Reimagining the Vocations IN A SECUL AR AGE
ARGUING A HUMAN RIGHTS CASE AT THE UNITED NATIONS Alyssa K. Rumbuc
“ADORN THE DOCTRINE OF GOD OUR SAVIOR IN ALL THINGS”: CHRISTIAN VOCATION IN THE HUMANITIES Roger Schultz
LAWYERS AS MINISTERS OF JUSTICE Rodney Chrisman
THEOLOGY OF THE PROFESSIONS
WORK AS WORSHIP, WORSHIP AS VOCATION, AN INTERVIEW WITH JO AND VINCE VITALE
Mark D. Allen
Volu me 4 • Is s ue 2 Spr in g 2020
SPRING 2020 Mark Allen, Executive Editor Benjamin K. Forrest, Managing Editor Jack Carson, Associate Editor Elizabeth Swaney, Assistant to the Managing Editor
Joshua Rice, Creative Director Ashley Holloway, Marketing Director Seth Bingham, Marketing Manager Kinsey Robinson, Project Coordinator Annie Shelmerdine, Senior Designer Dave Parker, Promotional Writer
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â&#x20AC;&#x153;Reimagining the Vocations in a Secular Age," Faith and the Academy: Engaging Culture with Grace and Truth 4, no. 2 (Spring 2020): A publication of Liberty University Center for Apologetics & Cultural Engagement
FA I T H A N D T H E A C A D E M Y: E N G A G I N G T H E C U LT U R E W I T H G R A C E A N D T R U T H
PROGRESSING FROM “A THEOLOGY OF DISCIPLINE” TO “A THEOLOGY FOR VOCATION”
ANSWERING THE CALL TO CHRISTIAN COUNSELING
CHRISTIAN HIGHER EDUCATION AND PARTICIPATION IN THE REDEMPTIVE WORK OF GOD
CULTURAL ENGAGEMENT THROUGH SPIRITUAL CREATIVE NONFICTION
Benjamin K. Forrest
Jamaica Conner Cara Murphy
8 Theology of the Professions Mark D. Allen, Executive Editor, Faith and the Academy and Executive Director of the Center for Apologetics & Cultural Engagement
12 Progressing from “A Theology of the Disciplines” To “A Theology for Vocation” Benjamin K. Forrest, Professor of Christian Education, Associate Dean, College of Arts & Sciences
16 “Adorn the Doctrine of God our Savior in All Things”: Christian Vocation in the Humanities Roger Schultz, Dean, Professor of History, College of Arts & Sciences,
19 Lawyers as Ministers of Justice Rodney Chrisman, Professor, School of Law
22 Ethics, Vocation, and Christian Good: An Open Letter to the Students of Liberty David Brat, Dean, School of Business
26 Work as Worship, Worship as Vocation, an Interview with Jo and Vince Vitale Jo Vitale, Dean of Studies at the Zacharias Institute and an itinerant speaker for RZIM Vince Vitale, Regional Director for the Americas and Director of the Zacharias Institute
28 Answering the Call to Christian Counseling Linda Mintle, Professor and Chair, College of Osteopathic Medicine
31 The Calling and Vocation of Osteopathic Medicine: Who am I that the Lord, God of the Universe Would Care? Michael Lockwood, Professor, College of Osteopathic Medicine
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35 Christian Higher Education and Participation in the Redemptive Work of God John Markley, Associate Dean of Academic Operations, Associate Professor of New Testament
38 Redemptive Storytelling: Imagining the World through a Hopeful Lens Logan Price, Student Alumni
42 Arguing a Human Rights Case at the United Nations Alyssa K. Rumbuc, BA in International Relations (â&#x20AC;&#x2122;20)
INTERDISCIPLINARY ESSAYS 45 Using Community Knowledge for Place-Based Ministry: Interdisciplinary Engagement from Geography and Urban Ministry Travis Bradshaw, Geography Professor, College of Arts & Sciences James Hobson, Instructor, John W. Rawlings School of Divinity
48 Cultural Engagement through Spiritual Creative Nonfiction Cara Murphy, Instructional Mentor, John W. Rawlings School of Divinity Jamaica Conner, Department Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies, English Professor
51 What is Beauty?: Interdisciplinary Engagement Between Interior Design and Philosophical Theology Lisa Simpson Campbell, Assistant Professor of Interior Design Robert P. Mills, Instructor of Philosophy and Cultural Studies, College of Arts & Sciences
BOOK REVIEWS 53 Jesus, Skepticism, and the Problem of History (Bock & Komoszewski) Benjamin C. Shaw, Student Fellow, Center for Apologetics & Cultural Engagement
Training Champions for Christ since 1971
Mark D. Allen Executive Editor, “Faith and the Academy” Executive Director, Center for Apologetics & Cultural Engagement
THEOLOGY OF THE PROFESSIONS This issue of Faith and the Academy is the second of a two-part series on faith integration. Last fall, we looked at the theology of the academic fields. We discussed the integration of our Christian faith in specific disciplines such as literature, engineering, education, art, osteopathic medicine, humanities, business, social work, library science, nursing, and music. In this issue, we begin a dialogue about the integration of our Christian faith in the professions. We are working toward developing a theology of the lawyer, the counselor, the interior designer, and the professor. Let me share with you a personal example of how a shift in my theological perspective toward my work made all the difference in the world for the way I view my work and how I now work more hopefully. In 2005, it felt like a big, fat F had been recorded in the blackboard of my professional life. Fifteen years of my life – some of the best years from age 29 to 44 – had been one big failure. What happened? The church that I planted and pastored in suburban Richmond, VA voted to close. My life’s work seemed to unravel in just a few days. When I resigned as pastor to pursue a career in teaching, I never expected the elder board of my church to spend an hour or two in prayer that very afternoon, and then decide to put an end to the church.1 The church followed their lead and voted to terminate the church. I was shocked, especially since no controversy caused me to leave. I never imagined all those years – the struggles, the victories, the memories, the people – would end just like that; I had failed. I carried that burden with me for many years. Any success in my professional life was always haunted by yesterday’s professional failure. But that changed when my new theological perspective transformed the way I view my work. Can you imagine the encouragement I felt in the summer of 2018 when I read in Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church N. T. Wright’s comments on 1 Corinthians 15:58?
... what you do in the Lord is not in vain. You are not oiling the wheels of a machine that’s about to roll over a cliff. You are not restoring a great painting that’s shortly to be thrown in the fire. You are not planting roses in a garden that’s about to be dug up for a building site. You are — strange as it may seem, almost as hard to believe as the resurrection itself — accomplishing something that will become in due course part of God’s new world. Every act of love, gratitude, and kindness; every work of art or music inspired by the love of God and delight in the beauty of his creation; every minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read or walk; every act of care and nurture, of comfort and support, for one’s fellow human beings; and of course every prayer, all Spirit-led teaching, every deed that spreads the gospel, builds up the church, embraces and embodies holiness rather than corruption, and makes the name of Jesus honored in the world — all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation that God will one day make. That is the logic of the mission of God. God’s recreation of his wonderful world, which began with the resurrection of Jesus and continues mysteriously as God’s people live in the risen Christ and in the power of his Spirit, means that what we do in Christ in the present will not be wasted. It will last all the way into God’s new world. In fact, it will be enhanced there.2 So, N. T. Wright, you’re saying all the good intentions that I had, all the prayers I prayed, and all the efforts I invested are somehow building life in the next world and shaping our existence there? Even if my efforts seem to come to nothing here they are making something eternally beautiful in the new heaven and the new earth? That’s awesome! Suddenly, all those years turned from an F to an A, because God made it that way. The unfinished ventures and forgotten efforts may look like a failure to people in this world, but they are of eternal significance to God and his new heaven and new earth. You may be thinking, “That’s all well and good for someone who is doing ‘the Lord’s work,’ but does that
apply to a lawyer, a doctor, a writer, an accountant, an entrepreneur, or an electrician? Does the work I do in my every day professional life have any eternal consequences? Am I building into the life of the new heaven and new earth?” A few months after reading the above passage from N. T. Wright, this same truth encouraged me profoundly when I read in Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work Tim Keller’s commentary on the same text of 1 Corinthians 15:58. Keller recounted a short story titled “Leaf by Niggle” written by J. R. R. Tolkien during a period of despondency in his life. A very average artist named Niggle imagined a leaf, then he visualized the leaf on a tree, and then, he envisioned a vast country behind the tree with a forest and snow tipped mountains. Niggle’s vision was so massive that he would have to use a ladder to paint it all on the vast canvas. He thought that this would be his great life’s work, unfortunately, Niggle never got much done because he was better at painting leaves than trees and because his kind heart distracted him from his life’s work by moving him to acts of care for his neighbors. When his death was imminent, Niggle wept over his unfinished work. After his death, a few people viewed the beauty of his life’s work: a single leaf. But ultimately Niggle and his work were mostly forgotten and helped only a few people. Tragically, it eventually burned up in a fire. Postmortem, Niggle road on a train through the vast country toward the mountains of his heavenly afterlife. When he disembarked the train, he jumped on a bike that looked like his from his former life and road it through the country on curvy, lush, green lands that seemed familiar somehow. At one point on his delightful ride, he came upon a surprising sight that caused him to fall off his bicycle. Before him stood the Tree, his Tree, finished. If you could say that of a Tree that was alive, its leaves opening, its branches growing and bending in the wind that Niggle had so often felt or guessed, and had so often failed to catch. He gazed at the Tree, and slowly he lifted his arms and opened them wide.“It’s a gift! he said.3 The Tree was now flourishing in the Country he had also imagined in his former life. The vast vision he had worked on but left unfinished and was entirely forgotten in his former life became reality in this heavenly land. The Birds. The Forest. The Mountains. And the Tree. All there in exquisite, living beauty.
What’s the moral of the story? What we do now matters in the next life. All of our efforts will not come to nothing. This is not just true for pastors and artists, but for everyone, in every profession. Keller encourages all of us: Whatever your work, you need to know this: There really is a tree. Whatever you are seeking in your work — the city of justice and peace, the world of brilliance and beauty, the story, the order, the healing — it is there. There is a God, there is a future healed world that he will bring about, and your work is showing it (in part) to others. Your work will be only partially successful, on your best days, in bringing that world about. But inevitably the whole tree that you seek — the beauty, harmony, justice, comfort, joy, and community — will come to fruition. If you know all this, you won’t be despondent because you can get only a leaf or two out in this life. You will work with satisfaction and joy. You will not be puffed up or devastated by setbacks.4 This piece of eschatology has made all the difference in my work. Workdays are more hopeful, even the ones in which I don’t seem to get much done. Further, I pay more attention to the present work I am doing because of the view I have of future life outcomes. I am not just working to “show some results” for the here and now but to build a better world, one that is “already, but not yet.” It’s not the temporal consequences of my work
that matter most, but the eternal virtues that I invest in the future world. I am laying up treasures in heaven, not just for me but for us. A robust theology of the professions can make all the difference in the way we inhabit our jobs. Just think about the difference a changed theological perspective toward my professional life made for me. Imagine what a rich theology of your profession could do for your daily work life. Better, imagine what it could for your student as you prepare them for life after college. This edition of Faith and the Academy is packed full of wise reflections to help you integrate faith and the professions. Read and be better equipped to accomplish our institutional goal of Training Champions for Christ.
Just to make the point clear, these elders were men of God who loved me and the church. They remained faithful and caring to me and my family. They made sure that our financial needs were met through the transition to my Ph.D. and shepherded the people well until the church closed. By their character they taught me so much about how to lead with virtue and integrity. We are friends to this day. Further, many of the good things – the relationships, the discipleship, and the community – we built continues today. 1
2 N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (New York: HarperOne) 208–09. 3 J.R.R Tolkien, “Leaf by Niggle,” in Tree and Leaf, [First American Edition], (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965), 104. 4 Timothy Keller with Katherine Leary Alsdorf, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work (New York: Penguin Books, 2016), 15.
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Benjamin K. Forrest Professor of Christian Education, Associate Dean, College of Arts & Sciences
Progressing from “A Theology of the Disciplines” To “A Theology for Vocation” Progression is natural. My youngest son is learning the alphabet with his mom before he learns to read at school. My grade school daughter is learning the commutative property of addition before she learns algebra. Learning is always built upon prior knowledge. Progression is natural, it is good, and if done well, wise teachers can harness it to bury learning deep into the hearts and minds of their students. This progression is as important for persons in primary school as it is for the college co-ed. Life is education, and people learn for life. Formal education usually has semi-distinct beginnings and ends. The beginning comes at home and the intensity builds as children move from home to some sort of classroom. At the graduation junctures of life, students have the option to continue their education at another level or move out and into the job force. I have posited elsewhere that Christian education is by nature constructive.1 It builds on itself and for an ultimate telos. Each student has a unique goal/end in mind for their education and thus it is the teacher’s role to push them toward the goals that they have, and even those beyond.
