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Exploring the Intersection of Christian Conviction and Higher Education


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Exploring the Intersection of Christian Conviction and Higher Education




#39: A Guide to Majoring in The Great Books

This episode continues my sporadic series on the various fields students may choose to study while in college. My guest is Dr. Hannah Eagleson studied the great books at St. John’s College (Annapolis, MD) during her Masters degree, then went on to earn a PhD in Renaissance literature at the University of Delaware. She has written study guides to The Lord of the Rings and to works by C. S. Lewis and Dorothy L. Sayers. Dr. Eagleson also develops programming to support Christian scholars as they follow Christ and love their neighbors, including work with Global Scholars, Chesterton House (a Christian study center at Cornell University), and the American Scientific Affiliation (a scholarly and professional society for Christians in the sciences). In this podcast we discuss: What the “Great Books” are What “Great Books” university programs are and why they were formed Difference between Great Books programs at pluralistic and Christian universities Defining the important literary term “canon” How Hannah got interested in the Great Books and these university programs The value of understanding the classical modes of education: grammar, logic, and rhetoric and Classical Christian Education How the classical model of education contributed to interest in Great Book programs Hannah’s perspective on the medieval period of intellectual history, as a corrective to our current negative perspectives Details of specific Great Books programs How Hannah benefitted from being in a Great Books program The “seminar” approach to coursework in a Great Books program Why “new” is not necessarily “better,” especially concerning books How a Great Books program does and does not help you get a job and make a living, and strategies to better your chances What a “liberal arts” education is and is not Strengths and weaknesses of Great Books programs Suggestions if you want to use a Great Books program to prepare you for graduate studies How Hannah’s Great Books program continues to shape her today, and will into the future The positives and negatives of how social media encourages us to engage texts Defining “literary criticism” Resources mentioned during our conversation: Britannica’s Great Books of the Western World series, compiled by Mortimer Adler and Robert Hutchins of the University of Chicago Baylor Great Texts Program, an honors program within a Christian university setting with many different majors Biola Torrey Honors College an honors program within a Christian university setting with many different majors Columbia University Core Curriculum (a program within a secular Ivy League university that engages with great books) Notre Dame Program of Liberal Studies Great Books Seminars, a program within a Catholic university setting with many different majors St. John’s College, Annapolis and Santa Fe (the whole program is Great Books) Thomas Aquinas College, Catholic (the whole program is Great Books) Dorothy Sayers, “The Lost Tools of Learning” C. S. Lewis, “On The Reading of Old Books” George Herbert’s poetry John Donne’s poetry Chesterton House, the Christian Study Center at Cornell University “Why You Need to Join the Great Conversation About the Great Books,” The Art of Manliness Podcast #430 The New Yorker article “What’s So Great About Great-Books Courses?”


#38: The Pop-Culture Parent: Helping Kids Engage Their World for Christ

My guest in this edition of the College Faith Podcast is Dr. Ted Turnau, co-author of The Pop-Culture Parent: Helping Kids Engage Their World for Christ. Ted has spent many years thinking about how to help children (from the early years through young adulthood) understand, evaluate, and flourish in pop culture that is all around us. He shares some of his insights from his study, how his parents helped and didn’t help him, and lessons learned from raising his own children. In this podcast we discuss: What “pop culture” is conceptually and biblically The two ways Christians tend to respond to popular culture, and a better “middle way” Daniel and his colleagues as examples of a healthy posture toward popular culture The goal of the Christian parent in the midst of pop culture How various parenting styles tend to influence a student’s decisions once at college The five questions that can help you and your children evaluate things in pop culture A case study: Evaluating the extremely popular Baldur’s Gate 3 video game Six things to keep in mind when we talk with our children about pop culture Resources mentioned during our conversation: Ted Turnau’s website Ted Turnau, E. Stephen Burnett, and Jared Moore, The Pop-Culture Parent: Helping Kids Engage Their World for Christ Ted Turnau, Popologetics: Popular Culture in Christian Perspective Ted Turnau, Oasis of Imagination: Engaging Our World Through a Better Creativity Ted Turnau and Ruth Naomi Floyd, Imagination Manifesto: A Call to Plant Oases of Imagination Andy Crouch, Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling Christ and Pop Culture (an online magazine and podcast) Love Thy Nerd (a website thinking Christianly about pop culture) Ask About Games (a website by Andrew Robertson providing a Christian perspective and evaluation of video games) Hollywood Jesus: Your Bridge to Pop Culture (a website evaluating streaming shows, movies, and much more from a biblical perspective) “A Guide to Majoring in the Arts,” College Faith podcast #34 with Cam Anderson, M.F.A.


