Do not be afraid. This is a constant refrain in scripture. Do not be afraid. Yet, frantic claims of religious persecution of Christians in America are reported to be growing at a rate that alarms many. Yet, is this really the case? And should we be afraid? At “Religious Persecution, Privilege, Paranoia–and Hope,” taking place Saturday, April 7th here at Multnomah University we will be examining from a variety of different angles whether the supposedly broad-scale persecution of Christianity is in fact a misinterpreted loss of privileges we as Christians have grown accustomed to–and so become paranoid when they disappear. But on the other side of this realization is hope–the real hope of Christ, and not the hope in political power, coersion, or fear.
As part of our long ongoing Theology of Culture conference series started by New Wine in 2000, we at The Institute for Cultural Engagement: New Wine New Wineskins have a long history of trying to bring many diverse voices together to build bridges through Jesus. What bridges will be built at this conference? We will learn together how to:
DISCERN the difference between persecution and a loss of Christian privilege.
BECOME victorious and resilient in the midst of challenges to the faith in view of our living hope and God’s sovereign, providential love.
LEARN how to be flexible and pliable to navigate various faith challenges so as to be more missional.
GROW in awareness and concern for people of various nations and religions who undergo persecution for their faith.
COUNT the cost of being a disciple of Jesus.
And we might just make a few new friends in the process.
8am – Open Check-in and Registration
9am-9:20am – New Wine, New Wineskins Conference Introduction – Dr. Paul Louis Metzger
Dr. Paul Louis Metzger is currently serving as the Senior Scholar in Residence at the Overseas Ministries Studies Center, and is the Founder and Director of The Institute for Cultural Engagement: New Wine, New Wineskins at Multnomah University and Seminary where he also serves as Professor of Christian Theology and Theology of Culture. New Wine is an official program of the University. Dr. Metzger is editor of the journal Cultural Encounters: A Journal for the Theology of Culture, which is a publication of The Institute for the Theology of Culture. Dr. Metzger blogs frequently at Uncommon God, Common Good.
He is the author many books including Beatitudes Not Platitudes: Jesus’ Invitation to the Good Life (Cascade: 2018); Evangelical Zen: A Christian’s Spiritual Travels With a Buddhist Friend (Patheos, 2015); Connecting Christ: How to Discuss Jesus in a World of Diverse Paths (Thomas Nelson, May 2012); New Wine Tastings: Theological Essays of Cultural Engagement (Cascade, 2011); The Gospel of John: When Love Comes to Town (InterVarsity Press, 2010); Exploring Ecclesiology: An Evangelical and Ecumenical Introduction (co-authored with Brad Harper; Brazos, 2009); Consuming Jesus: Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church (Eerdmans, 2007); and The Word of Christ and the World of Culture: Sacred and Secular through the Theology of Karl Barth (Eerdmans, 2003). He is co-editor of A World for All?: Global Civil Society in Political Theory and Trinitarian Theology (co-edited with William F. Storrar and Peter J. Casarella; Eerdmans, 2011); and editor of Trinitarian Soundings in Systematic Theology (T&T Clark International, 2005).
9:20am -10:20am – First Plenary Dr. Dan Scalberg, The Formation and Fragmentation of America as a Christian Nation
Dr. Daniel Scalberg (Ph.D. University of Oregon), author of The Kregel Pictorial Guide to Christian Heritage in England is Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, and Chairperson of the History Department at Multnomah University.
Was America founded as a Christian nation? Is it therefore now fracturing as one? Our notions of history must be challenged and our eyes opened to the complexities of history, rather than allowing ourselves to be taken in by simplistic weaponizing of a supposedly pristine Christian past.
10:30-11:20am –Parallel Workshops (Session A)
A. Panel Discussion: Dr. Mike Gurney and Dr. Brad Harper – “You Can’t Have My Cake and Eat It Too”: Religious Freedom, Christian Bakers, and Gay Marriage
Dr. Mike Gurney (top picture) is professor of philosophy and theology at Multnomah University. He holds a Master’s in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics from Talbot and a PhD from the University of Aberdeen’s Highland Theological College.
Dr. Brad Harper (bottom picture) has an M.A. from Talbot Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from St. Louis University, is the Director of the Master of Arts in Theological Studies program and Multnomah Seminary, Associate Director of New Wine, New Wineskins, and co-author with his son Drew of Space at the Table: Conversations Between an Evangelical Theologian and His Gay Son .
The heat of recent debates over Christian bakers and wedding cakes for homosexual couples refuses to die down, but unfortunately this cooks all the flavor out of positions Christians tend to take. This panel discussion will cover two different and equally nuanced Christian perspectives on the recent debate, not in order to declare a winner, but to display civil dialogue and robust theological considerations. Get your popcorn ready!
B. Harris Zafar – The Plank in Our Eye: Looking at Muslim Persecution in America
Harris Zafar is National Spokesperson for Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA – among the oldest Muslim organizations in America – and author of book “Demystifying Islam: Tackling the Tough Questions.” Harris addresses issues facing Islam and the Muslim world in various media while also elucidating Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s global efforts towards pluralism and understanding. From Fox News and CNN to syndicated radio programs, he regularly appears on national and local news in print, TV and radio to provide insight on current issues from an Islamic perspective and to condemn intolerance and human rights abuses, especially when done in the name of religion.
