Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Are you training your replacement?

I saw this post on Pastor Matt’s blog (H/T Truthbomb Apologetics), in which he talked about how William Lane Craig, the foremost Christian evangelist today, was inspiring a generation of young Christians to study hard subjects and to have an influence.

Pastor Matt then describes his own efforts with the Alliance Defense Fund, where he serves as Director of Development.

He writes:

My primary job is to serve the Christian legal ministry Alliance Defending Freedom.  Other than winning approximately 80% of our cases, we have committed to training the next generation of Christian lawyers (yes, there is such a thing).  Alliance Defending Freedom (or ADF) instituted The Blackstone Legal Fellowship to impact future generations.  We pick the top Christian law students from across the country, train them and place them in a paid internship with attorneys already fighting everyday for life, marriage and religious liberty across the globe.  The results have been tremendous.  After all, think about the impact an Ivy League law student committed to following Christ would have if properly trained in Constitutional law and given real world experience in defending the 1st Amendment? Such students go on to become federal law clerks, U.S Attorneys and federal judges.

The Blackstone program inspired me to think about applying the same to rising Christian apologists.  After all, if we lost significant ground in the culture war because we ceded academia to the left, what would happen if we identified the best and brightest committed Christians studying philosophy or science and helped them to rise to the top of their fields via a training program including internships and networking opportunities?

For example, let’s say a grad student at Houston Baptist University or the Talbot School of Theology has been accepted to study philosophy of science at Cambridge or physics at Cal Tech.  Wouldn’t it make a difference if he or she were given a chance over their summer break to spend time learning about the latest in New Testament studies from N.T. Wright and intelligent design from Stephen Meyer followed by a paid internship with the Discovery Institute or RZIM? Then think of the possibilities of linking all of these men and women through an online network and regular get togethers where they could support one another through prayer and commenting on each others’ writings. The benefits could be not only better writing but friendships that help avoid unnecessary divisions as well as maintaining the momentum Dr. Craig and others have initiated.

I’m definitely a huge fan of the ADF and Blackstone Legal Fellowship, but I have my own plan to train my replacements.

For some time now, I have been getting to know young Christians who want to make a difference for Christ and his Kingdom, and I have been encouraging them. Sometimes, that encouragement means sending money, sometimes it means sending books, sometimes it means sending care and encouragement, sometimes it means picking college courses and sometimes it means helping with homework or technical issues. Sometimes it means listening as they get through a bad break-up or deal with doubts. Sometimes it means giving them advice on courting and marriage. It could mean anything – but the goal is to build them up to have an influence.

I am a single man and have been careful to study difficult subjects and move around as necessary to find good-paying work. That leaves me in a position where I am able to spend my free time caring for these younger Christians as they grow their skills, build their resumes and get their ministries set up. I expect them all to surpass me in their achievements and influence. So although I have been able to escape my upbringing and reach some measure of success, my hope for them is that they will reach even higher than I was able to. But that’s not going to happen unless they have a vision for their lives and are supplied in order to reach their goals.

So, do you have a plan to develop influential and effective Christians who will replace you?

Filed under: Mentoring, , , , , , ,

Marrying a non-Christian: does the Bible allow it?

I think that the best way to answer the question, “should I marry a non-Christian?”, is to ask whether it makes any difference if your spouse is on board with your plans for your ministry and with your marriage. So let’s take a look at a case where someone famous who chose a Christian wife, and we’ll see how much that decision affected his ministry and his marriage.

I want to draw your attention to a talk on “Vision in Life” given by Dr. William Lane Craig. Dr. Craig is the ablest defender of the Christian faith operating today. He has done formal academic debates with all of the best known atheists on major university campuses in front of thousands of university students. This list of atheists and agnostics includes people like Christopher Hitchens and Victor Stenger. The Hitchens debate took place in an auditorium filled with 5000 students, and many thousands more were watching at churches all over the world. How did Dr. Craig get these opportunities to evangelize on secular university campuses?

Well, he owes a lot of his success to his amazing wife Jan, as we shall see in the summary of his talk on that topic.

The MP3 file is here. (32 minutes)

This talk was Dr. Craig’s chapel address to Biola University students, and he is introduced by his son, John, a Biola University grad.