#37: Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air

In this episode we are discussing an idea every student is sure to encounter early and repeatedly during the college years-- the idea of “relativism.” My guest is Greg Koukl, co-author of Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air and the Founder/President of Stand to Reason, a great apologetics ministry. In this podcast we discuss: The prevalence of relativism on campus today (often seen as “expressive individualism”) Some different forms of relativism students will encounter Greg’s “inside/outside” distinction, which goes back to the Garden of Eden and the Fall How relativism is related to the idea of “truth” Why Christians should not talk about “their faith” Why we can know “that” something is true without knowing “how” it is true Why no one is actually a relativist, and how to help a “relativist” see this How to ask good questions as a way to engage in conversations about relativism (and everything else--”gardening” vs. “harvesting”) Understanding and discussing the new/current definition of “tolerance” Responding to relativism on campus (with friends, in classes, in papers, etc.) The importance of finding common ground in conversations The value of using this dialogical approach to defend all Christian truth claims Resources mentioned during our conversation: Greg Kokhl, Street Smarts: Using Questions to Answer Chrisitanity’s Toughest Challenges J. Warner Wallace, Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels Greg Kokhl, The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How It Ends, and Everything Important that Happens in Between Greg Kokhl, Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions Francis Schaeffer’s Trilogy C.S. Lewis, Perelandra Randy Newman, Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People’s Hearts the Way Jesus Did Stand to Reason, Greg’s organization Greg’s podcasts Related College Faith Resources: The Reasonableness of Faith: Why Students Should Study Apologetics with Paul Copan (College Faith podcast #25) How Asking Good Questions Helps Us Succeed with Randy Newman (College Faith podcast 10) Stan Wallace, “When it Comes to Weinstein et al., No One is a Moral Relativist--And That’s a Good Thing!”


#36: How Campus Ministries Help Students Flourish: Affirming “The Priesthood of All Students”

My guest today is Timothee Joset, author of The Priesthood of All Students. He has been a student leader in campus ministry in Switzerland and internationally, including serving on the International Fellowship for Evangelical Students (or IFES) governing Board for four years. Timothée holds a Master of Arts with majors in Literature and History from the Universities of NOO - ka - tel Neuchâtel, Switzerland and Berlin, Germany, a Master of Theological Studies from Tyndale Seminary, Toronto and a PhD in theology from the University of Durham. For several years he has also helped give leadership to “Dialogue and Truth,” an initiative to support undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral students in integrating their faith and their academic disciplines. Finally, he’s the incoming IFES Engaging the Universty Coordinator. In this podcast we discuss:Timothee’s long experience in campus ministry as a student, staff, senior leader, and IFES historian, and a brief summary of IFES’s campus ministryWhy the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers is an important way to understand how campus ministries should operate -- “Immediacy, Mediation, and Participation”The importance of treating students as studentsUnderstanding the university as a “foreign land” as a way to discern, value, and engage appropriately in the university contextWhat we can learn about flourishing in the university from the Nation of Israel’s exile (cf. Daniel chapter 1)The importance of engaging the university in all its dimensions (as a complete “ecosystem”)Why the term “parachurch” is a problematic way to identify campus ministriesA better missiological understanding of the relationship between campus ministries and local churchesHow pastors can encourage the students (and scholars) in their congregationsSome challenges and opportunities when campus ministries are independent and contextualizedThe close connection between campus ministries and a “missional ecclesiology”Thimotee’s three-fold summary of what a campus ministry should encourage students to do: Value, Listen, and Engage Resources mentioned during our conversation:Timothee Joset, The Priesthood of All Students: Historical, Theological, and Missiological Foundations of a University Ministry: The International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES)Ralph Winter, “The Two Sructures of God’s Redemptive Mission” in Perspectives in the World Christian MovementIFES’s Engage the University projectNicholas Wolterstorff, Religion in the University


#35: Research as Worship

My guest in this episode is Dr. Martine Audeoud, Academic Dean of Bakke Graduate University and author of Research as Worship in the Company of God. In this recent book she shares much wisdom for students doing research for term papers. In this podcast we discuss: How Martine began thinking about research as worship Why she believes “God is a God of research” How Research as Worship can help students doing term papers Why Africans have a “competative edge” in integrating faith and research and what we can learn from them Why she chose the metaphor of the Jewish tabernacle to illustrate how research is worship A few examples of how the tabernacle metaphor relates to research as study Integrity in research as a reflection of the holiness of God How understanding research as worship guards us against plagiarism, relying on ChatGPT to write papers, the temptation to only hear what we want to hear, etc. How to balance being open to new ideas with affirming what we know biblically, as illustrated by Nehimiah The non-negotiable values a Christian student should maintain while doing research The importance of being part of a faith community to help in research How to find other believers on your campus in general and in your major in particular How to find a mentor(s) to help you as a Christian in your research The importance of selecting the best research approach for your term papers A helpful checklist to writing a good research paper The role of journaling in doing research as worship Sabbath-keeping as a part of research and worship How all of our lives include research, well beyond just writing term papers Resources mentioned during our conversation: Martine Audeoud, Research as Worship in the Company of God Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences “A Case Study in Thinking Christianly and Making a Difference: Edmund Husserl,” Episode 21 of the the Thinking Christianly podcast IFES/The International Fellowship of Evangelical Students and InterVarsity/USA Christian professional societies (see also here)


#34: A Guide to Majoring in the Arts

My guest in this edition is Cam Anderson, author of The Faithful Artist: A Vision for Evangelicalism and the Arts. Cam holds a Masters of Fine Arts (the highest degree in the field) from Cranbrook Academy of Art, works as an artist (among other things), and is past president of CIVA--Christians in the Visual Arts. I know of no one better to help us think about majoring in the arts than Cam. In this podcast we discuss: How Cam first became interested in the arts His journey toward introducing himself as an artist, especially in the Christian community Why the church tends to devalue a calling to the arts The various fields within the broader category of “the arts” Career opportunities in the arts Shifts in university art departments over the past 50 years How an undergraduate degree in the arts positions one to work in other career fields Character traits and other indicators that you may flourish as an artist What a day in the life of an artist looks like What is often not taught in History of Art courses Cam’s journey to unite faith and art, and some ways this benefitted his faith and life Challenges Cam faced as he worked to unite faith and art How beauty helps us enter the presence of God The current state of the teaching and practice of art in universities (in general) How the crafts display beauty in interesting ways Advice to students considering or in art programs at secular universities What to do if you find your arts program is antagonistic to the Christian faith How to choose a good university art program Thinking Christianly about modern and contemporary art, and the other half of the story How campus ministers and youth pastors can best reach students in the arts Imagining a world without art as a way to understand the value of art Resources mentioned during our conversation: Cameron Anderson, The Faithful Artist: A Vision for Evangelicalism and the Arts Cameron Anderson and G. Walter Hansen, eds., God in the Modern Wing: Viewing Art with Eyes of Faith Makoto Fujimura, Art and Faith: A Theology of Making Makoto Fujimura, Culture Care: Reconnecting with Beauty for Our Common Life Upper House podcast with Cam Anderson and Majoto Fujimura: Art + Faith Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art Christians in the Visual Arts (ceased programming in April 2023)--see especially their “Find Your Fit” page for links to many other faith and art communities The Brehm Center at Fuller Seminary Duke Initiatives in Theology & the Arts Image Journal The Rabbit Room Square Halo Books


#33: A Guide to Majoring in the Hard Sciences

This episode is the first in an intermittent series on majoring in the various academic fields (broadly speaking). My hope is to help you understand more of what is involved in various areas of study, how these fields relate to the Christian faith, and practical advice as you major in this area. My guest for each episode in this series will be someone with many years experience in the field, as well as a robust faith in Christ, and has learned to flourish both academically and spiritually in this field of study. We begin today with a focus on majors in the hard sciences. My guest in this episode is Dr. Bob Kaita, emeritus Senior Physicist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, where he has conducted nuclear fusion energy research for nearly four decades. Bob has also been the thesis advisor for students who have pursued careers in government and industry as well as academia, mentoring students through their studies in plasma physics. He is a fellow of the American Physics Society, and a recipient of the Kaul Prize for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research and Technology Development for pioneering work in components for fusion devices. Bob is also a fellow and past president of the American Scientific Affiliation, one of the largest organization of Christians in science and engineering. In this podcast we discuss: How Bob first got interested in a career in the sciences How Bob’s coming to faith in Christ in high school connected with his love of science The role Bob’s parents played in helping his pursue a career in science A scientist who followed God’s call that serves as a role model for Bob Career opportunities open to those with degrees in the sciences The importance of having a servant’s heart as a scientist Signs you may be called to be a scientist How Bob’s faith helped him in his studies of physics, rather than be a hindrance Some areas of overlap between faith and physics How Bob thinks about areas of alleged conflict between science and faith The centrality of one’s worldview in interpreting scientific data The exciting future for research in the sciences The grounding of a Christian’s worth as a scientist The valuable role of humility and spiritual formation in the life of a Christian scientist Books and professional societies that help connect faith and science The importance of understanding the relationship between science and the philosophy of science Doing science vs. faith-science integration Why there are so many Christians in the hard sciences The role of imagination in the practice of science The importance of being a good writer as a scientist Why scientists need to understand truth from other disciplines, and vice-versa Limitations of science that believers should be aware of Balancing “follow the science” with complete and blind faith in science The new “priesthood” of scientists, and the resulting backlash against science A final word of encouragement to budding scientists Resources mentioned during our conversation and later suggested by Bob: The American Scientific Affiliation Walter R. Hearn, Being a Christian in Science Other InterVarsity Press books on faith and science P. Moreland and Garrett DeWeese, Philosophy Made Slightly Less Difficult: A Beginner’s Guide to Life’s Big Questions Robert Wuthnow, The Struggle for America’s Soul: Evangelicals, Liberals, & Secularism Hannah Eagleson (ed.), Science and Faith: Student Questions Explored Elaine Howard Ecklund, Why Science and Faith Need Each Other: Eight Shared Values that Move Us Beyond Fear Textbook: The Crossroads of Science and Faith: Astronomy Through a Christian Worldview Textbook: The Crossroads of Science and Faith: An Introduction to the Science & Faith Dialogue


#32: Cults on Campus: How to Identify and Avoid Them!

