Putting Beliefs Into Practice Revisited: Twenty-somethings and Faithful Living

Rick Wade updates his earlier discussion of 3 major ingredients necessary for Christians’ faithful living: convictions, character, and community.

A Turning Point

In recent months Probe has focused more and more attention on the state of the younger generations in the evangelical church regarding their fidelity to basic Christian doctrines and Christian practices like prayer and church attendance. Our concern has deepened as we’ve become more aware of the fact that, not only is the grasp on Christian beliefs and practices loosening, but that some unbiblical beliefs and practices in our secular culture are seen as acceptable for Christians.

Download the Podcast With this in mind it seems appropriate to revisit a program I wrote over ten years ago on the necessity of linking our beliefs with the way we live in order to practice a healthy Christian life. It was based on Steven Garber’s book The Fabric of Faithfulness.{1} Garber’s book was written with college students in mind. However, the principles are the same for people in other stages of life as well.

The Fabric of Faithfulness was written to help students in the critical task of establishing moral meaning in their lives. By “moral meaning” he is referring to the moral significance of the general direction of our lives and of the things we do with our days. “How is it,” he asks, “that someone decides which cares and commitments will give shape and substance to life, for life?”{2}

In this article I want to look at three significant factors which form the foundations for making our lives fit our beliefs: convictions, character, and community.{3}

For many young people, college provides the context for what the late Erik Erikson referred to as a turning point, “a crucial period in which a decisive turn one way or another is unavoidable.”{4} However, as sociologists Christian Smith and Patricia Snell report, graduation from college is no longer the marker for the transition of youth to adult.{5} Steve Cable notes that “most young adults assume that they will go through an extended period of transition, trying different life experiences, living arrangements, careers, relationships, and viewpoints until they finally are able to stand on their own and settle down. . . . Some researchers refer to this recently created life phase as ‘emerging adulthood,’ covering the period from 18 to 29.”{6}
<h3>Telos and Praxis

The young adult years are often taken as a time to sow one’s wild oats, to have lots of fun before the pressures (and dull routine!) of “real life” settle in. Too much playing, however, delays one’s preparation for those pressures. In addition, bad choices can be made during that time that will negatively affect the course of one’s life.

Theologian Jacques Ellul gives this charge to young people:

“Remember your Creator during your youth: when all possibilities lie open before you and you can offer all your strength intact for his service. The time to remember is not after you become senile and paralyzed! . . . You must take sides earlier—when you can actually make choices, when you have many paths opening at your feet, before the weight of necessity overwhelms you.”{7}

Living in a time when so many things seem so uncertain, how do we even begin to think about setting a course for the future? Steven Garber uses a couple of Greek words to identify two foundational aspects of life which determine its shape to a great extent: telos and praxis. Telos is the word for the end toward which something is moving or developing. It is the goal, the culmination, the final form which gives meaning to all that goes before it. The goal of Christians is to be made complete in Christ as Paul said in Colossians 1:28: “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature [or complete or perfect] in Christ.” This over-arching telos or goal should govern the entirety of our lives.

Garber’s second word, praxis, means action or deed.{8} Jesus uses the word in Matthew 16:27 when he speaks of us being repaid according to our deeds or praxis.

While everyone engages in some kind of praxis or deeds, in the postmodern world there is little thought given to telos because many people believe no one can know what is ultimately real, what is eternal, and thus where we are going. We are told, on the one hand, that our lives are completely open and free and the outcome is totally up to us, but, on the other, that our lives are determined and it doesn’t matter what we do. How are we to make sense of our lives if either of those is true?

Where we begin is the basic beliefs that comprise the telos of the Christian; i.e., our convictions.

Convictions: Where It Begins

When we think of our “end” in Christ we’re thinking of something much bigger and more substantive than just where we will spend eternity. We’re thinking of the goal toward which history is marching. In His eternal wisdom God chose to sum up all things in Christ (Eph. 1:10). New Testament scholar J. B. Lightfoot wrote that this refers to “the entire harmony of the universe, which shall no longer contain alien and discordant elements, but of which all the parts shall find their centre and bond of union in Christ.”{9} It is the telos or “end” of Christians to be made perfect parts of the new creation.

Who is this Jesus and what did he teach? He said that He is the only way to God, and that our connection with Him is by faith, but a faith that results in godly living. He talked about sin and its destruction, and about true faith and obedience. What Jesus said and did provide the content and ground of our convictions, and these convictions provide the ground and direction for the way we live. These aren’t just religious ideas we’ve chosen to adopt. They are true to the way things are.

Garber tells the story of Dan Heimbach who served on President George H. W. Bush’s Domestic Policy Council. Heimbach sensed a need while in high school to be truly authentic with respect to his beliefs. He wanted to know if Christianity was really true. When serving in Vietnam he began asking himself whether he could really live with his convictions. He says,

“Everyone had overwhelmingly different value systems. While there I once asked myself why I had to be so different. With a sense of tremendous internal challenge I could say that the one thing keeping me from being like the others was that deep down I was convinced of the truth of my faith; this moment highlighted what truth meant to me, and I couldn’t turn my back on what I knew to be true.”{10}

Christian teachings that we believe give meaning to our existence; they provide an intellectual anchor in a world of multiple and conflicting beliefs, and give direction for our lives. For a person to live consistently as a Christian, he or she must know at least basic Christian doctrines, and be convinced that they are “true truth” as Francis Schaeffer put it: what is really true.

Character: Living It Out

So our beliefs must be grounded in Christ. But we can’t stop there. Not only do we need to receive as true what Jesus taught, we also need to live it out as He did. After telling the Corinthians to do all things to the glory of God, Paul added that they should “be imitators of me as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).

Morality is inextricably wedded to the way the world is. A universe formed by matter and chance cannot provide moral meaning. The idea of a “cosmos without purpose,” says Garber, “is at the heart of the challenge facing students in the modern world.”{11}This is a challenge for all of us, student and non-student. Such a world provides no rules or structure for life. Christianity, on the other hand, provides a basis for responsible living for there is a God back of it all who is a moral being, who created the universe and the people in it to function certain ways. To not live in keeping with the way things are is to invite disaster.

If we accept that Christianity does provide for the proper development of character in the individual based on the truth of its teachings, we must then ask how that development comes about. Garber believes an important component in that process is a mentor or guide.

