Fall Issue 1
From the President | David Paul
RCD (Regent College Dictionary) Definition of "Retreat" | Antje Carrel
Bite-Sized Theses: Friendship With God and Petitionary Prayer | Brittany McComb
Engaging the Strange: Thoughts on Stranger Things | Matthew Nelson
Poem of the Week | Josh Lock
Roger Laing Welcomes You | Roger Laing
Caught in Candy | Steve Berkenpas
From the President | David Paul
At first, I thought I would say with pride that I’m starting my fourth year at Regent. But Ali Cummings (our very own Artsy person) made this statement at Orientation this year: “there are no fourth years at Regent”. It made me ponder a little bit, where did those three years go? It feels like I just started the other day.
My pondering took me back to the first day I arrived at Regent. My mind had told me I’m going to (literally) a big place, where there are big names: like J. I. Packer, Eugene Peterson, Bruce Waltke... and Paul Spilsbury (we both love cricket – a sport which can last for five days). My mind was disappointed that it took less than ten minutes to go through the so-called ‘big-place’ (the entire building).
But very quickly it also shifted my focus toward how such a small place could have such a big impact--the impact that changes hearts, the impact that changes the world, the impact that makes people walk and live earnest lives, the impact that points people to the love of Christ. You see, impact doesn’t happen randomly, there’s got to be good intentions for a good impact to take place. Regent is one such place where there is good intention.
The intention is pretty simple, for vibrant evangelical faith to meet rigorous academic work. This simple yet profound intention gives Regent its mission statement, which is to cultivate intelligent, vigorous, and joyful commitment to Jesus Christ, His church, and His world. I know where I have spent the last three years – it is here in the space where intelligent and vigorous academic work often leads me to ask the question, do I still have the joyful commitment to Jesus Christ, His church, and His world? There’s a long way to go to think of an impact of any sort, but this I know the seeds are planted.
So, my friends, welcome to this small place that creates a big impact. You could be in your first year wondering what in the world does DQ, Gobbet, Sacramental Ontology and Asymmetric Compatibilism mean. You could be in your second or third year almost finishing Regent and still have no clue what you’re going to do next. Or you could be like me in the fourth year at Regent (I know of at least one person who is in the fifth year) buying time to figure out what’s next.
Either way, I welcome you to this place of impact. But don’t be too caught up thinking about the impact you want to create in the future that you forget the present. This is a small place, and as much as you need this place, this place needs you. Be part of this community by engaging in its daily life, by involving in soup groups, prayer groups, chapel group, playing music in the Atrium during lunchtime concerts, playing soccer on Friday afternoons.
If you are clueless about where to start, come to the coolest place in the building, the RCSA Office – where you can feel the heartbeat of student life. We will be happy to listen if you have any concerns or questions, and to discuss possibilities of serving on the council.
What am I saying here? This community has richly blessed me these three years, and I’m glad I’ve found small ways of sharing this blessing with others by serving in the community. This is the service that helps me actualize a joyful commitment to Jesus Christ, His church and His world. Join me in receiving, being and sharing this blessing – the blessing of being called a community.
RCD (Regent College Dictionary) Definition of "Retreat" | Antje Carrel
Let me introduce you to the 2016 edition of the Regent College dictionary. After a year of experience, and many more passed down to me, I’m able to cover, now, every letter of the alphabet and even more. Today, we’re looking at the letter R. It’s actually filling up a few pages. Impressive.
It starts with “Rabbi Akiba,” your memory is failing you? New Testament introduction, part of the zealot Shammai, he advocated Simon bar- Kachba’s cause. “Rat,” have you made acquaintance yet? Don’t worry, they keep to themselves, outside (from what I know!). I scan down the page ... “RCSA,” have they enlisted you yet? “REGIS,” this definition is still in the process of being written. My eyes scroll down, ... “Rick Watts,” speaking in tongues activates more parts of your brain than normal speech. Did you know that? “Rivendell,” you’re unconsciously longing for that place. “Ross Hastings,” have you rub shoulders with koinōnia yet? Yes, you’re right! We are made to share in the love and life of the triune God. Pardon me. I’ve gone too far down. Let’s go back up a bit. “REDUX,” “Regent alumnus,” “Regent footsie club,” “Remembrance Day,” (Note to self: don’t forget the poppy!!), “Requisite classes,” “Retreat”. Here we go! This is the word we need today. Here is the excerpt.
