Coram Deo premiered its discussion forum series on Christian Identity and the Doctrine of Sin on Oct. 7 in the Felix Event Center VIP Room. The group (its name meaning “in the presence of God”) allowed conversation between the panel of professors and the audience of 60, exploring what sin meant to them in terms of modern life based on Scripture and experience.
“This is basically faith integration lived out,” said faculty moderator Jacquelyn Winston, program director of undergraduate theology. “We take these concepts which are important to our faith, but we also connect them to our specific areas of expertise.”
Winston believes that the forum setting of Coram Deo is effective because the panelists are able to share insights on the specific topic being discussed by the panel and connect it to their own field of study. While Coram Deo has been an organization for six years, this is only the third year that it has conducted a panel forum.
“Where do we move beyond the rule, or beyond the theory, or beyond the theology, to the lived faith?” Winston said. “I think that Coram Deo connects those two together by providing this kind of discussion. This is basically part of what the call of the church is to do, … to deliberate over these hard issues and determine who and what it is we are to be.”
The forum not only provides a place for discussion, but acts as a mentoring opportunity for students who are members of the road crew, made up of theology majors and minors who act as a leadership group to plan the events.
“This keeps us in constant relationship and community as the body of Christ and also with God, and that is the whole point of [Coram Deo],” said senior theology major and road crew member Jesse Fowler.
By exploring questions such as how people with disabilities are kept accountable or evaluating different degrees of sin, Fowler was able to be reaffirmed in his views while he asked different questions on measuring and identifying this theological concept.
“I am interested in the larger conversation of the application and implications of theology,” Fowler said. “I really want to seek out culture at APU, and this is an aspect of that.”
The panelists sought answers to some of these questions by relying on Scripture through the lens of their own fields. Professors explored the differences between justified anger and selfish rage.
“If your anger is in behalf of another, the Bible seems to see it differently,” said panelist and professor of biblical studies Bruce Baloian. “Are you angry because someone who is weak is being harmed or are you angry because you do not get your way or your right? There is where anger can lead to sin.”
Alongside Baloian, the panel included psychology professor Stephen Lambert, philosophy professor Josh Rasmussen and biblical studies professor Karen Winslow.
Part of the forum focused on the fall of man in Genesis. Using this as a basis brought biblical context to the discussion on sin.
“The temptation is to decide what is good and what is evil instead of choosing to let God make that decision,” Baloian said.
The next Coram Deo forum will be held in the UTCC on Nov. 11 to discuss Questions of Gender and Sexual Identity.