Christianity & Knowledge?

January 20, 2012

So I recently applied for an architecture faculty position at California Baptist University, also known as Cal Baptist.  The application asked for an answer on this topic:

In the space provided please describe how your Christian experience is related to your philosophy of higher education.  What influence do you think a teacher should have upon his or her students?  How do you propose to integrate the Christian faith with the teaching of your particular subject area?

I strongly agree with the apostle Paul when he says in 1 Corinthians 13:1-2 that “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”  It is more important for us to have love for one another than to have all knowledge and understanding.  But does this mean that knowledge has no place or has no value?  Definitely not, knowledge is important and does have a place.  It just needs to be seen in the proper perspective.  And only with Christianity can knowledge been seen in its proper perspective as it is the only religion that makes full sense of all knowledge.  C. S. Lewis said “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”  We must look at knowledge and learning through the lens of Christianity, or else knowledge loses its luster and becomes just a thing, or worse yet, an idol.  When God created the Earth, he saw that everything he had created was good.  Knowledge is an intangible thing, but it is still good.  It can provide for many things: a career, wonder, health, amazement, clues to the reality of a creator, etc.  It can be abused for selfish or worldly gain, but the truth is that it exists to give glory to God.  But it is absolutely critical that knowledge be put in its proper place and seen with the proper perspective.

A teacher should influence one’s students to acquire knowledge in the proper perspective, to become better learners, to become excited about learning, to develop skills for life, and to grow and integrate their field of knowledge with the Christian faith.  In regards to becoming excited about learning, William Butler Yeats said “Education Is Not the Filling of a Pail, But the Lighting of a Fire.”  When teaching architecture specifically, one should instruct that architecture, like knowledge, should exist to glorify God.  Practically this means creating buildings that satisfy people’s needs and budget and do not take advantage of the client or others.  Buildings should not be vain, earthly, overblown, gaudy things, but should be both practical and beautiful structures.  Architects should strive for honesty and ethics in all areas of architecture, as if doing the work for the Lord and not for man (Colossians 3:23).  My master’s thesis involved the design of churches, and I identified seven important aspects of churches that apply equally well to other buildings. They are: unity of the overall building, beauty of the structure, maximum use of natural light and skillful use of artificial light, simplicity and honesty of materials, durability and quality, cost-effectiveness, and utility and functionality.  All these things should work together so the architect can say with the psalmist “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” Psalm 127:1

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What to do about Iceland’s volcanoes?

April 21, 2010

So for the last 6 days, Europe has been in travel chaos because of a volcano in Iceland spewing ash into the atmosphere and blocking plane flights.  Here’s my solution to the matter:

World leaders should call on a huge international effort to plug Iceland’s troublesome volcanoes with billions and billions of cubic yards of concrete and steel.  The Earth cannot be allowed to disrupt our important lives any longer.  We have places to go, things to do, and people to see.  Phooey on the Earth for reminding us that we’re not in charge.

Better yet, lets just skip a few steps and move into the future and reincarnate ourselves digitally so we can lead every part of our lives online and then there will be no disruptions to our schedules.  We just need to make sure we have enough nuclear power and robots to continually feed the reactors to power our computers.  Think of it, no disruptions, endlessly pursuing our own happiness, no death, no pain, nothing but cyberspace…

Why is much of modern Protestantism so opposed to Environmentalism?

December 26, 2009

I recently saw an article in Christianity Today about a guy named Jonathan Merritt, who’s nickname is “The Green Baptist.”  He launched the Southern Baptist Environment and Climate Initiative and got 700 Southern Baptist Convention leaders to sign on.  In an interview he was asked “Why are you an environmentalist?”

I was sitting in a theology class with one of my favorite seminary professors, who was pointing out that general and special revelation are equally revelatory. ”When we destroy God’s creation,” he said, “it’s similar to tearing a page out of the Bible.”  I was a staunch conservative who thought environmentalism was incompatible with my faith. I thought it was funny and cool to throw trash out my window in college.   At that moment I thought, I would never tear a page out of Scripture. I left that room a different person. I knew I could not continue to live the way I lived.

He was also asked “How do fellow Christians respond to your message?”

When I have conversations with the average pew-sitting Christian, I can almost hear an exhale, they’re glad to know somebody is trying to offer a biblical answer.  But when I talk to people in Christian leadership, I find that some are driven by ideology rather than theology.  They believe we are in a culture war and that these are political battles that must be fought.  The average Christian, though, wants to know what God thinks.

I asked myself why it is so many Christian leaders (and some churchgoers) in the US are so vehemently opposed to anything that has to do with environmentalism?  They take the verse from Genesis that says to “subdue the Earth”  a little to seriously.  Christians are to be good stewards in caring for the earth (Genesis 1:28).  One Christian I know was throwing away some cardboard from a construction site, and I mentioned to him that there was cardboard recycling nearby.  His response was “I don’t recycle on principle.”  Huh?  As someone who’s spent a lot of time outdoors, I see firsthand the positive effect that being around an unpolluted environment has.  If it is easy to try to drive less, waste less, water less, etc. why not do it?  Why have one’s mind made up that you won’t do these things and stubbornly refuse to have anything to do with it??  It seems to me that many Christians think that if you’re so much as trying to do these things, you’re a tree hugging raw vegan Earth worshiper.  Please, the Earth is not evil, neither is trying to care for it.  The Bible says that God saw all that he made and that it was good.