Grace Tazelaar graduated from Wheaton College, went into nursing, and later taught in the country of Uganda as it was being rebuilt following the reign of Idi Amin. At some point she asked a former teacher to be her spiritual mentor. Says Garber, “This woman, who had spent years in South Africa, gave herself to Grace as she was beginning to explore her own place of responsible service.” Grace saw her mentor’s beliefs worked out in real life.{12}

The White Rose was a group of students in Germany who opposed Nazism. Brother and sister Hans and Sophie Scholl were strongly influenced in their work by Carl Muth, a theologian and editor of an anti-Nazi periodical. One writer noted that “The Christian Gospel became the criterion of their thought and actions.” Their convictions carried them to the point of literally losing their heads for their opposition.

Being a mentor involves more than teaching others how to have quiet times. They need to see how Christianity is fleshed out in real life, and they need encouragement to extend themselves to a world in need in Jesus’ name, using their own gifts and personalities.

Community: A Place to Grow

Garber adds one more important element to the mix of elements important in being a Christian. We’ve looked at the matter of convictions, the beliefs we hold which give direction and shape to our lives. Then we talked about the development of character, the way those beliefs are worked out in our lives. Community is the third part of this project of “weaving together belief and behavior” (the sub-title of Garber’s book), the place where we see that character worked out in practice.

Christian doctrines can seem so abstract and distant. How does one truly hold to them in a world which thinks so differently? Bob Kramer, who was involved in student protests at Harvard in the ‘60s, said he and his wife learned the importance of surrounding themselves with people who also wanted to connect telos with praxis. He said, “As I have gotten involved in politics and business, I am more and more convinced that the people you choose to have around you have more to do with how you act upon what you believe than what you read or the ideas that influence you. The influence of ideas has to be there, but the application is something it’s very hard to work out by yourself.”{13}

The Christian community (or the church), if it’s functioning properly, can provide a solid plausibility structure for those who are finding their way. To read about love and forgiveness and kindness and self-sacrifice is one thing; to see it lived out within a body of people is quite another. It provides significant evidence that the convictions are valid. “We discover who we are,” says Garber, “and who we are meant to be—face to face and side by side with others in work, love and learning.”{14}

During their university years and early twenties, if they care about the course of their lives, young people will have to make major decisions about what they believe and what those beliefs mean. Garber writes, “Choices about meaning, reality and truth, about God, human nature and history are being made which, more often than not, last for the rest of life. Learning to make sense of life, for life, is what the years between adolescence and adulthood are all about.”{15}

Convictions, character, and community are three major ingredients for producing a life of meaningful service in the kingdom of God, for putting together our telos and our praxis.

Notes

1. Steven Garber, The Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief and Behavior During the University Years (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996). An expanded edition was published in 2007 under the shortened title The Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief and Behavior.

2.Ibid., 27.

3. Ibid., 37.

4. Erik Erikson, Insight and Responsibility: Lectures on the Ethical Implications of Psychoanalytic Insight (New York: W.W. Norton, 1964), 138, quoted in Garber, 17.

5. Christian Smith and Patricia Snell, Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults (Oxford University Press, 2009).

6. Steve Cable, “Emerging Adults and the Future of Faith in America,” Probe Ministries, 2010, www.probe.org/emerging-adults-and-the-future-of-faith-in-america/.

7. Jacques Ellul, Reason for Being: A Meditation on Ecclesiastes (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), 282-83, quoted in Garber, 39.
8. Colin Brown, ed., The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976), s.v. “Work,” by H.-C. Hahn (3:1157-58). [Note: The hyphen is there in the source text.]

9. J. B. Lightfoot, Notes on the Epistle of St. Paul, 322, quoted in Brown, NIDNTT, s.v. “Head,” by C. Brown (2:163).
10. Garber, Fabric, 122.

11. Ibid., 59.

12. Ibid., 130.

13. Ibid., 149.

14. Ibid., 147.

15. Ibid., 175.

© 2011 Probe Ministries


The Value of Christian Doctrine and Apologetics

Dr. Michael Gleghorn makes a case for why Christian doctrine and apologetics are important for spiritual growth and maturity.

download-podcastJust prior to beginning college, I committed my life to Christ. Naturally, as a new believer wanting to grow in my faith, I embarked upon a program of daily Bible reading. When I came to Paul’s letter to Titus in the New Testament, I was both struck and inspired by a particular command, which I found nestled among others, there in the first chapter.

Paul reminded Titus, whom he had left on the island of Crete, that he wanted him to “straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders” in the local churches which had been established (Titus 1:5). After listing various spiritual and moral qualifications that an elder was to have, Paul went on to insist that he must also “hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:9). When I first read those words, it was as if a light went on inside my head and I thought, “That’s exactly what I would like to do! I want to be able to ‘encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it’” (Titus 1:9). Paul’s words thus encouraged me to take up, in a serious way, the study of Christian doctrine and apologetics.

But what exactly do I mean by “Christian doctrine” and “apologetics”? At its most basic level, Christian doctrine is essentially the same thing as Christian teaching. Such teaching aims at providing a logically consistent and “coherent explication of what the Christian believes.”{1} Apologetics is a bit more complicated. It comes from the Greek term, apologia, and means “defense.” It was often used in law courts in the ancient world.{2} Indeed, the book of Acts records several instances in which the Apostle Paul was called upon to “make a defense” of himself before various governing authorities, like Felix, Festus, and Agrippa (e.g., Acts 24:10; 25:8; 26:1-2).

Of course, when we’re talking about Christian apologetics, we’re concerned with “making a defense” of the truth-claims of Christianity. The Apostle Peter tells us, “Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15). Christian doctrine and apologetics play an important role in the life and health of the church. So please keep reading as we delve more deeply into these issues.

The Value of Christian Doctrine

Why is Christian doctrine important for the life and health of the church? The Apostle Paul told Titus that he wanted him to appoint elders in the local church who would be able to “encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:9). The teaching of sound Christian doctrine is important for several reasons, but for now let me simply mention two. First, sound Christian doctrine helps us to learn what is true about both God and ourselves. Second, it reminds us of the right way to live in light of such truths. And both of these are essential for the life and health of the church.

