FUN ADD TO
Relationships formed at
college last for a lifetime
Special to ChristianWeek
utting a dollar value on my two degrees from Christian universities is not difficult; I
get a friendly reminder from the bank each month noting how much is left to pay on
my student loans. But as I sit and look at the nicely framed diplomas now hanging
on my wall, it strikes me that the relationships I developed along the way seem to matter
more than the degrees I earned. I could never put a price tag on those.
Going to a Christian university to pursue a relationship is a long and hallowed tradition. My undergrad’s
unofficial motto was “Your ring by spring or your money back!” But that is not the kind of relationship I am
talking about. In fact, during my undergrad work I was the proud president of the “Bachelors to the Rapture
Be that as it may, what really stands out is that Christian university was a place where I was truly known by
people, and in the process I learned a lot about my own identity and about God.
One of the first people to positively shape my life was my Mass Communications professor, Dr. Orr. “Mass
Com,” as it was known, was required for all freshmen. Now, it’s a well-known fact that profs generally try to
avoid teaching required courses. But Dr. Orr showed up every class with an infectious enthusiasm. He seemed
to care genuinely about his students. Even in a freshman required class he took time to get to know us.
I remember meeting him for conversation in the Coffee Cove, and even being invited with other students
over to his house for dinner. His wise advice helped me navigate my then rocky relationship with my Father.
He even had the grace to believe me when I told him I had no idea whatsoever how the department’s satellite
dish got filled with wet pasta the night before. But, of course, I would be happy to get some friends to help
clean it out.
Please see Knowledge on page 3
Page 2... Trinity Western considers
Page 3... First-year reflections
Page 4... Celebrating mentors
Page 6... Gomer’s story
Trinity Western president gets
top marks from faculty, students
Frank Stirk institutions—a university that in 2006 “Dr. Raymond loves being with population. From a peak of 2,507 in
BC Correspondent and 2007 was awarded an A+ in the students,” says Lauren Thompson, editor September 2003, enrolment had slipped
email@example.com Globe and Mail’s annual University of the Mars’ Hill student newspaper. to 2,033 last year and 2,015 this year.
Report Card for its quality of education. “He wants to talk about what we think “That’s a challenge I wish he didn’t
LANGLEY, BC—“I really feel like I have But Raymond himself is also getting top about controversial issues on campus have to bear, because he was so eager
the best job in B.C.,” says Jonathan marks from both students and faculty. …I think he’s been a pretty strong to start from a place of strength, and
Raymond, president of Trinity Western “He’s been a man of energy, leader.” he’s had to work with this heavy lifting
University (TWU). vision, integrity and resourcefulness. One persistent problem Raymond of the financial stones,” says Strom. “But
For two-and-a-half years Raymond I believe he has a clear idea of where has had to tackle has been the decline he’s doing great with that and keeping a
has been at the helm of one of Canada’s he would like the school to go,” says in first-year undergraduate enrolment, very positive perspective.”
leading Christian post-secondary communications professor Bill Strom. brought on in part by Canada’s aging “The slope is not what we’d like
it to be,” Raymond admits, “but we’ve
stopped the decline and it looks like
we’re filling the enrolment pipeline
again.” He points to an 18 per cent
increase this year in the number of
Canadian students on campus, and
the fact that 81 per cent of students
who enroll at TWU now stay until they
Raymond’s optimism is also fueled
by the prospect of a new satellite
campus in Richmond, immediately
south of Vancouver, expected to open in
September 2010. It will occupy space in
a $1-billion downtown redevelopment
that an anonymous philanthropist gave Trinity Western University president Jonathan Raymond
to the university rent-free for 25 years.
“Richmond is a significant market,”
says Raymond, “for delivering Christian
higher education to adults aged 25 and
up in a model that permits them to Million dollar donation meant for books
continue their family obligations, their WINNIPEG, MB—The gift of $1 million endowment from
job obligations, etc., but [also] complete
a Calgary couple is the largest gift Canadian Mennonite
Yet perhaps Raymond’s biggest University (CMU) has ever received. Nearly 50 years ago a
challenge—and achievement—so professor from Canadian Mennonite Bible College (CMBC),
far has been to foster a greater spirit
of unity among Trinity Western’s many one of CMU’s predecessor colleges, said to John Penner, “It
components. Days after taking office in would be nice to have more money to buy more books for
2006, he told ChristianWeek that recent the library.” He didn’t forget it. The money was given for the
“tough times” on campus had caused
many to retreat into what he called purpose of buying books. (www.cmu.ca)
“I don’t know if I sense a change in New Briercrest arena seats 500
all areas of campus,” says Thompson,
“but I think that people who are CARONPORT, SK—Briercrest College and Seminary will cut
pretty engaged in how the university the ribbon in January to open a new hockey arena with an
is actually running could sense …a
positive shift to more dialogue.” NHL-sized ice surface and seating for 500. A new arena has
Three times now, Raymond has been a dream of the college for nearly 25 years as a venue
sent out a questionnaire seeking to support the college and high school’s varsity hockey
confidential input on the health of the
university. “He’s not lockstep beholden programs. The new arena cost $4.5 million. The college’s
to what we say, but …with that plus hockey programs, including partnerships with Hockey
his own vision, it’s fusing together to be Ministries International and Athletes in Action, were in
something quite beautiful,” says Strom.
Raymond led the university danger because of structural weaknesses in the old arena.
in crafting a “strategic directions” (www.briercrest.ca)
document that affirms the “essence
of Trinity Western University is Jesus
Christ,” and that its purpose is that “the
world may experience Christ’s truth,
compassion, reconciliation and hope.”
“My job is to make sure …there is
a fidelity to that,” says Raymond. “And
if there is, God will bless us with the
resources that the university needs to
continue to develop and mature.”
