Karam Forum Mini-Talks

Reprinted from the Oikonomia Network

Each session at Karam Forum 2018 was hosted by a leader from our community who framed the session with a 7-8 minute mini-talk. Like our Economic Wisdom Project Talks, these mini-talks are packed with catalytic insight. Check them out below and mark your calendars for Karam Forum 2019, featuring Miroslav Volf, David Miller and Mark Greene!

Vincent Bacote: “Seminaries or Cemeteries? A Mission as Big as Life Itself”

Vincent Bacote told the audience that, being in Los Angeles, they were sitting not far from the most influential seminary in the world: Hollywood. The movies win hearts and minds by showing people an imaginary world on a screen for two hours. Theology may not have big special effects budgets, but it can do something even more impressive than the movies; it can show us the real world. Bacote argued that theological education needs to recover a sense of how big the mission of theology is – a mission as big as the whole world, as big as life itself. Only then will it reverse its reputation as a storehouse of lifeless abstractions and decaying formulas.

Greg Forster: “Discovering Oikonomia: A Christian Life of the Mind”

Introducing Charlie Self, the event’s closing speaker, Greg Forster described how his conversion to the faith as an adult forced him to reevaluate what it meant to live the life of a scholar and educator. In a universe where God cares about building bridges and feeding the hungry as much as he cares about knowledge and insight, how can we have a Christian life of the mind? Forster argued that reason must have a place in the oikonomia theou, God’s plan for all things, because we use reason to discover the oikonomia theou. Everyone in the kingdom of God, in all vocations, has valuable knowledge; nonetheless there is an indispensable role for those who live the life of the mind – as Self put it, raising up poets and prophets for God’s people and world.

P.J. Hill: “Theology and Economics: Getting Past Cognitive Dissonance”

P.J. Hill shared the story of his journey as an economist who slowly discovered that moral and even theological questions were not secondary to his discipline; they were right at the heart of it. From a starting point where he struggled to connect his faith to his economic studies, producing “cognitive dissonance,” Hill eventually concluded that economic understanding had to begin with questions of justice, rights and morally ordered desires. Hill also described some insights the economic discipline provides on market economies that can inform theological evaluation of their functioning, such as the role markets play in coordinating social activity among people who don’t know each other well.

Chris Armstrong: “Flourishing: More than Souls on Sticks”

Gremlins sabotaged the audio feed at Karam Forum 2018, but this memorable mini-talk will be re-recorded and released at a future date – stay tuned!

Chris Armstrong argued that a well-rounded Christian view of human flourishing is essential to the faith in the coming generation. Too often, the church has treated people as if they were “souls on sticks” – addressing their eternal fate, but not their whole lives. Many young people leave the church today not because they think Christianity is false but because they think Christianity is irrelevant to anything they care about; our problem is not so much “intellectual atheism” as “practical atheism.” Bringing in delightful wisdom from C.S. Lewis and pointing to its origin in the earlier ages of the faith that Lewis studied, Armstrong made a case for Lewis’ maxim that “because we love something else more than this world, we love even this world better than those who know no other.”

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