First, it’s important to know what is true about God and ourselves. Indeed, our eternal destiny depends on it! Not only must we know that God is holy and righteous and will punish all sin, we must also realize that we are sinners (Numbers 14:18; Romans 3:23). But this, in itself, would lead to despair. Hence, we must also understand that God loves us and sent his Son to be the Savior of the world (John 3:16; 1 John 4:14). We need to grasp that
forgiveness and reconciliation with God are freely available to those who turn to Christ in repentance and faith (Acts 3:19; 16:31). Sound Christian doctrine is thus essential for salvation (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 John 5:9-13; 2 John 1:9). Without it, true spiritual life and health is impossible.

But this does not exhaust the importance of Christian doctrine. For once we are saved through faith in Christ, God then calls us to grow up and become like his Son—and this would be exceedingly difficult apart from instruction in sound Christian doctrine. As Christian philosopher Bill Craig observes, “If we want to live correctly for Christ . . . we need to first think correctly about Christ. If your thinking is skewed and off-base, it is going to affect your life and your Christian discipleship.”{3} Indeed, the Apostle Paul contrasts Christian maturity, characterized by genuine “knowledge of the Son of God,” with spiritual immaturity, characterized by a lack of such knowledge and a proneness to being deceived (Ephesians 4:13-14).

God calls us to Christian maturity—and instruction in Christian doctrine plays an important role in our spiritual growth. But there is also a role for Christian apologetics—and we must now turn to consider that.

A Defense of Christian Apologetics

Many people question the value of Christian apologetics for the life and health of the church.{4} They contend that it’s impossible to “argue” anyone into becoming a Christian. Instead of making a defense for the truth of Christianity, we ought rather to invest our limited resources in preaching the gospel of Christ, trusting that God will open people’s hearts and draw them to himself.

Now while I certainly agree that we should be preaching the gospel, and trusting that God will use it to draw men and women to himself, this negative view of apologetics is frankly unbiblical, untrue, and shortsighted.

In the first place, such a view is unbiblical. Both Jesus and the Apostle Paul used arguments and evidence to convince their listeners of particular theological truths (Matthew 22:15-46; Acts 17:16-34). Moreover, the
Apostle Peter tells us to always be ready to “make a defense” (or offer an apologetic) to those who ask about our hope in Christ (1 Peter 3:15). A negative view of Christian apologetics thus runs counter to the teaching of
Scripture.

Second, it’s simply untrue that no one ever comes to Christ through apologetic arguments and evidence.{5} Indeed, sometimes the Holy Spirit actually uses arguments and evidence to draw people to Christ!{6} And while such people may admittedly be in the minority, they can be extremely influential in commending the faith to others, for they are often prepared to offer good reasons for believing that Christianity is really true!

Finally, a negative view of Christian apologetics is shortsighted. The great theologian J. Gresham Machen argued that we should aim to create “favorable conditions for the reception of the gospel.” Along these lines, he noted the difficulty of attempting to do evangelism once we’ve given up offering an intellectually credible case for the truth of Christianity. “We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer,” he said, “and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation . . . to be controlled by ideas which . . . prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion.”{7} Machen understood that neglecting apologetics is shortsighted. For unless we offer arguments and evidence, we make it that much easier for people to simply shrug their shoulders and continue ignoring Christianity’s truth-claims.

Having now dismantled the arguments against apologetics, we’ll next consider its benefits for the life and health of the church.

The Value of Christian Apologetics

Christian apologetics is concerned to offer a robust defense for the truth of Christianity. Hence, training in Christian apologetics can be of great value for the life and health of the church. This is because such training helps to instill within believers a deep confidence that Christianity is really true. And when one becomes convinced that Christianity is really true, one is typically more likely to share one’s faith with others—and less likely to abandon the faith when confronted with various social, cultural, and intellectual pressures.

Let’s consider that first point, that when one becomes convinced of Christianity’s truth, one is more likely to share this truth with others. Many Christians admit to being hesitant about sharing their faith because they’re afraid someone will ask them a question that they are ill-prepared to answer.{8} Training in apologetics can help counteract this fear. Granted, one may still be asked a question that is difficult to answer. But apologetics training can help alleviate the fear associated with such situations by helping believers understand that good answers are available—even if they can’t remember what those answers are! To give an illustration, if I learn that there is excellent evidence that a particular drug can cure some disease, then I will be far more confident about sharing this fact with others—even if I can’t answer all their questions about how the medicine works. I may not remember exactly how it works, but I do know that there is very good evidence that it works. And knowing this, I will naturally be more confident telling others about it, even if I can’t answer all their questions about how or why.

Moreover, training in apologetics can help insulate believers from abandoning the faith, for they now know that there are good reasons to believe that Christianity is really true. Of course, most people who abandon the faith do
so for non-intellectual reasons. Still, as Paul Chamberlain observes, “A number of vocal critics who have moved from Christianity to atheism cite intellectual difficulties with Christianity” as a prime reason for quitting the faith.{9} While apologetics training can’t completely prevent such outcomes, it can make them less likely. After all, it’s far more difficult to abandon a view once you’ve become sincerely convinced of its truth.

Our Witness to the World

Over a hundred years ago, the theologian J. Gresham Machen forcefully argued that, for the faithful Christian, all of life—including the arts and sciences and every sphere of intellectual endeavor—must be humbly consecrated to the service of God.{10} Indeed, this should be true not only for every individual Christian in particular, but for the entire church in general. Our witness to the world depends on it.

Machen wrote:

Christianity must pervade not merely all nations, but . . . all of human thought. The Christian, therefore, cannot be indifferent to any branch of earnest human endeavor. It must all be brought into some relation to the gospel. It must be studied either in order to be demonstrated as false, or else in order to be made useful in advancing the Kingdom of God. . . . The Church must seek to conquer not merely every man for Christ, but also the whole of man.{11}

In this article, we’ve been considering the importance of Christian doctrine and apologetics for the life and health of the church. And clearly, Machen’s proposal cannot be effectively implemented apart from a healthy understanding of these issues on the part of the church. After all, how can “all of human thought” be brought “into some relation to the gospel” unless we first understand what the gospel is? How can views “be demonstrated as false” unless we first have some idea of what’s true—and how to reason correctly about it? How can views “be made useful in advancing the Kingdom of God” unless we first understand such views, along with how and why they can be useful in advancing God’s kingdom? If we are ever to have a hope of carrying out a project like this, in a manner that is both practically effective and faithful to our God, then sound Christian doctrine and apologetics must occupy a central role in our endeavors.

