Blog | Topic: Worldview
Feb 26, 2014
The Jubilee Conference is, hands down, my favorite event of the year. It has been since 2001! Every February in Pittsburgh, the CCO gathers 2,500+ college students to think more deeply about their place in God’s world. It is a conference like no other, a time of deep engagement with the Biblical story; a time of personal commitment to follow Jesus; and a time of reflection for college students to consider their present and future callings in life. Byron Borger has already written wisely and astutely about all that the Jubilee Conference means and who the conference brings together, year after year. Read and listen, I say, HERE.
For the past three years I have had the privilege of being an emcee with my good friend Dave Bindawald. What an honor! Highlights from this year’s conference included introducing speakers Andy Crouch and Dan Allander, interviewing Roxanne Stone and David Kinnaman about the Barna FRAMES project, worshiping with Josh Moyer and friends, working with The High Calling to award $1,000 for a student video (below), being on stage with Byron Borger when he announced and launched Steven Garber’s new book Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good, and spending some quality time in a hot tub (you had to be there).
What I like most about Jubilee is its commitment to the Bible and the biblical narrative. The four main sessions are organized around the four chapters of the biblical story: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration. There are other ways to focus on the main themes of the Bible, to be sure, (in fact, Don Opitz and I offer a bit of caution about this in chapter 6 of Learning for the Love of God), but, wow, at Jubilee, when you see and hear and participate in The Story, through the lenses of these chapters… well, it is so helpful and inspiring and life-giving!
The Jubilee Conference is the best “vision of the Kingdom of God” that I have seen. It is a signpost and a reference point for so many staff and students. I don’t think it’s possible to leave the conference without being changed in a very profound way.
I’ve been thinking a lot about a “vision of the Kingdom” as I work my way through Steve Garber’s profound and insightful new book Visions of Vocation. Steve’s own work has been shaped in tremendous ways by the Jubilee conference. In fact, Steve has helped to shape the conference itself over the many years of his own faithful service to the King. Steve knows that a life committed to following Jesus is not easy, and yet, and yet… He writes:
“The story of sorrow is not the whole story of life either. There is also wonder and glory, joy and meaning, in the vocations that are ours. There is good work to be done by every son of Adam and every daughter of Eve all over the face of the earth. There are flowers to be grown, songs to be sung, bread to be baked, justice to be done, mercy to be shown, beauty to be created, good stories to be told, houses to be built, technologies to be developed, fields to be farmed, and children to educate. All day, every day, there are both wounds and wonders at the very heart of life, if we have eyes to see.”
Indeed. And the Jubilee Conference helps us to see, year after year.
Feb 7, 2014
What if everything we do matters to God?
What if our Mondays are just as important as our Sundays?
What is our faith is supposed to connect to every area of our lives?
What would that look like?
My favorite event of the year is only one week away! The Jubilee Conference is about living faithfully in every area of life. For 37 years, the CCO has hosted over 60,000 college students in Pittsburgh, PA to help them “to talk, learn, think, and dream about the public implications of their personal transformation.”
I’ve been an emcee for the last 3 years and it is such an honor to have a small part to play in this big event. The speakers, the worship, and the conversations at Jubilee have been life-changing and inspiring for me and my family for the past 13 years! I can’t wait. The video above does a fantastic job of capturing the Jubilee vision and experience.
Jan 30, 2014
The Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness, coauthored with Don Opitz, was published in 2007. Our hope was to provide a resource that would equip college students to be faithful to God in their academic pursuits. Thanks to the good folks at Baker Publishing Group and Brazos Press, we are releasing a 2nd edition with a new title: Learning for the Love of God: A Student’s Guide to Academic Faithfulness. It includes updates throughout, two new substantive appendixes, personal stories from students, a new preface, and a fresh interior design. The new book also comes with a fresh new endorsement from one of our favorite philosophers and theologians James K.A. Smith of Calvin College:
“What does discipleship have to do with learning? How do I follow Jesus as a student? What does the Lord require of me at university? This marvelous book answers just these sorts of questions. It’s one of a kind, an expansive vision of Christian learning written not for professors but for students. Best of all, this is a book that can profit students in any educational context, secular or religious. Buy a box of these and give them to every high school senior you know.”
Wow. Thank you Dr. Smith.
