(Editor’s note: the following article is the editor’s introduction for the latest edition of Post-Christendom Studies. It is available online and in print.)
Hybrid: A product made by combining two separate elements. The Centre for Post-Christendom Studies (CPCS) seeks to be a hybrid; that is, we want to be both a centre for academic research on post-Christendom as a cultural phenomenon and also a centre for reflection on how the church can address the challenges of living in a post-Christian context. Sometimes holding these two things together—or, better put, doing them both well—can be a challenge. We hope the CPCS can be a think tank on one hand, but also a place for practical resources on the other. We want to present the best of academic research, while at the same time also presenting the best of ministry practice.
This issue of our journal is definitely an example of this goal. The five articles here offer a combination of both good scholarly reflection on the post-Christian context and genuine insight into what the ministry practitioner might do about it (the “so what?”). This kind of dual purpose is why the CPCS exists.
In this edition of Post-Christendom Studies, Paul Doerksen draws our attention to the rise of virtue ethics and the potential that this development offers for Christian ethics and cultural engagement in a post-Christian context. Patrick Sutherland reminds us that sometimes the answers to contemporary challenges can be found in ancient wisdom and thus he proposes the ancient Polynesian navigational art of wayfinding as a metaphor for meeting the challenge of preaching in post-Christendom. Stuart Blythe describes how the “church meeting”—a practice at the heart of Baptist polity—has the theological potential to help congregations traverse the unknown terrain of post-Christian culture. The final two essays each deal with digital technology and their effects on, and potential uses for, the church. Steve McMullin challenges assumptions that “church renewal,” as it has been historically experienced, will solve the difficulties the church faces today. Instead he argues for a new vision of renewal that reflects the unalterable realities that the digital age has introduced. Finally, Domenic Ruso continues in the same vein by getting us to re-think how we understand gospel and kingdom in light of the world-altering realities presented by modern technology and, as a result, how we may need to reshape our ministry moving forward.
In every article, you will find careful cultural, theological, and practical reflection. This kind of multifaceted approach is exactly what we need today. More than ever, we need to be able to mix ingredients to help the church live with hope in a post-Christian context. As a centre, we will continue to try and be a “hybrid” that provides a place for that kind of mixing to take place.
*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of McMaster Divinity College or the Centre for Post-Christendom Studies.*