education


Rare because most college students don’t get many letters these days; they get e-mails and tweets. Rare because what’s being advocated in this letter by Stanley Hauerwas  is the disciplined use of the mind for the Christian college student.

Christ’s call on you as a student is a calling to meet the needs of the Church, both for its own life and the life of the world. The Resurrection of Jesus, Wilken suggests, is not only the central fact of Christian worship but also the ground of all Christian thinking “about God, about human beings, about the world and history.” Somebody needs to do that thinking—and that means you.

Don’t underestimate how much the Church needs your mind. Remember your Bible-study class? Christians read Isaiah’s prophecy of a suffering servant as pointing to Christ. That seems obvious, but it’s not; or at least it wasn’t obvious to the Ethiopian eunuch to whom the Lord sent Philip to explain things. Christ is written everywhere, not only in the prophecies of the Old Testament but also in the pages of history and in the book of nature. The Church has been explaining, interpreting, and illuminating ever since it began. It takes an educated mind to do the Church’s work of thinking about and interpreting the world in light of Christ. Physics, sociology, French literary theory: All these and more—in fact, everything you study in college—is bathed in the light of Christ. It takes the eyes of faith to see that light, and it takes an educated mind to understand and articulate it. ( from First Things, November issue)

Surveys have been telling the Christian Church for years, that they are losing large numbers of their young people during the college years. Could it be that many have not been prepared to use their minds about the really big issues of life?

I now have three of fifteen grandchildren in College and University and I can personally tell you they are more than capable of thinking about serious issues. Why don’t we treat them more like rational beings instead of entertaining them with games and food? Read the entire letter by Stanley Hauerwas, a long-time professor at Duke and formerly of Notre Dame. This is exactly the challenge that the Church and Christian parents should be preparing their young disciples for in addition to everything else.

Purdue University

Thinking of recent posts, this is the call to college students to be “radical disciples” in the context of American universities.

Read the entire letter and the quote from Robert Lewis Wilken’s “The Spirit of Early Christian Thought“.

Related post (2009) “Seize the moment

Don’t want to leave out our newest college student @

Once again my good friend John Armstrong at ACT3 has put his finger on a major weakness in our American churches. It comes on the day before we Americans go to the polls to choose our national leaders. What he has to say about the absence of prophetic preaching in the pulpits of America and spiritual leadership by vision, has much to do with the challenges our larger society is facing at this moment. In “What  happened to Prophetic preaching”? He writes,

John H. Armstrong, Director ACT3

“The vast majority of pastors, as revealed in a number of surveys, declare that leadership is their greatest weakness. They admit to having become managers of ecclesial organizations and speakers in churches on Sunday. But less than 10% (in one survey) said that they believed they were leaders. A leader exercises influence, casts vision and helps people to follow that vision. Modern ideology and modern ways of training men and women for pastoral ministry have impacted the church profoundly in this area. We need to understand how and why and what we can do about this problem.

Our schools have prepared future ministers to be students who can exegete a text, clinicians who can listen and help people in personal crisis and managers who can direct programs and serve the social structures of the church. But they have not conveyed clearly how to be a godly, praying, spiritually-formed leaders who can inspire and build up people in their daily lives. And they have not been taught how to prophesy the Word of the Lord.

In my lifetime I have seen the role of the pastor change dramatically. I remember my childhood pastors being shepherds of people and leaders who gave a vision to our collective witness. I held my pastors in high esteem. Today this has changed. Pastors are much less accessible to people, far less able to cast clear vision, and churches collectively languish in spirit. This has created a tragic gulf between leaders and people. People now demand managers for the church. They do not want prophets who will challenge them to think and become truly different in faith and virtue.”

I personally believe this is one of John’s better messages to the churches and the way forward in the future.

The entire article available as   Prophetic Preaching Pastors (pdf).

Recommended reading: The Work of Preaching Christ (1864)

Advocacy sometimes means getting off the fence!

You know by now that I am a passionate advocate for human rights which include dignity and justice. I don’t however put my name on very many public petitions. But this one I felt needed my participation, especially in light of so many other conflicting statements from we Christians regarding healthcare.

Here is what I signed today-

As a Christian, I believe my faith calls me to view all people, regardless of citizenship status, as made in the “image of God” and deserving of respect; to show compassion for the stranger and love and mercy for my neighbor; and to balance the rule of law with the call to oppose unjust laws and systems when they violate human dignity.

These biblical principles compel me to support immigration reform legislation that is consistent with humanitarian values, supports families, provides a pathway to citizenship for immigrant workers already in the U.S., expands legal avenues for workers to enter the U.S. with their rights and due process fully protected, and examines solutions to address the root causes of migration.

I believe the current U.S. immigration system is broken and reform is necessary. I call on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform with the above elements by the end of this year.

Signed by: John Paul Todd, Berea, Kentucky

A word from the Big Blue Nation.

