Gordon in the News: last updated 04/20/2009

The Effects of Postmodernism? Jerusalem and Athens Forum Debates Emergent Church

April 15, 2009

Jo Kadlecek
Office of College Communications

WENHAM, MA–At 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21, in the Ken Olsen Science Center at Gordon College, honor students will wrestle with the effects of postmodernism on religion in the fifth annual Jerusalem and Athens Forum debate. This year’s proposition states that the movement commonly designated as the  “emergent church” or “emerging church” bears witness to the positive flourishing of Christianity during our time.

“Even if you don’t know about the emergent church, there are changes taking place in the Christian church that it is a huge part of,” says Kirk Vanacore, a junior history major on the affirmative side of the debate. “Our side of the debate represents a new perspective on liberal Christianity that is different from the liberal Christianity found in mainline churches today.”

The Jerusalem and Athens Forum, a year-long interdisciplinary honors program at Gordon College, involves sophomores, juniors and seniors who are interested in discussing major thought topics of both contemporary and ancient society. Each year the program culminates in a formal debate between classmates. The topic usually involves a traditionally theological topic such as just war or pacifism, but this year JAF leadership has decided to go with a contemporary issue.

The “emergent” movement is a trend within Christianity to reexamine faith in the context of a new era. “Our generation is faced with new questions due to developments in science and technology or perhaps simply due to the flow of history,” says Vanacore. “This discussion presents different approaches to dealing with these questions.”

Students have been preparing for the debate since the beginning of the semester in January and are now forming final arguments to be presented on the 21st. For more information about the Jerusalem and Athens Forum, visit www.gordon.edu/JAF.


Gordon College is a Christian college of the liberal arts and sciences on Boston's North Shore. The College offers majors in 37 fields and has graduate programs in education and music education. Leading the way in Christian college merit, Gordon is nationally ranked for its excellence in academics and its role in character building. These achievements recognize Gordon as one of the nation's top Christian colleges.