Reflections of a first-year student
Rachel Wielinga to get along with my roommate and get good grades. Praise God that His doing so because it was their job.
Special to ChristianWeek plans were bigger than mine! My roommate and I did get along, but also discovered shared passions
From the beginning I could see how different Tyndale was from my expec- for late night talks and obscure movie soundtracks. Through residence and
W hen asked to write an article about my experience at Tyndale, my
first thought was, “Where do I ever begin?” I’ve just finished my first
year, double majoring in Religious Studies and Psychology. That year was
tations. Within the first week, my residence advisors (RAs) began proving
that they actually cared about me and weren’t just there to ensure rules were
followed. They took time to stop by our room just to chat, and continued to
the closeness that it provides, I was able to make the two best friends I’ve
ever had. Because there aren’t many secrets in dorm life, we were more
inclined to open up and share our lives with one another, developing the
so much more than I hoped for last September, when my only goals were do so as the school year went on, eliminating my suspicion that they were kind of friendship that will last.
The Tyndale faculty were another wonderful surprise. Though I was told
they were much more willing to know their students than professors at larger
universities, I was not expecting the level of friendliness that I found. One of
my favorite academic experiences was with Richard Davis, my philosophy
professor, who agreed to proofread my rough draft of a paper a week before
it was due. To my surprise, he gave me an “A” and told me not to worry about
changing anything. Philosophy was a surprisingly great class, and I’ve been
able to apply what I learned this summer as I read books about different
viewpoints on the Christian faith.
I really appreciated the tri-weekly chapels that Tyndale students attend. I
found them to be an opportunity to refocus on my priorities and reasons for
being at Tyndale. With the busyness of a full course load (plus extracurricular
activities) it can be easy to forget God, or at least put Him on the bottom of
the list. Regular worship times beside other believers were the reminder I
needed to keep the right focus.
During the month of May I was given the opportunity to be part of a
Tyndale missions team to Alaska. For three weeks we lived and worked
alongside an incredible missionary family whose dedication to God is inspir-
ing. Having never been on a trip like that before, I know God used it to take
me out of my comfort zone and help me grow in ways that never would
have happened had I stayed in Canada.
One of the most important lessons I learned this past year is that God is
full of surprises, and that’s why I need to fully trust Him. When I don’t trust,
those surprises can be upsetting; but when leaning on Him, I can see the
good He has for me.
I’ve learned to apply that to my future—after I graduate. I chose the
majors I did because I would like to work with teens. But God showed me
His plans can be completely different.
I’m excited about being on student council this year. I see it as an amazing
opportunity to reach more students than I otherwise would have, and I’m
excited to see what else God has in store for me.
Rachel Wielinga (centre) is joined on the left by Kaitlyn McCullough and her roommate, Jenn Sye.
KNOWLEDGE Continued from page 1 seemed fun. We ended up in a small Vietnamese restaurant with all the
patrons staring at us. Everyone there was wondering what a bunch of clue-
the message these shenanigans communicated was strangely profound. It
was love acceptance, sacrifice and belonging. To me, Christian community
less white guys wanted, and when Victor made his random selections the will always smell a bit like old BBQ sauce.
I took Dr. DeRosset’s “Images of Christ in the Novel” course because I waiter looked at us dubiously and said we had to pay upfront. I was nervous, Friendships like that, the ones that mostly played out in smelly lounges
thought it would be an easy “A”. I was totally unprepared for a professor but ended up loving everything we ordered. It launched a love for Southeast at crazy hours of the morning, were the most important thing about my
who made it her life’s goal to push us out of our safe “Christian Bubbles” Asian cooking that I still have today. Even after the second time we did it time at university. The friends I made there were the deepest I’ve ever had
and force us to really think. As I grappled with books like Shusaku Endo’s and ended up getting sick after eating pork blood soup at some sketchy in my life. I cried with these friends, laughed with them, shared secrets,
Silence or The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene, she helped me come restaurant, Victor was always up for a new adventure. Being with him made confessed sins and received prayer.
to grips with what it meant to be a broken human being in need of God’s me more open to new experiences. Looking back, the GPA I so obsessed over doesn’t seem to have much
grace. She also agreed not to dock me marks for my frequent late arrivals When it was time to get my master’s degree in counselling, I didn’t think value. No one has every really asked me about it in a job interview. My
due to my job in the cafeteria (especially when I came with a warm churro I would move back on dorm again. After all, almost everyone else there was diplomas have opened doors for me. With a little work, they will even be
as an entrance gift). younger. But my memories of Uncle Victor convinced me to give it a shot. completely paid off in a couple years. But I will treasure the relationships
When I talk to my friends about their time at public universities and Over the next five years I lived in community with younger students and had I developed at Christian universities forever. You could never put a price
hear stories of how few of them actually have spoken face to face with their the awesome privilege of mentoring many. In this environment I began to on that.
professors (let alone shared meals), I think how much I would have missed see the power of Christian community lived out in practical ways.
of my own education if I hadn’t gone to schools that made student-professor Brian Pengelly works and volunteers doing Youth Ministry in Toronto,
interaction a high priority. THE QUEST Ontario, where he lives with his wife Anna who patiently puts up with his
One of the legendary stories from that time of my concerns the “Great crazy stories. He still disavows any involvement regarding the pasta in
DORM LIFE Buffalo Hunt.” A freshman, a young man we affectionately called Mikey, the satellite dish incident and no one can prove otherwise.