In the talk, it becomes clear that Bill’s wife Jan plays an enormous role in his success. Indeed, you will see that if it were not for her, he never would have gotten either of his doctorates, or even his second Masters degree. Why was she so supportive of his plans? Because she had the same broad goal of evangelism through scholarship. Let’s see how she encouraged him.

Here is a quotation that occurs about 11 minutes into the talk, as Bill describes the completion of his Bachelor’s degree at Wheaton:

And it was at Wheaton that my vision began to focus on presenting the gospel in the context of giving an intellectual defense of the faith, to appeal not only to the heart but also to the head, as well. And so I determined that I would go on to seminary for further training.

But, my senior year, in chapel, we heard a speaker who challenged us, before going on to further education, to take a couple of years out, and to wring out the sponge, so to speak, that had been soaking up all that knowledge, and to work with university students while we were still about the same age.

And so I joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ for 2 years, and was assigned to Northern Illinois University. And that was where I met my wife Jan. She was a graduate of the University of North Dakota where she had come to faith in Christ. And she had a similar vision for her life of evangelism and discipleship.

And as we worked at NIU together, she with gals and I with the guys, leading students to Christ and discipling them to walk with the Lord, we fell in love. And we decided that we would be more effective if we joined forces and became a team.

It is at this point in the talk where Bill begins to explain just how Jan molded him into the lean, mean debating machine that travels the world striking terror into the hearts of atheists.

Bill’s first story about Jan occurs early after their marriage while he is working on his first Masters degree at Trinity:

And it was also at that time that I began to see what an invaluable asset the Lord had given me in Jan. I remember I came home from classes one day, and found her at the kitchen table with all the catalogs and schedules and papers spread out in front of her and she said, “look! I’ve figured out how you can get two Masters degrees at the same time that it would normally take to get one! All you have to do is take overloads every semester, go to all full-time summer school and do all these other things, and you can do two MAs in the time it takes to do one!”

And I thought, whoa! Are you sure you really want to make the commitment it takes to do this kind of thing? And she said, “Yeah! Go for it!” And it was then I began to see that God had given me a very special woman who was my supporter – my cheerleader – and who really believed in me. And as long as she believed in me, that gave me the confidence to dream bigger dreams, and to take on challenges that I had never thought of before.

In an article on his web site, he talks about how Jan encouraged him to do his first Ph.D:

As graduation from Trinity neared, Jan and I were sitting one evening at the supper table in our little campus apartment, talking about what to do after graduation. Neither of us had any clear leading or inclination of what we should do next.

So Jan said to me, “Well, if money were no object, what would you really like to do next?”

I replied, “If money were no object, what I’d really like to do is go to England and do a doctorate under John Hick.”

“Who’s he?” she asked.

“Oh, he’s this famous British philosopher who’s written extensively on arguments for the existence of God,” I explained. “If I could study with him, I could develop a cosmological argument for God’s existence.”

But it hardly seemed a realistic idea.

The next evening at supper Jan handed me a slip of paper with John Hick’s address on it. “I went to the library today and found out that he’s at the University of Birmingham in England,” she said. “Why don’t you write him a letter and ask him if you can do a doctoral thesis under him on the cosmological argument?”

What a woman! So I did, and to our amazement and delight Professor Hick wrote back saying he’d be very pleased to supervise my doctoral work on that subject. So it was an open door!

And in the same article, he explains how Jan encouraged him to get his second Ph.D:

As Jan and I neared the completion of my doctoral studies in Birmingham, our future path was again unclear to us. I had sent out a number of applications for teaching positions in philosophy at American universities but had received no bites. We didn’t know what to do.

I remember it like yesterday. We were sitting at the supper table in our little house outside Birmingham, and Jan suddenly said to me, “Well, if money were no object, what would you really like to do next?”

I laughed because I remembered how the Lord had used her question to guide us in the past. I had no trouble answering the question. “If money were no object, what I’d really like to do is go to Germany and study under Wolfhart Pannenberg.”

“Who’s he?”

“Oh, he’s this famous German theologian who’s defended the resurrection of Christ historically,” I explained. “If I could study with him, I could develop a historical apologetic for the resurrection of Jesus.”

