Vol. II, Issue 3 | Spring 2009
The Waiting Game: When God Doesnâ€™t Seem to Respond
Imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. -Hebrews 6:12
President K.J. Plank ‘09 Editor-in-Chief Allen Huang ‘10 Designer-in-Chief Joey Klein ‘08 Public Relations Clara Caruthers ‘11 Business Christina Littler ‘10 Cameron Mullen ‘11 Events Coordinator Tara Guarino ‘12 Section Editors Katie Turner ‘09 Nic Reiner ‘10 Rachel Kelley ‘12 Heidi Thorsen ‘12 Staff Writers Jonathan Scrafford ‘09 Samantha McGirr ‘11 Dora Duru ‘12 Production Jessy Klima ‘09 Greg Witmer ‘09 Steven Puente ‘10 Carrie Levy ‘11 Caroline Chen ‘12 Board of Advisors D.G. Elmore Steve Stenstrom Andrea Swaney
Feature Articles The Historical Reliability of the Gospels
16 A Religious Revolution Jonathan Scrafford
18 Two Commentaries on Locke & Scripture Eric Messinger Jose Armando Perez-Gea
CUrrent Topics 12 Discrimination or Doctrine? Chi Alpha and
Homosexuality at Cornell
22 Interview with Craig Blomberg Mary Ho
A Joyous Anticipation Alex Kasner
20 Patience at Work Andrew Lo
Poetry 7 Remedy
11 Song of Songs Sarah Gillette
23 Homesick Alex Martin
Regular Features 4 Our Purpose 5 Letter from the Editor 14 Fruit of the Spirit: Patience Dora Duru
24 Historically Patient Samantha McGirr
25 Get Involved 26 Letter from the President
Our Purpose Vox Clara seeks to provide a platform for believers and nonbelievers at Stanford to engage in dialogue that explores the role of religion in their lives and that inspires a lasting response to the Gospel message. We espouse the importance of addressing issues of faith in the University community. As Jane Stanford’s words on the wall of Memorial Church warn:
all. Through Him we interpret and understand the world in which we live. Vox Clara seeks to express to the Stanford community that religion is not a set of rules that threatens our freedom or creativity, nor is it something we turn to only once a week, but rather is the hope that pervades our entire lives.
There is no narrowing so deadly as the narrowing of man’s horizon of spiritual things. No worse evil could befall him in his course on earth than to lose sight of Heaven. And it is not civilization that can prevent this; it is not civilization that can compensate for it. No widening of science, no possession of abstract truth, can indemnify for an enfeebled hold on the highest and central truths of humanity. ‘What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’
Simply put, we are trying to provide an account of the hope we cherish within us. We wish not to impose our belief but to propose our views to everyone at Stanford who is searching just as we are—searching for purpose, for truth, and for Love. As we seek collectively, we will strive to speak with a clear voice and voyage together, elevating each other’s lives in the process. From different Christian traditions and each with our own experience, we at Vox Clara have come together to explore how faith illuminates life and how life enriches faith. We invite all to join us in this important conversation.
We find spiritual truth in Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, who became man, died, and rose again for the salvation of
A note on our name
In the words of C.S. Lewis speaking on Christianity, “it is at her centre, where her truest children dwell, that each communion is really closest to every other in spirit, if not in doctrine. And this suggests that at the centre of each there is something, or a Someone, who against all divergences of belief, all differences of temperament, all memories of mu-
tual persecution, speaks with the same voice.” We at Vox Clara celebrate this voice of Jesus Christ and believe that His is the true voice. It forms the foundation of our hope and strength. For this reason, we have chosen “Vox Clara,” a Latin phrase meaning “clear voice,” as the name for this organization.
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Letter from the Editor Allen Huang
The word patience comes from the Latin verb meaning to suffer. For many, the question of suffering has been the root of their refusal or inability to accept the supposedly personal and loving God of Christianity and a number of other religions. The question does not consist merely of the intellectual “why?” of philosophers; on its deepest level it is relational. We ask ourselves why there is such suffering in the world, and for us who believe, we ask God. Some who have posed the question to God have ended up denying him. This is probably because suffering is inextricably bound with the problem of evil. Humankind experiences evil and thereby is subject to suffering. Christianity teaches of the essential good of existence and of the goodness of the One who created it. When humans experience evil and suffer, it doesn’t seem like existence is good, and that there’s a Creator who had goodness in mind when he made the world. The evil that results in suffering always orients itself as the deprivation of the good which we should experience. Many different philosophies and religions through the centuries have tried to give answers to the question of evil and suffering, and among them some have attempted to offer ways of salvation, which is liberation from evil and recovery of the good. Vox Clara would like to share Christianity’s answer to suffering. Except our answer is not an idea; it’s a person. This person, Jesus, did not give the world a philosophical treatise on evil and suffering; he gave himself. He offered his life on a cross as both man and God, and thereby made suffering divine. By using suffering as his way to love, he gave suffering redemptive and saving significance. The cause of his suffering was still evil. It was the bad choices of the men who crucified him, and all the bad choices
of humanity before and after. In Christianity we call bad choices sin, and for all our sins Jesus died and rose. But to call the Cross an act of justice does not do it justice; the Cross was a voluntary act of supreme love which overcame the evil of every sin. It is by suffering that humankind experiences evil, but Christ declared that by suffering shall God win the world from evil. And God won for us, on Easter Sunday, when Jesus conquered death. But where does this leave our suffering? We still experience death, and not just death at the end of our lives, once and for all, but death under different aspects every day. We die a little every time we get sick, every time we lose a friend, every time a hope or a dream slips away. But again the Cross offers us the answer. On it the God-man elevated suffering so that it became redeeming, and his suffering created the good of salvation. None of us can add to this, but surely we can share in it. We, by our sufferings, can share in the saving work of Christ. Thus our patience and our endurance transform from passive experience to active work that we can offer to the Father. Even greater, we can offer our suffering for others. By our presence and compassion, we may alleviate the sufferings of others, and so share in the work of God.
The verse on the cover is from Hebrews 6:12: “We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (NIV).
Vox Clara at Stanford P.O. Box 18658 Stanford, CA 94309
Cover Photo: Steven Puente
www.voxstanford.org | email@example.com
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A Joyous Anticipation Alex Kasner The season of Lent has now come to a close, with the joy and vigor of the Easter celebration slowly relaxing into the summer months. Christianity shifts into a gentle lull, expectant for the next major remembrance. For some it becomes a yearly ritual: to check off days on our calendars in anticipation of the next bright red circle of celebration. However, practicing our faith should be a constant observance, not simply confined to a few days. How do we introduce and discover meaning in those periods when the Church calendar seems to quiet down? For a Christian, the times for celebration are always soon to be coming. Months of quiet reflection do not diminish our capacity to understand and rejoice: rather, they enhance our appreciation of Christian holidays when they do come. The Psalmist tells us to, “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD” (Psalm 27:14). We must be patient not because the seasons dictate that we must, but because it makes these sacred moments all the more joyous. Our joy need not be confined to traditional Christian holidays. I found out, in a truly unexpected place, the power of seeing the Christian message in an often unnoticed event. The message came from a 7th grade student that I mentored in Sunday School a few years ago. I had asked the members of my group when they felt closest to God; the shyest of the circle answered in barely above a whisper. I asked once more: “And when do you feel closest to God?” “Every morning, when I see the sun come up outside my window. My mom passed away right at dawn on a Sunday, and I like to think that God paints the sky every morning to remind the world just how beautiful my mom really was.” The responses of most of my group members indicated a larger trend within the modern Christian following: many Christians can only feel truly in tune with their faith within traditional holy places or holy times. Faithful members flock to churches across the nation on Easter and Christmas, hoping to feel something important and different on these special
Alex Kasner is a freshman from Northern California, planning on majoring in Political Science. He especially enjoys performing and writing music for saxophone and piano. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
occasions. While these days are wonderful times of reinvigorating the community, they can often be misinterpreted as the only hope for a personal religious experience. When these connections fail to happen, Christians walk out dissatisfied and feeling that the Christian calendar has ceased to serve a function. A recent issue of Newsweek Magazine confirmed this trend of discontent: “the percentage of self-identified Christians has fallen 10 percentage points since 1990,” as more followers name themselves “spiritual” followers instead of “religious.” While followers do not turn from the Divine completely, some traditions of Christianity seem inaccessible. A shift is required in our perception of what it means to live as a “patient Christian,” by replacing a historically passive notion with a more active contemplation. The great religious writer Abraham Joshua Heschel once observed of time, “There are no two hours alike. Every hour is unique and the only one given at the moment, exclusive and endlessly precious.” The virtue of patience may help us to maintain and sustain our faith, but it alone does not inspire. The beginning of a new Christian experience requires that each day is not simply treated as another square on a calendar, quick to be forgotten. Rather, each moment must be seen as a beginning of a new possibility of our own religious revelations to augment our Christian traditions. How do we then reconcile these highly personal experiences with the very large and overarching aspects of Christianity? In particular, the Christian path offers us two ways in which we can reinvigorate this part of our lives. First, we must remember that our community, stretching across the globe and through all walks of life, provides us a variety of perspectives. Our pastors and priests are not simply great orators; they are great teachers and mentors. The neighbors down the hall of a college dormitory, or across the street from your house, are other wonderful possibilities for new views on our faith. The famous writer C.S. Lewis was converted not simply by contemplating tradition on his own, but through his devout friend, J.R.R. Tolkein. Another new voice causes us to evaluate our own preconceptions and reinvigorate our traditions. The second great possibility that Christianity offers to us is a return to our conception of “active patience.” Our faith may not reveal itself completely to us immediately, but pursuing good works or stepping out into the world may offer us that one glimpse that we need to power our beliefs. I would never have heard God speaking through a 7th-grader if I had never stretched myself and signed up to lead a section in Sunday School. One of my friends at Stanford found his faith in the jungles of South America, another, through meditation and reflection. For each person, that feeling of revelation will
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be different: awe, peace, understanding, joy, relief. The world was created so that we may live in it; we only grow when we allow ourselves to experience all that is out there. Pushing our boundaries of self-awareness and identity as Christians creates more opportunities for our eyes to be opened to the sacred nuances of the world. Performing works of charity or acts of contemplation in a
new environment are but only a few of a range of possibilities, but they are nonetheless beautiful examples of “active patience” in practice. With our new sense of membership and inspiration in hand, we will be able to return to those religious holidays and spiritual seasons not in search of our faith, but as parishioners willing to testify and celebrate our experiences.