But the experiences that most shaped my life at each of the Christian univer- turned 18 early in the school year. After the party a few of us began musing
sities I attended occurred while living in dorm. When I first left for university, on the meaning of turning 18 in our culture, how it supposedly it made you
the idea of dorm life did not appeal at all. Sharing a dorm floor with 50 an adult. But what does “being an adult” mean?
strangers and having a roommate randomly assigned was not my idea of Mikey mentioned that in ancient cultures, to become a man required
a good time. But, despite my dread, dorm life agreed with me. Although going on a quest, like hunting and killing a great animal by yourself and
I was shy and standoffish at first, others worked really hard to make me bring it back to your tribe. Manhood was not just a matter of reaching a
feel welcome. certain age, but because your tribe told you so. Later that day, several guys
One of the guys who made a big impression on me was known affec- from the floor approached me and we began to plot.
tionately as “Uncle Victor.” He was in his mid-20s; most of us were in our late When Mikey arrived home that evening from class he found several of
teens. I recall Uncle Victor as an imposing figure. He had a quick wit and us waiting for him. To his shock and delight we announced that we, as his
was incredibly smart. He was a religious studies major who could exegete tribe, had decided he was old enough to go prove himself by hunting the
Hebrew and Greek like they were English. His knowledge of the Bible blew fierce buffalo that lived on our dorm floor. We provided a makeshift spear
me away. I remember sitting in the lounge until 3 a.m. debating Calvinism (actually a pool cue with a red magic marker taped to the end). We covered
vs. Arminianism. his chest and face with ceremonial paint (well, actually some left over BBQ
But Uncle Victor wasn’t just smart; he was also crazy. During our two years sauce we found in the fridge) and the hunt began.
together in dorm he pulled me into numerous unexpected situations. One Off he went, chasing a bunch of guys wearing a fur rug and holding their
day, we were sitting around the dorm when Vic decided we needed some fingers on their heads like horn. The whole thing was absolutely ridiculous.
adventure. Four of us piled into his beat-up old van and began randomly driv- But I will always remember the look in Mikey’s eyes as he chased down each
ing around the city. Victor announced we would stop at the first restaurant of the guys and marked them as slain. At the end we came around him and
we found that had no English on its sign and arbitrarily order three things pronounced him a man.
from the menu (which, of course, was not in English either). As I looked around at the room full of guys in silly costumes, I felt the
I would never have done this on my own, but went along because it presence of Jesus. The whole thing was utterly laughable, of course. But
CELEBRATING LIFE LONG MENTORS
Calvin Townsend Sean Davidson and Cal MacFarlane Corey Herlevsen
LANGLEY, BC—It takes a special teacher to impact students CARONPORT, SK—Two Saskatchewan professors are making a big STEINBACH, MB—I didn’t go to Steinbach Bible College to learn
on opposite ends of the country. Calvin Townsend is impact on the students they serve. theology from Bob Dylan. If his name had been on the faculty
making an impression on young men and women in Briercrest College literature professor Sean Davidson is list, I doubt I’d have signed up for any of his classes. I took
Langley, British Columbia and Ottawa, Ontario. known to have an incredible pastoral heart. As well as his teach- “Spiritual Formation,” “Old Testament” and “Introduction
A professor with Trinity Western University, Townsend ing, he logs hours on “Big Red,” an online discussion group for to Church Ministries.”
is an instructor in political and religious studies at the Briercrest students. Postings include everything from classified A serious student, I secretly disdained classmates who came
school’s B.C. campus and teaches a course entitled Law, ads to deep theological discussions. to college with aspirations of meeting dateable Christian
Public Policy, and Cultural Change at the Laurentian “Big Red is often filled with heat and passion as students girls, executing legendary pranks and setting new records
Leadership Centre (LCC) in Ottawa. Students enjoy struggle towards truth,” says Adam Driscoll, a Briercrest College in curfew-breaking.
his classes, but it is his unique way of connecting with grad and current employee. “Students who are likewise closed I delved diligently into textbooks written by Christian
people that has made him a school favourite. and stubborn about theological tensions and debate, and are at apologists.
“He is one of those profs who is a mentor and throws times struck to the core about what they believe. But eight years after Bible college, the voices that have
himself into the life of the house and the students,” says “It is on these pages that you will find Sean Davidson faithfully stuck by me, who still lure me back into the mysteries of
Janet Epp Buckingham, an associate professor at LCC. serving in lay ministry—daily devoting his time to be in the God against the tides of my own skepticism, are the ones I
“He takes students to movies, on walking tours of the midst of this wrestling and bringing rescue to the foundational met in Corey Herlevsen’s classes. Dylan’s lyrics are still riddles
city and to museums and galleries.” earthquakes in the lives of students. to a moral universe; Annie Dillard still startles me with the
“It means that I can hide from deans!” jokes “He coaches, nudges, and sometimes plays opposing advo- holiness of water beetles; Douglas Coupland still stirs my
Townsend, adding, “Sometimes the classroom can get cate. He speaks the truth in love, and his conversation is sea- craving for the Divine; Vincent Van Gogh’s vacant churches
in the way.” soned with salt. He remembers this is where he used to be. He still point to luminous stars.
Townsend likens the relationship between teacher and acknowledges the freedom that comes from transformation Herlevsen invites the voices from outside the conventional
student to that between pastor and parishioner. through Jesus Christ. And he uses this venue to shepherd the boundaries of church—“prophets” he calls them—into his
“I have a spiritual connection with them,” he says, students towards our Creator and our goal.” classroom. He opened a class on ethics last year with Dylan’s
“because I am trying to awaken the soul of the student. Cal MacFarlane, chaplain for Briercrest College, “is a role razor critique, “With God on Our Side.”
