By Mark Douglas, Professor of Christian Ethics, Columbia Theological Seminary
Almost ten years ago, Columbia Theological Seminary inaugurated a new online journal, @ this point: theological investigations in church and culture. The goal of the journal was straightforward: to model (and encourage) theological conversation among Christian laity on important topics of the day and, therein, help shape a more theologically literate church. The format, too, was straightforward: invite a scholar to write a lead essay on an assigned topic, ask three other scholars to write responses to the lead essay, and then have the lead essayist write a reply to the responses. The back-and-forth is intended not to foreclose conversation or thought but to open them up; as such we ask the scholars to end with questions, not criticisms and to highlight new ideas rather than simply assessing old ones. And we strongly encourage our writers to be brief but thoughtful and to avoid academic jargon where possible. “Think of your audience as the people sitting in the pews with you,” we tell them. “They may have college degrees, but those degrees aren’t likely to be in religion or philosophy. So think about the engineer or the schoolteacher in your midst.”
Along with the essays, we have always included a sample set of curricular materials so that Adult Sunday School groups (and their equivalent) could use the journal’s resources in more structured educational settings and can be found in the “From this point onward” section of each edition on the website. The most recent edition of @ this point is on the topic “Water” and includes a number of provocative ideas about the politics of water in changing environments around the world and, unsurprisingly but insightfully, the way Christian attention to baptism might helps us think about water and address its roles in our lives. You can see the journal (and its back-issues) here. We hope you find it all useful and enriching.
Mark Douglas, Professor of Christian Ethics, Columbia Theological Seminary