Once I tried to kill myself, you say, your eyes ceramic in the darkness of the cabin, the black and damp inside of a dog’s mouth. Outside, hikers bury the sun under the packed forest earth, its last licks of light slipping past the silver shovel blades as they scatter dirt over its head. Inside, the air stands still in the shadows, hanging in wet beads. I don’t say anything. My hands twist around the edge of the table – the grain jumps forward along the wood in little spurts, away from my burrowing fingernails. I want to say: a bird’s wing, a hymnal, the trunk of a tree, But all I can think is that some days I can’t remember how to spell my own name, or the word for sky, or the way my mother’s hands looked when I was a child. All I can think to say is that even if love is the needle sewing up all the wounds it’s still a needle, and in the muggy twilight of the cabin, my hands are shaky and your skin looks soft as paper. Photo: Jessy Klima
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The Historical Reliability of the Gospels Charlie Capps
The Bible reigns as the most widely printed book in the history of the world. In particular, the four Gospels stand out as written testimony whose message has changed the lives of literally billions of people. The evangelists leave no middle ground: the Gospels clearly portray Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and acceptance of the truth of their testimony necessarily entails an acceptance of the truth of Christianity in some form. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that no other written documents have been subject to such careful critical scrutiny as the Gospels have undergone especially in the past two hundred years. This article will present a brief outline of the evidence in favor of the historical reliability of the four canonical Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). It is important from the outset to clarify what is not the province of this article: it is not concerned with the questions of Biblical inspiration, infallibility or inerrancy. Instead, this article focuses on the reliability in a broad sense of the four canonical Gospels as historical documents.
The Integrity of the Text The first step in establishing the historical reliability of the Gospels is to confirm the integrity of the modern Gospel texts (i.e., that the versions of the Gospels we possess today are for the most part identical to the originals). Virtually all scholars agree that we do indeed possess integral texts; modern translations of the New Testament are constructed from over 4,000 ancient manuscripts dating back to c. 200 AD, a quantity of textual support unmatched throughout the entire corpus of classical-era literature. Moreover, before 200 AD, scholars can trace the Gospel text in the more than 10,000 quotations from and references to the New Testament in the writings of early Christians such as Irenaeus and Tatian. The consistency between the manuscript base dating back to 200 AD and the fragments of the Gospel text imbedded in early Christian writings implies that the Gospels have not fundamentally changed since c. 150 AD. Elemental corruptions require time to creep into a text, certainly more
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time than fifty to one hundred years. The most conservative estimates date the publication of the Gospels between 50 and 70 AD. The fact that we possess the same versions that were in circulation less than a century later, combined with the rapid diffusion of the Gospels (the more widespread a document, the less susceptible it becomes to corruption), proves the integrity of our modern Greek texts beyond reasonable doubt. Mass Deception? If the Gospels as we know them were written between 50 and 150 AD, the question becomes, “How did these documents come to be?” Christians, of course, argue that they represent accurate accounts of real historical events. But can skeptics offer a plausible alternative hypothesis? Well, they have certainly tried. One proposed alternative to the idea that they contain actual history is the “mass deception theory,” first formally outlined by Hermann Reimarus in 1814 in his book, Apology for Rational Worshippers of God. Endlessly repackaged but always essentially the same, the story goes as
follows: Jesus and His disciples plotted to cast the yoke of Rome from Judea. Roman officials found out, arrested Jesus and crucified Him. Still intent on power, His disciples shifted tactics and instigated a great fraud, touting Jesus as a divine redeemer and a preacher of peace. To deceive others into following them, the disciples fabricated the stories that form the basis of the Gospels (whether the original conspirators or those they duped actually penned the documents is irrelevant). The historical evidence supports one facet of Reimarus’ theory: most alleged messiahs of the time did claim to be political liberators who would free the Jews from Rome. The rest of the theory crumbles under examination, however. Several characteristics about how the Gospels tell their story make them unlike what we would expect from a story designed to deceive. Perhaps most notable is how they relate the resurrection narrative: in all four Gospels, the primary witnesses to the resurrection are women. In a time when testimony in
event convert to Christianity. Second, and most compelling of all, the actions of Jesus’ original disciples never led to the power Reimarus claimed was their motivation— or to anywhere remotely in that direction. Quite to the contrary, at least two and most likely eleven of the Apostles, as well as Paul, died as martyrs. No one would die for a lie. Mythology? The sensationalist documentary Zeitgeist, the Movie (2007) reignited speculation that the Gospels represent “just another myth,” where Jesus is comparable to figures such as Hercules or even various Egyptian gods. Although some proponents of this claim, such as the creator of Zeitgeist, maintain that the mythological character of Christ was deliberately fashioned in the mold of ancient heroes by His power-hungry disciples in order to fool others into following them— and so are susceptible to the arguments against other “mass deception” theorists presented in the previous section— all “mythological”
while advocating for the mythological theory that it required all four Gospels to be dated well into the second century AD at the earliest; F. C. Baur suggested they were penned between 130 and 170. However valid these critics’ arguments might have been given their premises, recent archaeological evidence has ruled out the possibility of such late datings. Scholars agree that the Gospel of John was written last, and yet the Rylands papyrus collection contains four verses of John dating to c. 130 AD— which shifts the range of possible dates in which the Gospels could have been written before the earliest times allowed by mythological theorists such as Strauss and Baur. On the whole, the differences between Jesus and traditional mythological figures outweigh whatever similarities actually exist: after all, Jesus was a humble preacher of peace whom his enemies caught and executed in the most humiliating manner— hardly reflective of the mighty warriors and powerful political leaders that populate
History can never yield definitive truths; it can only provide probabilistic answers. Validation of Christianity demands a philosophical and personal investigation into the worldview proclaimed by the Christ of the Gospels a court of law would be rendered invalid if given by a woman, it would make little sense for a fraud to construct his story such that its most important and most controversial element was backed by female testimony. Even more powerful is the external evidence against the mass deception theory. First of all, Christianity spread rapidly throughout Judea after Jesus’ crucifixion. Thousands of Jews who witnessed Jesus’ life and ministry first-hand became converts (cf. Pliny the Younger: Letters and Quadratus: Apology to Hadrian). If the Gospel stories represented nothing more than lies, the countless eye-witnesses in Judea would instantly brand the disciples as frauds. They would in no
theorists need not adopt this line. Some claim that, just as historical figures and events probably provided the origin of Greek legends or stories about the Buddha, historical figures and events might underlie the Gospel stories, but as in the case of Greek myths or the Buddha, the truth gradually became buried beneath layers of exaggeration and embellishment, yielding ultimately the Gospel tales we possess today. The problem is that myths take long periods of time to develop (the Greek legends, for instance, developed over a span of centuries), which is why the original developers of the mythological theory pinned their case on a late dating of the Gospels. David Strauss, for example, writing in 1835, admitted
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most ancient legends. A Little of Both? Both the mass deception theory and the mythological theory are rare in scholarly circles today, at least in their undiluted forms. The more sophisticated skeptics tend to proffer a theory that mixes in a little of both. Jesus’ striking personality and powerful message, it is argued, deeply impressed His followers, who genuinely believed His teachings. After His death, they began to idealize Him, and in their zeal to make converts, they stretched the facts about His life in their preaching. Their converts in turn tended to stretch the information they had received from Jesus’ original disciples in their own preaching. Jesus’
