C.S. Lewis, the brilliant Oxford and Cambridge professor, observed fifteen differences between the way we are conditioned to think in our modern times, and conflicting ideas, assumptions, and values that those of earlier periods believed to be true. As we identify these differences, it becomes clear that not all new ideas are better. In fact, in these fifteen cases, new certainly does not mean improved!
As a Christian professor, God called Lewis to give his professional life to pursuing and teaching truth. That is what led him to make these distinctions. It also led him to write so eloquently. Some of his books are academic texts, which have shaped generations of students.
A great example is his last academic book, The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature, published 1964, a year after his death. Lewis points out–with academic rigor– the same thing I am summarizing in this series. He says that we “moderns” discarded the pre-modern’s image of the cosmos, which led to many of our modern problems.
He also wrote about these things in books to be read by everyone, not just students and fellow academics. Perhaps the best-known of these is his Chronicles of Narnia, a book not only for children. He masterfully weaves these ideas into the story of four children and their encounter with, learning from, and service to Aslan–Jesus. (Of course, there are his many apologetic books as well, such as Mere Christianity, which have influenced countless millions to follow Christ, or know better why they do so.)
There are many professors around the world today who share Lewis’ calling to change the world through their teaching and writing. The ministry with which I serve, Global Scholars, serves these men and women, helping equip them for this monumental task.
This week we are hosting an event to “pull back the curtain” and share a bit more about these modern-day C.S. Lewis’, serving Christ in secular universities worldwide. As they teach what is true, no matter when the idea originated, they model and teach others how not to be chronological snobs. We don’t have events like this very often, and so this is a pretty big deal!
Therefore, I’m taking a break from my series on Lewis’ 15 distinctions to invite you to attend our 2020 Virtual Gala. I think you will really enjoy being a part of the Gala, for at least three reasons.
Meeting Like-Minded Believers
If you read this blog regularly, you are a person who understands the importance of ideas. Therefore, you are someone who values the “life of the mind”–developing your God-given ability and desire to better “think God’s thoughts after him” (in the words of Johannes Kepler). Ultimately, you seek to follow Jesus’ charge to “love the Lord your God with all your… mind” (Matthew 22:37).
Unfortunately, it is easy to feel alone in this quest. Loving God with the mind seems often to be devalued. Loving God with only (again in the words of Jesus in Matthew 22;37) “heart and soul” is frequently exalted. So meeting other thoughtful believers who are actively pursuing a deeper understanding of God and his creation is a great encouragement!
Those involved in Global Scholars’ work understand the importance of ideas in shaping a person, a culture, a nation, and our world. They are others who value the life of the mind and seek to love God with the mind. They are kindred spirits!
Therefore, the others attending the Gala are fellow believers you will enjoy knowing. Although in the virtual format, you can’t walk up and meet them, in some ways, the virtual environment will provide more opportunities to connect with others.
During the event, you will be able to use the Chat feature to say “hi” to those you know but perhaps didn’t know share your passion for the world of ideas. You will also be able to connect with new friends in the same way.
And after the event you will have the opportunity to visit with others in private “breakout rooms.” It is the virtual equivalent of talking with friends after a live event!
Hearing From Christian Professors a Making a Difference for Christ in Their Nations
I’ve asked Christian professors who teach in the U.S., Nigeria, Colombia, and Lithuania to share at the Gala. They will give us a glimpse into how God uses them to be messengers of His truth, grace, and peace on campus in their nations.
Every time I hear a real-life story from someone God has called to serve him in higher education, I feel encouraged. It reminds me that God is at work in universities. It also reminds me of the influence of universities in producing graduates who go into business, education, law, politics, media, and the arts and become leaders who influence so many others.
I’m sure that you will be encouraged as well. As we hear from these men and women making such a difference for Christ in their nations, they will again remind us of the insightful words spoken by Dr. Charles Malik, past President of the United Nations: “Change the university, and you change the world.”
Learning How Global Scholars Will Equip More Professors in More Countries
Finally, I will take a few minutes during the Gala to share how God is giving us a vision and opportunities to equip many more Christian professors to influence their students, colleagues, and academic disciplines for Christ. We will wrap up the vision, opportunities, and methodology in our new three-year strategic plan: “Lasting Change 2023.” I think you will be encouraged by what the future holds for Global Scholars, especially in these uncertain times.
I hope to see you at the Gala on August 22. If not, please visit the Global Scholars website or our Facebook page after the event to watch a recording of the Gala (though we will have to edit it, for some professors have security concerns in their nations, and so their stories can’t be archived).
Next week I’ll continue my series on another five of Lewis’ fifteen distinctions between ideas and values of pre-Modern and Modern thought.
Until then, grace and peace.