When Christians talk about being persecuted in the U.S., we often overlook the large plank in our eyes: our own persecution and alienation of Muslims. We must come to terms with this reality so our communities can move toward understand and work for the common good.
C. Dr. David Wilson – Where the Heart is: The Home of Privilege
David R. Wilson teaches theology, ethics, and church history at George Fox Evangelical Seminary and Warner Pacific College in Portland, Oregon. His research has been primarily focused on ecclesiology, theology, and gender in the long eighteenth century, although he has published articles and book chapters on hermeneutics and contemporary theology. David is currently working on editing an annotated collection of the sermons of Mary Bosanquet Fletcher. He has served for over 25 years in vocational ministry, serving the congregation at Mt. Scott Church of God in Portland, Oregon from 2012 to 2016. David is co-editor of the series Explorations in Social Holiness (Emeth Press) and Co-Executive Director of Gemeinde, a non-profit organization in Portland, Oregon focused on social justice in the margins of society, and has published articles and book chapters with Oxford University Press, Manchester University Press, the Wesleyan Theological Journal, Wesley and Methodist Studies. His book, Church and Chapel in Industrializing Society (Peter Lang, 2017) is now available. He is currently writing a book on Christianity and justice in the margins and a book on a theology of worship.
Presentation description forthcoming!
11:30am-12:20pm – Parallel Workshops (Session B)
A. Karen Fancher – Rumors of War: Christian Persecution in a Global Context
Dr. Karen Fancher specializes in understanding the impact of war-related trauma in the country of Sudan and elsewhere, and is currently a Professor at Multnomah University in the MAGDJ (Master of Arts in Global Development of Justice). She will be presenting a workshop on how war and its resulting trauma impacts individual and communal psyches, and how it is so necessary to understand these situations to move forward to bring hope and healing to the world.
Christians speaking about persecution in America looks a bit different when we take a global perspective on the issue–especially as persecution globally (and not just loss of privelege) is on the rise.
B. Wilfred Kaweesa (Doctor of Ministry Candidate) – Through Another’s Eyes: Persecution or Loss of Privileges?
Wilfred Kaweesa was born and raised in Uganda, East Africa. Wilfred and his wife Deborah have been married thirty years this August. They are blessed with three adult children; Elizabeth, Dorcas, and Samuel. They love the Lord and serve in various ministries in the Church.
Wilfred responded to the call of God to pastoral ministry in 1985 and was ordained in 1993. Wilfred was a co-founder of R.U.N. Bible Church & Ministries in Uganda (1988) and was the lead minister from 1997 until 2008 when he came with his family to USA.
Currently, Wilfred is pursuing doctoral studies in Ministry at the Multnomah University. Wilfred and Deborah are the lead ministers of Faith Heritage Church in Portland, OR and in Uganda. In addition, he serves as a Chaplain at Providence Health and Services.
12:20pm-1:30pm – Lunch in JCA
1:40pm-2:40pm Final Plenary – Pastor Eric Knox, Cone of Silence: Black Churches and the Evangelical Mind
Eric Knox is the Founder and Director of Holla Ministries which provides culturally responsive mentorship to economically challenged youth of color, and is campus pastor of the eastside gathering of Imago Dei PDX.
Following in the footsteps of James Cone, Willie Jennings, and others to speak pastorally and prophetically to the present moment, Pastor Knox will present how often the dominant white conservative culture of the church claims to be persecuted, but it is a loss of privelege often earned at the past expense of others. This is not a call to be guilty, but to an awareness leading to reconciliation, and to foster hope by cultivating the diverse ethnic and global Christian reality that is present even here in America.
2:40pm-3:40pm – Closing Plenary Panel: How to Navigate Culture Shock as a Christian
Panelists: Dr. Tony Kriz, Dr. Rebekah Josberger, Professor Unique Page
Tony Kriz is husband to Aimee, father to three courageous and creative boys, unofficial ambassador of his beloved Portland, devoted to his neighborhood, honored by his communal household, and a friend to the religious and irreligious alike. He is a popular professor teaching around the country on topics of authentic faith, spiritual formation, cultural integration, cross-spiritual communication, and sacred friendship. His writing life involves books (including ALOOF and Neighbors and Wise Men), articles (including Leadership Journal), and playful profundity through his blog (www.tonykriz.com).
Rebekah Josberger is Associate Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at Multnomah Biblical Seminary. Prior to coming to MU in 2009, Becky completed B.A. at Taylor University, M.A.O.T. and M.A.R. at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Old Testament at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Along with a passion for teaching Hebrew, Becky has a particular passion for biblical Torah.
Professor Unique Page brings wide-ranging experience and years of instruction to the Masters of Arts in Counseling classroom. Page received her bachelor’s in psychology from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and her master’s in marriage, couple and family counseling from George Fox University. She has a private practice in the local community and specializes in relationships, play therapy and topics related to cultural identity.