Intro: My guest in this episode is Dr. Rob Bowman, an expert on cults and heretical Christian sects. He is also a biblical scholar who has, since 1984, written 14 books and dozens of articles defending the truth of Christianity against error. In this podcast we discuss: How Rob got interested in cults while in college How his background as a biblical scholar helps him evaluate cults Secular and religious cults (or ‘heretical sects’) and some examples The warning signs that a group may be a cult The importance of distinguishing between sociological and theological definitions of a cult Mormonism as a case study theologically (especially how they define “God”) and sociologically The biblical, global, and historic understanding of what constitutes the essentials of the Christian faith An example of a cult becoming a legitimate, biblically grounded denomination and vice-versa Distinguishing strong leadership/authority from cultic leadership/authority How the prophets and Apostles in Scripture model strong but not cultic leadership/authority Good questions to ask to determine if a group is a cult (including the one question you should always start with) How all cults deviate on the nature of Jesus Different things cults mean when they affirm “Jesus is the Son of God” What cults mean by “We only go by the teachings of the Bible”--the role other authoritative texts or unique bible translations in cults Examples of cultic beliefs and practices from Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, and Christian Scientism How most modern-day cults are just repackaged heresies of past centuries Why the three large U.S. cults (Christian heretical sects) arose in the same time and region, the dark side of Revivalism in the Second Great Awakening, and the lesson we should learn How “Restorationism” (the desire to restore the first-century church) lead to the establishment of many cults in the 19th century How “Rationalism” (the desire to only accept what we can fully understand) lead to the establishment of other cults in the 19th century If you discover you are in a cult, how do you get out? The “win-win” question you should ask if you think you are in a cult Websites to help you identify and understand groups that are cults (see websites below) The relationship between biblical illiteracy and a train wreck for your faith The importance of understanding the proper principles of biblical interpretation (hermeneutics) to identify and avoid the errors of cults Resources mentioned during our conversation: Institute for Religion Research - resources on cults, apologetic issues, and how to study the Bible Watchman Fellowship - a comprehensive index of cults - helpful for resources for studying the Bible


#31: The Every Campus Coalition

My guest in this episode is Dan Allen, a leader in the Every Campus Coalition, a new initiative to help connect students with all the ministries seeking to serve them during their university years. In this podcast we discuss: What the Every Campus Coalition is and how it started What campus “Prayer Walks” are, why they are important, and how to participate The goal of establishing a “gospel movement” or “gospel community” on every campus How the Every Campus Coalition is working toward this goal The importance of partnership among all who seek to minister to university students Some signs of revival and spiritual awaking among students in recent years Common features of gospel movements established on campuses Requirements of those launching gospel movements on campuses How the Every Campus Coalition serves churches, campus ministries, and those providing resources to students The College Faith Podcast as a new partner of the Every Campus Coalition How the Every Campus Coalition finds unity in diversity among churches and ministries The shared theological and missional commitments of all Every Campus partners How Every Campus is helping address the increasing mental health issues of students How Every Campus is helping address the challenges students are having connecting with others How students and parents can find a campus ministry through the Every Campus Coalition How churches can be partners in the Every Campus Coalition How campus ministries can be partners in the Every Campus Coalition How content providers can be partners in the Every Campus Coalition A word of encouragement to students A word of encouragement to youth pastors A word of encouragement to parents A word of encouragement concerning the College Faith Podcast and Global Scholars Resources mentioned during our conversation: The Lausaunne Covenant Global Scholars


#30: Welcome to College: A Christ-Follower’s Guide for the Journey

My guest today is Jonathan Morrow. Jonathan has been equipping students and parents in biblical worldview, apologetics, and culture for over 16 years, and is passionate about seeing a new generation build a lasting faith. He holds graduate degrees in Christian thought and is currently the Director of Cultural Engagement and Student Discipleship at the Impact 360 Institute and an adjunct professor of apologetics at Biola University. Jonathan has authored several books, including Welcome to College, Questioning the Bible, and Is God Just a Human Invention? His book Welcome to College is the best book I’ve seen to help students flourish during their university years. So I’ve invited him to discuss some of the ideas in this book with me today. In this podcast we discuss: The five ideas defining campus culture* today and how to identify and respond to them (*and broader culture) Understanding “Sexual Revolution 2.0” and how to reframe these issues How some churches are embracing these harmful ideas (and some authors promoting these ideas) “Deconstructing” faith Dealing with the three types of doubt Examples of students who have flourished due to the principles in Welcome to College Some problems students face when not understanding the truths in Welcome to College The importance of choosing friends wisely The fallacy of assuming your Christian upbringing prepares you for college The three biblical ways to flourish in college Resources mentioned during our conversation: Jonathan Morrow, Welcome to College: A Christ-Follower’s Guide for the Journey Impact 360 Institute Alisa Childers, Another Gospel? A Lifelong Christian Seeks Truth in Response to Progressive Christianity Andy Crouch, The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place JP Moreland, Scientism and Secularism: Learning to Respond to a Dangerous Ideology Paul Copan, True For You But Not For Me: Overcoming Objections to Christian Faith Francis Beckwith and Greg Koukl, Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air Thaddeus Williams, Confronting Injustice Without Compromising Truth: 12 Questions Christians Should Ask About Social Justice Nancy Pearcey, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality Carl Trueman, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution Carl Trueman, Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution (a shorter and easier-to-read version of his The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self) Sean McDowell, “Conservative vs. Progressive: Jesus, Culture, and the Bible (with Brandan Robertson)” (One of Sean’s many YouTube videos on Progressive Christianity) Greg Koukl, Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions


#29: Tips and Tricks to Manage Your Time Well

My guest today is Dr. Phil Bishop, Emeritus Professor at the University of Alabama. Due to the pressures he faced as a student and then as a professor at a leading university, Phil has thought much about the whys and hows of managing his time well so as to excel both professionally and spiritually. He shares some of what he’s learned about time management. In this podcast we discuss: How Phil learned to manage his time well Why learning to manage time well is so important The importance of making time management choices based on priorities Time management and a weekly day of rest Why we shouldn’t be “crazy busy” Being sure to get what we are paying for at college Tips on saving time by keeping track of documents How working ahead by leveraging a calendar saves time Time management as a stress-reducer The value of learning to say “no” The role of prayer in time management How knowing yourself is essential to managing your time effectively Combining tasks to maximize your time Succeeding by doing small things well through good time management Learning from others who manage their time better than you A practical first step to managing your time better Why Phil wishes he had managed his time a little less and been a bit less “productive” Resources mentioned during our conversation: Phil Bishop, College Faith Podcast “How To Get Better Grades…and Have More Fun” Simple Gmail Notes (Gmail extension to add personal notes to emails) Boomerang (Gmail extension to help manage emails) Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society Tim Keller, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work Dr. Bishop’s email address: pbishop[at]


#28: Determining God’s Will For Your Career

The college years are pivotal in determining a career path. Beginning with choosing a college and then choosing a major, and often even a specialization, students are faced with many important decisions. It is often challenging for the Christian student trying to discern God’s will in these career choices. It involves determining your calling and having the courage to follow that path. I discuss this with Dr. Gordon Smith, president of Ambrose University and author of Courage and Calling: Embracing Your God-Given Potential. In this podcast we discuss: How Gordon’s own wrestling with career questions lead him to write this book The fundamental paradigm for determining God’s will Does God only “call” people to ministry? Is serving in “ministry” more valued by God? Why or why not? The value of careers that involve “manual” work How Gordon developed a more accurate theology of vocation How others can help you discern God’s will in making career decisions The important difference between your “career” and your “vocation” The four questions that will help you discover your calling The greatest roadblock to discerning your calling The role anger should and should not play in your discernment process The value of the Myers-Briggs [Personality] Type Indicator in your discernment process How to deal with the fear of “missing” God’s call in your career choice Why you should take classes in a wide range of subjects during the first few years of college Releasing the burden of having to nail this all down by the time you graduate Being freed from the “urgency and tyranny of time” in finding and living out your calling How your vocation is tied to your specific time and place The importance of courage in finding and following your calling Resources mentioned during our conversation: Gordon Smith, Courage and Calling: Embracing Your God-Given Potential Gordon Smith, Teach Us To Pray Francis Schaeffer's Trilogy, How Shall We Then Live: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture, and his many other books Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov Liam Atchison, “Higher Education 101: How Universities Came to Be and How They Work,” College Faith podcast #3 Gordon Smith, Consider Your Calling: Six Questions for Discerning Your Vocation (for college students) Gordon Smith, Your Calling Here and Now: Making Sense of Vocation (for those in mid-life) Edward P. Hahnenberg, Awakening Vocation: A Theology of Christian Call


#27: How To Read a Book

Reading is a big part of every student’s life, and so today’s topic is how to read a book. To discuss this with me is Cherie Harder. She not only loves books and reading, but a big part of her role as President of the Trinity Forum is helping others learn to read well and love books as much as she does. In this podcast we discuss: Why Cherie loves books Tips to help students read effectively (to understand well) Some of the challenges to reading well in our day of social media Reading different types of books differently How what you read shapes you How to read in ways that discern truth from error The value of courses in the humanities for non-humanities majors Why it is important to read those we disagree with The value of reading books from other times and cultures Why to re-read a book now and then The value of reading with others and reading groups How to understand the book’s parts in light of the whole (and vice versa) The importance of understanding genre (types of writing) When it is important to read an entire book and when it is not important How and when to consult a book’s online reviews and CliffsNotes Are paper books or ebooks better? How to best read an ebook The value of pleasure-reading Resources mentioned during our conversation: Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading Alan Jacobs, Breaking Bread With The Dead: A Reader’s Guide to a More Tranquil Mind C.S. Lewis, “On The Reading of Old Books” Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart, How To Read The Bible For All Its Worth Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading The Trinity Forum (and their “Bookclub Box” and the Trinity Forum Conversations podcast) Jessica Hooten Wilson, Reading for Regeneration (a Trinity Forum Conversation) ________, The Scandal of Holiness: Renewing Your Imagination in the Company of Literary Saints ________, Reading for the Love of God: How to Read as a Spiritual Practice Maryanne Wolf, Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain


#26: The Role of Spiritual Disciplines and Directors in Spiritual Formation

My guest today is Dr. Nita Kotiuga, Director of Spiritual Formation at Bakke Graduate University. Nita began to think seriously about being formed in the image of Christ during her college years while involved with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. She then served on InterVarsity staff for six years, sharing with students what she had learned about developing intimacy with Christ. So interested was she in understanding and living in light of biblical truth that she went on to earn graduate degrees in theology and spiritual formation, which have positioned her well for her current role. In this podcast we discuss: What is “spiritual formation”?What are “spiritual disciplines”?How these differ from works that earn or merit God’s love or graceWhy desperation in her spiritual life drove her to explore spiritual formationWhat a “spiritual director” is and is notHow Scripture came “alive” to herWhy Protestants have been wary of spiritual direction The benefits of having a spiritual directorThe centrality of Scripture in the Ignatian method of spiritual direction How skiing helped Stan understand our and God’s roles in spiritual formationHow teaching her kids to swim helped Nita understand our and God’s roles in spiritual formationHow to enter into the stories of the Bible, and why it is important to do soThe importance of journaling and the best way to do soWatching TV and movies as a way to enter into God’s storyDisciplines of abstinance and of engagementThe relationship between disciplines and different temptations or seasons in our livesThe results of spiritual formationHow to be sure a spiritual director is “legit”Spiritual disciplines students should consider beginning withThe value of examining your day each night before going to sleepWhat to do if practicing spiritual disciplines isn’t “working” for you Resources mentioned during our conversation: Richard Foster, The Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual GrowthThe Chosen (TV series)How to Watch a Movie, Using Top Gun: Maverick as an Example, Drew Trotter on the College Faith podcastDallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes LivesTimothy M. Gallagher, Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with ScriptureDr. Nita Kotiuga’s email:


#25: The Reasonableness of Faith: Why Students Should Study Apologetics

My guest is Dr. Paul Copan, a noted defender of the faith and professor of philosophy at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Paul has authored over a dozen books on apologetics, as well as edited and contributed to many more. He is with me today to discuss this vitally important topic of, in the words of Peter, “giving a reason for the hope within.” (I Peter 3:15) In this podcast we discuss: What is “apologetics”? How Paul got interested in studying apologetics Why it is important all Christian students understand apologetics Understanding Christianity as a “knowledge tradition” rather than just a “belief tradition” Why speaking in terms of “world views” requires atheists to also defend their beliefs Some examples of how non-Christians and Christians have been helped by apologetics Biblical passages that seem to say faith is important, not reason “The problem of evil”--a common objection requiring a response (and a response) The role of the Holy Spirit in apologetics The most important apologetic topics to understand today Old Testament ethical challenges like God possibly commanding genocide Responding to challenges to the biblical view of sexuality The importance of a proper understanding of faith and science How to begin studying apologetics Tips for having good apologetic conversations ”with gentleness and respect” Resources mentioned during our conversation: Paul Copan’s website Paul Copan, True For You But Not For Me: Overcoming Objections to Christian Faith _________, Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God _________, Is God a Vindictive Bully? Reconciling Portraits of God in the Old and New Testaments ________, That’s Just Your Interpretation: Responding to Skeptics Who Challenge Your Faith ________, How Do You Know You’re Not Wrong? Responding to Objections That Leave Christians Speechless ________, When God Goes to Starbucks: A Guide to Everyday Apologetics Paul Copan, et al., eds., Dictionary of Christianity and Science: The Definitive Reference for the Intersection of Christian Faith and Contemporary Science _________, Three Views on Christianity and Science _________, The Apologetics Study Bible Paul Copan, Paul Gould, et al., The Worldview Bulletin newsletter Paul Gould, Cultural Apologetics: Renewing the Christian Voice, Conscience, and Imagination in a Disenchanted World Jana Harmon, Side B Stories: Atheist conversion to Christianity podcast Ruth Tucker, Walking Away From Faith: Unraveling the Mystery of Belief and Unbelief William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith website Palm Beach Atlantic University: Bachelor of Arts in Apologetics and Master of Arts in Philosophy of Religion Reasonable Faith campus ministry


