Our second core value at Spirit & Truth Publishing is “Love is supreme.” God loves us unconditionally, and our response is to love God and others. Simple, though never easy.
Why We’re Here
At Spirit & Truth Publishing, our purpose is to provide easy-to-use, theologically sound, and effective resources that help you do the faith formation ministry God has called you to do, whether as an occasional volunteer to a full-time church professional. And we seek to provide these resources to as broad an audience as is reasonable.
But what does it mean to be “theologically sound,” especially when we are trying to serve a wide audience? We go about this by avoiding some of the more theologically heavy subjects and focusing on our essential values:
- The Bible Is the Foundation
- Love Is Supreme
- Inclusivity Is the Goal
These three overlapping values are the topics of this new series of blog posts. So read on to get to know us a little better!
A Lot to Say on Theology
Depending on your (and your faith formation participants’) background, the word “theology” can be intimidating. And academic (systematic) theology is indeed intimidating. But it also just means “words about God.” We all have some sort of understanding (words) about God and the world, even if we don’t have it all mapped out and consistent.
Our theology (theological perspective) is how we understand and describe our life and world, especially when it comes to God and our relationship with God.
This theology that we hold is the filter or lens through which we understand our lives, our world, the Bible, and how we are to act.
So, while our goal at Spirit & Truth Publishing is to create faith formation resources for a broad range of theological traditions (denominations, etc.), it is impossible for us to do anything without a defined theological basis.
It’s All about Love
If you boil down a common message from many different regions of the Christian landscape, you get a simple thing: love. This isn’t a revolutionary or unique statement on our part. It’s not supposed to be. Our intention is to find the basic commonality among congregations who might be interested in using our faith formation resources, and that commonality is love.
God’s relationship toward creation, and specifically humanity, is defined by love. Love is so central to God’s self-revelation that the writer of 1 John grammatically equated them:
God is love.1 John 4:8
(This is not to say that the Divine Reality of the Trinity is some sort of personified “love,” just that God’s interactions with us is simply definable as love.)
The good news (gospel) for us is that God loves us unconditionally, undeservedly, and unendingly. This love brought God down to our world to be born a human in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. It is this love that drove Jesus to teach, heal, challenge authority, and forgive sins. It is this love that brought him to the cross. And it is this love that could not be kept down by death.
Love in Many Forms
Now, the Bible—and Christians—use many, many different words when discussing God’s relationship with God’s people: grace, mercy, forgiveness, condemnation, wrath. Isn’t reducing everything to “love” oversimplified? Well, yes. Again, in our basic core values/theological guidelines, we are trying to hold to what we consider “bare bones.” But also, love looks different in different situations.
- Love encountering suffering is mercy.
- Love encountering guilt and shame is forgiveness and grace.
- Love encountering harm is condemnation.
- Love encountering suffering inflicted on others is anger (wrath).
God’s love for us is the most important part of our theological perspective, but it is only part. What is left is our response. What does God expect and call us to do? Jesus, Paul, and other biblical writers spelled it out pretty simply: love. When Jesus is challenged to choose the most important commandment in all of Scripture, he “cheats” and gives two: Love God, love your neighbors. He explains elsewhere that those are not actually two separate commandments. We cannot truly be loving God if we are not also loving our neighbors.
The way I see it (and again, I’m not claiming to be original here), God has lavished the uncountable riches of love upon us. Our move is to respond by reflecting some of that love back to God and around to the people we encounter. It is our stewardship with the love God gives us.
So, that’s it. As we encounter Scripture in our faith formation resources, our primary question beyond “What does the text say?” is “What does the text say about love?” The perspectives are numerous and what is simple is rarely easy. But beyond this, we try to give you, as faith formation leaders the freedom to interpret Scripture according to your theological tradition (Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, Congregational, Mennonite, etc.). We, of course, are far from perfect and don’t always succeed in following our goals, but we hope that the materials we provide are a blessing to you and your participants, wherever you might fall in the theological landscape of our Christian faith.
That will bring us to our third core value: inclusivity.
Peace and blessings,
Gregory Rawn (Publisher)
Order Faith Formation Resources
Looking for a resource for VBS, summer education, or events? Check out our Learning Together series! These five-lesson units are available on six different topics, one of which is FREE! The other five are much more affordable than standard VBS curricula with pricing starting at $25 for a program with 1-10 participants. Perfect for children’s and intergenerational ministries.
Are you looking for resources for the 2023-2024 program year? Order resources now for the Narrative Lectionary, Revised Common Lectionary, and even a new Classroom curriculum for PK-2nd and 3rd-6th (check our blog post for a special discount)!
At Spirit & Truth Publishing, we might just have exactly what you are looking for:
- Resource for the Revised Common Lectionary (2023-2024) (intergenerational classroom)
- Resources for the Narrative Lectionary (2023-2024) (products for all ages)
- Classic Sunday School Curriculum (key Bible stories for PK-2nd and 3rd-6th)
- Learning Together: Five-lesson topical units for VBS, Sunday school, children, and intergenerational classes.
- Cross+Generational Confirmation
- Worship and Liturgy Education