Since the work of Thomas Kuhn, it has become increasingly common to talk about paradigm change in science. But how does this apply to theology? How has faith's view of the future been shaped by large-scale paradigm change in society? Is eschatology still relevant, or are we barking up the wrong tree?
Thirteen leaders joined the Christian Futures Network from Nov 20-21st, 2003 in Atlanta, for its "Paradigms of the Future" consultation to gain new perspective as a ministry leaders. The focus was on apocalypticism, millennialism and eschatology, each as distinct paradigms, operating throughout history.
Jay Gary, author, trainer, and leadership coach with PeakFutures opened the consultation Thursday evening at 7 pm with a keynote on "The Future According to Jesus." Some people think Jesus preached doomsday. Others consider him a cynic. But what future did he actually face as a Palestinian peasant? How did he relate to the crushing tides of Romanization, Urbanization and Commercialization sweeping his homeland? Through archaeology and history, Jay laided out the apocalyptic paradigm of the future that Jesus developed out of his Jewish context. Tim King of the Council on Transmillennialism followed Jay, and reflected on the current state of paradigm change today among competing Christian millennial views based on 20th century change in eschatological studies of the kingdom being both present and future.
Dr. Robert Pierard, co-author with Dr. Robert Clouse, historian, author of The Millennium Manual, opened the program on Friday morning. Dr. Pierard spoke on "The Pursuit of the Millennium," and shared how the quest for the kingdom of God captured the imagination of emperors, popes, heretics and reformers.
Dr. Ted Peters, theologian, professor at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, led two sessions, from 9:00 - 11:30 a.m., on the "proleptic" framework from his well-known textbook, God-the World's Future. How has current theology been shaped by eschatological hope? What new paths are being taken to relate the "coming" of God to the "becoming" of humanity? How do today's Christian paradigms anticipate, or pre-actualize the future? The consultation will ended at 12:30 p.m on Friday.
"Paradigms of the Future" was sponsored by the CFN and was held at the downtown Atlanta Marriott Marquis, 265 Peachtree Center Avenue Atlanta, GA 30303. The Marriott is a block and half from the Peachtree Center station of MARTA, the Atlanta subway; a 20 minute light rail ride from the Airport. The Marriott is also across the street from the Hilton Altanta and also the Atlanta Downtown Travelodge, 404-659-4545.
This was the third Christian Futures consultation tof 2003. The first consultation was in San Francisco, in July. It looked at foresight and leadership development. The second consultation in Virginia Beach, Sept 26-27, looked at foresight and organizational development. This third consultation in Atlanta looked at foresight and theological development, based on God's revelation.
Pre-consultation readings and discussions were opened online November 10th for registered participants. The Atlanta Consultation on "Paradigms of the Future" was held to overlap with the proceedings of the Evangelical Theological Society, Nov. 19-21st, held at the Hilton Atlanta, and right before the start of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature, Nov 22 - 25th.
REGISTRATION for "Paradigms of the Future" was $129. Registration included Friday morning breakfast.