Moody Bible President and COO Both Resign, Provost Retires

Board decides “it is time for a new season of leadership.”

Amid “widespread concerns over the direction” of Moody Bible Institute (MBI), the historic Chicago school announced today that President J. Paul Nyquist and Chief Operating Officer Steve Mogck have resigned, while Provost Junias Venugopal has retired.

“Let there be no mistake that the Board of Trustees holds these three men in high regard for their ethical, moral, and spiritual leadership,” stated Randy Fairfax, chair of the board of trustees. “They are godly, honorable men to whom we entrust to the Lord and offer our deep gratitude for their years of faithful service to Christ and to Moody.

“However, we are unanimous in our decision that it is time for a new season of leadership. I ask that you be in prayer for them and their families.”

Nyquist took the helm of Moody in 2009, after serving as president and CEO of Avant Ministries, a church planting missions agency based in Kansas City, and pastoring churches in Iowa and Nebraska.

Mogck had served as COO and executive vice president since 2012. In recent years, he was involved in efforts to lease certain Moody properties and adjust zoning for campus buildings. Prior to Moody, he was an executive and attorney for Carlson Hotels.

The board has appointed Greg Thornton, senior vice president of media, as interim president, and board member Mark Wagner, former president of Walgreens, as interim COO. John Jelinek, vice president and seminary dean, is now interim provost.

The news was announced in an email sent to the Moody community Wednesday evening, following a special meeting of the board of trustees.

“Understandably, there are many questions at this time,” stated Fairfax. “Please know that we are working diligently through …

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Swipe Right for Jesus

How Tinder helped me come to terms with my evangelical identity.

In 2016 and 2017, when the term “evangelical” was flung from putrid trenches on television news networks and Twitter, I ducked. By “ducked,” I mean that dropped the word “evangelical” from my vocabulary in every social setting. Although my theological convictions were still solidly evangelical, as a white, female seminarian at Yale, the evangelical label itself had come to carry connotations that made me uncomfortable.

However, a dating app of questionable reputation—Tinder—helped me come to terms with my evangelical identity.

I worked for a startup a few summers ago and, as part of my job, researched how like-minded strangers connect over digital platforms. Thinking that I’d kill two birds with one stone, I downloaded every free dating app populated by straight men in New Haven, Connecticut. What could be better than first-person experience? Maybe I could teach myself app design and meet my husband.

I also saw my foray into the digital dating world as a healthy rebuff of the evangelical purity culture that marked my adolescent years. I figured this was my chance to learn how to date—connecting in a context where you don’t need to guess if the other person might be hoping for more than friendship.

Online, I met plenty of the nice Christian guys I used to write about in journals at church camp. I also met lots of other men, too—ones that fell far outside the parameters of someone I would ever want to date.

To screen my potential suitors, I filtered nothing spiritual out of my answers to get-to-know-you questions, which produced fascinating results. I thought words like “Jesus,” “Christian,” and “church” would drop like severed …

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Cover Story: Lord of the Night

In God there is no darkness, but in the darkness of the South Pole I found God everywhere.

The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station sits upon two miles of glacial ice at the bottom of the world. It is one of the remotest places on the planet, more than 800 miles from the nearest human beings.

A small group of people gathers here to support scientific research done by the United States Antarctic Program. America has had a presence at the South Pole since 1956, and today scientists take advantage of its unique environment and geography to study things like astronomy, neutrinos, seismology, and the climate in ways impossible anywhere else. Researchers depend on more than a few support staff for their work. So during the summer, when the sun shines on the South Pole for days on end, the population can soar to over 150 people. It’s a teeming metropolis compared to the fewer than 50 who hunker down in the long, sunless winter months.

I’m one of them, commissioned as a missionary to the others.

There are no permanent residents of Antarctica. People here live and work temporarily on one of the almost 50 research stations—plus summer-only research camps—representing more than 30 countries (the United States boasts three permanent stations). The stations look like futuristic pods that might easily be imagined on the surface of the moon or Mars. Workers are hired for specific durations and eventually must leave.

I followed my wife’s dreams to the South Pole. A doctor, Sarah learned of the Antarctic program in college and it became a life goal to work here. I, too, grew fascinated with coming to Antarctica, though my training in Christian ministry did not exactly open many doors.

After a long journey involving many job applications and a gallbladder removal to physically qualify, I finally landed a position …

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Learning to Say Hello Again

A New Year’s resolution that could make a big difference.