A Theology of the Christian Life What follows is a proposal specifically for a Christianeducation context. Christian teachers, at various levels, have sought to give students the educational competencies and understanding necessary to move from their classroom to the next classroom, and, eventually, to their vocational field. During this educational “journey” teachers and professors seek to impart theological grace and wisdom to their pupils. Usually the theology taught in the Christian classroom is a theology of the Christian life and a theology for the Christian. In the spirit of progressing in our function as professors, perhaps there is another level to which we could aspire to reach in our teaching. Perhaps as much as we want our students to continue to learn through
life, we too might have something to learn about our own theological task. The role of a Christian professor is to, like Paul, charge to students with the refrain, “Follow me as I follow Christ” (1 Cor 11: 1). This perhaps is the simplest way to grasp the spiritual importance of a professor’s discipleship of a student. In living out this Pauline admonition (whether consciously realized or not), professors daily say, “Follow me as I follow Christ” OR more specifically, “Follow [the way I love others], as I follow Christ,” OR “Follow [how I speak of my faith] as I follow Christ,” OR even “Follow [my service to my church] as I follow Christ.” These are all powerful and important lessons for faculty members to impart to their students, regardless of the content of their classroom. This is theology for the Christian life, and doing this is enough to make a professor excellent at their theological task. However, just as we want our students to pursue more than the rudimentary aspects of their academic fields, let us not simply end our professorial task at this Pauline admonition. Let us, along with our students, learn throughout life and ask how we might mature in our own calling as professors. Thus, if life is education, then surely we as teachers must continually model a life of learning, even when at first it might feel uncomfortable for those of us who have made our home within the guild. My challenge is this, Christian professions should continually examine their discipline and their educational practice evaluating whether or not they have matured over the years in the theologicallyeducative task before them. At first, this may come across as a foreign challenge for those teaching in a non-theological sphere. But the challenge is the same, professors in a Christian university should see their discipline and communicate the truths of these disciplines theologically as is hermeneutically faithful. Surely, a Christian University wants to
FA I T H A N D T H E A C A D E M Y: E N G A G I N G T H E C U LT U R E W I T H G R A C E A N D T R U T H
create graduates who are confessionally Christian. This means we want to make Christian teachers, Christian doctors, Christian lawyers, etc. Teaching students to love the Lord their God and how to do the academic tasks presented to them daily in their various fields, will generally create Christians in these various disciplines and vocations. However, what if we also set before ourselves the goal of making Christian doctors who doctor Christian-ly? Or Christian lawyers who lawyer Christian-ly? And Christian teachers who teach Christian-ly, regardless of the type of school in which they teach? What should a Christian doctor do differently than a non-Christian doctor, and how do we teach students this method of doctoring? To answer this question, I propose a two-step reflection as we progress our students through their educational journeys for a life of learning rooted in robust theological reflection. Christian education begins with the formation of students as people who love and who live in a context; they are “not” simply, as James K. A. Smith has said, “thinking things.”2 The formation of a being, in the context of a Christian university education, should progress from a theology of the Christian life, to a theology of the various disciplines which we study. While we are not simply thinking things, we are individuals given the opportunity for reflection, and this reflection should be done as stewards of a discipline. However, our theological task as educators should also not end here. We must continue our maturation and progression in considering theology
for our vocation. For our lives are in the context of where we live, and stewarding these opportunities becomes an expression and culmination of our theological reflection and commitment. What I am suggesting here is not a hierarchy of theological maturations, but it is a process that will help the maturation of Christian students as we equip them to engage their world in their calling.
A Theology of the Disciplines For faculty members who want to mature their theological instruction beyond a theology of the Christ-like life, I would encourage them to think through and then communicate clearly a theology of their discipline. This is easier for some fields to recognize and construct than others. Christian nurses should readily be able to see how patient care appropriates Christian concern and empathy for those they serve. Thus, a “theology of nursing” is rooted in the imago dei and the picture of Christ’s compassion on the many people whom he healed. Similarly, engineers can look to scripture and see the creational God who orchestrated the events of creation through logical and sequential steps. Here we see the foundations for a “theology of engineering.” However, for some disciplines, these obvious and overt connections are harder to find. Perhaps the largest challenge for faculty to cultivate a theology of their discipline is within mathematics. Surely there is no such theologizing math, and it
would likely be hermeneutically and theologically irresponsible to suggest such a thing. This product would likely bend math or theology beyond its limitation distorting one or the other so that neither comports with its natural form. The guild would never accept such a proposal, and Christian mathematicians must maintain fidelity to the natural revelation within their discipline in order to be faithful to special revelation in Scripture. Forcing theology to speak into the field of mathematics seems like it would require inappropriate theological gymnastics. I have heard it said anecdotally, the best Christian mathematician is the one who knows their mathematical proofs and theorems the best. Bringing scripture into the mathematical tasks at hand then is not like bringing the concern of Christ into the hospital room. For mathematicians, coherence and consistency is the output they desire for their students and for their Christian, mathematical classrooms. Therefore, a theology of math may not be what is needed in the classroom.
A Theology FOR Vocation In light of this mathematical rebuttal, I propose the following nuance for faculty working to integrate faith into the learning of their classrooms. For in considering these challenges levied against the task of theologizing math, we find two realities that may in fact form a simple, yet valuable truth that can encourage not a theology of mathematics, but perhaps a theology for mathematicians. In Proverbs we are told that a good name is to be more desired than great riches (22:1). Paul, in writing to slaves, charges his readers to obey those in authority over you. However, he says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heartâ&#x20AC;? (Eph 6:6, NIV). Here we see that a biblical case can be made for that which my mathematician friends tell me is the penultimate representation of a Christian mathematician. If being the best mathematician is the best way to reflect Christ in the field of mathematics, then Christians who happen to do math well model Christ within the guild.3 This, then, is a theology for the vocation which students will find themselves in the days following graduation.
A Disciplinary and Vocational Case Study I am making much of prepositions here. A theology of an academic discipline focuses on how we understand
FA I T H A N D T H E A C A D E M Y: E N G A G I N G T H E C U LT U R E W I T H G R A C E A N D T R U T H
that field in light of scripture. It may be a practical theology touching upon the hands of the discipline as they are put to work in the task of the field. It may be a cognitive theology that impacts how students should understand their field in relation to Scripture. Or perhaps it is a theology that undergirds the discipline or walks arm-in-arm along with the discipline. The relationship between theology and the academic disciplines looks different based on the content and goals of each field. A theology for vocation launches students from the classroom and into the vocation with pre-reflected theological applications for how to be a Christian in this profession. Perhaps a short example might provide greater clarity as I conclude my case. We all recognize the importance of government and the need for Christians to participate in governing. We want our students to learn from the modeling of our fellow faculty members and get an education that is theologically robust, but in addition to learning these traits of Christian practice, we hope that students will learn what God has said about government, i.e, a theology of government. We also want students to study the sacred text of Scripture in addition to the various texts that have been formed to govern our land. We want for these students to be able to reflect thoughtfully and keenly about how government should operate in relation to those who it serves. But a proper-theology-of-government is not the context in which students find themselves upon graduation and employment. We want their faculty members to cultivate the imagination of students and to train them to be “Christian-governors” capable of taking theology and using it to form the basis for how they think about their academic discipline. Yet, this is not enough. For if our education ends here, students will quickly leave and likely grow disenfranchised when they reach the context of their vocation. All that they have theologized in the confines of the classroom becomes difficult if not impossible to apply in the context of a bureaucratic government. Their theology of government is an important foundation for students to conceptualize how Christians should interact in governance, but students need more than just a theology of government, they need a theology for government, one that is replete with a committed vision that all is not lost and where death can be turned into life. Once students leave the classroom their case studies are only as effective as students are able to apply them to the context of a working government. No longer are they writing to a reactionless test-prompt, but instead they are living their theology and working to implement their theology in a context that might often disregard its very existence. Professors must do more
than provide them a location to consider a theology of government, but an opportunity to consider how this foundational theology of their discipline gives way and leads to a theology for governing. The professorial task of theologizing in the classroom begins with a theology for the Christian life, and then a theology of the discipline. For these two will encourage students onwards when the road gets rough and the constantly recognize the fallen nature of themselves and those around them. But by offering them a theology for their vocation, we equip students for the realities we know they will face, and we equip them with more than a lecture, but with a vision of truth which will sustain and encourage through various trials.
The Next Necessary Progression Progression is natural. And, I hope that students from my classroom will eventually move on from my classroom toward the calling that has been placed upon their lives. I hope that they will heed the admonition of Paul to put away childish things (1 Cor 13:11). I hope that what begins in my classroom eventually matures. These hopes, however, have a far better chance of actualization if I concertedly cultivate this type of vision in the minds of my students while I have their attention today. Thus, my task as a professor is to not only cultivate within them a recognition that they are to walk through life worthy of the gospel (Phil 1:27), but also to challenge them to see how theology informs their academic discipline and then how it launches them into a lived theology for their vocation. A theology for vocation is not simply learned in a lecture but it is painted like a picture as we imagine what the Christian life looks like in the context of vocation, regardless of one’s field.
Benjamin Forrest and Sean Turchin, “Constructive Teaching: Cultivating an Education that is Christian.” Faith and the Academy 4, no. 1 (2019). 26-28. 1
2 James K. A. Smith, You are what you Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2016), 3. 3 After a review from a colleague, I want to offer at least a brief nuance to my use of the word “best” in this context. Many Christian mathematicians would likely (and rightfully) offer a caveat here regarding my usage of the word so that it does not only connote a hierarchical best. Such a definition, where only a select few can be at the top of their field is likely more Darwinian than Christian. For it does not take into context the plurality of values a Christian mathematician (or any Christian) should value. Therefore, best is better nuanced as to imply “best stewardship” of the opportunities provided to each individual in their given vocation and location.
Roger Schultz Professor of History Dean, College of Arts & Sciences
“Adorn the Doctrine of God our Savior in All Things”:
Christian Vocation in the Humanities
As a rising university junior and history major, I told my father that I planned to drop my teaching endorsement and replace it with a second major in the field of humanities. My father was a simple and practical farmer, and I was the first member of the family to attend college. He had envisioned a clear career path for me; I would return home, land a job in the local high school, and help out on the family farm. A humanities path was beyond his comprehension. I can still remember the look on my father’s face as he said, “But what could you do with that?” According to conventional wisdom, humanities degrees are dead-end credentials.1 Graduates in the humanities - in English, modern languages, religion, philosophy, history and art - will never land real jobs. The poor English major, mired in debt and marginally employed, faces the bleakest of futures. Indeed, humanities programs at American universities have steeply declined over the last decade.2 The Great Recession drove students, and their parents, to consider programs that were deemed surer tickets for employment. There is increasing evidence, however, of solid vocational opportunities in the humanities.3 “Contrary to popular belief,” Heather Long notes in The Washington Post, “English majors ages 25 to 29 had a lower unemployment rate in 2017 than math and computer science majors.”4 Earnings of humanities graduates, while initially smaller than STEM graduates, eventually catch and surpass those in STEM fields. Maybe it is time to steer students back to the humanities. Harvard professor David Deming is a new champion of career paths in the humanities and liberal arts. In a recent New York Times article, he shows that graduates from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) programs have an initial hiring opportunities and earnings potential, but “by age 40 the earnings of people who majored in social science or history have caught up.”5 The latest technological skills
can become obsolete as technology advances. “[S]kill obsolescence and increased competition from younger graduates,” Deming argues, “work together to lower the earnings advantages for STEM degree-holders as they age.” Deming’s counterintuitive work urges us to rethink counsel given to students about majors and careers.6 Some critics dismiss the soft skills of humanities programs. “[L]iberal arts education fosters valuable ‘soft skills’ like problem solving, critical thinking and adaptability,” Deming counters, which have value in multiple careers paths. Graduates with the ability to read, write, think critically and solve problems are always marketable. In a rapidly changing world, soft skills are invaluable.7 Indeed, some employers urge students to pay more attention to interpersonal and relational skills. Two large national employers recently visited Liberty University to recruit students. As one observer put it, they were less interested in finding “doctors in charge” than “nurses who care.” They sought prospective employees who could nurture and develop other people. No one academic discipline has a corner on the virtues of honesty, diligence, humility, compassion – the elements of Christian education that Liberty University has long advocated. Humanities disciplines, furthermore, do an excellent job at preparing graduates for law school, graduate school, professional schools and seminary. An emphasis on logic and critical thinking uniquely equips students for threshold entrance examinations. Philosophy majors, for instance, have outstanding success with the GRE, LSAT, GMAT and MCAT exams, required for admission to competitive schools and eligibility for coveted scholarships.8 In the summer of 2019, I visited with a recent graduate of Liberty University’s English program. The student was an honors graduate, who also
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earned an MA in English. From there he went to Harvard Law School, and then was promptly accepted into a prestigious dual degree program at Cambridge University. These opportunities are rare, but his English education helped propel him into the Ivy League. For, humanities programs emphasize textual analysis, critical thinking, research training, and coherence in thought; skills that apply to many careers and are natural transition paths to graduate school. These are also essential for Christians who desire influence in a secular world because the build on the languages, ideas, and stores of a culture. In order to be salt and light, students must know how to communicate effectively in a culture, and the humanities are one of the essential aspects for such equipping.
that this was the Lord’s path, he had no objection to my following God’s call. At Liberty University, we have a unique opportunity to Train Champions for Christ in multiple areas of study and service. We expect them to impact the world for Jesus Christ. Many are called to science and technical fields. Many are called to service sectors. Some will be called to Humanities disciplines, where, we trust, they will be “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5).
Beth McMurtie, “Can You Get Students Interested in the Humanities Again?,” The Chronicle of Higher Education (November 15, 2019), A8. There is a perception “that Humanities degrees don’t get you a job,” one English professor comments,” and “perceptions drive decisions…” 1
Humanities disciplines also do an excellent job of developing civic literacies. Courses in history and English, for instance, provide perspectives on culture, Christian values, and the past. The decline of humanities disciplines coincides with the decline of American patriotism and respect for past generations. As a recent National Review article notes, “Less than a fifth of colleges and universities require their students to take an American history or government course”9 Jerry Falwell, Jr., commenting on the tragic loss of American historical perspective, notes that a curricular audit of one New England college found “not a single requirement for a course on American history” – but the elitist school did offer courses “on class, sexuality, gender, ethnicity and the evils of capitalism.”10 The most important life and professional skills are learned from Scripture. The Bible promotes hard work, honesty, faithfulness and discipline. Paul’s advice to Titus (2:9) has a revolutionary application to the marketplace. “Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.” Even the lowliest slave could “adorn” the gospel by faithful service. As Paul’s admonition was relevant to the early Christians, it too is relevant for those of us in the Humanities, as we steward our educational and vocational opportunities in faithful service. And so, my father asked, “What will you do with that?” I explained that the Lord had given me an aptitude for and a desire to study in this humanities field. I wasn’t sure of a particular vocational value, but I was confident that it could be useful in the Lord’s work. My father was a simple, godly man. If I thought
2 Heather Long, “The world’s top economists just made the case for why we still need English majors,” The Washington Post (10/20/2019), https:// www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/10/19/worlds-top-economistsjust-made-case-why-we-still-need-english-majors/ (accessed 5 November 2019). The English major has dropped by 25% over the last decade, suffering more than any other major tracked by the National Center for Education Statistics. 3 Scott Jaschik, “Shocker: Humanities Grads Gainfully Employed and Happy” Inside Higher Ed (February 7, 2018), https://www. insidehighered.com/news/2018/02/07/study-finds-humanities-majorsland-jobs-and-are-happy-them (accessed 30 October 2019). 4 Heather Long, “The world’s top economists just made the case for why we still need English majors,” The Washington Post (10/20/2019), https:// www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/10/19/worlds-top-economistsjust-made-case-why-we-still-need-english-majors/ (accessed 5 November 2019). 5 David Deming, “In the Salary Race, Engineers Sprint but English Majors Endure,” The New York Times (September 20, 2019), https:// www.nytimes.com/2019/09/20/business/liberal-arts-stem-salaries.html (accessed October 22, 2019). 6 For a longer analysis of workplace changes, see David Deming and Kadeem Noray, “STEM Careers and the Changing Skill Requirements of Work,” https://scholar.harvard.edu/ddeming/publications/stem-careersand-technological-change (accessed October 22, 2019). 7 David Deming, “The Value of Soft Skills in the Labor Market,” The National Bureau of Economic Research Reporter 4 (2017), https://www. nber.org/reporter/2017number4/deming.html (accessed October 22, 2019). 8“ Philosophy Student Performance on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT),” https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.apaonline.org/resource/resmgr/ Data_on_Profession/Philosophy_performance_on_LS.pdf (accessed 11 November 2019). 9 Rich Lowry, “Treason of the Elites,” National Review (11 November 2019), 27. 10 Jerry Falwell, Jr., “2013 Baccalaureate,” http://media2.liberty.edu/mediaplayer/14/message?_ ga=2.225834202.1738955332.1573475748-1098958559.1571534738 (accessed 11 November 2019).
19 Rodney D. Chrisman Professor of Law, School of Law
LAWYERS AS MINISTERS OF JUSTICE Justice as a Part of the Gospel An often-overlooked part of Jesus’s mission (i.e., the Gospel) is justice. In modern times, the Gospel is all too often thought of as being exclusively concerned with personal evangelism. This view relegates other professions and vocations, such as business, engineering, or law, to secondary concerns — important to be sure, but not rising to the level of Gospel concerns. The Gospel presented in the Bible, however, is not so truncated. Certainly, Jesus was and is concerned with the evangelism of individual souls, but this is not His only concern. The Old Testament prophets consistently condemn God’s people for not only their idolatry but also their injustice. Two passages from the book of Isaiah are illustrative, although many more could be cited and discussed. In Isaiah 10:1-2, in the midst of warning Judah that God’s judgment was coming upon them via the instrument of Assyria, Isaiah writes “Woe to those who enact evil statutes and to those who constantly record unjust decisions, so as to deprive the needy of justice and rob the poor of My people of their rights, so that widows may be their spoil and that they may plunder the orphans” (Is 10:1-2, NAS).
This passage is addressed to a society pervaded by injustice. It is replete with unjust legislation (“evil statutes”) and “unjust [judicial] decisions.” In such a society, people are deprived of justice and robbed of their rights such that they become spoil and plunder. In such a setting, where there is no rule of law, the ruling principle becomes power resulting in the relatively powerless and vulnerable (“the needy,” “the poor,” “widows,” and “orphans”) bearing the brunt of the injustice. Into this context of wide-spread injustice, God describes the mission of the Messiah as establishing justice in the earth. In Isaiah 42:1-4, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, God states: Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry out or raise His voice, Nor make His voice heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not be disheartened or crushed
Until He has established justice in the earth; And the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law (NAS). As this passage demonstrates, Jesus’s mission includes “bring[ing] forth justice to the nations” and “faithfully bring[ing] forth justice.” His aim is to “establish justice in the earth” such that “the coastlands,” which is an image designating the “remotest peoples of the earth”1, “will wait expectantly for His law.” Matthew, in his quotation of this passage, renders the last line as “And in His name the Gentiles will hope,” (12:21) thereby equating Jesus’s Name with his law and justice, offering them as things in which the remotest peoples on the earth will hope. Ungodly rulers, with their “evil statutes” and “unjust decrees” bring oppression and hopelessness, but God’s faithful servant, by contrast, with His righteous judgment and law, brings justice and hope.
Lawyers as Ministers of Justice God, in His graciousness, has chosen to allow His people to participate in what He is doing in His world. Specifically, Christian lawyers get the privilege of participating in Christ’s mission of establishing justice in the earth. This is done in a variety of ways, depending upon the area of law and policy in which the particular lawyer is called to serve. The following discusses two examples, one familiar to most readers and one likely less familiar, to illustrate this point.
Criminal Lawyers as Ministers of Justice Given that most people have seen television dramas or movies involving criminal investigations and trials, readers likely will be familiar with the role of lawyers in the area of criminal law. Therefore, this familiar area of law serves well to illustrate how lawyers can further the Gospel as ministers of justice. Romans 13:4 states that the civil magistrate or government is God’s minister on earth to exact vengeance and bring punishment on evildoers. A prosecuting attorney serves as a minister of justice in seeking, within a system of rules of procedure and evidence, to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant is guilty of a given crime and therefore deserving of punishment. It is perhaps easy for many people to see how a lawyer serving in this capacity is operating as a minister of justice.
Similarly, the defense attorney is also acting as a minister of God’s justice. The defense attorney holds the prosecution to proving its case, requiring that the rules of evidence and criminal procedure are followed, and that the defendant receives a fair trial. This too furthers Christ’s mission of establishing justice in the earth. For instance, biblical justice requires that a defendant may only be condemned on the testimony of two or three witnesses (e.g., Deut 17:6 & 19:15, Num 35:30, Matt 18:16, and 2 Cor 13:1). Given the fact that there will not be two or more witnesses to every crime, God is willing for some wrongs to go unpunished by humans. All wrongs will eventually be righted and all sins eventually punished, either in Christ’s atoning work on the cross or in the condemnation of the sinner to eternal punishment in hell. However, temporally, God’s justice requires a procedural and evidentiary system that will prevent sinful men from punishing other sinful men unless certain minimums are satisfied, such as a minimum requirement of two or three witnesses. A criminal defense attorney, holding the prosecution to these standards, serves God as a minister of justice and furthers Christ’s justice in the earth. Further, the Bible presents Jesus as an Advocate for the accused, or, in other words, a defense attorney who stands on our behalf. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world (1 John 2:1-2, NAS). Jesus, to be sure, is a special type of defense attorney. He does not argue that the accused are innocent, but rather, knowing that they are guilty, pleads instead His own innocence and righteousness and that He has paid for the sins of the guilty ones through His atoning death on the cross. Still, even taking into account that important difference, a Christian criminal defense attorney can be a minister of justice acting in Christ-like role.
A Business or Planning Lawyer as a Minister of Justice A less familiar example also illustrates the role of lawyers as ministers of justice. In Psalm 94:20, the Psalmist asks, “Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who frame injustice by statute?” (ESV). In modern times, much injustice is framed by statute. In fact, the sheer volume of statutes and regulations governing the
activities of modern people and businesses in and of itself is such that it can be described as unjust and a tyranny. Further, much of these statutes and regulations are either temporary or constantly subject to change or sometimes even contradictory. Of this particular type of injustice, James Madison wrote that: It poisons the blessings of liberty itself. It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed? (The Federalist No. 62.) When Madison wrote these words, the laws he would have known would be a mere fraction of the thousands upon thousands of pages of statutes and regulations comprising the legal environment in modern American today. One can only imagine what he would say if confronted with just the modern Internal Revenue Code, which is only one of the 54 Titles of the United States Code! This unjust legal environment deters the start-up of new businesses and threatens the survival of existing businesses, and, by the very nature of the risks and costs it imposes, its burdens fall particularly hard
on smaller businesses — those that are less powerful and more vulnerable. This keeps people from using their God-given gifts and abilities to bless others and glorify Him. A business or planning lawyer can serve Christ as a minister of justice in this area by assisting individuals and businesses in navigating this labyrinth of statutes and regulations. A lawyer serving in this role literally helps people shepherd their gifts, abilities, time, treasure, and, yes, even dreams.
Conclusion As demonstrated in the foregoing, Christ’s mission is broader than is often thought and includes establishing justice in the earth. Lawyers can serve Christ as ministers of justice, experiencing the privilege of being used by Him to bring forth justice such that the remotest peoples hope in His law. This service is rendered in areas that are familiar to the general public, such as in the instance of criminal lawyers discussed above. However, it is also rendered in other important areas that are less familiar, as in the example of a business or planning lawyer described herein. Many other examples could be given, such as lawyers fighting for Constitutional rights or representing the poor and needy or widows and orphans. Through this service in its various forms, biblical justice is established in the earth such that eventually, one day, people near and far — even unto the most distant coastlands — will hope and wait expectantly on His law.
Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible 1315 (2008).
David Brat Dean, School of Business
ETHICS, VOCATION, AND CHRISTIAN GOOD: AN OPEN LETTER TO THE STUDENTS OF LIBERTY Dear Students, There is no such thing as ethics. Now that I have your attention, let me illustrate what I mean. And let me demonstrate how our shared Christian faith proves that this statement is not only true, but also encouraging as you prepare yourselves for vocation in the world. My goal is to show you how a proper understanding of such a provocative statement may enlighten your path from Liberty out into your calling, vocation and the realm of business. Loving is good. Killing is bad. How do you know? What makes something good? Freshman tend to answer by saying, “something is good because it is good.” But, what makes something good? What is the “criteria” for something to be called good? This question is the foundational query that started the discipline of ethics. The study of ethics tries to answer the simple questions: “What is good?” and “What is right?” The study of ethics started in ancient Greece. To simplify and to guide our study we will just say it started with Socrates who asked and tried to answer these questions. His student Plato took up his project, and then Plato’s pupil Aristotle in turn inverted Plato’s starting point trying to solve this ultimate riddle. If you look at the famous painting of The School of Athens by Raphael, you will see Plato pointing up at the realm of the forms for the Good and Aristotle pointing down like a good scientist to that which can be observed for the source of the Good. That basic debate is still with us and no one in philosophy has won the day. Plato was intellectually honest enough to know that he had not closed the deal. And most intellectuals today will agree that no one in the history of thought has “proven” or shown the source of the good sufficiently to satisfy all comers. Now right off the bat, the clever student will surely rebuff my thesis saying, “Dr. Brat, the ancient Hebrews
surely had a system of ethics. Have you not heard of the 10 commandments? That is one source of our Christian ethics and it is true because God said so on Sinai. And Sinai preceded the Greeks!” Well done: A+. Excellent point. And I will get to this eventually, such a rebuttal actually helps to prove my point up there in the first sentence. There is no such thing as ethics. As I said previously, ethics is the study of the “criteria” for the good. This leads to the question: “What is it that makes something good?” In academia, if Plato says something is red because it has redness, that is not satisfactory for academics. What is it that makes red, red? Getting dizzy yet? Hang with me. The same goes for ethics in academia. If you answer that something is good because God says it is good, that is fine within the faith community but not outside of our community. The academy rarely accepts such arguments in their domain. Typically they argue that such beliefs are a tautology or circular reasoning. And of course Christian scholars have strong responses to all of these questions. I hope you can begin to see the foreshadowing being developed here. While we may believe and live out the Christian life in community, we also have to be ready to meet the business world where it is. So where is the business world in terms of ethics? I’ve given lectures on this exact topic for 20 years to every Rotary club and civic organization in the universe and so here is the condensed version. If you open a standard business ethics book, you will find that most treat three ethical schools of thought in the academic setting. For example, the “Ethical Issues in Business” textbook by Pat Werhane, professor emeritus at UVA’s School of Business is very typical. It opens with 50 pages of ethical content followed by many applied cases. The ethical content covers three of the heavy hitters in Western ethics including Virtue Ethics (Aristotle), Kantian Ethics (Immanuel Kant) and Utilitarian Ethics (John Stuart Mill). Each of these three “Systems” of ethics argues for very different
conceptions of the Good and what is Right. You should study these systems, even if my thesis is correct, and this is for many reasons, but that is a tangent. The major and simple point that I want to make here is that when I give a Rotary talk, or an academic talk or a Church talk, I always ask folks to raise their hands if they are a Utilitarian. No hands go up. Okay, well how many Kantians do we have out there? No hands. Okay then how about Aristotelians? A few clever Catholics may raise their hands with a grin, but they get the point. My point, I hope, is obvious, but it’s a critical one. The only ethical systems we teach in academia have no followers. No one lives out these secular and Enlightenment ethical systems. This is a major problem! Perhaps this is a bit hyperbolic, but the point is clear and unarguable. Following this question I can transition my inquiry to the crowd asking whether they instead live out a Christian or Jewish or Hindu or Confucian ethics. In response, nearly every hand in the crowd goes up! So what does this mean? First of all it means that my thesis above is true. There is no such thing as ethics in general. There is no such thing as business ethics in general. But no one will tell you this in our secular world because it’s embarrassing. The secular world would have to admit that religious systems have won the day! Kantian ethics has few formal followers as do Aristotelean ethics and Utilitarian ethics. But the religious ethical systems like the one we strive for at Liberty apply to billions of followers. There is Christian ethics. But there is no such thing as ethics. Why does this matter? It matters because all of these ethical systems clash like crazy on how they define the Good. For example, Utilitarianism states that the Good is that which maximizes happiness. And it does not matter at all what causes that happiness. Hitler maximized his own happiness by world domination and being evil. Mother Theresa achieved happiness by feeding the poor. But Utilitarianism says that both “should” pursue their own happiness. This is clearly wrong. But even though the label “Utilitarianism” is missing, this live-and-let-live philosophy sadly dominates the secular world in which we live and work. When you hear business firms claim that they strive to live at the highest level of ethics, you should basically LOL because you “know” better. The highest level of ethics in the Christian tradition is the Sermon on the Mount. Few businesses have ever said that was their aim. For, we are fallen, and even the Church struggles mightily to attain this ideal.
