A publication of the Center for Christian Study
f r om m y ex p erie nce :
law christian fellowship
by M eg an Sa i a ,pag e 7
This issue: Faith, Reason and Science: Lansdale Henderson by Ashley Wooten, page 3
Doing Justice in College by Jay McCabe, page 6
Coveting Prayer for Law Christian Fellowship by Megan Saia, page 7
On the cover: Third-year law student, Megan Saia, standing outside the University of Virginia law school. On page 7, Megan shares about her experience with LCF and how to pray for those students.
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Springtime at the stud Just a couple of weeks from the time of writing this we hosted Kevin Vanhoozer, the wonderful theologian from Wheaton Graduate School, for a full day of events. It was a joy to have small groups meet and freely ask questions as he shared breakfast with Grounds ministers, lunch with local friends of the Center, and an afternoon hangout with undergrad men before his 5 o’clock lecture for over 100 people at our building. When you receive this issue of the Study Center newsletter, the University will be in a joyous, and stressful, time of preparing for exams, graduation approaching, and the hope of summer vacation on the horizon. One thing I’m learning is that in this ministry, we have the opportunity to work with some incredible students, gifted academically, striving to find answers to questions of faith, with wonderful hearts yearning to serve and be used by the Lord. This issue of The Study Center brings you stories of Lansdale Henderson, a young man in our Residential Program whom I had the pleasure of getting to know and even was allowed to follow around to his neuroscience lab. Megan... We thank you for your continued support of the ministry of the Center for Christian Study and second Megan Saia (see page 7) in thanking you for your prayers for our students and affairs of the Study Center.
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Who We Are We are a non-profit education and outreach ministry serving the University of Virginia and Charlottesville since 1968. We seek to serve Jesus Christ by fostering the serious consideration in the university environment of a Biblical worldview, and by encouraging and facilitating wise discussion of the Truth in light of the challenges of contemporary culture.
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pag e 2 s S t u dy C e n t e r New sletter Sp r i ng 2 0 1 1
Faith, Reason and Science Study Center resident Lansdale Henderson is pursuing a career in neuroscience and at the same time, his relationship with the Lord. Following high school graduation, Lansdale Henderson took the year to work for the National Institutes of Health and since then has been actively involved in research in a neuroscience lab on grounds investigating neural stem cells. As a second-year student at the University of Virginia, he has applied to U.Va.’s Undergraduate Neuroscience Program, a research intensive major, and is pursuing a career in translational medicine. Daily, Lansdale is experiencing the collision of his faith and his studies, and he is pursuing both whole-heartedly. This year he’s not only been a part of the Study Center’s Eliznga Residential Scholars Program, he’s also serving as the student leader of Bill
Wilder’s “Faith, Reason and Science” small group, a group discussing the philosophy of science and the relationship between science and faith. For Lansdale, this small group has provided a place, first of all, to grow personally in his faith and his understanding of that which he invests so much time and energy, where he hopes to have a future career- science. “The most immediate benefit of the group stems from the weekly chapter readings of Francis Collins’ book entitled The Language of God. Collins, both scientist and believer, lays out the scientific and biblical foundations for what seem, at first glance, to be polar viewpoints on creation. He presents how he has come to reconcile the two
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and how the conflict stems not from scripture and nature, but rather human interpretations of those things, that is, theology and science. Participation in the FRS group has forced me to thoughtfully investigate many Study Ce nte r ne wsle tte r spr ing 20 11 s pag e 3
growth. It’s also provided an avenue for outreach. This year, he and Bill invited the Virginia Atheist and Agnostics club to join them every other Friday for the small group gathering at the Study Center. “When Bill and I began talking about the FRS group we decided to invite the VAA. Since then I’ve gotten to know Arthur, a computer technician in the Engineering school and John, now president of the group, who have been coming to FRS without fail— you might even say religiously. Though many in the FRS group appreciate a good debate, we are drawn together primarily out of a common intentional pursuit of truth, differing only in our respective nul hypotheses [conclusions about God]. My friendships with and understanding of each of those I mentioned, as well as the other participants, have continued to grow.” Inviting the Virginia Atheists and Agnostics did not just happen randomly, but because of friendships he’d developed with people who happended to be involved there. “I met Will one morning before our 8 a.m. class on the Iraq Wars last year as we talked about Ayn Rand and an Objectivism club he was hoping to start. A week or two into a different class called “Awakening Your Creative Potential,” Jonathan and I realized we’d both had spent our gap years travelling and
