January’s over!.. Way too fast, really (reflected in the absence of blog entries for the last two weeks), but there we are. IBTS is in the middle of its doctoral colloquia, M-level intensives, and – as of tonight – at the beginning of a conference named ‘Living to Tell: A Gospel Informed Perspective on Human Rights, Justice and Peace.’ The conference has been organised by Thomas Helwys Centre for the Study of Religious Freedom, the Institute of Systematic Study of Contextual Theologies, and the Institute for Mission and Evangelism – and, if you’re still not impressed by long titles, also serving as a platform for launching the Centre for Just Peacemaking Studies – but more on that in some other entry.
The opening lecture was offered by Dr Glen Stassen, whose 75th birthday this Conference is celebrating. Glen is known to those interested in and committed to issues of human rights and just peacemaking, and tonight he was highlighting the Baptist contribution to the development of human rights which, he said, still so often goes unacknowledged or under appreciated: “So many just skip from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment, as if the 17th century never happened.” His urge was for us baptists to remember and uphold our own heritage: “Let us not abandon our baby.” For that, our understanding of human rights must be deepened, or ‘thickened’, so that its origins in the Good News of Jesus are evident.
Glancing over the room and seeing all these dear friends and guests who turned up for the lecture, I could not help but start thinking of the many and various ways they are – or will be – faced with the struggle for peace and human rights, at times on an everyday basis. That struggle will not be just for themselves, but for others too (perhaps even for others primarily?..). May we remember the wisdom of the parable of Jesus to allow the wheat and the weeds grow together. The Master of the field will sort them out and take care of the harvest.