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Jun  2011 08
Alternative Christian Witness

When I interviewed for the job as Director of Student Recruitment at PTS five years ago, I asked each of the search committee members to tell me why they were at PTS and in Tulsa. Coming to the position was going to require a move for me. I was in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and planning a move for work, but Tulsa was not in my plans. Each person gave a response that touched a different part of me, but one answer in particular sold me on the position and immediately moved Tulsa to the center of my plans. She said, “What better place than Tulsa, OK, to offer an alternative Christian witness.” That comment connected with a deep sense of mission that has always driven my ministry interests.

At first I thought offering “an alternative Christian witness” meant being a progressive voice in a place where the dominant Christian witness is more conservative. In the past few years, as I have visited with countless prospective students, have worked with current students, and have listened to the polarized religious rhetoric of the Bible belt, I’ve reached the conclusion that only being a progressive voice contributes as much to the problem as it attempts to help solve.

I know how important it is for people to understand that there are Christians following Jesus’ way who are accepting of diversity and committed to social justice. I also think it’s pretty short-sighted to think that those who are more moderate or liberal in their theology are the only ones committed to such interests. But maybe we have to start listening more and talking less to hear and see that, to believe firmly that we are going to be alright if we’re in relationship with people who have different theological commitments, even if they never change those commitments as a result of knowing us.

My greatest hope for PTS is that our commitment to being a community of conversation will result in us learning together how to listen and appreciate each other, regardless of our differences, and thus model for others how to heal the brokenness that results from such divisions. That would be a truly alternative Christian witness.

Browse more posts by: Linda Ford, Former Admin/Staff
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