What does the Bible say about Christianity in a world which doesn’t value truth? Speakers at the Oklahoma Christian University lectureship Oct. 1-3 will share their thoughts on the theme: Believe! Engaging Faith in a Post-Truth Culture.
Professor of Bible and Philosophy Jim Baird is serving as one of the keynote speakers for this year’s lectureship. He said he will focus on the diminished emphasis on truthfulness in many areas of society from a Christian perspective.
“It’s basically kind of keying off the up-swelling of fake news and the sense that in politics, truth doesn’t seem to matter very much any more and realizing that, in other areas of life, truth doesn’t seem to matter as much as it used to,” Baird said. “We’re talking about, what does that do to talking about the Bible, talking about the Gospel, talking about Christian faith, and actually there are several things in the lectureship that deal with that theme.”
According to Baird, the lectureships’ longevity at Oklahoma Christian shouldn’t be overlooked. He said the event is a legacy, which brings in talented speakers and worship leaders.
“It is one of OC’s longest standing continuous traditions,” Baird said. “There’s been a lectureship since before there was Oklahoma Christian. Back when we were still Central Christian in Bartlesville, OK, there was already a lectureship, and it’s been every year since the 1950s, so that’s kind of cool, that continuity.”
Baird said the lectureships have had a positive influence on both students and faculty, as it is a great time to hear new perspectives on current, real-world topics. He said it’s an opportunity for both the campus community and area-wide churches to benefit from specific talks they’re interested in.
“I think that OC students are very very busy — so are OC faculty — and that’s just a fact of life, but the lectureships only happen once a year and it really does bring in a lot of talent that’s not here the rest of the time,” Baird said. “We have a lot of talent on our campus but they get to hear them anyways. It’s also something that we do to serve the Christian churches in our local community.”
Bible Lectures Director Grady King is in charge of organizing and guiding the lectureship for the second year. He said he put a lot of thought into this year’s theme, drawing from current societal and political issues to ensure its relevance.
“I chose that theme, because where we are in our culture today, it just seems like believers and churches are really struggling to connect with the culture that it’s radically shifted to in the last 10, 15, 20 years,” King said. “We always hear about church attendance just dropping and people aren’t interested in spirituality, so how do we connect with the culture?”
According to King, this topic is relevant, because of its involvement in the previous U.S. presidential election. He said as he witnessed the campaigns unfold, he identified the need for a Gospel-based, Christian perspective on the situation.
“Its roots are political,” King said. “It was used during the Trump and Clinton election. Can you believe anything anybody says? What’s the standard for belief? That’s where I kind of thought, ‘Well, you know the Gospel of John is written so that people might believe and have faith, but for John’s Gospel, faith is a verb. Faith is: do something, quit sitting around whining.'”
King said he is changing the traditional format of lectureships this year, hoping to make the event more impactful to all ages. He said there will be entertainment for those in attendance beginning Sunday afternoon. King said he wants the event to be positive and engaging.
“I’ve shortened lectureships this year to 24 hours — I’m starting Sunday afternoon,” King said. “New Reign’s going to sing in the forum, there’s food trucks this Sunday afternoon and then I’ve got an African American group from the Northeast Church of Christ, called the Northeast Singers. I’m trying to create an outdoor energetic celebration rather than just, ‘Hey, you’re coming to hear a lecture.’”
According to King, the audience will participate in discussions and discover new information they can apply to both their life and the environment around them.
“I’ve asked all the presenters to not just do presentations, but to do conversation with their classes about how all this stuff they’re presenting, lands in a person’s life or in their church,” King said. “I’ve asked for practical application, rather than just lecturing about Biblical information.”
Senior Jake Doberenz said he attended Oklahoma Christian lectureships the past two years. He said he enjoys the lessons and usually takes detailed notes, both for his own reference and for extra credit in his bible classes.
“They’re really interesting,” Doberenz said. “A lot of times I’ll go to ones taught by OC professors so I kind of know them, but they’re usually on some really interesting subjects that you don’t necessarily talk about when you’re just in a bible class about the text. They’ll do them more topically, so that’s really interesting.”
Doberenz said while he likes the concept of the Engaging Faith Talks, he generally prefers the longer, lecture-style presentations. However, he said it will be interesting to experience the change this year.
“I think there’s some pros and cons,” Doberenz said. “I hope they’re not doing [Engaging Faith Talks] for everything, but on certain things that could be really beneficial. Just short and sweet and to the point.”