The Integrity of Commitment

Formation not Inoculation

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It has been commonplace amongst observers of Western culture to describe it as increasingly 'secular'. Whilst this term is the subject of enormous debate, nearly all commentators agree that Western culture has substantially altered its relationship to religion. This inevitably impacts on the way education is framed, in particular for those schools which are closely tied with a religious tradition like Christianity. Stated more simply, the cultural questions concerning religion which loom largest in a student’s mind are markedly different than from 30 years ago. This seminar seeks to explore the way contemporary experience of the secular age influences the mindset of students in the contemporary classroom. Drawing upon a range of philosophers, sociologists, and theologians, it attempts to articulate how Christian formation might be articulated in ways which enable students to develop a mature Christian practice, which is both culturally engaged and critical of culture.

Speaker: Dr Mark Stephens

Dr Mark Stephens is lecturer in Biblical and Integrative Studies and Chaplain at Excelsia College. He has a PhD in Ancient History from Macquarie University, where he studied cosmic eschatology in the book of Revelation. Between 2004 and 2007, Mark was the Young Adults Director at St Paul’s Castle Hill, overseeing a ministry to 200 college students. In his spare time he enjoys Campos coffee, the humour of Monty Python, the music of Patty Griffin, and the sheer absurdity of being a Parramatta Eels supporter. In 2016 Mark delivered the Anglican EdComm Royale Ormsby Martin Lecture entitled Teaching for Humanity.

Video Recording

Bibliography from the live presentation

Campbell, B. & Manning,  J. (2014). Microaggression and Moral Cultures. Comparative Sociology, 13(6), 692-726.

Chan, S. (2018). Evangelism in a Skeptical World: How to Make the Unbelievable News about Jesus more Believable. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Cosper, M. (2014). The Stories we Tell: How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth. Wheaton, Il: Crossway.

Harrison, G. (2016). A Better Story: God, Sex, and Human Flourishing. London, UK: InterVarsity Press.

Hunter, J.D. (2010). To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Keller, T. (2012). Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centred Ministry in your City. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Lukianoff, G. & Haidt,  J. (2018). The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting up a Generation for Failure. New York, NY: Penguin.

Noble, A. (2018). Disruptive Witness: Speaking Truth in a Distracted Age. Downers Grove, Il: InterVarsity.

Taylor C. (2007). A Secular Age. Cambridge, UK: Belknap Press.

Further Reading for Teacher Identified Professional Learning

Below you will find three readings that Dr Mark Stephens has identified as further reading. These readings will give you further insight into the content of the evening and will be valuable to inform your thinking.

1. Chan, S. (2018). Evangelism in a Skeptical World: How to Make the Unbelievable News About Jesus More Believable. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. (Chapter 2: Everyday Evangelism: How do I tell my friends about Jesus?) 

2. Hunter, J.D. (2010). To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. (Essay 3, Chapter 3: The Groundwork for an Alternative Way)

3. Keller, T. (2016). Making Sense of God: Finding God in the Modern World. London, UK: Hodder & Stoughton. (Chapter 2: Isn’t Religion Based on Faith and Secularism on Evidence?)

4. Noble, A. (2018). Disruptive Witness: Speaking Truth in a Distracted Age. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. (Chapter 2: The Barrier of the Buffered Self)

5. Taylor C. (2007), A Secular Age. Cambridge, UK: Belknap Press. (Chapter 13: The Age of Authenticity)