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Author Topic: Christianity Today Magazine - October 2019  (Read 176 times)

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patrick jane

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Christianity Today Magazine - October 2019
« on: October 04, 2019, 09:02:12 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/september/prophetic-voice-of-hong-kongs-protesters.html






The Prophetic Voice of Hong Kong’s Protesters




The political forces in the region also pose an existential threat to the church.


The people of Hong Kong have protested for greater freedoms for years, but the latest demonstrations represent a historic outcry.

Since 1997, July 1 has marked the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return as a territory of China after 150 years of British colonial rule. Beginning in 2003, it is also the date of annual protests by Hong Kong residents calling for increased democracy.

These demonstrations have been generally peaceful—until this summer, when a group of protesters stormed the Legislative Council parliament building. They were angry at what they saw as China’s most recent, and most egregious, effort to weaken the freedoms of Hong Kongers.

In April, Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong, had introduced a bill that would allow Hong Kong to detain and transfer people wanted in countries and territories with which Hong Kong has no formal extradition agreement, including mainland China and Taiwan. The bill, she argued, was necessary to send a Hong Kong man wanted for murder to trial in Taiwan. It specifically included exemptions for political crimes, religious crimes, and certain white-collar crimes.

The Hong Kong public, though, saw the bill as a thinly veiled ploy to give China additional power over the semi-autonomous territory. The bill has kicked off nearly four months of protests that have, at times, had as many as 1.7 million participants—a remarkable number for a city of 7.4 million people.

Even as the extradition bill was suspended by Lam, and then withdrawn altogether, the protests against Chinese overreach have continued, with turnout spiking leading up to another anniversary: National Day. October 1 marks the 70th annual commemoration of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

Aside from the bill itself, four of the protesters’ five main demands remain: Lam’s resignation, an inquiry into police brutality, the release of those arrested, and greater democratic freedoms.

Many Hong Kong Christians, while comprising less than 12 percent of the population, have played a prominent role in the protests—marching, singing hymns, holding prayer circles, and providing food and shelter to other demonstrators. (The Jesus People song “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord” became an unexpected anthem of the protests, as participants sang the tune to calm confrontations with police.)

For Christians there, the Chinese Communist Party may be the greatest existential threat to the Hong Kong church. In the past few years Chinese president Xi Jinping has systematically cracked down on Christianity in the mainland, razing churches, arresting leaders, and ejecting foreign missionaries. The persecution has extended to other faiths, with Xi’s government detaining as many as one million Muslim Uighur people in re-education camps in the country’s western region.

Under the Hong Kong Basic Law, a constitution agreed to by the United Kingdom and the People’s Republic of China when the former handed Hong Kong back to the latter, none of these things should happen in Hong Kong—at least not until 2047, when the Basic Law and Hong Kong’s semi-autonomy expire.

But in the 22 years since Hong Kong became part of China again, the Communist country has shown a willingness to push the boundaries of that agreement. The Hong Kong legislature is stacked with pro-Beijing lawmakers; the supposedly free press is regularly censored. On multiple occasions, China has pushed for history curriculum in Hong Kong schools that, among other things, erases significant events like Mao Zedong’s disastrous Great Leap Forward campaign and the Tiananmen Square massacre. Electoral reforms proposed by Beijing, which gave the Chinese Communist Party more influence over who was eligible to run for office in Hong Kong, sparked the Umbrella Movement in 2014.

Even without an extradition agreement, China has already shown its willingness to abduct and detain Hong Kong residents that have angered Communist leaders. Most notably, five Hong Kong booksellers who sold books critical of Chinese leaders disappeared in 2015, claiming later that they had been imprisoned on the mainland. In a country where as many as 99.9 percent of defendants are found guilty, the idea of justice is questionable at best.

For Chinese Christians within the diaspora, the threat from the mainland is no less real. Those born in the 1930s and 1940s grew up as Mao Zedong and his staunchly atheist Communist Party came to power. Many Chinese Christians who now live abroad fled after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, with Hong Kong often being one of their first stops toward the freedom to practice their faith.

Today Hong Kong remains the safest haven on the border of mainland China for missionaries and ministries, where they go to purchase supplies, attend trainings, post on social media, or simply to escape the ever watchful Chinese authorities, known for monitoring communications and the movements of foreigners. Hong Kong often serves as the staging ground or headquarters for missions efforts into the mainland. As China attempts to exert greater control over Hong Kong, their work is even more at risk.

Of course, no protest movement is perfect in its motivations and actions. Protesters in Hong Kong have been criticized for shutting down the city’s bustling international airport on multiple occasions, damaging government buildings, scuffling with police, and harming the tourism industry.

But even flawed protest movements can provide a prophetic voice, bringing to light the forces threatened by a people who are free and empowered. The demonstrators’ persistent efforts have highlighted police brutality; they have incurred the aggression of the Triads, organized crime syndicates in Hong Kong.

Protest leaders, including Joshua Wong, a Christian activist who rose to prominence during the 2014 protests, and anti-Beijing lawmakers have been arrested. The Chinese military is amassing security forces on the Hong Kong border as a stark warning to the protesters about the possible consequences of their actions.

In recent years, the international community has been more inclined to overlook China’s curbing of human and political rights within the mainland and its territories, in hopes of currying favor with the economic and military superpower. But with these protests, it has become much harder to ignore the fact that China ranks 135th on the Human Freedom Index. Activists from Hong Kong have recently testified before the United Nations Human Rights Council and the US Congress.

At this point, no one knows how the story unfolding in Hong Kong will end. Some could even argue that their efforts are futile, given that, in a short 28 years, Hong Kongers will have lost all claim to their existing freedoms and political systems. The many thriving churches and ministries in Hong Kong may be forced to close their doors or go underground after 2047.

But, for now, they continue to raise their voices. They continue to march. And the spotlight continues to shine into some of the darkest corners of Chinese rule.




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« Last Edit: October 04, 2019, 09:04:42 am by patrick jane »
Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, the gospel of our salvation, and repenting, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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patrick jane

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - October 2019
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2019, 03:50:00 am »
Clandestine medical abortions reportedly on the rise in the US

While the number of in-clinic abortions in the United States is reportedly down, the sale of illicitly acquired abortion pills may be up, according to recent data from the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute.

According to data from Guttmacher, a total of 339,640 medication abortions occurred in 2017, making up about 39% of all abortions. But because of the “black market” abortion pills acquired online or otherwise surreptitiously, it is difficult to track exactly how many abortions are occurring this way. Researchers told the New York Times that they estimate that secret medical abortions are making up a growing and “irreversible” portion of abortions in the United States.
“This is happening,” said Jill E. Adams, executive director of If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice, told the New York Times. “This is an irreversible part of abortion care here in the United States.”

