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Wilberforce Forum
God's Creation in Our Hands; An Opportunity for Christian Witness

Blue Heron MinistriesAnd God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
- Genesis 1:28. ESV

“Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead He set before your eyes the things that He had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that?”
St. Augustine (354-430)

Unlikely groups seem to be intersecting at a common point: groups focusing on environmentalism and Christians. Although as the verse above in Genesis 1 proclaims, God ’s creation is in our charge, it is our responsibility to be good stewards of all of His blessings and provisions for us. But it does beg the question: are these groups mutually exclusive in their approach in caring for the environment or is there common ground to make a solid alliance benefiting all? It seems that environmentalism has become a religion of its own with activists demanding the elimination of what they see as threats to the environment; everything from toilet paper to fossil fuels.

Christians seem to be confused or at least fractured in their approach in caring for the environment. Some are siding with radical groups, some taking a Biblical Worldview coupled with science, economics and ethics, while others are unsure on how to proceed in caring for God’ creation.. Writing in the Mennonite Weekly Review (January 10, 2011), Celeste Kennel-Shank states that “Environmental injustice thrives on lack of awareness and concern for people already marginalized. Locally, nationally and internationally, we have a responsibility to find out how the poor are affected by pollution and global warming — the United States disproportionally [sic] contributes to both”. And in Culture Matters (Sojourners Magazine January 24, 2011) Sheldon C. Good accuses The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation (cornwallalliance.org) and its new DVD series Resisting the Green Dragon to be “a network of Christian leaders that claims to bring a balanced biblical view of stewardship to the critical issues of environment and development. Actually, their views are anything but balanced”. We believe that the Alliance is defending the Truth and doing so with a balanced Christian Worldview.

While we as Christians sort through our role in preserving God’s gift of creation for us to utilize, enjoy and pass on to future generations, let us consider what we as Christians in our communities can do locally to be good stewards. As others look at the global environment, we ask the question: Are there ministries already engaged in practicing care of God’s creation? If so, how have they impacted their community and walked out their Christian ministry focusing on creation? One such group is Blue Heron Ministries (www.blueheronland.org). It is a ministry of the Presbyterian Chapel of the Lakes in Angola, Indiana. Blue Heron “offers stewardship, education and advocacy as a significant part of their Christian witness”.

The Forum will welcome Nate Simons the Executive Director of Blue Heron Ministries as our guest for the purpose of giving us a biblical worldview perspective on conserving the creation in their community. “Blue Heron Ministries is a Land Trust whose focus is on stewardship, bringing people and nature together.

Join the discussion on Monday, January 31, at 8 pm EDT live on The Wilberforce Forum.

 
Worldview Conflicts: Global Warming and that Pesky White Stuff

“Because God created the Natural – invented it out of His love and artistry – it demands our reverence.”
–C.S. Lewis in God in the Dock, 1948.

For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through Him and for Him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
- Colossians 1:16-17. ESV.

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I just finished shoveling my drive and walkways around my house for the third time in as many weeks. A number of local reports cite the fact that this is one of the coldest and snowy winters on record for our region of the country. Last month, London’s Heathrow airport closed as a result of record setting snow and winter weather, stranding thousands of travelers as a result of cancelled flights. This comes despite the United Kingdom’s National Weather Office issuance of a mild winter forecast for the current and two previous years. Additionally, other parts of Europe are reporting that this is the worst winter in over 120 years. Even as I write this, according to national news sources, it is snowing in 49 states across the country including Hawaii where snow has fallen atop Mauna Kea on the Big Island. Florida is the only state without fresh snow.

The 16th annual conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Cancun, Mexico did not alter their focus on global warming in spite of temperatures sinking to 40◦ below normal. They continued to discuss the damage man is inflecting on the planet irrespective of the truth before them (focusing on the creation and not the Creator). If you haven’t visited the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate change page recently (www.epa.gov/climatechange/), you owe it to yourself to navigate to the site and watch the banners at the top of the page where you will read statements like: “Glaciers around the world are shrinking, and the amount of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has decreased since the 1970s; Hurricanes in the Atlantic are likely to become more intense as ocean temperatures rise; As temperatures rise, some migratory birds are spending the winter an average of 35 miles further north than they did 40 years ago.” What is going on? Is it possible that there is an agenda other than protecting the environment? Considering the outrage over ‘Climategate’ and the manufacturing of data to demonstrate a world that is warming and its consequence for the planet, what’s a person to believe or do?