Christian doctrine and apologetics are not antithetical to the life and health of the church. They are rather of fundamental importance. Only by knowing what we believe, and why it’s really true, can we fulfill Peter’s injunction to always be ready “to make a defense” to anyone who asks about our hope in Christ (1 Peter 3:15). And only thus can we progress to true spiritual maturity, avoiding the “craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:13-14). So if we care about the life and health of the church—along with its witness to the world—we must encourage a healthy dose of respect for sound Christian doctrine and apologetics.

Notes

1. Molly Marshall-Green, “Doctrine,” in Holman Bible Dictionary, gen. ed. Trent C. Butler (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 1991), 374.
2. Steven B. Cowan, “Introduction,” in Five Views on Apologetics, ed. Steven B. Cowan (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 8, Kindle.
3. William Lane Craig, “Foundations of Christian Doctrine (Part 1),” Reasonable Faith, October 22, 2014, accessed August 22, 2018, www.reasonablefaith.org/podcasts/defenders-podcast-series-3/s3-foundations-of-christian-doctrine/foundations-of-christian-doctrine-part-1/.
4. Many of the points made in this section are indebted to the discussion in William Lane Craig, “Foundations of Christian Doctrine (Part 2),” Reasonable Faith, October 29, 2014, accessed August 29, 2018, www.reasonablefaith.org/podcasts/defenders-podcast-series-3/s3-foundations-of-christian-doctrine/foundations-of-christian-doctrine-part-2/.
5. See, for example, the “Testimonials” section of the Reasonable Faith website, accessed August 29, 2018, www.reasonablefaith.org/testimonials.
6. William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, 3rd ed. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008), 192.
7. J. Gresham Machen, “Christianity and Culture,” Princeton Theological Review 11 (1913): 7.
8. Indeed, entire books have been written to help believers feel better prepared for such conversations. See, for example, Mark Mittelberg, The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask: (With Answers) (Tyndale, 2010).
9. Paul Chamberlain, “Why People Stop Believing,” Christian Research Journal 41, no. 4:11.
10. Machen, “Christianity and Culture,” 5.
11. Ibid., 6.

©2019 Probe Ministries


How Bad is This Conversion Therapy Thing?

As pro-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) voices and values grow louder and more insistent in the culture, what about those people of faith who experience same-sex attraction and don’t want it? What are they supposed to do with feelings and desires at odds with their faith? How are they supposed to learn to reconcile their faith and their sexuality?

The cultural narrative has become, “LGBT represents normal, healthy variations in human sexuality, so everyone should support and celebrate all forms of sexual diversity. And if you don’t, we’re going to punish you, shame you, and squelch your voice.”

Part of the punishing and shaming includes outrage over “Conversion Therapy.” A growing number of states outlaw it. What makes it so bad and why are people so angry about it?

What is Conversion Therapy?

Conversion Therapy is usually defined as therapy designed to change a person’s sexual orientation. But is that what it really is? Therapy is a shortened form of the word “psychotherapy,” which means the treatment given by a licensed mental health professional such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, a social worker, or a licensed counselor. So Conversion Therapy isn’t therapy without a professional counselor of some kind, with the goal of changing someone’s sexual orientation.{1} But do a Google search for organizations being labelled as doing (or even promoting) Conversion Therapy—which will include a number of churches—and you’ll find neither element happening.

Conversion Therapy is the current buzzword that instantly communicates something that smears hate, shame, judgment and probable suicidality in those who undergo it, forced or not. It is not acceptable to say there’s anything wrong or unhealthy about any form of “sexual diversity.” Those that do—for example, anyone who holds to a biblical, traditional view of marriage and sexuality—are labeled as haters, bigots, prudes, outdated . . . and wrong.

Anne Paulk, director of Restored Hope Network, describes it as “an ideological term used by the GLBTQ activist community and their supporters who seek to link compassionate spiritual care and talk therapy with horrible, clearly disreputable practices.”{2}

These “disreputable practices” include stories of some extremists who used torture, pain and punishment to try and exorcise homosexuality from people. Most notably and recently, the movie Boy Erased purports to show the true story of a teenage boy whose parents sent him to a strict camp that left heartbreaking wounds on his soul. (It should also be noted that the producers took a number of creative liberties to produce the most dramatic moments of the film, none of which actually happened per the book.) The cultural narrative lumps extremists with all those engaged in helping those with unwanted homosexuality, painting them all with a broad brush of condemnation.

Helping Those Who Want the Help

A number of ministries and churches actively seek to help those who don’t want their same-sex feelings or their discomfort with their gender. Or, even if they don’t fight against their feelings, they want to live lives honoring to God despite their desires, which means not giving into them. These ministries and organizations neither offer nor promise conversion of homosexual attractions into heterosexual ones. That would be like offering to make someone stop loving chocolate and start loving kale. Not gonna happen, right?

But they can teach what God’s word says about sexuality, discipleship, and living a life pleasing to God. They can help people (note: choose to, not be forced to) submit every area of their lives to the lordship of Jesus Christ, including sexuality. There are many who define and identify themselves by their sexuality; God’s word calls us to define and identify ourselves by our relationship to Him.

Human sexuality is a complex, many-layered issue comprised of a lifetime of experiences, perceptions, habits, and ways of thinking. There’s nothing simple about it. It has also, for every one of us, been impacted by the Fall and the pervading presence of sin.

But Is Change Even Possible?

Ever hear the pejoratively-used phrase “Pray away the gay”? That’s as effective as praying away fat. A prayer like, “Please Jesus make me stop wanting people/things/food I shouldn’t” has never worked because He doesn’t have a magic wand. He says to all those who want to be His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). That means saying no to ourselves and to our flesh, the part of us that operates independently of God. The apostle Paul instructs us in Romans 12:2 to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind. . .” Cooperating with God to renew our mind means submitting our thoughts and habits to Him, “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). The call to surrender every part of us, including our sexuality, as the way to obey and honor God, is a difficult one, and it takes community. It takes the support of other Christ-followers to walk alongside us, pray for us, speak God’s truth to us, encourage us, challenge us, restore us when we stumble and fall, and help us keep going.

Change is not only possible, it is the mark of things that are alive. And it is the fruit of the gospel. Lasting change comes not from human effort but from supernatural transformation as we surrender to the work of God in our lives. We experience change as we are transformed into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). Christlikeness produces change in how we think, what we believe, how we see ourselves and others, our behavior, and finally—like the caboose on a train—our feelings. But there’s no point in trying to change the feelings apart from the rest of the process.