Retreat, n. pronunciation: Swiss /RiˈtRˈitˈ/, Brit. /rᵻˈtriːt/, U.S. /rəˈtrit/ , Regent /rˈəˈtˈrˈi : ˈtˈ/ (note the high pitch excitement!!). Frequency of use: 9.5/10 (you hear about it all year round!). Etymology: Old French retrait, which comes from retraire, act of renouncing. Yes, renouncing a weekend entirely filled with homework. Renouncing the efficiency of the Canadian recycling system (bring your own mug, yes, I beg you!). Renouncing that awkward distance with your professors and actually get to know them, a bit. Renouncing to look nice when eating a S’more by the camp re. Renouncing to pretend you remember all those names from orientation (nametags are part of the deal. You’re welcome!).
New ‘Merican re-treat, act of being in for a treat again and again. Third years keep on coming back, even when they play the indifference card. Even fifth years come to it. They might just be very evasive about how long they’ve been around. Year after year, people come back to Warm Beach (it’s actually fairly cold, bring your jumper!). It might be the footy session, Ultimate for those with an Australian vibe, or the Dutch Blitz galore. It might be the fact that you don’t need to cook for yourself for 6 meals in a row (I wouldn’t miss it if I were you), or that you get to hang out with all those cute babies and kids your classmates have been raving about. It might be the early morning fog (literally and figuratively!), as you walk to the prayer chapel. Well, in a nutshell, you get to experience the heartbeat of the Regent community for almost 48 uninterrupted hours. It is a treat, and yet, again, a re-treat.
1. The action of going to Warm Beach... [The editor wants you to know that the 2016 definition of “Retreat” is not yet written. The background work is done, but this year definition needs to be written by you. Yes, because we’re in it together. Some call it a communal reality. And Regent College is really big on being communal, you’ll see, it’s all part of the journey of growing as integrated human beings. And coming to the Regent Retreat, is a beautiful glimpse of this greater reality.]
Friendship With God and Petitionary Prayer | Brittany McComb
In early March of this year I completed a thesis entitled “God’s Gratuitous Initiative: Establishing Caritas as Amicitia in St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae and Super Ioannem.” I’ve received a bit of flack for the lengthy title; I’m pretty sure Dr. Boersma is the sole appreciator, having enthusiastically complemented its descriptive clarity. (If you know Hans, you know that if he is enthusiastic about anything, it is clarity.)
Thus, in this article, I will state my aims as straight away as is possible for one as loquacious as myself, do my best to reach these aims, and be on with my day, seeing as you likely already want to just proceed with your own. But, stick with me! What I want to share was quite helpful to me, as I hope it will be to you. First, I will sketch broadly the perceived, specifically philosophical problem (there are moral issues as well) with defining Christian charity as Aristotelian amicitia or friendship. After sharing this problem with you, I will jump into a description of how prayer fits nicely into this framework, despite this philosophical problem.
The main philosophical objection I sought to resolve (with theological tools) was the objection that in Christian theology, even more so than in Aristotelian philosophy, the distinction between God and man is irreconcilable; thus, to claim God enters into friendship with man is frankly ridiculous. The basic point is that man shares so precious little in common with God; God might deign to relate to him, but God will not discovery a bestie there – someone that just “gets him.”
This, though, is to speak too simply: God is what he is about; thus, when I write “gets him” I essentially mean his character or will and his work, the latter flowing seamlessly from the former, not a list of likes and dislikes that may or may not bear relation to the activities he engages in. Thus, when I write “gets him”
I mean his character or will and his work align squarely with your own character or will and work. Ostensibly, this is the end of the Christian life; yet, we must note that Thomas is claiming such moral rectitude is also somehow the beginning.