“I love that every week we meet and praise the glory of God in a building meant to praise the achievements of man.” Gitatisc ipicto beatatet que dolupturepro eiundis tibusapis dolupid working in a research lab. It was about 1 a.m. on a weeknight and I was out chalking campaign slogans on Grounds when Elizabeth introduced herself and offered to help. I stayed in touch with each of them and gradually learned that they were all members of Virginia Atheists and Agnostics.” In addition to his friendships opening a door for a couple of guys coming and participating in the Faith, Reason and Science discussion from VAA, the Elzinga Residential Scholars were all invited to spend an evening at a VAA meeting. In March, Jonathan invited Jay McCabe, Director of Undergraduate Ministries, to come share with them on “Blind Faith, Skepticism, and Reasonable Christian Faith.” Lansdale and all fifteen of the residents went as well and experienced an evening of great questions and discussion pag e 4 s S t u dy Ce n t e r New sletter Sp r i ng 2 0 1 1
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from many points of view. In a culture that is increasingly resistant to Christian evangelism, it has been evident through Lansdale’s story that building relationships, being a good listener and taking opportunities to just allow others to hear about Christian truth has been a real opportunity to discuss his beliefs with friends who may never step into a church or typical Bible study. Lansdale says, “The discussion group has afforded me the opportunity to develop relationships with many others— professors, students and locals of Charlottesville— who have been unable to come or have chosen not to. And these relationships, though separate from the discussion group, have prospered from long discussions over coffee, borrowing and reading Collins’ book or simply an exchange of email addresses with friendly follow-up. Regardless of whether or not they come, it has opened novel and substantial relationships for me. In my opinion, the group is not about converting the dozen atheists that participate to Christianity— I don’t think they’d come if it were. Rather, its about learning new perspectives and challenging oneself to reconcile a growing wealth of scientific discovery with Christ’s resurrection, appreciating scientific insights into God’s creation, differentiating between allegory and actualities within the Bible and learning to love others.” When asked how he would encourage others to share their faith in a University environment that is not always receptive to Christianity, Lansdale said, “This subject in was a major reason that I joined the FRS group as I wondered how I could be a witness, on however small a scale, in the scientific community at UVA and following graduation. To answer the question, I look at both Francis Collins and Professor Ken Elzinga as examples. “I first read Collins’ book several years ago while working at National Institutes of Health, an environment of 18,000 scientists where the editors of Nature and Science journals— and I suppose the director of the institutes— are “God”.
Incidentally, a 1998 Nature letter by Larson and Witham noted that only 7% of eminent scientists (those elected to the National Academy of Sciences) believe in God. Collins, a member of the Academy and current director of NIH, is in that 7%. In many ways Collins is trapped in a vice of criticism between the scientific and religious communities. To use the example of human embryonic stem cell research, biology that has vast potential in regenerative therapy has also profound moral implications when using threatening a potential life. Collins is in the limelight of both communities— which he will he stand for? What are his professional obligations? How can he best serve Christ? “In a similar case, I have heard Professor Elzinga, renowned professor of economics, outspoken believer and namesake of the residential program, describe a pervasive hostility toward Christian faith within academia. Elzinga has also has the unique capacity to share the gospel with more students than any other professor in the University. What is clear about both Collins and Elzinga is their commitment to their work. Colossians 3:23 states, “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” In this way, they are able to not only serve the Lord, but also gain credibility in the eyes of the world; and credibility is the foundation of leadership.