So how can you go out in confidence knowing and believing that you have it right? Well, this is a matter of knowledge as well as faith and so you must study and get it right. But, in faith you will also be aided by God and the mighty works of God in history are a sure foundation. As you study, you will find that the JudeoChristian tradition has served as the guard rails for truth in Western civilization from the beginning. The Judeo-Christian tradition has also been the dominant source of values in the West as even its archcritics like Nietzsche acknowledged.
a government of laws, based on individual rights and the separation of powers. This system has served us exceptionally well for more than 230 years; the longest surviving constitution in the world today. Yet our Constitution is under attack today by those who want to impose their own systems of anarchy on us and our country. Some are deconstructing the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Rule of Law and the belief that Free Markets and business can be a tremendous blessing. Our theological foundation is disintegrating and our shared commitments are coming undone.
For example, in philosophy, Plato was great, but Augustine brought Plato’s wisdom into the Christian tradition. Aristotle was absorbed into the Catholic tradition by St. Thomas Aquinas. Augustine inspired Martin Luther and John Calvin, fathers of the Reformation and Protestant line of theology. The Enlightenment then followed and claimed that “Reason” is the measure of all things. Human Reason alone; not God. In the sciences, the Enlightenment produced great results. But in anything having to do with human nature, the Enlightenment failed completely because it got it wrong. The Enlightenment ethics of Hume and Kant and Mill were simply wrong. This could be why they have no followers as explained above. Human reason alone lacked the inspiration to motivate action. It turns out the simple love of Christ won the day. That is the good news in History.
Here, like America’s Founding Fathers, we turn to God’s Word for the answer. Psalms 11:3 says “If the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The answer is in the very next verse. “The Lord is in his holy temple: the Lord is on his heavenly throne.”
In Virginia, even the great Jefferson got ethics wrong. He stripped the miracles out of his Bible because, in his view, human reason trumped God’s Revelation in his system. Thankfully, James Madison, who studied Hebrew at Princeton, got human nature right. He understood the fallen nature of man and he knew that power corrupts, so he designed into the Constitution
Now receive the Benediction. God has called you to faith in Christ and has given you a vocation to go out and serve His world. Liberty has given you a foundation in faith and Truth and career. Follow God and God’s ethics in all you do. Go Big. Think Big. Believe Big. You will be a part of God’s Great work. Amen.
The times ahead may look tough. There is no sugar coating that truth. Let the faith you cultivate as you become a Champion for Christ at Liberty University be your armor in this upside down world. Get ready. You will need to develop every bit of knowledge and faith and courage God grants you. You are the one that, guided by God’s word, will have to decide what Good is for you. Choose Wisely. It will make all the difference. There is no shared ethics. There is Jesus Christ and the Judeo-Christian tradition.
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Work as Worship, Worship as Vocation: An Interview with Jo and Vince Vitale Recently, Jo and Vince Vitale took some time to have a conversation with Dr. Troy Temple, Interim Dean of the John W. Rawlings School of Divinity. Jo (DPhil, Oxford) and Vince (DPhil, Oxford) are both apologists with RZIM. Jo's research has focused on issues of Gender and Beauty in the Old Testament whereas Vince's research has focused on the Problem of Evil.
Our mission, here at Liberty, is to Train Champions for Christ in every profession. Are professions demonstrations of the gifts that God has placed in us and are they connected with the mission of the Gospel?
I am excited that this is part of the vision here at Liberty — a holistic approach to what God is doing in and through a person. Too often, the church imagines a sacred and secular divide, where the ministry professions are the sacred ones and the rest are just secular. Other professions are viewed at a lower tier compared to going into full time Christian ministry. Jesus himself most likely spent about 18 years in a “secular” profession before he went into full-time ministry. I have often thought about how weird some of our terminology about professions is. For example, the phrase “work-life balance” assumes that work is not going to be life giving, so you need a balance. I think this a good starting point for approaching this issue. We should be thinking about work with the lens of the Hebrew word, avoda, which means work, worship, and service. God designed us to have our work and worship intimately intertwined.
Jo: Yes, I agree. It has always been hard to believe that
Jesus said, “It is better if I go, so that the Holy Spirit can come.” How could this be better than Jesus being on earth? Well, because of this, the Holy Spirit is in the life of every believer and equips every believer to stretch out throughout the world, not just in ministry, but in every arena, carrying the work of God with them. Imagine the kind of impact that has!
The Great Commission is to go out into the world and make disciples of all nations. We often think that making disciples means being a pastor, but making disciples means going into every arena and serving Christ in a beautiful way. The gospel transforms the whole mind and you can take that into every profession and every arena of life; actually being a Christian is going to make a fundamental difference in how you live and work in your profession. Not enough Christians are in those places, so when I see someone studying neuroscience as a Christian, and they go all the way to their post-doc and then they go on to teach, I think, “That is incredible!” We a need Christian understanding of the world informing that area of research — helping to explain how we come to understand the mind and our purpose as humans. Instead of withdrawing from those places as a Christian, more Christians need to step into them.
Vince: I became a Christian my first year of college
while studying philosophy in a secular philosophy department and I had to wrestle through that. I can remember thinking, “Was there any value in what I was studying and is this something I should continue to pursue?” I did continue to pursue it and wound up doing my graduate studies in a secular philosophy department. Studying there made me realize that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light. Not just that he is true, but that he is the grounding of all truth. So, if I am pursuing truth, whether it’s through philosophy or biochemistry or whatever it is, if I am pursuing truth claims, anything I am learning that ultimately is true, must be grounded in some way in the nature of God because God is truth himself. That totally transformed learning for me, because anytime I learn something true, at a fundamental level, I am learning something of who God is and what He has done. Learning, then, is a part of my worship and my relationship with him.
How can believers use these incredible opportunities in their professions as a launching pad for the proclamation of the Gospel?
FA I T H A N D T H E A C A D E M Y: E N G A G I N G T H E C U LT U R E W I T H G R A C E A N D T R U T H
When you are experiencing your work as worship, you’re in a place to see unique opportunities and to take those opportunities to share the Gospel. It is interesting how easily a grace theology or a works-based theology can infiltrate our work. When we’re talking about salvation, we know it’s based on grace and faith and not on works. But for some reason when I’m doing philosophy I think, “I’m learning this; I’m working out these ideas through my abilities and analysis.” Oftentimes though, if you are experiencing work as worship, you begin to see work in a grace-centered way. When you are working through a grace-centered mindset, you begin to see how anxious people are when they are trying to work in a way disconnected from the one that gives grace. If you are working out of a place of worship and others are not, there should be a clear divide there that will provide all sorts of opportunities for conversation to share why it is that your work is a very different experience.
Jo: It does make such a difference when you allow the
Lord to infiltrate the way you think and the way that you approach work. I remember meeting a student on a university campus who — over the course of a few hours together — gave her life to Christ. She had been watching Christians for about six months before she met me, so she had already been observing how Christians live. She said the thing that stood out to her was that Christians seem more joyful and hardworking than anyone else she had met. Unlike the culture she was coming from, hard work didn’t lead to depression and anxiety, but to freedom and joy. I think when you live that way it has such an impact.
How can we help our students see that calling is not a term that is captivated or held sequestered by those who are in full-time ministry in the church, but it is a term that applies to all those who are sons and daughters of the King?
I think the language of calling is interesting because, sure you may well be called to do something, but really first and foremost you’re called to be. You are called before anything else to love the Lord your God with all your heart soul mind and strength and then to love your neighbor as yourself. We often meet people who are so focused on how they are going to get to a certain platform or reach a certain goal. Don’t worry about that. Who are the people who are in front of you right now? Who are the people in your neighborhood, in your community? Maybe there are people God is calling you to right now. God will get you wherever He needs to get you but who’s right in front of you is what you need to focus on. Maybe your calling right now is just to love and serve and meet the needs of those around you and let God do whatever He is going to do with that. Don’t worry about the future platforms. Paul worked as a tentmaker for so much of his ministry. That part probably did not feel glamorous, but who knows how many conversations and impactful moments he had just sitting there working on those tents? We turn “calling” into something transactional and achievable when it is actually so much richer and deeper.
Vince: I take comfort in the reality that the church
is a body and that each one of us is a part of that body, each an essential part. In the context of that body, whether you’re called to be a hand or a foot or a shoulder, there is no hierarchy. All of the callings are needed, and you need to pursue where God is leading you and not where He is leading someone else or what someone else thinks. You will exhaust yourself or end up in a bad place spiritually if you’re trying to pursue someone else’s calling that’s not your own. We need to figure out which part of the body we are and be content in that, knowing that each part plays an essential role in what God asks his body to do.
Linda Mintle Professor and Chair, Division of Behavioral Health, College of Osteopathic Medicine
ANSWERING THE CALL TO CHRISTIAN COUNSELING The popularity of the book, The Purpose Driven Life, highlighted the fact that most of us desire to fulfill our purpose on this earth. For me, that purpose began to take shape after the tragic loss of my older brother from a terrorist bomb on an airplane. Devastated by his unexpected death, I changed my college major from law to psychology. As a young adult, it was difficult for me to understand how a good God could allow such a bad thing to happen. I wanted answers; and while I believed that one day, all pain would be gone, I live on this side of eternity. Bad things do happen to good people, but how do we make sense of this and stay in positive mental health? I was raised in the church but had no real theology for suffering. Mental health problems were not discussed. I knew Jesus came to bind up the brokenhearted and to proclaim freedom for the captive, but no one talked about what that looked like in everyday life. How does faith inform not only my life, but also my clinical practice? After my brother’s death, I immersed myself in the study of psychology, determined to find ways to help those who suffer. My secular professors made it clear that my faith had no place in the classroom of serious study. In their eyes, a belief in Jesus was for the delusional and the weak. I needed to drop my insistence that religion had value and awaken to their reality that humanity is capable of self-fulfillment and healing without God. Our narratives were very different. For me, the Christian world view supported the findings in psychology. Psychology helped me understand and navigate the grieving process. I also knew that without my faith, I could not have handled my brother’s death nor held on to the hope for a better day and eventual reunion. Psychology could only take me so far. It was helpful, but not life transforming. It taught me much in the practical realm and helped
work me through difficult relationships and events, but we are more than body and mind, walking through suffering also takes attending to the spirit. After the Fall, the rebellion of man plunged the world into brokenness and changed our natural human disposition. We are not fundamentally good, but in need of redemption, and we cannot find answers by solely turning inward. As lovers of self, this disordered love leads to pain, restlessness and psychological distress. The unredeemed human heart is wicked and the mind easily deceived. As Christians, we are not exempt from the natural causes of a fallen world or the progression of a poor environment or bad habits. Our world is full of disease, illness, violence, abuse, and all sorts of pain. Scripture tells us that even creation groans in this fallen state. In my profession, clinicians daily witness how much pain and suffering exists in peoples’ lives. At times, it feels overwhelming — a six-year-old beaten by his father, a ten-year old sexually abused by an uncle, a 13-year-old neglected by a drug addicted mom, an emaciated teenager who starves herself to 83 pounds and believes she is “fat,” a couple who grows apart and becomes emotionally distant believing there is no way back to love, and a daughter who finds her father hanging in his bedroom from an act of suicide. The stories go on and on and repeat in numerous versions. The emotional pain is real and the suffering immense. Sitting with people in emotional pain is a privilege that I don’t take lightly. People trust me with the most vulnerable parts of their lives. I do what I can and do help people because of my training. I have to be willing to be vulnerable, to sit with pain, and be compassionate to those who are hurting, but I also have to balance the pain of others with self and soul care. I can’t fix everyone and I certainly can’t make people change. At times, it is easy to grow weary,
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feeling that the enemy is winning the battle to steal, kill and destroy, but we can fight back because we understand our authority in Christ and because what we do is a calling. When I taught at Wheaton College, I required all my students to read, The Call, by Os Guinness. Guinness says, “Our primary calling as followers of Christ is by Him, to Him, and for Him.”1 In other words, we are called to Someone and out of that call flows everything else. Guinness asserts that whatever the profession, it is only work if there is no Caller. He reminds us that calling and vocation should be the same. We are all called to God first, and once in relationship with Him, He expects the gifts He has given us to be stewarded for His purposes. We live out who we are and allow God to work His transforming power in and through us. We are His hands and feet for those who desperately need hope and healing. From a Christian perspective, those difficult moments of darkness in our soul lead us to depend on God’s power, not our own. We need someone bigger than ourselves to help transcend suffering and to understand who God is. He doesn’t downplay the suffering we face. He doesn’t tell us not to hurt or minimize our pain, but in fact, the prophet Isaiah reminds us He is acquainted with our grief. The promise is that His presence will walk us through pain and suffering to the other side. The calling of a psychologist/counselor is to be physically present in moments of pain and guide people through dark and difficult times. In the process, we are sojourners, witnesses, bearers of hope who provide an eternal perspective. Soul care is based on this. God gave Himself, and He is better than any pill or advice we can offer. He has the power to heal, to stop anxiety, to trade hope for despair and bring joy out of sorrow. He will equip those who are called to healing professions to be ministers of that healing. With God, there is always a way of escape and joy and peace in the middle of difficulty. Emotional and physical pain draw us close to God, often making us desperate for Him, and reminding us of our weakness and dependence on Him. C.S. Lewis says, “God whispers in our pleasure, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain.”2 For those in pain, there is a lot of shouting going on, but in that suffering, if we listen, pain can be transformed and bring humility, trust, faith and even gratitude to our life.