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/



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Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, the gospel of our salvation, and repenting, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - October 2019
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2019, 11:24:38 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/october/arkansas-man-vandalized-church-baptized.html






He Got High and Broke Into a Church. Months Later, He Was Baptized There.


An Arkansas Baptist church opted to forgive the man who caused $100,000 in damage.


February 28, 2019 was one of the worst days of 23-year-old Brenton Winn’s life. But it paved the way for one of the best.

Angry at God after he relapsed from an addiction to methamphetamines despite spending time at a faith-based recovery program, Winn knew nothing about Central Baptist Church of Conway, Arkansas, when he broke in that February evening.

High on drugs, Winn went on a rampage and destroyed $100,000 of church property, including laptops, cameras, and other electronics. He remembers little of that night, except that he felt desperate.

Six months later Winn stood in a baptismal pool at Central Baptist as Mike Lefler, the church’s associate pastor of ministries, celebrated the young man’s decision to follow Christ through baptism.

“As I’m starting to understand how God works, I’ve realized I didn’t pick the church that night. God picked me,” Winn said. “If it had been any other church, I think I’d be sitting in prison right now.”

Winn grew up in what he calls a “God-fearing” home. His mother and stepfather attended a Church of Christ congregation. At 14, he started experimenting with methamphetamines. By 16, he was taking drugs every day.

“Before I knew it, I had a full-blown drug addiction,” Winn said. “From the time I was 16 until a few months ago, my life was nothing but chaos, suicide attempts and brokenness.”

In 2016, Winn went into a two-week faith-based recovery program. For a year, he stayed off drugs and got a job at a local Lowe’s store. But in September of 2017, his cousin committed suicide. Devastated, he fell back into addiction. By last February, when he broke into the church, Winn was homeless and desperate.

Winn’s journey from a jail cell in February to a baptismal pool in September began when Central Baptist senior pastor, Don Chandler, talked to the prosecutor the following Monday. Chandler knew the godly response to Winn would be to offer forgiveness rather than judgment.

“You can’t preach something for 50 years without practicing it, especially in front of your whole church,” Chandler said. “Had we not shown some grace to him, everything we’ve talked about and encouraged, would have gone by the wayside. It was simply the right thing to do. This was not a hardened criminal. This was a young man who had made some mistakes. He was on drugs and alcohol when he did what he did. But he was redeemable.”

Chandler mentioned that day to the prosecutor that the church would like to see Winn get help. One of the church’s partner ministries had been Renewal Ranch, a faith-based residential recovery ministry just outside of Conway. James Loy began the ministry in 2011, just six years after he began a relationship with Christ and kicked a 23-year drug and alcohol addiction.

Over the next few weeks Chandler, the prosecutor, and Winn’s lawyer continued to discuss the best way to help Winn. The case’s judge, who at time had been a board member of Renewal Ranch, gave Winn the option. He could either go to jail, where he was potentially facing 20 years of incarceration, or he could voluntarily choose to go to Renewal Ranch. Winn chose Renewal Ranch.

Renewal Ranch is a 12-month program based on biblical principles. For the first six months, participants are housed on the 102-acre property, where they are given their lodging, food and program materials for free. Every week local pastors and volunteers lead 15-plus hours of Bible study. Participants also have access to trained biblical counselors and are required to do 300 hours of community service.

In the second six-month phase of the program, participants live in off-campus apartments operated by the program, work at jobs and continue to go through the Renewal Ranch program. Since 2011, 300 men have come to faith in Christ through the ministry.

“Our goal of this program is to make reproducing disciple-makers for Jesus Christ,” said Loy, who serves as the ministry’s executive director. “I tell people, my goal is not for them to be abstinent of drugs and alcohol. I want that for their lives, but my main goal is for these men to fall in love with Jesus. Through that personal love relationship. There’s freedom from the bonds of addiction.”

Winn accepted Christ as His Savior after one of the Bible studies at Renewal Ranch. Winn and other ranch residents attend church at Central Baptist on Wednesday evenings. Winn chose to be baptized at the church on one of those Wednesday nights.

“I gave my heart to Christ that night,” Winn said. “I used to think it was a coincidence [that I chose to break into the church that night], but now I call it confirmation that God is real, and he answers prayers. What was weighing on my heart was that I needed a relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Winn still must finish the program in order to avoid jail time. Once he completes the program, he will likely still spend a couple of years on probation.

“We’re challenging our members to continue praying for this man because his story is not over,” Lefler said. “And that’s true for every one of us. God is still working a beautiful story of grace in every one of our lives.”




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patrick jane

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - October 2019
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2019, 04:28:28 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/october/announcing-gc2-summit-on-leadership-burnout-and-mental-illn.html







Announcing the GC2 Summit on Leadership, Burnout, and Mental Health



Join us December 6th as we face the hard truths and challenges of pastoral ministry.



Less than two years ago I wrote an article on The Problem of Suicide. In it, I stated:

Each year, 44,193 Americans die by suicide which, on average, amounts to 121 suicides per day. For many of us, these figures don’t feel too far off. We can picture the faces and remember the names of those in our own communities who’ve taken their own lives.

As a young pastor, I too came face to face with the harsh realities of suicide and the pain brought on by watching those I loved experience such deep suffering. Particularly, I remember a man named Jim in our congregation who was struggling with mental illness. For a while, he fought the good fight and did what he could to spend time in prayer and read Psalms to find comfort. Eventually, however, filled with despair, he took his own life.

I was devastated. At the time, I was unprepared, idealistic, and largely unsure how to handle the events that had just transpired in the church community I was shepherding. Unfortunately, I think many churches today fit that same description. They are trying to figure out how to help people struggling with mental illnesses and care for loved ones in the aftermath of loss but don’t really know quite what to do.
Before and since that time I have written often on mental illness among church leaders in particular, most recently upon the passing of Jarrid Wilson. Jarrid and I were friends. More and more we are hearing about church leaders struggling—in their leadership, in their personal lives, in their understanding of themselves and our world.

We are struggling emotionally, spiritually, and physically. This is in no small part due to growing awareness that the demands on pastors and church leaders today are outpacing the self care and resources available to lead from a place of health and wholeness. In essence: pastors are hurting and often struggle to get help.

Let’s be honest…many of us are on the edge of burnout

I am not immune. Combating feelings of being overworked and overwhelmed seems to have become my status quo. And just like scores of pastors across the world—very likely including your own—I can easily defend my perpetual hamster-in-the-wheel state with statements like “But this is for the Kingdom!” “Our world needs Jesus, and our churches need the fire to tell others about him!” and “Our culture is confusing and if I’m able to help churches navigate it well, I need to!”