Discipleship is often what’s happening in ministries and churches that are smeared with the label of “Conversion Therapy,” being lied about and attacked by people who can’t abide any position other than their own.

Next time you see the term “Conversion Therapy,” know that it’s not about shutting down bad therapists. It’s about shutting up people who agree with God about sexuality.

1. I am indebted to the amazing Joe Dallas for his crazy-great analysis and tender compassion concerning this issue, particularly this article: joedallas.com/2018/11/13/dances-with-snakes/
2. www.wnd.com/2019/02/ex-gay-leader-jesus-still-transforms-lives/

This blog post originally appeared at blogs.bible.org/engage/sue_bohlin/how_bad_is_this_conversion_therapy_thing
on February 19, 2019.


Your Board of Directors

At a conference several years ago I was given a thought-provoking challenge, to identify the people on the board of directors of my life: whose voices do I listen to? Whose counsel do I follow? Whose values do I respond to?

The speaker pointed out that some people ought to be kicked off our board—like parents, if their voices of shame and criticism still control and restrict us. So should voices of much of the media, especially TV. And we can replace them with wiser, more godly voices who can offer us direction and perspective. There was a discussion of categories of potential board members. They don’t have to be alive, and we don’t have to personally know them, either.

The Lord Jesus, of course, needs to be the #1 board member. If we’re married, our spouse should be on our board. The Apostle Paul is a good board member. Peter and James are good too, as is Solomon. So are some of the church fathers and Christian writers like C.S. Lewis. Or a pastor, and not necessarily our own. (I have a friend in a distant city who has adopted my pastor as hers, and listens to every audio recording my church puts online.) Mentors are great board members, and so are wise and trusted friends.

A few weeks ago, John Townsend, one of the co-authors of the Boundaries series, was at my church. I love what he writes and listen to him on the radio show “New Life Live” whenever possible. I had a chance to talk to him briefly, so I told him about my board of directors. “John,” I said, “Several years ago I installed you as a permanent member of my board. Other people have come and gone, but you’re always there. I really appreciate your wisdom and godly perspective, and you have equipped me to respond to various life challenges. Just wanted you to know how you’ve blessed me even though we’ve never met.”

(To my delighted surprise, he lit up and asked if he could hug me!)

Who’s on your board? Who can you kick off to the glory of God? (Hint: magazines that make you unhappy with how God made you as you compare yourself to the celebrities and models inside, certain internet sites, particular TV shows. . .)

Who can you put on your board? Let’s hear it.

 

This blog post originally appeared at blogs.bible.org/engage/sue_bohlin/your_board_of_directors
in July 2009.


When God Shows Off

For the past several years I’ve been challenged to grow in my understanding of grace. John Ortberg says it’s “the flow of God’s power and presence and favor in your life, moment by moment, that enables you to do whatever it is God has for you to do.”

So what does God’s grace look like when it is released in our puny little human lives? I got another taste of it recently.

My dear friend Ricky Chelette of Living Hope Ministries and I were privileged to speak at conferences in three Australian cities on a redemptive view of homosexuality, ministering to strugglers, their parents, and ministry workers. The first leg of our flights to Sydney was delayed in Dallas long enough that we missed the connection in Los Angeles, and we were rebooked on the Sydney-bound flight 24 hours later. But that meant that we would arrive in Sydney after 21 hours of traveling at 6:30 a.m., and the first conference started at 9:00 a.m.

Any way you look at it, that’s just crazy.

Neither of us sleeps well sitting up, so we knew we would arrive in Australia quite exhausted and sleep-deprived. Our prayer was, “Lord, we can’t do this unless You show up with grace and power. We are completely dependent on You.”

As the cabin crew started distributing breakfast, we compared notes on how we were feeling. To our amazement, the little snatches of sleep we were able to get recharged our batteries far more than we expected. We felt remarkably good, thanking the Lord for that blessing.

We were whisked off to the church that hosted the conference, arriving at 8:15. That was enough time for both of us to wash our faces, brush our teeth, and change clothes. I was even able to put my contacts back in, which is really saying something considering the burning-eyes syndrome that usually follows a ridiculously long plane flight. At 9:00, we were introduced, and BANG! We were off and running.

And all day, we were aware that God was holding us up in His hands, pouring supernatural energy and alertness into us. We have spoken together at numerous conferences in the past, and there was no difference in the amount of animation or articulation in our teaching. People marveled that we had just stepped off a plane from America and they couldn’t tell at all.

God kept us going all day and through dinner with our hosts, all the way till bedtime, as if we had had a good night’s sleep in our own beds the night before. That’s what grace looks like. That’s what grace feels like. The flow of His power and presence and favor in our lives, moment by moment, that allows us to do whatever God has for us to do.

Grace is God showing off, where He gets the glory and we get to marvel at His power and goodness.

And it’s very, very cool!

This blog post originally appeared at
blogs.bible.org/engage/sue_bohlin/when_god_shows_off
on Aug. 31, 2010.


Leaving Christianity

Last week (August 3, 2010), writer Anne Rice—author of The Vampire Chronicles—publicly renounced Christianity, but not Christ, on her Facebook page. In 2004 she had come back to her Roman Catholic roots after a foray in atheism, during which time she wrote her vampire books. She later identified these books as reflecting her quest for meaning in a world without God. Embracing Jesus as her Savior, Anne announced that she would henceforth “write only for the Lord.” Her next two books were Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt and Christ the Lord: Road to Cana, chronicling the life of Jesus.

But now she’s had enough of the church:

“For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being ‘Christian’ or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”

A few hours later, she followed up her post with this:

“As I said below, I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”

She reaffirmed her faith in Christ with a lack of faith in Christianity an hour or so later with the following post:

“My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn’t understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become.”

This breaks my heart, for several reasons.

First, she has a valid point about what “Christianity” has been shaped to look like in many churches and in many individuals: that it’s more what we’re against than what we’re for. See the book unChristian: What a New Generations Really Thinks About Christianity. . . And Why it Matters. Shallow discipleship has created an ugly characterization of what the Church, and Christians, are supposed to look like.