The soul has a longing for meaning and purpose.” model for many,” says communications spokesperson Amy “If you have the belief that God is on your side there can
But while Townsend places a high priority on taking Robertson. “Formally, he has an intern every year, but he’s also be no dialogue, and without dialogue you’re after theocracy,”
his lessons from the classroom to the realms of fun, very open to students meeting with him informally on a regular Herlevsen explains. “If you want theocracy, go to Afghanistan
community and camaraderie, his pupils are equally basis.” and see how you like it.
captivated by his words and instruction. MacFarlane’s office is located in the midst of the action, “Prophetic voices usually aren’t received well in churches,”
Mark Reimer, a student at TWU in Langley, sees Robertson says, and it’s common knowledge among students he says. “There needs to be somebody prophetically shak-
Townsend as a strong cultural critic with a unique that his door is always open. Often the relationships continue ing us up, but if it’s the pastor
worldview. when a student graduates. or somebody from the church,
“He taught me that time is a myth that often holds us Briercrest College’s student body president works closely with they disrupt the complacency
captive,” says Reimer, “because we fail to dedicate the the chaplain in preparing for student chapels. Sandy Colero, and guess what happens at their
time and energy necessary to connect with the eter- student body president from 2004-2005, is presently serving as next job review?
nal.” a pastor in British Columbia, but still speaks with MacFarlane “Coming from outside church
Reimer, a second-year student, also says Townsend’s every week. circles myself I learned peace-
Political Studies 101 class was his favourite course of making…from Dylan, the Clash
his freshman year. and John Lennon long before I
A compelling speaker, knew who Jesus Christ was.”
Townsend has the dis- (Josiah Neufeld) Corey Herlevsen
tinct ability to be at once
ate and witty. His blend of
learning and pleasure con- Students will study disaster response
tinues to engage students WINNIPEG, MB—A new program at Canadian Mennonite
while bringing his lessons University (CMU) will teach students how to help rebuild
to life. communities in the aftermath of hurricanes, tornadoes or
(Jerrad Peters) ﬂoods. CMU is partnering with Mennonite Disaster Service
Calvin Townsend Sean Davidson Cal MacFarlane
(MDS) to create the Disaster Recovery Studies program at
the university. Former MDS director Gord Friesen hopes the
program will help meet MDS’s increasing need for workers
who are “knowledgeable in the stages and dynamics of
disaster recovery and community capacity building.” Courses
will focus on disaster studies, long-term disaster recovery
will include two practicum assignments working with MDS
in disaster areas. (www.cmu.ca)
Providence introduces honours business degree
OTTERBURNE, MB—Providence College and Seminary is
now oﬀering business students a four-year honours degree
in Business Administration in conjunction Trinity Western
University (TWU) in Langley, BC. Students will complete their
ﬁrst three years at Providence, with the ﬁnal year at Trinity
Western University, to earn a four-year business degree
with honours. This degree will cover the prerequisites for
admission into a masters program in business at TWU. The
new program began this fall.
Gift of $1 million funds archivist position
TORONTO, ON—A gift of $1 million to the University of
Toronto’s Trinity College, will provide for the position of
archivist at the college for many years to come. Ruth Bell,
who graduated from the college with a degree in political
economy and has been an active advocate for women’s
rights in Canada, gave the endowment to coincide with
the retirement of Henri Pilon, archivist since 1969, and the
appointment of Sylvia Lassam to the position. Bell was vice-
president of the National Action Committee on the Status of
Woman and received the Governor General’s Award in 2005
for her work to advance women’s rights.
The fruits of
Special to ChristianWeek
osea’s painful relationship with his prostitute wife, Gomer, shaped much of his prophetic minis-
try. The general understanding is that his marital experience mirrored God’s relationship with
His sinful people and much has been made of the heartbreak Hosea endured. Gomer, if she
is considered at all, remains a convenient, one-dimensional metaphor. But before Gomer and Hosea
became a poignant sermon illustration, they were first a husband and wife, both hurting, and each with
their own story.
M y name is Gomer—you’ll have to dig hard to find me in that holy
book of yours. Hosea; now that’s a name you might recognize. You
should. There’s a whole section of his poetry. Good poems too, I’m told;
the real ones—don’t get to choose to be prophets. God just sort of puts
His finger on them and after that their lives are pretty much ruined. He had
a hard life, Hosea did. But then so did I. Fame may be a good thing, but it
stirring, challenging; some of them so sad and beautiful that they make comes at a price.
you cry if you let them. “Poor Hosea; the tragic prophet, whose personal life was a wellspring of
I don’t envy him his fame. The way it was explained to me, prophets— perpetual pain. That awful wife of his who kept running away leaving her
bastard children for Hosea to look after all by himself. Yet he bore it all so
quietly, with such dignity—such love. But aren’t his oracles beautiful? Not
since David have we had a poet of his stature.”
That was how the townspeople saw things and they weren’t discreet about
their opinions either. Gomer. I’m the awful wife, and if your tongue blushes
at the word “whore” then let’s just say that I was a person with a procliv-
ity towards promiscuity. In the early days it was fun—intoxicating—the
promiscuity I mean. Men are all so different. And let’s be candid, shall we?
I was as good at my job as Hosea was at his.
I was not yet 20 when he married me, still living at home actually when
this stern, intense young man suddenly shows up at our door wanting to
discuss a bride price with my father. And before I hardly knew what was
happening off I went with him; eyelids smeared heavy with blue, a bit of
matching blue glass in my navel, gold bangles clinking on my wrists and a
deep slit in my tunic that promised much. He was stiff and shy and terribly
self-conscious, if you know what I mean. It was hard not to laugh but all the
same there was something quite endearing about him. I was gentle and he
was not above learning. Quite quickly I got pregnant.
Did we love each other? I don’t know. How can you love someone you
hardly know? And Hosea wasn’t an easy man to get close to; aloof, moody,
the voice of that God of his filling his head until it spilled out into beautiful
poems. Oh, he was a real prophet alright. I know. I lived with him. God was
in his life. He was a righteous man. I’m not sure it was love I felt for him, but
I did trust him—that is until he betrayed me.