In other words, many of us are balancing on the edge of burnout.

This is our narrative. Often, in our efforts to do good and be mission-minded, we can lose ourselves. We can lose the simple fact that a healthy me = a healthy leadership style = a healthy way of dealing with challenges that both my church and I face.

But the church in North America has a crisis in church leadership on its hands. A recent Lifeway Research study revealed that the role of pastor can be challenging:

• 84 percent say they’re on call 24 hours a day
• 80 percent expect conflict in their church
• 54 percent find the role of pastor frequently overwhelming
• 53 percent are often concerned about their family’s financial security
• 48 percent often feel the demands of ministry are more than they can handle
• 21 percent say their church has unrealistic expectations of them

More than just data, I have front row seats to the truth of our situation at the dozens of pastors’ conferences and networking events where, in the hallways between lectures, stories pour out from pastors on this edge. Commonly burdened and burned, they nonetheless whisper in hushed tones in hopes they aren’t overheard by their peers. For all our talk of honesty, the perception persists that such struggles for a pastor leave an indelible mark of shame.

Yet this is hardly unexpected. Pastors are people too and the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that in the United States over 46 million people are plagued by mental illnesses each year. This is 1 out of 5 adults.NAMI also reports that mental health disorders are seen in over 90 percent of all deaths by suicide.

Lord, help us.

It’s time our churches become healthy places for those who are struggling, including pastors

Now the concept of those in church leadership feeling overwhelmed is not new. Unfortunately, neither is the truth that too many in leadership feel isolated and alone and lack accountability and the capacity to handle conflict and challenges well.

Common, yes. Okay, no.

Each time I talk with a pastor friend who is feeling overwhelmed I am reminded that we need to be doing more to care for our leaders and to be giving them space to struggle and wrestle with hard issues. After all, a healthy body of Christ is one where we want to be open about who we are inside instead of trying to portray a disingenuous appearance outwardly.

The past few years have shown us that the health of our church leadership is less than ideal in many cases— and even toxic at times.

Moral and ethical failures have been on display for a watching world to see. These same failures have damaged countless congregations and trusting parishioners who are now asking what it looks like to have leadership that is accountable and trustworthy.

Often buried under these headlines are the countless stories of pastors dealing with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Most distressingly, these have become more normative. Although these stories are difficult to hear, in doing so, I believe, we have an opportunity to provide space for many to find healing and wholeness—if we do it right.

A one-day summit to help those in pastoral ministry

Last year, when we at the Billy Graham Center held the Reflections GC2 Summit on Sexual Harassment, Abuse, and Violence, we saw the same thing. Heinous stories that were once stored in the dark came out, opening the door for others to feel as though they have permission to bring theirs to light as well. But we have much work to do.

This is the case for the crisis in church leadership today.

But it’s past time that we elevate the conversation that other organizations, churches, and counselors have been involved in for years. On Friday, December 6, 2019, in partnership with the Wheaton College School of Psychology, Counseling, and Family Therapy, we will be hosting our 4th GC2 Summit at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL, this time on Facing the Hard Truths & Challenges of Pastoral Ministry: A Conversation on Leadership, Burnout, and Mental Health.

The GC2 Summit will be a time for pastors, church leadership teams, and lay Christians to come together to:

Hear from other pastors addressing issues of burnout, mental illness, isolation, and stress
Get tools to support you in building accountability and support, prayer, personal discipleship, and more
Learn from top counselors addressing issues of taking care of the whole body, the dangers of mental illness and burnout, and developing boundaries to care for oneself and others well
Engage with experts speaking on the tangibles of healthy leadership
Receive prayer and personal support
Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church, and Derwin Gray, founding pastor of Transformation Church, will be keynoting the event along with an amazing line-up of speakers who will be addressing issues of leadership burnout, soul care, healthy team assessment, identifying issues of mental illness, supporting senior leadership, and building a congregation of care and compassion.

Additional speakers include Dr. Margaret Diddams, organizational psychologist and provost at Wheaton College; Dr. Phil Ryken, president of Wheaton College; Dr. Eric Brown, director of Wheaton's Clinical Mental Health Counseling M.A. program; Ruth Haley Barton, author and founder of The Transforming Center; and Drew Hyun, pastor of Hope Church Midtown, as well as the founding pastor of Hope Church NYC.

We invite pastors, church leaders, church staff and elder boards, and all those who care about the issue of pastoral leadership and pastoral care to join us.

C.S. Lewis once said, “Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”

Let’s all come together and talk about our broken hearts and how to become the leaders and churches that God desires us to be.

Will you join us? Space is very limited so save your seat today. Register at www.gc2-summit.com.



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Hearing, believing and trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross; His death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, the gospel of our salvation, and repenting, seals us with that Holy Spirit of Promise. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise. 2 Peter 3:9 KJV - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV - Ephesians 1:10-14 KJV - Romans 10:9-10 KJV - Romans 10:13 - Romans 10:17 - Ephesians 1:7 KJV - Colossians 1:14 KJV -


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patrick jane

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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - October 2019
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2019, 04:32:54 am »

https://theologyforums.com/index.php?threads/why-it%E2%80%99s-easier-to-accept-david-as-a-murderer-than-a-rapist.8448/#post-221285






Why It’s Easier to Accept David as a Murderer than a Rapist



The current debate over what happened to Bathsheba forces us to think deeper about motives and power.


As a kid growing up in the church, I certainly heard a lot about Jesus. But just short of the Savior, I heard countless stories about King David: stories of bravery, courage, power, trust, risk, battle, war, triumph, and conquest.

Christians have always recognized David’s brokenness to an extent, particularly his pursuit of Bathsheba, which has typically been considered (and decried as) adultery. Lately, there has been quite the debate over what exactly happened between David and Bathsheba, and whether it should be characterized as rape.

This is not a new conversation, which is always important to remember in our age of hot takes. Denny Burk, Boyce College professor and president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, points to a journal article by Alexander Abasili that addressed this question in detail in 2011, years before the scrutiny of the #MeToo movement.

Not all interest in this issue is a result of current cultural pressure or capitulation; there is a legitimate, significant question over how we understand David in this story.

I agree with Abasili’s analysis that story doesn’t explicitly include the details that seem to be specific to instances of a Hebrew understanding of rape—namely, direct physical force and the victim crying out in anguish for help. And yet, the story of David and Bathsheba appears to many modern readers, including me, to meet contemporary definitions of rape.

