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Missing Links: On Faith and Science

No Comments » Written on October 21st, 2014 by
Categories: Feature

Multnomah Biblical Seminary was recently awarded a national grant  that addresses the missing links between faith and science in a seminary education. MU seminary professor Paul Louis Metzger, Ph.D., comments.

All truth is God's truth

metzger_mainIt is well known that Evangelical Christianity has often experienced a difficult relationship with science. The Scopes “Monkey Trial” in 1925 left an indelible mark on the psyche of many segments of the movement. As George Marsden wrote, “It would be difficult to overestimate the impact” of the trial “in transforming fundamentalism.” George Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth-Century Evangelicalism — 1870-1925 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980), p. 184.

Ironically, the Evangelical movement has benefited greatly over the decades in various ways from implementing scientific and technological advances in communication and media for gospel proclamation and archeology for apologetics. Given the widespread Evangelical conviction that all truth is God’s truth as centered in Christ and Christian scripture, it is incumbent upon Evangelicals, including their universities and seminaries, to extend the interface of faith and science to other spheres.

They live in two universes

At its home in the Pacific Northwest, Multnomah Biblical Seminary serves numerous thriving Evangelical churches that draw people from diverse backgrounds and vocations, including science, medicine, and technology. Still, one wonders how well the pastoral leaders in these Evangelical congregations integrate faith and science in service to their parishioners and their vocations. All too often, these parishioners feel like they live in two universes — one of faith and one of science. Links are missing that will help us make these two universes one. If church leaders are not able or prepared to help young people make constructive connections, what will happen to the next generation of Evangelical Christians and beyond?

David Kinnaman addresses this concern and many others in You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church...And Rethinking Faith (Baker Books, 2011). Kinnaman quotes a young man named Mike, who says: “I knew from church that I couldn’t believe in both science and God, so that was it. I didn't believe in God anymore” (p. 138; italics added). While Mike’s statement may seem to some a bit rash, still, it points to a growing sense of need among many for pastoral leaders to help equip their congregations to engage in serious discussion and the integration of faith and science. Such equipping will also include vocational preparation for people in their congregations entering scientific fields.

We have a responsibility

Seminaries have important roles to play in equipping pastoral graduates for effective ministry in a scientific age. But are they seizing the opportunity? It makes sense for pastoral and missional reasons that institutions become more intentional in preparing its pastoral candidates and alumni to engage science in constructive ways. Just look around. The scientific realm is expanding. Take for example my region, the Greater Portland Area in Oregon. Intel, Tektronix, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), as well as other organizations dedicated to scientific progress, are located nearby.

Portland prides itself on its attentiveness to scientific concerns and progress. For all the talk of alternative forms of spirituality in addition to Christianity that flourish in the region, there is also a great deal of antagonism on the part of certain sectors in the scientific community to faith of any kind. Secularism, including the New Atheism, is very robust in Portland and in other places in the Pacific Northwest. Given Multnomah Biblical Seminary’s commitment to preparing our graduates for effective ministry in a very diverse culture, we have a responsibility to assist the churches we serve in cultivating a thoughtful, irenic and comprehensive approach to the integration of faith and science.

Effective ministry in our scientific age

For these various reasons, I am delighted to report that Multnomah University’s seminary was awarded a National “Science for Seminaries” grant. Multnomah Biblical Seminary is one of 10 seminaries nationwide selected by The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for a combined $1.5 million in grants to incorporate science into core theological curricula. The grant will provide resources to integrate science into select core courses, such as systematic theology, biblical studies, church history and pastoral theology. It should be noted that the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion does not advise on theological content, but only provides support for science through resources and mentor recommendations. The courses will be developed and implemented over the next two years and provide seminarians with solid, science-focused instruction.

“Many people look to their religious leaders for guidance on issues relating to science and technology, even though clergy members may get little exposure to science in their training,” said Jennifer Wiseman, director of the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER). The Science for Seminaries grant for “Integrating Science into Core Theological Education” through AAAS in collaboration with our accrediting body, the Association of Theological Schools, will make it possible for our seminary to focus energies on equipping pastors and pastoral candidates for more effective ministry in our scientific age.

The theater of God’s glory

Through Multnomah University’s Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins’ oversight and coordination, Multnomah Biblical Seminary faculty will integrate subject matter pertaining to astrophysics, human cognition, and macro-biology in select seminary courses. A New Wine conference and Cultural Encounters journal issue will help make the findings available to the community at large. The aim is to help our seminary graduates increase their scientific awareness of pressing issues and integrate faith and science in constructive ways as they equip their congregations for truthful and meaningful witness in the twenty-first century. This scientific pursuit will assist us in discerning more clearly how the whole creation is the theater of God’s glory.