In his superb biography of Francis Schaeffer, An Authentic Life, Colin Duriez tells us that Schaeffer was known for his kindness. In Escape from Reason, Schaeffer recounts meeting a young man who attended one of his lectures. He lovingly describes him as having a “good-looking, sensitive face, long curly hair, sandals on his feet and … wearing blue jeans.” Schaeffer greeted him the next day, provoking this response: “Sir, that was a beautiful greeting. Why do you greet me like that?” The great evangelist and apologist replied, “Because I know who you are—I know that you are made in the image of God.” He goes on: “We then had a tremendous conversation.”

Greetings matter. Jesus knew this:

And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (Matt. 5:47)

Character is largely formed through manners, even by how we acknowledge the presence of others. Virtues and vices begin small and grow larger through habits. Virtues and vices may take over, making us a saint or a devil. Who, having read C. S. Lewis’s “The Weight of Glory,” could forget this?

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our …

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Interview: What Tim Keller and Michael Gerson Want You to Know About How America Spends Its Money

“It’s possible for a church with deep resources for doing good to get co-opted by nationalism. I don’t want that to happen now.”

Tim Keller’s national reputation doesn’t come from his political positions. As the founder and newly retired senior pastor of New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian, his claims to fame come from his thoughtful theological work and intellectual engagement. Yet 2017 may have been Keller’s most politically active year yet. Keller, along with more than 500 evangelical leaders, took out a full-page ad in TheWashington Post asking the administration to reverse its temporary ban on refugee resettlement and its proposed reduction for the next fiscal year. After the Trump administration announced a budget that proposed significant cuts to foreign aid, Keller’s former church held a global poverty event sponsored by Bono’s ONE Campaign. There, Keller joined former George W. Bush speechwriter and adviser Michael Gerson and the World Bank Group’s Edith Jibunoh to discuss where the church’s presence and perspective belong in American foreign assistance conversations.

Keller and Gerson recently sat down with writer Sarah Kate Neall to discuss that moral vision, the nationalism which threatens benevolence, and the key facts in a conversation about foreign aid.

Why is it important to have a conversation about global poverty and foreign aid now?

Keller: I’m concerned that there’s a growing resistance to foreign engagement stemming from rising tides of nationalism around the world. It’s not just America; more and more people are saying, “We’ve got to take care of our own. We’ve got to care about here.”

This sentiment is the reason the conversation has to go on. I see a lethargy and indifference growing. I also see a feeling of negativity and despair about …

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The Clergy Behind Science as We Know It

Enlightenment-era pastors didn’t oppose modern science. They helped advance it.

This essay was the first place winner of the 2017 CT Science Writing Contest.

The scientific revolution hit Western Christendom hard.

Nicolaus Copernicus hypothesized that Earth was not at the center of the universe and, with the emergence of his 1543 publication De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium, a bitter struggle ensued between Christianity and science to shape the reigning worldview. Science came to dominate from the Enlightenment forward.

Or so we’ve been told.

But in fact, a Lutheran minister and theologian named Andreas Osiander was the one who published Copernicus’s seminal piece. That should be our first clue that the story of enmity between Christianity and science has often been distorted and overstated, leading us to forget some of history’s most influential science advocates and fueling a false dichotomy that unnecessarily polarizes scientific debates today.

The prevailing narrative that Christianity is inherently anti-science gained acceptance in 1896 with Andrew Dickson White’s A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology and Christendom. White singled out prominent Protestant pastors such as John Wesley and Increase Mather for promoting an attack on the new science. “From the first to last,” White wrote, “a long line of eminent divines, Anglican and Calvinistic, strove to resist new thought.”

At other points, Wesley had been singled out in 19th-century historiography for opposing scientific reasoning in support of the orthodox Christian faith, as though the two were inherently at odds. Meanwhile, Wesley’s many publications engaging with the science of the time as he advocated for the usefulness of electricity, explored natural philosophy, and promoted …

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Interview: Buildings That Bear Witness to God

How theology sheds new light on the purposes of architecture.

It’s easy to go about our lives without appreciating the finer details of buildings where we live, work, and worship. The structures themselves, we might say, aren’t as important as the activities taking place inside. That would be a grave mistake, says Murray Rae, who teaches theology at the University of Otago in New Zealand. His book, Architecture and Theology: The Art of Place, shows how the design of buildings and public spaces gives shape and purpose to our lives and communities. W. David O. Taylor, assistant professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, spoke with Rae about the interplay between architecture and theology.

