I'm in San Diego at the National Pastors Convention, and it's been a crazy busy time here meeting with folks. I've been connecting with several of my authors, like Andy Crouch, Shane Claiborne and James Choung. Nice to catch up.
Last night IVP hosted a dinner for our authors, and our guest speaker was Krista Tippett, host of NPR's Speaking of Faith. She offered a very encouraging picture of how public discourse about religion has been changing in the last few years, and particularly how people are coming to have a much better understanding of evangelical Christians. She said that people are moving beyond Jerry Falwell/Pat Robertson stereotypes of evangelicals and are learning that within the broad category of evangelicalism, there's tremendous diversity and complexity. And folks are discovering that there's more to evangelicals, with evangelicals like Cal DeWitt and Richard Cizik championing issues like environmental stewardship and global poverty. Tippett was encouraged that evangelicals are now engaged in a broad range of causes, because evangelicals tend to get things done. It's certainly a different moment now than even just five years ago or so; it seems that evangelical Christians and the general public are less wary/suspicious of one another and can work together fruitfully for the common good.
I've managed to catch several of the sessions, with speakers like Chuck Colson and Bishop John Rucyahana of Rwanda. Brenda Salter McNeil was last night's plenary speaker, and she did an exposition of John 4 and the Samaritan woman at the well (which happened to coincide with last week's lectionary reading). Her material is available in her new book A Credible Witness: Reflections on Power, Evangelism and Race, which was just published a few weeks ago. She does an excellent job of showing how the gospel requires both vertical reconciliation between us and God as well as horizontal reconciliation between us and other people. I highly commend her book.
Tonight's plenary is N. T. Wright. Looking forward to that. I chatted with him briefly last night at our dinner. I'd met him on a few previous occasions, and he's quite a gracious and winsome fellow (as well as amazingly brilliant, of course). As I've mentioned before on this blog, many of my theological mentors and heroes have been Anglicans like John Stott and J. I. Packer, and Tom Wright is the most recent in this line. His writings have been very formative for me in the past decade. So I'm glad that he's here at NPC and that pastors who have not previously heard him will have the opportunity to learn from him tonight.