Lansdale would be the first to admit he is not “the model student” in sharing his faith, but can say that from his experience there is a critical element of integrity that distinguishes between acting out Christ’s love and manipulating others. “Looking at Collins and Elzinga, it is their reflection of Christ’s love in their work— love for healing and teaching, love for colleagues both believers and nonbelievers— through which they have ministered. As students, then, we too are called serve the Lord in our work and to love our classmates. It is not mandatory, but can be very impactful, to have the intellectual background for conveying Christian faith to others and to have independently considered the great questions in faith.” It is often, however, through the embodiment of faith— service to others— that speaks most meaningfully to non-believers. “We can seek out friendship and offer hospitality. We can wash the feet of our classmates, and we can pray for them. Though I am no expert in this, I believe that by grounding ourselves in faith, cultivating our understanding the environment and the conflicts it presents, and by loving others, that genuine relationships will form and from those deeper discussions can follow.” Concluding sentence?
Sav e the Dat e!
08 . 20.11
Move-In Day 2011 is coming soon! August 20, 2011, 12-3 pm Please let us know of any incoming first-years and transfer students so we can be sure they’re invited! Email shelly@ studycenter.net or call 434-817-1050.
Consistent, Monthly giving is a wonderful way to help our ministry “We gladly support the Study Center on a monthly basis through the UVA Fund! It played such a special role in our lives while in Charlottesville, and it is an honor to continue to partner with the Study Center’s vision.” -Tyler and Ashley Tuite, U.Va. ‘06 Learn more at www.studycenter.net/contact/give/annual-fund-giving-options.html Study Ce nte r ne wsle tte r win t er 20 11 s pag e 5
Doing Justice in College by Jay McCabe, email@example.com Director of Undergraduate Ministries
On March 4th hundreds of UVA students loaded into cars and planes for their longawaited spring break trips. They had completed their midterms and papers, and they were ready to enjoy a week away from Charlottesville. So they set their sights on Nicaragua, New York City, and Brazil. Exciting, beautiful places – yes – but these students had a greater purpose in mind. They were all putting their Christian faith into action by “doing justice” and “giving to the poor” (Mic 6:8, Pr 28:27). So what should we think of these Christian students spending their precious money, time and energy in this way? Is there a place for doing justice in college? Well, I asked that very question at a recent “Undergraduate Dinner and Discussion” at the Study Center, and the answer was a resounding “Yes!” When I asked why they felt this way, they explained that all followers of Christ are invited to join in God’s mission of “making things right”. What a great perspective on serving – participating in the very mission of God. These students clearly understand the Scriptural importance and personal joy of seeking justice in the world, but I wondered what initially sparked their interest in this type of work. Most of these students first began serving the poor because they had witnessed blatant injustice for themselves. Walking down the Corner is a stark reminder that homelessness, addiction and brokenness exist in the world and our community. Sitting in a Civil Rights, Civil War or even Civil Engineering class reveal how relationships, systems
and structures are not the way they’re supposed to be. Students are constantly confronted with this dark reality, but the hope of the Christian faith has encouraged these believers to actively seek God’s solution. Here is a snapshot of what students are thinking and doing: “When we look at the world around us, we often have trouble discerning what exactly justice is. As Christians, we must derive our archetype of justice from God as he reveals himself to us in Scripture, and especially what God did for us at the Cross of Christ. With a proper understanding of God’s justice enacted upon sin through Jesus, we can humbly approach our neighbors as ectypes of his love and grace. Justice is loving our neighbors just as Christ has loved us (Jn 13:34).” – Mark Gruetzmacher, 2nd year, Philosophy and Religious Studies “I traveled to Nicaragua over spring break and spent time at an orphanage in Managua. Over the course of the week, we got to know orphans and kids from the surrounding community. One powerful day was spent at La Chureca, a community located in the city dump. I was amazed by the joy the children embodied amidst those terrible circumstances, the hearts that welcomed us into their difficult reality, and the love that was evident in every interaction. My experiences in Nicaragua continue to impact my life and shape my faith as I try to discern how to serve, love and seek justice both at UVA and abroad. – Ellie Westfall, 2nd year, Biology and Spanish “The gospel, as lived by Jesus, is more than just verbally sharing the message of salvation in Christ. It also entails bringing the kingdom of God into the lives of our neighbors. There are great organizations in Charlottesville that are already working to end homelessness, and so I volunteer at a local day shelter (The Haven) in order to partner with them.” – Josh Wade, 3rd year, Religious Studies and Economics I am delighted to see these young men and women serving their neighbors with such passion and commitment. They have clearly begun to understand the deep implications of the Christian faith, and it is a privilege to walk alongside them at this stage of their lives. Here at the Center we are deeply encouraged to see students’ “faith expressing itself through love” in these ways (Gal 5:6).
