The new Center for Public Theology (CPT) at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS) aims to equip the church “for theological engagement in a fallen order and a secularizing public square,” as described by MBTS President Jason Allen.
Allen has named Owen Strachan as the center’s director.
Strachan, 35, joined Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s faculty as associate professor of public theology in June 2015. He is the author or coauthor of eight books and has served as president of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood since 2014.
Allen, addressing MBTS’s alumni and friends luncheon June 15 during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in St. Louis, said, “In being a seminary that exists to serve the local church, the CPT offers another vital training tool to equip pastors, missionaries and ministry leaders to fulfill the Great Commission amidst a lost and morally-confused culture.”
Strachan, in a June 22 news release, said the Center for Public Theology will engage the public square from a worldview “created by sound doctrine. … The fallen-ness of this world has not changed in two millennia, and also the church’s commission – its task, its call to preach the gospel and live faithfully in a fallen world – has not changed either.
“We’re living in strange days. The news cycle is dominated by confusing political events. The church is perplexed over how to be the church in this moment,” Strachan said. “It’s my hope that the CPT can help believers think well about our world and engage it as gospel-shaped salt and light.”
Believers should not be reluctant to engage the public square, he said, but should be plunging in, as they have the most important contributions to make because they represent the very mind of almighty God.
“The rising generation needs to know what the Bible teaches, and how it can be applied to a secular order,” Strachan said. “We find ourselves in a fifth-century moment. Rome is decaying, and all theology is apologetics. All theology is cultural engagement. Your doctrine of God? Your understanding of the atonement? Your vision of the church? It is directly connected to your engagement of the world. For the boundary between the church and the world has fallen, and Christians must continually make their case in the public square, or else take their place in the ash-heap of history.”
Currently at the CPT website – cpt.mbts.edu – are several culture commentaries by Strachan, including “The future is not determined: on millennials and politics,” “Your gender is too small: man as male and female” and “The gospel is bad news for our stereotypes.”
Future initiatives of the center, Strachan said, include a lectureship series, podcasts and additional essayists.
Strachan’s latest book, with Gavin Peacock, is The Grand Design: Male and Female He Made Them. His other books include The Colson Way, The Pastor as Public Theologian, Awakening the Evangelical Mind and Risky Gospel.
Strachan came to MBTS’s Kansas City, Mo., campus from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky where he was assistant professor of Christian theology and church history and director of the Carl F.H. Henry Institute for Evangelical Engagement.
The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) that Strachan leads was founded in 1987 with a mission to “set forth the teachings of the Bible about the complementary differences between men and women, created equally in the image of God, because these teachings are essential for obedience to Scripture and for the health of the family and the church.” Strachan served as CBMW’s executive director for a year before becoming president.
Strachan holds a Ph.D. in theological studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois, an M.Div. in biblical and theological studies from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and an undergraduate degree in history from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, his home state.
Through Strachan’s leadership, Allen said in mid-June, “Our aim is to prepare believers theologically to engage the swiftly-declining matters of society, politics and culture knowledgably and confidently, yet humbly and in a Christ-like spirit. We accomplish this mission through complete trust and assurance in the truthfulness of Scripture and the transforming power of grace.”
For a video of Strachan describing the mission of the Center for Public Theology, click here.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – T. Patrick Hudson is executive assistant to the president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston contributed to this article.)