So how should we think of it? Did David indeed rape Bathsheba? And why does it matter that we as Christians today get this right?

Jesus Expands the Law

While Abasili establishes that the David and Bathsheba story does not meet the criteria of rape detailed in biblical law, Old Testament professor David Lamb previously wrote for CT describing a basic argument that David was guilty of “power rape rather than adultery” since Bathsheba had no choice.

But the question is not just a matter of whether we go by the Old Testament laws or our own modern ones. Scripture itself points us to a deeper look at the heart behind David’s behavior.

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ doesn’t diminish the impact of the law, he expands and intensifies it: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28).

According to a basic reading of Old Testament law, looking upon a woman with lustful intent doesn’t meet the criteria of adultery. But, when we read the command against adultery through the lens of Christ’s instructions on the law, we find that looking upon someone who is not one’s spouse with lustful intent is, and has always been, adultery.

Jesus moves the focus from the details of the law to the intent and motivation of the heart. And Jesus doesn’t just do this with adultery. He does it every time he discusses the law.

If we approached the Old Testament law on rape the same way that Jesus addresses various aspects of the law, we would have to look beyond the explicit details enumerated in the law code and ask: What is happening in David’s heart and mind when it comes to Bathsheba?

Thinking of the question this way, the defense that David’s actions don’t meet the criteria for rape weakens considerably, and in fact, misses the point.

A Prophet’s Rebuke
Using the basic hermeneutical principle that Scripture should interpret Scripture, we find further context regarding David’s motivations just a few paragraphs away, in 2 Samuel 12, when he is rebuked by Nathan the prophet.

Nathan describes an imbalance of power between a rich man and a poor man, where the poor man had one precious lamb that he loved dearly, like a child, and the rich man took the poor man’s sole lamb to prepare for a guest (a way to accrue further social capital by hosting this guest well) because he had no pity.

Nathan tells him, “You are the man!” in the story, and then expands on David’s self-condemnation: God made you King, he delivered you, he gave you all that you have, and this wasn’t enough. You stole, you exploited, you killed, and you did it “secretly” for selfish gain. Even according to David and Nathan, David’s sin isn’t merely that he slept with Bathsheba, but that he did so in a way mired by his exploitation of power, deception, and self-gain. The power imbalance is clearly called out.

Nathan goes on to describe the fate of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah: “You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites” (2 Sam. 12:9).

Perhaps more intriguing than determining David’s motives is our own determination to spare him from disrepute.
Nathan uses conquering language that positions David as a murderer, the one who “struck down” and “killed him.” And yet, we know that Uriah didn’t die by David’s own sword, but by proxy after being sent to the front lines. While his actions would not constitute murder according to the detailed terms set out in the Old Testament, we absolutely see him as responsible for his death.

When the issue is whether David murdered Uriah, readers generally feel free to expand how the Old Testament murder law should be read. But when we ask whether David raped Bathsheba, then some readers push back demanding precision around what the law says explicitly about rape.

Both Jesus and Nathan’s focus on the intent and motives of the heart give us good reason to look beyond the letter of the law. The story of David and Bathsheba is not a story of adultery or an affair, but one where a powerful man is sexually exploiting a vulnerable woman and is willing to use coercive power to call her to his chamber and cover up his actions.

Our Defense of David
Perhaps more intriguing than determining David’s motives is our own determination to spare him from disrepute. We don’t want David to be a rapist. We actually find it easier to stomach him being a murderer of a man than an abuser of a woman.

And, if the preponderance of sermons is any indication, Christians have historically been willing to slut-shame Bathsheba to keep any stink (beyond adultery) off of David. It’s nonsensical, particularly because in Scripture, Bathsheba is never accused, indicted, or even maligned in any way for what happened.

David, though, is not just another figure in the Bible. He is the “man after God’s own heart,” championed both as a heroic figure for young boys in Sunday school and the subject of Christian studies on manhood and masculinity.

The phrase we so often associate with the biblical king is not a blanket endorsement for David’s example, nor the idea that he represents what it means to be like God as a man. It means that David was God’s chosen man as king of Israel. John Woodhouse says this phrase “is talking about the place the man has in God’s heart rather than the place God has in the man’s heart.”

Scripture is full of broken people, and King David, for all his virtues, is a broken man. So why has this particular story become such a contentious one for us? I’m convinced that we don’t want David to be a rapist because we don’t want to reckon with the sin of abusive power.

If David was merely a weak man who fell prey to a tempting woman on a lonely night, then we don’t have to grapple with the far more insidious reality: David was one of many (mostly men) throughout history who used their power for sexual exploitation. He leveraged his position as king to have an innocent man killed after using his power summon and sexually exploit that innocent man’s wife.

Is it any wonder that this great evil has largely remained unexplored in David’s story when the majority of those entrusted with telling the story stands to profit from not pointing it out? When we get to the story of David and Bathsheba the ones who would benefit most from sitting under the sobering impact of the story are those who are responsible for the telling. The spiritual leaders in our churches, mostly male pastors, must be willing to tell the story the way it is written: as an indictment of the spiritual abuse of power for exploitation. They must measure their life and the culture of leadership in their church in its scales.

We have to consider that we may have misread this story in a major way. Our misunderstanding and misrepresentation of what happened with David and Bathsheba may result in a truncated understanding of God’s good vision of power and sex, just when we so desperately need a holy vision for these things.

Perhaps the story of David isn’t just a cool story about giants defeated and battles won, but also a cautionary tale about the way that power can corrupt even the noble. And that the same power that a king had earlier used to defend the vulnerable could be turned to exploit the vulnerable.

The story of David and Bathsheba is an invitation to all of us, but particularly those in place of spiritual authority and leadership, to consider if we are making use of God’s gift in the way he intended. Power is a gift from God, but the temptation to use it for our own selfish gain is ever-present and endlessly enticing. Those entrusted with power must look to the Son of God, Jesus Christ, as the paradigm for faithful practice of power.

He, who possessed everything by right, surrendered it all for love. Christ, to whom the whole world belonged, approached the vulnerable with care and honor. Christ used his power to dignify the vulnerable and defend the shamed. What will we do with the power we’ve been given?




Kyle Worley planted and serves as one of the pastors at Mosaic Church in Richardson, Texas. Alongside Jen Wilkin and JT English, he serves as one of the hosts of the Knowing Faith podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @kyleworley.





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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - October 2019
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2019, 04:42:12 am »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/october/kapic-we-need-christian-liberal-arts-colleges.html







Why We Still Need Christian Colleges



As the liberal arts struggle, we should rally around Christian campuses that still embrace them.


