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Ventures in Christian Discipleship

Equipping lay people of all ages and education levels with skills and understandings for faithful and dynamic Christian living, action, and leadership with special emphasis on small congregations.

2022-2023 Courses

“Middle Knowledge: How Can Humans Have Free Will If God Knows Everything?”
Saturday, September 17, 2022
9am to noon CDT
Presenter: Dr. Kirk MacGregor
Course Description and Presenter Information
Description:

The question of whether divine foreknowledge can be reconciled with human freedom has occupied Christian thought since the fifth century. In the Protestant tradition, three distinct but seemingly unsatisfactory answers have been proposed. Luther and Calvin argued that God’s foreknowledge and sovereignty preclude human freedom, which directly contradicts our experience. Arminius and Wesley argued that human freedom demands a conception of time which ostensibly rules out God’s ex nihilo creation of the universe. In contemporary theology, open theists argue that human freedom precludes God’s foreknowledge of human free decisions, which ostensibly denies divine omniscience and makes God something less than a maximally great being. However, an important answer from the sixteenth century has been overlooked in Protestant circles until its rediscovery among contemporary philosophers of religion. This answer was offered by the Spanish philosophical theologian Luis de Molina, a Catholic reformer who barely escaped papal ex-communication but whose Catholicism caused Protestants to rule out his views in advance. This course explains Molina’s theory of middle knowledge, which likely grew out of the reflections of the Anabaptist theologian Balthasar Hubmaier. Dr. MacGregor, a leading middle knowledge expert, shows how middle knowledge furnishes a stunning reconciliation of divine omniscience and human freedom. Moreover, he shows how middle knowledge reconciles human freedom with God’s providence and predestination, offers an innovative solution to the problem of evil, and makes possible the early Brethren hope of universal salvation.

Kirk R. MacGregor (Ph.D., University of Iowa) is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion and Department Chair at McPherson College. He is the author of seven books, including Luis de Molina: The Life and Theology of the Founder of Middle Knowledge, A Molinist-Anabaptist Systematic Theology, and Contemporary Theology: An Introduction. He has written over thirty peer-reviewed journal articles, appearing in such forums as the International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Harvard Theological Review, Philosophia Christi, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Heythrop Journal, Church History and Religious Culture, Bibliotheca Sacra, Religious Studies and Theology, and the Westminster Theological Journal.

“Human Trafficking: A Call for the Church to Respond”

Note: Vivek Solanky’s course on Human Trafficking,” originally scheduled for October, has now been changed to November 12, 10 a.m.—Noon Central.

Saturday, November 12, 2022
10am to noon CDT
Presenter: Vivek Solanky
Course Description and Presenter Information
Description:

In the post-modern world, there is a misconception that human trafficking no longer exists. But, in fact, hundreds of people are trafficked locally and globally, where they are abused, threatened, and exploited for commercial purposes.

Among several types of trafficking, sex trafficking and cyber trafficking occur the most in the United States. As followers of Christ, we should not remain negligent and let young girls and women suffer at the hands of traffickers. Therefore, it is important to learn what human trafficking is, how and why it happens. The focus of the course will be to discuss biblical, theological, and practical approaches to help survivors of human trafficking.

 

Vivek A. Solanky is pastor of the Yellow Creek Church of the Brethren in Goshen, IN. Vivek is married to his wife Shefali for 12 years, and they are blessed with a 6 year old handsome son, Josiah. Both Vivek and Shafali are natives of India and are third generation member of the Church of the Brethren-India.Vivek completed an MA in Brethren Studies in 2012 and M. Div in 2021 from Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, IN.

Besides pastoral ministry, Vivek has a passion and a call to help people suffering in human trafficking. His goal is to raise awareness about human trafficking and encourage the Church of the Brethren to take initiative in this ministry.

“Beyond Burned Out to Boundaries and Balance”
Tuesday, December 6, 2022
6:00 – 8:00pm CDT
Presenter: Jen Jensen
Course Description and Presenter Information
Description:

An increasing number of congregations are being served by ministers in part-time capacities. This structure creates both opportunities and tensions around congregational roles and tasks. Incorporating recent research on resilience in leadership published by the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, Jen Jensen will invite congregational leaders to consider how to build resilience and care for one another to create healthy balance in congregational patterns.

Jen Jensen is currently serving as the Thriving in ministry Program Manager for the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry. Her role includes overseeing the Part-time Pastor; Full-time Church program. She is a member of the Monitor Church of the Brethren in McPherson, KS, but during the pandemic has been worshiping with Buckeye Church of the Brethren in Abilene, KS. She has provided pulpit supply throughout Western Plains District and at congregations of other denominations in the McPherson area. Jensen is a 2004 alumni of McPherson College, a graduate of the University of Nebraska, and completed a master of divinity degree from Bethany Theological Seminary in May 2022.

 

Fall 2022 Course Registration

 

All course times are 9 am-noon Central Time unless indicated otherwise.
There is a suggested $25 donation per course.

Archive of Courses | Access to Previous Recordings

About the Courses

Registering online is the preferred method.  There is no charge for courses; however, a suggested donation is invited.

Ventures courses, while not for college credit, offer high-quality instruction. The goal of the program is to empower lay people, especially in smaller congregations, to more effectively carry out the work of discipleship, following in Jesus’ footsteps to transform ourselves and the world. You are invited to journey with others on this new pathway sponsored by McPherson College.

Technology Requirements for Live Courses: If you can surf the web, you will be able to participate in our online courses! For the best experience, we recommend that you have a computer with high-speed internet connection and external powered speakers. We encourage several people to share a computer to participate in a course together! No camera or microphone needed for most courses.