BETRAYAL Finally I could take it no more. The poster girl, now with the stretch marks inching ever so slowly towards what I wanted more than anything else in
Betrayal. You heard me right. Let me tell you how it feels to be betrayed and from three children to mock her, fled to a new town and virtually sold herself the world.
by a righteous man no less. to a pimp. I knew what lay ahead of me when I did it. There’s no place for Only once more did Hosea ever circulate an oracle that singled me out
Hosea was a man on a mission—to bring our tiny nation to its senses and a working girl who is too old and too used up to work. When it’s time, and and even now I blush when I recall it. And he showed it to me before anyone
avert some great punishment that awaited us if we did not repent. That was we can’t take the abuse of our clients any more, or worse there aren’t any else saw it; he gave me a copy. It is the most precious thing I own. And I
the problem. Hosea was a man who could never put his mission down; it was clients to be found we are the girls who, when our luck’s run out, just sink can’t even read.
always with him—this obsession with the coming judgment. He brought it slowly out of sight, the dregs of humanity. It was supposed to be about how God could not give up His chosen people
right into our bedroom, and then published it for all the world to read. I knew that was my future, knew it as clearly as I knew that barely 20 despite the mess they’d made of things. Perhaps when it was read in public
All those nights we would lie there in the dark, him rubbing my stomach miles away was a real home and three children who needed a mother, and that’s what it meant. But not for me.
that moved with his child and it never dawned on me that to him I was still a husband who wouldn’t abuse me. And I left it all for what I knew would be
nothing but a tramp. You think I’m making this up—to justify leaving him? a short and ugly life. Why, you ask? How could I do it? It was simple. Hosea
How would you feel if you became the poster girl for a nation’s sin? He never had judged me; judged me and found me wanting. Did he think I didn’t Rob Alloway has written two award winning collections of Old Testament
even told me to my face. I had to hear it in the market, catching it in the lewd know the truth about myself? stories, Balaam’s Revenge, and Babylon Post. His third book, The Left
leers of men whom I knew I had never slept with. I had to discover it when And then one day, he just showed up. How he found me I have no idea. Hand of God, is scheduled for release in December. They are available
it came time to name the son I gave him. But I remember he stood just as stiff and rigid and uncomfortable as the first from Regent College Publishing (regentbookstore.com), or from Chapters
“Name him Jezreel,” he said. “He’ll be a witness to the sins committed at time he’d shown up to claim me years earlier. and Amazon. Rob may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jezreel.” I didn’t even know where Jezreel was, much less what had happened My pimp called me down into the room. “This man’s taken a fancy to you,
there that was so terrible. Oh, it was clever—a sly reminder to our king that it seems. I’m releasing you. You’re his
his time was up—poetic, and clever—but kind? now.”
Not even his own son was safe from becoming an object lesson, pressed A heap of coins lay on the table
into the service of his holy work. We weren’t actually people to him, we were and I could see that Hosea had paid
poetic opportunities—the raw material for his career. far more than I was worth. We start-
Do you want to hear a sample of the kind of poems he circulated? ed the long walk home. It wasn’t for
Here’s one: me to speak first.
“I would have come sooner,” he
Hand your mother into court. Accuse her! said finally, still looking straight
She’s no longer my wife. ahead, “but you were hard to find.”
I’m no longer her husband. “Most men wouldn’t have both-
Tell her to quit dressing like a whore, ered,” I replied.
displaying her breasts for sale “I’m sorry.” I wasn’t sure I’d heard
If she refuses, I’ll rip off her clothes his words. What did he have to be
and expose her naked as a newborn. sorry for? I was the tramp.
“I’m the one who ran away,” I said
Try buying your groceries with that kind of thing being circulated in the
softly. “You deserve better.”
“Maybe, but you’re the one I
Did I run away from him and did I return to my old ways? Yes. I ran away
frequently. Truth is, even I don’t know for sure who the fathers of our next
“You want me?”
two children really were. He wanted a sermon illustration, did he? Well, I
“Yes, Gomer, I love you. And I’ll
obliged him, dutiful wife that I was.
do what ever it takes to show you
Do you have any idea how hard it is to live with righteousness? Can you
that. I want to start over. I can’t give
imagine the shame of having your sins singled out; the spotlight of holiness
glaring down on you with nowhere to hide? Did it never occur to Hosea that
“What if I can’t change?” I had at
my lifestyle held me just as tightly as His God held him? Were the words
last given voice to my worst fear.
“compulsion” or “addiction” outside his vocabulary? He wanted to convert
He said, “I’ll love you all
me, did he? Wanted me to repent and change my ways and join his club?
And what would I be joining exactly? Pride, arrogance, and the ability to
You don’t crawl back from the
wound those who were already wounded. Not for me. At least in the back
edge of a precipice all in an after-
alleys of our town my clients accepted me. And if you can’t find love, then
noon’s walk back home. But with
acceptance is a pretty good substitute.
every step I took, it felt like I was
U p until a few decades ago, most scientists believed
the world was unfolding in a predictable fashion.
God had set the world in motion and like a clock it was
slowly counting down. All anyone needed to know was
how the world “ticked” and we could go back in time or,
GOD CREATED even better, know the future. The computer was going
to be the instrument to bring us the future. We would
FRACTALS be able to make accurate predictions about the weather
and nature. Chaos would slowly disappear as our human
However, to the shock and surprise of these scientists,
Flourishing at the the computer became the instrument of a whole new
world of discovery called fractals. The fact that much
edge of chaos of nature, our bodies and events have similar shapes in
thousands of different sizes defines the idea of fractals.
