Religious discussions, admittedly, have a grim reputation, and they generally deserve it. Sanctuary Studies seeks to change the tone of the conversation.
The church should be a sanctuary to deal with doubts and grapple with hard questions. Better to explore challenges to the faith together first. Better to shed God's light on difficult topics than to grope around in the dark on our own.
That's what Sanctuary Studies is all about. We'll do the hard work of wrestling with contemporary issues, questions of doubt, and difficult scriptural doctrine. We'll do it in a way that is clear, direct, positive, and powerful. Together we'll address the challenges, deal with the doubts, and work to understand more and more each session that there is no better book for life and salvation than the Bible.
Mark your calendar for the following upcoming studies. Topic suggestions may be submitted through the contact form on our website.
Listed below are past Sanctuary Studies topics. Get in touch if you are interested in more information about these topics or are interested in an encore presentation.
American politicians end virtually every public speech with the phrase, “God bless America.” This, along with many other historical references to “God” in our nation’s history, has led many to conclude that our nation has enjoyed a special relationship with God as a “Christian nation.” The plain fact is that there was nothing specifically Christian about either the founding or the subsequent history of the United States of America. Today we are seeing more clearly how this wrong conclusion has damaged both our society and our gospel proclamation. We need corrective understanding of the relationship between the power of the state and the power of the gospel.
In this session of Sanctuary Studies, Rev. Caleb Bassett will provide a historical review of our nation's messy theology, explain its contemporary consequences, and offer a biblically sound theology of life in a civil society.
The four biographies of Jesus, called “gospels,” were written long ago by men who believed Jesus’ claim to be God in flesh. People rightly wonder whether we can trust these four documentary records of Jesus’ words and actions. Remarkably, we can put the integrity of the gospel writers through rigorous tests and reach the logical and plausible conclusion that these four writers were, in fact, telling the truth about what Jesus said and did—including his remarkable resurrection from the grave.
In this session of Sanctuary Studies, Rev. Caleb Bassett will walk participants through a test of the authenticity and integrity of the eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Together we’ll discover that the record stands clearly in favor of the Christian claim that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.
“If God is perfectly loving and all powerful, then why do bad things happen?” This is the so-called “problem of evil” which has troubled Christians of all ages. The problem seems impossible to reconcile, which leads many inside and outside of the church to conclude that God doesn’t not exist, or if he does, that he is some sort of monster.
What can Christians say about the problem of evil? Why do bad things happen? And who is to blame? The only reasonable answer is the one that nobody really wants to hear: bad things happen because we make them happen.
In this session of Sanctuary Studies, Rev. Caleb Bassett will teach about the problematic consequences of human free will and its relationship to the problem of evil. Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of the problem facing mankind and—more importantly—the solution offered in Jesus Christ.
The next Sanctuary Studies session is on April 24, 2016 at 6:30pm at St. Stephen Lutheran Church. Sanctuary Studies is a program meant to change the tone of religious discussions by tackling tough and timely topics that are important for Christian faith and life. The topic is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Click to the event for a complete description of the talk.
Networked digital technology (e.g. smart phones, social media) have enabled a wide range of ways to connect with one another that were impossible or impractical even a decade ago, but current research indicates that the bright prospects of such networked digital technology casts a dark shadow over our ability to pay attention to one another and to demonstrate empathy to fellow human beings. This is a challenge not only to society in general, but particularly to Christians who take seriously the command to “love your neighbor as yourself.” We must recognize that all technology is a transaction—while we gain many benefits from digital technology we also relinquish something in exchange. In this session of Sanctuary Studies, Pastor Caleb Bassett will offer a straightforward approach to assessing the technological transaction so that you are equipped to make wise decisions that foster virtue and empathy.
Does God still speak today using signs and wonders as he did in previous eras of history? Should we expect more Pentecosts? What are gifts of the Holy Spirit? These are common questions that Christians in the United States must tackle. What does Scripture say about how God speaks? Does God still speak today? And if so, how can we hear his voice?
This session of Sanctuary Studies will tackle these questions. All this is meant to help believers and skeptics alike understand what the Bible teaches and how that teaching is relevant today.
The Israelite conquest of Canaan brings two common reactions today. On the one hand it leads some to conclude that the God of the Old Testament is an entirely different God. On the other hand it leads some to think that holy war may be a suitable policy for Christians today (particularly against Muslims). The true approach is something different altogether. In this hour-long presentation and discussion Pastor Bassett will cut through the confusion and teach how Christians can understand the role of war in the Old Testament.
We’ve seen the slogans, the bumper stickers, and the hashtag #lovewins. The Bible talks about it, our society talks about it, how will we? In this hour-long presentation and discussion Pastor Bassett will untangle some of the mess and present a positive approach to the Christian confession on the topic of homosexuality.
Together we will grapple with the topic of suffering in the life of a Christian and in our world in general. We'll tackle some difficult books of the Bible like Job and Ecclesiastes to see the way God turns wisdom on its head, making it "anti-wisdom" that can truly endure.