image gradually evolved from a human moral teacher to a divine miracleworker. Such a theory simultaneously escapes both the weakness of the mass deception theory by permitting the original evangelists to be sincere in their motivation and the weakness of the mythological theory by allowing for a chain of willful exaggerations on the part of early Christian apologists. However, its proponents must make several critical assumptions. One is that the evangelists must be neither Apostles nor close disciples of Jesus or the Apostles, which disqualifies each of the traditional evangelists: Matthew (an Apostle), Mark (a disciple of Peter), Luke (a disciple of Paul), and John (an Apostle). The evolutionary theory rests upon the power of rumor, and the power of a rumor varies in proportion to how many intermediaries lie between the initiator and the ultimate recipient. An idealization as significant as human teacher to divine miracle-worker demands many more intermediaries than would exist had the traditional evangelists written the Gospels. A full discussion of the complex issue of authorship is outside the scope of this article, but it is important to note that the burden of proof lies with those who would challenge traditional authorshipâ€” especially when early writers unanimously support it (e.g., Papias: Explanation of the Lordâ€™s Sayings, c. 135 AD; Irenaeus: Adversus Haereses, c. 190 AD). The most common argument against traditional authorship of the Gospels is based on the fact that advocates of a particular Gospel might bolster its credibility by attributing it to an Apostle. Such motives account for the identification of the apocryphal
gospels, such as the Gospel of Thomas, with counterfeit authors. However, even if applicable to the Gospels of Matthew and John, Mark and Luke would represent unusual choices for counterfeit authors, particularly the Gentile Luke. In addition, most of the apocryphal gospels were swiftly exposed as such, while the four canonical Gospels won the consistent support of the early Church (cf. Origen: Homilies on Luke). Conclusion Despite many attempts by skeptics to advance alternative theories, the simple thesis that they relate accurate history remains the best explanation for the existence of the four canonical Gospels. As stated initially, the implications of this conclusion are enormous. It would perhaps be overly rash, however, to immediately conclude that Christianity has been proven to be true. The famous philosopher G. E. Lessing once noted that history can never yield definitive truths; it can only provide probabilistic answers. Validation of Christianity demands a philosophical and personal investigation into the worldview proclaimed by the Christ of the Gospels, a world-view embracing the supernatural as well as the natural, and above all a world-view based upon the power of love. At least history, however, independent of philosophy or science, supports Christianity. At least the testimony of history echoes the Good News of the evangelist: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16).
Charlie Capps is a junior from St. Louis majoring in economics. In his spare time he likes to write music and play ultimate frisbee. Contact him at email@example.com.
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Works Consulted: Blomberg, Craig. The Historical Reliability of the Gospels. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1987. Bultmann, Rudolf. History of the Synoptic Tradition. Trans. John Marsh. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1963. ---. Jesus Christ and Mythology. London: SCM, 1958. Butler, B. C. Searchings. Ed. Valentine Rice. London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1974. Carroll, Warren H. The Founding of Christendom: A History of Christendom Vol. 1. Front Royal: Christendom Press, 1985. Jurgens, William A., comp. and trans. The Faith of the Early Fathers: Volume 1. Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1970. Most, William G. Catholic Apologetics Today: Answers to Modern Critics. Rockford: TAN, 1986. Robinson, John. Redating the New Testament. London: Xpress Reprints, 1993. Streeter, Burnett Hillman. The Four Gospels: A Study of Origins. London: Macmillan, 1961. Tresmontant, Claude. The Gospel of Matthew: Original Reconstructed Translation and Notes. Trans. K. D. Whitehead. Front Royal: Christendom Press, 1996. Vaganay, Leo. An Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament. Trans. Rev. B. V. Miller, D.D. London: Sands and Company, 1937.
song of songs i can’t explain my silence. You say it all with Grace and Wisdom, and i have nothing significant left. You spoke me, my very words - You speak me. that is why, up to a point, words can’t describe Everything. the plunging of one heart into another, deeper deeper they pulse together. the rhythm of Your voice resonates in my own throat. i am dust, but You see me sprouting from roots, buried beneath the wet soil, pushing from the damp darkness into the brightness, a lily. before that painful, yet, beautiful birth, You moved atoms, fibers, and matter together in that secret place, and you made Light, filled that space with Light and Life. i read about it. i read your letter and i know that i will long for You, always. but i have questions that get in the way: how committed are You? when i search, high and low, and earnestly, will i find You? how can You see me, dust, become precious flesh? when i believe i am the thorns, You call me a lily. i need to know that You want me, forever, until the lilac and gold sitting just over the horizon deepen, an azure, and darken, a noir, a blanket over head, and the last star glimmers for a moment before the universe is as it was, nothing. that is a long time – Eternity. but that is how i plan on spending it, beneath You, my Apple Tree. Photo: Jessy Klima
Doctrine or Discrimination?
Chi Alpha and the Homosexuality Controversy at Cornell Clare Kasemset
Vox Clara encourages engagement with current topics. This is one Stanford student’s response to a recent issue at an Ivy League school. The opinions stated herein do not necessarily represent the views of Vox Clara and our staff. Last August, Cornell’s Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship asked a homosexual student, Chris Donohoe, to step down from its leadership team after Donohoe decided to live an openly gay life. The decision did not come as a surprise to Donohoe, who had spoken with the pastors about his homosexuality long before he decided to embrace it. But several months later, in April, Donohoe began to protest Chi Alpha’s decision publicly in the greater Cornell community. Chi Alpha quickly came under fire for discriminating against students on the basis of sexual orientation. Many members of the university’s administration decried the decision for contradicting Cornell’s nondiscrimination policy. Cornell’s Student Assembly Finance Commission temporarily suspended Chi Alpha’s funding from the university and launched an investigation into the matter. Students, too, expressed their sentiments; supporters of Donohoe organized a silent vigil just outside a Chi Alpha meeting. But on April 29th, the university finally ruled that Chi Alpha had not violated any university regulations. The decision is sure to disappoint many people both inside and outside Cornell’s campus. Is their disappointment justified? As a member of Stanford’s Chi Alpha
chapter, and as someone who has experienced same-sex attraction personally, I still feel uncertainty over whether homosexuality is displeasing to God. I know that I am not alone among Christians in wishing that God would either affirm homosexual relationships, or at least help people like me understand why he does not. Moreover, although I consider homosexual acts sinful, I recognize that many Christians like Donohoe have reasonable grounds for believing that they are not. Nevertheless, I believe that Chi Alpha at Cornell could not have acted with integrity by making any other decision. I also question Donohoe’s rationale for bringing his
when Herman knew that Donohoe was developing a relationship with another man, Donohoe was allowed to stay on the leadership team. Only when Donohoe began to embrace his homosexual lifestyle did Chi Alpha ask him to step down. In the heated rhetoric surrounding the situation, people may have confused homosexual tendencies with homosexual acts. It is the homosexual acts that Chi Alpha considers to be a sin. Are Chi Alpha student leaders expected to be sinless? That would be absurd. But student leaders, as role models for other students, should be living lives that are pleasing to God according to Chi Alpha’s stated beliefs. Thus, it would be just as absurd to have a student leader in Chi Alpha publicly and actively embrace a lifestyle that contradicts what Chi Alpha believes to be sinful. People who support Chi Alpha ministries financially expect that their
It would be dishonest to put people in leadership positions who disagree with Chi Alpha’s vision complaint against Chi Alpha to the school authorities. Did Chi Alpha’s pastors, Matt and Tracy Herman, discriminate unfairly by asking Donohoe to resign from leadership? If they had asked him to resign because he had homosexual tendencies, perhaps they could be accused of discriminatory behavior. However, Matt Herman had been aware of Donohoe’s struggle with his sexuality long before last August. Even
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money will go towards promoting the values espoused by the Assemblies of God—the denomination that sponsors Chi Alpha ministries internationally. It would be dishonest of Cornell’s Chi Alpha chapter to put people in leadership positions who publicly disagree with Chi Alpha’s stated vision of sexual purity, and even attempt to persuade others against it. We never call it discrimination when an employee is asked to leave because he or she
