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Resources: S3 E9 & E10 "Jesus Among Secular Gods Chapter 5 - Parts 1 & 2"

Hey @CovertoCover friends! First off, we apologize for not getting the episode notes out with last week’s. You can now find all the notes for both parts of chapter 5 here in one place.

There has already been so much great discussion around this book, and especially around the first part of this chapter on humanism! Ravi gives us so much to unpack here.

@Shawn_Hart and I wanted to take a moment to thank each of you for listening, for sharing your comments and questions here so openly, and for taking the time to read and think along with us. It’s a privilege and pleasure to be a part of your regular routines. We love learning from you here on Connect! Let’s make the most of these final weeks together as we pass the halfway point of the book.

S3 E9: "Chapter 5 - Part 1

For this episode, we start at the beginning of the chapter and read up to the subheading: “Test for Truth Fails Its Own Test”.

Ravi includes many excellent footnotes in this chapter. We would encourage you to look up any of the humanist thinkers or commentators that interest you. Besides that, here are the extra resources we mentioned in the episode:

S3 E10: "Chapter 5 - Part 2"

While we don’t mention any new resources in this episode, we do refer back to Michael Ramsden’s victimhood talk. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet, here’s your chance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9g1GzId_HKc&feature=youtu.be.

Next episode, we will read All of Chapter 6: Relativism.

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Hello @Ivy_Tyson, @Shawn_Hart, and Cover to Cover listeners!
I just finished the episode for Chapter 5 - Part 1. I know you guys said you weren’t planning to launch into a discussion on secular vs. private Christian universities, but I’m so glad you did! I am currently working on my graduate degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and so far ALL of my education has been from a Christian perspective/within a private Christian setting. I am looking into PhD programs for clinical/counseling psychology, and up until now I had pretty much determined in my mind that I would attend (once again) a private Christian institution.
After hearing your discussion on the podcast, I am rethinking this decision. There are many angles of my decision to consider, but I am prayerfully thinking through what type of university to attend for my final degree. Any thoughts, suggestions, or advice you would be willing to offer would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks so much for this podcast!

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@Ivy_Tyson I am piggy-backing on @Holly_Lawson’s post. I appreciate your statement about attending secular College. Thank you for your courage and encouragement to be salt in the Earth, not salt in the saltshaker.

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Thanks so much @Holly_Lawson for engaging the content and for listening. Isn’t this such a difficult decision to make? It is pretty easy for us to make decisions when there is a clear morally right or wrong option, but what you are considering is one of the most difficult decisions because it is between two equally good options. I know plenty of people who have gone through all of their education with primarily Christian education and have loved it. There is something really nice about not having to have your guard up all the time when you are reading and engaging with lectures. However, there are so many great opportunities to understand what the majority of people are taught and to wrestle through it in order to have a deeper understanding and appreciation for other points of view. One of my seminary professors said that his four years at a secular university were the most formative years for his faith because of the way he had to live it out and defend it. It was a great refining process for him.

@Ivy_Tyson probably has some great thoughts on this. Ivy, would you mind sharing your capstone feedback? I think that might bring up another element to consider here.

Holly, I know this doesn’t give you an answer, but I don’t think I can give any more direction. It is really something that has to be processed between you and the Lord. Just rest assured that either direction is a good one and the Lord will use either one for his purpose as you seek to serve him.

Thanks for working in this area. It is so needed!

God bless you!
Shawn

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@Holly_Lawson, thank you so much for this question! I so appreciate the care and thought you’re putting into this choice. As @Shawn_Hart mentioned, I can look back at similar periods in my own life and see how God the choices between good things to really shape my heart for Him. As tricky as they were at the time, I’m thankful for them now. I need to remind myself of that more often when I’m in the middle of one of those seasons!

This is a longer answer than you probably wanted, but this is what I’d tell you if we were sitting at coffee talking about this.

I will say, the secular/Christian education question is not equally weighted between fields. You’re in the thick of it with psychology! I can appreciate how worldview plays a particularly crucial role in both your studies and your future clinical practice. It may well be that some tools you learn in secular psychology are ones you wouldn’t use in good conscience, or that learning your practice first hand from other Christians could give you spiritual insights and connections that you’ll otherwise have to figure out on your own.

