On December 7-9, 2006, Northern Baptist Seminary hosted the First Annual Conference of the Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future. The conference consisted of five presentations, five responses, which were in turn followed by a panel discussion and interaction with the audience. Almost 250 people attended the conference; they came from all over the United States and Canada.
The Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future was the work of Robert Webber. Bob is the William R. and Geraldyne B. Myers Chair of Ministry and Director of M.A. in Worship and Spirituality at Northern Baptist Seminary. Bob Webber is a prolific writer whose focus on worship and spirituality has made him one of the foremost authorities on worship renewal.
Bob has always been concerned with the challenges of the postmodern pragmatism that has invaded today’s church. His dream was to call today’s church back to the ancient traditions of the church in order to give the church a renewed sense of mission.
Thus, the Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future is a summons to the church in general and to Evangelicals in particular to confront the challenges facing God’s people in the twenty-first century. To read the text of the Call in its entirety, click here.
The five speakers addressed different issues raised by the Call. The speakers and their topics were as follows:
Brian D. McLaren, “Does the Emergent Church have an Ancient Evangelical Future? The Call and the Witnessing Mission of the Emerging Church.”
Frederica Matthews-Green, “The Call and Christian Spiritual Formation.”
Aaron O. Flores, “The Call and the Multi-Cultural Ministry.”
Martin E. Marty, “The Call and the Future of Evangelicalism.”
Lauren F. Winner, “The Call and Recovering our Hebrew Roots.”
I responded to Lauren Winner’s presentation on “The Call and Recovering our Hebrew Roots.” In her presentation, Lauren acknowledges that Christians today have abandoned the Old Testament, that in fact, many Christians have accepted the view of Marcion that the Old Testament is irrelevant for today’s church.
She also said that if the church is to recover its story, it must do so through Hebrew Scriptures. Lauren’s presentation focused on two practices that Jews and Christians have in common. The first one is the practice of Sabbath keeping and the second is the practice of bereavement.
Another key point in Lauren’s presentation was the recognition that community and practice were two important elements that provided identity to biblical Israel and to Judaism as the people of God.
On Thursday, I will post the text of my response to Lauren’s presentation. Because of the limitation of time, I chose to address the issues of Sabbath keeping and the concept of community in the life of ancient Israel.
A note of concern: Bob Webber is my colleague and my friend. Unfortunately, because of his struggle with pancreatic cancer, Bob Webber was unable to attend the conference. Many readers of this blog know Bob Webber. Others have known him through his writings and conferences. I would like to ask you to pray for Bob and his family at this very difficult time in the life of the Webber family.
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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