Ashley Parsley (U.Va. ‘12) was one of 125 U.Va. students to travel to Nicaragua with Nicaraguan Orphan Fund over her spring break. pag e 6 s S t u dy Ce n t e r New sletter Sp r i ng 2 0 1 1
Coveting Prayer for Law christian fellowship by Megan Saia, University of Virginia Law ‘11 Law Christian Fellowship President 2010-2011
With fewer than two months left before I graduate law school and move back to California, it’s only natural that I would spend time reflecting on these last three years at UVA Law. I have had a fantastic time and learned so much about the law and myself, but amidst all of the friends and classes and tests, my time with Law Christian Fellowship certainly stands out the most.
balancing work and family, and seeking to glorify God whether they work to stop human trafficking or facilitate million-dollar mergers. It is my hope that I applied to law school assuming the principles that finding Christian community we are learning would come easily. At the University now will help Megen Saia (U.Va. Law ‘11) has served as President of LCF for the past year. of Southern California, where I was ease the transition Following graduation in May, she and her husband will move to Southern California. an undergraduate, there were dozens from student-life Tim served as our connection to Main of Christian groups on campus and I to working-life and enable us to be Grounds and the Study Center. He (naively) thought any law school would effective in whatever God has for us in helped bring special speakers with be a place with strong fellowship. I the future. broad, non-Christian appeal to the realize now what a blessing it is that law school and provided students I ended up at UVA, where we have I have been particularly struck by the with mentorship opportunities. He the Law Christian Fellowship and way prayer has taken off this semester spoke at several of our retreats and opportunities to get connected to in LCF. Several students with a was a wonderful source of non-law Christian law students and spouses passionate heart for prayer began refreshment. As the Study Center searches for his replacement, LCF “I love that every week we meet and praise the glory of God leadership joined other graduate in a building meant to praise the achievements of man.” students to discuss the role of a graduate ministry leader. Please be praying that God would provide a have been plentiful. LCF is a thriving gathering before our weekly meetings candidate who is able and willing body of believers in the midst of a to pray for LCF and the law school to continue the strong tradition of program of study that can feel at best as a whole. It has become a great partnership between LCF and the indifferent to faith. I love that every time to focus on the Lord and the Center for Christian Study. week we meet and praise the glory of needs of our fellow students before God in a building meant to praise we come together as a large group for And finally, as you pray know that this the achievements of man. I love that worship and a speaker. I believe we’ve is a very busy time of year at the law even in the middle of finals there is a already seen fruit from this time and school. Please keep LCF students in group of students who encourage one am looking forward to how God will your prayers as we seek to keep our another to remember that our purpose use our prayers as we finish out the perspective straight entering finals, is greater than law school. semester. summer jobs, and the start of Bar studies. As always, pray for our peers Many of our speakers talk about This winter Tim McConnell’s move that they would not place their worth the particular challenges of being a meant we had to say goodbye the in grades or jobs, but in the One Christian attorney. It is encouraging to Center for Christian Study’s graduate whose law is just and whose grace is hear from Christians who are sharing ministry leader who had been overflowing. the gospel with their coworkers, partnering with LCF the last few years. Study Ce nte r Ne wsle tte r spr ing 20 11 s pag e 7
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Published on May 2, 2011
The Study Center Newsletter is published three times a year sharing stories about the ministry of the Center for Christian Study at the Univ...