Second, she doesn’t understand that while Christ is the Head, the Church is His Body. No one can take themselves out of the Body of Christ without harm, just as a physical body is harmed if one hand chops off the other. Christianity is about Jesus, not the unfortunate misunderstandings of what it means to follow Him. But God calls us to do life in community, not on our own. Maybe Anne needs to find a different faith community than the one she’s been in.

Third, in a battle between her cherished beliefs and values and the Bible’s, hers are winning. Spiritual maturity means we submit ourselves to the authority and power of the Scriptures and of the Holy Spirit, resulting in our transformation. And that includes changing the way we think when our thoughts and desires collide with what God has revealed as truth. No one wins, in the end, when we refuse to be informed and formed by what God says, but Anne Rice cherishes her beliefs more than those of the Jesus she wants to follow. That is tragic.

I’m praying for her eyes to be open on several levels. I invite you to pray for her as well.

 

This blog post originally appeared at blogs.bible.org/engage/sue_bohlin/leaving_christianity on August 3, 2010.


Putting Beliefs Into Practice

Rick Wade uncovers and analyzes three major ingredients to help students produce a life of meaningful service in the kingdom of God: convictions, character, community.

Why Do You Get Up in the Morning?

“Why do you get up in the morning?”

That’s a question Steven Garber likes to ask college students. It might sound like a rather silly question at first. We get up in the morning because there are things to be done that won’t get done if we lie in bed all day. But Garber wants to know something more important. What are the things that lie ahead of us that make it worth getting out of bed? What do we intend to accomplish? Are our ambitions for the day worthy ones? More importantly, How do they fit with our view of life, or our worldview?

Wait a minute. This is getting rather heavy. Should the activities of our day—routine and non-routine—be tied somehow to a worldview? This implies that our basic beliefs are significant for the way we live, and, conversely, that what we do with our days reflects what we really believe.

The Fabric of FaithfulnessSteven Garber believes both are true. Garber is on the faculty of the American Studies Program in Washington, D.C. In 1996 he published a book titled The Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief and Behavior During the University Years. {1} The purpose of this book is to help students in the critical task of establishing moral meaning in their lives. By moral meaning he is referring to the moral significance of the general direction of our lives and of the things we do with our days. What do our lives mean on a moral level? “How is it,” he asks, “that someone decides which cares and commitments will give shape and substance to life, for life? This question and its answer are the heart of this book.” {2}

In this article we will look at the three significant factors to which Garber draws attention, factors that form the foundations for making our lives fit our beliefs: convictions, character, and community. {3}

For many young people, college provides the context for what the late Erik Erikson referred to as a turning point, “a crucial period in which a decisive turn one way or another is unavoidable.” {4} College students no longer have Mom and Dad looking over their shoulders; their youth pastors are back home; their friends and other significant adults are not around to keep those boundaries in place that once defined their lives. They are on their own, for the most part. In loco parentis was the place the university once held in students’ lives: “In the place of the parents.” No more. One writer says tongue in cheek that the new philosophy is non sum mater tua: “I’m not your mama.”{5}

Even worse for Christian students, when they are on campus they don’t find themselves on their own in a perfectly innocuous environment that seeks to continue in the students’ lives what their parents began. Professor J. Budziszewski, a faculty member at the University of Texas at Austin, says that “The modern university is profoundly alienated from God and hostile to Christian faith.” {6} Thus it is that in the college environment Christian students are really put to the test. Given the loss of the support group at home, on the one hand, and the input of new ideas and activities that are antithetical to their faith, on the other, how will they not only stand firm in their faith, but actively move forward in developing a life that is consistent with what they believe?

Before considering what Garber says about convictions, character, and community, let’s think about beliefs and practice in general.

Telos and Praxis

Many students think of the college years as their chance to finally break loose of the constraints of home and have a good time—a really good time—before settling down into the hum-drum routine of adult life. They see education simply as a means for getting good jobs. Thus, academics are too often governed by the marketplace. Students who try to discuss ideas and issues outside the classroom are often put down by their peers. The attitude seems to be to do just enough to get the grades, and let the party begin! {7}

Is this why we send our children to college? Just to get good grades to get good jobs? For the Christian student this question is ever so vital.

Hear how Jacques Ellul expands the message of Ecclesiastes chapter 12:

Remember your Creator during your youth: when all possibilities lie open before you and you can offer all your strength intact for his service. The time to remember is not after you become senile and paralyzed! Then it is not too late for your salvation, but too late for you to serve as the presence of God in the midst of the world and the creation. You must take sides earlier—when you can actually make choices, when you have many paths opening at your feet, before the weight of necessity overwhelms you. {8}

Students don’t understand the pressures that will come with career and marriage and family and all the other ingredients of adult life. The time to think, choose, and begin acting is when the possibilities still lie open before them.

Steven Garber uses two Greek words to identify the two aspects of life which must be united: telos and praxis. Telos is the Greek word for the end toward which something is moving or developing. It isn’t just the end in the sense of the final moment in time; it is the goal, the culmination, the final form that gives meaning to all that goes before it. The goal that defines all human life is the time when Christ will return and reign forever and believers will be conformed to His image completely. This telos or goal should govern our actions. In fact, the adjectival form of the word, teleios, is the word Paul and James use when they call us to be perfect or complete (Col. 1:28; James 1:4).

Garber’s second word, praxis, means action or deed. {9} In Matthew 16:27, for example, Jesus speaks of us being repaid according to our deeds or praxis.

The question we all need to ask ourselves is whether we are ordering our praxis in keeping with our telos. Does the end toward which we are heading as children of God define the activities of our lives?

While everyone engages in some kind of praxis or deeds, in the postmodern world there is no telos, no end toward which everything is moving. Westerners no longer even look for the perfection of man, as in modernism. College students are told in so many different ways that their lives are either completely open—the “freedom” of existentialism, or completely determined—in which case freedom is an illusion. So either there is nothing bigger than us to which we might aspire, or we’re just being carried along by forces we can’t control. In either case, how are students to make any sense of their lives in general or their studies in particular? Emotivism and pragmatism rule. We choose based upon our own feelings or desires—which can change frequentlyor in accordance with what works or both. And what “works” is what gives them the best chance in the marketplace. Is there anything bigger that should give students a focus for their studies and their lives?

Convictions—The Foundation of Basic Beliefs

Foundational to how we live is the body of basic beliefs we hold. I noted earlier Garber’s use the words telos and praxis to refer to the end toward which we are moving and the practice or deeds of our lives. The matter of telos or end points to the content of our faith, or our worldview, which forms our basic convictions. Let’s look more closely at the importance of convictions.