The Forum will welcome Dr. E. Calvin Beisner founder of and the National Spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation (www.cornwallalliance.org), as our guest for the purpose of giving us a biblical worldview perspective on the environment. In past appearances on the Forum, Dr. Beisner has focused on the legislation of “Cap and Trade” with ramifications on the poor among us, especially the Third World poor and has discussed the economic peril that would be placed on sectors that are imperative to man’s existence (e.g. agriculture, industry and commerce) if the current legislation is enacted as law. During this broadcast you will discover why the current path pursued by the EPA and UN Climatologists extorts monies from developing countries and irreparably harms third world countries. Listen to discussions on whether it is time to put the ‘freeze’ on global warming!

 
Worldview Conflicts in Economics and Vocation: Serving God in the Marketplace

“ Even a cursory study of the Bible soon shows that it contains little that corresponds to our modern ideas of work and vocation. Terms are not used which we have to translate by ‘vocation’ or ‘the call of God,’ but the context makes it apparent that what is at issue is always a summons to the specific service of God.”
Jacques Ellul in The Ethics of Freedom, 1976.

He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer.
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Exodus 35:35 ESV.

Unemployment in the United States nears the 10 percent mark while many communities post a much higher rate. By all accounts, this is the worst post-recession unemployment period since World War II. While much politicizing and demonizing of the marketplace continues in Washington, DC, the fact of the matter that millions have lost their jobs and the potential to rectify the current unemployment conditions rests largely with small businesses across our country: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce points to the major provider for jobs and some estimates indicate that 95 percent of all workers are employed by a small business. Many of these businesses came into being as a result of entrepreneurial activity and pursuit.

Over the past 18 months, jobs have been lost in the U.S. and stimulus funds, discussions of job creation and finger-pointing by politicians have followed with no successful outcome. In fact, more filing for unemployment benefits and individuals working at jobs that they would not have otherwise considered has resulted in becoming underemployed to support themselves and their families as they continue to look unsuccessfully for work or a job that rewards: both financially and self-satisfying. Christians in the marketplace as Ellul indicates above, are there as a summons from God, but to specifically serve God. In view of the current state of affairs in the business world, how are Christians responding to His to serve Him in the marketplace?  What entrepreneurial activities bring Christians to the marketplace and do they view this creativity as a gift from God? In times of economic downturn, do they view their status as an opportunity and look to the hope within them to pursue an outcome that is God honoring? How do the leaders of Christian based businesses view and care for the workforce they employ? How do they interact with the communities in which they have businesses to address God’s calling to be simple, separate and deliberate through their marketplace presence in service to Him?

The Forum will welcome two guests to help us sort through the role of Christians in the Marketplace. Neal Caldwell, founder, past president and CEO for Dalen Products, Inc (www.gardeneer.com) and currently the Chair of the Board for Dalen Products. “The marriage of his professional talents, his passion for gardening and the inspiration to make his family's house a "home" resulted in the birth of Dalen Products, Inc. Over 35 years later, Dalen proudly manufactures and markets Neal's first patented product, the Gardeneer by Dalen Tomato Tray™, as well as over 75 other products”. Our second guest will be Dale Widmer, co-founder, President and CEO of Petro’s Chili and Chips (www.petros.com) a chain of fast service restaurants:” For over 25 successful years Petro's Chili & Chips has been operating company stores and franchising in both traditional and non-traditional venues. Starting at the Knoxville World’s Fair in 1982 and continuing onto today”. This is an opportunity to hear from Christian businessmen that have been successful in creating jobs, and who have utilized their entrepreneurship and governing their activities through the use of Christian principles in the marketplace.

