June 6, 2020

Ahn and Gardner Discuss the Church and Tolerance

Bryn Wicklas '21 - Staff Reporter

Dr. Daniel Ahn (left) and Dr. Christine Gardner (right) - Photos courtesy of gordon.edu

On Sept. 23, Daniel Ahn, assistant professor of global Christianity and theology, held a faculty forum on global Christianity and the global diaspora movement. The following month, on Oct. 23, Christine Gardner, associate professor and chair of the communication arts department, led a faculty forum focused on creating safe spaces for civil dialogue, specifically in the context of LGBTQ conversations. 

Ahn founded his lecture in two key phrases: “Mission from everywhere to everywhere” and “Mission by everyone for everyone.” He began by establishing his own global ethos by walking the audience through his personal global journey. Ahn went from a medical engineer to a missionary to professor of theology at Gordon College. His career path depicts the integration of science and theology. He described his occupational trek as a “holy sanctuary where theology and science meet.” 

The first part of the lecture focused on Ahn’s life story, while the second analyzed global Christianity and global cultures in relation to Christianity. He outlined the four layers of an individual in their cultural context: behavior, value, belief, and worldview. From a global standpoint, reality is objective whereas realities are subjective. Daniel highlighted the importance of recognizing how our own worldviews are limited. 

In the second half he discussed the global diaspora mission movement and how it relates to the founding biblical mandate of his lecture. The term “diaspora” refers to the dispersion of the Jews beyond Israel, but Ahn applied the term to all Christians: “we all have diaspora because we came from Heaven and are going back to Heaven.” 

The biblical mandate Ahn discussed was twofold: it involves the acts of going and coming. The 10/40 window is coming to the Western world at the same time the Western world goes out to reach it. He closed by stressing the importance of connection internationally and locally through the adoption of a listening posture. 

Gardner’s faculty forum covered an entirely different topic, but one of great importance to Gordon College’s context as a Christian based institution.

She recently wrote a participation based play on the climate and conversation surrounding LGBTQ students at Christian colleges alongside her colleague, Nik Zaleski. “As I Am” shares a story of faith and identity from the perspective of different students at a Christian college. It relies on audience participation and initiates a conversation about the LGBTQ Christian community. 

Garder introduced the original production she developed as a project and product of her research on the safety of LGBTQ students. Her lecture focused on the definition of the term “safety.”  She wishes to widen public conception of the term “safe” by altering the rhetoric surrounding the word. “As I am”  is an extension of the research she shared during her public forum. 

She discussed the risks that come alongside listening and explained that actions that are intended to help LGBTQ students could easily turn harmful due to the loss of genuine postures of understanding.

Additional faculty forums will continue throughout the year in the Barrington Center of the Arts Cinema Room. 

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