Addison's Walk

E-Newsletter 4 // October 2015

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Personal Growth

Anyone who has spent any time in a Christian bookstore will notice that the titles are basically arranged in two sections. The lion's share of space is devoted to what is considered "devotional material". There are hundreds of available books that tell us how to live as Christians. Then, on the other side of the store, are the books that are written to help us to know what to believe. These two sections demonstrate the long-standing tension of Christianity; the poles of "is" and "does". Gallons of ink have been spilled in making arguments as to which is more important. Should we concentrate on who and what God is and what it means to be His child, or would we be better using our energies to figure out what to do and how to live? The answer is both.

This tension between what the thing "is" and how it "works" is ancient. My students have been learning about the writings of Plato and how he was very interested and concerned about knowing the nature or essence of things. In one of his famous dialogues, Euthyphro (You-thiff-row), Plato allows us to listen to his teacher, Socrates, as he asks his friend Euthyphro what the nature of justice is. Euthyphro is a lawyer and knows what it is supposed to do but has a hard time coming up with what it is. They have also been reading Aristotle, Plato's most famous student, who is far more interested in how things work. The Renaissance painter Raphael aptly captures this difference in his famous work The School of Athens. Plato and Aristotle are pictured in the center, Plato's right hand is extended upward toward heaven and Aristotle's hand is gesturing earthward. These two thinkers have certainly made their mark on philosophy but their influence on Christianity is also present. The tension remains.

In Paul's beautiful letter to the church in Colosse, he does not separate the "is" from the "does". He writes to his brothers and sisters that he is praying they have both! In Colossians 1:9-14 Paul tells them that he is praying that they would know/be:

  • Filled with the knowledge of God's will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding
  • Live lives pleasing to the Lord
  • Bearing fruit
  • Growing in knowledge
  • Living with endurance because of God's glorious might
  • Because He has rescued them from the kingdom of darkness
I think it is fair to say that Paul understood our knowledge about who God is effects our actions and how we live speaks to what we know about God. The child of the King does not need to keep these two worlds separated into silos.

How then does a Christian grow? The answer is by knowing and doing. We seek to know God and to be like his Son by the power of the Holy Spirit. We love God with our minds. We dare to think! Our lives are then not driven by a private or individual moral code. We submit to God by bringing every aspect of our lives under the authority of Jesus Christ. "Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did" (I John 2:6). We dare to engage!

One of the reasons Addison's Walk exists is because we fully believe that Christianity comprehensively answers the questions as to what is good, true and beautiful. We seek to engage the academic community to demonstrate that there is a life beyond this one (which could be considered the "is" of Plato) but God is still actively involved with this life now (the "does" of Aristotle). Because of his great love for humanity, God has graciously provided the answer for both! True personal growth is extremely difficult if we force our thinking into a God silo and life silo. Instead, because of Jesus, we should live in the God-life.

Arthur Herman sums up this idea of the bridge that Jesus built in his book The Cave and Light. "He [God] was a God more powerful and pervasive that Plato's Demiurge ("is") but also more actively involved in His creation than Aristotle's Prime Mover ("does"). He had, after all, sent His son to earth as the Logos, a figure who finally reconciled the eternal split between spirit and matter, between divinity and mortality."

In the Classroom - An Impossible Climb?

It is fascinating for me to consider what I intend my students to learn and what they are actually thinking about. Last week we were considering the ethical system of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (trust me, you don't want to read all about that here...unless you are having a hard time sleeping!). A student named Chris** approached me after class to discuss how he was connecting the dots. I really appreciated the fact that he was working through our discussion but his line of reasoning didn't quite add up. After we worked through his thought process (he is very sharp!) our conversation turned to eternal matters.

I will often ask students, during these personal conversations, if they have any religious background. I state my question this way because it tends to disarm any latent hostility and gives them opportunity to say "no" without qualification. Chris told me that he had "gone to church" because his parents wanted him to. He would be someone who has a nominal or minimal understanding about God.

Chris told me that he sees God as being like a ball precariously perched on top of a three-legged stool. He explained the three legs of the stool would be God's omniscience (ultimate power), omnipresence (everywhere present) and love (perfect affection). Chris believes that God made everything but then allows the universe to run its course without ever making any adjustments. He believes that God cannot be personally known or even approached because people are not able to climb up any of the legs and when we try the "ball" rolls off. God is there but we can't get near him (his words).

There should be some obvious problems with Chris's view of God if one has even a little biblical understanding about the person of God (theology proper). I didn't begin to answer his objections with telling him how wrong he was. Instead, I asked him if he ever considered that God knows we can't ever climb the stool. He said he had not. I then spent the next few minutes walking him through John 1. He had never heard that Jesus came to us! Read that again. He had never heard that God came to us! Never heard.

Chris has a lot to think about and he has asked me to meet with him on regular basis to talk more. Once again God has cracked the door of a young man's soul and light is beginning to shine in the darkness.

We exist for Chris.

**not his real name.

Personal Support Update

The Lord continues to provide outside speaking opportunities. I love the privilege of explaining and defending Christianity. We are very thankful for the opportunities to partner with churches, camps, and other organizations. We are currently about 60% for our monthly needs in terms of regular support. There are some churches and individuals who have shown interest in supporting us and we are praying that they would join us in partnership.

We recently purchased materials for a display when we are "on the road." I am very thankful to my good friend Caleb who designed our table-top display. It looks really good! We were able to get that piece and everything else with excellent cost effectiveness. Praise God! My display no longer only consists of just a sign-up sheet.

Would you consider a one-time gift or a regular partnership with Addisons Walk? Your gift allows me to spend more time on campus, disciple students, and do the work of a Christian study center. We need you and a new generation of university students does too!

***Addisons Walk is a 501(c)(3) organization. You may send your tax deductible check to the address below or submit a gift via PayPal through our website. Please make checks payable to "Addison's Walk".

Addisons Walk Live!

We are coming to a city near you! Come out to meet us and hear what God is doing.

Bring Addisons Walk to your church, youth group, school, or college. We have several seminars that will give you increased confidence in biblical Christianity.

Oct 18 Franklin Lakes Baptist Church - Franklin Lakes, NJ

Oct 25 Jackson Street Baptist Church - Scranton, PA

Nov 1 First Baptist Church - Holland, NY