Just in case the release of a revised edition of a previous book with a different title is confusing, here are a few FAQs:
Why does it have a new title? Good question. (Thank you.) The old title was connected to a very important book by George Marsden, The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship. While we really liked the idea of making the connection to that book, it was lost on most readers. Learning for the Love of God better describes the book’s content.
What is different about the new edition? Another great question! (Just doing my job.) There’s a new, short preface where we tell a few stories about how the first edition was helpful students. We didn’t want to change too much of the integrity of the original, so chapters 1-8 are very similar, with a few needed corrections and updates, making the text even more accessible to students. The interior design and layout make it easier to read, including a few pull-out boxes to highlight key terms and concepts.
Can you tell me more about the two new substantive appendixes? Of course I can. I’m glad you asked. The first appendix, “Deeper,” is an annotated bibliography, suggesting books for students looking for the next step. It’s also fun and a little funny, we think. A little different from most bibliographies we’ve read. The second appendix, “Liturgies for Learning,” was inspired by Jamie Smith’s book Desiring the Kingdom. Smith argues that deep learning is never merely cognitive. When our emotions and our bodies get involved, learning tends to sink in and stick. Turning on the emotions and tuning in the body can happen in the classroom, but it sure helps to practice good liturgies of learning outside the classroom. So, we offer six learning exercises to put into practice!
If I already have a copy of The Outrageous book, should I buy a copy of Learning for the Love of God? Yes, in fact you should buy 5 copies of the new one.
Is there anything else you would like to say about the new book? Just this… the new book includes this dedication:
“For our friend and favorite bookseller, Byron Borger, whose love for God and learning exemplifies a life of faithful service to the King.”
Thank you Byron for your friendship and encouragement in this project! And thank you to all the readers who have made a 2nd edition possible!
Jan 16, 2014
Most of the time I cringe when I hear someone offer this advice: “You have to do what makes you happy.” I’ve seen too many people follow this counsel to its logical conclusion, only to be hurt and lost. Happiness is fleeting. What makes us individually happy is rarely a way to measure a good life. When we offer advice like this, I wonder if we are more concerned that the person needing the guidance avoids pain and feels better about him or herself. Are you happy in this relationship? Are you happy in your job? Are you happy in your $50,000 convertible? Is happiness really the issue here?
David K. Naugle is professor of philosophy at Dallas Baptist University and has written about shallow attempts to define happiness. His important book Reordered Love, Reordered Lives: Learning the Deep Meaning of Happiness (Eerdmans) helps readers make the connection between happiness and love. The book is instructive for those who desire to pass along Christian faith to the next generation. Naugle writes, “Scientific, economic, and cultural forces have produced a paradigm shift in the way most people understand happiness. It has morphed in the minds of many Americans into a promise of sustained pleasure and painlessness.” According to Naugle, Christians must develop an understanding of happiness that is countercultural: “The happy life consists of learning how to love both God supremely and the world in the right way at the very same time.”
Dr. Naugle is also the author of Worldview: The History of a Concept (Eerdmans), selected as a 2003 Christianity Today Book of the Year. What follows is an interview with him about Reordered Love, Reordered Lives:
(Download the interview as a PDF handout here)
Derek: What motivated you to write about love?
Naugle: Over the years, I have become convinced that people don’t necessarily do what they say they will do, or behave according to their beliefs, or act on the basis of their thoughts or ideas. However, at the end of the day, people will do what they love!
Augustine put it like this in his book Enchiridion: “For when there is a question as to whether a man is good, one does not ask what he believes, or what he hopes, but what he loves.” We are motivated to do what we do by the things we love, care about and desire. Our lifestyles follow our loves; our loves lead to our lifestyles.
It seems to me that this has been the missing element in various Christian programs of moral and spiritual formation. We can’t just impart biblical information and expect much to happen. Our deepest loves, affections and desires must be reordered for lives to change in a Christ-like way.
But our loves and lives remain severely disordered, especially because of cultural influence. No one knows this better than CPYU! In light of the biblical teaching on love which is the nature of God, at the heart of the greatest commandments, and is the chief of virtues (1 John 4; Matthew 22; 1 Corinthians 13), a book on love and the necessity of reordering our loves, seemed like a good idea.
Derek: On the surface, it does seem obvious that love is related to happiness, but what is the deeper meaning? Where do we often get love and happiness wrong in our culture?
Naugle: If we follow the main outline of the biblical story, we discover that God intended for us to enjoy the deep meaning of happiness (or shalom, as it’s called in the Hebrew Old Testament) rooted in rightly ordered loves for God and for everything else under and in Him.
