Five Points Blog

A Visit to Oxford University


Teaching has existed at Oxford, England since the year 1096. Today, Oxford University is the oldest place of learning in the English-speaking world; it has been a school for 918 years. From its early days, Oxford was a center for lively controversy, with scholars involved in religious and political disputes. John Wycliffe, a 14th-century professor, campaigned for a Bible in the vernacular against the wishes of the papacy. During the Reformation in the 16th century, the Anglican churchmen Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley were tried for heresy and burnt at the stake in Oxford. In the late 17th century, the Oxford philosopher John Locke, suspected of treason, was forced to flee the country. The 18th-century professor of geometry, Edmund Halley, predicted the return of the comet that bears his name, and John and Charles Wesley's prayer meetings laid the foundations of the Methodist Society.

It was at this historic wellspring of scholars that C. S. Lewis schooled, graduated, and later taught in its halls. He was the famous Christian apologist who helped steady the courage of the British people during World War II with his weekly radio program of hope and faith; the famous debater of his time who challenged the atheists with well-reasoned arguments for the truthfulness of Christianity; the author of many Christian-focused fiction and non-fiction books widely read today.

I was privileged to be traveling to this place last October to attend a conference on C. S. Lewis knowing full well that I did not comprehend the impact this school and its graduates have had on the world. I left a week later having had my brain crushed under the weight of trying to absorb a fraction of what was shared on Lewis, his life, his views, his faith, his thinking, and the heights of his intellect which call us upward to a God we will never stop knowing more fully. Among the speakers was Dr. Michael Ward, a research fellow at Oxford and author of The Narnia Code.

Each morning Dr. Ward shared a part of his amazing insight into how Lewis loved myth, lore, and stories of medieval literature (Lewis’ academic focus). One story of Lewis’ life that was shared was how before Lewis was a Christian, his friend J.R.R. Tolkien would share the gospel with him. One day as they walked together, Tolkien—remembering Lewis’ love of mythology—said, “What if one of those myths you love were actually true?” Tolkien talked to Lewis of the story of a person who so loved that he gave himself, so that others might live. Lewis knew this story—it was common in the ancient medieval myths. It speaks to a desire for virtue common to all people. This was the turning point in Lewis’ life, the day he began to realize, “What if one of those myths actually happened?”

Lewis went on to lecture and write on medieval literature in a new way. It was no longer mankind’s existential hope in virtue but now a foreshadowing of the true myth. Lewis would write about how we live in a “shadow land” that is only the weakest of images of what is waiting for us. We live now as vapors full of holes, but then we will be solid for the first time. We go to a reality that will not compare to this world, to a glory that has weight.

The mythological story form Lewis uses in his fiction enables us to identify, to feel, to experience more fully the truthfulness of ideas in our world in a way that speaks to our humanness. God makes us both rational and imaginative—by using both we can know God more fully.

Join us for a two-part event, “A Voyage into Narnia,” that will help you understand and appreciate more of C. S. Lewis, his world of Narnia, and how he intended for us to see God by breathing Narnian air. On Wednesday, May 28, Dr. Michael Ward will join us to discuss the imagery of Narnia that C.S. Lewis used to speak to our souls and draw us to God. And on Saturday, May 31, Joe Rigney, professor at Bethlehem College & Seminary and author of Live Like a Narnian, will apply Lewis’ Chronicles to our call to be and make disciples.


Dig in Together This Fall


Fall is just around the corner and I am excited for the many different classes that will be starting up on September 9. Let me highlight for you some of the opportunities you will have to connect with others in digging into God's word.

We will continue with a full spread of Bible Study Hour classes for adults. Pastor JJ will be teaching a class called "God Saves: Studies in Jonah & Hosea" (Room I/J), highlighting how these often-obscured prophets clearly anticipate Christ. One of our elders, Mike Houston, will continue to partner with Eric Leiendecker in leading the College & Career class through the Letter to the Colossians (Room A). Another elder, Dick Mills, will be teaching an expositional or topical study in the Sanctuary. Cindy Verner will continue teaching the women's class in the Gospel of John (Room D). And I will have the privilege of walking through redemptive history, looking at how God is working to establish his people in his place with his presence by creating his kingdom through a covenant (Room C).

And while we will mainly focus on the deep truths of God’s word on Sunday mornings, we will consider how those truths impact our daily lives at our Evening Family Gatherings. Pastor Brent will be teaching a class titled, "Marriage: A Marvelous Mystery" (Sanctuary). Elder Mark Kakkuri will teach "Apologetics to the Glory of God" (Rooms I & J), and Ken Whitely will be teaching the class "The Fruitful Credit of Faithful Finances" (Rooms C & D).

And of course, classes for children and students will be held during the same times as well.

Consider joining us as we pursue joy in Christ alone through the study and application of his word together.


Tim Keller & Vocation


Check out Tim Keller's article titled Vocation: Discerning Your Calling. It's an excellent overview of vocation and how as Christians we are all called to some sort of work, be it secular or religious, and how we are to discern that calling in our life. Here's a excerpt:

Work is taking the raw material of creation and developing it for the sake of others. Musicians take the raw 
material of sound and bring the meaning of art into our lives. Farmers take the raw material of soil and seed 
and bring food into our lives. This means we are God’s ministers in our work not only when we are witnessing 
or talking directly about Jesus, but when we are simply doing our work. A musician is serving God when she 
makes great music, not solely when she is singing about coming to Jesus. 
Tim Keller is founder and pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. He is author of The Reason for God, The Prodigal God and Counterfeit Gods.

Rejoicing


Steven Runge has written a post over at The Resurgence titled Rejoicing as a Safeguard. It's based off of Philippians 3:1-2, and goes along well with our current study in Philippians.

By making the choice to rejoice in the Lord in the midst of unpleasant circumstances, we guard ourselves against fear, doubt, double mindedness, and the discouragement that comes from opposition.

If you get a chance to read the article, let me know what you think. How has this proved true in your life?