In closing, I should add that my seminary colleagues have joked (perhaps half-joked!) about their ulterior motives in their research for this grant: the grant will provide them the opportunity to prove their long-standing hypothesis that I am the “missing link” in the evolution of species. So much for the age old tension in Evangelical circles between faith and science!

 

Paul Louis Metzger, Ph.D. is a Multnomah University seminary professor, director of its Institute for the Theology of Culture, and project leader for the grant initiative at Multnomah Biblical Seminary.

 

Contact: Kristina Rhodes, Communications Specialist, 503-251-6469 or krhodes@multnomah.edu

President’s Greeting — Fall 2014

No Comments » Written on October 2nd, 2014 by
Categories: Newsletter

Dear Multnomah Family,

The new school year is successfully under way. I am thankful for all our new and returning students. God enabled us to meet or exceed almost every one of our new student enrollment goals.

Carolyn and I just returned from the All School Retreat, and it was a blast. The Young Life Washington Family Ranch in Eastern Oregon is a beautiful facility. The students, staff and faculty who attended seemed to have a wonderful time. There was such a positive and exciting spirit among all who attended. I judge God was moving in our midst, and I was honored to experience His presence with our students.

Biblical wisdom and power in contrast to human wisdom and power is one of the main themes I am exploring with our Multnomah Family this year. The Apostle Paul said, “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel — not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (NIV, I Corinthians 1: 17). And King Solomon told us that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

I suggest the sacrificial death and resurrection of Christ may be the most complete expression of God’s wisdom and power. When we pursue biblical wisdom we are actually pursuing Christ, who is the living example of biblical wisdom and power.

So, I am calling our Multnomah Family to pursue Christ together this year. I am asking if we, as the body of Christ here at MU, might deepen our love for Him over the months ahead.

On another note, you probably have heard me call Multnomah University a “biblical university”. It may help if I explain in more detail what I mean when I use that descriptor. Here at MU we are biblical university that:

  • Combines the strengths of the Bible college with the strengths of the Christian liberal arts school as we pursue biblical wisdom and power
  • Commits to the inspired, inerrant, authoritative word of God as it frames our explorations and expressions of God’s truth
  • Intentionally works so that biblical and theological studies collaborate and collide with studies in arts and sciences to provide clarity to the most important questions of life
  • Prepares graduates to effectively and faithfully serve in a variety of vocational settings (like full-time, vocational ministry or the public market place) with passion for Christ, a servant’s heart, and a Holy Spirit-formed mind and soul

May I ask a favor? With this deeper understanding of MU as a “biblical university”, will you share the exciting story of MU with your friends and family? Will you continue to pray that God will empower us to do this work He has called us to do?

When you are on campus please introduce yourself — I value meeting members of the MU Alumni Family.

God’s blessings.

Craig Williford

President, Multnomah University

Impacted By Love: My Trip To Africa

Heidi Birch, a sophomore majoring in educational ministries, shares about her recent trip to Rwanda with a group of MU students.

The adventure of a lifetime

As I started my freshman year of college at Multnomah, I had no idea that by the end of the academic year I would be sharing God’s glory all around The Land of a Thousand Hills — that’s the nickname given to Rwanda, Africa, thanks to its beautiful, mountainous landscape.

This February, after Dr. Garry Friesen had retired from teaching at MU, he moved to Kigali, Rwanda, to teach at the African College of Theology (ACT), a newly formed Bible college. Dr. Friesen has a vision to build a bridge between the students of Multnomah University and the students of ACT, so he invited a team of six students from MU to visit Kigali in May this year.

When I first heard about this trip, I was extremely skeptical. I wasn’t sure if I could get the time off work or where God was guiding me in life. But I felt something tugging on my heart to at least interview for a spot on the team. Two short weeks later, I was signing papers and fundraising to go on the adventure of a lifetime.

heidiburch_group_main

My team and me hanging out with the Dream Boys

Dream Boys

And six months later, there I was, standing alongside five others students, breathing in the African air.

First our team visited the African College of Theology. We got to sit in on classes, meet fellow Bible majors, and pray and worship alongside ACT students.

Then for three days of our trip, we got to help out with the Dream Boys, a nonprofit program that helps feed and educate the street boys of Rwanda. Getting to spend time with these boys was one of the main highlights of our trip. We got to play games with them, teach them Bible lessons, act out skits, and teach them how to make bracelets.

Though we taught them a lot, I feel as though they taught us more. Not only did they teach us words in their language, Kinyarwanda, but they also taught us how to smile — even in tough situations. One of the boys, Providence, had lost a finger just two weeks prior, due to an infection from a cut. But he was always one of the first to greet us with a grin on his face and joy in his heart.