#24: Why Christian Students Must Understand Their and Other’s Worldviews

My guest today is Mike Schutt, Executive Director of the Worldview Academy. Mike has been thinking, writing, and consulting on worldview formation for over 30 years, including helping law students bring their worldview into the practice of law. His thoughts on worldview and Law have been published in his Redeeming Law: Christian Calling and the Legal Profession (InterVarsity Press, 2007). In this podcast we discuss: What a worldview is Why it is so important to understand worldviews The benefits of living according to the biblical worldview How Mike discovered the importance of worldviews during college How worldview issues permeate all university classes Ways Christian students have faltered due to not understanding worldviews (especially related to views of knowledge and truth) How we are shaped by our culture’s worldview, often without knowing it The main worldviews we should understand Understanding worldview as both ideas and loves The relationship of worldview to our actions, wisdom and flourishing Why Christian students struggle so much with the scientific naturalist worldview How to evaluate worldviews and develop a robust and consistent biblical worldview Three simple questions to evalue any worldview claim made in classes or conversations The relationship between spiritual disciplines and living out the biblical worldview Ways your local church can help you develop your worldview Two questions to ask others in your church (or on campus) to find worldview mentors (and eventually mentor others) Why the Christian worldview is superior to all others Ways students can more fully live out their Christian worldview Changing ways students are interacting with Scripture Resources mentioned during our conversation: Albert Wolters, Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview James Sire, The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog Worldview Academy “How to Watch a Movie, Using Top Gun: Maverick as an Example,” College Faith podcast #23 with Drew Trotter James K. A. Smith, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit C.S. Lewis, “Meditation in a Toolshed” C.S. Lewis, Transposition and Other Addresses Stand to Reason J.F. Baldwin, The Deadliest Monster: An Introduction to Worldviews J. Mark Bertrand, (Re)thinking Worldview: Learning to Live, Think, and Speak in the World Hearts and Mind Books Ashworth, Becker, et al., A Book for Hearts & Minds: What You Should Read and Why Paul Copan, "The Reasonableness of Faith: Why Students Should Study Apologetics," October 2022 College Faith podcast Nancy Pearcy, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcy, How Now Shall We Live? J.P. Moreland, Love Your God With All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul Gene Veith, God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life Gene Veith, Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture Carl Trueman, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution Carl Trueman, Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution


#23: How To Watch A Movie, Using Top Gun: Maverick as an Example

My guest in this episode is Dr. Drew Trotter. Drew has been speaking on the intersection of “Faith and Film” for several decades in various contexts, weaving together his love of film and his theological training. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies from the University of Cambridge. I’ve asked Drew to help us understand how to watch a movie well, and model this as he reflects on the recent box-office hit Top Gun, Maverick. In this podcast we discuss: Why Drew began evaluating movies as a college student The central role stories play in shaping us How movies use stories to shape us without us often knowing this is happening The relationship between what movies tell us is true and how we live Evaluating Top Gun: Maverick using Drew’s 10 questions The difference between watching movies in a theater and at home or online The future of movies How even composition of a shot in a movie influences us Resources mentioned during our conversation: C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics Francis Schaeffer, Escape From Reason Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines, Renovation of the Heart, and The Divine Conspiracy Chariots of Fire (movie) The Godfather (movie) Brian Godawa, Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom and Discernment (and here’s a YouTube interview with him on “Hollywood Worldviews”). William Romanowski’s books Drew’s movie reviews Drew’s 10 Evaluative Questions: WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE SCENE AND WHY? WHICH SCENE DO YOU THINK WAS MOST IMPORTANT FOR THE FILMMAKERS? WHY? WITH WHICH CHARACTER DID YOU MOST IDENTIFY WITH AND WHY? IN ONE SENTENCE WHAT WAS THIS MOVIE ABOUT? WHY DO YOU THINK SO? WHAT ELSE WAS IT TRYING TO SAY? WHAT IS THE MOVIE’S VIEW OF TRUTH, GOODNESS AND BEAUTY? DOES THE MOVIE HAVE A VIEWPOINT ON THE NATURE OF GOD? WHAT DO YOU THINK IT IS? WHAT IS THE MOVIE’S VIEW OF THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE NATURAL AND THE SUPERNATURAL, IF IT HAS ONE? WHAT IS ITS VIEW OF MORAL AUTHORITY? WHAT IS ITS VIEW OF PEOPLE AND THEIR RELATIONSHIPS? WHAT IS ITS VIEW OF EVIL? WHAT IS ITS VIEW OF THE SOLUTION TO MANKIND’S PROBLEMS?


