Long-time Disciples communicator will talk about truth-telling in upcoming lecture (10/23/07)
By Rebecca Bowman Woods, DisciplesWorld news editor
FORT WORTH, Texas (10/23/07) — For Jim Suggs, a prominent editor and communicator within and beyond the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), truth matters.
Suggs will share insights on truth in communication and truth as it pertains to religious belief on Nov. 10 during the inaugural James C. Suggs Seminar on Christian Communication. The seminar, named in his honor, is part of the Stalcup School of Theology for the Laity at Brite Divinity School of Texas Christian University (TCU)
Suggs' lecture title is "In Communication, Truth Counts." In an interview with DisciplesWorld, Suggs, president emeritus of the magazine and one of its founders, said that credibility of both communicators and their messages — whether commercial, political, or religious — rests on telling the truth.
Despite the temptation to “spin” the story, the truth eventually comes out, Suggs noted.
But the fear of being found out and losing credibility is not the only reason to avoid deception tactics. “We’re also found out if we are telling the truth — we become credible sources in what we are saying in the future. We’re more likely to be believed,” Suggs said.
Next month’s lecture will be a homecoming of sorts for Suggs. He graduated from Brite and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Disciples-related TCU prior to seminary. As a student, he was the ghost editor of The Christian Courier, a monthly newspaper affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Texas.
At age 28, Suggs was named director of international public relations for the Disciples. During his 40-year career he was managing editor of The Christian, sucessor to The Christian-Evangelist and predecessor to The Disciple. He served as executive director of the Texas Conference of Churches; as national president of what is now the Religion Communicators Council; and as associate and regional minister for the Christian Church in the Southwest. Suggs retired in 1997 as president of the Christian Board of Publication.
Suggs also plans to speak on the way that different understandings of truth relate to biblical interpretation. In an age when modern scholarship has led many Christians to look beyond literal interpretation of scripture, Suggs refutes the notion that such pursuits lead to relativism and a diluted definition of truth.
Two millennia have passed since the first stories about Jesus and the letters of the apostle Paul were circulated, Suggs noted. Today’s believers are not necessarily more insightful or intelligent than the first Christians. “But we do know more. We have more facts. And so moderns ought to be given opportunities to discern the truth in new ways,” Suggs said.
Christians should not have to worry about “being judged unreligious if we look at the data that is available now, or any of the other scientific discoveries made since then,” Suggs said.
This is one reason the Stalcup School of Theology for the Laity is important, he said. “Twenty-first century people need to be freed to use their brains, hearts, experiences, and feelings creatively and in a way that will make sense to them and deal with their ultimate reality.”
The James C. Suggs Seminar on Christian Communication will be offered every four years. The inaugural lecture by Suggs, on Nov. 10, will be at Northway Christian Church in Dallas from 9:00 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. For more information or to register, contact the Office of Lay and Continuing Education, Brite Divinity School, at 817-257-7580 or email@example.com