Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Calculus and the Kingdom of God

If you're not familiar with the Andrew Tallman radio show on the Phoenix airwaves (weekdays from 5:00-7:00 PM on KPXQ, 1360 AM), you should be! A few years ago, my friend Andrew sent this out in his newsletter:

Is the kingdom of God advanced only when souls are saved? Here's what I mean. If a Christian teaches his high school students calculus, is he advancing the kingdom of God? At first it seems like the answer is no, because no one is born again because of what he does. But maybe it's a mistake to think that the only currency in God's bank is souls. Because if it is, then the Christian has no business teaching calculus when he could be out evangelizing.

Instead, I believe that the proper thing to say is that God's plan is to share His Glory with us and thereby allow us to fully enjoy this life He gave us. That means bringing
more people into the family, but it also means living an abundant life once we're in. The kingdom of God is advanced by making people laugh, providing people with clean water, painting the ceiling of a chapel, discovering the truths of the physical universe through science, and by saving souls--who then fulfill at least part of their purpose by teaching calculus.

This is at the heart and soul of what we are attempting through the Arizona Christian Worldview Institute. If we truly believe that Christ is sovereign, then He must be sovereign over every square inch of life - including that part of life known as the teaching of calculus - or any other profession, for that matter. The Christian life is fully Christian, or else it is something else - specifically, Gnostic. The Gnostics were first-century heretics who believed in a "spirit-is-good; matter-is-evil" dichotomy.

Many of today's believers live like Gnostics, with a similar unbiblical division in their lives. Sundays and Wednesday nights are holy, and the rest of the week is just "regular life."

Christian music (whatever that is) is good, and other types of music are somehow less - if not downright wicked. Art and other forms of entertainment are basically worldly (and thus, evil), unless they contain pictures of Jesus. And just to be sure we "get it," let's tack a Scripture verse on the end to make our point.

Entertainment (books, movies, etc.) are good if they don't contain any bad words or any sex scenes. But in fact, lots of "clean" stories are just lousy literature: poorly written, with no interesting characters or realistic dialogue.

This last thought reminds me of an old saying among campers: "Everything tastes better when eaten outdoors." But in truth, some things don't taste good at all - whether consumed indoors or out - castor oil, for instance. The moral of this story: A "G" rating on a movie doesn't stand for "good"; it stands for General audiences. Placing a "G" rating on a film doesn't automatically make it good, any more than consuming castor oil outdoors magically makes it taste better.

Of course, there are those who hold to the beliefs Andrew spells out in his first paragraph above, and as I explained to a friend when discussing Andrew's comments, it all depends on how you define the "kingdom of God." We've got to start with the same definitions of our terms if we are ever going to come to agreement on anything. As the late Dr. Francis Schaeffer said, too many of today's heresies are rooted in traditional Christian terms, but with new definitions. We hear people using the words that we know - like Trinity, or salvation, or spirituality - and assume that they mean the same things we mean, but in fact, they mean something completely different.

We at the Arizona Christian Worldview Institute are attempting, in our small way, to edify the believers and to strengthen them so they hold to the traditional definitions of such words. And then, they can go forth, teaching calculus, or writing books, or managing a business, or making films, in a way that glorifies God and seeing that Christ is indeed sovereign - not just sovereign over a small corner of their lives, but over every square inch.

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