A fern has similar shapes from the large stems down
Wayne Penner to the smallest frond. From the biggest to the small-
Special to ChristianWeek est, our blood vessels have similar shapes. The weather
has patterns, but these patterns are unpredictable. A
very small change in one area could drastically change
the weather a few days later somewhere else. This is
popularly known as the “butterfly effect,” and it actu-
ally does exist.
God has made a world that in many ways has similar patterns, yet is
With fractals, chaos does not means that there is a mess, but rather that
order could appear at any time. Instead of chaos being the opposite of order,
they work together to create new and exciting events.
The flow of a river is very complicated. One can drop two leaves at a
certain place, one after the other, and they could easily end up on opposite
sides of the river. How can that be? The river appears to be flowing at a steady
rate but there are continuous little changes that are happening. As the water
flows, whirlpools suddenly appear and then they stop. How does this happen?
The whirlpools appear to be chaotic but then change back to order. There are
boundaries but there also is freedom within those boundaries.
That is similar to how God seems to give us a free will. We can choose,
yet he has established boundaries outside of which we cannot go. The leaves
cannot go outside the banks of the river but one cannot predict where they
will end up downriver.
The exciting place where order and chaos intertwine
is known as the “edge of chaos.” It is here where new ideas
and patterns can start and grow. We hear the phrase
“living on the edge” and that is where the chaos theory
has much to teach us. For organizations to work well,
they will want to be on the edge. Too stable and they will
eventually die because they do not change to react to the
world around them. Too chaotic and they will not do well
because so much of their energy will be wasted.
Working on the edge allows for maximum creativ-
ity and growth. Fractals researcher Victor Macgill in his
article “Complexity Theory and Chaos Theory” says, “This
point is a magic point, where new and unimagined prop-
erties can emerge.”
The question is asked, “Why did Jesus come when He
did?” He arrived at a time when the Jewish nation was at
the edge of chaos. The Romans and religious leaders were providing some
stability but there was also chaos and uprisings. It is at a time like this when
people would be ready for change and new ideas. Jesus came at the right
time, at this edge of chaos.
Another concern that has been expressed is “Wasn’t it very dangerous for
God to leave the future of the Church in the hands of human beings?” Isn’t
there a danger that the Church will go off on a tangent? One of the basic
aspects of the chaos theory is that there are “attractors.” An example of a
simple attractor occurs when a ball is circling around a bowl; eventually it
will end at the bottom. In organizations there are attractors around which
the they continue to move. However, because there is more than one attractor
there is never a settling on the attractor but always a motion around it.
As long as an organization keeps its “eyes” on the attractors, there need
not be a fear of it straying too far. It may be difficult to exactly pinpoint where
the organization is at a certain time, but it will never be too far from the
attractors. The attractors in the Church are Jesus and His written word.
In the Church we do not need to worry about the boundaries. Rather, the
question is: Are our “eyes fixed on Jesus? ” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus did not empha-
size the boundaries of Christianity but rather the centre of it, which was Himself.
The Church needs to live on the edge if it is to be an “alive” Church. Too stable
and it will die; too chaotic and it will not be able to function.
The beautiful world God created is far more complex and yet in some
ways more simple than we can imagine. The idea of fractals allows us to
open our eyes a little more and stand in amazement at what God has done
and is doing all around us.
God is continuing to create, and will surely bless us all if we allow these
new patterns at the edge of chaos to flourish.
Wayne Penner received his Bachelor of Science, majoring in Mathematics
from the University of Winnipeg, and his Bachelor of Religious Education
from MBBC (now Canadian Mennonite University). He taught mathematics
for Grades 8-12 for 32 years and is currently an elder in a Presbyterian
congregation in Comox, B.C.
Worldviews underlie cultural clashes Saintliness isn’t sinlessness Book plots struggles of Christian insitute
A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE: PUTTING HOW TO BECOME A SAINT: A A UNIVERSITY FOR THE PEOPLE:
CHRISTIAN TRUTH-CLAIMS TO THE BEGINNER’S GUIDE A HISTORY OF THE INSTITUTE FOR
WORLDVIEW TEST BY JACK BERNARD CHRISTIAN STUDIES
BY KENNETH RICHARD SAMPLES BRAZOS PRESS (BAKER), 2007 ROBERT E. VANDERVENNEN
BAKER BOOKS, 2007 CDN $14.99, 160 PAGES DORDT COLLEGE PRESS, 2008
CDN $17.99, 313 PAGES ISBN: 1-5874-3199-8 CDN $19.04, 273 PAGES
ISBN: 0-8010-6822-3 REVIEWED BY PETER BUSH ISBN: 0-9329-1475-6
REVIEWED BY R. WAYNE HAGERMAN REVIEWED BY MICHAEL HAYKIN
I f you are looking for something light and easy, A World of Difference
is probably not your best choice. Reading Richard Samples’ prose will
almost certainly challenge your vocabulary and cognitive competence.
W hat does it mean to be a saint? Is it sinlessness? Or is saintliness
recognizing that we have been set apart for the purposes of God S tudying philosophy in the early 1970s from the University of
Toronto and then studying at the fledgling Toronto School of
Theology made me aware of the existence of the Institute of Christian
in the world? In this book Jack Bernard argues for the second defini-
The premise for this book appears in the introduction where tion.Bernard rejected his Episcopal upbringing to become an atheist. Studies on College Street in Toronto. So I was interested to read this vol-
Samples submits four “cultural clashes” facing American culture. Eventually he converted to Christianity, attended seminary and became ume detailing the history of this graduate school with “a difference.”