Suffering can grow our faith if we approach it in an honest way with God. When we suffer, there is an opening of our soul and a cry for God’s help that leads to a deeper walk. There are times when God allows suffering for a greater purpose to be accomplished in us and others. We control how we respond to that pain and suffering. My job is to help people with their responses and point them to things of eternal value. The Christian therapist’s goal is to help people overcome their problems and improve their wellbeing, relationships and mental health. This is done by combining faith with the principles of psychology, intentionally practicing spiritual disciplines, and growing in Christ. It also requires a working knowledge of the psychology field, application of evidenced-based practices and staying current with research and new treatments. The whole person is treated; body, mind and spirit. Christian counseling is always rooted in God and biblical principles, shaped by love, and should exalt Christ above all. His Spirit uses us to accomplish His purposes through the use of wisdom, compassion, empathy and discernment. The goal is to help patients see that their life has value, that their identity is ultimately found in Christ, and that they are unconditionally loved and accepted. Nothing can separate us from God’s love, and despite what happens in this life, God is constant, never changing, and always good. He is the solid rock on which we build our lives, and this then is the foundation for mental health redeemed.
Os Guiness, The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1998), 31. 1
C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, (New York: HarperCollins, 2014), 91.
31 Michael D. Lockwood, DO, FCA Professor of Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, College of Osteopathic Medicine
THE CALLING AND VOCATION OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE: WHO AM I THAT THE LORD, GOD OF THE UNIVERSE, WOULD CARE? Osteopathic medicine is a uniquely American reformation in medical care that teaches the body, mind, and spirit as one. Osteopathic care is driven by a patientcentered model where personalization, precision, and individualization of medical care is core. As the medical saying goes, “anyone can find disease.” What is left unsaid is that cultivating health is much more difficult. This pursuit to embrace health is what motivated Andrew Taylor Still, the founder of osteopathic medicine.
on healing rather than simply diagnosis and symptom management. Then and today the temptation with every health malady is to enthusiastically embrace the “magic bullet” solutions available. A common and unrealistic expectation is that every medical problem has a solution in either pharmaceuticals or surgery. Additionally, such solutions are often provided even when the underlying problem may not be medicinal or one necessitating a scalpel.
Still was born in Lee County, Virginia, the son of a Methodist Episcopal minister and physician. AT, as he was known, suffered significant life tragedies which included the loss of six of his children to illnesses of the time. Because of his personal struggle and despair with the medical care of his day, he sought an alternate philosophy to the practice of medicine that focused
Health struggles are external and internal, muscularskeletal-fascial, structural, metabolic, neurologic, vascular, lymphatic, mental, spiritual, and sometimes seem irrational. Recognizing the comprehensive nature of healing human beings clarifies the philosophical convictions of osteopathic tasks. Osteopathic Physicians are convictionally called to healing. They
are philosophically aware that healing is multi-modal and not strictly tied to pharmaceuticals or surgery.
Four Tenets of Osteopathic Medicine Congruent parallel precepts and tenets have emerged between God’s Word and osteopathic medicine. Both deceptively simple and also complex beyond our understanding. In terms of the tenets of osteopathic medicine, four are important to understand. First, we can neither separate form from function nor function from form. For example, the heart, in its unique form, has a specific function that could not be accomplished without its one-way flow valves or the motions that allow it to contract and twist. The function of the heart, which is to move blood and oxygen through the body, could not be accomplished without its created form. In other words, the heart is superbly designed (form) to allow for the demands of blood circulation, and blood is the perfect substance for sustaining life (function). Second, as scripture says, “a cord of three strands is not easily broken” (Eccl 4:12). Osteopathic medicine sees people as an inseparable trifecta — the emotions, the soma, and the psyche that comprise body unity, which together are part of the puzzle of health and dysfunction. A third tenet relates to God’s designed mechanisms that preserve, protect, and cover the body. These systems heal, redeem and regenerate. How could a person be treated with penicillin for pneumonia without an intact immune system? How could an osteopath’s hands possibly aid in that person’s recovery without the intrinsic ability to re-regulate pulmonic function, adjust rib cage motion, repair adverse muscle restraints to breathing, modify diaphragm function, and enhance vascular and lymphatic functions? We trust God’s design that allows wounds to heal, maladies to mend, and professionally trained hands to enhance lives. Finally, rational osteopathic medicine is based upon application of these basic truths. Osteopathic patient centered care is based on best-practices of application of medical knowledge and being “in touch” with patients through all phases of diagnosis, treatment, and management outcomes.
The Osteopathic Calling in a Secular World The philosophical conviction of osteopathic medicine that supposes patients are not just a sum of their problems, but individuals with body, soul, and spirit, finds great congruence with a Christian worldview. The osteopathic mission concerning the sanctity of life is extremely consistent with a biblical worldview, even in a world which often appears hostile to the Christian medical professional. Our right of conscience which is affirmed in the Bible, our uniquely American Constitution, and our Osteopathic Oath. As a profession, we face good and evil from within and from without. Our Osteopathic and Hippocratic Oaths are being challenged. As with any professional congregation, we have believers, non-believers, and agnostics. The world has professional societies which promote healthy behaviors and ways to enhance body functionality while also holding values consistent with God’s ways, and other medical societies which equivocate and acquiesce on these topics. As we have seen, secular preferences commonly translate into legislation and the public expectations of medical societies and practice. For example, some professional societies have misguidedly announced stances of ‘engaged neutrality’ (an interesting terminological inexactitude with profound consequences to say the least) on matters regarding the sanctity of life. In fact, there are seven states and the District of Columbia that affirm the right of physicians to administer poison and we all know the cultural fight over abortion. Both of these examples directly contradict the Osteopathic Oath where we pledge, “I will give no drugs for deadly purposes to any person, though it be asked of me.”1 And the time-revered Hippocratic Oath is an oath sworn to affirm the moral and ethical diction of the medical profession. It states, “I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to procure an abortion.”2 Trends in society, however, will not dissuade the Christian osteopath in their pursuit of integrating their faith with their vocation. However, from the Christian perspective, the greatest gift one can give is to give one’s life for another, to love unconditionally because God loved us first — not to take a life because of acceptable societal trend. The Christian osteopath looks to Jesus as our guide, healer and the author of science. We look to teaching of unbiased science to dissect fact from folly. In
Genesis 1, God said, “Let there be light” or “fiat lux” and there was light. Those who are Christians look to His creation, and astute observers stand amazed.
Why Osteopathic Medicine? Doctors of osteopathic medicine practice and heal compelled by compassion and love for our fellow man. The act of professional caring is not bereft of pain and personal suffering. We suffer with those who arrive at our door. When illness impacts lives, the osteopathic physician focuses on reception of tangible clues to dysfunction. Training and attention result in proficient discernment of past trauma, internal medicine, and somatic dysfunction. We are trained to palpate the body professionally, and we palpate with care. We discover causes because we believe that treating causes of human maladies is a better way than treating only symptoms. Our ability to influence the patient’s health and reduce illness is weakened unless we understand the cause. By the work of our hands, as finely trained instruments, identifying disturbances in tissues of the body allows us to address illnesses and to provide treatment through manipulation of body structures. Our limits are realized as we begrudgingly learn that patience is the reward for waiting on the Lord for healing. We ask for patience that comes through persistence. We are refined through the crucible of suffering in anticipation of the fulfillment of His promises.
So, why osteopathic medicine? Our conclusion is the relief of suffering. It is through greater discovery of our Maker that gives our vocation meaning and through that meaning we are brought closer to our Maker, as stewards of a unique call. The call to doctor is a call to serve, and osteopathic physicians take an oath that reminds us to “be always mindful of [the] great responsibility to preserve the health and life of my patients... guard their secrets with scrupulous honor and fidelity, to perform faithfully [our] professional duties...”3 Those in this profession must reveal both altruistic traits as well as the propensity to run toward, not away from, problems, uncomfortable situations, and potential and real danger to ourselves. Only God allows us to unravel medical mysteries, ponder diagnostic dilemmas, and wonder at treatment results that relieve suffering and allow for joy. The Great Physician commands us to love our brothers and sisters and empowers us with a supernatural love to do His works as extensions of His hands which heal.
American Osteopathic Association, “Osteopathic Association,” November 11, 2019, https://osteopathic.org/about/leadership/aoagovernance-documents/osteopathic-oath/ 1
2 Translation from the Greek by Ludwig Edelstein, “Hippocratic Oath: Classical Version,” November 11, 2019, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/ nova/article/hippocratic-oath-today/ 3 American Osteopathic Association, “Osteopathic Association.”
35 John R. Markley Associate Dean of Academic Operations Associate Professor of New Testament
CHRISTIAN HIGHER EDUCATION AND PARTICIPATION IN THE REDEMPTIVE WORK OF GOD Higher Education, especially in the West, has been shaped by the gospel and the Christians who have embraced it. In the early development of American colleges and universities, Christian higher education was nearly indistinguishable from higher education in general. This is despite the fact that the Enlightenment – what is often blamed for the secularization of American culture – was an important factor in the development of American colleges and universities. We know the anecdotal evidence well: Christian denominations founded educational institutions, modeled on English and European forebears, largely meant to train ministers to support the work of the church and train young people for other essential roles in society. Things are obviously different now in 2019. The place of Christianity in higher education has changed, and what is commonly thought of as Christian higher education has necessarily diverged from the predominant strands of higher educational institutions in the United States, but less so in the United Kingdom. Although the factors are legion, this “parting of ways” is primarily a result of the secularization of academia and the way in which predominant academic culture interprets the American principle of the separation of church and state. So, what was once a confluence of the Christian life of the mind (to use a term from Mark Noll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind) with American higher education has now bifurcated into two camps with seemingly rare exception. In one camp are the institutions that do not profess a commitment to Christian doctrine; in the other camp are the institutions that do. Those of us who have dedicated our professional careers to Christian higher education are acutely aware of the danger that any professing Christian institution faces. Broadly speaking, the danger is that the distinctively Christian commitments of an institution fade from the institutional identity. The result is that an institution, which at previous points in
its history was distinctively Christian, now cultivates an institutional identity that is thoroughly secular, save the symbols and relics that are rarely expunged from institutional history (e.g., mottos, emblems, songs). The doctrine of Scripture is replaced with the dogma of culture-at-the-edge. We don’t know exactly how it happens – not likely as the result of a single decision or event in an institution’s history. Exchanging one institutional identity for another is probably the cumulative result of external forces and incremental changes over time. Just as the aging of our own faces goes unnoticed on a day-to-day basis but can be recognized by looking at photos from years past, so the transformation of an institution’s identity can only be recognized by looking at large swaths of its institutional history.
Missional Vigilance Therefore, the tendency for significant change to happen so slowly that it usually goes unnoticed underscores the importance of missional vigilance – that is, intentional reflection on how stakeholders can actively work towards (rather than passively work under) the mission of a Christian college or university, understanding that the mission was wrought through prayer and Scripture by faithful believers in generations past, who sought to ensure by the charting documents that the institution would not veer from its original identity in generations to come. What should missional vigilance look like for Christian faculty at a distinctively Christian university? It seems to me that the starting point is to describe what it is about our work as faculty that is distinctively Christian. In other words, how does our work and our aims look decidedly different than the work of the faculty at non-confessional institutions? Why did any of us who love and worship the one true God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – dedicate significant portions of our professional lives (not to mention a small fortune and years of training to acquire expertise in a domain) to the endeavor of Christian higher education?