When we think of our end in Christ we’re thinking of something much bigger and more substantive than just where we will spend eternity. We’re thinking of the goal toward which history is marching. In His eternal wisdom God chose to sum up all things in Christ (Eph. 1:10). Here’s how J. B. Lightfoot puts it. It speaks of “the entire harmony of the universe, which shall no longer contain alien and discordant elements, but of which all the parts shall find their centre and bond of union in Christ.” {10} It is the telos or end of Christians to be made perfect parts of the new creation.

This isn’t mere philosophical or theological speculation, however, for we have the reality of the historical presence of God in Christ on earth which gave evidence of the truth of these beliefs of a sort we can grasp. This is so important in our day of religious pluralism, an approach to religion that abstracts ideas from various religions in the search for ultimate truth. Christianity isn’t an abstract set of beliefs; it is true religion grounded in objective, historical events. Historical events and revealed meanings provide the objective ground for our convictions. And these convictions provide the ground and direction for the way we live.

It is critical, then, for students to understand Christian doctrine thoroughly and its meaning and application to the various facets of life.

This whole matter of doctrine grounded in historical fact is troublesome in itself today because there has been a rift created between fact and value. Facts are those things that can be measured scientifically. All else, especially religion and morality, is considered value; it is subjective and varies according to personal preference, culture, etc. Students are told that their most basic beliefs are “noncognitive emotional responses or private subjective preferences.” {11} They are told that it doesn’t matter whether what they believe is objectively true; all that matters is whether it is meaningful to them. But as Garber notes, “What is real?’ informs What is true?’ which informs What is right?’” {12} Our beliefs and actions find their ultimate meaning—apart from how we might feel about them—in the fact that they are based on reality.

Garber tells the story of Dan Heimbach who, among other things, served on President Bush’s Domestic Policy Council. Heimbach was raised in a Christian home, but sensed a need while in high school to be truly authentic with respect to his beliefs. He wanted to know if Christianity was really true. When serving in Vietnam he began asking himself whether he could really live with his convictions. He says:

Everyone had overwhelmingly different value systems. While there I once asked myself why I had to be so different. With a sense of tremendous internal challenge I could say that the one thing keeping me from being like the others was that deep down I was convinced of the truth of my faith; this moment highlighted what truth meant to me, and I couldn’t turn my back on what I knew to be true. {13}

Likewise, when some of Jesus’ disciples left Him, He asked those who remained if they would leave also. Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life” (Jn. 6:68). It was what Peter believed that kept him close to Jesus when circumstances called for retreat.

What we believe gives meaning to our existence; it provides an intellectual anchor in a world of multiple and conflicting beliefs, and it gives broad direction for our lives. For a student to live consistently as a Christian, he or she must know what Christianity is, and be convinced that it is “true truth” as Francis Schaeffer put it: the really true.

Character—Living One’s Beliefs

So convictions grounded in reality are significant for the way we live. But convictions alone aren’t enough in the Christian life. They need to be matched by character that is worthy of the One who redeemed us, the One whom we represent on earth. It can be hard for students, though, to feel encouraged to develop Christ-like character given the attitudes of people all around them.

Steven Garber sees the TV show Beavis and . . . (well, that other guy) as symptomatic of the attitude of many young people today. He quotes a Harvard student who described the show this way: “Two teenaged losers . . . mindlessly watch videos, and they snicker. . . . [They] help us understand what the next century will be like. The founding principle will be nihilism. Rampant disregard for other living things . . . will be in. Taking responsibility for one’s actions will be out. . . . It’s proof that there is a whole new generation out there that completely understands all of this society’s foibles. And can only snicker.” {14}

How shall we inspire our students to develop character in keeping with their convictions so they don’t end up “getting all A’s but flunking life,” in Walker Percy’s words? {15} How can we turn them away from the destructiveness of a nihilistic worldview in which nothing has meaning?

Having abandoned the Christian telos our society is characterized by “an ethic of emotivism, one which asserts that all moral judgments are nothing but expressions of preference.’” {16} This goes back to the split between fact and value I spoke of earlier. Values are person-centered; they have no force beyond the individual’s power to live them out and impose them on others. They aren’t grounded in anything more ultimate than an individual or at best a particular society.

What has this gotten us? We’re free to construct our reality any way we wish now that God is supposedly dead. But what have we done with our freedom? Henry Grunwald, former ambassador to Austria and editor-in-chief of Time, Inc., said this:

Secular humanism . . . stubbornly insisted that morality need not be based on the supernatural. But it gradually became clear that ethics without the sanction of some higher authority simply were not compelling. The ultimate irony, or perhaps tragedy, is that secularism has not led to humanism. We have gradually dissolved—deconstructed¾the human being into a bundle of reflexes, impulses, neuroses, nerve endings. The great religious heresy used to be making man the measure of all things; but we have come close to making man the measure of nothing. {17}

Morality is inextricably wedded to the way the world is. A universe formed by matter and chance cannot provide moral meaning. The idea of a “cosmos without purpose,” says Garber, “is at the heart of the challenge facing students in the modern world.” {18} It provides no rules or structure for life. Christianity, on the other hand, provides a basis for responsible living for there is a God back of it all who is a moral being, who created the universe and the people in it to function certain ways, and who will call us to give an account in the end.

Bob Kramer was a campus leader for student protest at Harvard in the ’60s. He wanted to bring about social change, but when he discovered in his classes that his basic beliefs about right and wrong, truth and justice were wrong, he dropped out. “There was no real foundation for what I believed,” he says, “beyond that I believed it.” {19}

If we accept that Christianity does indeed provide direction and firm foundations for the development of character in the individual, still we must ask how that development comes about. Can we expect students to just read the Bible and go out and live Christianly? For Steven Garber, this leads us to consider the importance of a mentor, a person under whom the student can learn how to live as a person of high moral character.