cannot fulfill the job description as designated by the employers—so why is Donohoe’s situation different? Of course it’s different, some might say. Just as the Assemblies of God funds Chi Alpha as a religious organization, Cornell funds Chi Alpha as a student organization, and the university requires that student organizations not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. But remember, Donohoe was only asked to resign from leadership when he began to pursue the homosexual lifestyle actively—not when he made the Hermans aware of his sexual orientation. According to Donohoe, the Hermans would have made the same decision if he had been a heterosexual male who engaged in premarital sex or drank alcohol heavily (2). Would that decision have been discriminatory? If Cornell has agreed to fund Chi Alpha despite its being a religious organization, it cannot expect Chi Alpha to act in contradiction to its own doctrinal convictions, which presumably have not changed on the point of homosexuality since the ministry began at Cornell. Donohoe claims that he brought the issue to school authorities in order to educate, not to punish. According to Donohoe, “Chi Alpha is basically saying that my sexuality — along with the sexualities of every other LGBT community member — is not legitimate in the eyes of God. Chi Alpha must recognize that this belief is hurtful and
discriminatory” (2). If Donohoe has this conviction, he should by all means engage in dialogue with members of Chi Alpha, as he has done. But what does bringing the issue to the greater Cornell community accomplish? “I believe you should be held responsible and accountable to your beliefs so that Chi Alpha is answering to everyone to the community,” Donohoe has said (2). But it sounds more like Donohoe is trying to make Chi Alpha answerable to beliefs it does not hold. Members of the Assemblies of God have written long defenses of their theological beliefs regarding homosexuality, and outsiders’ attacks on the character of Chi Alpha members will do nothing to refute those arguments. Or, if the controversy is really a “public policy battle” to require all student organizations to allow LGBT students in leadership (1), we should worry about the fate of all religious groups that, through an honest understanding of the tenets of their faith, cannot do so in good conscience. Are such groups illegitimate? Should they not only have their funding cut off, but be banned from meeting on campus? In answering those questions, we would do well to remember that this nation was founded by religious dissenters whose beliefs were considered heretical by the countries they left. Regardless of how people today feel about the specific issue of
homosexuality, we should all be wary when our universities begin to threaten the diversity of religious faiths on their campuses. In our zeal to protect certain groups from oppression, let us not suppress others. Works Consulted: http://cornellsun.com/section/news/content/2009/04/27/ vigil-protests-actions-chi-alpha-demands-greater-lgbtrights http://cornellsun.com/section/news/content/2009/04/23/ alleged-homophobia-causes-outcry http://cornellsun.com/section/news/content/2009/04/24/ chi-alpha-funds-halted http://cornellsun.com/section/opinion/ content/2009/04/29/explaining-complex-relationship
Want to share your own opinion? Like to hear the thoughts of other Stanford students? Discuss this article and any other topics on our online forum:
Clare Kasemset is a senior majoring in Computer Science. She appreciates foods that contain cheese (except cheesecake), stories with happy endings, and the blessing of friendships. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Forum of Christian Thought at Stanford
What are the “fruits of the Spirit?” But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25 The characteristics listed in Paul’s letter to the Galatians as “fruits of the Spirit” are, interestingly, characteristics that almost all humans desire. Inevitably, however, the reality of our humanness keeps us from perfectly reflecting these
Constructing the Heavenly Journey: Patience is a virtue. Many Christians have come to use this term as a common expression in their households, but what does this phrase mean? Why is patience so important for Christians? Not only are Christians called to be patient in their relationships on earth, but they are also called to be patient as they wait to enter God’s kingdom. Patience enables them to take command of their circumstances, rather than let their circumstances control them. By following the examples of those who exhibited patience, Christians can learn how to approach their humble journeys toward God. The Bible is suffused with the topic of patience. Christians are constantly reminded to invoke patience in difficult circumstances, especially in times of spiritual weakness. The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus, “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph.4:1-3). These words were meant as a call to action – to change the way Christian lives were being led. Every person is called to be slow to anger and slow to judge—qualities that mark God’s character. Since God created humans in His image, it only makes sense for all people to strive to be patient as well. The parable of Job in the Old Testament confronts the issue of patience in the face of suffering. Job was considered to be a blameless man, but one day everything was taken away from him. He lost his family, his material possessions, and virtually all of his blessings. Though his friends told him that he must have done something wrong, Job held
characteristics all the time. The key difference in someone aspiring for these attributes and a follower of Christ is the latter’s realization that it can’t be done on his or her own. Christ, embodied as the Holy Spirit in an individual, is the agent of change. In the end, as the Spirit works to transform a Christian’s desires and attitudes, these attributes are not something Christians decide to do but become a part of who they are. Anyone can display these characteristics; the distinction for the Christian is that these attributes represent a natural outpouring of the transformed heart.
on to his faith in the Lord. He began challenging God’s authority to some extent because he did not understand God’s will, but later admitted his inability to understand. God rebuked Job’s critics, rewarding Job for being blameless. Since Job never fully gave up on God, he was rewarded in the end. It took strength and conviction for Job to wait for God to essentially turn things around for him. The Book of Job teaches Christians to have patience in suffering and to not rebuke God. Christians may not always understand why God does some of the things He does, but they are asked to trust in Him. When thinking about the parable of Job, Paul’s words come to mind: “Patience breeds hope” (Romans 5:4). If human beings do not know how to suffer, then they will not know how to have hope either. By enduring adversity with patience, all people are given the hope for a better future. Paul exemplified patience on a grand scale. Before his name was changed from Saul to Paul, he was notorious for persecuting early Christians. There are accounts of him literally dragging Christians across the streets from their homes. However, he underwent an immense conversion when he was struck blind and given a vision on the road to Damascus. After that experience, Paul knew that his mission was to bring the message of Christianity to the Gentiles. Despite all those who were critical of him, he dedicated his entire life to Jesus, exhibiting patience and valor in his work. Paul was a tirePhoto: Jessy Klima less missionary, trying to make up for all the wrong he had done. In Jerusalem, he was tortured and imprisoned for trying to spread the word of God. He was also kept under house arrest for two years and later beheaded in Rome. Paul must have possessed a vast amount of patience
They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength
It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning Psalm 5:3 I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.
I Timothy 1:16 I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Love | Joy | Peace | Patience | Kindness | Goodness | Faithfulness | Gentleness | Self-control Photo: Steven Puente
to have been able to endure all of these attacks against him and his faith. His writings have become some of the most influential on Christianity to this day. Perhaps the greatest example of patience is found in Jesus Christ. Jesus had to exhibit a tremendous amount of patience when he was being beaten and tortured by His killers. He endured the criticisms of many who claimed that he was not the Son of God and did not believe Him even after he performed miracles. Despite all of the animosity He confronted, Jesus completed His mission on Earth, fulfilling Godâ€™s command. Though He witnessed all the evil in the world, Jesus did not let that destroy His hope for a better one. He recognized that He was the hope of the world and that He needed to be patient for everyone else. Through Jesus, Christians can find the patience in themselves to walk in the faith of the Lord. Jesus made the day of salvation possible through his patience in dealing with the brokenness of humankind.
Based on these examples, the modern Christian can understand why patience has played a fundamental role in the lives of important Christian figures. Patience is an act of self-sacrifice and is a testament of faith and belief in Godâ€™s promise to humanity. When people get married, they make a promise to stay with one another until death, a gesture of patience motivated by love. In the family structure, patience is necessary to preserve order and maintain the bonds of love between persons. Patience has not lost its intrinsic value in everyday life. In this era of constant connectedness through social networking, it is often difficult to maintain patience in daily interactions. Everything seems motivated by the goal to achieve instant gratification or fulfillment. However, it is important not to lose sight of the promise God delivers to those who are patient. Patience is not just about how to deal with suffering, but about self-giving, and Christians are called to remember how patience brings them closer to God and to their heavenly family.