Beyond “getting him,” the Christian doctrine of creation ex nihilo, that is, that God is one who creates from nothing – not a formless something but absolutely nothing – prevents man from entering into a reciprocal relationship with God. If man has received all that he possesses from God, including his own existence, he, in point of fact, cannot reciprocate such a gift to God; he cannot be another self to God with whom God can share this most intimate relationship. Even the Christian doctrine of deification, in which man is said to become godlike through grace, does not seek to resolve this distinction – for this doctrine itself rests on this distinction. Man can never reach the end of deification so as to become the source of his own deification. This is nonsense. Neither does St. Thomas seek to resolve this distinction between cause and effect, but builds man’s friendship with God upon it. As you can see from the title of my thesis, amicitia with God is a result of “God’s gratuitous initiative.”
St. Thomas persists in coloring this amicitia as true Aristotelian amicitia, despite this philosophical problem, for reasons I outline in my thesis. My aim
in this article, though, is not to give a thorough defense of St. Thomas’s use
of Aristotelian amicitia, with its commitments to reciprocity, as the perfect metaphor to describe the Christian’s relationship with God.
Rather, my aim is to welcome you into this structure of thought at the back door, so to speak, by giving a brief description of how the ancient religious practice of petitionary prayer fits into and is a necessary component of this friendship. While the place of this practice within the structure of this friendship does not resolve the question of this gap, the framework does provide a compelling rationale for the ancient practice of petitionary prayer – thus, providing a compelling reason to further explore this framework.
St. Thomas gives a host of reasons why a Christian must engage in prayer – an act he distinguishes, somewhat uniquely historically and among his contemporaries, from contemplation. I want to outline briefly two of these reasons: preeminently, petitionary prayer is man’s highest act of worship; secondly, through petitionary prayer, man acts as a secondary cause of God’s will. While many throughout the tradition have reasoned that petition is impious because it can be rooted in ingratitude and a lack of submission to the will of God, St. Thomas’s teaching on petitionary prayer implies that any conception of petitionary prayer that can perceive it as rooted in ingratitude or a lack of submission is a misconception of the practice. Petitionary prayer “surpasses the other acts of religion” (ST II-II.83.3, ad. 3) because as rational beings we entrust ourselves to God by entrusting our voluntas or “reasoned will” to God. In other words, to petition God is less like arguing to have a cookie before dinner and more like sharing one’s deepest longings with one’s most trusted friend. It is in this context that one knows one will receive love, both in the form of reciprocal longing, as well as empathetic critique in light of the ultimate longing for one’s ultimate good. Thus, we acknowledge God’s goodness. Furthermore, when we petition God, we are petitioning one who has the power to grant these petitions; in this light, St. Thomas perceives petition to be a morally necessary act which acknowledges not only God’s goodness, but also his power.
Secondly, Thomas reasons that through petitionary prayer man acts as a secondary cause to the enactment of God’s will. He quotes Pope Gregory I (540-604), reasoning that men must pray “that by asking, men may deserve to receive what Almighty God from eternity has disposed to give” (ST II-II.83.2). God’s will is infallible; however, Thomas takes pains to emphasize that part of God’s infallible will is that men will act as secondary causes of this good will, that they will actively participate in carrying out God’s will – specifically through prayer – as their wills conform more and more to his own. In the framework of friendship, however, the necessity that there be two wills that act in concert is highlighted; thus, the infallibility of God’s will does not and cannot eradicate, but must be seen as working to perfect, the human will. The friend of God cannot pretend in this context that his voluntas is anything but what it is; he cannot refrain from prayer on the auspices that his will does not conform to God’s will. First, he is not God and does not know God’s will. Second, his highest act of worship is to give himself to God in prayer. Prayer, then, is purposeful, or, to avoid any tone of mere utility, fruitful gift, the gift of true friendship.
Beyond the confidence that is shared among friends, it is this sort of active good life that stands at the heart of Aristotelian amicitia. While the practice of petitionary prayer does not resolve the problem of ontological gap between God and man, it does enlighten the otherwise puzzling practice of making petitions to God, whose will we know to be infallible. It does so in such a fruitful manner that it seems to give credence to the comparison of charity with Aristotelian amicitia, despite the persistence of the philosophical problem.
Engaging the Strange: Thoughts on Stranger Things | Matthew Nelson
To state the obvious for anyone whoʼs seen it, the new Netflix show Stranger Things is fantastic. Though quite intense and admittedly not for everyone, itʼs a suspenseful, well-made throwback to classic 1980ʼs films like Stand By Me and The Thing. As such, itʼs a thoughtful character-based entry in the sci-fi / horror genre, as well as a potent expression of (what Iʼll call) the “paranoia culture” running rampant today in both entertainment and politics. This is my attempt to share a few thoughts on that, in relation to some theological implications.
Immediately noteworthy is the creative ancestry here, traceable largely to Stephen King. Kingʼs fiction typically concerns what happens when something horrific and possibly supernatural intrudes into an ordinary neighborhood or family---that home you both had and never had growing up, alternately loving and dysfunctional, relatable and idealized.
The sense of familiarity and authenticity is precisely what makes the terror so believable and unsettling. Also like the work of Stephen King (and that other influential Steven, Spielberg that is), this is a story about the differing worlds of adults and children, dramatizing the confrontation of corruption and innocence, of harsh reality meeting childlike imagination.
Part of this harsh reality involves awareness of an evil or darkness lurking behind the idyllic and commonplace. In this case, itʼs the discovery of a real yet hidden realm where a monster roams to and fro, devouring and causing havoc. One is reminded here of the biblical Satan, that prowling “lion seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
[Note: Major spoilers begin here!]. Another part of this harsh reality involves various forms of human evil, callousness, and familial brokenness. This is a world of both ordinary kinds of disorder, such as divorced parents and school bullying, as well as the more sensational evil of amoral government scientists. As in the most interesting horror fiction, that latter supernatural or extraordinary evil is linked with the former human evil, corruption, and disorder. This connection is evident, for instance, when the manipulation of Nancy into Steveʼs bed (and abandonment of her friend Barbara) is tightly edited in juxtaposition with Barbaraʼs monster-encounter; even more fundamentally, this connection is seen by the way in which government exploitation of a child, Eleven, invites the Demogorgonʼs (“Prince of Demons”) rampage in our dimension. Might this relationship of otherworldly and human evil help us conceptualize and discuss a Christian perspective on these spiritual realities?
Like recent popular shows True Detective and Mr. Robot, Stranger Things could also be seen as the latest product of a paranoia culture which suspects (and desires) hidden order behind apparent disorder, meaning behind seeming nonsense and absurdity. This is a world in which sinister elites lurk in the shadows, pulling the strings. In ST, the elite are the government scientists, engaged in experiments bearing some resemblance to the actual CIA mind control program MK Ultra---the fact of which, as it happens, plays a significant role in todayʼs paranoid political culture. What relevance might this suspicion, and longing, for hidden order and control have in our understanding of Godʼs sovereignty in relationship to the worldʼs political powers?
Stranger Things also imaginatively raises questions about the relationship between thenatural and supernatural, the physical and the metaphysical. Itʼs easy to see the showʼs universe as primarily natural and this-worldly since the monsterʼs realm is really just another physical dimension, capable of scientific manipulation. Of course, might ST help expand a limited understanding of “natural” vs. “supernatural” as categories, given a universe where the “upside down” exists?
Lastly, the conclusion of ST merits attention for its possible symbolic theological connections. One could say that Stranger Things ends when the child with the power, the one called El (Hebrew for “god”), a “god-child,” manages to kill the “Prince of Demons” by sacrificing herself, resulting in the “resurrection” of Will Byers. Further, the story happens to conclude at Christmas, that time we celebrate the birth of the Godchild Jesus Christ, the Resurrection, the one true El in the flesh...
