Why and when was Christianity regarded as dangerous?

What did society look like during the Roman Empire when the church was an infant organization? How did it grow? How did it interact?

In a candid conversation, Virden Baptist Pastor Tim Challen says, “I think what we are seeing in Canadian society, in Western society overall, is that we are moving away from the Christendom idea where the Christian church was dominant in society, and we’re moving back to a Roman model, more pluralistic, where there’s lots of networks of belief.”

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In the light of Canadian culture, Challen feels it’s an important time to explore the roots of Christianity.

Dr. Joshua Coutts, Assistant Professor of New Testament at Providence Theological Seminary (Otterburne, MB) will provide just such insight in a Saturday seminar in Virden Baptist Church.

How to Read the Bible for Life is not just for the Baptist congregation, says Challen.

He wants to provide something of interest to the community at large – tools to read and understand the Bible for themselves, rather than just have a pastor, or the internet, tell them how to interpret scripture.

“Everyone, from any Christian persuasion, or any other belief system, or completely secular perspective, is welcome to sign up for the seminar or to come to the evening lecture.

“The assumption is that if you just pick it up and read it, its meaning will be clear. But, we are talking about documents that are written thousands of years ago, in very different cultures, that have been translated from different languages.”

Challen was excited to find that one of his former professors at Regent College in Vancouver was working not so far away, at a Manitoba seminary.

“I did a course with him. It was just phenomenal. So when I got my job out here and found he was teaching out here… I wanted that to be our signature event for the year.”

Coutts was educated at Briercrest College, then Regent College, and obtained his PhD at University of Edinburgh. He says the Bible with it’s various books and styles of writing is a banquet meal, “meant to feed and nourish people in ways that address us as whole persons in communities. All we need is a little help with knowing how to “digest” the meal.”

He says, “Christians believe the Bible is special. Somehow, in its pages, the God who created us has condescended to reveal himself and his plan for the world. If that’s true, it is utterly astonishing.

“And yet, although Christians and churches agree to this, we often and increasingly are letting the Bible slip away, buried beneath a heap of good projects and programs. …”

Following the day seminar, the evening event on Nov. 16, is called A Dangerous Religion. In that free lecture, Dr. Coutts will explore the emergence of Christianity in the pluralistic Roman society of that day. 

© Virden Empire-Advance