Our conversation drifted to other subjects, but Jan later told me that my remark had just lit a fire under her. The next day while I was at the university, she slipped away to the library and began to research grants-in-aid for study at German universities. Most of the leads proved to be defunct or otherwise inapplicable to our situation. But there were two grants she found that were possibilities. You can imagine how surprised I was when she sprung them on me!

Both of these Ph.D experiences are also described in the talk. And the talk concludes as follows:

I am so thankful to be married to a woman who is tremendously resourceful, tremendously talented and energetic, who could have pursued an independent career in any number of areas, but instead, she has chose to wed her aspirations to mine, and to make it her goal to make me the most effective person I can be, for Christ. And she has been like my right arm in ministry over these many years. And it is a tremendous privilege to be a team with a person like that.

And you young men, I would encourage you, if you marry, to find a gal who shares your vision, not some independent vision, but who is interested in aligning herself with you, and pursuing together a common vision and goal that will draw you [together], so that you will avoid the growing separateness that so often creeps into marriages.

And now you know the rest of Bill’s story. The person you marry will have an enormous influence on the impact you will have for Christ and his Kingdom. It is up to you to decide whether that influence is going to be positive or negative, by deciding if you will marry, and if you do marry, by deciding whom you will marry. If you marry a non-Christian, you cannot expect to achieve the same things for God as you can with someone who accepts your core convictions and is willing to sacrifice their happiness so that God can be made happier.

You may also be interested in this talk given by William Lane Craig, entitled “Healthy Relationships” (National Faculty Leadership Conf. 2008) (audio here) In that talk, he offers advice to Christians who want to have a marriage that is consistent with their Christian faith.

Filed under: Podcasts, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Video and transcript of the Paul Ryan speech at the GOP 2012 convention

Remarks by Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan at the 2012 GOP Convention in Tampa, Florida.

Part 1 of 3:

Part 2 of 3:

Part 3 of 3:

Full text is here.

First excerpt on Obama’s stimulus waste:

Right now, 23 million men and women are struggling to find work.  Twenty-three million people, unemployed or underemployed.  Nearly one in six Americans is living in poverty.  Millions of young Americans have graduated from college during the Obama presidency, ready to use their gifts and get moving in life.  Half of them can’t find the work they studied for, or any work at all.

So here’s the question: Without a change in leadership, why would the next four years be any different from the last four years?

The first troubling sign came with the stimulus.  It was President Obama’s first and best shot at fixing the economy, at a time when he got everything he wanted under one-party rule.  It cost $831 billion – the largest one-time expenditure ever by our federal government.

It went to companies like Solyndra, with their gold-plated connections, subsidized jobs, and make-believe markets. The stimulus was a case of political patronage, corporate welfare, and cronyism at their worst. You, the working men and women of this country, were cut out of the deal.

What did the taxpayers get out of the Obama stimulus?  More debt.  That money wasn’t just spent and wasted – it was borrowed, spent, and wasted.

Maybe the greatest waste of all was time. Here we were, faced with a massive job crisis – so deep that if everyone out of work stood in single file, that unemployment line would stretch the length of the entire American continent.  You would think that any president, whatever his party, would make job creation, and nothing else, his first order of economic business.

But this president didn’t do that.  Instead, we got a long, divisive, all-or-nothing attempt to put the federal government in charge of health care.

Obamacare comes to more than two thousand pages of rules, mandates, taxes, fees, and fines that have no place in a free country.

The president has declared that the debate over government-controlled health care is over.  That will come as news to the millions of Americans who will elect Mitt Romney so we can repeal Obamacare.

And the biggest, coldest power play of all in Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly.

You see, even with all the hidden taxes to pay for the health care takeover, even with new taxes on nearly a million small businesses, the planners in Washington still didn’t have enough money.  They needed more.  They needed hundreds of billions more.  So, they just took it all away from Medicare.  Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama.  An obligation we have to our parents and grandparents is being sacrificed, all to pay for a new entitlement we didn’t even ask for.  The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we’re going to stop it.

And another on Obama’s spending and debt:

Obamacare, as much as anything else, explains why a presidency that began with such anticipation now comes to such a disappointing close.

It began with a financial crisis; it ends with a job crisis.

It began with a housing crisis they alone didn’t cause; it ends with a housing crisis they didn’t correct.