#22: Critical Theories: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

My guest in this episode is Dr. Mary Poplin. Several months ago she and I discussed her excellent book Is Reality Secular? As we concluded she mentioned that for the past four decades she has been observing Critical Theories develop in higher education, and was herself an early proponent. For the past three decades she has been working to understand and evaluate Critical Theories from a Christian perspective. Given her background and extensive reflection on this topic, I can think of no one better able to help us understand and evaluate these very popular perspectives reverberating throughout higher education and now our broader culture.Dr. Poplin is a Senior Research Fellow and Professor Emerita at Claremont Graduate University's School of Educational Studies. She has also authored numerous books on Christianity and higher education.In this podcast we discuss:Defining Critical Theory (including Critical Race Theory--CRT)How Critical Theory developed and became dominant in higher educationWhy CRT rejects Martin Luther King’s viewsHer journey into feminism and CRT, and why she began to question her viewsWhat CRT gets right--truths CRT is highlightingWhat CRT gets wrong--errors CRT is promotingHow radical feminism started this movement toward divisionHow Critical Theories are changing the university in fundamental waysBlack scholars CRT excludes from the conversation, and whyDifferent approaches to these issues in the humanities, social science, and sciencesWhy Critical Theories are so popular among some Christians, and whether this is justifiedHow students can reflect well and develop their own conclusions about Critical TheoriesHow students can reflected on and engage CRT in their courseworkHow students can reflect on and engage CRT in campus organizationsResources mentioned during our conversation:Mary Poplin, Is Reality Secular? Testing the Assumptions of Four Global WorldviewsChristopher Rufo’s short video summarizing Critical Race Theory Oher resources by Christopher RufoJames Lindsey, Race Marxism: The Truth about Critical Race Theory and PraxisJames Lindsey’s website New DiscoursesHellen Pluckrose & James Lindsey, Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender, and Identity--and Why This Harms EverybodyCarol Swain & Christopher Schorr, Black Eye for America: How Critical Race Theory is Burning Down the HouseStan W. Wallace, “How Should Christians Understand Critical Theory?”


#21: Reframing the “Evolution or Creation” Debate?

My guest today is Dr. Charles Thaxton, a chemist who is one of the founders of a movement that reframed the debate over evolution and creation. He co-authored The Mystery of Life’s Origin: Reassessing Current Theories, which sparked what has come to be known as the “Intelligent Design” movement in the study of origins. This reframing of the creation/evolution debate has both strong supporters and strong critics. In our conversation we delve into exactly what “ID” is and is not, the data that supports this approach to origins, what critiques are made of this approach, and how he responds to these criticisms. In this podcast we discuss: How he came to co-author The Mystery of Life’s Origin: Reassessing Current Theories How he came to reject the standard chemical explanation of the origin of life (and the experiments that support the standard model, most notably the Miller experiment) How this new view that emerged from his (and other’s) research came to be called “Intelligent Design” (ID) A concise description of ID and “specified complexity” The common scientific methodology between ID and NASA’s search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI) program How discoveries of the DNA code further support the ID thesis The push-back and controversy ID generated among non-Christians The pushback received from some Christians who are “theistic evolutionists” Why he believes all these objections fail How ID differs from “Creationism” The philosophical issues underlying the rejection of ID Why ID is not “religion” or “bringing God into science” Some of the best resources to better understand ID Resources mentioned during our conversation: Charles B. Thaxton, Walter L. Bradley, Roger L. Olson, The Mystery of Life’s Origin: Reassessing Current Theories Thaxton, Bradley, Olsen, Tour, Meyer, Wells, Gonzalez, Miller, The Mystery of Life’s Origin: The Continuing Controversy Stephen C. Mayer, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design The Discovery Institute Philip E. Johnson, Darwin on Trial Jonathan Wells, Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? Why Much of What We Teach About Evolution is Wrong *And be sure to read Dr. Thaxton's autobiography A Leg to Stand On, where he shares more of the story!


#20: How Christian Study Centers Minister to University Students

Today I’m concluding my four-episode series on campus ministries. My guest is Karl Johnson, the Executive Director of the Consortium of Christian Study Centers, a unique initiative to minister to students on campuses throughout the U.S. In this podcast we discuss: Karl’s struggle to integrate his faith and studies while at Cornell Why and how Karl established a Christian Study Center at Cornell (Chesterton House) “Residential ministry” as a focus of Chesterton House What Christian study centers are and their core ministry to students Where and how to find a Christian study center The history of Christian Study Centers, going back to L’Abri founded by Francis Schaeffer How study centers specifically serve undergraduate students Christian study center Fellows Programs--a form of “intellectual hospitality” How Christian study centers differ from and compliment other campus ministries The Consortium of Christian Study Centers' shared Statement of Faith (The Apostle’s Creed) How the Consortium thinks about labels such as “conservative,” “progressive, ” and “Evangelical” Christianity Some “heros of the Faith” Christian study centers tend to hold up to students Forms of idolatry Christian students (and their parents) often fail to see while in college How students should understand the relationship between their faith and the university Some examples of how Christian study centers have engaged the university redemptively Resources mentioned during our conversation: Consortium of Christian Study Centers Chesterton House at Cornell University Octet Collaborative at MIT Upper House at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Christian Study Center of Gainesville at the University of Florida Cambridge House Christian Study Center at the College of William and Mary Ligoneer Ministries (an example of a non-university-based Study center) Mark Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind George Marsden, The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship Charles E. Cotherman, To Think Christianly: A History of L’Abri, Regent College, and the Christian Study Center Movement James Davidson Hunter, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World Veritas Forum Hearts & Minds Bookstore