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Blog // Thoughts
November 10, 2004

Do we really need Christian Think-Tanks?

I have long held the view that we need Christian Think-Tanks to further creative ideas in theology and especially theological understanding of social and cultural trends. I started to think this way in 1998 and by the summer of 2002, some possible approaches were starting to become clear. Both the Baptist Joint Committee on Public […]

I have long held the view that we need Christian Think-Tanks to further creative ideas in theology and especially theological understanding of social and cultural trends. I started to think this way in 1998 and by the summer of 2002, some possible approaches were starting to become clear. Both the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs and Sojourners represent something what can be acheived.

However, the current political climate should also serve as a warning and perhaps a rebuke of some of the temptations of Think-Tanking. Steve Waters scathing criticism of the role of conservative think-tanks gives one pause to reflect and the Guardian Special Report adds further sources for consderation.

The potentional for Christian thought to be co-opted within a political agenda should be a worry, but not a final argument against Christian thnik-tanks. We still face a globalised and sophisticated world where public discourse and public relations have been merged and with the prospect of more Christians around the world being ideologically sold down the river as they were in the US. Our denominations seem increasingly incapable of articulating an effective public voice and in practice are often only concerned with political houskeeping and issues related to the professional clergy.

The present situation with regard to think-tanks should inspire and not frieghten us. Yes, we must heed the warnings, but we must also need to understand and realise the potential of such prganisations. Moreover, we need to once and for all unmask the self-serving, oversimplicty of those within the church who would claim that ideas and the realm of ideas do not matter and especially that they do not matter to “ordinary people” leading “everyday lives”. Those who hold an ‘anti-ideas’ postions are very influential in a number of churches, but they are wrong; tragically, irrefutably and eternally wrong, and that in itself is reason enough to move forward with Christian think-tanks.

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