Florence

After spending time with the Dream Boys, we got to drive out to two schools located in Kageyo, a village close to the border of Rwanda and Tanzania. At the second school, we got to go on our first Hope Visit to see a little girl named Florence. A Hope Visit is where a child who is not yet sponsored gets visited by one of the teams.

heidiburch_main

Florence, her family and me

From the moment I saw Florence, we became instant friends. Florence is one of four children who live with their widowed mother. When we arrived at her house, her mother looked at me holding her daughter’s hand. With tear filling her eyes, she embraced me tightly. I will never forget her face. It was a face of desperation, a face of hope, and a face filled with love.

When we first went to Florence’s home, she was unsponsored. But by the time we left, I knew that I had to sponsor her. Later the next day, I signed the papers, and she became my lifetime pen pal. I never realized what it meant to a child and their family to be sponsored till I sat in the house of one. A sponsorship can change a child’s life forever. It’s more than just a direct withdrawal and a letter now and then. It’s a uniform, an education, insurance, food, and a chance to thrive in a poor community.

I will never forget the love

This trip has changed my life forever. I will never forget the faces of those I met. I will never forget the love that radiated from their hearts. I will never forget the way that they trust their Savior — even in the most trying times of their lives. I am so grateful that Multnomah gave me the chance to experience a missional lifestyle outside of the U.S., and I’m excited for future opportunities to travel abroad to share the love of our Father with others.

A Greeting from Dr. Craig Williford

Dear Alumni Family,

It’s an honor and a great privilege to assume my role as Multnomah’s fifth president today. I’m humbled by the legacy and rich heritage of Multnomah University and want to personally thank each of you for the ways you have represented Multnomah with godly distinction.

The strength of any university lies within the quality of its alumni, and Multnomah University is strong because of the ways you've invested your life in service to others — either in the marketplace or vocational ministry, locally or around the world.

As president, I want to express my complete and unreserved affirmation of Multnomah’s faith statements, mission and core values. As a biblical university, our continued aim will be to integrate the Bible into all aspects of our educational experience as we prepare alumni to be biblically competent, academically proficient, spiritually formed and culturally engaged. We trust that God will continue to infuse our future alumni with servants’ hearts and faithful lives — just like yours.

I’m excited about what lies ahead. MU faces some external and internal challenges, like many other faith-based universities. But we’re committed to prayerfully embracing these challenges while also identifying the exciting opportunities that exist as we seek to expand the work of the Gospel. As we seize these opportunities, we’ll continue to add new majors and grow our online course offerings to ensure that as many people as possible are able to benefit from the Multnomah educational experience.

I invite you — a vital part of Multnomah’s ongoing legacy — to join with us in this critical effort. If I may, I’d like to challenge you in the following three ways:

  1. Continue to tell your story. Prospective students seek advice from people they trust — people like you. Historically, our alumni have proven to be our strongest recruiters, so use your influence to motivate people to attend MU. You might even consider taking more course work yourself. We continue to expand our degree offerings and would love to have you back on campus.
  1. Join us in prayer. The board and I are calling the MU community to a day of prayer Saturday, August 16, and we would love to have you join us on campus that day. You also can join us through the spirit of prayer from wherever you live. I believe that prayer places us in a posture of humility that enables us to hear God’s voice and wisdom. Our plan is to pray in every classroom, office, dorm and gathering space throughout the entire campus as we ask God to use our human interactions in these spaces to help us fulfill our mission. We desire a strong presence of Christ on our campus and endeavor to create relationships, spaces and experiences where the Holy Spirit can transform our students. We will give more details regarding our day of prayer soon.
  1. Be a part of Multnomah’s ongoing legacy. Prayerfully consider how you might invest your time, talents and treasures to support MU in its eternally-focused mission.

I look forward to meeting you and hearing from you in the days and weeks ahead.

With deepest appreciation,

Craig

MU Basketball Team Shares Gospel in Taiwan

tipsCoach Curt Bickley shares the details of the Lions' mission trip to Taiwan this month. 

Multnomah in Taiwan

The basketball team flew to Taipei on May 9 and spent the week playing basketball games and sharing the Gospel. We were able to share the Gospel publicly 12 times during the week.

Thanks to our Taiwan missionaries for all their help and for making this trip work:

  • Uwe Maurer
  • Rex Manu
  • Dave Freeman
  • Garrett Freeman
  • Dan Long

Games

We played 8 games in 6 days. At each game, we were able to share the Gospel with the other team and their fans at halftime. All the teams were very open to listening to the mission of our trip.

We handed out bracelets that said Multnomah University on one side and John 3:16 on the other. We told the crowd to Google both. Our interpreters were great, and there were times when we even used guys from the other team to interpret.