It began with a perfect Triple-A credit rating for the United States; it ends with a downgraded America.

It all started off with stirring speeches, Greek columns, the thrill of something new.  Now all that’s left is a presidency adrift, surviving on slogans that already seem tired, grasping at a moment that has already passed, like a ship trying to sail on yesterday’s wind.

President Obama was asked not long ago to reflect on any mistakes he might have made.  He said, well, “I haven’t communicated enough.”  He said his job is to “tell a story to the American people” – as if that’s the whole problem here? He needs to talk more, and weneed to be better listeners?

Ladies and gentlemen, these past four years we have suffered no shortage of words in the White House.  What’s missing is leadership in the White House.  And the story that Barack Obama does tell, forever shifting blame to the last administration, is getting old.  The man assumed office almost four years ago – isn’t it about time he assumed responsibility?

In this generation, a defining responsibility of government is to steer our nation clear of a debt crisis while there is still time.  Back in 2008, candidate Obama called a $10 trillion national debt “unpatriotic” – serious talk from what looked to be a serious reformer.

Yet by his own decisions, President Obama has added more debt than any other president before him, and more than all the troubled governments of Europe combined.  One president, one term, $5 trillion in new debt.

He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report.  He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.

Republicans stepped up with good-faith reforms and solutions equal to the problems.  How did the president respond?  By doing nothing – nothing except to dodge and demagogue the issue.

So here we are, $16 trillion in debt and still he does nothing.  In Europe, massive debts have put entire governments at risk of collapse, and still he does nothing. And all we have heard from this president and his team are attacks on anyone who dares to point out the obvious.

They have no answer to this simple reality: We need to stop spending money we don’t have.

And one more on Obama’s assault on job creators:

After four years of government trying to divide up the wealth, we will get America creating wealth again. With tax fairness and regulatory reform, we’ll put government back on the side of the men and women who create jobs, and the men and women who need jobs.

My Mom started a small business, and I’ve seen what it takes. Mom was 50 when my Dad died.  She got on a bus every weekday for years, and rode 40 miles each morning to Madison.  She earned a new degree and learned new skills to start her small business.  It wasn’t just a new livelihood.  It was a new life.  And it transformed my Mom from a widow in grief to a small businesswoman whose happiness wasn’t just in the past.  Her work gave her hope.  It made our family proud.  And to this day, my Mom is my role model.

Behind every small business, there’s a story worth knowing.  All the corner shops in our towns and cities, the restaurants, cleaners, gyms, hair salons, hardware stores – these didn’t come out of nowhere.  A lot of heart goes into each one.  And if small businesspeople say they made it on their own, all they are saying is that nobody else worked seven days a week in their place.  Nobody showed up in their place to open the door at five in the morning.  Nobody did their thinking, and worrying, and sweating for them.  After all that work, and in a bad economy, it sure doesn’t help to hear from their president that government gets the credit.  What they deserve to hear is the truth: Yes, you did build that.

We have a plan for a stronger middle class, with the goal of generating 12 million new jobs over the next four years.

In a clean break from the Obama years, and frankly from the years before this president, we will keep federal spending at 20 percent of GDP, or less.  That is enough.  The choice is whether to put hard limits on economic growth, or hard limits on the size of government, and we choose to limit government.

And one more on liberty and personal responsibility:

College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.  Everyone who feels stuck in the Obama economy is right to focus on the here and now.  And I hope you understand this too, if you’re feeling left out or passed by: You have not failed, your leaders have failed you.

None of us have to settle for the best this administration offers – a dull, adventureless journey from one entitlement to the next, a government-planned life, a country where everything is free but us.

Listen to the way we’re spoken to already, as if everyone is stuck in some class or station in life, victims of circumstances beyond our control, with government there to help us cope with our fate.

It’s the exact opposite of everything I learned growing up in Wisconsin, or at college in Ohio.  When I was waiting tables, washing dishes, or mowing lawns for money, I never thought of myself as stuck in some station in life.  I was on my own path, my own journey, an American journey where I could think for myself, decide for myself, define happiness for myself.  That’s what we do in this country.  That’s the American Dream.  That’s freedom, and I’ll take it any day over the supervision and sanctimony of the central planners.

This was the speech of the convention, which is why I am blogging on it. Don’t miss it.

