Just Launched: Why Suffering? with Ian Markham

We just launched Why Suffering? with Ian Markham For Individuals and For Groups.

Here lies veraIt’s an ancient question: God is entirely powerful. God is good and does not desire suffering. Complex life inevitably involves frequent suffering. How can we reconcile these three truths with one another?

Christianity doesn’t have a pat answer for this question. To some extent, accepting that we may never quite understand suffering is part of faith; we trust God anyway. St. Paul writes that “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength” (1 Corinthians 1:25). Trying to comprehend God’s entire plan would require what Ronald Rolheiser describes as “a slimming down of God to fit the size, expectations, and reasoning of the human mind and imagination.” Nevertheless, exploring the question of suffering in the world can help us move toward greater understanding, both of the role of suffering in our lives and of our relationships with God.

In this class, The Rev. Dr. Ian Markham, Dean and President of Virginia Theological Seminary, discusses possible reasons for suffering and ways to cope with suffering that can help Christians not only endure, but also grow from our experiences with pain. His overall argument rests on the idea that we may never entirely understand why we suffer, but that as Christians, we have the comfort of knowing that our God suffered, just as we do. We know, therefore, that God understands what we feel; that God cares about the pain and suffering of living creatures. We can trust that our suffering is part of a great drama; a story that centers on nothing less than the redemption of the universe, and we can take comfort in that knowledge.

This class is ideal for people who want to understand suffering in the world, or for people experiencing suffering or anxiety. For a preview of this course, please click here.

Image 1: Photograph of a makeshift grave for Vera Smith, a New Orleans citizen who died during Hurricane Katrina.

Image 2: El Greco. La Crucifixión (1597). Public Domain. 

Announcing Our New, Live Wednesday Night Bible Study Classes

Starting in September, ChurchNext will be offering three live online Wednesday Night Bible Study classes once a week for six weeks. On Wednesday nights, students from all over the world can meet and study online together, led by experts in different fields of biblical study and church history.

This fall, students can choose to take one of the following three Bible study classes:

The Bible and Evangelism with Marcus Halley
Meets Wednesday evenings from 8-9 p.m. EST from Sept. 12-Oct. 17.

m halleyWhat does the Bible say about evangelism? What does the process involve? How can we pursue evangelism respectfully and effectively in our pluralistic society? In this class, the Rev. Marcus Halley, Rector of Saint Paul’s Church on Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis and an author whose work has appeared on Grow Christians, The Logos Project, Lent Madness, Forward Day-by-Day, and Thirty Seconds or Less, explores issues related to evangelism and scripture. The class helps participants discern how to live out our call to spread the good news in the 21st century.

Heretics in Good Company with Scott Gunn and Melody Shobe
Meets Wednesday evenings from 8-9 p.m. EST from Sept. 12-Oct. 17.

scott melody

Was Jesus really God? Is there a difference between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament? Does everyone go to heaven? In this class, the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, Executive Director of Forward Movement, and the Rev. Melody Shobe, co-author of Walk In Love: Episcopal Beliefs and Practices and several other books, will explore questions that are fundamental to Christianity and how the church has answered these questions. Why have some people been considered heretics for the ways in which they have answered these questions? Why does it matter? Explore these questions with Scott and Melody. 

The Bible and Racial Justice with Kelly Brown Douglas
Meets from 8-9 p.m. EST on Sept. 13, Sept. 18, Oct. 10, and Nov. 14

kb douglasThis class explores the racialized history of biblical interpretation in the United States. It  then goes into a scripture-based evaluation of what the 21st-century church in the U.S. must do to build racial reconciliation. What would such a reconciliation look like? How might Christians achieve it? Participants will explore these questions and others with The Rev. Canon Kelly Brown Douglas, Dean of Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, professor, and author of Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God.

These classes are ideal for people who are interested in studying these topics with experts, for people who want to use technology to make individual Bible study easier to manage, and for congregations would like to study this material together in groups.

You can take these classes with groups from your church or on your own. Classes run for six weeks starting in September.  They are free to subscribing ChurchNext congregations, dioceses, and to individuals who purchase a $9/month ChurchNext subscription.You will be able to take these classes by computer from anywhere in the world using the Zoom online meeting platform. Students may access class materials and interact online using a ChurchNext online classroom.