MBTS inaugural journal, Permanent Things, released – focuses on Christian cultural engagement

Posted June 5, 2019 by T. Patrick Hudson

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) – A new journal entitled Permanent Things, which predominantly focuses on Christian cultural engagement, was released June 5 by the Center for Public Theology at Midwestern Seminary.

The purpose of the journal, which will be published annually and can be accessed mainly online, is to stimulate thought about the meaning of Christianity in a fallen age that rejects divine order, and to show the beauty of the Christian worldview against every alternative.

Jason Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the new journal will be particularly helpful in assisting its readers in “equipping the church of Jesus Christ for theological engagement in a fallen order and a secularizing public square.”

He added, “For the past three years, Dr. Owen Strachan—through the Center for Public Theology—has been setting the standard in providing the evangelical community with insight and resources for ministry and Christian interaction in the public arena. Permanent Things takes this work to another level, as it will offer readers timely, much-needed articles on a host of issues people will be confronted with on a daily basis in our lost and morally-confused culture.”

Strachan, the editor of Permanent Things and who also serves as associate professor of Christian Theology and director of the CPT at Midwestern Seminary, said the journal is “a venture into the theological discipline of Christ and culture. It is a work, therefore, of cultural engagement. From an evangelical standpoint, we may explicitly include a biblical conception of the family, church, and public square.

Permanent Things is a Baptist equivalent of the long-appreciated Books & Culture, First Things, and The City, each a journal of thought and letters from a distinctly religious standpoint. Our charge is to assist the church in thinking in a distinctly Christian way in a climate in which such assistance is in short supply.”

Strachan said that the first issue of Permanent Things, which received its name from the writings of T.S. Eliot, features reflection on matters modern and ancient, including posthumanism, the films of Christopher Nolan, the meaning of conservatism, the “intellectual dark web,” Christian statesmanship, manhood and womanhood, and much more.

The Center for Public Theology was launched in June 2016 at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in St. Louis. Since, Strachan has leveraged blog posts, podcasts, lectureships, and social media to promote the center’s work and ideas.

In the journal’s inaugural edition:

Michael Plato, assistant professor of intellectual history and Christian thought at Colorado Christian University, gives a thorough but concise summary of two major challenges to Christian anthropology in our time: transhumanism and posthumanism. Of the essay Strachan said “Many of us are hearing these terms, but few pastors know how to engage these challenges, new as they are. Plato’s article will help prepare the church on this front.”

Brett McCracken, an editor for The Gospel Coalition, writes an original piece on the films of Christopher Nolan. He shows that Nolan addresses timeless questions with subtlety, finesse, and depth, but resolutely avoids Christian answers. Strachan noted that the medium of our age is increasingly movies, and so McCracken’s piece is a great introduction to perhaps the leading director of our time. He added, “McCracken is the best young film critic of our time.”

Midwestern Seminary Provost Jason Duesing offers a reflection on evangelical statesmanship that is Inklings-like. In fractious times, Duesing produces an essay that rightly calls for both conviction and graciousness. This is a crucial element of leadership in 2019.

Freelance writer and Ph.D. student, Esther O’Reilly, contributes a sharp-eyed overview of the Intellectual Dark Web. This strange and amorphous movement has received surprisingly little attention in the evangelical community, and O’Reilly’s analysis offers much food for thought on this subject. Christians do well to think through the IDW, such as it is, with clarity and perception.

Other contributors to Permanent Things include Strachan, Andreas J. Kostenberger, Bruce Ashford, H.B. Charles, Jr., Andrew Walker, Jonathan Leeman, David Talcott, Costi Hinn, Abigail Dodds, Don Sweeting, and Thomas Kidd.

Permanent Things will have limited printed editions but can be found on Midwestern Seminary’s website at www.mbts.edu/permanentthings.

Patrick Hudson is assistant professor of communications & history and institutional editor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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