The focus of this presentation will be the diversity of cultural, ethnic and linguistic groups that were an integral part of the early Christian movement. The Roman Empire was a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society marked by a great variety of religious beliefs and practices, as well as cultural diversity and many different ethnic groups. We will consider the major groups that were a part of the early Christian movement in the first three centuries, such as Jews, Greeks, Syrians, Romans, and others.
- Presenter: Stamenka Antonova
This workshop explores the purpose of the incarnation as it relates to the physical world and the needs of humanity. It evaluates Jesus’ purpose for engaging in these needs. Finally, it seeks to challenge us to participate in the Incarnational ministry of Christ through our interactions with those facing both spiritual and physical challenges.
- Presenter: Steve Winiarski
The apostolic decree in Acts 15 stipulates laws, it seems, about what may or may not be eaten. Like other proscriptions about food, it may be harmful to health by restricting what may be eaten. It's also a paradox, as much food eaten by people today has not been prepared using methods which eliminate blood. If the AD, thus interpreted, is one of the first binding declarations for all Christians, it must also be one of the most widely broken. But, what if the apostolic decree is referring not so much to what is eaten, as to the circumstance in which it is eaten? A reading in light of Paul's advice to the Corinthians suggests that the issue is not so much blood, but food consumed in alien religious traditions, such as the meals associated with the temple of Graeco-Roman deities, which are identified as idolatrous. This would then suggest that the passage is not so concerned with what Christians eat, as where they eat and addresses issues around participation in religious practices in which the first Christians might have been tempted to join.
- Presenter: Fergus King
When faced with some of the serious structural flaws in our modern societies, Christians may feel powerless. In the Letter to Philemon, Paul faces a similar situation. The emerging church could never aspire to transform a significant practice in the ancient world: slavery. The environment in which the letter is written is crucial: the merging Christian movement is small and has little if any, power or influence to engage with the major social issues of it s time. The emerging church cannot hope to dismantle the structure of slavery through engagement with the political status quo. Whilst he cannot change the structure on a global or imperial scale, Paul counsels Philemon to treat Onesimus in ways which are contrary to conventional practice and wisdom. In so doing, Paul shows apparently powerless Christians a means to challenge the behaviours of their culture at a macro- and familial level by subverting those structures through countercultural practice.
- Presenter: Fergus King