Challenges For Chi Alpha at the University of Vermont

We Can Try
Our new Chi Alpha chapter at the University of Vermont is running into some problems getting recognized as a student group on campus.

According to an article in the Vermont Cynic (the campus paper):

SGA does not recognize clubs that discriminate. However, some say they are about to.
Chi Alpha’s constitution states “[All officers] will profess Christian faith as expressed in the Nicene Creed, and they will support the mission and values of national Chi Alpha Campus Ministries.”
Claire Chevrier, SGA Student Activities Chair, who is in charge of reviewing clubs’ constitutions for discrepancies, said she was concerned about Chi Alpha’s proposed constitution.
“When I saw that statement about the officers I said ‘red flag, that doesn’t seem right,’” Chevrier said. “I initially thought they would have to change that to abide by our discrimination policy, but they were passionate about keeping it in there because they were worried about the longevity of the club.”

It is proper for religious organizations to have religious requirements for leaders. I don’t get why some people don’t get this. Requiring a Christian organization to allow non‐Christians to lead it is like requiring a church to hire a non‐Christian pastor. It’s ludicrous.

UPDATE: On Tuesday, March 30th the student government voted unanimously to approve Chi Alpha at UVM without requiring any changes to their constitution. Woot!

The Best Paragraph I’ve Read In Weeks

Orange smileI stumbled upon this little gem today:

Yesterday I spoke ill of Glenn Beck on my Twitter feed. It kinda ruffled some people, I think. I will not be issuing a “What I really meant” tweet. 🙂 What I meant when I said Beck is an “idolatrous fearmonger” is that he worships idols and mongers fear. (source: the excellent Jared Wilson)

I laughed out loud for a good thirty seconds when I read that. It’s refreshing to see someone stand by their words even when they annoy people. It’s a rare form of courage in our culture.

Plus I love the phrase “he worships idols and mongers fear.” Brilliant. Glenn Beck fans and foes alike should admire such wit.

March 17 Means More Than Green Beer

St. PatrickThe man we call St. Patrick was born in Roman Britain around 385 as Maewyn Succat. Two of his original letters survive: his Confessio and his Epistola ad Coroticum, the latter being notable for making him, in Thomas Cahill’s words “the first human being in the history of the world to speak out unequivocally against slavery” (How The Irish Saved Civilization, page 114).

At 16 he was captured in a slave raid and taken to Ireland where he was sold to a Druid chieftain. For the next six years Patrick labored as a shepherd.

Although Patrick was raised in a Christian family, he had not truly believed in Jesus. His slavery gave him time to reflect on life, and as he explained, “the Lord opened my mind to an awareness of my unbelief, in order that, even so late, I might remember my transgressions and turn with all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my insignificance and pitied my youth and ignorance. And he watched over me before I knew him, and before I learned sense or even distinguished between good and evil, and he protected me, and consoled me as a father would his son” (Confessio 2).

Patrick’s devotion to Christ intensified, “More and more did the love of God, and my fear of him and faith increase, and my spirit was moved so that in a day [I said] from one up to a hundred prayers, and in the night a like number; besides I used to stay out in the forests and on the mountain and I would wake up before daylight to pray in the snow, in icy coldness, in rain, and I used to feel neither ill nor any slothfulness, because, as I now see, the Spirit was burning in me at that time. And it was there of course that one night in my sleep I heard a voice saying to me: ‘You do well to fast: soon you will depart for your home country.’ And again, a very short time later, there was a voice prophesying: ‘Behold, your ship is ready.’” (Confessio 16–17).

After receiving this vision, Patrick fled 200 miles to the coast and found a ship preparing for a sea voyage. He journeyed back to his homeland, experiencing miraculous guidance and provision along the way.

After living at home for a few years Patrick had another vision, “I saw a man whose name was Victoricus coming as it from Ireland with innumerable letters, and he gave me one of them, and I read the beginning of the letter: ‘The Voice of the Irish’, and as I was reading the beginning of the letter I seemed at that moment to hear the voice of those who were beside the forest of Foclut which is near the western sea, and they were crying as if with one voice: ‘We beg you, holy youth, that you shall come and shall walk again among us.’ And I was stung intensely in my heart so that I could read no more, and thus I awoke.” (Confessio 23)

So Patrick obediently returned to Ireland. As before, he was a slave. But this time he was a slave of Christ. His mission to Ireland brought fierce opposition from the Irish Druids. He faced them with great faith: “Daily I expect to be murdered or betrayed or reduced to slavery if the occasion arises. But I fear nothing, because of the promises of Heaven; for I have cast myself into the hands of Almighty God, who reigns everywhere.” (Confessio 55)

Eventually, tradition tells us, Patrick found himself debating the Druid leaders before an Irish king. The debate was rancorous, and at one point the Druids began attacking the doctrine of the Trinity. Patrick plucked a three‐leaved clover and asked them whether it was one or three. The Druids had no answer, and this debate was pivotal in persuading the king to convert to Christianity.