TAIWAN TECH

Bethany Christian School

We visited Bethany on Tuesday morning. Stevie Sansone and Davey Walker shared their testimonies with the kids after I spoke. We played Hot Box free throws with the kids and had a great time.

bethany

Taichung Elderly Home Visit

Rex Manu set up a great visit for our guys. We listened to Grandma Wu share her life story, and then the residents listened to me share mine. Our guys then massaged the arms and hands of the elderly and then Rex shared the plan of salvation. Eight people who wanted assurance of a home in Heaven raised their hands.

ELDERLY HOME

granny

Kinmenn Islands

We flew out to the Kinmenn Islands and spent the day on scooters riding around both islands before we made our way out the the only school on the island. We spent time with the junior high, gave them Jeremy Lin books and shared the gospel. It was the first American basketball team to ever visit their school.

FOOD

SCOOTERS

Love Life Basketball Game

Saturday night was a special treat for everyone: We played the SBL All Star team (Taiwan Pro League). The purpose of the game was to raise awareness and money for kids with cancer. We did not know how big of an event it was until we showed up and saw hundreds of fans lined up to get in an hour before the game.

During the introduction of players, each player from both teams came out with one of the children. Blackie Chen prayed for the kids with both teams out on the court.

TEAM

At halftime, I was able to share the Gospel with over 700 fans and players. After the game, we spent time with everyone involved. We actually won the game by a score of 63-56, surprising most. Our guys represented MU extremely well that night; it was a great success.

ll5

 Thank you to all our donors that made this trip happen! 

— Coach Bickley

You’re Invited to Day of Prayer

karen-fancher

Multnomah University will hold a Day of Prayer on Friday, March 7. This is a day when daytime classes are cancelled, and students are given the opportunity to step back from studies to have a time dedicated to worshiping and seeking God together. The theme of this Day of Prayer is “Reflections of Grace”. This will be a time to reflect upon the amazing grace of God which has been extended to us, and how our hearts are responding to God in receiving His grace and in extending it to others.

Schedule

Students will meet in the JCA student center from 9 to 10:30 for a session of worship in song, reflection and prayer. MU's Chair of Pastoral Ministries Department Dr. Valerie Clemen will guide the time of reflection. Participants will have a short break and then gather in small groups to pray for one another from 10:45 to 12 noon. The small group prayer times will be led by students. The students will meet in affinity groups with their majors and minor, and the seminary and graduate students will meet together for prayer as well. In the afternoon students are invited to participate with at least two other people in prayer walks around the campus. The goal is to cover one another and the ministry of MU in prayer.

Student Feedback

Dr. Val Clemen

MU's Spiritual Life Committee conducted a recent survey which asked students what they would most appreciate on Day of Prayer. At times the spring Day of Prayer has been held at a retreat center off campus. However, 72% of the students in this survey said that they would prefer to stay on campus. Thus, the Day of Prayer will be held at MU, with an invitation to prayer walk over our campus as well. Students also indicated that they wanted intentional time focused on personal reflection and praying for one another. It was encouraging for the Spiritual Life Committee to hear how highly students valued prayer and wanted to grow in the area of personal prayer. It is our prayer that this time together will strengthen us in our relationships with the Lord, strengthen us as a community honor the Lord, and align our hearts even more with the heart of God.

About the author

Dr. Karen Fancher has worked at Multnomah University since 1998. She is the assistant professor of Pastoral Ministry and the dean of seminary students.

 

 

Moving Beyond Extremes to Gospel-Centered Love

Extreme positions often get the biggest hearing. It seems like you have to be liberal or conservative or pro-choice or pro-life to get people to listen. People so easily close their ears and hearts and shut the door when complexity enters the conversation. Read the rest of this entry »

A Message from Dr. Wayne Strickland, MU’s Interim President

Multnomah is in a time of transition. It is times like these that remind us to maintain our mission and yet move forward with innovations that allow us to be more effective in our execution of Christ’s mission for us. We must continually assess the challenges and opportunities before us. We have the rare opening to raise the outreach and impact of Multnomah. Read the rest of this entry »

You’re Invited to the 74th Annual Global Missions Conference

Olivia Morud — a student volunteer who's helping organize the Global Missions Conference (GMC) — tells us what we can expect from this year's event. The GMC will be held on MU's campus February 18-20. All classes will be cancelled so students can attend event sessions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Chapel Series Tackles Sex, Lies and Recovery

Blake Williams, Multnomah alumnus and Executive Director of Pure Life Alliance, invites you to next week's chapel series.

I can still hear Dr. Pamela Reeve’s words: “You have a serious issue. You’ll need to stay out of ministry for at least a year.” These were not the words I wanted to hear when I was four months from graduating from Multnomah Biblical Seminary with my MDiv. I had been grappling with sexual sin for almost two decades, and I had just confessed it all to Dr. Reeve. Now, more than 14 years later, God has turned my story into one of sexual redemption and hope. Read the rest of this entry »