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When we keep the gospel central, we can disagree on lesser but still important matters in good faith. In the Good Faith Debates, we hope to model this—showing that it’s possible for two Christians united around the gospel to engage in charitable conversation even amid substantive disagreement.
Can Racial Reconciliation Happen without Racial Justice Being Achieved First?
As Christians consider how to heal racial wounds and pursue racial justice, one point of debate that has emerged is the question of how reconciliation and justice are related. Must justice be served first, before talk of reconciliation can even be taken seriously? Or is reconciliation the groundwork that makes the collective pursuit of justice possible? Should evangelicals stop talking of the need for “racial reconciliation” unless they are actively addressing racial injustice? Or is the theological value of reconciliation—and forming meaningful relationships across racial lines—what will ultimately empower diverse communities to address injustice together?
The pace of change in the digital age is staggering. Every year sees the emergence of new platforms, apps, and technologies that each bring possibilities, problems, and power to reshape culture. What should the church’s posture be toward new technologies?
Few Christians would deny that “creation care” is a good thing, or that stewardship of God’s creation is a biblical mandate. But many Christians differ on the public policy implications of environmental stewardship. Is creation care something Christians should only practice in their private sphere of activities (e.g. not littering, recycling, etc.), or is it an issue requiring larger political action (e.g. regulations to curb emissions, government incentives for clean energy development, etc.)? Should addressing climate change be a public policy priority for Christians? Why or why not?
Jake Meador is the editor-in-chief of Mere Orthodoxy and a contributing editor with Plough. He lives in his hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska with his wife and four children. Jake is the author of multiple books and his writing has appeared in National Review, First Things, Commonweal, and The University Bookman, amongst others.
Should Christians support tougher immigration laws?
The issue of immigration is perennially divisive in American politics, and also among American Christians (whose opinions about immigration are often more informed by politics than the Bible). What are the best biblical arguments for strong borders and enforcement of immigration law on one side, or more open borders on the other? For Christians, how does our faith inform the relationship between respecting the law and showing compassion to undocumented immigrants?
Darren Guerra is a professor of political science at Biola University in La Mirada, California. He is the author of Perfecting the Constitution: The Case for the Article V Amendment Process. Darren has also published articles in First Things, Public Discourse, and Christianity Today. Guerra has appeared on NPR and Voice of America and frequently speaks on how to preserve American Constitutionalism.
Should Christians send their kids to public school?
Christian parents are right to give significant thought to where and how they educate their children. For many, the decision involves not only faith convictions but also financial realities, among other factors. Why, or why not, should a Christian parent have their children attend public schools? And if not, what are the best arguments for investing in a nonpublic education option (e.g. Christian private, homeschool, private classical school, and so on)? Whatever a parent decides, how might they compensate for the downsides of their choice?
Jen Wilkin is an author and Bible teacher from Dallas, Texas. She has organized and led studies for women in home, church, and parachurch contexts. An advocate for Bible literacy, her passion is to see others become articulate and committed followers of Christ, with a clear understanding of why they believe what they believe, grounded in the Word of God. You can find her at JenWilkin.net.
Should we insist on a theological and historical definition of “evangelical” if many self-described evangelicals see it primarily as a political identity?
What is an “evangelical”? Whatever the term meant historically, what does it mean today? To some ears, the term brings to mind MAGA hats more than church pews. To others, the term connotes certain theological commitments and missional postures. Has the term outlived its usefulness by taking on a meaning far from its original usage? How should faithful Christians use or not use “evangelical” as an identifying term?
Ryan Burge is an assistant professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University and a pastor at First Baptist Church in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. He is the author of The Nones: Where They Came From, Who They Are, And Where They Are Going.
Andrew T. Walker is associate professor of Christian ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a fellow with the Ethics and Public Policy Center. His books include Liberty for All: Defending Everyone’s Religious Freedom in a Pluralistic Age and God and the Transgender Debate: What Does the Bible Actually Say about Gender Identity?
How should churches address racial injustice?
Few issues have divided the church in recent years more than the topic of race and justice. Even if there is agreement that injustice and systemic racism still exist, approaches to address these issues sharply divide many Christians. For churches and Christians who believe silence and apathy are not biblical options on this topic, but who are confused and frustrated about the best way forward, what should they consider? What are the best things Christians and churches can do to help bring necessary change?
Brian Davis is currently a pastor at Del Ray Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia. He and his wife, Sonia, have two sons and a daughter.
Justin Giboney is an attorney and political strategist in Atlanta, Georgia. He is also the co-founder and president of the AND Campaign.
Should the “pro-life” movement be holistically (womb to tomb) or narrowly (womb) focused?
Sometimes pro-life activists are criticized for caring about vulnerable life in the womb but caring little about vulnerable lives outside the womb. Is this a fair critique, and are there ways the pro-life movement should be more expansive in its efforts to celebrate the sanctity of life? For Christians, do the theological and moral foundations of the pro-life argument (e.g., imago Dei) call us to align with other causes (e.g., fighting racism, social injustice, or climate change) that might break rank with political coalitions typically aligned with pro-life policy? Or is there an argument to be made that a narrowly focused pro-life movement is essential and that expanding its focus can be counterproductive?
Karen Swallow Prior is research professor of English and Christianity and culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has been a long-time pro-life activist. She is the author of several books, including On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life in Great Books.
Is “woke church” a stepping stone to theological compromise?
The “woke” debates have fractured the church like little else in recent years. On one side are Christians who believe Scripture demands the church lead the way in addressing topics like racism, injustice, gender inequality, poverty, and climate change. On the other are Christians who accuse the “woke” gospel of just being a new generation of the “social” gospel, which in previous iterations often meant gradual theological compromise. What are we talking about when we use the word “woke”? And which should be the bigger concern for the church today: caring too little about activism on the social issues of the day, or caring too much about the wrong issues?
Sean DeMars is husband to Amber, dad to Patience and Isabella, and pastor at 6th Ave Church in Decatur, Alabama.
How should Christians think about gun control and the right to bear arms?
The issue of gun control and 2nd Amendment rights is one of the most intractable, polarizing topics in contemporary America. Because it is such a partisan issue, many Christians naturally view the topic through that lens. But is there a Christian lens through which to evaluate the debate? If Christian ethics are brought to bear on the issue, what is the more biblical position? More restrictive gun control or more individual freedom to bear arms?