The first is the world-changing event called 9/11, a reference point a missionary in Belize. Upon returning to the United States he helped Robert VanderVennen wisely takes a couple of chapters to outline
in American history that has forever changed the way Americans found Church of the Sojourners, an intentional Christian community, in the early days of the school and its philosophical roots in the thought
regard themselves, their culture and the culture of predominantly San Francisco. Bernard died in 2002 at the age of 60. of Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-1977). Dooyeweerd’s philosophical
Islamic countries. convictions were not followed slavishly, but his convictions that
The second clash is what Samples refers to as a “country divided,” Bernard is unequivocal; holiness “is God’s will for all believers.” philosophy is foundational to all other scholarship, that religion is
referring to the deep divisions—political, social, moral and spiri- Holiness, he writes, is less about doing good and more about trusting at the centre of every human enterprise and that Christians need to
tual—that have erupted in America during recent times. God. Learning to trust God is not a solo activity; it is nurtured within engage in spirited socio-cultural reformation gave a distinct shape to
The third cultural clash Samples calls “a family tragedy.” It refers the community of faith—the Church. Bernard is bold enough to the institute.
to life and death decisions (literally), which have changed the way claim, “there are no saints outside the Church.” The book devotes space to details of the teachers at the school,
our society views the value and dignity of life, the right to life (or To live in radical trust requires living with an undivided heart. the use of books to spread the distinct philosophy of the institute, its
death) and the moral and ethical implications these things have for As Kierkegaard said, “purity of heart is to will one thing.” Having an financial challenges and the attempts to grant accredited degrees.
the nation. undivided heart towards God requires humility—a humility which The school has had a number of brilliant teachers over the years, such
The final clash relates to the author’s personal battle with a near- not only allows God to be the leader, but also gives up a desire for as Bernard Zylstra, C.T. McIntire, Al Wolters, George Vandervelde,
death illness which convinced him of the salient need to “help others personal recognition for the sake of the community. Bernard’s call for Hendrik Hart and James Olthius. I distinctly remember attending a
understand the concept of worldviews and how they impact individu- saints to surrender self-interest for the sake of the good of community scintillating conference at the institute on the person and work of
als, societies and nations.” challenges the individualism of much of North American Christianity. the Holy Spirit in the 1980s that led to a book on the Spirit edited by
Samples believes that spelling out and defining worldviews, espe- In the second half of his book Bernard walks through a series of Vandervelde in 1989.
cially a Christian one, which he considers the most cogent and viable, spiritual practices which nurture undivided hearts towards God. VanderVennen is honest with some of the challenges that the
will enable readers to discover the flawed worldview thinking that Included are the expected Scripture reading and prayer. Also on the institute has faced, including differences of theological opinion
has resulted in the above-mentioned events. He is convinced that list are practices not usually identified in such lists, like simplicity, among the faculty and the difficulty of recruiting students from the
this “lack of appreciation for worldview-thinking negatively impacts discernment and discipline and restoration. Given Bernard’s broader evangelical community in Canada.
doctrinal literacy, apologetic understanding, evangelistic fervor, and commitment to the community of the Church, these three practices A recurring theme is the desire of the scholars at the school
the living of a God-honouring life.” take on a new depth and power. to make the Bible the primary reference in their thinking. Yet
Quoting Christian pollster George Barna, Samples writes: “most In the chapter “When Others Fail,” which discusses the process by VanderVennen presents the radicalism of the early years as one
Americans have little idea how to integrate core biblical principles to which a community of faith can restore members to the community, increasingly directed by the winds of culture rather than by the
form a unified and meaningful response to the challenges and oppor- the challenge of Bernard’s vision can be clearly seen. Wrapped Scriptures. In the early 1990s Hart and Olthius promoted homo-
tunity of life.” I think most American evangelicals will agree. up in the process of restoration are the questions of community, sexuality as a legitimate lifestyle. Only when this position became
The book is a substantial analysis of three areas: developing a discernment, forgiveness and living with undivided hearts towards increasingly favoured by the Canadian cultural Left was it proposed as
worldview perspective; exploring a Christian worldview (the core God. a “radical” implication of a true reading of the Scriptures.
reason for the book itself); and evaluating worldview competitors. This is a thought-provoking book which should be widely read. I remember hearing of the argumentation for this position and
Serious readers with an appetite for weighty reading will enjoy While individual believers will benefit from reading it, it would feeling that the institute had betrayed its Reformed heritage of living
this volume, but its main focus is likely the university classroom. probably have its biggest impact when read within the community of under the sovereign authority of the Word of God. In light of this, it
Samples has succeeded in defining the Christian worldview dilemma a small group or a congregational leadership team. should not be surprising that the school has had trouble recruiting
in American culture. from the larger Canadian evangelical community.
Peter Bush is the teaching elder at Knox Presbyterian Church in
R. Wayne Hagerman is a pastor and counsellor who lives in O’Leary, PEI. Mitchell, Ontario. Michael A.G. Haykin is Professor of Church History at The Southern
Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
Food for the hungry soul
R ecently I walked by the kitchen table, and noticed a recipe magazine my wife had picked up at the
supermarket. “Soul Food” was the title on the cover. As a pastor I was intrigued. Unfortunately it was not
what I thought it would be; it was simply a marketing strategy to get me inside the magazine.