Join the discussion on Monday, December 13, at 8 pm EDT.

 
Worldview Conflicts in Politics: A Christian's Role in the Public Square

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Click here to listen to Monday's program, "Worldview Conflicts in Politics."

Wilberforce Forum guests Chuck Colson, T. M. Moore and Marvin Olasky discuss a Christian's role in politics.



on Blog Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

- James Madison

"And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than the other Jews? For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
-
Esther 4:12-14, ESV

Politics has become a hard-hitting, competitive sport that is front and center in America. It overshadows all topics in the public square for it has become the vehicle by which public opinion is decided; sanctity of life issues, same sex marriage, healthcare providers and conscience choice in providing objectionable procedures or prescriptions, curriculum design for public schools and the academy, the delivery of healthcare, climate control and environmental action - the list could be endless as Americans have politicized all aspects of discourse. Most Americans have come to believe that politics and the political process is the defining paradigm for our way of life. We now lobby Congress, the Administration and even the Judicial Branch through every organization and institution seeking special standing in an attempt to receive public funds or to side-step issues and laws that might impact our special interests.

At no previous time has our country been so divided over issues that impact everyday Americans and the ultimate fate of our republic. The airways are replete with sound bites by people from all walks of life that are anything but civil in their discussion of issues, politicians and members of political groups and movements. Even those calling themselves Christians have been critical of what they perceive as an anti-social justice stance and misrepresent ‘what Jesus would be doing’ in this political climate. Seeking to elect candidates that will alter the current political landscape, we find ourselves in a cyclical pattern as we continue to elect the same types of people of whom we are attempting to rid ourselves. How are we to participate with wisdom and power exercising a Christian Worldview in the current caustic environs of politics?

As with all previous elections of memory, this mid-term election in America has been determined to be ‘seminal’. In this worldview sphere, how are Christians to engage the culture? What is truly at stake in this mid-term election? What role should Christians play as we find ourselves eliminated from the discussion as a result of our faith and perhaps our action in past elections or our response to present circumstance? What role should the church have in the political process? Is it different than the role it served during the founding of the country? In this venue, do Christians have a place for discussion in the public square? Are they marginalized and dismissed for their input because it is viewed as religion and not the politically correct approach of the day? If we are to take a stand, what action is required or acceptable?

The Forum will welcome three guests to help us sort through the role of Christians in Politics. Chuck Colson will join the program first, giving his insight as a political insider in the Nixon Administration as well as comment on the shift that has occurred in today’s political arena. T.M. Moore, Dean of the BreakPoint Centurions and Principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe along with Marvin Olasky, Editor of World Magazine and Provost of The King’s College in New York City will round out the evening which will no doubt be informative and enlightening. This is an opportunity to hear from outstanding Christian Worldview thinkers on the mid-term elections and focus on your own involvement as a Christian in community and government.

Join the discussion at the Colson Center.

 
Worldview Conflicts in Education: Revisiting “The Closing of the American Mind”

“Lack of education simply results in students’ seeking enlightenment wherever it is readily available, without being able to distinguish between sublime and trash, insight and propaganda.” Allan Bloom in “The Closing of the American Mind” (1987)

"Claiming to be wise, they became fools.”-- Romans 1:22 ESV

It has been 23 years since Allan Bloom published “The Closing of the American Mind” a damning treatise of how higher education has failed democracy and impoverished the souls of students. Bloom wrote concerning the written word; much of the great or classic literature has its moorings in the Bible. Works by Shakespeare, Victor Hugo, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Alexandra Dumas, or closer to our current time period, Alexander Solzhenitsyn have become simply words on a page or a nice story and have lost their true impact on the soul and underlying meanings. These great authors, along with many others, cannot be fully grasped for their meaning and moral consequence without a foundational knowledge of the Bible. Even many of the metaphors we utilize in the English language cannot be appreciated and fully understood without scriptural knowledge.