When we sinned, however, we lost this deep meaning of happiness found in God and in his good creation, rightly related. However, we did not lose our love or longing for happiness; in fact, it may have even deepened, even if it was distorted and disordered.
As extraordinarily needy and ignorant people in search of a fulfilling life in a deeply fallen world, we attach our loves in intense ways to whatever we think will make us happy, whether it be people, places or things.
But these people, places or things that we love for happiness’ sake fail us every time. They promise the satisfaction we have been longing for, but they fail to keep their promises. They simply are not made to do so. We end up frustrated once again. As Bono famously sings: “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for!”
Out of this disordered love in search for happiness, our lives become a mess, a wreck, especially because of our idolatries, vices, habits, and addictions. We will turn to crime, violence, and even warfare, if that’s what we think it will take to get what we want, since our deepest sense of self and overall well-being depends on it. See James 4:1-2, for example.
Not only our own ignorance, but the false, misleading messages of our culture through music, TV, films, and advertisements also misdirect us and lead us into a big, ugly ditch (to put it mildly) … all in search of happiness! As Augustine once said, “… what am I to myself but a guide to my own self-destruction?”
This is precisely where the Christian gospel enters the picture. When we believe in Jesus Christ and what He has done for us in His life, death, and resurrection, our sins are forgiven and we are reconnected to God. He then enables us to love God and everything else in God in reordered ways. We don’t reject the world, but worldliness; we don’t reject creation, but its corruption. In other words, we seek to love the created world in a reordered and right way in God as its creator and redeemer.
This, I believe, is the key to discovering the deep meaning of happiness both now and forever! Reordered love and reordered lives and the discovery of the deep meaning of happiness are the primary benefits of the Christian faith and God’s good news about Jesus Christ!
Thus, the connection between love and happiness, as I try to develop it, follows the major points of the overall biblical narrative, and I can summarize the story like this:
The deep meaning of happiness in God as He intended at creation rooted in rightly ordered loves and lives;
Happiness lost in the fall of humanity into sin and replaced with devastating ignorance and disordered loves and lives;
The deep meaning of happiness already redeemed and one day fully restored in Jesus Christ who graciously reorders our loves and lives through the Christian gospel.
Derek: This is from the review of your book in Publisher’s Weekly: “Many Christians will enjoy this book and be renewed in their quest for true happiness. Others will not, given the author’s insistence that accepting Jesus is the only way to real happiness. In a religiously pluralistic world, the wisdom of Christianity can be shared with everyone if presented correctly.” How do you respond to this?
Naugle: Well, actually, though PW (Publisher’s Weekly) didn’t intended as such, I take their criticism as a compliment. I didn’t cave into politically correct religious pluralism! Furthermore, my goal was to do what PW said I should have done, namely to show how “the wisdom of Christianity can be shared with everyone if presented correctly.”
PW thinks I failed at this, but I think I succeeded (Lord willing), especially by appealing to various expressions of popular culture that show how our disordered loves can disorder our lives and make us miserable. For example, Alan Jackson’s C&W song — “Everything I love Is Killing Me” — hits the nail on the head! And Johnny Cash’s return to faith shows how his reordered love for God reordered his life, and brought him into an experience of the deep meaning of happiness. And what happened to Cash can happen to us as well.
In this sense, then, my book is a form of cultural apologetics, showing how Jesus Christ is the sweet fulfillment of our deepest longings and desires as we search and find the genuinely happy life in Him (I am employing Charlie Peacock’s thoughts from his endorsement on the back of the book).
Derek: What are some practical ways that parents and youth workers can help teenagers “reorder” their loves?
Naugle: In many ways, this is what the seventh and last chapter in the book are all about. There I point out that the deep meaning of happiness we experience now is not perfect and never will be. Presently, we live between the cross and the consummation, at the “hyphen” between the “already” but the “not yet.”
Consequently, at this time in God’s narrative plan for history, we must enroll in the school of Christ for the ongoing mending of our hearts. In Christ’s school of followership, the Christian practices make up the curriculum for life change and consistency. It’s unnecessary to reinvent the wheel on this subject of the Christian practices since so many good books are already available by authors like Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. I recommend them highly.
