“Christian Belief and the Challenge of Threats and Inducements”
When I came to Roberts, I knew that it was a Christian college. I was an Evangelical Christian. I wanted to go to a Christian college to teach, and only after I came here did I begin to study and learn about Free Methodism and B.T. Roberts. I learned that his kind of Christianity is core, basic, orthodox Evangelical Christianity and ties together both evangelism and social holiness so that the life that’s lived is one that involves sharing one’s faith, growing in one’s faith and transforming one’s world.
When we looked at putting together a project that would be useful to our community—to the people who, like myself, have been grafted in later to this tradition—we wanted to give them an opportunity to understand the heritage of the college. The heritage is rich, and I didn’t realize until later in the project how much admiration I would have for B.T. Roberts, how much love I would have for him and how much I had to learn from him.
What I especially love about the book is that it’s divided into two sections. I love that the book both explores the life and the teachings of B.T. Roberts in more depth and shows how his ideas are relevant to a number of contemporary academic disciplines. Throughout the book, you get a visceral sense of who this man was, how he built his movement, how he built the Free Methodist church, how he put together Chili Seminary and ran it successfully to the degree that it became Roberts Wesleyan College and Northeastern Seminary.
In the first section of the book, we have a number of articles about the life and teachings of B.T. Roberts, how they influenced society, how they influenced the church and how they influenced our current institutions. In the second part of the book, we take the ideas of B.T. Roberts and show how they are relevant to debates and discussions in academic disciplines today.
We have professionals who are writing in the fields of psychology, sociology, nursing, philosophy and Biblical studies. In each case, these authors are doing cutting-edge work in their disciplines that draws on the ideas of B.T. Roberts to explicate and advance a Christian worldview.This project is both forward-looking and backward-looking. I think we really need projects like this that connect us to our heritage and then help us reconceive what that tradition means for the present and the future.