A Religious Revolution Jonathan Scrafford
On April 15 and 16, 2009, Professor Roberto Unger of Harvard delivered the Spring 2009 Tanner Lectures on “Human Values: The Future of Religion and the Religion of the Future.” This article is a response to those lectures. “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Legendary Yankees catcher Yogi Berra included this now-famous quote while giving directions to his New Jersey home, for which there were two equally effective routes. Of course, a “fork in the road” typically refers to a dilemma in which someone must make a choice and follow only one path to a goal. Today humanity has reached a fork in the road with regard to religious consciousness, argues Brazilian social theorist Roberto Unger. In a pair of Tanner Lectures hosted at Stanford and entitled “The Future of Religion” and “The Religion of the Future,” Unger proposed that the global community must embark on a revolution of religious consciousness which can occur along a sacred or a secular path, and he outlined a potential program according to the latter. His model for the secular revolution, while masked with some characteristics of theological belief systems, basically consisted of a politically restructured form of democracy coupled with an economically revised approach to capitalism. In the following discourse, his premise of the need for a religious revolution is accepted, and a model for a sacred path to a new religious consciousness – guided by the same principles underlying Unger’s secular program – is proposed. While Unger has pointed out valid reasons for a religious revolution and offered a secular program guided by worthy principles, a sacred
program for such a revolution could fulfill the same principles and perhaps prove to be a superior solution to our current fork in the road. The Overthrow Roberto Unger describes the first step in the secular revolution of religious consciousness as an overthrowing of oneself to become free of the fear of mortality. He describes the overthrow not as a rejection of our mortality, but as a coming to grips with it. In his secular revolutionary model, Unger proposes that we must overthrow our tendency to view death as something to be feared, and instead embrace it as a reality and a call to action in this life. Whereas the proposed secular overthrow entails a realization that there is no God to take care of an individual’s life and after-life ; thus we must shed our fears and take responsibility for ourselves, consider a sacred overthrow. Under the recognition that there is a God whose providence guides human history, we may likewise shed our fear of mortality by virtue of our hope in a God who cares for us. In particular, a sacred path would lead one to the realization that death is not the end: the Christian should recall 1 Corinthians 15:55: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” With this in mind, as well as a fundamental understanding that death is a gateway to eternal life, the
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overthrow along the sacred path follows necessarily. Hope in a loving God as well as an understanding of death as a new beginning make the sacred path to Unger’s religious revolution a reasonable alternative to his proposed secular path. The Transformation The second step in Roberto Unger’s secular program for religious revolution is a transformation of the institutional structure of society. He considers the transformation a process of removing three essential evils from the social infrastructure: class structures, restriction of solidarity to the family, and institutions that make change depend on crisis. While his secular path for the religious revolution entailed a model for a robust form of democracy to alleviate the first and third and a modified system of capitalism to address the second, a sacred path could also aid in removing these three social evils, specifically through the Christian notions of catholicity, unity, and love of God. First, as the Nicene Creed emphasizes, the Christian Church must be catholic, or universal. The Second Vatican Council’s Lumen Gentium explains: “There are many nations but there is one people of God, which takes its citizens from every race, making them citizens of a kingdom which is of a heavenly rather than of an earthly nature” (LG 13§2; also see John 11:52). A society of an earthly nature naturally leads to inequality – with or without Unger’s new model of democracy – as a result of the tendency towards competition and domination observed in the natural world. In the sacred path, however, one would look beyond the national, financial, and
social distinctions among us and view everyone as equal citizens of a Heavenly kingdom. Second, a Christian views humanity not only as a society, but also as a family. That is, whereas Unger’s new capitalism extended the meaning of service transfers so as to emphasize solidarity beyond the family, Christianity extends the meaning of family itself so as to emphasize an even deeper social solidarity: “for as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another” (Romans 12:4-5). Additionally, Christians should reinforce the view of humanity as a family of brothers and sisters in Christ. Of course, this view can only come along the sacred path, since it draws necessarily from the observation that we all share a common Father: God.
means pursuing the good not out of fear of Hell but rather out of love for God. Our progression must always be self-propelled upwards, not merely in response to a pressure from below. The Self-Transformation Unger’s final step is a secular transformation of self to which each individual must commit to a process of moral ascent. He proposes that this transformation involves the fostering of virtues of connection (by which we reckon with other people), virtues of purification (by which we empty ourselves out), and virtues of divinization (by which we become more godlike). In this regard, Unger offers many laudable virtues to foster, such as fairness, simplicity, and openness to others. In the sacred path, this process entails growth in cardinal and theological virtues. Christians
A Religious Revolution The purpose of this discourse has not been to discredit Roberto Unger’s proposal, but to take his observation that a revival of humanity’s religious consciousness can take place along a sacred or a secular path, and to explore the former to the extent that he has proposed the latter. Unger is correct in noting that humanity must shed itself of the fear of mortality; that it must transform society to one of unity, solidarity, and constant progression; and that each individual must necessarily transform himself with respect to certain virtues. However, he is perhaps incorrect in arguing that the secular path to a religious revolution is the best, the easiest, or the most direct. Christianity already contains the elements necessary for Unger’s revolution along the sacred path. We must constantly renew within ourselves and throughout society an
In the sacred path, one would look beyond the distinctions among us and view everyone as equal citizens of a Heavenly kingdom. Thirdly, the sacred path to a new religious consciousness can also dispel the dependence of change on crisis. What Unger refers to here is the problematic tendency of institutions to change only out of necessity or in response to a disaster, rather than to remain perpetually progressive. In the sacred path of the religious revolution, this problem could be likened to the tendency towards spiritual complacency and stagnation, in which a Christian engages in spiritual activity only in response to a personal problem, dilemma, or impending crisis. Unger is right that a society cannot flourish on institutions that only progress as a selfdefense mechanism. For Christians, this
must constantly seek to reckon with others through charity, purify themselves through temperance and fortitude, and seek the divine by faith and hope. With regard to this final step of the revolution, Roberto Unger makes a thoughtful insight, noting that “it is easier to change a nation than to change a person.” This last step is at once the most crucial and the most difficult, yet Christians must constantly recall that before transforming society we must transform ourselves: “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye?” (Matthew 7:4).
understanding of death as a gateway to life (an overthrow), a view of society as a catholic family (a transformation), and a perpetual drive to grow in the cardinal and theological virtues (a selftransformation). We are currently at a fork in the road, and Unger has made clear to us that there are two paths: a secular path through which we may gain a new religious consciousness through a proposed new economic and political model, or a sacred path by which we may transform self and society for neither self nor society, but rather for love of God. Now that we’ve come to the fork in the road, let’s take it.