I admit it; I am gullible. When I received Erwin McManus’ book entitled Soul Cravings I immediately thought,
“Here we go again; someone capitalizing on a crafty title.” However, McManus is a renowned Christian writer Living Faith Bible College welcomes
whose purpose is not just to intrigue the gullible into picking up his book, but rather to engage people in the president
exploration of real cravings we experience in the depths of our souls. CAROLINE, AB—Paul Reich is the new president of Living
These cravings are not illusive and otherworldly, but attainable and real. In an appealing format (there are Faith Bible College. A degree from the college, 14 years
no page numbers in this book, only “entries,”) McManus opens his own heart and soul to expose his cravings of service on its board and a year of steering the college
SOUL CRAVINGS: for such real things as intimacy, love, ambition, destiny, origin, meaning, life and death. as interim president have helped prepare Reich for this
AN EXPLORATION OF The book’s format is easily readable. It’s as though you happened upon someone’s open diary. But here you’re
position. Reich has a B.A. from Briercrest Bible College and
THE HUMAN SPIRIT invited to read, to savour the entries, to wander and wonder with the author. It is no invasion of privacy, but
rather an immersion into one’s own privacy, guided by a friend who has already asked and is now answering an M.A. from Briercrest Seminary. He pastored a church
BY ERWIN MCMANUS the hard questions. in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan for ﬁve years and served as
NASHVILLE, TN: “Soul cravings are like a leaky faucet. The kind that drips all night long. It screams in your head until your ears associate pastor at a church in Red Deer, Alberta for eight
NESLSON BOOKS, 2006 hurt. But after a while, it’s a silent scream. You can’t hear it anymore, and you could almost deny it completely years. (www.lfbc.net)
CDN $21.99, 256 PAGES except for the echo deep within the hollowness of your soul. You don’t know what your soul wants. You can’t
ISBN: 0785214941 find what your soul needs, so you lose your soul. You just have to ignore it and go on,” McManus writes. Students build school in Zambia
REVIEWED BY WAYNE HAGERMAN This is the frustration of many human beings. The answers lie, not within, but with God. This is an excellent EDMONTON, AB—Students from Taylor University College
book for those who are deeply craving. R. Wayne Hagerman, pastor and counsellor, lives in O’Leary, P.E.I. went to Zambia this summer to help build a residence at
a remote school. The students built the foundation while
they were there, and due to their fund-raising eﬀorts
beforehand were able to leave behind the funds necessary
to get the building ﬁnished. The building was opened
with a ribbon-cutting ceremony not long after the team
returned to Canada. Students also taught a VBS in Zambia
and distributed 800 packs of school supplies to Zambian
students—the only school supplies some of the children
will have. (www.taylor-edu.ca)
SCHOOLS AT A GLANCE
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
ACTS SEMINARIES COLUMBIA BIBLE COLLEGE PRAIRIE
Six Seminaries. One Great Education. Columbia Bible College is an accredited Christian College A passionate focus on the Church. It’s the foundation of
ACTS Seminaries is the Graduate School of Theological in beautiful Abbotsford, B.C. Our theme at Columbia is Prairie’s purpose. Eighty years of focus has produced more
Studies of Trinity Western University. We are a unique “Broaden Your Horizons.” Our goal is to provide students than 14,000 alumni sharing their faith in 110 countries.
enterprise—six Canadian evangelical Protestant seminaries, with an excellent education—academically, spiritually and Prairie has three schools each with their own unique
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come together to help you go further in your education and a life of discipleship, service and ministry. The classroom Mission Aviation and Prairie College of Applied Arts &
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Thrive in a vibrant community that celebrates its cultural dedicated to the students. Columbia’s majors include: Biblical Employment rates in the high 90s, innovative programs
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together to prepare people for Christian service and ministry Education, Intercultural Studies, Outdoor Leadership, as overwhelming graduate satisfaction—over 90% said they
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Interact with faculty from six vital denominations with online courses and an adventure discipleship program God first when it comes to pursuing your purpose.
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Study on the campus of Trinity Western University, Make a move—broaden your horizons at Columbia. at www.prairie.edu.
voted by students as the school with the “highest quality of www.columbiabc.edu, 1.800.283.0881 _______________________________________________
education” in Canada. It is located one hour from Vancouver _______________________________________________ REDEEMER UNIVERSITY COLLEGE
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We are located in Calgary Alberta and open our doors to more than 16 nations. Faculty are committed to academic Are you ready to be “ruined for the ordinary”? Looking
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What “Christian” means to a new generation
he U.S.-based Barna Group, well known for its thorough and sometimes provocative research into American Christianity, has
produced another book that is rocking the Christian Church.
Unchristian, the product of Barna Associates, Kinnaman and Lyons, is a substantially researched look at how Mosaics and Busters
(16- to 29-year-olds) view the Christian Church. It has the potential of a nuclear blast on deeply held perceptions of the Church’s
effectiveness, both present and future, in the U.S. And though the research is on American Christianity, what happens south of the
border eventually affects Canada.
Through illustrations, anecdotal comments and detailed accounts we learn that “Christianity has an image problem.” The surveyed
groups see the Christian Church as irrelevant and substantially “hypocritical,” a word we find difficult to hear and to which we react
Adjectives like “anti-homosexual,”“sheltered,”“too political” and “judgmental” are sure to raise the hackles of many devout Christian
folk. But I think we must put aside our safely guarded, well-worn concepts, and just pay attention to the stuff that this missing-from-
UNCHRISTIAN: WHAT A NEW action-in-our-churches group is saying to us. If the Church has any hope for the future, this group is a force to be reckoned with.
GENERATION REALLY THINKS Kinnaman and Lyons are not calling for a radical revolution of biblical truth, but rather a change in the way we do things, in the
ABOUT CHRISTIANITY…AND WHY way we think about and relate to others in God’s great creation. Mosaics and Busters find us boring, out of touch, culturally challenged
IT MATTERS and out of step with the current needs of a faltering world.
BY DAVID KINNAMAN & GABE LYONS That said, I did find the following statement hopeful: “One of the clear implications of our research is that the negative image of
ADA, MI: BAKER BOOKS, 2007 Christians can be overcome, and this almost always happens in the context of meaningful, trusting relationships.” This is an excellent
CDN $16.99 255 PAGES line of reasoning for every generation of the Christian Church.
REVIEWED BY R. WAYNE HAGERMAN R. Wayne Hagerman is a pastor and counsellor who lives in O’Leary, P.E.I.