Campus speaker brings a challenging message

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Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, spiritual writer, will be giving a free lecture on Sept. 12.

Wilson-Hartgrove is the founder and leader of the New Monasticism movement. This movement is a modern attempt to reflect the monastic way of life it’s named after.

“Monasticism springs out of when Christianity became the official religion of the empire,” Director of the Center for Global Missions Ben Langford said. “You had lots of money, lots of corruption, lots of power, lots of arguments, it sounds like church today. So you have a group of people that decided to move to the abandoned places of the empire. They’re called the Desert Fathers. They committed to living together, praying together, and living out the Sermon on the Mount and these monastic communities spring up.”

New Monasticism has given rise to shelters and church communities around the nation.

“The idea of people trying to live out church in a simple, less political world appeals to me,” senior Chelsea Leigh said. “I really want to hear about it and I want other students here to hear this and think, ‘Hey, Christianity is not that hard.’ It’s about loving people and being together serving the community. It’s not about who takes communion when and how.”

The disconnection between the close-knit community of a church and the missional lifestyle of the monastic movement is a particularly complex issue.

Wilson-Hartgrove’s free lecture will address this idea in a modern mobile society. He will discuss the main points of his recently published book entitled “The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture.”

“He’s going to talk about the Christian practice of stability,” Langford said. “In a mobile culture where people on average are moving every five years once they get out of college, and church culture where you hop around and never really find a home then we always ask questions about why we don’t grow.”

Wilson-Hartgrove has written 10 books on faith, dealing with a wide variety of subjects from economic principles to the outcome of prayer. His focus recently has remained on the principles of community that are found in biblical descriptions of the early church, and the original monastic movement.

Wilson-Hartgrove is in a unique position when it comes to Oklahoma Christian University speakers because he brings these ideas concerning established churches that many may be uncomfortable with.

“I think it will definitely stir people up in a good way,” senior Natalie Howard said. “I think a lot of times people who are very against established churches need to remember they came from established churches. Chances are they grew up in a traditional denomination and they grew to have a different mindset, and I think that’s something they should keep in mind when they listen to Hartgrove speak.”

Next semester N.T. Wright will be a featured speaker and will continue to facilitate this brand of conversation on campus.

“I think that if you just sit through one idea your entire life, or even just all four years you are at OC, then you’ll leave and you will only have that idea,” Howard said. “That’s one of the benefits of going to a liberal arts college; having more information and seeing it from different angles because the world would be really boring if we all had the same ideas. So I think it’s good to bring in controversial speakers not so that people will change the way they think, but so that people will think.”

The lecture is free and open to the community in an attempt to attract a larger, more diverse crowd. It will end with a question-answer session with the author and a public book signing. Many of Hartgrove’s books will be on sale.

The lecture will begin at 7 p.m. in Judd Theater.

Many students have been required to or given extra credit opportunities for attending the lecture.

“I know that for some of the service hours in the nursing program they are giving credit to go to this lecture and in my two senior Bible classes and my Biblical Mission Methods class this is part of their assignment, ” Langford said.

Wilson-Hartgrove has a limited availability schedule so the university decided to use him as much as possible while he was here. He will be leading chapel on Friday morning and is the keynote speaker at this year’s Outreach GO Retreat.

“[Hartgrove] has a commitment to only be gone from his family four days a month, and his public schedule is listed on his website; so I looked and he was booked all the way through next June, except for he didn’t have anything for September,” Langford said. “Then I started thinking the GO Retreat is typically only about 100 students who go, we should have more people that are able to connect with him. So we decided to do this public lecture.”

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