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A Missional Voice in a Fragmented Culture

Convocation 2018: Holding Education, Evangelism and Justice in a Single Vision

Trinity CommunicationsAugust 23, 2018

Trinity’s 122nd Convocation opened the 2018–19 academic year on August 22, with President David S. Dockery delivering an address that exhorted the community to live faithfully in the midst of a fragmented and polarized culture.

Drawing on themes from various theologians and sociologists, including TEDS professors Harold Netland and Peter Cha, Dockery encouraged Trinity to continue to embody christlike belonging, community, reconciliation, and convictional civility, while growing in our understanding of what it means to serve in a pluralistic, intercultural and international context.

“We must recommit ourselves to prioritizing the historic orthodox faith and the best of the [ecclesial] tradition” over against politics and autonomous identity as the grounds of Christian unity, Dockery said. It is unfortunate that evangelicalism currently appears to be anything but unified, he said, “reflecting instead the fragmentation that defines the world.”

Noting, however, that it is easier to critique than to construct, Dockery went on to spend the remainder of his address focusing on how Trinity, with Scripture and the Spirit as its guide, can fulfill its calling of faithful presence.

“Trinity can lead the way in being a missional voice” that stands on the uniqueness and exclusivity of the gospel of Jesus Christ, said Dockery, while maintaining a civil and engaging posture toward the culture at-large—whether or not that culture is religious. This means continuing to be “champions of religious freedom while practicing a credible presence in the world as ambassadors of grace and reconciliation.”

One of Trinity’s major tasks, therefore, is that of pre-evangelism—the need to address not just what it means to be human, but what it means to be human in relation to others, thereby reclaiming true community. By embodying authentic community, Dockery proposed that Trinity can resist the individualistic and thus isolated elements of culture, potentially paving the way for the gospel to be heard afresh.

Prior to his address, Dockery congratulated the community on a fourth straight year of enrollment stability, including the largest group of new students to all programs, following what has been more than a decade of enrollment downturn.

Dockery also welcomed several new faculty members: Timothy Johnson (Social Sciences), Lucas O’Neill (Preaching), Michelle E. Knight (Old Testament), James M. Arcadi (Systematic Theology), Jay Noh (director of Korea DMin), and Manuel R. Rauchholz (Anthropology and Intercultural Studies).

University Organist and Professor Emeritus of Music Paul Satre joined Assistant Professor of Music Brian Reichenbach and Clinical Assistant Professor of Music Charles D. King in providing music for the service. Other Trinity participants included mace-bearer Professor of Bioethics John F. Kilner, Vice President of Student Life and University Services Felix Theonugraha, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School Dean Graham A. Cole, TEDS Associate Dean H. Wayne Johnson, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design Julia A. Petersen, Vice President for Academic Administration Thomas H.L. Cornman, Undergraduate Associate Dean and Professor of Music Don Hedges, and Professor of Biology Joyce A. Shelton.

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