The Christian faith tells a story of liberation, salvation, good news – in short, “salvation.” But what is this good news today, in today’s world? Stefan Paas’ latest book Peace on Earth offers critical self-examination of Christianity and perspectives on salvation. On December 1st (3:00 PM – 5:00 PM) he will discuss it with Beatrice de Graaf, Hans Schaeffer, Don Ceder and Miranda Klaver. The symposium will take place in the Rialto VU Zaal 4, De Boelelaan 1111, Amsterdam. The Vrije Universiteit, Theological University Utrecht and KokBoekencentrum cordially invite you to attend.
‘Never has there been a greater need for good news’
In Peace on Earth, Stefan Paas argues that the crisis of Christianity in the West lies not so much in shrinking and aging, but in the loss of a convincing and attractive story of salvation.
“Society seems to be at a standstill. We in the West have reached the end of a long period of conquering the world, exploiting creation to our heart’s content, and freeing ourselves from traditions and communities. Never has there been a greater need for good news. But at the same time, Christianity is part of the problem. To tell a story of salvation in a society struggling with colonial guilt, the destruction of the planet, and growing polarization, Christianity needs to critically examine itself. This is my invitation to start the conversation about ‘salvation’ in today’s world.”
“That conversation is incredibly important,” says Paas. “That’s why I’m so happy that Beatrice, Miranda, Hans and Don want to comment. They are all involved in society in different ways – from science, church and politics. Together we will talk about salvation, salvation, good news, gospel in today’s world. I hope it will inspire others to have a conversation about our deepest resources and that it will connect hearts.”
The meeting will take place on December 1 at the VU in Amsterdam. The address is De Boelelaan 1111. All interested parties are very welcome. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to register. Entrance is free, but don’t wait too long because the number of places is limited.
Afterwards you can have a drink with the speakers in the foyer.
If there is anything far removed from us these days it is ‘salvation for the world’. And world peace, that certainly seems like something for Miss Universe elections, just as outdated and naive. And yet it is both urgent and inevitable to consider the question of salvation and peace. And theologically. What does it mean today to testify as a Christian about the risen Christ? As a theologian, Stefan Paas comes up with a remarkable and revolutionary answer: don’t start with dogmatics, don’t even start with morality or the Bible, but start with the ‘dead places’. Where there is war, violence and depression and people stand with their backs to the wall, there we can physically feel salvation. How that works, what it is and what it does to you, is what Paas describes in an equally personal and compelling account that I read breathlessly, right up to the last page.
The speechlessness in our time about ‘salvation’ requires reflection. After all, there is still a need for salvation and meaning. The Center for Church and Mission in the West (TU Utrecht) has started a research program on this subject. This book asks everyone who works in this world with Christian motivation: How did I receive salvation? Where do I see God at work? Paas emphasizes the embodiment of salvation, especially in places of injustice and powerlessness, in communities of peace. These communities exist. I want to share their struggle, resilience and hope. For me, that is church renewal.
At a time when Christianity is losing its meaning, Paas is looking for an answer to the question of why you would or would not want to be a Christian. It is surprising that Paas does not primarily consult theology, but anthropologically searches for a perspective from below, close to the experiences of believers. By connecting these to current social questions, he razor sharply shows the theological shortcomings of Western Protestantism. With a plea for the breadth of the Christian tradition, Paas offers a stimulating and hopeful perspective, not only for the church but also for a society that is looking for a shared story and new forms of meaning and connection.
Photo: Nathalie van der Straten.