The Areopagus Lectures

Inviting Charlottesville and the surrounding area to join MARS HILL AUDIO in a conversation about the Church’s role in a post-Christian society.

2017 Areopagus Lecture

For our first lecture, pastor-theologian Peter J. Leithart joined us to discuss the topic of “The Cultural Consequences of Christian Division.” Dr. Leithart focused on the pivotal role that the 1529 Marburg Colloquy played in Christian division among Protestants, particularly in the debate between Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli over the Real Presence in the Eucharist. As a result of the impasse between Luther and Zwingli (and their subsequent refusal to commune at the Lord’s table), the Colloquy of Marburg shifted the Eucharist from something that Christians primarily do together to something about which Christians think or believe a certain way.

Listen to the entire lecture to hear more about the cultural consequences of the Colloquy of Marburg and Leithart’s exhortation to take seriously three assumptions vital to the Christian life.

Peter Leithart on "The Cultural Consequences of Christian Division"

Peter Leithart

“Leithart simply cannot write a dull book. He cannot because he has the courage and intellect to go to the heart of the matter.”

—Stanley Hauerwas
Duke Divinity School
 

Peter J. Leithart holds degrees in English, history, religion, and theology. He is co-founder and president of the Theopolis Institute and adjunct senior fellow of theology at New St. Andrews College. He is a prolific author and widely acknowledged by leaders in various traditions ranging from Anabaptist to Roman Catholic. In addition to such books as Defending Constantine, Between Babel and Beast, and Athanasius, Leithart has written an exposition of 1 and 2 Samuel and a commentary on 1 and 2 Kings for the Brazos Theological Commentary series. Leithart brings his experience as both pastor and theologian to the public on his regular blog for firstthings.com. Leithart’s most recent book, The End of Protestantism (Brazos Press, 2016), continues the work he has done on ecclesiology, about which he has written several introductory essays in his blog for First Things.

 

Mission

Since 1993, MARS HILL AUDIO has sought to encourage the pursuit of wisdom concerning the cultural consequences of the Gospel. Toward that end, the hundreds of interviews distributed by MARS HILL AUDIO have explored two principal questions: 1) What are the distinctive features of the culture of modernity? and 2) How are those features in conflict with Christian cultural faithfulness? 

One such feature is the assumption that a “religion” is an essentially private, subjective, and non-rational set of beliefs and practices. Thus public life (which is presumed to be a neutral space) must be cleansed of all religiously grounded contaminants. The past several decades have witnessed a more extensive commitment to the de-Christening of the West — the quest for a society freed of interference from Christian claims about human nature and social order. As a result, many Christians are more perplexed than ever about the public consequences of the Gospel.

We believe this is a time for the Church to recognize and remedy the mistake of assenting to the separation of theology from public life. Because the radical privatizing of the claims of Christ is contrary to the ends of human nature and the purposes of God in history, the modern project of radical secularization is inevitably destined to fail. As its failure becomes more obvious (either with a bang or a whimper) the institutions that sustain social, political, and economic life will be open to re-imagination and re-configuration in ways that acknowledge that in Christ, all things hold together. 

In launching the Areopagus Lectures, MARS HILL AUDIO hopes to stimulate conversation among our neighbors about how to navigate this time in the Church’s history with wisdom, courage, and hope. 

Study Guide

“The Church is not a club for religious people. The Church is a way of living together before God, a new way of being human together.”

— Peter Leithart, Against Christianity

In hosting these lectures, MARS HILL AUDIO hopes to promote a unifying discussion in the Charlottesville area about the cultural challenges that the Church faces, but also (and perhaps more importantly) to encourage and exhort each other to think deliberately and carefully about what our identity is as the Church. For the first lecture, MARS HILL AUDIO partnered with churches and para-church organizations to create local study groups that participated in a five-week discussion of Peter Leithart’s 2003 book Against Christianity.

In this short book of “theological bricolage and haiku,” Leithart takes on the tone of a bold and somewhat audacious contrarian in the hopes that he might shock his readers into seeing afresh what has been left unexamined and taken for granted: namely, the Church.

In an effort to assist group leaders and participants of the study groups, MARS HILL AUDIO created a study guide with prompts and questions to each of the five chapters of Against Christianity. Please click on the links below in order to access and download the documents.

Study Guide: Week 1

Study Guide: Week 2

Study Guide: Week 3

Study Guide: Week 4

Study Guide: Week 5

To print the study guide as one whole document, click the link below.

Complete Study Guide