By the end of his life, Patrick had planted over 700 churches and trained around 1,000 ministers. One third of the tribes of Ireland became Christian through his ministry. He thus ranks as one of the greatest missionaries in history, and became known as the one who “found Ireland all heathen and left it all Christian.”

If you want to learn more, you should read his Confessio – it’s only 62 verses long and is available many places online (at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, at Robot Wisdom, and at the Catholic Information Network, to pick three).

And so remember – St. Patrick’s Day is about far more than green beer and pinching people. It’s about honoring one of the most effective ministers of all time.

Best Church Sign Ever?

the amazing church sign: the Apostolic Original Holy Church of God, IncFor years I’ve driven past this church sign, and I’ve always meant to take a picture. I finally did it, and so now I would like to introduce you to the Apostolic Original Holy Church of God Incorporated, the most amazing name on a church sign I have ever seen.

After investigating, I’ve discovered that it’s not just the sign for a church — it’s the sign for an organizational (denominational?) headquarters. The proper name of the church is Mount Olive Apostolic Original Holy Church of God (MOAOHCOG, for short) in Menlo Park, CA.

You can find more affiliated churches by googling “Apostolic Original Holy Church of God”.

The Jesus FAQ

?I’ve added another essay to my growing pile. This one is called The Jesus FAQ (pdf) It’s a companion piece to Why Jesus? — it explains what we can know about Jesus even if we don’t think that the Bible is inspired. The questions I have in the current draft are:

  1. Is there any record of Jesus outside the Bible?
  2. What did Jesus look like?
  3. Where did Jesus live?
  4. What did Jesus do for a living?
  5. Did Jesus have a family?
  6. What did Jesus teach?
  7. Why was Jesus killed?
  8. How was Jesus killed?
  9. How did Jesus come to be worshiped?

I expect to revise this essay several times as I get questions and feedback. There are nearly 100 footnotes, and I’m pretty sure that I’ve used inconsistent formatting in my references. There are probably factual errors or ambiguities as well (hopefully small ones). Please let me know if you find one!

True Contentment Comes From Wanting Too Much

Puritan StatueI was skimming through the old Puritan book The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs when a passage caught my attention:

Godliness teaches us this mystery, Not to be satisfied with all the world for our portion, and yet to be content with the meanest condition in which we are. When Luther was sent great gifts by Dukes and Princes, he refused them, and he says, ‘I did vehemently protest that God should not put me off so; ’tis not that which will content me.’ A little in the world will content a Christian for his passage. Mark, here lies the mystery of it, A little in the world will content a Christian for his passage, but all the world, and ten thousand times more, will not content a Christian for his portion. A carnal heart will be content with these things of the world for his portion; and that is the difference between a carnal heart and a gracious heart. But a gracious heart says, ‘Lord, do with me what you will for my passage through this world; I will be content with that, but I cannot be content with all the world for my portion.’ So there is the mystery of true contentment. A contented man, though he is most contented with the least things in the world, yet he is the most dissatisfied man that lives in the world.

Emphasis mine. Wow.

A little before this, Burroughs said:

A man who has learned the art of contentment is the most contented with any low condition that he has in the world, and yet he cannot be satisfied with the enjoyment of all the world. He is contented if he has but a crust, but bread and water, that is, if God disposes of him, for the things of the world, to have but bread and water for his present condition, he can be satisfied with God’s disposal in that; yet if God should give unto him Kingdoms and Empires, all the world to rule, if he should give it him for his portion, he would not be satisfied with that. Here is the mystery of it: though his heart is so enlarged that the enjoyment of all the world and ten thousand worlds cannot satisfy him for his portion; yet he has a heart quieted under God’s disposal, if he gives him but bread and water.

You can see more here.

College As A Game

After hearing rave reviews, I finally blocked out some time to watch Carnegie Mellon’s Jesse Schell talk about Design Outside the Box. It’s purportedly about video games, but it’s much broader than that. It’s about how technology changes us. It’s quite good.

If you’re a professor (or a student who enjoys feeling dissatisfied with your current plight), you should watch the bit from about 18:14 through about 19:50 (or starting at 19:00 if you’re super‐impatient). You can see a crisp image of the grading slide at (it’s slide number 26).

Does The Bible Assert That Jesus Is God?

Mosaic of Christ in Karye Museum (Chora Church), IstanbulThis addition to my list of writings is a two‐page Word document answering the question Does the Bible Assert that Jesus is God?

It’s not a question I get very often, but when I do this is a useful outline for explaining why I believe in the deity of Christ. It usually comes up when a student taking a religious studies class is told that the earliest Christians didn’t think that Jesus was God — this belief is alleged to have been invented out of whole cloth centuries later. Total poppycock, but widely believed in some circles.

In case you need something broader, check out The Biblical Basis For the Doctrine of the Trinity by Rob Bowman. It’s an outstanding guide to the Christian doctrine of God existing in three persons.

I Can Totally See This Happening…

I don’t usually post links to videos (I generally note them in Google Reader, share them on Facebook, or Buzz them), but I thought I’d see if I prefer sharing them this way. Feedback welcome.

I find this 34 second video hilarious. The setup: they are playing a game wherein the contestant must quickly identify substances hidden under containers.