Related posts

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Paul Ryan speaks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation in May 2012

Since he’s the VP, I thought I’d post a recent long form video of Paul Ryan discussing economic policy. The introductions end at 6:30.

I recent blogged a few clips of Paul Ryan engaging with Democrats, in case you want to see him in action, as well

Filed under: Videos, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Analyzing Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan for VP

The Wall Street Journal says that Romney wanted to pair up criticism of the Obama economy with Paul Ryan’s reform plan.

Excerpt:

Mr. Romney is signaling that he realizes he needs a mandate if he is elected, which means putting his reform ideas before the American people for a clear endorsement. He is treating the public like grown-ups, in contrast to President Obama’s focus on divisive and personal character attacks.

The Ryan choice also suggests that Mr. Romney understands that to defeat Mr. Obama he’ll have to do more than highlight the President’s economic failures. He must also show Americans that he has a tangible, specific reform agenda that will produce faster growth and rising incomes.

Mr. Ryan is well equipped to help him promote such an agenda. The seven-term Congressman grew up in the GOP’s growth wing and supply-side ranks as a protege of Jack Kemp. Far from being a typical House Republican, he was a dissenter from the Tom DeLay do-little Congress in the last decade. He began talking about his reform blueprint in the George W. Bush years when everyone said he was committing political suicide.

[...]In Mr. Ryan, [Democrats] face a conservative advocate who knows the facts and philosophy of his arguments. He is well-liked and makes his case with a cheerful sincerity that can’t easily be caricatured as extreme. He carries his swing Wisconsin district easily though it often supports Democrats for President.

This may be why, in his meetings with House Republicans, Mr. Obama has always shied away from directly debating Mr. Ryan on health care and spending. He changed the subject or moved on to someone else. The President knows that Mr. Ryan knows more about the budget and taxes than he does, and that the young Republican can argue the issues in equally moral terms.

In moral terms, just like Arthur Brooks of the AEI urges conservatives to do.

The conclusion of the article explains Romney’s strategy:

In his remarks on Saturday in Norfolk, Mr. Ryan also hit on what is likely to be an emerging Romney theme: leadership that tells Americans the truth. “We will honor you, our fellow citizens, by giving you the right and opportunity to make the choice,” he said. “What kind of country do we want to have? What kind of people do we want to be?”

The underlying assumption is that at this moment of declining real incomes and national self-doubt, Americans won’t fall for the same old easy demagoguery. They want to hear serious ideas debated seriously. The contrast couldn’t be greater with a President who won’t run on his record and has offered not a single idea for a second term.

In choosing Mr. Ryan, Mr. Romney is betting that Americans know how much trouble their country is in, and that they will reward the candidate who pays them the compliment of offering solutions that match the magnitude of the problems.

Another editorial in the WSJ agrees that Ryan is there to provide a positive agenda.

Excerpt:

Mr. Ryan provides the crucial shift in emphasis, the opportunity to go on offense. We will now have a focus on, and explanation of, the choice between stagnation and renewal. This is what Mr. Ryan excels at—not just crafting ideas, but explaining them in a positive and serious way. This ability is why the congressman—despite his supposedly extremist reform blueprint and budget (says the left)—has continued to win a district that in 2010 went for Mr. Obama.

[...]The first pitch to… voters came with Mr. Romney’s introduction of Mr. Ryan on Saturday, in which the campaign made clear it intends to use this pick as a way of underlining the intellectual poverty of the Obama campaign. Mr. Romney spoke of Mr. Ryan’s “integrity,” his “seriousness,” his “intellectual leadership,” and his refusal to “demonize his opponents”—traits for which Mr. Ryan is well-known.

The introduction was designed to highlight the Obama campaign’s own relentless smear attacks, and its focus on the trivial. This is the first sign of Mr. Ryan’s influence, since the strategy is clearly modeled on the congressman’s own history of winning on ideas against opponents who resort to cheap attack.

My own view of this pick of Ryan is that he is exactly what the country needs. When you contrast Paul Ryan with a typical Democrat like that Georgetown feminist student who demanded that the taxpayers provide her with free contraceptives, then we win.

My previous post on Paul Ryan has some clips of him engaging with Democrats. He’s very, very good at it.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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