However, what may be of particular interest to parents, youth workers, and students is my own autobiographical description of “The Disciplines and Me” on pages 193-203. Here I talk about the Christian practices I learned from my mentors early on as a student that have served me well over the years. I talk about the Bible and books, church and community, prayer, the enemies of the Christian life, virtue and vice, thinking, loving and doing, and so on. Hopefully a portion of my own story may be of inspiration in the “how to reorder our loves” department.
Download this interview (.pdf) here.
Jul 18, 2013
My good friend Byron Borger is hosting the annual Hearts & Minds Summer Lecture at Robert Morris University tonight. The lecture will be given by William Edgar, discussing his new book Schaeffer on the Christian Life: Countercultural Spirituality (Crossway). You can learn more about the event here. If you are in the Pittsburgh area you won’t want to miss it!
I was reminded of a review/reflection I did a few years ago about a biography of Francis Schaeffer by Colin Duriez. If you are interested in a good introduction to Schaeffer’s legacy, I highly recommend Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life (Crossway). Here’s my review:
“Who is Francis Schaeffer?” The question came from a young, bright, Christian college student who over heard me talking about the new biography Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life by Colin Duriez. “Are you serious? You don’t know who Francis Schaeffer is?” I responded. It was as if someone from a far-off tribe had asked me “Who is this Jesus of Nazareth that you speak of?” My heart began to beat a little faster, and I had the privilege of introducing this young student to the giver of Christian intellectual life, my savior, I mean, my hero, Francis Schaeffer.
There was irony in this conversation, of course. I was talking to a young, Christian student, who is passionate about developing a Christian approach to sustainable agriculture, linking it to deeper, local community life. We have had numerous conversations about the church in the 21st century, the kingdom of God, and environmental concerns. She was beginning to make connections with her deepest convictions about the environment and the Gospel and was living them out at a summer internship on an organic farm. Connecting what she believed about the world with how she lived in the world, was being manifested (incarnated) in tangible ways, and she had a plethora of resources to draw from: books, conferences, mentors and MP3 lectures. Here’s the irony: while she had no idea who Francis Schaeffer was, he had pioneered a movement of Christians to not only think more deeply about the Christian faith and how it sustains the attacks of modernity and the scientific revolution, but he also pleaded with believers to live-out faith in ways that showed the world the “Truth” of the Gospel. My guess, and it’s only a guess, is that if this same college student would have had similar convictions 50 years ago, the only place on the planet where she could have had an opportunity to wrestle with these questions, network with like-minded people and seek a Christian understanding of her concerns would have been under the teaching of Francis Schaeffer at his L’Abri ministry in Switzerland.
I don’t want to overstate this. Certainly Francis Schaeffer wasn’t the only “thinking Christian” in the 20th Century. But it did dawn on me that while this student didn’t know who Francis Schaeffer was, she was certainly living in his legacy. Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984) was a Presbyterian pastor who became a missionary in Europe to expand a children’s ministry that he had started with his wife Edith. He was also deeply concerned with the “liberalization” of the church, especially the “higher criticism” approach to scripture. Not only did Schaeffer travel from city to city starting children’s ministries, but he would also lecture on the contemporary challenges to biblical, evangelical faith. In 1955, the Schaeffers started L’Abri (French for shelter), a place for “truth-seekers” to come and ask questions, wrestle with faith, and study Christianity more deeply. People came from all over the world, many converting to Christianity and many being energized to live-out their faith in powerful ways. You can learn more about this amazing ministry in Edith Schaeffer’s book L’Abri.
Colin Duriez’s biography is an excellent place to start to learn more about this remarkable man. I recommend it highly, not only for those wanting to learn more about Schaeffer but for anyone who is interested in a deeper engagement with the Christian faith and culture. Schaeffer’s story needs to be known for generations to come and Duriez has told his story beautifully. Instead of retelling his story here, I’d rather discuss what I learned. What follows are three important things that I learned about Schaeffer through reading this book, and why I think each one is vital for the church today:
First, Schaeffer was not afraid to ask tough questions about his faith. Before starting L’Abri, Schaeffer went through a grueling period of doubt and reconsideration of the Christian worldview. In fact, his wife thought that there was a chance that he was going to walk away from his faith altogether. Fortunately, this crisis of faith led Schaeffer to an even deeper commitment to the Truth of the gospel and to starting one of the most influential ministries of the 20th century. Probably the most significant aspect of Schaeffer’s legacy is his belief in the Christian faith for the sole reason that it is True. Because of this, he wasn’t afraid to meet intellectual challenges head on, even opening himself up to the possibility that he could be wrong. Humility became one of his defining characteristics. What a legacy for the church to consider. Do we, as the body of Christ, welcome times of questions and doubts? Do we take the time to fully understand opposing viewpoints? Is humility one of our defining characteristics? In order to engage the culture around us in effective ways, we can learn much from Schaeffer’s approach.