To put it this way, one might think ST concluded with good simply triumphing over evil, or even as a veiled Christian allegory. Unfortunately, there is more to it. Among the suggestions that all is not truly well with this world, we have: the sheri escorted to the government car; his and Joyceʼs agreement to stay silent about the governmentʼs activities; and the suggestion that Will may be damaged for life.
In conclusion, Stranger Things is a disturb- ing and powerful story. It o ers us glimpses of the unexplained, of recognizably human characters, and leaves us desiring someone who truly hears our cries in the darkness---as when El cries out for God---and wanting the reality of One who destroys evil definitively.
Do you listen to top 40 radio and find yourself carefully considering the modern culture of romantic need? Do you muse upon the meta- physics behind the magic of Harry Potter? Send your cultural analysis to email@example.com.
Poem of the Week | Josh Lock
Roger Laing Welcomes You
On behalf of the Board of Governors of Regent College, I want to welcome each of you as new or returning students. We are glad you are here. We’ve been expecting you.
As you begin this new year you take your place in the long line of men and women who have come to Regent College before you from around the world, each bringing a unique back story and aspirations for who they will be and what they might do while at Regent and after they graduate. Your participation with us makes us better, stronger and more interesting.
It has been said that over time we will be changed by the books we read and the people we meet. You will have plenty of opportunity for both in the months and years to come. I invite you to jump into the “deep end,” live large, live faithfully, bring your best gifts to the betterment of us all and we will do our part to ensure your learning and living experience is as transformational as possible.
Each time we meet and throughout the year we pray for this community and the lives represented under the green roof. We pray that you will sense both the claim of God and the call of God on your lives as you work your way through class, community groups and the opportunities and challenges that each bring.
We look forward to meeting each of you as the year unfolds in chapel or over coffee in the atrium. We look forward to learning of you and with you during your time here in Vancouver.
-Roger Laing, Board Chair
Question: What advice would you give a first year student at Regent?
- "Be very careful who you take advice from." Dr. Iwan Russell-Jones
- "It's okay to not do twelve credits in a semester; learn from my mistake." Rob Collis (2nd Yr)
- "Sitting in the Atrium and talking to people will save your sanity." Corey Janz (3rd Yr) "Some people say "just BE." Others say you've got to "DO." I say "do-be-do-be-do." Dr. Iain Provan
- "Stay and enjoy Vancouver summers." Rob Gardner (2nd Yr)
- "When you need to pee, just let it go, wherever you are." Mark Van Bommel "Relax and remember to be playful." Stephen Straits (2nd Yr)
- "You're not as dumb as you feel and others are not as smart as your think." Claire Perini (Assistant Dean of Students)
- "Come to the Well!" Karen Hefford
UBC STUDENT ACTUALLY SEEN AT REGENT BOOKSTORE
Staff at the Regent College Bookstore were astonished to discover a UBC student who had wandered into the bookstore was in the right place after all.
“I saw that he was staring at Google Maps on his iPhone,” a bemused employee commented, “I was sure he was looking up directions for the UBC Bookstore. So many UBC students come by our store looking for iClickers, U-Passes, and discount textbooks.
“He seemed to be aimlessly wandering around the aisles and he was wearing a UBC Kinesiol- ogy hoodie,” another employee added, “We gured we might as well help him and let him know all the books he’d need were a few blocks away. He may have needed the Great Physician, but we gured what he needed more was ‘Sport and Exercise Psychol- ogy: A Critical Introduction’ by A. Moran. Imagine our surprise when we found out he was actually looking FOR the Regent Bookstore!”
The UBC student in question, Seung Pak, who was still browsing the shelves when
our reporters arrived, candidly informed us, “I just really wanted a copy of ‘The Mystic Mountain.’”
“That’s a great book,” nodded one of the employees, “I like the illustrations of Mount Athos.”
“Isn’t it about Middle-Earth?” asked his colleague.
Like making up stories that are truer than they are? Send your satire to firstname.lastname@example.org