As this New Year begins, I find myself more passionate than ever about the wonder of the Good News which Christmas represents. Corresponding to that passion is my desire to do whatever I can to pass on that Good News just as the shepherds did after they had received it from angels and then went to see “this thing which had come to pass” (Luke 2:17, 18). Against all naysayers, the greatest need of the world today is to understand the HUGE signficance of who Jesus of Nazareth really was, and the resason for His unusual birth, life, and death.

Clearly, though we live in one of the most technically advanced and sophisticated times in world history, it is evident that there is more confusion than ever about the purpose of our lives here on earth — especially in view of the inevitablity of death for all of us. And though the Church has often represented the essence of the Christian message poorly, I know of no better explanation of the purpose of life and of the untold suffering in our world (as well as how to overcome it) than has been made known through the Christian faith.

Especially in these times when evil is so prevalent, and when true goodness as represented by Christianity is often maligned, there has never been a greater need for a clear voice about the existence of truth, and how we may know it. Throughout my life devotional faith and pastoral care have been important features of both my professional and daily life.  At the same time, I hope it has also been evident that the rational foundation of my faith has been of great importance to me as well.  It is the reason that I wrote and published a book in 2017 entitled, Thoughtful Adaptations to Change: Authentic Christian Faith in Postmodern Times.

In my daily life, I find myself coming back often to a description of Jesus that has been a kind of lode star for my entire life — that He was a man who was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). I am impressed by how Jesus held these two possible contradictions in perfect balance and how He longs to see that balance in His followers as well. It seems to me that there has been a tendency, even among Christians, to emphasize one at the expense of the other. While acknowledging the great need for grace and kindness in all of our relationships with one another, it is my judgement that recent Christian history has often erred on the side of tolerance at the expense of honest communication about truth. Often we have chosen a gracious response, not because of the inherent power of true love, but because of fear of rejection or some other personal cost. Yet we know from what we read in the New Testament that Jesus often challenged the thinking of certain people, ultimately at the cost of His life — thus demonstrating, quite ironically, what true love was really all about.

One of the problems among Christians today is that we often lack, not only a sense of grace for those who do not believe, but also a lack of confidence and candor about the rational foundation of the Christian faith. Yet, one of the outstanding features of the apostolic witness to the Gospel in the New Testament is its defense of the legitimacy of the faith, not only before Jewish religious leaders of the day, but also before the philosophers of that time (i.e. Paul in Athens — Acts 17). The apostle Peter encouraged the believers of his time that, while living out their allegiance to Jesus as Lord, they should always be ready to provide a defence (an apologia) to everyone who asks about the reason for the hope they possess (1 Peter 3:15).

Thankfully, there are those who are well-equipped to provide such a defense in the context of today’s universities. Not long ago a service along this line developed, both for students and professors at many universities called, Ratio Christi (“reason for Christ”), because it was believed that the universities were at the center of cultural formation and development. The organization is committed, not only to helping Christian students develop confidence concerning their faith and witness, but also to directly influence secular students and professors to consider the historical, philisophical, and scientific reasons for faith in Jesus Christ.

An example of how professors have responded and embraced this organization and its purpose (Purdue University in Indiana) is provided in this short video, introduced by the president of Ratio Christi, Dr. Corey Miller. For an introduction to Dr. Miller and an explanation of his passion to reach university students and professors with the Christian message, consider watching this video hosted by Becket Cook of Los Angeles.

I’m excited about this ministry development because it not only challenges so much poor thinking about what is factual and true in our day, but also because it points to ways in which a younger generation that is seeking to understand the world can begin to see the rational depth of the Christian faith. This is important, not only for the sake of those who have already come to believe, but for the ethical development of the larger culture in which we conduct our daily lives.

© ED

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