Jonathan Scrafford is a senior from E than Kung is a Bioengineering graduate Wichita, Kansas, studying Biological Scistudent. is often doing uselessgetthings like ences andHeSpanish. He will married climbing onto rooftops or catching wildlife. to Diane Santos in June and will enter medical school next fall. Contact him at email@example.com. Forum of Christian Thought at Stanford
Two Commentaries on Locke God in the Text: Locke and Language Eric Messinger John Locke’s legacy is immense, from his philosophical contributions to his famous influence on political theory and the development of the American constitution. As a result, like many historical figures, Locke can seem distant or unreachable. Yet studying in England, in the same university Locke himself attended, I came to realize that what lay at the heart of almost all of Locke’s concerns was an unshakeable belief in God, and Locke’s particular conception of how to relate to his creator. Locke saw in the Bible a means, and perhaps the best means, of coming to know the divine. His faith was mostly a textual one, and his devotions works of scholarship. His greater thought in many ways stems from a desire to protect a person’s ability to pursue a relationship with God upon their own terms, and he lived out his life in pursuit of that aim. Assessing Locke’s conception of Scripture and the role it played in his beliefs, concerns, and methodologyallows for a fuller appreciation of the contours of Locke’s thought as they extend throughout his works. Locke viewed Scripture to be perfectly true and entirely divine in origin. He
Eric Messinger is a junior majoring in comparative literature. He’s interested in journalism and is heading towards that or graduate school, depending on which seems less foolish in a year. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. 18
clearly, consistently, and with dogged repetition referred to his total trust in the Scripture: “The Holy Scripture is to me, and always will be, the constant guide of my assent”; “I read the revelation of the holy scripture with a full assurance that all it delivers is true”; “I know no other infallible guide but the Spirit of God in the Scriptures” (Ashcraft 223). This is, for Locke, not something that the deemed worthy of argument. Locke never brings to bear his considerable powers of criticism and skepticism upon the idea either of the existence of God or of any fundamental errors in what he views as the crucial texts of Christian scripture: the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. Ashcraft notes that for Locke the question of the existence of God is, essentially, axiomatic, and he relates also that Locke states “nothing is of absolute necessity but God” (Ashcraft 204). On the matter of his received Word, the Scriptures, “Locke showed no sign of doubting the accuracy of the scriptural writers,” with the exception of Paul’s Epistles, and moreover “he never gave a satisfactory explanation why the Scriptures could be relied on in this way” (Wainwright 30). Locke conceived of God and Scripture with a similar attitude of presupposed and insurmountable belief. Proceeding from this conception of infallibility, Locke understandably elevated the role of the Scriptures in his moral thinking. Locke believed the Scriptures to be the source of all genuine morality. Locke writes that: The study of Morality I have above mentioned as that, that becomes a Gentlemen, not barely as a Man, but in order to his business as a Gentleman. Of this, there are Books enough writ both by Ancient
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and Modern Philosophers; But the Morality of the Gospel doth so exceed them all, that to give a Man a full knowledge of true Morality, I should send him to no other Book, but the New Testament (Education 321). Locke’s conceptions of how to develop an appreciation for, and facility with, the Bible demonstrate his firm conviction in its value, his attentiveness to its complex interpretive demands, and also a belief that the capacity for faith must be stewarded carefully. This last concern appears again later when he hopes that “Spirits”, in a metaphysical sense and including God and his divine order, not be studied “as a Science that can be methodized into a System, and treated of upon Principles of Knowledge; but as an enlargement of our Minds towards a truer and fuller comprehension of the intellectual World, to which we are led both by Reason and Revelation” (Education 245). The role of the Bible in his Education serves to demonstrate both the care towards and conviction in Scripture that Locke holds to be an invaluable guide. The concern towards Scriptural problems that he remains alive to — and that his discussions of language actually expand — do not in the slightest diminish his conception of the Scriptures’ value. Instead of hindering his intellectual pursuits, Locke’sunwavering belief was integral even to advancing arguments that could have undermined this belief. For Locke could feel a total freedom in advancing the kind of argument contained within his “Essay concerning Human Understanding” without fear that its comprehensive assault on concepts of cherished theological belief (such as innate ideas), or his hermeneutics of language, would be of the slightest
damage. Ashcraft notes that “Locke denies the possibility that knowledge of whatever nature can disturb one’s faith… it is understandable that he could insist that not one word of the ‘Essay concerning Human Understanding’ was the least damaging to Christianity” (Ashcraft 216). Locke’s unshakeable faith appears to have allowed him to advance the often-radical and often skeptical analytical tools and argumentative conclusions that made him a thinker of enduring value, and which prompted from him the fruitful methodological responses in which he could be confident. Noting the primacy of Scripture to Locke’s concern therefore not only can elucidate his individual arguments, and, as Moore proposes, show that “the more we explore such connections the closer we shall perhaps come to perceiving a new unity within Locke’s thought” (Moore 714). It can even begin to tell us why Locke was able to achieve the diversity and quality of work that still captures our interest today.
The Lockean Proviso Jose Armando Perez-Gea The first instance in the Bible of communication between God and humankind is in Genesis 1:28. God creates humankind; and then turns to our ancestors and speaks to them for the very first time. God’s words then were meant to mark our principal function here in Earth. Notice that I say function, not purpose; the purpose is the reason for our creation, while the function is the group of expected activities that we should partake in. “God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon
the earth.’” This can be summarized by saying that humans should subdue the earth and have dominion over the animals; in other words, we should be stewards of God’s creation This responsibility is given in common to humankind; which raises the problem of how should an individual human take responsibility of God’s creation. John Locke’s political theory of property proposes a solution to the problem. Locke’s conception of property is truly Christian; property is a part of creation entrusted by God to an individual. With this definition Locke not only includes material things, but also immaterial things; key amongst them human rights. Property is not something that belongs to us in the sense that we can do anything we please with it, but it is something that we posses and no other human being has the right to posses simultaneously. Locke starts his theory from the most basic part of creation that God entrusted to each individual, the individual’s body. Locke states that human life belongs to God and no person has a claim over human life, even one’s own. Yet, the human body is entrusted to each individual, and can be rightfully called the individual’s basic property. This means that a human’s first responsibility is to be a steward of one’s body. The responsibility over one’s body becomes even more acute after Christ sent the Holy Spirit to the early Christians. St. Paul reminds us of this fact in 1 Corinthians 6:19 “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” We are the primary caretakers of our own bodies, but we also have the responsibility to protect sacred places, namely other people’s bodies. This is completely congruent with Locke’s understanding of property: a person’s body is the person’s property because the person has control over the body’s actions, yet the body (like all of creation) is merely entrusted to humankind, because all of creation belongs to God, and property
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is a particular part of creation which is entrusted to a particular individual. The Lockean Proviso is the natural progression of Locke’s Christian understanding of the world. If the whole world belongs to God, and is entrusted to all of humanity in common, then it is the responsibility of humanity to take care of every part of creation. And there is a part of creation that is extremely important, for that part was created in the image of God. That part is humans. Humanity has the greatest responsibility to take care of each individual human. The answer to Cain’s famous reply (“am I my brother’s keeper?”) ought to be a resounding “yes”. Each individual has the responsibility to care for the rest of humanity. But what does caring entail? Caring must include for the caretaker to do her best effort to ensure that the person for whom she cares is able to achieve his full potential. This includes allowing for the person to be entrusted with a part of creation; in other words, to allow the person to have property. Because each human should care for every other human, each human has the responsibility of leaving enough of creation to be entrusted to other humans; in other words, to leave enough property for others. The Lockean Proviso is the codification of these principles based on Locke’s reading of the Scriptures. The first principle is that the world belongs to God, and that humans have the responsibility to take care of the world. The second principle is that the part of the world that an individual is entrusted with is the person’s property, primary of which is the person’s own body. The third principle is that an individual human has the responsibility to take care of all other humans, therefore should allow other people to be
Jose Armando Perez-Gea is studying Political Theory and Economics. He has lived in Mexico City, Los Angeles, San Antonio and London. Contact him at email@example.com.
entrusted with parts of creation (in other words, to have property). The first raises a problem: humanity has to separate the whole world so that every part of the world is entrusted to an individual (is the property of an individual). The second principle gives a solution: each individual person has primary property (each person is entrusted with one’s own body), and the person can use this basic property and mix it with a part of the world. By mixing labor/work (which is an outcome of the human body) with a part of the world, then that part of the world is entrusted to the individual (becomes the individual’s property). The third principle puts a clause: each individual should leave an equal claim to property to the other humans. When an individual is being entrusted with part of the world, the individual has to make sure that there is enough and as good left to other humans. Hence the Lockean Proviso: a person can claim a part of the world as property as long as there is enough and as good left.
Patience at Work Andrew Lo “Front desk, Alex speaking.” “Hi, there’s something wrong with my room safe. Could you please send somebody up?” “Right away, sir.” (Guest relations officer runs upstairs) “Uh, sir? That’s the microwave.”
Wainwright, Arthur W. “Introduction.” A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St Paul to the Galatians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans, Ephesians. Vol. 1. Ed. Arthur W. Wainwright. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987. 1-88.