Garber tells the story of Grace Tazelaar who graduated from Wheaton College and then went into nursing. She then taught in the country of Uganda as it was being rebuilt following the reign of Idi Amin. At some point she asked a former teacher to be her spiritual mentor. Says Garber, “This woman, who had spent years in South Africa, gave herself to Grace as she was beginning to explore her own place of responsible service. At the core of her teacher’s life, Grace recalls, I saw much love amidst trauma.’” “Those lessons,” says Garber, “cannot be taught from a textbook; they have to be learned from a life.” {20}

The White Rose was a group of students in Germany who opposed Nazism. Brother and sister Hans and Sophie Scholl were strongly influenced in their work by Carl Muth, a theologian and editor of an anti-Nazi periodical. One writer noted that, “The Christian Gospel became the criterion of their thought and actions.” {21} Their convictions carried them to the point of literally losing their heads for their opposition.

The development of moral character was once an integral part of education. Christians must once again seek the development of the whole person in education. That means, on the one hand, finding adults who are willing to become mentors for students, and, on the other, drawing students out and interesting them in forming significant relationships with adults, whether they be relatives, professors, pastors, or perhaps professionals in their fields of interest. This involves more than teaching students how to have quiet times. The kind of pietistic Christianity which pulls into itself to simply develop one’s own spiritual experience won’t do if we’re to have an impact on our world. Students need to be shown how to apply the “do not’s” in Scripture, but also how to find the “do’s” and . . . well, do them. They need to see how Christianity is fleshed out in real life, and they need encouragement to extend themselves in Jesus’ name to a world in need using their own gifts and personalities.

Community—Finding and Giving Support

If convictions provide our foundations and our instructions, mentors can be our guides as we see in them how those convictions take shape in someone’s life. Community, the third element, then provides a context within which to practice . . . our practice!

Garber notes that “community is the context for the growth of convictions and character. What we believe about life and the world becomes plausible as we see it lived out all around us. This is not an abstraction, though. Its reality is seen in time and space, in the histories and circumstances of real people living real lives.” Working together with other believers “allows for young people to make stumbling and fumbling choices toward a telos whose character is not altogether known at the time; it also allows for grace, which is always a surprise.” {22}

Christian doctrines can seem so abstract and distant. How does one truly hold to them in a world which thinks so differently? When Donald Guthrie, who has worked with the Coalition for Christian Outreach, was asked what makes it hard to connect beliefs with life’s experience, he replied, “The cynical nature of our culture, as it permeates the lives of people around me—and me. And only community can stand against that.” {23} “We discover who we are,” he continued, “and who we are meant to be—face to face and side by side with others in work, love and learning.” {24} Bob Kramer, whom we spoke of earlier, said he and his wife believed it was important to surround themselves with people who also wanted to connect telos with praxis. He says, “As I have gotten involved in politics and business, I am more and more convinced that the people you choose to have around you have more to do with how you act upon what you live than what you read or the ideas that influence you. The influence of ideas has to be there, but the application is something it’s very hard to work out by yourself.” {25} “My best friend’s teachers were my best friends. We were all trying to figure this out together.” {26}

The Christian community, if it’s functioning properly, can provide a solid plausibility structure for those who are finding their way. To read about love and forgiveness and kindness and self- sacrifice is one thing; to see it lived out within a body of people is quite another. It provides significant evidence that the convictions are valid.

During the university years, if they care about the course of their lives, students will have to make major decisions about what they believe and what those beliefs mean. “Choices about meaning, reality and truth, about God, human nature and history are being made which, more often than not, last for the rest of life. Learning to make sense of life, for life, is what the years between adolescence and adulthood are all about.” {27} Says the Preacher, “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth.”

Convictions, character, community. Three major ingredients for producing a life of meaningful service in the kingdom of God. Students who would put together telos and praxis, the goal of life and the practice of life, must know what they believe and determine to live in accordance with those beliefs. They should consider finding a mentor and learning from that person how one weaves faith and life. And they should embed themselves in a group of Christians equally committed to living the Christian life fully. “Somewhere, deep in the mysteries of how we learn to see and hear, and what we learn to care for and about, there is a place where presupposition meets practice, where belief becomes behavior,” says Steven Garber. {28}

Let me encourage you to get a copy of Steven Garber’s book, The Fabric of Faithfulness, both to read yourself and to give to your students. It’s published by InterVarsity Press. You might also want to consider how to apply what it says in your church. Let’s make it our common aim to help our young people be and live the way God intended.

Notes

1. Steven Garber, The Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief and Behavior During the University Years (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996).
2. Ibid., 27.
3. Ibid., 37.
4. Erik Erikson, Insight and Responsibility: Lectures on the Ethical Implications of Psychoanalytic Insight (New York: W.W. Norton, 1964), 138, quoted in Garber, 17.
5. David Hoekema, Campus Rules and Moral Community: In Place of In Loco Parentis (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Pub., 1994), 140, cited in William H. Willimon and Thomas H. Naylor, The Abandoned Generation: Rethinking Higher Education (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 51.
6. J. Budziszewski, How to Stay Christian in College: An Interactive Guide to Keeping the Faith (Colorado Springs: Navpress, 1999), 25.
7. For an alarming look at the attitude of students and especially the importance of alcohol on campus, see Willimon and Naylor, chaps. 1 and 2.
8. Jacques Ellul, Reason for Being: A Meditation on Ecclesiastes (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), 282-83, quoted in Garber, 39.
9. Colin Brown, s.v. “Work,” by H.C. Hahn.
10. Colin Brown, s.v. “Head,” by C. Brown.
11. Richard Bernstein, Beyond Objectivism and Relativism: Science, Hermeneutics and Praxis (Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 1983), 18, quoted in Garber, 53.
12. Garber, 56.
13. Ibid., 122.
14. Joe Matthews, “Beavis, Butthead & Budding Nihilists: Will Western Civilization Survive?” Washington Post, October 3, 1993, p. C1, quoted in Garber, 40-41.
15. Walker Percy, The Second Coming (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1980), 32, 93, quoted in Garber, 43.
16. Alister McIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory (Notre Dame: University of
Notre Dame Press, 1984), 11-12, quoted in Garber, 50-51.
17. Henry Grunwald, “The Year 2000,” Time, March 30, 1992, 75, quoted in Garber, 54.
18. Garber, 59.
19. Ibid., 61.
20. Ibid., 130.
21. Inge Jens, ed. At the Heart of the White Rose: Letters and Diaries of Hans and Sophie Scholl (New York: Harper and Row, 1987), xi, quoted in Garber, 167.
22. Garber, 146.
23. Ibid., 147.
24. Ibid., 147.
25. Ibid., 149.
26. Ibid., 152.
27. Ibid., 175.
28. Ibid., 174.

©2000 Probe Ministries.