In my experience, Christian colleagues typically express answers to those questions along these lines: 1. To understand and know the world we live in, and as we grow in that, understand more about the God we serve; 2. To engage in something we are passionate about that gives us a sense of doing what God has created us to do; 3. To express ourselves through our skills and work in such a way that it becomes, in some sense, an act of worship; 4. To shape the future by ministering to students, who come to us for an education, usually in the context of making big decisions about the trajectories of their lives. It is true that many of us view our work – not just teaching and mentoring, but administration – as a ministry to students in some sense. We don’t do this just to draw a paycheck, but we do it to deposit the treasure we have pursued into the hearts and minds of our students, thereby investing in the future. In the remainder of this article, as an outworking of my own reflection on how to approach Christian higher education in a distinctively Christian way, and as an exercise in missional vigilance, I would like to offer another answer to the list above: 5. To develop students who become participants in the redemptive work of God in all spheres of society. Writing the statement above at a place like Liberty University can seem trite – a platitude offered to legitimize our work in a theological way. But it is meant to be somewhat jarring. It is meant to prompt an understanding of ourselves, our disciplines, our students, and our aims that is unfamiliar and untamed by the jargon and common ideas of our evangelical, Christian circles. Let me explain. With the phrase “to develop students who are participants in the redemptive work of God” I mean something different than (though not exclusive of ) these things we do as Christian faculty: praying before class, integrating biblical principles and wisdom into assignments, offering devotionals, ministering to students, and sharing the gospel with them. I also mean something different about the way we teach our
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subject-matter than these things: helping students see weaknesses of unbiblical views in a knowledge domain; refuting anti-Christian arguments in our disciplines; helping our students see the wisdom of God and the indelible marks of His creative work in the subjects we study. I also mean something different about the impact of our work in students’ lives than these things: developing them into informed Christians, devoted Christians, and Christians who view their workplace as a platform to share the gospel. As professors, all of these activities, teaching foci, and goals are important to our work. I don’t intend to disparage them by specifying that I mean something else with this proposal – that a goal of our work is to develop students who become participants in the redemptive work of God in all spheres of society. All the items in the above paragraph are in the orbit of what I have in mind, but I believe they are secondary to it, not necessarily the essence of the idea itself. So what do I mean?
A Proposal: Developing Students who become Participants in the Redemptive Work of God Regardless of the kinds of students a Christian university aims to produce (job-ready graduates, research-ready graduates, informed citizens, ministryready graduates, etc.), and regardless of the kind of curriculum a university emphasizes (liberal arts, industry-specific, STEM, etc.), and regardless of its delivery format (residential, online, hybrid, etc.), there must be orienting points for our work if we want to produce students who become participants in the redemptive work of God in all spheres of society. Our teaching, scholarship, and mentorship of students should be done with reference to these orienting points of redemptive-history: 1. Looking backward: the observable dysfunction and problems in the world are consequences of the original sin. Every knowledge domain and field of inquiry relates to the effects of sin in some way. 2. Looking forward: although we live in a world marred by sin, God’s redemptive work will culminate in new creation – a new heavens and earth that exist apart from the effects of sin and constitute the home of the righteous. 3. Living in-between: despite the fact that we obviously do not yet enjoy the restored creation towards which history is moving, God’s redemptive
work is taking place now, and we enjoy aspects of the future new creation even now while living in a world that is marred by sin. God frequently involves His covenant people in His redemptive work, using them to point forward in various ways to the day when He fully and finally resolves the problem of sin and renews His creation. Our task is to help students see how the knowledge domains in which we operate and the subjects we teach relate to these orienting points and have their significance framed by them. What does this mean for our work as Christian professors at a Christian university?1 I am proposing that, as a faculty, we must each orient our disciplines and our teaching to the original sin, the new creation, and the work of God between that span of redemptive history. We do this as an act of missional vigilance, by looking backward, looking forward, and living in-between. When we realize that our work has the ability to instantiate aspects of new creation now, our work takes on a deeper significance. When we train students to be “Champions for Christ,” we are training them to become participants in the redemptive work of God. By taking an intentional approach to this (i.e., orienting our disciplines and the subject-matter to redemptive history), we help our students to realize the opportunity that presents itself with the acquisition of learning and credentials. And I don’t think that many of them will realize this apart from our guidance. We aren’t just training them for thriving lives of obedience to God. We aren’t just training them to go into the workplace and share the gospel. In addition to these, we are also training them to be participants in the redemptive work of God, who mitigate the reign of death and dysfunction in creation, and who instantiate aspects of new creation now – “catalysts of redemptive change in all spheres of society,” as stated in the mission of the general education curriculum. This is a distinctively Christian approach to higher education, all of which is possible because of what God has done for us, and will do through us, in Christ for His glory.
Editor’s Note: due to space constraints, the body of the article is not produced in full (with permission from the author). What follows is the conclusion to the full article. Please visit digitalcommons.liberty.edu for the full article. 1
Logan Price Student Alumni
REDEMPTIVE STORYTELLING: IMAGINING THE WORLD THROUGH A HOPEFUL LENS Logan Prince graduated from Liberty University in 2019 with degrees in Journalism and Theology & Apologetics. Since graduating, he has been working as a producer at Bellevue Baptist Church in Nashville, TN. Stories matter. Worldview stories shape perspectives. Fictional stories instill values. The grand narrative of the Bible influences, well, everything. Stories fill a perineal role in the lives of all humans; they serve as a sort of collective memory, inculcating ideas and patterns into our lives. Through stories we can experience suffering, discover love, and learn lessons that we never would have been exposed to otherwise. The stories we hear shape our perception of reality, normality, and relationships. This is why Christian story telling matters. Building stories that reflect the Gospel is a key way of helping people understand the Gospel, and this is why redemptive story telling is so significant.
While I was a student at Liberty University, I double majored. My passion for writing led me to Journalism while my passion for Christian doctrine led me to Theology & Apologetics. Like most students — except for those few who possess unusual clarity on their postgrad path — I had no clue how I was going to use my degrees. I certainly had no idea how to combine them. I felt caught between two worlds. On one side, certain news outlets wielded accusations of hypocrisy and harsh rhetoric to attack the faith whose history and depth I was studying and basing my life upon. On the other side was a regiment of fellow believers aggressively building walls to keep out the dishonest and biased efforts of “mainstream media.” I found myself standing, unwittingly, in the middle of this tense conflict.
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It seemed like I had to pick a side. Should I be a journalist or a theologian? Thankfully, through the advice of professors, friends, and some wonderful books, I have found a way to bring my two passions together — a “marriage of state,” if you will. Historically speaking, a marriage of state is a diplomatic union intended to bring or keep peace between two countries. In this case, I wanted to bring together elements from both sides of my education to demonstrate the power of the Gospel in storytelling. Taking the practice of investigative journalism and joining it with the redemptive themes and hopes of Christianity leads to a beautiful practice — redemptive storytelling. Redemptive storytelling is the sharing of real stories that both reflect the truth of God’s already accomplished redemptive work and partake in God’s ongoing work of redemption at individual and universal levels. Let’s break that down. To start, redemptive stories are the real stories of our families, neighbors, communities, nations, and world. Every real story should hint at redemption — that in some way God has rescued this story from what it would’ve been without him. Left on its own, every story would be tragic and hopeless. Only with God can goodness enter in since “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.”1 Redemptive stories ought to participate in the continuation of God’s redeeming work. As a believer who shares the stories of others, I can tell stories in
a way that shows others the possibility and reality of redemption in the lives of people, in broken societal structures, and in our fallen world. I’ve been lucky enough to produce and write these redemptive stories for a few years now, first in college and now as a video producer for a church. My experience so far has showed me why redemptive storytelling is important and what the best redemptive stories often look like. To start, redemptive storytellers function as archeologists uncovering stories. Sometimes this looks like encouraging people to share their testimonies of God’s grace. Other times it may consist of bringing sins to light that have been wrongly kept in the dark. No matter what is being revealed, redemptive storytellers are to be gentle, thorough, and never exaggerate their findings. Another helpful way of understanding redemptive storytelling is through optometry. Redemptive storytellers are meant to help Christians truly see the people, communities, and issues around them. Unless the Church sees individuals hurting, it will never be moved to bring about healing. Unless the Church sees the realities of local communities, it will never know how to be a good neighbor. And unless the Church sees examples of God’s faithfulness in the past, it will begin to doubt whether God will be faithful in the future. Seeing is an important starting point; while one can see or know without loving, one can never love without seeing or knowing.
Lastly, redemptive storytellers are worship leaders. Individually, it is an act of worship for a person to use their talents to tell stories that honor God. Corporately, as people encounter God, His creation, and His truth through these stories, worship should follow. Though there should be entertaining aspects to these stories, their primary purpose is to leave people thinking about God, his ways, and his glory. It is tempting (and far easier) to tell stories with simple and tidy endings, but I have found that the best redemptive stories are actually the messy, incomplete ones. I do not mean incomplete in terms of production — because poor grammar or sloppy video editing will only distract from the story — but incomplete in terms of the redemptive story itself. Redemption hasn’t been fully realized in the Christian story of redemption yet; Christ is coming again. It makes sense, then, that our stories of redemption will reflect this incompletion. The redemptive power of incomplete stories is twofold. First, incomplete stories are real. Life does not end for people, ministries, or movements when the story ends. Indicating this incompleteness is honest and should prevent Christians from chasing after “perfect” stories — where it seems God has resolved all of a person’s struggles and trials. That is not reality. If every testimony finishes neatly with a bow on top, then we
are tilling the soil of people’s hearts and planting seeds of unrealistic expectations that may grow into weeds of doubt. People do not need complete stories that make them question why their life has not reached perfection. They need incomplete stories that point them to the One who is perfect. Incomplete stories are also uniquely redemptive since they mirror the beautiful complexity of the Kingdom of God. In many ways, the Kingdom of God has already been initiated on this earth through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, but it has not yet fully arrived. The nations will rage and creation will groan until the second coming of Christ. The “already, but not yet” nature of the Kingdom can be difficult to communicate, which is why incomplete stories are so valuable. Telling stories in which God has already worked, but is not finished working, gives Christians a framework to understand how to be faithfully present while waiting for God to complete His work and story in the universe. All stories matter. Each person’s story matters. And as a result, there are billions of redemptive stories to be told. The harvest is ripe.
James 1:17, New International Version.
Fourth Annual Every Square Inch Conference Co-sponsored by Liberty University Student Activities
M AR CH 5
CIVILITY — IN POLITICS AS —
WITNESS featuring DR . M A RK A LLEN Learn more at LUApologetics.com
“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’” ABR AHA M KU YPER
Alyssa K. Rumbuc BA in International Relations (’20)
ARGUING A HUMAN RIGHTS CASE AT THE UNITED NATIONS On July 17, 2019, I was standing in a large room at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Directly in front of me was a long table with ten judges from around the world. There were professors, attorneys, and a few judges from the European Court of Human Rights. Behind them were interpreters who were translating my argument for the Applicant. To my right, were windows overlooking the Alps. I looked left and right down the bench and said, “Mr. President, your Excellencies, and may it please this Court.” While standing in that room, I decided I wanted to practice appellate law for the rest of my life.
Learning and Practicing in Context Last summer, as a rising senior on the Liberty University Moot Court team, Tyler Shannon and I competed in an international moot court competition called the Nelson Mandela Human Rights World Moot hosted at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. The year prior, my junior year and Tyler’s senior year, had been my first year on the moot court team, and his second. The goal of a moot court team is to prepare students for the legal profession using a rigorous competition style structured to simulate the appellate style arguments given before the Supreme Court. In preparing for competition, we are given ten court cases in order to develop a ten-minute oral argument based on a hypothetical case. Typically, we would have from May until November in order to prepare oral arguments. Though the summer of 2019 was our first competition as teammates, Tyler and I had both qualified to national competitions in the regular season alongside many of our other friends on the team.
The Importance of Mentorship in Moot Court The goal of moot court is to train a new generation of legal practitioners in structuring oral arguments, legal research, and poise under pressure. Since Professor Robert Robertson came to Liberty in Fall of 2015, after practicing commercial litigation in Louisiana, our
undergraduate Moot Court team has risen from virtually non-existent to the sixth ranked program in the country. These ranks are based on total ballots won by Liberty teams, with each team consisting of two people. Professor Robertson’s role as a coach and mentor requires significant dedication in time and training. Each week he dedicates over seven hours preparing us for oral arguments in the regular moot court season. After the regular season was over, to prepare for the international competition in summer, he called us weekly to prepare our oral arguments, and then gave up over two weeks to assist in preparing and accompanying us to Geneva. His leadership and mentorship have been an invaluable part of my experience preparing for a career in law. Following the regular season, Dr. Robertson’s encouragement toward a higher caliber of competition was just the same for the Nelson Mandela competition, if not more fervent. The first step in the competition was to apply to compete in the oral arguments at the United Nations. For this, Tyler and I wrote two case memorials, which are similar to a pre-trial brief that condenses all of the relevant legal authority and case law pertaining to the hypothetical fact pattern. Beginning in February, we spent the following two months developing our core arguments and completing research in order to submit two twentypage documents for the Applicant and Respondent, to earn our spot in oral arguments. After receiving the news that we qualified in May, we spent the next two months conducting further research and writing oral arguments. We incorporated international, regional, and domestic authority. We researched the European Court of Human Rights, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, German Basic Law, and we even included journal articles written by leading international jurists. As we prepared for this competition, there were a few differences that made it instantly a more thrilling and
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demanding task, although a few elements remained the same. Teams were still composed of two members and they competed by advocating either for the applicant or the respondent in a round. Both speakers from one team made their arguments for the applicant, then the other team argued for the respondent, followed by a rebuttal from the applicant. Each team still argued both sides roughly an equal amount of times, and arguments were based on the relevant laws and previously decided cases. However, moving from a regional and national level to an international level at World Moot brought significant changes by means of research and tactics. First, instead of every team’s arguments being limited to the same ten cases like in the regular season, World Moot is an “open world problem.” Meaning, all of the research was done by us, and we could include any and all legal authority or cases that we could find. That also meant that the competitors could potentially have drastically different arguments and case law from us that we would need to be able to respond to in rounds. Another key difference is that instead of eight months of preparation, we had closer to three.
