Christian Social Reformers series: Lesslie Newbigin
Few thinkers have helped the church understand and engage postmodern Western culture as much as Lesslie Newbigin – and there is still plenty we can learn from him today.
On 6th June 2016 Dr Paul Weston talked about the life and impact of theologian, author & missionary Lesslie Newbigin. After spending 40 years as a missionary in India, Newbigin returned to the UK and became a pioneer in thinking through the missionary challenge facing churches in the contemporary West, writing books such as ‘Foolishness to the Greeks’ and ‘The Gospel in a Pluralist Society’. Lesslie Newbigin originally trained as a minister at Westminster College in Cambridge, and Paul Weston has recently established the Newbigin Centre down the road in Ridley Hall.
Watch the video or listen to the audio below. You may want to download or print the slides which Paul used during his talk here:
God and Design Workshop – June 18th
We brought together two outstanding Christians working in the field of design to open up the exciting possibilities of connecting a biblical worldview with the latest advances in design in order to solve problems more effectively in business, engineering, academia, charities and the church.
This half day workshop will be repeated in the autumn, and is an investment you will draw on for years to come… read more.
How should iVote?
Following a lengthy prologue and years of speculation, the EU referendum campaign is firmly underway! However with communities, families and even government ministers divided over whether to ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’, it can be difficult to get excited about making a decision the impact of which, at this stage at least, is impossible to measure.
We held a ‘Question Time’ style debate on Britain’s membership of the European Union at Eden Baptist Church in Cambridge on Wednesday 25th May. The panel consisted of advocates for both sides of the debate: Dr Adrian Hilton (Archbishop Cranmer blog) and Ian Cooper (Senior Tutor at Christian Heritage) argued for Brexit, while Baroness Smith of Newnham (University of Cambridge) and Johannes de Jong (Christian Political Foundation for Europe) made the case for Britain to remain in the EU.
Is marriage a lost cause? Not by a long way.
Monday 11th April 2016
Marriage. It seems barely a week goes by without the media attempting to tear this ancient institution to pieces. Whether it’s bemoaning the rise in divorce rates or decrying the futility of marriage in an age of individualism you would be forgiven for thinking marriage was dead in the water; which is why we designed this event. On Monday 11th April Christians from all over London and the South East gathered to hear leading researcher Harry Benson (Marriage Foundation) and marriage champion Nola Leach (CARE) speak in defence of this beleaguered institution.
Couples, friendship groups and singletons of all ages and backgrounds gathered to listen to the facts about modern marriage and draw wisdom from Nola Leach’s exposition of the biblical model. Talking points during Q&A included the gender imbalance within the church and its implications for Christian marriage as well as the startling fall in marriage rates for those from lower incomes.
The evening concluded with an encouraging statement from Marriage Foundation founder Sir Paul Coleridge who explained that the measurable benefits of marriage (such as improved health and social stability) were finally getting the attention they deserved from newspapers and broadcasters which had previously shown reticence. As Harry Benson put it: “marriage is down but not out.”
Forming a Christian Mind (FACM 2015)
Saturday 24th October 2015
This year’s Forming a Christian Mind conference took place at Christ Church Cambridge on a crisp autumn afternoon. It was attended by around 60 Christian Masters, PhD and post-doc students as well as several early-career academics from a wide range of disciplines. Despite the diversity of backgrounds, all who attended (some from as far afield as Edinburgh and Leeds) were eager to learn how to better connect their faith with the intellectual content of their studies and were even willing to resist the lure of the Rugby World Cup Final to this end.
With ‘Human Flourishing and the University’ the theme for 2015, University of Oxford Professor Donald Hay’s opening plenary session set the tone for the afternoon by asking the question ‘What is a person?’ Once delegates had begun to grapple with the notion of personhood and purpose they were divided into discipline-specific groups for further discussion and debate. We were honoured to have Prof Eugenio Biagini leading a seminar on History while Prof Alasdair Coles met with the Medical students, Prof Tom McLeish engaged with the Scientists and Dr Paul Mills offered his astute biblical insight to the Economists.
The closing plenary session was led by Dr Louise Driffill on the subject of ‘Flourishing beyond the university’ with delegates challenged to be motivated by their faith both within and beyond the boundaries of their academic practice. There was ample importunity for networking and relationship-building during the breaks and after the conference which many attendees valued, not least because of the isolation which can accompany a life in academia. Several said they were already looking forward to FACM 2016!
Forming a Christian Mind (FACM) is an annual conference in Cambridge, organised by Jubilee Centre together with Christian Heritage, Cambridge Papers, Christian Graduate Society, KLICE and The Faraday Institute.
Sins of the fathers? Ending our addiction to national debt.
Monday 15th June
With the ink barely dry on the newspaper articles dissecting Chancellor George Osborne’s Mansion House Speech, the timing of our latest Cambridge Paper launch could not have been more apt. Meeting in the elegant surroundings of St Margaret’s Church, Lothbury situated in the shadow of the Bank of England, a group of Jubilee Centre friends & supporters gathered to hear from expert economist, biblical thinker and author of ‘Prodigal Stewards’, Dr Paul Mills.
With private bankers, university students, retired professionals and even a member of the monastic order in the audience, it was no mean feat for Dr Mills to deliver an accessible yet detailed exposition of the issues raised in his paper. Somewhat unsurprisingly given recent events in Europe, questions from the floor were not limited to the problem of intergenerational debt. Queries were raised which revealed scepticism of the UK government’s economic strategy and others which explored the viability of a full cancellation of Greek debt. However, the issue most actively pursued over the course of the evening was how to make a biblical difference to an economic system seemingly so far removed from Christian influence.
