By Michael Thompson, Director of Communications
What does it mean to be a public theologian in the visual age? In the case of Dr. Ralph Basui Watkins, Peachtree Associate Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth, it means taking to the television airwaves in response to the question. Dr. Watkins hosts a bi-weekly television program on the Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasting Network (AIB) that invites theologians, scholars, thought leaders and community leaders to talk about issues of faith and justice, public policy and societal concerns. The goal of the program is to model for the larger community how to have civil conversation around difficult topics.
“The church is dealing with many difficult issues as the winds of society change, and Religion Roundtable is a place to have these conversations,” says Dr. Watkins. “There is no topic that the show avoids. We need to discuss what is happening in the public square and how it intersects with issues of faith.”
While Dr. Watkins continues to see writing as central to the work of the scholar, he sees the venue of television as another way to get the word out to the world. Students from Columbia Theological Seminary have appeared on the show with Dr. Watkins and have been taught how to engage in messaging using this medium. Students are stepping out and leading now, not waiting until they graduate.
The show is supported through social media as well. Dr. Watkins seeks to position the show firmly in the new world of the visual and internet age. He has written many publications centered around building 21st Century Churches, and is presently researching ways the church can use multi-media approaches and social media strategies to be effective at evangelism and discipleship.
Dr. Watkins has also produced a couple of documentaries. He recently went to Israel and Palestine with the group Interfaith Peace-Builders in the summer of 2013.
You may tune in to Religion Roundtable on Fridays at 7:00 pm on AIB, with encore presentations on Mondays at 9:30 am & Wednesdays at 1:30 pm.