Hotels are a funny place to work. Situations like this occur every… single… day. I can only imagine what the staff talk about when they’re out of the guests’ earshot. Hospitality is a field where one has to be able to adapt quickly and function effectively in a fast-paced environment. Growing up in a bustling financial center, this wasn’t a problem for me. Being dynamic was part of my lifestyle. Okay – to be fair, it translated into a sense of impatience. To illustrate, I expected food to arrive within minutes of ordering and taxis to be available whenever I needed one. Here’s the catch. I grew up in a Christian home and have been going to church my entire life. Patience is a virtue, my parents always said, but at times I acted like I had none. I tuned out to their lessons as a kid, but gradually became more receptive, especially in university. So, I’d like to share two experiences pertinent to the topic at hand. My freshman summer, I worked for a luxury hotel chain that used the Golden Rule – to treat others as you wish to be treated - as their guiding principle. The biblical parallel says to “do to others what you would have them do you” (Matthew 7:12). This culture was evident throughout the entire hotel, from the general manager to the housekeeper. I watched as the expatriate managers communicated with the local staff through sign language and broken English, albeit with some difficulty. I was most impressed that the managers took the time to patiently listen to their coworkers. People just don’t do that anymore. The hotel even has a session where selected employees chat with the general manager without their supervisors present. During my stint at the hotel, I worked in operations, attending to the needs of the guests. The majority of guests were easygoing, but there were some customers who acted like they were the devil. Well, perhaps not in the traditional sense of the word. I think about the three socialites who left their Gucci, Prada, and Chanel shoes – all 20 pairs – all over the suite, and I shudder. How about the guest who wanted his shirt dry cleaned within ten minutes and was fuming when the employee delivering it was late? By the way, that “employee” was me. I was tempted to explain that the service elevator takes almost five minutes to get to the laundry room, but decided not to argue. At times, I was tempted to throw in the towel and resign, but I prayed for greater patience and the strength to persevere, for I knew there was a reason God had given me the love of hospitality, in all senses of the
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Ashcraft, Richard. “Faith and Knowledge in Locke’s Philosophy.” John Locke — Perspectives and Problems. Ed. John W. Yolton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969. 194-223. Dawson, Hannah. Locke, Language, and Early Modern Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Katz, David S. God’s Last Words: Reading the English Bible from the Reformation to Fundamentalism. London: Yale University Press, 2004. Locke, John. An Essay concerning Human Understanding. Ed. Pauline Phemister. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Locke, John. A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St Paul to the Galatians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans, Ephesians. Vols. 1 & 2. Ed. Arthur W. Wainwright. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987. Locke, John. The Reasonableness of Christianity. Ed. John C. Higgins-Biddle. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999. Locke, John. Some Thoughts Concerning Education. Ed. John W. and Jean S. Yolton. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989. Moore, J.T. “Locke’s Analysis of Language and the Assent to Scripture.” Journal of the History of Ideas Vol. 37 No. 4 (Oct.-Dec., 1976): 707-714. Pearson, Jr., Samuel C. “The Religion of John Locke and the Character of His Thought.” The Journal of Religion Vol. 58 No. 3 (Jul., 1978): 244-262.
word. In times of affliction, I understood that it was not the time to surrender (Romans 12:12). I learnt to calmly listen to requests from guests, no matter how outrageous they sounded, as I knew I needed to be “patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). After all, being hospitable is part of being Christian. The following summer, I interned in the wealth management division of a major bank. It was a unique opportunity to be in finance, as the economy was already sliding downhill. Growing up, I had always thought a “Christian banker” was an oxymoron. It was not too long before I realized that I attended church with many of them! I spoke to some, and gathered that it’s possible to stay true to your faith even in a cutthroat working environment. The solution? “Pray and be patient.” As I expected, the summer was a challenge. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t intimidated when interacting with some of the smartest and most charismatic
bankers. I clearly remember the time when a managing director picked on me for not knowing what the HIBOR (the interest rate offered on the local interbank market) that day was. I sunk low in my seat and silently asked God to get me out of there! A word to those aspiring financiers: 7 am conference calls are brutal. In hindsight, working thirteen-hour days and being subjected to intense meetings weren’t simply chores. They were opportunities to develop my knowledge and patience. In the past, being in a high-intensity environment would usually have left me flustered, but building upon my previous spiritual growth, I knew better. Every time I was tempted to get angry, I recalled the verses which state that “everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:19-20). On FOX’s Kitchen Nightmares, I’m in
awe as I watch chef Gordon Ramsay calmly talk to the defensive owners as he helps them revamp their failing restaurants. I learn that it doesn’t help to blow up in any situation, no matter how discouraging it may seem. Observing this principle while interacting with fellow interns made my summer more enjoyable. I am thankful that I’ve chosen to deepen my faith while at university. I know that God’s will is good and that He only wants the best for us. After Stanford, I may work in the secular world, but I believe that every job is a time for me to grow spiritually. When I stand before a new challenge, I recall that I should “consider it pure joy… for the testing of [my] faith develops patience” (James 1:3). I am still working on remaining composed when dealing with difficult people, but I am always ready for God to work wonders in my life, and I hope to experience His grace daily.
Andrew Lo is a junior in International Relations. An aspiring hotelier, he enjoys traveling and is a self-confessed foodie. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forum of Christian Thought at Stanford
Interview with Craig Blomberg Mary Ho On April 3 and 4, 2009, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship hosted New Testament Scholar Craig Blomberg, who delivered a lecture on the historical reliability of the Gospels and held workshops on issues relating to the historical Jesus. Vox Clara discussed a few questions with him: Vox Clara: Why should Christians care about the historical reliability of the Gospels? Of all the things that we could learn about our faith, why should we focus our time on history and facts? Craig Blomberg: There is a significant minority of individuals for whom these really are the central concerns, and the reason they are not Christians is because they have not received good credible answers about Jesus’ existence. Or they think, in fact, that he was quite different from what the New Testament teaches. It’s not a majority of people. I would be the first one to say that, of all that we can do, Christians shouldn’t suddenly make the credibility of Scripture the central teaching. But there is a significant minority of people, and I suspect most people – including many Christians – at one point or another in their lives will confront the classic skepticism with respect to the Bible, and depending on their personalities and their personal circumstances, it may throw them for a loop. It may make them question their faith. So we need to be ready to address the questions when they come. VC: Do you think churches are doing
enough to educate their congregations on these issues, and if not, why are they not touching this subject? Blomberg: I think that there are a lot of places doing a good job, but overall, no, I don’t think we’re doing enough. I suspect a major reason is a lot of pastors and church leaders aren’t quite sure how to go about it, not quite sure they have the confidence themselves to do it. They may not know people or may not have people locally whom they can bring in to do it. Obviously anyone can take the time to become trained with the resources that are available, but if you don’t feel that you have the time or if it’s not a priority, you’re not going to do that. And if my life as a pastor is one of going from the hospital to preparing a message to planning a wedding to leading a funeral to leading the youth group, those swamp up time for me to study up on things. And unless it becomes a priority, I wouldn’t get around to it. VC: What do you think about the New Atheists these days, and how we should respond in dialogue—or is that even possible?
Mary Ho is a senior studying Economics. She enjoys traveling and looks forward to living and working in San Francisco after her graduation. Contact her at email@example.com.
Vox Clara, Vol. II, Issue 3
Blomberg: It is with some. It’s a twoedged task. We need to know our faith, we need to know history, we need to know something about other religions and world views, we need to be able to debunk false historical claims when they appear. But equally as important, Ephesians 4:14 talks about speaking the truth in love, and most people who are hostile to Christianity can tell you multiple stories of how nasty Christians have been to them, especially in the anonymity of the blog world, especially at a distance by email, rather than in person. We’ve just got to stop doing that. I’ve had countless conversations with atheist blog-site operators who turn from being fairly combative and suspicious into very congenial conversation partners when they saw that that’s all I was ever going to be. VC: For those who are particularly committed to scientific nationalism, how do we remove that false obstacle? Blomberg: Arguments and logic are important. Emphasize that scientism – as opposed to science – requires faith, perhaps as much as any religion does. Some of the most celebrated thinkers in the philosophy of science are very forthright about what science can and cannot adjudicate on. I think for example of Peter Medawar, who is not a believer, and his book Limits of Science. The people who do the serious hard thinking in this area are making much more modest claims today than even fifty years ago about what science can and cannot pontificate on. But at the same time, there is an element of personal experience that is central to the Christian faith. Remember the commercial that says, “Try it, you’ll like it?” That may sound trivial, but part of the Christian faith is having the experience of being forgiven by God and be-
Homesick Alex Martin ing touched by the Spirit. Until people open themselves up and let God try that in their life, there is an element that they cannot evaluate because they have not experienced it. VC: You always go back to the idea that we have to love people if we want to engage them on a personal level. When speaking to young people deciding on careers, how do you help them decide which path to take to best engage with the world? How do we decide what we are called to do by God? Blomberg: What is the passion? What is the giftedness? What is the burning desire in your heart? Jeremiah talked about fire in his bones that he could not contain. There are all kinds of ways to discern God’s will and call in your life, but I think a big part of it is how you think distinctively as a Christian about what just absolutely makes you passionate and makes your life meaningful. Where is that? And if that’s to be a model of showing AIG that they can conduct business ethically, then go do it! VC: What do you say to those young people who are thinking about full-time ministry and the pressures they face, especially from their families? Blomberg: It’s a wonderful calling. It can be incredibly rewarding. It’s never easy, but amazingly fulfilling when you’re doing what you know the Lord has called you to do, whether anyone else thinks you’re right or not. There is a contentment, a satisfaction in life. And keep reading Revelation 21 and 22. Life to come is earthy and earthly, but purified. If you want the greatest material blessings in the world, just be patient. But we who try to have it all in this life, that may be all we ever get.