In their recent book, For the Life of the World, Yale theologians Mirsolv Volf and Matthew Croasmun argue that there is a crisis in theology—that it has lost touch with what non-theologians consider to be real problems. This hurts not just the church but the whole world, they say, because theology can contribute to conversations about human flourishing in ways that no other discipline can.

In fact, this crisis extends beyond theology and into Christian higher education in general.

In 2018, The Atlantic and The Chronicle of Higher Education both ran lengthy features about the decline of the humanities (a rough synonym for “liberal arts”) in contemporary higher education. Facing economic pressures and multiple ideological critiques, bachelor’s degrees in the humanities have declined by about 35 percent on average since 2008, according to the Department of Education.

The Wall Street Journal reported a shift at liberal arts institutions away from the classic liberal arts disciplines and toward more “career-ready” degrees. According to Vicki Baker, an economics professor at Albion College in Michigan, an estimated one-third of colleges that called themselves liberal arts in 1990 no longer meet that description. “It’s an evolution and we are losing some of our liberal arts colleges as schools try and manage these pressures,” she said.

At the same time, the value of a specifically Christian education is frequently questioned. When Wheaton College in Illinois suspended a professor in 2016, accusing her of violating its statement of faith, many in the academic community expressed concerns that statements of faith threaten academic freedom and have no place in higher education. John K. Wilson, for example, co-editor of the American Association of University Professors’ “Academe” blog, argued that statements of faith are violations of academic freedom and “completely illegitimate” under the 1970 interpretive comment, which states that the AAUP doesn’t endorse departures from its academic freedom statement. This skepticism is mirrored by softening interest in religious studies disciplines, which have declined 43 percent in bachelor’s degrees awarded since 2008, according to 2017 Department of Education statistics.

In spite of these trends—perhaps because of them—I argue that the distinctively Christian liberal arts college is more valuable than ever.

Why Christian?
Questions about human purpose and meaning are essential for the health of the human person, but when do we ever take the time to explore them at the level they deserve? And when are we in an environment with experts who can help us with them? While the value of a liberal arts education and the place of religion in the academy may be in doubt at the moment, questions of meaning, purpose, and the “good life” are very much alive and well. And when we ask what human flourishing is and we fail to take God into account—as so many do—the consequences are devastating.

LinkedIn, the career-focused social media network, conducted a worldwide survey in 2016 of over 40,000 professionals and found that 74 percent of respondents want a job where they feel that their work matters. Lifestyle trends such as exercise routines, fad diets, or even decluttering all attempt to find, articulate, and live a life of flourishing.

But according to the World Happiness Report, Americans have reported an overall decline in life satisfaction over the last ten years. It is part of a longer-term trend: A 2009 study in Clinical Psychology Review showed that, despite increasing freedoms, better technology, and sustained economic growth, the depression rate among college students has been increasing over the last 50 years. One of the study’s authors, social psychologist Jean Twenge, toldNew York magazine, “There’s a paradox here that we seem to have so much ease and relative economic prosperity compared to previous centuries, yet there’s this dissatisfaction, there’s this unhappiness, there are these mental health issues in terms of depression and anxiety.”

This distorted vision of flourishing, mistaken as it is, has also taken root among Christians, producing a flattened-out, bumper-sticker Christianity that is spiritually divorced from the world in which we live. I frequently hear from young (and older) Christians who have been fed a steady diet of slogans instead of wisdom, self-help programs instead of Christian formation, and clichés instead of pointing to the difficult beauty of following our crucified and risen Savior. We need young Christians trained in more holistic ways for the challenges of our day.

Real life, real work, real relationships, real joy and pain call for the deep wisdom of the God of Abraham and Isaac, Mary and Paul. Additionally, we must grow in our understanding of an increasingly complex, fallen world. Instead of dividing our lives between the spiritual and the worldly, we are called to discover what it means to be a child of God, called by him to pursue meaningful work in his world. Such work is meant to be an outgrowth and expression of one’s faith, not a distraction from it.

The research of Robert Bellah and his colleagues, published in their book Habits of the Heart, concluded that people approach their work either as a job, a career, or a calling. While job and career are understood primarily in material terms—money or status—those who engage their work as a calling find aspects of it inherently fulfilling, taking satisfaction in the work itself.

Scholars, not all of them Christians, sense the need for what Christians call “vocation.” But without a transcendent reality to secure it, without God’s presence and blessing, the idea that work can be intrinsically satisfying loses stability: It points us in the right direction, but it can’t answer the questions “Who is calling us? Why does my enjoyment of the work matter?” A specifically Christian liberal arts education investigates how the good God is connected with the everyday aspects of life.

Every college or university employs plenty of faculty who follow an academic discipline because they love it and want to convey that love to their students. This is a good and right instinct, but unless we embed learning in its proper subordination to God, then learning can become our god. When this happens, all our affections, our desires, and our actions are directed toward temporal realities alone.

This substitution of the creation for the Creator is idolatry, as is treating the good gifts of God as if they were God himself. Without a proper Christian framework for understanding our world, we tend to belittle God’s good creation or to fragment life into compartments, where we bow to God for the “spiritual” parts of life and ignore him for the remainder. Instead, learning to love God’s creation as just that, God’s creation, puts us into a fruitful place of receiving and using the creation rightly as gifts from our loving God. Delighting in God’s gifts as just that, gifts from God, enables us to live in a healthy place, neither denigrating nor deifying creation, and enables us to hear God’s calling for us in the world he has given.

Why Liberal Arts?
Because God had set us in a creation that he repeatedly called “good,” Christian theology addresses all spheres of life, not just church life. It asks novelists about books, painters about art, actors about the stage, historians about the consequences of the slave trade. These Christians immersed in the liberal arts are vital to the rest of us.

A background in the liberal arts enables students, whatever their major disciplines, to understand their studies externally in relation to the whole world and internally in relation to interests beyond their jobs. Such an exploration can show how a student’s particular gifts and callings fit into what God is doing both around them and within them. We don’t have to do everything; we just have to discover our place in what God is doing and then serve him faithfully in his church and world.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the average baby boomer has had at least 12 different jobs during their life. A Christian liberal arts education can prepare students not simply for a job, or even a career, but for vocation—the wisdom that hears God’s call to respond with the whole self to produce meaning and purpose in God’s world. Engaging a broad swath of learning in the concentrated context of Christian higher education can encourage a fair-minded, holistic approach to life, grounded on the Scriptures and the faith of the church through the ages.