Learning and Leading in Human Rights All of our research was on the topic of human rights — specifically pertaining to the rights of the accused, freedom of expression, right to property, right to life, and the rights of the disabled. Much of international law is synthesized based on international general principles in law — past cases decided by international bodies, and conventions that were held multilaterally. Decisions on cases are made in order to follow social standards around the world, though much of international law aligns most closely with western legal traditions. As one of two American teams to compete, the other being Yale Law School, we were able to utilize much of the US Supreme Court Law to address the more intricate junctions of individual rights and governmental jurisdiction. After two days of preliminary rounds, Tyler and I advanced to quarterfinals, then finally to the semifinals. We ultimately placed third overall, after losing to the Oxford Law team by .12 of a point, and placing as the highest undergraduate team in the competition. Tyler placed fifth overall, and I placed tenth for the top scoring oralists. Though to be eliminated on such a slim margin was disheartening, to come so far in Liberty’s first time competing at this level was an accomplishment in and of itself. The encouragement from all of our other teammates, professors, and family was far more than I could have imagined.
Approaching Law from a Christian Outlook Our views as Christian’s regarding human rights are unique within the context of the world. The title “human rights,” is the way the world secularly identifies intrinsic human value, the inalienable rights we have, and the resulting need to protect human life from the government, oppressive leaders, and from any other situation that may unjustly deprive innocent men, women, and children from these rights. Prior to this competition, I hadn’t thought very often of international judicial bodies acting on behalf of human rights. Though during the competition, it was evident that each team present had high respect and admiration for human rights idealized in the potential of the United Nations. For many around the world, international bodies such as these are people’s only hope for protection and justice due often to the corruption of their governments.
Law and Vocation Every year, our moot court team continues to grow, and I have had the pleasure of developing deep, longlasting friendships with my teammates. The Lord has brought a unique group of students together who are passionate, talented, selfless, and hard-working. The resulting dynamic of the team is one that is celebratory of each other’s successes and supportive in one another’s hardships. Similar to many of my peers, the Lord has placed a burden on my heart to use my passion and love for public speaking, justice, and the law to protect and fight for the weak. Prior to this competition, I saw that role only in the context of practicing law domestically, either through a position as a criminal prosecutor or a civil liberties attorney. Now, however, I have an interest in human rights law internationally. While my vocational future and the next steps toward that vocation are not fully clear, I know the direction to which I am called. My hope then, to fulfill this calling, is to either attend law school following graduation this coming May, or to pursue a Master’s in Applied Human Rights at the University of York, in England. World Moot has only further cemented my desire to practice law in order to bring glory to God and to protect the weakest among his people. The Lord blessed Tyler and me in an incredibly unique way by allowing us to compete at this tournament. It was something I will look back upon and remember the Lord’s generosity.
Using Community Knowledge for Place-Based Ministry: Interdisciplinary Engagement from Geography and Urban Ministry Travis Bradshaw, Associate Professor of Geography, College of Arts & Sciences James Hobson, Instructor of Urban Ministry, John W. Rawlings School of Divinity
Geographers and urban ministers have the opportunity to work together to address the spiritual needs of urbanites. For this article, urban ministry is concerned with ministry in city centers. Geographers can collect demographic information that provides ministers with targeted knowledge and can make recommendations to ministers for locating accessible churches, including the repurposing of former churches or unused buildings. Ministers can combine geographic knowledge and ministerial knowledge to establish church presence, embrace diversity, and enlist local disciples. This article describes areas of collaboration between geographers and urban ministers for establishing and strengthening urban churches.
for churches. For nominal fees, the Mapping Center for Evangelism and Church Growth provides detailed demographic information, such as ethnicity, language(s) spoken, presence of children, age ranges, marital status, etc. for individual houses within a churchâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s service area. Geographers can design a combination of targeted phone, internet, and face-to-face intercept surveys that may include items on religious backgrounds, religious preferences, willingness to interact with religious organizations, community needs, information acquisition preferences, and language needs, to assess community ministry preferences.
Acquire Demographic Information
Geographers and urban ministers can conduct research on available ministry structures and locations. Regular attendance at mainline churches is falling dramatically.1 As a result, the United States has many vacant or underutilized churches. Buying, leasing, or even accepting ownership of closing mainline churches is a wonderful repurposing for Christâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kingdom. Buildings designed as churches should take the highest priority; however, many other vacant or underutilized buildings can be purposed as churches.
Geographic information helps urban ministers to be more effective. Geographers can build an overall community assessment or profile for planning church outreach. Census related age, race, education, and income information at the zip code or smaller block group level is available for free at census.gov. Denominational agencies, such as the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia and the North American Mission Board, provide localized demographic reports
Research Structures and Locations
Geographers can conduct research on location and acquisition factors. Windshield surveys are systematic observations taken from a moving vehicle that allow for the observation of area characteristics. They are useful for determining the presence or absence of functioning churches, traffic flows at service times, and the amount of activity on the streets or within the community.2 Churches should be located along intersections or main roads, in locations where ample parking is available. Locations along bus or rail stops are preferable. Urban ministers and staff members should ensure that adjacent bus stops are clean and covered, and bicycle racks are placed at all main entrances to church facilities. Once potential repurposed church facilities are identified, ministers should work on acquiring the location. This involves contacting city tax assessors, real estate agents, or denominational headquarters of vacated churches for information on leasing or purchasing. For example, Minister James Hobson and Rev. Dr. Keith Anderson combined their ministry efforts to form the successful Hill City Community Church (HC3), a multi-ethnic and multi-generational church in Lynchburg, Virginia. They repurposed a beautiful church structure in a prime location, on a main road, at an intersection, by a bus stop. The building has appealing amenities, such as accessible ramps, extensive nearby parking, stained-glass windows, and a pipe organ.
Establish Presence Urban ministers must be visible in their communities to promote ministry efforts. They should use geographical and community knowledge to seek prime locations for outreach efforts. There are a variety of location options for establishing presence, such as attendance at community events, weddings, funerals, K-12 schools, college events, parades, restaurant openings, or business openings. Outreach also applies to individuals in locations with aging populations, such as in hospitals, rehab centers, and nursing homes. In order to disseminate information widely in a geographic area, churches should provide weekly emailed announcements, social media posts, and an updated church website with a calendar. These are standard means for establishing presence in a community. Prayer walking is an effective outreach tool for urban clergy and lay members, because of the high population density and the presence of sidewalks. Geographers can support prayer walk efforts by
creating custom maps. The HC3 congregation practices prayer walk contact throughout the year. Prayer walking opens doors for engagement, with opportunities to reach out to different people groups. Conversations on sidewalks, porches, and lawns help establish presence and spread the love of Christ. Mingling and making efforts to engage in discourse, just as Jesus did, can turn seemingly hard and cold glares to warm and welcoming smiles.
Embrace Diversity Christian geographers and urban ministers should account for shifting demographics in urban ministry planning. Paul outlines in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22 how Christians should find common ground with all people for the purpose of reaching the lost. Cities are undergoing racial and ethnic shifts.3 In addition, many urban areas are undergoing gentrification. Gentrification efforts revitalize city centers, but raise housing costs, which may lead to population displacement. The urban minister should attempt to acquire relevant knowledge pertaining to people in the church’s geographic service area. The evangelistic church must find ways to open its doors and proactively practice outreach to everyone living and moving into urban areas. This may necessitate cultural training, foreign language acquisition, and/or the hiring of a translator or bilingual staff member. Ministering to diverse groups may present challenges; therefore, urban ministers should plan accordingly. As Ed Stetzer states, “In a world where our culture is increasingly diverse, and many pastors are talking about diversity, it appears most people are happy where they are and with whom they are. Yet, it’s hard for Christians to say they are united in Christ when they are congregating separately.”4 All should feel welcome and actively invited to worship. Urban church programs should reflect the demographic diversity of the church and the community. The music ministry is a way to showcase diversity. Musicians and staff members, wherever possible, should be reflective of the congregation and of the local community. Music is a universal language, where emotions and feelings can cross linguistic barriers.5 According to 1 Corinthians 9:22b, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” This principle extends to finding common ground in worship, including with diverse musical languages, styles, and approaches. Multi-service churches often vary musical styles to target congregants of various
demographic groups. Many ministers have developed English as a second language courses, deaf ministries, and special needs ministries. Some churches have taken the additional step of hiring campus pastors and trained worship teams to hold alternative service times for congregants in their native language.
Sociologist Dr. Harold Bare is a successful urban pastor. Since 1981, he has pastored Covenant Church in Charlottesville, Virginia, where the University of Virginia has a global draw. Bare advocates for support of foreign missions, in addition to localized personal invitations to worship. His church has transformed its congregation to one that claims members from over twenty countries. Bare encourages parishioners to attend church in their native dress. He has hired and worked with pastors of various backgrounds from all over the world and his church sponsors international food nights as a means of outreach to the community.6
Intentionally Enlist Local Disciples Effective ministry utilizes local geographic knowledge and human resources. For example, the international missions organization, Advancing Native Missions, prioritizes training natives for local ministry. They report that natives know the people and culture, usually have a similar standard of living, understand the needs of the locals, and understand potential ministry
barriers.7 Natives can provide unique perspectives to geographers and urban ministers on neighborhood ministry mindsets. They are invaluable in local planning and to the overall church ministry.
Informed Outreach In ministry, it is important to obey God and to reach out to others. Luke writes in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” This verse emphasizes the importance of ministry and outreach. Each urban area is unique, containing its own mix diversity, and has people who need the presence and encouragement of believers in their lives. Geographers and urban ministers should arm themselves with evangelistic knowledge and information about their surrounding community to be fully equipped for the work of the ministry.
Ed Stetzer, If It Doesn’t Stem Its Decline, Mainline Protestantism Has Just 23 Easters Left, The Washington Post, April 28, 2017. 1
2 Phil Rabinowtiz, “Windshield and Walking Surveys,” Community Assessment, Assessing Community Needs and Resources, (2019). 3 Pew Research Center, “Demographic and economic trends in urban, suburban and rural landscapes,” (2018). 4 Bob Smietana, Sunday Morning in America Still Segregated-and That’s OK with Worshipers,” (2015). 5 Heather Singmaster, “Why Music Is a Universal Language,” (2016). 6 Harold L, Bare, Sr, personal communication, October 16, 2019. 7 Advancing Native Missions, “About,” (n.d.), https:// advancingnativemissions.com/about/..