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When I was teaching regularly in the university classroom, I often gave extra credit on the final exam if students could identify the appropriate references or origins for “make bricks without straw”, “eyeless in Gaza”, “but if not…”, “cast the first stone” or “the Prodigal Son” to name a few. I am sure you would not be surprised that the explanations from students to these phrases made me cringe as well as laugh out loud; with references to pigs and a wolf, guide dogs and such.

The American university, as we have examined during this series and as Bloom describes, continues to fail its students and ultimately fail our nation. This is nowhere truer than in literature and it impact on a student’s worldview and reach into culture. Has the academy permanently closed the American mind? If so, what tools are necessary to reopen the inquiry and intellectual discussion? Does this present a challenge for students with a Christian Worldview? How might this impact the student graduating from university? What do you believe to be the stumbling blocks for students as they engage the culture with what seems to be a deficit of intellectual currency? How might this impact spirituality, society and choices? What does it take to understand themes in literature and philosophy? How might we begin training students to be leaders in engaging and understanding the culture through the study of literature and philosophy? What kind of themes or discussions presented through studies in this area would speak into culture for the Kingdom; how might we start those discussions? These questions and more as we explore classical literature as it should be taught in university from a Christian Worldview perspective.

Dr. Robert Jackson, Associate Professor at The King’s College (www.tkc.edu) in New York City will be our guest on the Forum as we continue our series focusing on Worldview Conflicts in Education. Dr. Jackson coordinates the college’s Foundations of Education concentration, which explores the history and philosophy of education with an eye to major intellectual trends in modern thought. He is in his tenth year at King’s and “believes that powerful abstractions are best understood when embodied in timeless works of literature”. He holds a Ph.D. in Multicultural Education from Florida State University.

Join the discussion on Thursday, October 7, at 8 pm EDT.

 
Worldview Conflicts in Education: Have we forgotten who we are or did we ever know?

“What’s wrong with the world? Dear Sirs, I am.”
-G.K. Chesterton

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
-Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV

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Sociology is the scientific study of social human behavior. From altruism to xenophobia, sociologists have explanations focusing on why people act the way they act. They also monitor the mechanisms of culture; though most individuals and institutions would like to be identified by their ability to impact culture, truth be known, it is culture that changes the individual or institution. The American university, as we have examined during this series, is a good example of how the origins, trends, beliefs, and transitions have impacted the university’s original mission. The influence stemming from the culture produced an entirely different focus and learning environment than was intended from their inception, thus becoming no place for Truth. One could make the same argument for the Evangelical Church; has it been made in the image of the culture? Has the church been true to its original mission? Is the church reflecting a mission that is simple, separate, and deliberate or is it blending into the culture so that it is indistinguishable?

Urban Studies when combined with sociology offers the examination of culture in large cities and urban communities. The higher concentration of people in a community increases the blending of race, ethnicity, young and old; thus, the evidence of a plethora of social issues. In other words, there is a higher concentration of art, education, religions, law, culture and the potential to blend these become heightened and many times volatile. In these venues, do Christians have a place for discussion in the public square? Are they marginalized and dismissed for their input because it is viewed as religion and not the politically correct approach of the day? What might be the benefit of injecting a Christian institution of higher learning into the mix and how might students use this arena for understanding and exercising a Christian worldview? In a broader sense, are Christian colleges preparing young people to take a stand and be different or to blend in and be tolerant of societal issues? If they are to take a stand, what action is required or acceptable? In this society so influenced by tolerance and acceptance, how does one formulate his/her worldview and what are the Christian educators doing to impact the lives of their students?

Dr. Anne Hendershott, Professor at The King’s College (www.tkc.edu) in New York City will be our guest on the Forum as we continue our series focusing on Worldview Conflicts in Education. Dr. Hendershott spent 15 years at the University of San Diego as director of urban studies and chair of the sociology department before coming to King's. During her career as a sociologist, she has specialized in the study of abortion and its relation to politics and religion. She left San Diego because she appreciates TKC's mission of engaging culture from a committed Christian worldview. Her articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal and National Review, and she has written numerous books including The Politics of Abortion, Moving for Work, and The Reluctant Caregivers. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Kent State University.

 
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