The Colossian Forum strives to embody a distinctive vision guided by the defining virtues and practices articulated below. Because of that, writing for TCF will likely be just a bit different from other sorts of writing our authors have done. We often recruit authors to write for TCF precisely because we’ve already seen these virtues in their work. Since we want everything we publish to witness to the character of Christ, we provide our authors with guidelines describing that character and those virtues. It is our hope that this frees them to “show” us as much as “tell” us about the manner in which all things, in heaven and on earth, in faith and in science, hold together in Christ.
Our mission is to promote reconciling dialog on faith, science and culture. We aim to unite believers in the shared confession and embodied practice that all things hold together in Christ.
We envision Christians, formed by practices of faith, engaging society’s biggest questions in ways that glorify God, build up His church, and witness to the truth that all things hold together in the body of Christ.
1. Charity or love is our primary virtue: We believe that the people of God are to be marked and distinguished by love and friendship between one another and with God (John 13:33-34; John 15:15; 1 John 4:7-5:5).
This means that writing for TCF will exhibit a fundamental stance of charity and patience even toward those with whom we disagree. While truth-telling and criticism are important aspects of charity that we value, dismissive polemics are not. Writers for TCF will exhibit John Henry Newman’s affirmation of the “sense of the faithful”—trusting that the Spirit is at work in the body of Christ and not just the “experts.” Our writers practice what Richard Mouw calls “consulting the faithful”: listening carefully to the implicit wisdom of our brothers and sisters, even if that wisdom is sometimes expressed in fears and worries. The authors’ work should be informed by a fundamental affirmation that even when Christians seems blinkered, misguided, and uninformed, they are trying to follow Jesus. Even if we might sometimes offer constructive critique, it needs to begin from an affirmation of their faith. Indeed, we should be willing to put ourselves in a stance where we can learn from those who disagree with us—and our authors’ writing reflects that. Charitable writing will be looking for the gifts wrapped up in those who disagree with us.
2. Hospitality is love practiced. We are trained into the habits of hospitality by encountering Christ’s hospitality to us as we are invited to participate in his own life through common worship and prayer. Christian worship is not merely an experience of God’s hospitable presence but also the central formative practice that trains our love and infuses into us the capacity to extend Christ’s hospitality to others.
Communication and writing generated by The Colossian Forum is designed to be winsome and inviting. It embodies and enacts a spirit of hospitality that invites Christians to approach matters differently. Writing for TCF is set to be characterized by a tone and spirit that inspires imitation (1 Cor. 11:1). Our work seeks to exhibit the virtues of Christ: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and above all, charity (Col. 3:12-14).
This value also means that writing for TCF is informed by the church’s practices of prayer and worship and, wherever possible, explicitly draws upon those practices as sources of wisdom—as the practices that “carry” the church’s most fundamental theological commitments. Our writing should help Christians see worship, prayer, and spiritual disciplines as directly relevant to grappling with difficult cultural issues, rather than compartmentalizing worship and culture into silos. TCF authors help Christians reconnect Sunday with their work week. Our goal is to help them see anew what they’ve already been doing.
By affirming the church’s worship as a rich resource that is the seedbed of Christian reflection, writing for TCF also sees the church’s orthodox theological heritage as a resource rather than a liability. Writers for TCF will help Christians have confidence in scriptural authority in the face of contemporary challenges. TCF authors also look to the creedal and confessional heritage of the church as a contemporary resource. They will reflect an “ancient-future” sensibility that finds 21st-century wisdom in 5th-century creeds—not in a merely nostalgic backwardness but rather with a confidence that, even as the Spirit guides us into all truth, that same Spirit inspired the apostles and guided the early church.
3. The Church is our central focus: We believe that the conversation between Christian faith and science must attend to the renewal of the church, its worship and practices, considering how they do or do not shape us in such a way as to allow us to hold together in Christ.
This means that writing for TCF has an ecclesial focus.. While some of our writing might also be aimed at the academy, or gain attention from wider publics, our primary interest and aim is to equip the body of Christ to be a witness to the mystery of God in Christ reconciling the world to himself. We are not out to win the culture war; we’re not even out to fight. We aim to be witnesses and edify (“build up”) the church that she might be equipped to be a distinct witness of the fact that “all things hold together in Christ.” And this should be reflected precisely in the way Christians disagree with one another. As such, TCF authors see the church as a resource, not an embarrassment; we should see the body of Christ as a gift, not a millstone. Writing for TCF also reflects this kind of sanctified disagreement: how we say what we say is as, or even more, important than what we say.
4. Discerning what’s essential is our central concern: Paul’s prayer for the Christians in Philippi is also our prayer: “that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best” (Phil. 1:9-10; cp. Col. 1:9-10).
Christian debates over challenging cultural issues like faith & science are often vitriolic because Christians overestimate the importance of various “positions.” We too easily make secondary matters on which Christians might disagree into salvific essentials. TCF authors constantly remind Christians of the “center” of our faith in our confession that it is in Christ that all things hold together (Col. 1:17). Writing for TCF will help take some heat off of contemporary debates by giving historical perspective and a “long view” that helps contemporary Christians to see the range of positions that have been held by orthodox Christians over the centuries—all while being rooted and centered and anchored in an unapologetic faithfulness to Scripture and a high Christology forged at Nicea and Chalcedon.
5. Reconciliation is our goal: We do not think we need to reconcile science and faith, since as Christians we confess that all things “hold together” in Christ. We do need to overcome animosity between Christians. If the world is to know the truth that all things hold together in Christ, his body must first manifest that truth by the way we live together. If we can learn to live together in ways that hold together in Christ, then and only then will we make progress in our understanding of how faith and science hold together to reveal the glory of God.
Writing for TCF should embody and encourage reconciliation within the body of Christ. TCF authors should evidence humility, at times even confess our sins, and seek forgiveness. Our writing should be a kind of “practice,” or at least a model or exemplar of reconciliation. Confident that all things hold together in Christ, writing for TCF should invite Christians into that reality and should encourage them to reconsider their own animosities.
These guidelines are provided to help TCF authors frame their projects in alignment with the organizations vision and virtues. They should inform how TCF authors approach writing assignments and should also provide a guide for authors to “self-edit” to be sure completed assignments reflect these virtues.