Cultural Engagement through Spiritual Creative Nonfiction Cara Murphy, Instructional Mentor, John W. Rawlings School of Divinity Jamaica Conner, Online Department Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies and Assistant Professor of English, College of Arts & Sciences
The pen of humanity has ever been poised to write the stories of God. These stories, told through the song of the Spirit and the eyewitness of man, have placed in the hands of Christendom an invitation to engage the culture du jour. This engagement must welcome and acknowledge the deep hunger of mankind for a creative God; spiritual creative nonfiction, inherent in New Testament writing, accomplishes this type of engagement. Literary scholars with Purdue University define the genre of creative nonfiction as “focused on story, meaning it has a narrative plot with an inciting moment, rising action, climax and denouement, just like fiction. However, nonfiction only works if the story is based in truth, an accurate retelling of the author’s life experiences.”1 Surely we see creativity in the Scriptures through the use of genre and the varied use rhetorical nuance. Additionally, we have a robust commitment to the historicity and theological revelation of Scripture, thus squarely locating it as nonfiction. Therefore, we can rightly apply this definition to the New Testament scriptures. The New Testament Gospel narratives — so much more than human-driven historical record or speculative philosophy — indicate a literary style which engages the imaginative mind and its Maker, lending to itself the genre of spiritual creative nonfiction. With the narrative writings of the New Testament as a prime example, spiritual creative nonfiction remains an effective tool to advance Gospel-based cultural engagement. Led by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, the authors of New Testament narrative specifically employed the use of the literary form creative nonfiction. American author and founder of the literary magazine, Creative Nonfiction, Lee Gutkind explains The word “creative” refers to the use of literary craft, the techniques ﬁction writers, playwrights, and poets employ to present nonﬁction — factually accurate prose about real people and events — in a compelling, vivid, dramatic manner. The goal is to make nonﬁction stories read like ﬁction so that your readers are as enthralled
by fact as they are by fantasy. The word “creative” has been criticized in this context because some people have maintained that being creative means that you pretend or exaggerate or make up facts and embellish details. This is completely incorrect. It is possible to be honest and straightforward and brilliant and creative at the same time.2 As Gutkind describes, creative nonfiction requires accuracy, and the rules of this genre are relatively simple: a) write what you know, b) know your audience, and c) tell the truth. The Gospel writers followed these rules; essentially, they established them by documenting the life, miracles, and ministry of Jesus as seen by witnesses or as they witnessed themselves. Even though they were written over 2,000 years ago, each narrative of the New Testament encapsulates truth and provides principles just as relevant to our lives today as they were for the early church culture. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John creatively depicted each mesmerizing moment in an engaging, narrative style that still captures the imagination, brings readers into the scene, and pierces the soul. With careful study, we see that the Incarnate Word not only allowed but also invited a collaborative effort between divine and human creativity. Thus, New Testament literature represents an accurate record of dialogue, rhetoric, narrative, and theological treatise, but it is also a creatively accurate re-telling of the Gospel story that both considers and emphasizes the space where mind and heart conjoin: the imagination. “The Bible is in large part a work of imagination,” writes English professor, Leland Ryken. He continues, “It’s most customary way of expressing truth is not the sermon or the theological outline, but the story, the poem, and the vision — all of them literary forms and products of the imagination… Literary conventions are present in the Bible from start to finish, even in the most historically factual parts.”3
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Spiritual creative nonfiction is distinct from the creative nonfiction genre because the inspiration of the Spirit is the power behind the New Testament’s effectiveness in cultural engagement. The New Testament has been viewed as such since its entry into the Greco-Roman world. Kevin DeYoung writes, Clement of Rome (30-100) described “the Sacred Scriptures” as “the true utterance of the Holy Spirit.” Polycarp (65-155) called them “the oracles of the Lord.” Irenaeus (120-202) claimed that the biblical writers “were incapable of a false statement.” Origen (185254) stated, “The sacred volumes are fully inspired by the Holy Spirit, and there is no passage either in the Law or the Gospel, or the writings of an Apostle, which does not proceed from the inspired source of Divine Truth.”4 As Matthew, John, Paul, and others sought to compose their best work, their ears remained open, receiving the mystery of the Holy Spirit’s inspirational ruach, or “breath” (2 Tim 3:16, NIV). The role of the Spirit was crucial to their effort, without which we would have only the temporal words of men. The New Testament authors relied on the Spirit for the creative flow of words, creating a unique type of creative nonfiction that can, with confidence, be called spiritual. However, today, we are not excluded from the practice of reliance upon the Spirit of God in the crafting of creative writing, both fiction and nonfiction, in pursuit of our culture. Even temporal words penned by modern writers can offer the transformation of culture by Spirit-empowered support from the scriptures. While we certainly never add to the canon of Scripture, we can draw forth the particular invitation inherent in them with our own interactive dependence on God in creative writing. To engage with our culture, modern authors may model the same device as the Gospel writers did, writing works that fulfil what Jesus commanded in the Great Commission. Sometimes obedience to the Great Commission manifests as teaching or preaching, but other times, it seizes the form of spiritual creative nonfiction — a chance for us to tell our own stories of salvation and freedom through Jesus. This can be achieved through modern-day letters via social media, blogs, contemporary articles and books, etc. The possibilities for engaging our culture through creative nonfiction are seemingly endless in a time when the capability for connectivity reigns. Using these contemporary tools to make a personal connection by
spreading the message of God’s love, carving out time to connect with the people we love by sharing our own life-altering encounter with Christ’s redemption, and stealing a few precious moments to read to the next generation the narratives of the New Testament writers — these are all avenues for engaging our culture through spiritual creative nonfiction. As an intentional medium, spiritual creative nonfiction engages culture by inviting each reader deeper into the Gospel's relevance for every age. While the messaging of our age can be confusing, our Lord is unchanging. Jesus, the spiritual and creative Word-Made-Flesh, is available for every culture. He still provides inspiration; He still redeems broken lives. As we connect with society within our sphere of influence, we do well to offer the cultural engagement of the New Testament with winsome creativity, directed by the Spirit of God. In this, we offer something beyond ourselves, a true story with the capacity of capturing the heart of the world.
“Creative Nonfiction: An Overview,” The Online Writing Lab of Purdue University, https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/subject_specific_writing/creative_ writing/creative_nonfiction/index.html. 1
2 Lee Gutkind, “What Is Creative Nonfiction?” Creative Nonfiction, https://www.creativenonfiction.org/online-reading/what-creativenonfiction (November 19, 2019). 3 Leland Ryken, The Christian Imagination: The Practice of Faith in Literature and Writing (New York: WaterBrook Multnomah, 2002), 25. 4 Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck, Why We’re Not Emergent: By Two Guys who Should Be (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2008), 76-77.
What is Beauty?: Interdisciplinary Engagement Between Interior Design and Philosophical Theology Lisa Simpson Campbell, Assistant Professor of Interior Design Robert P. Mills, Instructor of Philosophy and Cultural Studies, College of Arts & Sciences
There are three things that will never die: truth, goodness and beauty. These are the three things we all need, and need absolutely, and know we need, and know we need absolutely. … For these are the only three things that we never get bored with, and never will, for all eternity, because they are three attributes of God.1 “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” is a postmodern article of faith. But, is it true? For four years, faculty members serve as mentors, provide constructive criticism, and walk alongside interior design students as they prepare to enter their professional adolescence. Now, armed with a hard-earned diploma, raw talent, and a burning desire, new graduates of such creative disciplines are often faced with doubts about the meaning and value culture puts on their creative endeavors. The question might be asked, “Is beauty merely in the eye of the subjective beholder, or can artists and designers objectively critique their own work?” Or, perhaps, “Are there really principles that exist outside the culture and classroom, standards God has given to show us beauty as well as goodness and truth?” Today’s Christians are not the first to ask such questions.
Beauty in Athens Hundreds of years before Jesus walked the earth, Plato and Aristotle considered the nature of beauty. While both philosophers insisted beauty is objective, they came to their conclusions from different angles. For Plato, the objectivity of beauty was rooted in the eternal realm of “the Forms,” a realm outside of space and time that would exist even if humanity did not. Here we find the Ideal Forms, which include such material objects as tables and chairs, and the transcendental qualities of truth, goodness, and beauty. Although Aristotle rejected the realm of the Forms, he still thought of beauty as objective. He wrote, “The chief forms of beauty are order and symmetry and definiteness, which the mathematical sciences demonstrate in a special degree.”2 Because beautiful objects possess these properties, Aristotle suggested, not only was beauty objective, but math could help evaluate the beauty of an object. In the Bible, God reveals Himself to be the ultimate standard of goodness and truth (Ps 100:5; John 14:6). In creation God shows us His glory, which we recognize as beauty. Using the standards displayed by God, students are taught to employ principles of design –
including balance, harmony, and rhythm – to achieve the goals of their project. We see God’s designs are all around us. We observe the Fibonacci Spiral in the placement of seeds on the head of a sunflower, we see rhythm in the waves lapping on the shore, and we are taught about harmonious color schemes every evening at sunset. The standards we universally recognize as beautiful are grounded in the nature of God and displayed in His creation. They are standards of perfection that provide a litmus test for beauty when harnessed by the designer. Why, then, do some people say they find an object “beautiful” while others look on with disbelief? First, we have to recognize that our appreciation of an object is not the same as the object being beautiful. You may not like Jackson Pollock’s crystallographic art, or you may find Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa a disappointment, but their symmetry and use of colors are technically beautiful. Until the Enlightenment, the objective view of beauty prevailed among both secular philosophers and Christian theologians. Affirming the objective quality of beauty, Augustine wrote, “Things are not beautiful because they give pleasure; but they give pleasure because they are beautiful.”3 Centuries later, Aquinas described beauty as “that which pleases when seen.” He also identified three conditions of beauty: perfection or unimpairedness, proportion or harmony, and brightness or clarity.4
Beauty in the Enlightenment The Enlightenment spurred a steady shift from objective to subjective views of beauty. Immanuel Kant said beauty is that which gives us “disinterested pleasure,” sheer delight free from the intellectual activity of understanding. Kant distinguished between the subjective nature of aesthetic judgments and the objective nature of sensory experience. He insisted all appraisals of beauty are “judgments of taste.” And a judgment of taste, he writes, is one “whose determining ground can be no other than subjective.”5 In today’s terms, although Kant would not have put it quite this way, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Kant’s separation of beauty from goodness and truth reverses the views of philosophers, theologians, and artists from the previous two millennia. His aesthetic theories also contradict the Bible’s teachings about beauty.
Beauty in God’s World Nowhere does the Bible even hint, let alone declare, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Nowhere does the Old or New Testament proclaim that beauty is subjective. One place the implicit assumption of beauty’s objectivity becomes explicit is at the outset of Isaiah 28. There, Ephraim’s capital city, Samaria, is described in terms of “the fading flower of its glorious beauty.” Isaiah doesn’t say, “the fading flower that I personally happen to think is really, really beautiful.” He doesn’t say “the fading flower that some of the people who live there describe as beautiful.” Instead, he makes an objective statement: Samaria possesses the quality of “glorious beauty,” albeit beauty fading like that of a flower plucked from a garden and put in a vase. God’s glory is one of God’s characteristics, which is to say that beauty is part of God’s nature. Since truth and goodness also belong to God’s nature, Christians cannot meekly accept cultural misbeliefs about beauty without thereby undermining their efforts to defend the biblical understandings of goodness and truth. When Liberty University graduates go out into the world as painters or writers, musicians or interior designers, they should be able to proclaim with confidence that beauty – like goodness and truth – is not in the eye of the beholder, but is grounded in the nature of God. From reading Aristotle and Aquinas, we learn to see God’s principles of design in ratios like the Golden Mean and Fibonacci series. From reading Plato and Augustine we understand how standards of beauty are anchored in something (or Someone) that lies beyond individual taste and preference. By intentionally incorporating the standards of beauty God has shown us in creation, interior designers and other artists cannot be assured that everyone will like their work. But by coupling an intimate understanding of God’s elements of design with the discipline of rigorous self-review, they can critique their own work and be assured of its grounded, true, and real beauty.
“Peter Kreeft, “Lewis’s Philosophy of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty,” in, C.S. Lewis as Philosopher: Truth, Goodness and Beauty, ed. David Baggett, Gary R. Habermas, and Jerry L. Walls (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2008), p. 23. 1
2 Cited in Frederick Copleston, A History of Western Philosophy: Vol. 1: Greece and Rome (Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1946), p. 254. 3 Cited in Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, II/1, ed. G.W. Bromiley and T.F. Torrance (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1970), p. 656. 4 Thomas Aquinas, Basic Writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, vol. I, ed. Anton C. Pegis (New York: Random House, 1945), p. 46 and elsewhere. 5 Cited in Jeremy Begbie, Voicing Creation’s Praise: Towards a Theology of the Arts (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1991), p. 190.
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Book Reviews Benjamin C. Shaw Student Fellow, Center for Apologetics & Cultural Engagement
Jesus, Skepticism, and the Problem of History is the product of several Evangelical scholars and offers a valuable addition to the historical study of Jesus. The book addresses recent and developing issues in historical methodology for the study of Jesus and early Christianity. Examples of how various methods and criteria should be worked out in practice are provided by a number of examples from the Gospels and Acts. Although there is a brief forward by N.T. Wright, there is no introduction to the book. Rather, the reader is presented with seventeen chapters separated into four parts. Part one addresses the importance of the historical research and its relationship to the church and examines a number of historiographical issues surrounding the life of Jesus. There is also significant discussion on recent Evangelical contributions to academia. Craig Blomberg and Darlene Seal note that the “proliferation of evangelicals in the academy means that there is hardly a discipline… of New Testament, Gospels, or Jesus research in which committed, Bible-believing Christians have not published significant works at the highest levels of scholarship” (53). Part two continues this theme by providing some examples of Evangelical scholarship concerning historical methodology, the Gospels, and the historical Jesus. There are a number of chapters that identify how and why various historical criteria can add probability to an event’s occurrence and provide various test cases (Jesus’ trial [205-221], the burial [269-284], and the resurrection [285-302]). One especially significant chapter emphasizes the growing interest in Johannine studies for historical Jesus research (222-268). Towards the end of part two, there are several useful chapters which advance the present discussion regarding recent trends in historical Jesus studies that engage historical criteria (93-124), the reliability of memory in oral cultures (125-163), and considerations to new perspectives in historical research itself (164-204). Part three moves in a similar direction, but with an emphasis on Acts. Here, social memory is considered in light of distinctions between events and interpretations (305-319). Even more substantial is Craig Keener’s chapter on the historicity of Acts (320-338). The final segment of the book includes a very helpful section in which three authors – Larry Hurtado, Scot McKnight, and Nicholas Perrin – offer their own responses and reflections to the contributors of the preceding chapters. This book serves as a great introduction to the several methodological and historical questions regarding the historical study of the New Testament. It also helps advance the academic discussion on these issues by identifying several important nuances, caveats, and critiques while also offering deeper analysis of Evangelical developments in these fields.
Bock, Darrell L., and J. Ed Komoszewski, eds. Jesus, Skepticism, and the Problem of History: Criteria and Context in the Study of Christian Origins. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2019. $34.99. 389 pp.
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Center for Apologetics & Cultural Engagement Editorial BOard Shawn Akers Mark Allen Joseph Brewer Gabriel B. Etzel Keith Faulkner Mark Foreman Benjamin K. Forrest Chris Gnanakan Edward Hindson Gary Isaacs Linda Mintle Karen Swallow Prior Gary Sibcy Samuel C. Smith
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58
Coming FALL 2020 Vol. 5, no. 1 Faith and the Academy: Engaging Culture with Grace and Truth “Reimagining Leadership in a Secular Age”