Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Radio Worldview & Rethinking Worldview


I recently began producing for Radio Worldview, the official podcast of Worldview Academy. Jeff Baldwin and Bill Jack host these adventures several times a month, and often bring in other members of the WVA faculty to weigh in on the issues. Many of these were recorded on the road this summer while we were doing camps all across America. To subscribe to the podcast, just open the iTunes store and search for "Radio Worldview," which should open your iTunes to the podcast page. Just click "Subscribe" and you are on your way to receiving every podcast as they are made available (by your's truly). If you do not use iTunes, but would still like to listen, you can go directly to the Radio Worldview page on the Worldview Academy website and download each episode in .mp3 format.

In other news, I began reading Mark Bertrand's book, Rethinking Worldview: Learning to Think, Live and Speak in This World, which has been very enjoyable so far. He hits on a very important problem in the way people handle and treat worldview thinking, namely, that of simplification and generalization. Worldview thinking is not as cut-and-dry as some authors and speakers lead us to believe. Part of this is due to pedagogical limitations. When you only have a 50 minute slot to speak or teach, sometimes one has to generalize to at least some extent. Still, Mark reinforces and reminds us that things are not always as simple and easy as we make them out to be. Another thing that I have enjoyed so far in the book his is references to events that took place on the road with Worldview Academy in the summer. I was present for, or had at least heard, many of these stories, so I think I am able to identify which the examples a little more than some readers. For more information, you can go to the Rethinking Worldview website, or order it off of Amazon.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

"He has appointed all of this to befall me"

The doctrine of Providence is more than an academic armchair topic, or a matter for hair-splitters. Rather, Providence is a very real element of Christian life. Indeed, if God is truly reigning over heaven and earth, and if he truly does enjoy all authority in those places, which were not created apart from him, then the doctrine of Divine Providence is one of the most practical of all Christian teachings.

The doctrine of Providence teaches that "God the good Creator of all things, in his infinite power and wisdom doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, to the end for the which they were created, according unto his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will; to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, infinite goodness, and mercy." LBCF 1689 5.1

Providence is a great comfort to Christians in times of affliction. Facing pursecution, flat tires, or family troubles, Providence assures and reminds us that God is in control and works all things for good and his glory and gives meaning to the sufferings that overcome the Christian.

A "providential mindset" is absent among too many Christians. I think that this is due, in part, to the lack of proper understanding of suffering in the Christian life. Some wrongly believe, as Job's friends did, that suffering only comes on those who are in sin, or that when it does happen, it was not what God had in mind for that person. In such an instance, God is either simply warning or punishing sin, or he is made to be caught by surprise and forced to dance to the tune called by the calamity.

When reflecting on Robinson Crusoe's revelation that God "has appointed all of this to befall me," it calls to mind not the things that I have sought and desired and not obtained (a job, meaningful relationships, graduate school, etc), but rather, the blessings that I have received in spite of my sin, or those that have come about through my trials.

While it was often a source of stress, working in leadership with campus ministry served a purpose that I do not think I yet fully understand. However, I believe that my presence there was for a reason, and so when I contemplated resigning my position in the middle of the school year, the words of Mordaci dissolved those thoughts: "Perhaps you have been placed this position for such a time as this."

Providence works in mysterious ways. It is not, as Mark Bertrand says, the same thing as divine intervention. God does not sit back, observing his clockwork-creation, intervening here and there, making minor adjustments as needed. No, Providence is more like the banks, rapids and cataracts of a river. They shape, define and steer the course of the water. From a human perspective, Augustine, in Confessions, wrote that time and Providence could be compared to standing in a river, facing upstream. Reality comes roaring toward the individual, imposing, passing over and through. It moves and directs and is not moved or directed. In short, Providence, like the flow of a river, is inevitable in the face of human opposition. Providence works more than major events of history, such as the position of the fog that covered Washington's retreat, or the sudden and mysterious death of Atilla the Hun. It is seen in these things, but also in smaller, more subtle ways.

One such subtle way is how the intersecting of lives, even for a short time, can have a profound impact on one's life. I strongly disliked him at the time but my sister's first boyfriend, indirectly, had a profound impact on my life. From his family, we were introduced to Worldview Academy. At Worldview, I not only experienced a dramatic shift in my thinking and a greater and more intense devotion to Christian truth, but I also met people whose example of servant leadership inspires me to this day. Through Worldview Academy, I heard about Hillsdale College, and through the friends I made and professors I learned from at Hillsdale, I have been pushed toward a more mature understanding of God and man. Through Worldview Academy, I met people who have given me opportunities I would not have otherwise had. Through God's plan, one organization brought together, directly and indirectly, people whose thoughts and lives have dramatically changed mine. Indeed, my intersection with these people was brought about as a result of circumstances less than pleasant.

I nearly went to a different college. I almost did not work with Worldview this summer. I wanted to be in graduate school right now. I smashed my toe a few weeks ago. I have an upset stomach tonight. God has appointed all this to befall me. I do not know the reason for all that has transpired in my life. I do not know the full impact that I have, had, or will have, on other people. All I know is that God has promised to work all things for good; that he adopted me before the foundations of the earth, and that he has chosen to bring himself glory in my life.

"He has appointed all this to befall me." What have I to fear or dread? The Providence of God comforts us in times of trouble. It comforts us when we are weary and broken. It breaks us and remakes us. Life is not in vain, nor is death. "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven"