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August 8, 2014

Serving the Common Good

By Tim KellerEditor's note: The following article is reprinted with permission from The Center for Faith & Work, the cultural renewal arm of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.I am often asked: "Should Christians be involved in shaping culture?" My answer is that we can't not be involved in shaping culture. To illustrate this, I offer a very sad example. In the years leading up to the Civil War, many southerners resented the interference of the abolitionists, who were calling on Christians to stamp out the sin of slavery. In response, some churches began to assert that it was not the church's (nor Christians') job to try to "change culture," but only to preach the Gospel and see souls saved. The tragic irony was that these churches were shaping culture. Their very insistence that Christians should not be changing culture meant that those churches were supporting the social status quo. They were defacto endorsing the cultural arrangements of the Old South. (For more on this chapter in American history, see Mark Noll, The Civil War as a Theological Crisis.)This is an extreme example, but it makes the point that when Christians work in the world, they will either assimilate into their culture and support the status quo or they will be agents of change. This is especially true in the area of work. Every culture works on the basis of a 'map' of what is considered most important. If God and His grace are not at the center of a culture, then other things will be substituted as ultimate values. So every vocational field is distorted by idolatry.Christian medical professionals will soon see that some practices make money for them but don't add value to patients' lives. Christians in marketing and business will discern accepted patterns of communication that distort reality or which play to and stir up the worst aspects of the human heart. Christians in business will often see among their colleagues' behavior that which seeks short-term financial profit at the expense of the company's long-term health, or practices that put financial profit ahead of the good of employees, customers, or others in the community. Christians in the arts live and work in a culture in which self-expression is an end in itself. And in most vocational fields, believers face work-worlds in which ruthless, competitive behavior is the norm.There are two opposite mistakes that Christians can make in addressing the idols of their vocational fields. On the one hand they can seal off their faith from their work, laboring according to the same values and practices that everyone else uses. Or they may loudly and clumsily declare their Christian faith to their co-workers, often without showing any grace and wisdom in the way they relate to people on the job.At Redeemer, especially through the Center for Faith and Work, we seek to help believers think out the implications of the Gospel for art, business, government, media, entertainment, and scholarship. We teach that excellence in work is a crucial means to gain credibility for our faith. If our work is shoddy, our verbal witness only leads listeners to despise our beliefs. If Christians live in major cultural centers and simply do their work in an excellent but distinctive manner, it will ultimately produce a different kind of culture than the one in which we live now.But I like the term "cultural renewal" better than "culture shaping" or "culture changing/transforming." The most powerful way to show people the truth of Christianity is to serve the common good. The monks in the Middle Ages moved out through pagan Europe, inventing and establishing academies, universities, and hospitals. They transformed local economies and cared for the weak through these new institutions. They didn't set out to "get control" of a pagan culture. They let the Gospel change how they did their work and that meant they worked for others rather than for themselves. Christians today should be aiming for the same thing.As Roman society was collapsing, St. Augustine wrote The City of God to remind believers that in the world there are always two "cities," two alternate "kingdoms." One is a human society based on selfishness and gaining power. God's kingdom is the human society based on giving up power in order to serve. Christians live in both kingdoms, and although that is the reason for much conflict and tension, it also is our hope and assurance. The kingdom of God is the permanent reality, while the kingdom of this world will eventually fade away. Tim Keller, a best-selling author and apologist, is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.
June 1, 2014

The Answer to the Lack of Faithful Communities Is to Create Our Own

In certain circles, an open display of Christian faith in public may be received negatively. At a bar, a party, even and perhaps especially in academia, Christians are often fearful that discussing their prayer lives or church-going habits will shuffle them into the “small-minded” category among peers and colleagues.  BioLogos web editor Emily Ruppel recounts the story of one Harvard astronomy student’s brave decision to leave her studies to pursue ministry, which sparked an entire network of Christian scientists to come together in community—men and women who were accustomed to staying quiet about faith in their particular sphere of influence, the hard sciences.  

May 29, 2014
Cherish Connelly '14 Reflects on Her Growth  I'm majoring in psychology with a secondary degree in neurobiology. As a science concentrator, I'm often asked, "How can you believe in God?" I've been involved with Christian Union for four years and in that time I've developed the knowledge needed to answer that question tactfully, respectfully, and in a way that presents the Gospel.Observing neurons in a microscope is an amazing sight; I love seeing how billions of tiny neurons control behavior, emotions, even senses. To me, it gives evidence of God. These tiny cells in our brain control everything the body does. I would argue, only God could design that efficiency.

May 28, 2014
"The highest and best use of power is when it is put in the service of those who have none..." Christian Union: The Magazine recently interviewed D. Michael Lindsay (Princeton Ph.D. '06), the president of Gordon College and a Pulitzer Prize-nominated sociologist. Dr. Lindsay's latest book, View from the Top: An Inside Look at How People in Power See and Shape the World, is the culmination of an unprecedented Platinum Study of 550 top CEOs and senior officials.CU: Your first book was entitled Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite. Even though View from the Top is about leaders from various backgrounds, did faith and achievement again intersect in any way?ML: I found Christ's example of sacrificial leadership modeled again and again in the lives of what I call "platinum leaders," those who have risen to the top of their institutions and are able to catalyze change. The relational dimension of leadership requires those who seek influence to think carefully about the ways their personal values and faith commitments intersect with their responsibilities. View from the Top was written for a general audience, but I think faith is so essential to good leadership that I added a conclusion to the text that seeks to explain how the two relate. Luke 12:48 says, "Unto whom much is given, much is required." The key idea of the book is that responsibility accompanies leadership. We must use the blessings we are given to bless others. The highest and best use of power is when it is put in the service of those who have none.CU: As a leadership development ministry, Christian Union has a vested interest in mentoring. In View from the Top, you indicate the important role mentoring has played with some top executives. Could you elaborate?ML: Mentorship is key for the development of young leaders. It is essential for providing access to well-connected networks and also for passing down wisdom and experience. In the stories of many leaders, I found a series of mentoring chains. For example, Harvard Kennedy School professor Dick Neustadt invested in the life and career of young NAACP lawyer Vernon Jordan, in particular by inviting him to join the Bilderberg Conference. Years later, Jordan invited his friend and protégé Bill Clinton to the conference, introducing him to other global leaders. Indeed, we all benefit from mentors who take an interest in our lives and help us become all that God wants us to be.CU: In View from the Top, one of your chapters is entitled "Lead With Your Life: Because It's Much More than a Job." How do we lead with our lives? Who is someone that embodies this trait?ML: As I quickly learned after becoming the president of Gordon, institutional leadership is much, much more than a 9-5 job. The CEO or the president is so closely associated with her organization that their very life must reflect the institution's values. Every leader who aspires to make a significant difference in her firm, industry, or in society must inspire her constituents, not only with her words, but with her actions, habits, and traits. The quickest way to bring down a political opponent is to uncover marital infidelity; voters surmise that a politician unfaithful to his wife will be unfaithful to his political promises. Similarly, when CEOs institute layoffs and pay cuts, while simultaneously raking in millions, employees, shareholders, and the general public resent the hypocrisy. One of my favorite examples (of leading with your life) is Colleen Barrett, the former president of Southwest Airlines, who really embodied the friendly and helpful persona of the airline.CU: Talk about the role that large institutions play in shaping culture and why you encourage your students to embrace, not avoid large institutions when they look for jobs.ML: The conceit of the Internet age is that now anyone with a wireless connection has the capability to influence millions—through a tweet, viral video, or Tumblr feed. Though widespread, these ephemeral forms of communication are not nearly as weighty as major institutions such as Harvard University, Procter & Gamble, the Wall Street Journal, or the Supreme Court. Events such as the Arab Spring of 2011 demonstrate that social media can precipitate revolutions, but they cannot maintain and organize the revolutionary impulse for long-term change. For that, society relies on institutions. By becoming part of these influential entities, students can begin to leverage their God-given talents for the widest impact. 
May 28, 2014
Christian Union Alumna and Husband Now Sponsor Current Students' Bible Course  By Sarah Camp, Contributing Editor Lindsay Grinols Simmons (Princeton '04) was one of just a handful of students involved with the budding Christian Union ministry when it first launched at Princeton over a decade ago. In fact, she was a member of the ministry's first women's Bible course. You might say that gives her a unique vantage point on the ministry's growth at Princeton over the years, where it has surged from three students in 2002 to more than 400 students in 2013-14."The year-over-year increase in Princeton students' engagement with Christian Union is astonishing," she says. "It shows Princeton students are hungry for the truth."

May 28, 2014
Jonathan Edwards' Devotion to Bible Study By Catherine Elvy, Staff Writer An article in the latest issue of Jonathan Edwards Studies paused to shed light on the everyday habits and intense biblical study of the famed revivalist preacher and early Yale University alumnus.Jonathan Edwards stands as one of the top figures in the spiritual history of the United States, and his life serves as an inspiration to believers across the globe.In the piece, Douglas Sweeney, a key Edwards' scholar with ties to Yale, reflected on the scriptural fervor behind the theologian's scholarship. Sweeney serves on the editorial board for the online journal, part of the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale."Edwards devoted most of his waking life to studying the Bible, its extra-biblical contexts, its theological meanings, and its importance for everyday religion," wrote Sweeney, the director of the Jonathan Edwards Center at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois.

May 28, 2014
"The highest and best use of power is when it is put in the service of those who have none..." Christian Union: The Magazine recently interviewed D. Michael Lindsay (Princeton Ph.D. '06), the president of Gordon College and a Pulitzer Prize-nominated sociologist. Dr. Lindsay's latest book, View from the Top: An Inside Look at How People in Power See and Shape the World, is the culmination of an unprecedented Platinum Study of 550 top CEOs and senior officials.CU: Your first book was entitled Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite. Even though View from the Top is about leaders from various backgrounds, did faith and achievement again intersect in any way?ML: I found Christ's example of sacrificial leadership modeled again and again in the lives of what I call "platinum leaders," those who have risen to the top of their institutions and are able to catalyze change. The relational dimension of leadership requires those who seek influence to think carefully about the ways their personal values and faith commitments intersect with their responsibilities. View from the Top was written for a general audience, but I think faith is so essential to good leadership that I added a conclusion to the text that seeks to explain how the two relate. Luke 12:48 says, "Unto whom much is given, much is required." The key idea of the book is that responsibility accompanies leadership. We must use the blessings we are given to bless others. The highest and best use of power is when it is put in the service of those who have none.CU: As a leadership development ministry, Christian Union has a vested interest in mentoring. In View from the Top, you indicate the important role mentoring has played with some top executives. Could you elaborate?ML: Mentorship is key for the development of young leaders. It is essential for providing access to well-connected networks and also for passing down wisdom and experience. In the stories of many leaders, I found a series of mentoring chains. For example, Harvard Kennedy School professor Dick Neustadt invested in the life and career of young NAACP lawyer Vernon Jordan, in particular by inviting him to join the Bilderberg Conference. Years later, Jordan invited his friend and protégé Bill Clinton to the conference, introducing him to other global leaders. Indeed, we all benefit from mentors who take an interest in our lives and help us become all that God wants us to be.CU: In View from the Top, one of your chapters is entitled "Lead With Your Life: Because It's Much More than a Job." How do we lead with our lives? Who is someone that embodies this trait?ML: As I quickly learned after becoming the president of Gordon, institutional leadership is much, much more than a 9-5 job. The CEO or the president is so closely associated with her organization that their very life must reflect the institution's values. Every leader who aspires to make a significant difference in her firm, industry, or in society must inspire her constituents, not only with her words, but with her actions, habits, and traits. The quickest way to bring down a political opponent is to uncover marital infidelity; voters surmise that a politician unfaithful to his wife will be unfaithful to his political promises. Similarly, when CEOs institute layoffs and pay cuts, while simultaneously raking in millions, employees, shareholders, and the general public resent the hypocrisy. One of my favorite examples (of leading with your life) is Colleen Barrett, the former president of Southwest Airlines, who really embodied the friendly and helpful persona of the airline.CU: Talk about the role that large institutions play in shaping culture and why you encourage your students to embrace, not avoid large institutions when they look for jobs.ML: The conceit of the Internet age is that now anyone with a wireless connection has the capability to influence millions—through a tweet, viral video, or Tumblr feed. Though widespread, these ephemeral forms of communication are not nearly as weighty as major institutions such as Harvard University, Procter & Gamble, the Wall Street Journal, or the Supreme Court. Events such as the Arab Spring of 2011 demonstrate that social media can precipitate revolutions, but they cannot maintain and organize the revolutionary impulse for long-term change. For that, society relies on institutions. By becoming part of these influential entities, students can begin to leverage their God-given talents for the widest impact. 
May 28, 2014
"Christians need to be much bolder..." Christian Union: The Magazine interviewed author and renowned speaker Eric Metaxas, Yale '84, on the subject of culture change for its Spring 2014 issue.CU: Regarding culture change and your recent books, did you find a common denominator between William Wilberforce, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, or any of the other subjects in Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness?EM: These were all men who were "in the world, but not of it," who all seemed to understand how to bring their faith into the "real world," as it were, into all spheres, not just the religious sphere.

May 28, 2014
Columbia Lecture Attracts Christians, Non-Christians By Luke Foster, Columbia '14 Thursday nights at Columbia University tend to be quiet. Few students have classes on Fridays, so almost everyone prepares for the weekend and tries to recover from the hectic week. The Christian ministries on campus use Thursday evenings as times to worship and reflect.But Thursday, February 20 was a little different.For a week, posters and Facebook posts had been proclaiming an exciting event for that evening. Compass Christian Koinonia and Apologetics Café co-hosted a lecture with Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, a Ravi Zacharias International Ministries speaker. Several campus organizations helped publicize the event. Approximately 150 people of all faiths and no faith crowded into a small auditorium to engage with the ideas of Dr. Qureshi.Dr. Qureshi, who titled his talk after his new book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, challenged students to pursue truth above beauty, and to be willing to submit to the most compelling view of the world, no matter the cost.

May 28, 2014
Course Reflects on Harvard's Religious History By Brian Zhang, Harvard '15 In thSusan Overall, Harvard Class of 2014e spring semester, Harvard students taking Religion 1513: Harvard's History and Religious Evolution have a chance to study their university's religious roots in the classroom. With 60 undergrads and four Harvard Divinity School students enrolled, the class is the most popular in the religion department.Dr. Stephen Shoemaker, the course's instructor, summarized the legacy of Harvard as "a history of left turns."While it is today regarded as a secular university, Harvard was founded in 1636 as a seminary for training Puritan ministers in the New England area.

May 28, 2014
The King's College President Greg Thornbury Speaks at Manhattan Salon  By Catherine Elvy, Staff Writer The new president of The King's College encouraged participants in a New York City Christian Union salon to reflect Christ as they labor in the powerful, but decidedly secular, corridors of their megalopolis.Greg Thornbury spoke on February 20 at the ministry's quarterly salon, which was held at the editorial offices of First Things journal in Manhattan.Thornbury, who stepped into his newest leadership role in July, entitled his message, "He Is Not Far from Any of Us: The Art of Living and Working with People of Non-Faith."During the evening, Thornbury told listeners to be aware that many of their atheistic and agnostic counterparts are open to meaningful discussions on topics of faith, but they are exhausted with cultural wars.

April 16, 2014
A Video Update (April 2014) Harvard's original motto was Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae, or Truth for Christ and the Church.While Harvard has drifted from her spiritual heritage and become highly secular, God is still at work. He is stirring up the hearts of Harvard students. If you care about the spiritual climate at Harvard, you will be encouraged by what God is doing in and through the lives of students involved in Christian Union's ministry there. (5:21)
March 22, 2014

From Strategic Universities to Key Cities 

Christian Union works at strategic universities and in key cities to develop Christian leaders to transform culture for God's glory.  
February 28, 2014

Personal Reflections on How God Can Use Failure in Your Life

Failure in the life of a Christian should not surprise us, yet it is a topic that is not often addressed, even by Christian speakers. And when failure is inevitably experienced, either in the Christian life (moral/spiritual failure) or in the life of a Christian (defeat in day-to-day life), there is often little guidance for dealing with the agonizing and pervasive questions that may arise: Where is God? How could He let this happen? Does He really care or exist? In a recent article on Reasonable Faith, Christian apologist William Lane Craig sheds light on the topic of failure and its meaning through his own personal reflections.

February 25, 2014

Corinna Tu ('13) and Christopher Wood ('12), both Harvard Alumni, Have Something Significant in Common: They Both Discovered Their Faith During Their Time at the University.

Prominent universities like Harvard are often viewed as places where students, attracted by the freedom of a nonreligious lifestyle and besieged by temptations and radical secular teachings, lose what faith they may have had going in. This may regrettably be the case for a great many students, however there are some who earnestly seek God during their college years to develop a relationship with Him and a foundation of faith. Through deep intellectual curiosity and rigor in authentic Christian community, students like Corinne and Christopher experience moments that cause them to question, and eventually believe.

February 11, 2014
Christian Union Will Host Triennial Event in New Haven, Connecticut At first glance, Baroness Caroline Cox appears an unlikely candidate to traverse the globe as a tireless campaigner for human rights and advocate for persecuted Christians.However, the former deputy speaker of the House of Lords and grandmother has crisscrossed jungles, deserts, and mountains in her quests to investigate oppression and alert the political elite of the United Kingdom and beyond to the neglected casualties of far-flung war zones.In March, Baroness Cox will serve as a keynote speaker for the Ivy League Congress on Faith and Action. Christian Union is hosting the triennial event from March 28 to 30 at the Omni New Haven Hotel in New Haven, Connecticut.

February 11, 2014
Kyle Duncan is Lead Attorney for Hobby Lobby Supreme Court Case A Columbia University law alumnus says he simply wants to serve God as he prepares to enter the nation's highest judicial stage in his quest to champion religious liberties.In November, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear twin cases testing the strength of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The 1993 measure commits the federal government to safeguarding an individual's "inalienable right" to exercise religion.Kyle Duncan, Columbia LL.M. '04, is the lead attorney for Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., which is challenging a regulation within the federal healthcare law requiring employers to offer access to so-called morning-after pills.

February 11, 2014
Missionary's Testimony Inspires Penn Students In November, students at the University of Pennsylvania heard a love story, not about a man and a woman, but about the love of a man for his God and the transformative power that inspired him to reach out his hand in friendship to the one who had tortured him for nine months.Dan Baumann served as a missionary in Afghanistan and traveled to Iran to share the Gospel, where he was arrested in 1997.

February 11, 2014
Events Educate Harvard Community about Misconceptions While Sex Week at Harvard promoted tolerance and the "exploration of diverse and varied sexual activity," another group of students simultaneously held events that sought to warn the campus community about the dangers and misconceptions of pornography.White Ribbon Against Pornography Week (WRAP) was sponsored by the Harvard Catholic Student Association, the Anscombe Society, The Knights of Columbus at Harvard, and Harvard College Faith and Action, a leadership development ministry supported and resourced by Christian Union.

February 11, 2014
Marvin Olasky, Yale '71, Releases 25th Anniversary Edition of Groundbreaking Book A quarter century ago, Marvin Olasky wrote Prodigal Press: Confronting the Anti-Christian Bias of the American News Media. Last year, with the help of journalist and colleague Warren Smith, Olasky, Yale '71, released the 25th anniversary, revised edition of the book, which continues to remain relevant, even in a vastly different media world."When Prodigal Press came out in 1988, it was a seminal book and had a huge impact on a generation of young Christian journalists," said Smith. "But in the past 25 years, much has happened. Cable news has proliferated. The Internet has dramatically changed both the news and the advertising environment. Satellite and Internet radio has tens of millions of daily listeners in the U.S. alone."

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