By Stan Friedman
CHICAGO, IL (July 7, 2014) — A diverse group of eight women from around the Covenant decided they wanted to engage in intentional and public conversation about how the denomination’s six Affirmations inform and shape their lives. The result is the new blog, Theoloqui (God + Eloquence).
Each Monday, the blog features a reflection by one of the writers to open a discussion—among themselves and anyone else who wants to join in.
“I joined because I want to be a part of an intentional dialogue about our faith with a strong, diverse group of women whom I find to be particularly real and honest about who they are and where they are in their personal journeys,” says Alexandria Macias, who is associate director of academic services at North Park Theological Seminary and one of the writers.
The group’s diversity is one of its greatest strengths, the members say. They are diverse, not just ethnically, but also in age, life experiences, and vocations. Though most are from evangelical backgrounds, they have each experienced the breadth of that tradition differently. Even within the Covenant, the Affirmations are interpreted and applied through unique contexts.
“I am compelled by the opportunity to learn and grow together with people who daily serve the body of Christ in varying capacities, ministry areas, and contexts,” says Gail Song Bantum, worship, discipleship and executive pastor at Quest Church in Seattle, Washington.
“I believe this blog forum will be an exciting outlet for us to engage in theological dialogue with one another—and the larger church—through the lens of our unique stories, theological formation, and life experiences,” adds Bantum.
It is an opportunity that writer Lisa Sharon Harper says has not always been fully open to women. “For centuries women were pressed to the margins of theological discourse: the primary space for women’s voices was labeled ‘feminist theology.’ I always found that incredibly ironic. Why is my theological perspective ‘feminist’ and that of any male just ‘theology’?”
Harper, who is the senior director of mobilizing for Sojourners in Washington D.C., adds, “This dynamic is especially true in our evangelical tradition. Our voice is often invited to the conversation to represent ‘a woman’s perspective.’ So I love that this project is all women. In this space we are all simply theologians. We get to talk about more than women’s roles or leadership—though we will certainly engage those issues. We get to disagree and learn from each other. And we get to lift up the full human capacity of women to contribute to broad theological discourse.”
Participants say they look forward to others joining the conversations. “It feels like an internal conversation even though the strength of it will be found in the interaction that happens in the larger church community,” says Jill Riley, a church planter in Billings, Montana.
The writers emphasize that the blog’s role is to provide a forum for dialogue, not debate. Questions are raised, but not necessarily answered. Like the Affirmations, the blog is meant to give people room to breathe.
In today’s post, Cathy Norman Peterson, the features editor for The Covenant Companion, writes, “We disagree deeply within the church—both about what the texts mean and what we do with them. Does my theology derive from Scripture? Or the other way around? Both, of course. And yet sometimes we can’t help but polarize our perspectives. How do we reconcile our wildly different understandings of the same passages?”
That’s a good question. One worth talking about.
The other writers are:
Michelle Clifton-Soderstrom, professor of theology and ethics at North Park Theological Seminary
Jen Gillan, worship pastor at Resurrection Covenant Church in Chicago and part-time community health nurse
Geila Rajaee, chaplain at a national cancer center in Seattle, Washington
The six Affirmations are:
- The centrality of Scripture
- The necessity of new birth
- The commitment to the whole mission of the church
- The church as a fellowship (communion) of believers
- A conscious dependence on the Holy Spirit
- The reality of freedom in Christ
The blog will address a different Affirmation each month until January. Then the group will take up new topics yet to be determined.