PLAINVIEW - In the first of what will be many faculty/student forums at Wayland Baptist University, four panelists met Thursday night in the Nunn Business Building auditorium to discuss a Christian's social mandate.
Wayland's Student Senate sponsored the forum and hopes to offer many more, dealing with other topics. Assistant Professor of Science Dr. Adam Reinhart and Chairman of the Division of Religion and Philosophy Dr. Fred Meeks joined students Jeremy Harris, a senior religion major, and junior Jennifer Combs, a political science major, to discuss a Christian's role in society. Each panelist was given a chance to express their viewpoint, then the forum was opened to questions from the audience.
The discussion touched on a wide range of topics including a Christian's approach to the environment, racism, abortion, war, welfare and related government programs and even civil disobedience. The discussion brought up questions concerning whether the church is doing too much or too little to help those in need, with each panelist using scripture references to make their point.
While the group agreed that it is the Christian's job to take care of the needy, Reinhart made the point that Christians at times rely too heavily on the church as an organization to do the job for them. He said it is too easy for Christians to sit back and pay someone else to do the work when they should be providing their time and service.
"The church has lost some of its focus and passion in trying to do too many things it was not designed to do," Reinhart said.
He explained that it should be the role of the church to support its members in their endeavors, not necessarily the other way around.
The panelists were also questioned about their beliefs when it comes to dealing with government issues.
Dr. Meeks quoted Romans 13:1: "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God."
The panelists agreed that it is important to support the government, but it is also important to stand up for personal beliefs. Harris, who also used Romans 13 in his opening statements, said it is important for Christians to work themselves into positions of power if they want to effect change. He used the example of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the book of Daniel, three Godly men who positioned themselves around King Nebuchadnezzar as advisors. But when it came time to bow down and worship a statue, they refused, choosing instead to suffer the consequences of their actions.
Harris pointed out, however, that in their refusal, they remained polite and respectful toward those in authority over them.
The panelists agreed that there will always be different ways of looking at things and different interpretations of scripture, but through it all, Christians need to play an active role in society and show a God-fearing, unconditional love for each other and those around them.
The date and topic of the next forum has not been set. Members of the community are welcomed and encouraged to attend these events and add to the discussion.