Weary or simply lacking resources, we have too often opted for simplistic and naïve answers to the hard questions of faith and life. Whether dealing with theology or science, economics or psychology, we find it easy to substitute careless proof texts for the hard work of absorbing the wisdom of Scripture and addressing this complicated, broken world. Busyness, tiredness, and defensiveness often keep us from the difficult task of discovering how to live our lives and do our work as an expression of our faith. What would it mean, say, to be a Christian economist rather than a Christian who is also an economist or an economist who happens to be a Christian?

Learning to be faithful stewards of God’s world, whatever our vocation, requires a whole array of knowledge that is too vast for any one person to effectively learn. A Christian education grounded in the liberal arts engages learning across disciplinary and ideological boundaries to equip the student to appreciate God’s will in and for God’s world.

We are all alarmed at the growing tribalism and fragmentation in North America and around the world, but we must not settle for simplistic answers that become tribal markers. We cannot afford to reject others who don’t say things exactly the same way we do; we need them to help us on the journey of seeking after God’s truth. We miss the full breadth of God’s wisdom when we substitute stereotypes for real people or cling to one-dimensional answers. When we are threatened by a constructive reflection that seeks wisdom wherever it may be found, we demonstrate a lack of trust in our heavenly Father who delights to give good gifts to his children (Matt. 7:11). Christians, of all people, should have the liberty to actually learn.

Rather than being afraid, we can explore all of God’s creation, learning to do good work in any profession, confident in God. That confidence teaches us that our lives have meaning and purpose now, not just in the future. That confidence also teaches us that our limits are not threats but paths to growth and learning from people whose faith has led them through years of study to a God-centered expertise. A Christian liberal arts college provides a distinctively God-centered environment for collaborating with such scholars.

Why College?
Christian education is not merely about giving the “Christian answer” to questions. No, the advantage of a Christian liberal arts college is that it provides a broad, sustained, relationally based conversation led by trusted scholars about who God is, who we are, and how to live faithfully in this world. It is broad because the resources available span many disciplines, not only the pastoral and the theological. It is sustained because the ministry engages the student’s vision for every hour of every day—not just Sundays. It is relationally based because the significant amount of time the community spends together for four years allows for deep, consistent engagement with peers, mentor-experts, and big questions. Finally, it is a conversation in which all parties can ask penetrating, inconvenient, uncomfortable questions because we are confident the truth can stand the closest scrutiny.

In his 2012 book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt argues that while we imagine that we are led by pure logic and reason, we are really more often led by intuition and our passions. We know what we want to think and we know the conclusion we want to end up with, so we sift through arguments to find what aligns with our preconceived opinion.

This is a problem for all of us, regardless of political or ideological persuasion. This is what makes us all vulnerable to “fake news.” Haidt argues that we tend to gather data that supports our views (accurate or not) and ignore data that questions our convictions (despite the weight of evidence). This brings to mind the biblical warning about “self-righteousness”: We are so consumed with the problems we see in others that we fail to see our own shortcomings, both morally and intellectually (Matt. 7:1–5).

In his 2018 book, The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, Haidt writes that we are losing our ability to know how to debate and how to wrestle with difficult ideas, let alone how to learn from those who say things we find objectionable.

One version of this shows up in Christian parents who send their children to secular universities while cautioning them, “Enjoy the football and college life, but be careful about those faculty. You can’t really trust them.” Though this is certainly not always the case, stories persist of two kinds of bad reactions.

On the one hand, these dire warnings about unbelieving, anti-Christian professors lead some students to assume that everything the professor says is basically wrong. The students are 19 years old and have no expertise for navigating the scholarship, so by default they reject it, stifling real learning—which was the goal for going to college in the first place! From biology to economics, from philosophy to educational theory, some doubt everything they hear.

On the other hand, others discover that these “unbelieving” teachers are good people who are not only passionate and compelling but also give the students tools for handling aspects of the world that their parents only ignored. If the only Christianity these students have been taught can’t handle the “real world,” was any of it true? Young Christians sometimes abandon their faith because the choices seemed to be either a faith that couldn’t grow or growth without faith. They felt like they were forced to pick between intellectual rigor and Christianity—but we know this is a false dichotomy.

There is no reason that Christians attending a secular university have to make this choice. But they do have the disadvantage of being neither scholars nor theologians, so it can be tough going. Many Christians do attend secular universities, get a great education, and keep a strong faith. But a quality Christian liberal arts college provides a community of living examples of Christians who are both intellectually engaged and deeply faithful to the gospel that can be much harder to find in the secular academy.

College students, stepping afresh into adulthood, ask deep questions about life, ethics, vocation, and purpose. They are concerned that Christians too often embody worldly individualism, consumerism, and arrogance. I have been a college professor for almost two decades and I hear versions of these concerns weekly. Young people want more—not more money but more meaning, more purpose. They want to discover a vision that integrates a rich theology with insights from specialists in all the disciplines.

College provides four years for digging into some of the deep questions of life, years of formation that shape one’s imagination and intuitions, then shape the communities where graduates go. This is where one can set a reliable foundation for asking what constitutes “the good life.”

At a Christian liberal arts college, we wrestle with the hard questions (not always solving them!), while applying to these challenges the faith handed down through the ages. We seek not easy answers but slow-growing wisdom and the formation of godly instincts. One of the most important things Christian faculty members at any institution can do is believe. Students witness thoughtful professors who don’t have all the answers, who are honest about the real challenges, who delight in insights from whatever source (including non-Christians), and in it all, the professor still stands there believing.

Is education at a Christian liberal arts college the complete answer to the problems of higher education? Will its students emerge as completely equipped Christians? No, obviously not. But, with all its imperfections, it supplies a depth and breadth of tools and resources unavailable to the local church and a Christian scholarly context either unavailable or largely absent at secular universities. It will help us live out one of the ways we honor God and our neighbor: by taking this world seriously.

Christians desperately need deep learning, not only in theology but in the wonder of God’s creation. What a gift it is to the church and to the world when a Christian liberal arts college graduates students who are not simply interested in a job or a career but who see their work as a calling. Whether they enter the laboratory, the classroom, or the courtroom, whether they rear children or serve as accountants, they enter their work not as a distraction from their faith but as a vital expression of it.



Kelly M. Kapic is professor of theological studies at Covenant College. He is the author of The God Who Gives: How the Trinity Shapes the Christian Story (Zondervan) and co-author, with economist Brian Fikkert, of Becoming Whole: Why the Opposite of Poverty Isn’t the American Dream (Moody).





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Re: Christianity Today Magazine - October 2019
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2019, 09:16:31 pm »

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/october/kapic-we-need-christian-liberal-arts-colleges.html







Why We Still Need Christian Colleges



As the liberal arts struggle, we should rally around Christian campuses that still embrace them.