I just have to say a word about our Kentucky men’s basketball team (the women are having a great year as well). Patrick Patterson, a junior who will graduate this spring, epitomizes what many of us feel about now. That’s mostly because of the last three years he and the seniors have been frustrated with managment by the powers that be of this team. Now, thanks to a new coach and a new crop of incredible freshmen, these older players are being given a shot at the National championship.

These last few years, it has been rare to see this team play with the intensity that we are now seeing. It has been a long wait for the Kentucky faithful who are now being treated to thrill after thrill by the boys in blue and white.

Now this is Intensity!

So my vote goes to Pat and his leadership to the new comers as well as to the seniors. This is truly a TEAM effort and should they go all the way, it will be because of my favorite theme-UNITY.

Thanks for staying the course, Pat, when you could have gone pro last year. This team wouldn’t be the same without you and the other seniors who chose to hang around and show these new boys the ropes.

Read “Its the Cats championship to lose“.

Richard Dawkins and his battle for Truth.

We have all heard about Richard and also about those who offended by his writings. But perhaps we have never heard directly from the man himself. Where was he born and raised? What is he actually trying to accomplish? Here’s a brief interview that I found very enlightening to begin the new year- in his own words. Note the source of this interview, that also is very interesting.

Cannon

Billy Cannon runs for an 89 yard LSU touch-down

On October 31, 1959, one of college footballs premier teams, the LSU Tigers, won a closely contested game with an amazing punt return by a Heisman trophy winner named Billy Cannon.

I was introduced to the Louisiana culture as a child, since my mother and her family for five generations were a part of it. This story over at ESPN is pure Louisiana culture if it is anything. But it is much more: it is the culture of the South and the place sports, especially football, plays in that culture. The folk heroes are more often than not, the football stars.

But Billy Cannon’s story-about a young married football star who seemed to have it all, after spending eleven years in the NFL, returned home to take up his life as a Dentist, and fell from grace. He was found guilty of counterfeiting $100 bills and sent to prison.

The Redemption of Billy Cannon is an excellent article that fully explains every factor in this story to the depth of infamy after the pinnacle of fame and the long road back to finding a place of honor in the State of Louisiana and beyond at age 72. No, you won’t find any mention of religion or religious faith in this story- it’s not that kind of redemption. I would rather call it a great example of redemption American vintage cultural style.

Be sure to read the whole story and watch the video of Cannon’s famous punt return at The Redemption of Billy Cannon. Thank you Wright Thompson and ESPN for the memory and the lesson on the American football culture.

What’s Wrong with this Picture?

Dr. Kenn Gangel (1935-2009)

Dr. Kenn Gangel (1935-2009)

 

The year was 1966, I was twenty-four, happily married with three great kids. In June I left a job with Cessna Aircraft in Hutchinson, Kansas, and moved back to the Kansas City area to return to College. One of my professors that first year was Kenn Gangel. I never considered him the most important teacher I was to have in preparing for a vocation in the Christian ministry. That honor would be a toss-up between my Theology professor and my missions teacher. But still, I always knew that I owed something special to the one I would have three classes with in the field of Christian education; Introduction to the philosophy and history of CEd, Visual arts and methods, and in my senior year, Educational psychology.

Still, though I respected Kenn as a teacher, and even attended the same church that Kenn attended during my first year, I never really knew this man. Once out in ministry, I would learn from another Christian educator just how critical the “with-relationship” is between teacher and students. You know, the kind of relationship that Jesus had with his twelve disciples.

The funny thing is, that it wasn’t the age difference that kept me as a student from any kind of relationship- Kenn was only seven years older. When he first came to the College in 1960, he was about the same age that I was when I showed up at the same college six years later. I did follow Kenn’s own ministry trajectory off and on- I graduated in 1969 and he moved on tobigger and better schools in 1970. When the books started to come out, I would always say with a certain amount of pride, “This guy was my Christian education prof in college”.

Only now, as I read his on-line biography at Talbot, in a colection of twenty leaders in the field of Christian education, do I get a fuller picture of who this man was, where he came from, and how much influence he had on evangelical Christian education begining in 1970 when he went to Trinity Evangelical Divinity school to build their Christian education faculty. I hope you will read his bio, but I will list some of the more interesting details:

  • Kenn was a first generation American, son of immigrants from Austria and Switzerland.
  • At age 10, his father divorced his mother and abandoned the family; his godly working mother placed Kenn in a boarding school, the famous Stony Brook school of legendary Frank Gaebelein, for two years. Then after she obtained a job as a cook at Wheaton Academy, Kenn went to high school as a benefit of his mother’s employment. (someone was looking out for this lady and her son)
  • Kenn had a dramatic spiritual turn-around that gave him the high motivation in Academics, leadership, and the Christian family.
  • Kenneth Gangel authored or co-authored some 50 books on a wide range of topics including education, leadership/administration, family, and the Bible.

Begining with the College where I met Kenn in 1966, Kenn went on to serve on the faculty of four other Christian schools including Miami Christian College where he served as President, Dallas Theological Seminary, and Toccoa Falls College, where he spent his retirement years.

Dr. Kenneth Gangel Biography at Talbot School of Theology

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