Karam Forum 2021: Reviving Reconciliation

Reprinted from the Oikonomia Network.

Chris Brooks will speak at Karam Forum 2021 on “Reviving Reconciliation,” and folks from leading investment firm Eventide will join us to talk about the tough theological questions raised by modern finance. That’s on top of David French and Michael Wear on justice and the church today, Jennifer Powell McNutt, Gavin Ortlund and more on justice and the church in Christian history, and of course connecting with your amazing peers in our community.

We’ll meet for inspiration and collaboration on Nov. 18-19 at Doxology Bible Church in Ft. Worth. If you’re already planning to be in town for ETS, you probably don’t even need to change your flight home!

You can also participate via Zoom from wherever you are. Register now, then decide later which way to join us. Your ticket is good either way!

Check out our schedule to see everything we’re cooking up, and see below (or our FAQ page) for information on hotels, Zoom participation, transportation to San Antonio, etc.

Don’t miss out on this invaluable time together. Register for Karam Forum today!

Political conflict is nothing new. The world has been riven by political conflict for as long as there has been a world, and the church has been navigating that world for as long as there has been a church. But it feels like something has definitely changed in the polarized and fragmented environment around us – something has upended the church’s sense of where it stands amid the culture’s political passions.

In the keynote address of Karam Forum 2021, Chris Brooks of Detroit’s Woodside Bible Church – a longtime leader in our community when it comes to these issues– will speak to that dislocation. It is new in a sense, but at the same time, it embodies an old problem. In a talk entitled “Reviving Reconciliation,” Brooks will discuss the rising influence of extreme ideologies on both the Left and Right. These ideologies don’t actually begin with a commitment to some particular scheme of political, economic and social arrangements, but with a cosmology and anthropology of endless conflict. “Us versus Them forever, world without end, amen” is the ultimate foundation upon which the particular political, economic and social preferences of each ideology is constructed.

Hence the gospel of Jesus Christ, which centers on reconciliation, is both the most profound possible challenge to these extreme ideologies and the conceptual model that allows us to envision how better political, economic and social arrangements might be achieved. Brooks will speak to how the influence of the Christian message of reconciliation can be revived in our generation.

Karam Forum 2021 will also welcome local representatives of Eventide, a Christian investment firm with $9 billion in assets, to dig into the theological challenges raised by their work in modern finance. With a vision of “Investing that Makes the World Rejoice” (yes, you are hearing echoes of Amy Sherman in that phrase), Eventide has gone beyond the basics, such as not investing in companies with clear ethical flags, to develop a broader, theologically-formed account of what it means for a company to genuinely “create value” for people.

This hasn’t been an easy journey, and the questions aren’t simple. Blake Schwarz of Park Cities Presbyterian Church will host a discussion with local Eventide leaders on the theological principles that guide their work, the thorny questions and challenges they face, and how the church can develop better economic wisdom for the future. (If you were with us for Karam Forum 2019 you may remember Blake as the host of our “field trip.”)

You won’t want to miss these insightful and catalytic conversations!

In addition to Chris Brooks’ keynote and our conversation with Eventide, we’ve got plenty more to inspire and equip you:

  • We’ll dive into Christian history with stimulating presentations on Christian opposition to slavery in ancient Rome (Gavin Ortlund of First Baptist Church of Ojai), justice and social activism in the early Reformation (Jennifer Powell McNutt of Wheaton College) and the encounter between the Industrial Revolution and the Wesleyan movement (Jennifer Woodruff Tait of St. John’s Episcopal Church and Charlie Self of Assemblies of God Theological Seminary). Brent Waters of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary will then moderate a discussion featuring Uche Anizor of the Talbot School of Theology and Jay Moon of Asbury Theological Seminary.
  • David French, author of Divided We Fall and senior editor of The Dispatch, and Michael Wear, author of Reclaiming Hope and co-founder of the AND Campaign, will join us digitally to help us think about how the church’s mission and social role can be stewarded with prophetic independence in these acutely polarized times. Chris Brooks will host the discussion.
  • We’ll be holding another Karam Forum Global Session, following the success of our first session in January, to compare notes with colleagues around the world.
  • For the first time, we’ll discuss original scholarly papers in breakout groups, with papers from Brent Waters, Helen Rhee, Klaus Issler, Ryan Darr, Michael Wittmer and more. We’re building toward our new peer-reviewed journal on theology for human flourishing, launching in Spring 2022. We also plan to release an open call for papers to be discussed at the Forum next fall.
  • Follow-up webinars to continue the conversation next spring for members of Karam Fellowship. Topics will include the church and the current political crisis, a Christian perspective on the financial system, and more.
  • And of course all the connecting and networking with colleagues that’s essential to the Karam Forum experience!

If you’re in Ft. Worth, our event will be starting shortly after ETS ends, and we’ll be done with plenty of time to get to San Antonio for those who are heading to SBL/AAR. The event starts at 7pm on Thursday and ends at 12:15pm on Friday; see our schedule for details.

Good news for travelers who need rooms! ETS conference hotel rates are available during the dates Karam Forum is meeting. See our FAQ page for details.

If you can’t be with us in Ft. Worth, we are also committed to a great digital experience. We’re going to have dedicated staff on site to make sure you have the best remote Forum we can give you. Those who join us via Zoom will get to see and hear the whole event, submit questions during discussion periods in each session, and also have “virtual table talk” with other digital participants. You’ll join not only our plenary sessions in this way, but also the academic-paper breakout session of your choice.

Even better, you can buy your ticket for Karam Forum today – why not click here right now and do so? – then decide later whether you want to join us in person or via Zoom. It’s the same ticket either way.

We’re going to have a van departing directly for San Antonio from the conference location at Doxology Bible Church, so if you’re attending SBL/AAR that will save you time and money. Our very limited seating will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Seats are only available to those who have already registered for Karam Forum, so register now to get a seat before they’re gone!

Don’t put it off – register for Karam Forum today!

We’re looking forward to reconnecting with our community after so long apart. Whether you join us live or via Zoom, we’re grateful to the Lord for your being part of this amazing mission and fellowship!

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