In their recent book, For the Life of the World, Yale theologians Mirsolv Volf and Matthew Croasmun argue that there is a crisis in theology—that it has lost touch with what non-theologians consider to be real problems. This hurts not just the church but the whole world, they say, because theology can contribute to conversations about human flourishing in ways that no other discipline can.

In fact, this crisis extends beyond theology and into Christian higher education in general.

In 2018, The Atlantic and The Chronicle of Higher Education both ran lengthy features about the decline of the humanities (a rough synonym for “liberal arts”) in contemporary higher education. Facing economic pressures and multiple ideological critiques, bachelor’s degrees in the humanities have declined by about 35 percent on average since 2008, according to the Department of Education.

The Wall Street Journal reported a shift at liberal arts institutions away from the classic liberal arts disciplines and toward more “career-ready” degrees. According to Vicki Baker, an economics professor at Albion College in Michigan, an estimated one-third of colleges that called themselves liberal arts in 1990 no longer meet that description. “It’s an evolution and we are losing some of our liberal arts colleges as schools try and manage these pressures,” she said.

At the same time, the value of a specifically Christian education is frequently questioned. When Wheaton College in Illinois suspended a professor in 2016, accusing her of violating its statement of faith, many in the academic community expressed concerns that statements of faith threaten academic freedom and have no place in higher education. John K. Wilson, for example, co-editor of the American Association of University Professors’ “Academe” blog, argued that statements of faith are violations of academic freedom and “completely illegitimate” under the 1970 interpretive comment, which states that the AAUP doesn’t endorse departures from its academic freedom statement. This skepticism is mirrored by softening interest in religious studies disciplines, which have declined 43 percent in bachelor’s degrees awarded since 2008, according to 2017 Department of Education statistics.

In spite of these trends—perhaps because of them—I argue that the distinctively Christian liberal arts college is more valuable than ever.

Why Christian?
Questions about human purpose and meaning are essential for the health of the human person, but when do we ever take the time to explore them at the level they deserve? And when are we in an environment with experts who can help us with them? While the value of a liberal arts education and the place of religion in the academy may be in doubt at the moment, questions of meaning, purpose, and the “good life” are very much alive and well. And when we ask what human flourishing is and we fail to take God into account—as so many do—the consequences are devastating.

LinkedIn, the career-focused social media network, conducted a worldwide survey in 2016 of over 40,000 professionals and found that 74 percent of respondents want a job where they feel that their work matters. Lifestyle trends such as exercise routines, fad diets, or even decluttering all attempt to find, articulate, and live a life of flourishing.

But according to the World Happiness Report, Americans have reported an overall decline in life satisfaction over the last ten years. It is part of a longer-term trend: A 2009 study in Clinical Psychology Review showed that, despite increasing freedoms, better technology, and sustained economic growth, the depression rate among college students has been increasing over the last 50 years. One of the study’s authors, social psychologist Jean Twenge, toldNew York magazine, “There’s a paradox here that we seem to have so much ease and relative economic prosperity compared to previous centuries, yet there’s this dissatisfaction, there’s this unhappiness, there are these mental health issues in terms of depression and anxiety.”

This distorted vision of flourishing, mistaken as it is, has also taken root among Christians, producing a flattened-out, bumper-sticker Christianity that is spiritually divorced from the world in which we live. I frequently hear from young (and older) Christians who have been fed a steady diet of slogans instead of wisdom, self-help programs instead of Christian formation, and clichés instead of pointing to the difficult beauty of following our crucified and risen Savior. We need young Christians trained in more holistic ways for the challenges of our day.

Real life, real work, real relationships, real joy and pain call for the deep wisdom of the God of Abraham and Isaac, Mary and Paul. Additionally, we must grow in our understanding of an increasingly complex, fallen world. Instead of dividing our lives between the spiritual and the worldly, we are called to discover what it means to be a child of God, called by him to pursue meaningful work in his world. Such work is meant to be an outgrowth and expression of one’s faith, not a distraction from it.

The research of Robert Bellah and his colleagues, published in their book Habits of the Heart, concluded that people approach their work either as a job, a career, or a calling. While job and career are understood primarily in material terms—money or status—those who engage their work as a calling find aspects of it inherently fulfilling, taking satisfaction in the work itself.

Scholars, not all of them Christians, sense the need for what Christians call “vocation.” But without a transcendent reality to secure it, without God’s presence and blessing, the idea that work can be intrinsically satisfying loses stability: It points us in the right direction, but it can’t answer the questions “Who is calling us? Why does my enjoyment of the work matter?” A specifically Christian liberal arts education investigates how the good God is connected with the everyday aspects of life.

Every college or university employs plenty of faculty who follow an academic discipline because they love it and want to convey that love to their students. This is a good and right instinct, but unless we embed learning in its proper subordination to God, then learning can become our god. When this happens, all our affections, our desires, and our actions are directed toward temporal realities alone.

This substitution of the creation for the Creator is idolatry, as is treating the good gifts of God as if they were God himself. Without a proper Christian framework for understanding our world, we tend to belittle God’s good creation or to fragment life into compartments, where we bow to God for the “spiritual” parts of life and ignore him for the remainder. Instead, learning to love God’s creation as just that, God’s creation, puts us into a fruitful place of receiving and using the creation rightly as gifts from our loving God. Delighting in God’s gifts as just that, gifts from God, enables us to live in a healthy place, neither denigrating nor deifying creation, and enables us to hear God’s calling for us in the world he has given.

Why Liberal Arts?
Because God had set us in a creation that he repeatedly called “good,” Christian theology addresses all spheres of life, not just church life. It asks novelists about books, painters about art, actors about the stage, historians about the consequences of the slave trade. These Christians immersed in the liberal arts are vital to the rest of us.

A background in the liberal arts enables students, whatever their major disciplines, to understand their studies externally in relation to the whole world and internally in relation to interests beyond their jobs. Such an exploration can show how a student’s particular gifts and callings fit into what God is doing both around them and within them. We don’t have to do everything; we just have to discover our place in what God is doing and then serve him faithfully in his church and world.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the average baby boomer has had at least 12 different jobs during their life. A Christian liberal arts education can prepare students not simply for a job, or even a career, but for vocation—the wisdom that hears God’s call to respond with the whole self to produce meaning and purpose in God’s world. Engaging a broad swath of learning in the concentrated context of Christian higher education can encourage a fair-minded, holistic approach to life, grounded on the Scriptures and the faith of the church through the ages.

