Fuller president discusses Presbyterians’ future and civility in politics
President Richard J. Mouw
Two recent Colorado Springs lectures given by Fuller President Richard J. Mouw—the first addressing the way forward for Presbyterian Evangelicals and the second, Christian engagement in election politics—proved popular with local church members, students, alumni, and friends of Fuller. The talks were sponsored by the Fuller Colorado regional campus and Fuller's Office of Alumni and Church Relations.
At the first event, hosted by First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs (FPC) Friday evening, February 24, an audience of 300 eagerly listened to Dr. Mouw’s thoughts on "Presbyterian Evangelicals: What Is the Way Forward?" His talk, explains Fuller Colorado Director Will Stoller-Lee, was part of a larger discussion within the PCUSA about the denomination’s future, in which FPC is one of a number of Evangelical churches seeking to discern whether to leave the PCUSA and join the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians (ECO).
Mouw framed his reflections not on the question of whether or not a specific congregation should leave the PCUSA or join ECO, but on what he sees as the “non-negotiables” in any decision about future denominational linkage. He offered five guiding principles: (1) stay in dialogue with those with whom you disagree; (2) do not make a decision simply to avoid conflict; (3) consider this a time of renewal and recovering the essentials of evangelicalism; (4) see it also as a time to recover the essentials of reformed evangelicalism and theology; and (5) whatever the decision, make it something bold and risky for the sake of the gospel. If the decision does not embrace a vision to do something spiritually or missionally exciting, Mouw stressed, then a congregation should not consider it. Watch this lecture here.
Dr. Mouw’s lecture the following evening at the Country Club of Colorado, on “Evangelicals and the 2012 Election: Practicing Convicted Civility in the Political Arena,” brought together 70 alumni, current students, and friends of Fuller. In the midst of a presidential campaign in which issues of politics and religion have become central, Mouw offered some principles for Christian engagement in the political arena drawn from theologian John Calvin’s work The Institutes of the Christian Religion
First, Mouw noted, we often lack a spirituality of public engagement, and must cultivate what Calvin calls “manners.” Second, social justice is central to God’s design for the world and the work of the gospel, and a younger generation of leaders is coming to seminary seeking ways to blend evangelism and social justice. Third, Christians must find ways to promote the common good and “shalom” of the places where we live—and fourth, in an arena that is often mean-spirited and contentious, we must keep our sense of humor and maintain a balance of humility and hope.Listen to this lecture here.