My own experience with getting a masters of education in adult learning brought me face-to-face with this. Much of what I learned in my MEd is straight up unusable to me as a Christian, and it revealed just how incompatible my worldview is with the philosophies that undergird adult learning in America. That helped to refine my passion for digging into those philosophical gaps, and that’s what I would want to pursue a PhD in; but it also means I left the degree with fewer concrete tools than my peers did. God tailored my education to focus on what He wanted me to learn, but those aren’t the same things my teachers were expecting me to learn.

There’s also the matter of certification and the kinds of jobs you’ll be able to take or not take depending on what your degree is in and where it’s from (how “Christian” your counselling credentials are); that’s something nearly every Christian has to consider at the PhD level, but I imagine you feel the weight of those choices particularly in your field of clinical psych.

I deliberately chose to do my MEd at a secular university because I wanted to be able to have the option of teaching at a secular institution later. Getting an education degree from a Christian university only allows you to teach at Christian institutions moving forward; in the field of education, the place you get your graduate-level degree from makes a difference even to the most basic job postings. So from that perspective, it made good career and ministry sense for me to choose a secular college, even though I would have really enjoyed learning this field from Christian professors. You’ll have your own set of field-specific expectations, career options, and ministry avenues to think about.

God has shown me a lot of favor in the midst of an education system that is fundamentally opposed to His vision of the world. I’ve been overwhelmed countless times by the miraculous way God creates spaces for conversations about important life questions with professors and peers. I have often come out of programs as an exceptional student – not because of my own ability or merit, but simply because I think God was making His own point to the people around me in ways I don’t fully understand. But I also acknowledge that I’ve had it easy in many ways; I have Christian friends in all of the fields I’ve studied in who have faced serious difficulties or friction because of their beliefs, especially at the graduate level. I think all of those experiences glorify the Lord, but no two people will walk the same road through the same degree or department.

Here are some things I’d recommend any person consider as they think and pray through this decision. Maybe one or two of them will strike you as helpful:

  • Who do I want to minister to in my professional life? (Christians? Other worldviews? Both?)

  • What kind of colleagues do I want in my professional life? (Christians? Other worldviews? Both?)

  • What is the opportunity cost of this choice? (If I say yes to this set of opportunities, what set of opportunities am I naturally saying no to?)

  • Has God provided me with consistent leading, direction, or encouragement in a particular direction? (How did I get to where I am right now?)

  • What scares me most about this choice? What does God say about those fears when I bring them to Him?

  • What excites or interests me most about this choice? What does God say about those desires when I bring them to Him?

  • What do the trusted people in my life say?

I’m sure all of those things are already in your thoughts and prayers. You have a much better sense of those lines than I would, but I’ll be praying that you get a sense of God’s desires for you in each of those areas. Most importantly I’ll be praying that God brings trusted people into your life who can give you good advice, with a knowledge both of you and of what you want to do with the resources and opportunities God’s given you to steward. This is the time to seek wisdom from those you trust and apply it.

A final word of encouragement: I think that God cares more about how you make this choice than He does about the actual choice you make. If you are faithfully pursuing Him and if you take your next steps in faith, with the desire to be with Him, then I have great confidence that He will make good out of anything you choose. Take courage in that, and don’t get trapped by analysis paralysis or your inability to predict the future. It’s quite possible that there actually is no wrong answer here. If you stay close to Him through prayer and reading the word, and make your choice with a clear conscience, I think you’ve been faithful in the choice.

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A striking new angle for me. I know that you were not specifically addressing me, but my goodness, how Providence works!

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I’m glad that blessed you, Brendan! This is the most frequent piece of advice I give to students who are trying to figure out what college to go to. It doesn’t always apply (sometimes God makes it very clear that a particular choice is correct, in which case obedience is the only option) but by and large I find this to be a truth that encourages faithful decision making. I really do believe that God cares more about who we are than what college we go to. We get it backwards a lot.

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I agree with @Holly_Lawson that the comparison and discussion around Christian and secular schools was very helpful to me!
I really like what Ivy said- God cares more about how you make your decision than what decision you make.
I had originally planned on going to a small Christian college this year. About a month ago I started to feel very uncomfortable about this decision. One day I was like ‘what if everyone there is already a Christian?’ It seems a funny question to have, but I would be really disappointed by that because who would I share the gospel with??
I ended up deciding to take a year off from college this year (COVID is still crazy in the US) so I have more time to decide where I will study, but I am very grateful for this podcast. It was very helpful and challenging to me.

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