Weary or simply lacking resources, we have too often opted for simplistic and naïve answers to the hard questions of faith and life. Whether dealing with theology or science, economics or psychology, we find it easy to substitute careless proof texts for the hard work of absorbing the wisdom of Scripture and addressing this complicated, broken world. Busyness, tiredness, and defensiveness often keep us from the difficult task of discovering how to live our lives and do our work as an expression of our faith. What would it mean, say, to be a Christian economist rather than a Christian who is also an economist or an economist who happens to be a Christian?

Learning to be faithful stewards of God’s world, whatever our vocation, requires a whole array of knowledge that is too vast for any one person to effectively learn. A Christian education grounded in the liberal arts engages learning across disciplinary and ideological boundaries to equip the student to appreciate God’s will in and for God’s world.

We are all alarmed at the growing tribalism and fragmentation in North America and around the world, but we must not settle for simplistic answers that become tribal markers. We cannot afford to reject others who don’t say things exactly the same way we do; we need them to help us on the journey of seeking after God’s truth. We miss the full breadth of God’s wisdom when we substitute stereotypes for real people or cling to one-dimensional answers. When we are threatened by a constructive reflection that seeks wisdom wherever it may be found, we demonstrate a lack of trust in our heavenly Father who delights to give good gifts to his children (Matt. 7:11). Christians, of all people, should have the liberty to actually learn.

Rather than being afraid, we can explore all of God’s creation, learning to do good work in any profession, confident in God. That confidence teaches us that our lives have meaning and purpose now, not just in the future. That confidence also teaches us that our limits are not threats but paths to growth and learning from people whose faith has led them through years of study to a God-centered expertise. A Christian liberal arts college provides a distinctively God-centered environment for collaborating with such scholars.

Why College?
Christian education is not merely about giving the “Christian answer” to questions. No, the advantage of a Christian liberal arts college is that it provides a broad, sustained, relationally based conversation led by trusted scholars about who God is, who we are, and how to live faithfully in this world. It is broad because the resources available span many disciplines, not only the pastoral and the theological. It is sustained because the ministry engages the student’s vision for every hour of every day—not just Sundays. It is relationally based because the significant amount of time the community spends together for four years allows for deep, consistent engagement with peers, mentor-experts, and big questions. Finally, it is a conversation in which all parties can ask penetrating, inconvenient, uncomfortable questions because we are confident the truth can stand the closest scrutiny.

In his 2012 book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt argues that while we imagine that we are led by pure logic and reason, we are really more often led by intuition and our passions. We know what we want to think and we know the conclusion we want to end up with, so we sift through arguments to find what aligns with our preconceived opinion.

This is a problem for all of us, regardless of political or ideological persuasion. This is what makes us all vulnerable to “fake news.” Haidt argues that we tend to gather data that supports our views (accurate or not) and ignore data that questions our convictions (despite the weight of evidence). This brings to mind the biblical warning about “self-righteousness”: We are so consumed with the problems we see in others that we fail to see our own shortcomings, both morally and intellectually (Matt. 7:1–5).

In his 2018 book, The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, Haidt writes that we are losing our ability to know how to debate and how to wrestle with difficult ideas, let alone how to learn from those who say things we find objectionable.

One version of this shows up in Christian parents who send their children to secular universities while cautioning them, “Enjoy the football and college life, but be careful about those faculty. You can’t really trust them.” Though this is certainly not always the case, stories persist of two kinds of bad reactions.

On the one hand, these dire warnings about unbelieving, anti-Christian professors lead some students to assume that everything the professor says is basically wrong. The students are 19 years old and have no expertise for navigating the scholarship, so by default they reject it, stifling real learning—which was the goal for going to college in the first place! From biology to economics, from philosophy to educational theory, some doubt everything they hear.

On the other hand, others discover that these “unbelieving” teachers are good people who are not only passionate and compelling but also give the students tools for handling aspects of the world that their parents only ignored. If the only Christianity these students have been taught can’t handle the “real world,” was any of it true? Young Christians sometimes abandon their faith because the choices seemed to be either a faith that couldn’t grow or growth without faith. They felt like they were forced to pick between intellectual rigor and Christianity—but we know this is a false dichotomy.

There is no reason that Christians attending a secular university have to make this choice. But they do have the disadvantage of being neither scholars nor theologians, so it can be tough going. Many Christians do attend secular universities, get a great education, and keep a strong faith. But a quality Christian liberal arts college provides a community of living examples of Christians who are both intellectually engaged and deeply faithful to the gospel that can be much harder to find in the secular academy.

College students, stepping afresh into adulthood, ask deep questions about life, ethics, vocation, and purpose. They are concerned that Christians too often embody worldly individualism, consumerism, and arrogance. I have been a college professor for almost two decades and I hear versions of these concerns weekly. Young people want more—not more money but more meaning, more purpose. They want to discover a vision that integrates a rich theology with insights from specialists in all the disciplines.

College provides four years for digging into some of the deep questions of life, years of formation that shape one’s imagination and intuitions, then shape the communities where graduates go. This is where one can set a reliable foundation for asking what constitutes “the good life.”

At a Christian liberal arts college, we wrestle with the hard questions (not always solving them!), while applying to these challenges the faith handed down through the ages. We seek not easy answers but slow-growing wisdom and the formation of godly instincts. One of the most important things Christian faculty members at any institution can do is believe. Students witness thoughtful professors who don’t have all the answers, who are honest about the real challenges, who delight in insights from whatever source (including non-Christians), and in it all, the professor still stands there believing.

Is education at a Christian liberal arts college the complete answer to the problems of higher education? Will its students emerge as completely equipped Christians? No, obviously not. But, with all its imperfections, it supplies a depth and breadth of tools and resources unavailable to the local church and a Christian scholarly context either unavailable or largely absent at secular universities. It will help us live out one of the ways we honor God and our neighbor: by taking this world seriously.

Christians desperately need deep learning, not only in theology but in the wonder of God’s creation. What a gift it is to the church and to the world when a Christian liberal arts college graduates students who are not simply interested in a job or a career but who see their work as a calling. Whether they enter the laboratory, the classroom, or the courtroom, whether they rear children or serve as accountants, they enter their work not as a distraction from their faith but as a vital expression of it.



Kelly M. Kapic is professor of theological studies at Covenant College. He is the author of The God Who Gives: How the Trinity Shapes the Christian Story (Zondervan) and co-author, with economist Brian Fikkert, of Becoming Whole: Why the Opposite of Poverty Isn’t the American Dream (Moody).





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The LGBT groups are on the march against the Churches and anything religous. just a matter of time.

Blade
1 Cor 15:3-4.."For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:"

Acts 17:11.."These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."

 

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