Fall Issue 8
Confessions of a Recovering Independent
by: Ash Brice
I like to think I have it all together. I like to think I am competent. Before coming to Regent, I worked in a professional industry where I was trusted to make significant decisions. So naturally, I like to think I should know what kind of laundry detergent to buy and where to go to purchase waterproof shoes, even in a new country. I like to think that I should be able to “adult” by now. I think I should be able to battle through this experience alone, because everyone else seems to have it all together. But in this season, I am learning I am not the only person to feel this way. I fit the curve of cross-cultural adjustment perfectly. I don’t have it all together.
I like to think I have it all together. I like to think I am steady and stable – that I can buffet a storm without being thrown off course. I know it takes me a while to settle into a new situation, but even now that Vancouver feels like home, I am learning that I am still not in control. I am realising that engaging my heart in my work opens me up to ride the waves of instability. I try to believe that I will be just fine even if people don’t quite “get me” in this place, and so… I just get on with the reading and the writing and I duck out of events quickly before it becomes too apparent that I have no idea whom to talk to. But in this season, I am learning that a hug goes a long way. I am learning that a kind word can be an outpouring of grace. I don’t have it all together.
However, I like to think I have it all together. I like to be needed. I like to be the person who can offer to give you a ride home. But in this season, I’ve learnt to say: “Yeah thanks, that’d be great.” I like to be the person who others know they can come to for good, deep, honest conversation about the mess of life. But in this season, I have realised that it takes a long time to develop those kinds of relationships. I like to be the person who knows what is happening and is a good point of contact for a newbie. But in this season, I’ve been the one asking the questions. I don’t have it all together.
And yet, I like to think I have it all together. I like to think I have an integrated life of faith. But in this season, as my theology has become richer, I am realising that my life doesn’t always reflect my words. I talk a good game about environmental ethics and justice and hospitality and community and putting down roots in a place. But in this season, I have minimal margin which makes it difficult to live out these values, and I’ve been buying into the cult of busyness. As I look in on the lives of others, I see people who are doing so much, so well… and seem to be handling it with ease. I am learning that I don’t have capacity for all of the things, all of the time. I am learning that I need to say no, even to the good, for the sake of what is best. I don’t have it all together.
But still… I like to think I have it all together. I like to think I have the answers. I like to think that I have a firm grasp of intellectual concepts and skill in seeing connections. But in this season, so often I really have no idea what you are talking about. I like being a big fish in a little pond, but I am embracing the unexpected gift of being a little fish in a big pond. I like to think that the huge expanse of possibilities for life after Regent is exciting; that the unknown nature of the next season is freeing. But I am realising that this is a call away from safety and self-sufficiency – and I am terrified. I really don’t have it all together.
I like to think I have it all together. I like to think that being independent means that I am a competent and faithful servant of God. But in this season, I am learning that my inability to be independent is not primarily a result of my sin or the fallenness of the world. Rather, it is part of what it means to be human. It is part of what it means to be made in the image of the God who is triune. In this season, I am learning the word “interdependence.” I am learning that it is ok that I don’t have it all together.
Response to “On Unity in Christ”: My Response to the 9.5 Theses’ Insubordination to the State
by: "Karl Barth"
Dear Martin Luther,
I am eternally grateful for your belly full of divine thunder and in case rumours of your stay in purgatory are true, I have purchased indulgences by way of following the Pope on Twitter as he makes his blessed pilgrimage through cyberspace.
Your application of St. Paul is admirable in calling us not to conform to the patterns of this world; however you may have fallen off the horse you saddled for yourself like a drunken peasant. In your measured critique of the 9.5, have you not fallen into conformity with the world by reducing his (or her) argument to the pitfalls of bipartisan politics? If a penitent Christian seeks to be educated on the history of the Church’s relationship with First Nations people in Canada, why must their provocation in this theological institution be reduced to mere party political propagandising in such a way to stifle their questioning? All of the issues that affect civil society also affect the Christian community and so the issues raised by the 9.5 require leaders of today and future leaders of tomorrow to articulate a biblical response to anyone who asks for an explanation of the hope within them (1 Peter 3:15).
