I'll be honest: Many months we plan issues like a hurricane plans its path. The news comes fast and furious. Cover stories are changed at the last minute. Articles get bumped to the next month, and the next, and the next. An article we counted on was never delivered. A key staffer is laid up for two months. Some months it's amazing that we get an issue out the door!
This reflects part of our work here: to react to what's happening in the world. We believe that Jesus Christ is providentially shaping history to his ends. We try to discern his hand and publish articles that help the church join hands with its Lord.
But a more crucial part of our work is to suggest direction the evangelical movement should consider, regardless of what's in The New York Times this week. Take, for example, the themes we want to highlight in the coming year:
Evangelism: Note this month's cover story (page 20) and lead editorial (page 18). In future issues, we want to feature churches that are sharing the faith in ways that are both faithful and effective. And later in the year, we'll start a series of articles that explores the greatest worldwide challenges to evangelism.
Catechesis: That's the classic word for the church's teaching ministry. We are a movement that has specialized in, "Go and make disciples …" We have not been as strong at "… and teach them all that I have commanded you." We want church leaders to employ their creative skills even more so to this part of the Great Commission. We also want to more consistently feature articles that teach the faith's core themes, doing so from an engaging, journalistic perspectivethat is, showing how those themes intersect with current events and contemporary culture.
The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ: This is one of those themes. Much of the theological confusion we see today (such as universalism, pluralism, and relativism) is at heart confusion about the person and work of Jesus Christ. Highlighting this theme can also help check our movement's temptation toward moralism, which looks like faithfulness, but since its focus is on what we do, is really a denial of the faith.
Abortion: With the advent of a more liberal administration, many social conservatives are talking gloom and despair. To be sure, the challenges are great, and we need to think and strategize clearly. But we happen to think that the best days of the pro-life movement are ahead. As has been said in other contexts, "Yes, we can."
The Environment: Our pro-life conviction does not end with the womb, but encompasses the welfare of the entire planet. We have no expertise to weigh in on specific environmental proposals, but we think that significant biblical and theological reflection can guide us as we care for all of God's creation.
Persecution: This has been a long-standing theme of CT's, but we want to go deeper than we have ever gone. Persecution stories tend to blend together so that we lose the personal dimension. But to be the universal church, we need to engage not just intellectually but also emotionally with our suffering brothers and sisters.
And yes, we will still cover the usual array of news events, stories of churches reaching out to their communities, interviews with key players in our movement and culture, and essays and editorials on a variety of topics. But these are the themes we will bring special attention to this year. Assuming no "hurricanes," of course.
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