Teaching


So, then, once more we bear in mind the injunction to take our shoes from off our feet because the ground whereon we are standing is holy ground; once more we remind ourselves that God is not a phenomenon which we are to investigate, and that when we approach the attributes of God’s great and eternal personality we are as far removed as can be imagined from the scientific procedure of dissection. No, no; we simply take what God has been pleased to tell us about Himself. We note it. We try to bear it in mind. And humbly, and full of worship and praise, we thank Him for His condescension.

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, God the Father, God the Son (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1996), 58-59.

 

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Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope That Matters. By Timothy Keller. New York: Dutton, 2009. 210 pages. Hardback, $19.95.

So, we’ve heard it: idols are everywhere on the rise. Pastors preach about the rise of greed, how Jesus preached against the greed of men for money. These sermons have become stock Sunday service material, beating the same trite, dead horse. Tim Keller, in his latest book Counterfeit Gods, reinvigorates the message of turning away from idols to serving the one and only true God.

Refreshingly, Keller avoids the usual course of fire and brimstone, by allowing the reader to think through a list counterfeit gods. The idols of society are found in romantic love, financial prosperity, need for success, and desire for political power. The present reality is this: Self-worth and esteem are often sought in relationships. When fortunes were lost in the market crisis of 2008-2009, prominent figures on Wall Street committed suicide–a semblance of the crash in the 1930s. There is an endless need for money. Only 2% of Americans consider themselves wealthy; the rest are upwardly driven as members of the middle class. Keller provides a candid assessment of the kind of thinking that prevails in our culture. The problem is idolatry, which admittedly is an inevitable part of the human condition.

The idols cannot be just expelled; it must be replaced. Keller writes: “The human heart’s desire for a particular valuable object may be conquered, but its need to have some such object is unconquerable.” Christ’s sufficiency replaces the need to worship the idol of success and the idols of the world: “Only when we see that Jesus, our great Suffering Servant, has done for us will we finally understand God’s salvation does not require us to do ‘some great thing.'” This is the point, which Keller drives home.

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In discussions surrounding liberal arts education, John Newman’s The Idea of a University is widely known to be a central piece of work, upon which all other ideas have been developed since the mid-nineteenth century. One writer comments: “modern thinking on university education is a series of footnotes to Newman’s lectures and essays.” The following are some key points in Newman’s The Idea of a University.

The importance of theology in university curricula is stressed as a branch of knowlege:

Religious doctrine is knowledge. This is the important truth, little entered into at this day, which I wish that all who have honored me with their presence here would allow me to beg them to take away with them. I am not catching at sharp arguments, but laying down grace principles. Religious doctrine is knowledge, in as full a sense as Newton’s doctrine is knowledge. University teaching without theology is simply unphilosophical. Theology has at least as good a right to claim a place there as astronomy.

All other knowledge is dependent on theology:

Religious truth is not only a portion, but a condition of general knowledge. To blot it out is nothing short if I may so speak, of unraveling the web of ‘university teaching.’

And knowledge is its own end:

When I speak of knowledge, I mean something intellectual, something which grasps what it perceives through the senses; something which takes a view of things; which sees more than the senses convey; which reasons upon what it sees, and while it sees; which invests it with an idea. It expresses itself, not in a mere enunciation, but by an enthymeme; it is of the nature of science from the first, and in this consists its dignity. The principle of real dignity in knowledge, its worth, its desirableness, considered irrespectively of its results, is this germ within it of a scientific or a philosophical process. This is how it comes to be an end in itself; this is why it admits of being called ‘liberal.’

From Inside Higher Ed:

Academic freedom at religious institutions has always been a vexed and complex subject. Many religious colleges assert that they have academic freedom, while also requiring professors to sign statements of faith in which they subscribe to a certain worldview — and there is not necessarily a public attempt to reconcile these principles.

One evangelical Christian college has tried to change the conversation – reframing limitations on inquiry implied by signing a statement of faith, for instance, as opportunities. […]

This WorldMag’s interview with Charles Murray has left quite an impression on me. I haven’t been able to forget what Murray had to say, though I haven’t been entirely sold on buying his book. I do have to say though that I’ve had to revisit the article a few times to make sure I understood exactly what he had to say.

Murray says that America has become overly obsessed with the Bachelor of Arts degree. Simply put: the B.A. is not a measure of educational success.

Suppose that you have enough intellectual ability to get through a college today and get a B.A., and you want to be a business executive. But suppose you have very average interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, and not great intellectual ability. You can’t look at the average for business executives, because in the things that make great business executives you’re going to be competing against people who are a lot stronger than you are, in terms of charm, perseverance, intelligence, and everything else.

Though I am not in any way compelled to look down on the B.A., it’s definitely a starting point. I do want make sure that a student is never complacent with a mere college degree, as if it’s the end all solution to happiness in life.

From Consumerist.com:

Reader Jay sent us this link to a training potty with a built in slot machine that goes off whenever it detects a “deposit.”

It’s probably not a good idea to introduce your kids to gambling at such an early age, but what really bothers us is associating the slots with a basic part of life, conditioning kids to want to gamble on the toilet. Do you really want your son spending an hour in the bathroom playing online poker on his iPhone?

The government is offering scholarships (large ones, in fact, amounting to $10,000) for working moms “to cover childcare expenses while they attend school, pay for classes online or to save for their children’s education”:

With a full-time job (or several part-time jobs) and children to raise, working mothers often have very little time to pursue an education. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 80 percent of single working moms lack the education they need to get ahead.

The latest government figures confirm that only 16 percent of single working mothers have a bachelor’s degree or higher and only 22 percent earn more than $30,000 a year. But going back to school is worth it according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Earning an associate’s degree can add an extra $6,500 per year of income into your pocket and a bachelor’s degree can add up to $19,000 every year to your paycheck.

But working mothers wanting to pursue a degree often find a financial aid system designed for full-time students living on campus.

This fall, however, working moms can get back to school with a free $10,000 scholarship. Scholarships4Moms.net is helping working mothers across the country go back to school, advance their education and get ahead in their careers. All U.S. residents over the age of 18 are eligible to win a $10,000 scholarship, but the application deadline is January 23 2009, so act now!

[read the rest of the article]

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