The formal part of the evening was followed by a light supper where guests were able to build relationships, discover common areas of professional interest and discuss the conclusions they had drawn from the talk.
Election Hustings in Cambridge
Wednesday 29th April 2015
With a week to go before polling day, any event at which members of the public are present and engaged is fraught with difficulty but also rich with opportunity for parliamentary candidates vying for votes. So it proved as the Conservative (Chamali Fernando), Green (Kate Honey – standing in for Rupert Read), Labour (Daniel Zeichner) and Liberal Democrat (Julian Huppert) candidates took their seats to answer to the people who will determine their fate. The UKIP candidate Patrick O’Flynn declined to appear.
With over 60 questions submitted from the 120-strong audience at Eden Baptist, it was clear that those in attendance were not there because they’d been at a loose end. Although under strict time constraints, KLICE Director Jonathan Chaplin – our event Chair – prevented the panellists from ducking the trickier questions and ensured that last-minute candidate for Rebooting Democracy, Keith Garrett, was given an appropriate platform.
Political friction was countered by a jovial atmosphere evidenced by enthusiastic endorsements from two candidates who, despite having participated in 20 hustings already, commented on how much fun they had had. However, what will happen on May 7th remains anyone’s guess.
Votewise 2015: The Bible, the ballot box and beyond
Having been purchased, pondered, reviewed, and shared, Monday 16th March saw our flagship electoral resource Votewise 2015 brought to life.
With a chapter-by-chapter exposition provided courtesy of author Guy Brandon, a large congregation of politically-engaged Christians were challenged to reconsider the fragmented approach to policy-making we so often unquestioningly accept.
Brandon outlined the Bible’s holistic approach to health and well-being in light of the current ‘crisis’ in the NHS and guided guests through biblical responses to finance, surveillance and immigration. Following a short break, a trio of passionate activists from across the political spectrum shared encouragements and concerns based around their experiences working in human rights advocacy, policy formation and local government.
The evening was put together in partnership with the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity.
The Bible and biodiversity
Cambridge Paper London launch, January 21st, 2015
How do we value nature? Is our understanding of the Bible anthropocentric? Does it matter when species go extinct? These were just some of the difficult questions ably tackled by Rev. Dave Bookless (Director of Theology, A Rocha International) during our event – held in partnership with A Rocha – to celebrate the publication of his Cambridge Paper on the Bible and Biodiversity.
Despite chilly temperatures outside, the atmosphere throughout the evening was warm and convivial as environmentally-concerned Christians from a range of organisations and denominations gathered to learn more about a Biblical response to some of the conservation challenges of our time.
Dave Bookless’ keynote address was followed by scintillating responses from David Nussbaum (CEO, WWF UK) and Simon Stuart (Chair, IUCN Species Survival Commission). Both speakers shed new light on the challenges faced by those seeking to pursue a biblical vision for the environment in the context of our increasingly consumerised and utilitarian world.
Video recordings of each talk are available on our YouTube channel.
Votewise 2015 book launch
Events Manager Njoki Mahiaini reports:
Tuesday 11th November 2014 marked the official launch of our new resource Votewise 2015. The staff of Jubilee Centre were joined by around 50 supporters and members of other Christian organisations at a drinks reception in the Macmillan Suite of the Houses of Parliament.
The evening offered us a wonderful opportunity to build, renew and affirm relationships with many friends and supporters who share our vision and desire to see Christians engage more actively in all areas of public life.
The singularly political nature of Votewise 2015 caught the attention of a number of MPs who took time out of their busy schedules to join us as guests. We heard astute and inspiring contributions from our speakers – the Secretary of State for Wales, The Rt. Hon. Stephen Crabb MP and the Shadow Employment Minister, the Rt. Hon. Stephen Timms MP. Votewise 2015 author Guy Brandon closed the formal part of the evening by talking about how the book came together.
Some nuggets of biblical wisdom which the two MPs particularly valued were Matthew 10:16 and Proverbs 3:5. The calls to be ‘As shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves’ and to ‘Lean not on our own understanding’ were timely challenges which we pray will be an encouragement and impetus to you too.
Cambridge Paper London launch: Peacebuilding and the ending of apartheid
On 23rd September 2014 we held a reception to mark the publication of our Cambridge Paper by Dr Jeremy Ive documenting the role of the Newick Park Initiative (NPI) in enabling peacebuilding in South Africa and the eventual dismantling of apartheid.
The NPI was a Christian initiative which helped to build trust and a shared national vision across the political spectrum in the years around Nelson Mandela’s release in early 1990. Its work also involved Professor Washington Okumu, who acted as a mediator in preparing the first non-racial, fully democratic elections in South Africa in 1994. The relational principles governing NPI are a guide for Christian peacebuilding at a national level but are applicable in other contexts as well.
Viscount Brentford, who hosted the NPI gatherings at his home, Newick Park, chaired the evening programme. He introduced the two speakers: first Jeremy Ive recounted how the initiative unfolded, and then NPI’s founder Dr Michael Schluter made a strong case for Christian peacebuilding today (click on the links or the photos above to view the videos).
A more detailed report on the Newick Park Initiative was written by Jeremy Ive and published by the Jubilee Centre; the paper can be viewed here.