, more specifically, America’s greatest contributor to catholic and philosophical theology.”

Kenneth Minkema, executive director of the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University, observed,  “The establishment of the Jonathan Edwards Center Japan at International Christian University is a significant expansion of Edwards and early American history scholarship and will serve widely both academia and the church.”

This is an astonishingly encouraging development. The last I checked, Japan is a 1% Christian nation. Who would have ever predicted that interest in Jonathan Edwards would result in a university in Tokyo, along with the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University, together creating a research center solely devoted to his thought? I’d like to think that Edwards himself would be surprised at this new development, but I’d probably, and gladly, be proven otherwise.

Many thanks to the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University for their strategic partnership to make The Jonathan Edwards Center in Japan become a reality.

[Also seeYale, Jonathan Edwards, and My Daughter]

The Anti-Sexy Small Group

The church my family and I attend is a recent church plant. It has a large number of college students and younger professionals. There are few older people (i.e. 40 years old and above). There’s a balance of single and younger married couples. A fair amount of the congregants didn’t grow up in a church context, so church life is fairly new to them.

It is in this varied context where I have been leading a small group for almost a year. Every week (with nary a break) we meet over a nice meal and drink, and launch into lively discussion. Recently, someone likened our group to the United Nations, as it is very racially and ethnically diverse. It really is interesting to behold.

Now, you might think we are doing something novel, something exciting, something, well, sexy, to draw a younger hip crowd. And I wouldn’t blame you for thinking such things.

But you’d be wrong.

So what are we reading and discussing each week that draws a diverse yet committed crowd of people (Christians and otherwise)?

This book.

And the book we read and discussed before that? This one.

(Sexy, huh?)