Christianity is suffering today from a tremendous lack of public theology. Theologian William Storrar said that public theology is Christian theology that has a “voice in the global square” of today’s world. We no longer simply speak to one church, one denomination or one community. We speak to the entire world when we have a prophetic voice from a Christian perspective.
The Restoration Institute is an entity of the Restoration Initiative for Culture and Community, an outgrowth of Canal Street Church in New Orleans, Louisiana. The purpose of the Institute is to be a think tank for Christ-centered engagement in the critical issues of urban and city life that promote solutions for the development and reconciliation of people. We want to foster the motivations and intent of the Restoration Initiative to “create environments and solutions that expand possibility, instill character and build reconciled relationships.”
The Institute is inspired by early Christian Pietists in the 1600s of the German churches that were known for their hard work among the outcast, poor and marginalized of society. Pietists influenced many denominations that exist today among Protestants and some Roman Catholic groups. The Pietists were known for operating orphanages and schools but also employed people through businesses such as bread shops and shoe repair stores.
The Pietists held to these common beliefs:
- The Bible is the Word of God.
- Every person is created in the image of God and should know of His love and relationship.
- The church should engage and minister to the marginalized of society.
- God cares for the whole person and can transform both physical and spiritual conditions.
- The work Christians do on earth now reflects the peace, justice and salvation to be found in the future.
Christians sometimes oscillate between living in the “here and now” or focusing on the future parousia (the future heavenly kingdom). We often put all of our energy into meeting physical needs or spiritual needs when God calls us to meet both. The Restoration Institute draws from the inspiration of Pietists to offer a balance. We want to work, as Pietist August Franke wrote, “for God’s glory and our neighbor’s good.” We want to communicate God’s love for humanity and make a practical difference as we reflect the kingdom to come.
What do we hope to accomplish through the Restoration Institute? We will promote the Institute’s ideals through a regular blog, a semi-annual online journal, conferences and educational opportunities. We have gathered a community of fellows from both academic and practical disciplines to research, write and teach.
We invite you to join us as we engage in the work of public theology. Read, be inspired and engage with the work around you. Be a reconciler in your community and empower those who have been oppressed and marginalized. Allow the good news of God to go out to all people for God’s glory and the good of our community!