Catalog

Areopagus Lectures

Inviting our neighbors in central Virginia to join MARS HILL AUDIO in a continuing conversation about the Church’s role in a post-Christian society.

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 secularization is 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.

Areopagus Lecture 1

Peter Leithart: The Cultural Consequences of Christian Division

Available for mp3 purchase
For the first Areopagus Lecture, pastor-theologian Peter J. Leithart presented a lecture entitled “The Cultural Consequences of Christian Division.” In this talk, Dr. Leithart focuses 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.

Areopagus Lecture 2

Simon Oliver: Creation, Modernity, & Public Theology

Available for mp3 purchase
Many contemporary discussions that make reference to creation are framed in light of assumed conflicts between science and religion and are frequently concerned with giving an account of the earth’s origins. But is talking about origins synonymous with what the church fathers meant by the act of creation? Does providing scientifically plausible accounts of how the earth began or pointing to staggering probabilities as evidence for intelligent design provide an adequate understanding of the relationship between God and creation? Do we as modern Christians truly understand what the church fathers meant by “nothing” in the phrase creation ex nihilo? In this Areopagus Lecture, Simon Oliver explains the traditional understanding of the doctrine of creation and how some of our modern divisions and disputes are products of an insufficient framework for creation that developed during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Areopagus Lecture 3

Gisela Kreglinger: Victorian Wisdom for Contemporary Plights

Available for mp3 purchase
Current protests and debates make us acutely aware of abuses fueled by unhealthy gender stereotypes and a culture infatuated with sex and coercive power. The desire to break free from the confinement of societal norms is especially strong among women. For this lecture, Gisela H. Kreglinger discusses how George MacDonald’s perspective on gender roles might guide us through some of the questions, problems, and concerns we face today. Drawing from MacDonald’s lesser-known fairytale, The Day Boy and the Night Girl, Kreglinger argues that MacDonald frames his account of gender roles according to the Genesis story of humanity’s Fall - emphasizing systemic sin and pathological patterns of relationship before addressing individual sins. By approaching the question of gender through universal human categories, MacDonald subverts oppressive gender stereotypes and illuminates how both women and men suffer from dehumanizing societal norms. But rather than positing individual gender identities over and against all others, MacDonald’s story shows how gender relies upon the weaknesses and strengths of its complement, such that ultimately human gender and freedom flourish through the act of self-giving love.

Areopagus Lecture 4

Paul Tyson: Escaping the Silver Chair

Available for mp3 purchase
Philosopher Paul Tyson’s talk, entitled “Escaping the Silver Chair: Renewed Minds and Our Vision of Reality,” explores how the Christian responsibility “to repent” involves more than expressing feelings of regret for moral wrong-doing and the desire to reform. Rather, the New Testament call to “repentance,” the English rendition of the Greek word metanoia, is inseparable from radically reenvisioning what is “really real.” St. Paul’s admonition that we be “transformed by the renewing of our minds” — in other words, metanoia — invokes a process that demands the recognition and rejection of various false enchantments of this world. With the help of C. S. Lewis’s story The Silver Chair, however, we realize that identifying and then escaping the ways in which we are bewitched is no easy task.

Areopagus Lecture 5

Alison Milbank: Imaginative Apologetics beyond C. S. Lewis

Available for mp3 purchase
In Alison Milbank's Areopagus Lecture, titled “Imaginative Apologetics beyond C. S. Lewis,” Milbank offers an approach to defending the Christian faith that restores the imagination as a faculty inseparable from reason. By using C. S. Lewis as a conversation partner — along with Owen Barfield, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, G. K. Chesterton, and Novalis — Milbank explores how the imagination is not just an instrumental means to an objective end, but the ecstatic and receptive means by which we participate in what is True and Real.