At an Alpha training conference in Detroit, a dozen people came forward to testify to the power of the Alpha program. One couple had been close to divorce when they encountered Alpha. The course inspired them to salvage their marriage and become active in a church.
Nothing compares to the rush. No other pursuit could be so exhilarating and meaningful, so loaded with the paradoxical sensation of being entirely alive yet also careening out of control on the edge of death. For those who taste its deliciously deadly nectar, there is usually no turning back.
When the longtime professor of preaching at Bethsaida Theological Seminary retired, no one at the school could have predicted the ordeal that lay ahead. A search committee was appointed, and a position description crafted. The candidate needed to have a Ph.D., an appreciation for Bethsaida’s theological tradition and at least some experience as a pastor and as a teacher of preaching.
Almost every American seminary student knows H. Richard Niebuhr’s typology of five ways of relating Christ and culture. I have often used Niebuhr’s book Christ and Culture in the classroom. Presenting these ideas to students at the Russia United Methodist Seminary, however, was a new experience.