Perhaps this confusion of theology and politics is rooted in your improved yet disastrous exegesis of Romans 13. Your reading that Christians must be “subject” to the state suggests that Christians must passively swallow everything the state tries to force down our throats in blind obedience, much like the Nazi regime did to the German Christian movement in the buildup to WWII. On the contrary, passive sterility is anything but what Paul means in this passage. “Subordination” is a greater reading of Romans 13:5 for this instructs Christians to serve the state through active and responsible participation in all of the state’s political responsibilities.
We must not fear “political sermons” as if the Church’s service could be anything other than political, but the politics required of the Church is not of the earthly πόλις (city or state) but of the heavenly πόλις, for our King who sits enthroned in the heavenly Kingdom, requires of us, the citizens he has ordained, to proclaim the year of his heavenly favour, a different kind of politics. The heavenly Kingdom requires a politics not of power struggle between “us” and “them” but of self-giving love where we are subordinate to each other. Because the promise of the covenant came 400 years before the law (Gal 3:17), the Church who is to proclaim the Gospel of grace, holds preeminence over the state who administers human law and justice. The Church is to reflect the light of the promise received from the kingdom of Heaven and shine this hope into the politics of the earthly state so they too can be reminded of where to find righteousness.
Brother Martin, your proposition of two kingdoms that exist side-by-side without conflict has not been enough and it has produced a great deal of quietism in the Church. Church AND state, divine justification AND human justice, are BOTH the object of Christian faith and responsibility. Both of these realms and responsibilities are in the Christological sphere for they find their origin and centre in Christ. The inner circle of the Christian community that exists within the outer circle of the civil community are inwardly and vitally connected by their shared centre in Christ who has ordained both realms with authority to rule in his divine order of redemption. Subordination then in Romans 13:6 emphasises the joint carrying out of responsibilities and tasks by Church and state and because the Church who has received the promise has preeminence over the state, Christians are to fulfil their political responsibilities in making distinctions, judgements, and choices by thinking and speaking from the centre.
Without Christian intercession in the politics of the state that actively and responsibly participates from the centre, then the centre that nourishes both realms will become dominated by the state who is without the promise. Without Christian intercession that nourishes the centre with salt and light, the state will easily forget that it is Christ who gives them authority to rule and in their delusion of autonomy, rulers will yield to demonic spiritual forces like “the beast out of the pit of the abyss” (Rev 21).
The current president of the United States of Loony Tunes is a reflection of the lack of Christ-centeredness among Christians and the Church. Can Christ possibly be the centre of Christian faith and the Church if the elected leader of the state, who is nourished by the intercession of the Church’s own centre, is clearly ruling by demonic spiritual force? Should the necessary intercession of Christians in both the politics of the Church and the state seek to reflect the politics of man or the politics of our heavenly King who holds all things together by his Word?
The Bunyan: Regent's New Direction
by: Seth Hart
In a striking turn of events, Regent College has announced it will be making radical changes in light of the publishing of the “9.5 Theses.” Jeff Greenman, President of the College, has stated he no longer can see Regent trapped on “the wrong side of history.” The Bunyan has obtained documents indicating that the hiring of female faculty has risen to top priority. However, due to budget restrictions, the hiring committee has found itself unable to hire another full-time instructor.
Faced with this difficulty, male faculty members are now being pressured to begin self-identifying as “female” rather than “male.” One board member, wishing to remain anonymous, has stated, “This is great! We kill two birds with one stone. Not only do we increase our percentage of female teachers, but we also can better identify with our local LGBTQ communities. And all without paying a dime!”
In a related event, gender-exclusive language is now being purged from Regent related documents. Upon inspecting our “rare-books collection,” Cindy Aalders was appalled to discover that an alarming number of books within the collection did not meet Regent’s new standards. The offending books, commonly known as “hymn books,” will be seeing their older cover replaced by the more inclusive phrase “hymn and her books.” Similarly, students are now free to refer to our biblical interpretation class as either hermeneutics or himeneutics.
The student body itself has joined in on this change of direction. RCSA recently led a Gay Pride event as proof of its new, inclusive attitude. A very confused Craig Gay was reportedly seen at this event, believing the celebration was for him.
“This marks a new day in the life of Regent College,” one ecstatic faculty member stated. “No longer will anyone be excluded from our campus for their personal life choices and decisions. No intolerance will ever be tolerated here!”
In other news, smokers are still banned from Regent’s campus.