Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Telos Arrives!

This semester, it has been my distinct pleasure to help found and edit a new journal of Christian thought on the Williams Campus, the Telos, a Greek word translated as "purpose," "goal," or "fulfillment." My colleagues and I distributed the first issue of the journal today. I urge those at Williams, regardless of your religious views, to pick up a copy of the journal and browse through. The journal's contents are highly varied, and include a critical comparison of fatalism in the Hebrew books of Jonah and Ecclesiastes, a stirring narrative of brothers in Nigeria, a defense of the historicity of Christ's resurrection, and many other articles and creative works, including my own article "Nearly Wholly Innocent - A Meditation on Nick Cave's The Mercy Seat." I am sure that every reader will find several items of interest.

As executive editor, I oversaw the development of the journal's content, solicited submissions, worked with authors to improve their writings and made final decisions about which submissions to include. Thankfully, I did very little with respect to financing, layout and printing, to which the financial solvency of the organization and the high quality of the journal's appearance attest. I offer my thanks to all contributors, editors and to the layout team; it was truly a pleasure to work with all of you.

My primary purpose in this post is to explain why we prepared and published the Telos. After all, there are many, many Christian publications in United States, some publish articles by the most thoughtful and effective writers in world, and most go unread. With one exception, students authored our journal's features, and most of us wrote on subjects of which there are true scholars. Isn't the Telos just a part of the bloat of mediocre Christian publications?

The answer is a qualified "Yes." We do not claim that the journal contains any new or original thought or scholarship, except insofar as every individual who writes anything about anything provides a new perspective on her subject. However, truly new Christian thought is rare - the text and teachings of the New Testament have not changed in some 2000 years, and these are the core of Christianity. Even the most learned and seminal Christian scholars write to affirm an ancient and unwavering Gospel. What we have to say has been said hundreds of times before, and is all the better for it.

Furthermore, even if our message is not new, our audience is. The Telos is now widely available to the Williams campus, and we will soon distribute it to local churches. Many people who would never attend a Sunday service, open a Bible or ask another person about her religious beliefs will read this publication and be confronted with the good news of Christ, some for the first time. Many will scoff at this message, some will become temporarily curious, and a perhaps a few will come to accept and proclaim it. We do not know. However, we obey Christ's commission to make disciples of all nations as we obey all of God's commands, ignorant of the outcome of our actions, and unconcerned about the originality of our means. Publishing the Telos is a part of that obedience.

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