As the weather turns colder, I am missing that warm cover Of consistency, that perfect nostalgic fuzz As my thoughts turn over The jabs of the day, the slights, the blights, the tear and fray As the earth turns over Another turn, One side to shadow and one to burn And the cycle of love and hate Grinds on that polar rod of fate As the world turns colder And I walk quietly and quickly Across the thin night Along the paper edge of darkness Hurrying between some here and there, Some warm and warmer, Thinking of the ones who get trapped in between I am longing for that final fire.
Photo: Jessy Klima
Forum of Christian Thought at Stanford
Historically Patient Although lab rats may seem far removed from any dialogue of morality and ethics, studies of rodent brains can actually provide us with valuable insight into the virtue of Patience. In the 1950’s, scientists discovered a region in the rat brain, called the midbrain dopamine system, which is responsible for judging the value of potential rewards and motivating the rat to pursue those rewards. Known as the “pleasure chemical” and producing similar effects in humans, dopamine is released when the rat experiences, or even anticipates experiencing, something enjoyable. Fortunately, humans have more highly evolved minds, one capable not only of anticipating pleasure but also understanding the possible consequences of one’s actions. Humans have the ability to exercise patience; they can make the decision to delay gratification or endure extended periods of difficulty. Patience has played a tremendous role in the history of Christianity, as numerous individuals and institutions have deliberately made sacrifices for a greater good. Their examples of patience serve as a testament to the uniquely human ability to master impulse, to choose the more trying path when tempted with an alluring alternative. The life of St. Monica provides an excellent starting point in a discussion on the faithful endurance of hardship. Born in 322 in North Africa, Monica had a fondness for wine as a youth, sneaking sips of it whenever she was sent down to the cellar to fetch bottles for her parents. One day a family slave revealed her secret, and Monica, ashamed of her addiction, gave up alcohol. Baptized into the Catholic Church soon after, Monica led the remainder of her life with exemplary discipline. Monica’s relationship with her son, Augustine, was also laced with tension. He lived with a mistress for many years and espoused the Gnostic religion of Manichaeism, which denied the existence of an omnipotent source of good. Monica prayed for a change of heart in her son for seventeen years. Many priests dissuaded her from pursuing this seemingly hopeless endeavor. One priest, however, greatly admired her steadfast faith and consoled her, saying, “It is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish.” Monica’s prayers were ultimately answered, and Augustine
Samantha McGirr is a sophomore from Stockton, California, planning to major in English. She enjoys running, tutoring, and online shopping. Contact her at smcgirr@ stanford.edu.
was baptized in 387, the same year Monica died. With contemporary culture so fixated on the idea of an immediate solution to any problem, Monica’s decades-long dedication to prayer seems almost foolhardy, an unsound investment by any financial analyst’s standards. Where was the “100% guarantee” now splayed across every infomercial and billboard? Why didn’t she adopt a more active approach in the conversion of her son, a more stern position on his fast lifestyle? The answer may lie in the fact that patience can be a quiet virtue, one more focused on the gradual and meaningful change of heart than on the quick fix. Often the exercise of patience requires us to take a huge leap of faith, to place trust in a God who can sometimes seem distant or unresponsive. A more recent exemplar of patience was Maximilian Kobe, a Polish priest who was arrested following the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. After being released later that year, Maximilian and his brothers helped hide refugees and published Catholic, “anti-Nazi” material. He was rearrested and held in the infamous Auschwitz prison for two months, where his refusal to renounce the faith landed him the worst chores and more severe beatings than anyone else. At one point, he was beaten and left for dead. Fellow prisoners smuggled him into the camp hospital, and he spent his recovery time hearing confessions. After his return to the camp, he continued ministering and saying Mass using smuggled bread and wine. In July, a prisoner escaped from the camp and ten prisoners were chosen to die in his place. One of the men, Francis Gajowniczek, was a married man with a family, and so Maximilian volunteered to die in his place, choosing to make the ultimate sacrifice so that two children could one day see their father again. Patience once again emerges as a quiet strength in Maximilian’s story, evident not so much in direct proclamations as in his determination to live virtuously each day. Even under the most brutal of circumstances, Maximilian worked to share his faith with others, and knowledge of his inevitable end did not prevent him from inspiring and uplifting his fellow prisoners. We are all prisoners in some way—whether it is to our passions, weaknesses, or fears—and Maximilian’s selfless life reminds us to look beyond the immediate and personal consequences of our actions. To be patient is to remain hopeful, to understand that the possibility for change exists in even the bleakest of circumstances. The path of least resistance, though tempting, is often not synonymous with the path that will bring lasting happiness. Patience, above all, requires faith that the “so many tears” we shed will culminate in a reward of unimaginable joy.
Vox Clara, Vol. II, Issue 3
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Letter from the President K.J. Plank
If anyone needs a Biblical understanding of patience, it’s me. Exercising patience has long been a challenge for me—a challenge which has been evident in my experience leading Vox Clara this year. It has been a unique and rewarding experience, though, and I’d like now to briefly reflect on what we’ve accomplished and where we’re headed in the future. We’ve come a long way as an organization. Both our membership and readership have grown significantly, and we now have people involved at all levels from most campus fellowships. We’ve made changes to the design and content of the journal that I hope you will agree are improvements. Last quarter we launched a website that includes an online version of our journal, featuring additional student photography and music, a discussion forum, and an events calendar. We hope you find this useful in plugging in to the Christian community on campus and in staying engaged over the summer. Since Vox Clara’s inception, we never intended to be simply another journal on campus. We want to cultivate a dynamic exchange of ideas about the meaning and role of religion in students’ lives; we want to see lives transformed and people living out their faith in bold and inviting ways. The journal is a key part of this mission because it helps to provide a forum for dialogue, but it is not sufficient in itself. As our own internal conversations have evolved on how we can move beyond the journal, many ideas have come to light that we’re excited to pursue in the coming years. Starting next fall we will begin hosting quarterly events on campus in the form of lectures, debates, and discussion panels. We’re also in the process of creating an organization outside of Stanford that will oversee and support the expansion of Vox Clara to other college campuses. I am excited to pass off Vox Clara to next year’s leadership team and know that they will continue to work hard and make progress in realizing our vision. The response to Vox Clara this year has been tremendous and overwhelmingly positive. We are thankful to all of you for reading this journal and supporting our vision of a thoughtful and engaged Stanford community. However, I do want to address the possible concern that articles in our journal might overemphasize issues not at the core of Christian belief. This is problematic for at least two reasons. For believers, an intense focus on the debated details of Christian theology without also recognizing shared doctrines will never unify us, nor present a clear voice for the Christian tradition on campus. Similarly, for non-believers, a focus on specific theological matters of which there is little consensus will educate, but fail to create a deep understanding of what being a Christian is really all about. So, I say with hopeful clarity: we hope that our writing will inspire you to debate, discuss, and thoughtfully consider topics of a broad theological spectrum, while maintaining a special emphasis on the fundamentals of creedal Christianity— on the person of Jesus Christ and His significance to all of our lives. This, of course, is what matters most. Four years ago I decided to follow Christ, and my life took on new meaning. I have grown enormously but still have so much to learn. Regardless of whether you are a believer, an agnostic, or an atheist, I hope that you will continue to explore Christianity and consider our reflections on Jesus and His Church.
Thank you for reading Vox Clara. It is our sincere hope that you come away enlightened about aspects of Christianity. Whether you are a skeptic, seeker, or believer, we encourage you to continue exploring the faith. We leave you with these closing thoughts.
The strongest of all warriors are these Time and Patience. - Leo Tolstoy
Patience is the companion of wisdom. - Augustine
Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake. - Victor Hugo
All things come to him who waits - provided he knows what he is waiting for. - Woodrow Wilson