Second, Schaeffer was not only concerned with a “thinking” faith, but also a “living” faith. Schaeffer thought that too many Christians were not living out what they believed. Following his faith crisis, Schaeffer was determined to live in a way that revealed the Gospel to be true. If there truly was a God who was present, working in history and in our lives, then we should live in a way that conformed to this reality. We should expect God to meet our needs, provide opportunities to minister and make Himself known to others. In many ways, L’Abri could almost be seen as Schaeffer forcing God’s hand, making Him be true to His word. And the story of L’Abri is, itself, confirmation of the Truth of the Christian faith. Do we live in ways that require the Gospel to be true? Or do we simply live out an American, Western lifestyle and hope God is there to bless us? I think Schaeffer would challenge us to evaluate our lives to see if we really live as if the Biblical story is the True story of the world. Schaeffer’s words from an interview in 1980:
“I think there are many Christians – I mean, real Christians, real brothers and sisters in Christ, people I’m really fond of – who believe that certain things in the Christian faith are true, and yet, somehow or other, never relate this to truth. I don’t know if it comes across, what I’m trying to say, but I believe it’s truth – and not just religious truth, but the truth of what is. This gives you a different perspective.” (p. 189)
Third, Schaeffer was willing to partner with people outside of the evangelical Christian faith who supported a common cause. While not wavering on his personal convictions regarding evangelical faith and the authority of Scripture, he had no problem joining others who had similar concerns regarding public policy and social justice. This is certainly more widespread today, but in Schaeffer’s day, as a reformed Presbyterian pastor, it was almost unheard of to work along side Catholics or Mormons or agnostics who were united to confront injustices in the world. The church today should glean needed wisdom from Schaeffer’s willingness to work with and learn from others outside of his Christian tradition.
Schaeffer’s story is one that needs to be told and retold. Thanks to this new biography, more people can learn about this important person in Christian history. Christian college students, especially, need to be reminded of the coherence and Truth of the Gospel and how it applies to all areas of life. Duriez’s biography reminds us that the life and writings of Francis Schaeffer is a good model for how to put this into practice.
Jun 18, 2013
Top Ten (or so) Picks for Your Summer Reading
June 27 – 1:00pm (EDT)
Click here to register.
Join me as I ask CPYU’s favorite bookseller, Byron Borger, to suggest the best books to read this summer. Byron owns Hearts & Minds, a bookstore in Dallastown, PA and has been in the book business for over 30 years. He enjoys crafting custom-made lists for specific audiences. He is a long-time friend of us here at CPYU and has agreed to offer a list for us. Listen in as he shares key titles to inspire us in our tasks as parents, youth workers and Christian leaders.
Watch a video of Byron discussing why reading matters here:
Jun 4, 2013
The term worldview is now widely used in discussions about faith, philosophy, culture and education. The word jumped into English from the German, Weltanschauung, and has become increasingly familiar in the last fifty years, especially in some Christian circles. Many Christians latched onto the term because it helped to describe the all-encompassing, cosmic scope of the Gospel. The Christian faith is not just a religion, but a way of life that has far-reaching implications for the way we “see” reality and live in the world. A worldview is a vision of life and for life. Familiarity often breeds contempt, however. While many agree that the popularity and wide-spread acceptance of the concept has been a good thing for the church, some critics suggest proceeding with caution when teaching that Christianity is a worldview.
J. Mark Bertrand has spent much of his adult life teaching young people the value of understanding worldviews and thinking “Christianly” about all areas of life. But he too has concerns about the misuse and misapplication of the term. In his book Rethinking Worldview: Learning to Think, Live, and Speak in This World (Crossway) Bertrand seeks to capture a more complex, nuanced appreciation of what worldviews really are. Bertrand has a degree in English from Union University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Houston. He is also the author of a successful 3-part series of “Roland March” detective novels (Back on Murder, Pattern of Wounds and Nothing to Hide). What follows is an interview with Bertrand about worldview and how the concept, when properly understood can help young people grow in faith…
Download the interview (.pdf) here.
Read more expert interviews here.