Is there something unique about how architecture, as distinct from other art forms, opens up new ways of seeing the world?

Architecture both molds and represents our lives, our aspirations, and our failings as human beings. The distinctive feature of the arts that shape our built environment, including architecture, is that we live within them almost all of the time. Their primary purpose is not to be viewed or listened to but to give us somewhere to dwell. They provide a unique opportunity, then, to gain new insight into what it means to dwell in Christ—and whether our lives reflect God’s created order. Intriguingly, architects through the ages have tried to create buildings that reflect the given order of things.

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What Student Ministry Really Needs? Homework.

Teens should take Bible study as seriously as school and sports practice.

I’m frequently asked what discipleship resources I recommend for teens. My answer is simple: Give them the Bible itself. Ask students to be students of the Scriptures.

When addressing biblical illiteracy among adults, Bible teachers must start by getting them to recall what it means to be a student and learn a subject in a structured way. Adults may not even associate a structured learning approach with being a disciple of Christ. For many, discipleship is almost wholly defined by doing—sharing the gospel, volunteering, giving, or going on a mission trip.

Teens, on the other hand, know exactly what it means to be a student. They fill the role in school five days a week. Yet we often communicate to this age group that their faith is a matter of feelings and impressions, of subjective observations or experiences, rather than of earnest study.

In Jesus’ day, the term “disciple” would have been inseparable from that of “learner” or “student.” Learning a rabbi’s teachings was foundational to doing what those teachings required. And that is still the case today. We are transformed into doers of the Word by first being hearers.

Today’s high schoolers learn physics and calculus and foreign languages. They are expected to annotate literature and draw critical conclusions about its meaning. They complete hours of homework. They seek tutoring when a subject is difficult. They work hard to learn because learning points to definable future outcomes. They are disciples of their teachers, learning with great discipline the various disciplines those teachers instruct.

By contrast, when these same students show up at church to be discipled in their faith, what will be asked of …

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Calvin of Arabia: Protestant Theology Translated into Arabic

Labor of love brings the Reformation’s seminal work into the Middle East.

Most of the theological writings that shaped Western society over the last 500 years cannot be found on Middle Eastern bookshelves. Few Arabs have ever read anything from John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, or Karl Barth.

The reason is simple: Almost none of the Protestant canon has been translated into Arabic.

The dearth of Christian religious texts in the world’s fourth-largest language is especially pronounced within Protestantism, which developed in European languages such as Latin, French, German, and English. The Reformation has barely broken into the Arabic-speaking world, dominated by Islam and where most local Christians—whose numbers are dwindling fast—are inheritors of Orthodox or Catholic theologies.

Nearly a decade ago, George Sabra, president of the Near East School of Theology (NEST) in Beirut, had the notion to translate perhaps the most influential writing of the Reformation, John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, into Arabic for the first time.

“It’s a major work of the Reformation, which has shaped European and American Protestantism and societies for centuries and, in a way, is still with us,” Sabra said of the French reformer’s systematic theology. “The effects of it—the whole Calvinist influence on society and in the church—are still there, even though people don’t recognize it.”

In 2008, Sabra brought the idea to NEST’s then-president, Mary Mikhael. She was receptive and helped raise funds. The process of finding a translator and ensuring consistency throughout the manuscript caused delays, but a little less than a decade later—just in time for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation—Sabra’s dream …

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The Gospel Turns the ‘Try Harder’ Mentality on Its Head

Our own strength is insufficient to carry us to places of greater faith

It’s that time of year again—New Year’s resolution time, that is. Just as soon as we finish packing up the lights and de-cluttering our houses from all the Christmas cheer, we’ve moved on to our next task: setting goals.

As we reflect on 2017, many of us naturally look for areas of improvement and ask the question: What could be better? Realistically, what we’re asking ourselves is this: What about me could be better? A year of examining ourselves in the mirror across a toothbrush each morning has no doubt left many us wishing that certain things were different.

In light of these longings, roughly 40% of Americans break out their journals and resolve each January to improve themselves once and for all. Some of us plan to read more and scroll through social media less. Others of us want to swap out the carton of ice cream we’ve been noshing on for some carrot sticks. Like a marketing agency of sorts, we aim to build a better personal brand so as to more effectively sell the ‘new and improved us’ to unsuspecting buyers.

The American economy, of course, eats all of this up like a left-over Christmas cookie. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year on self-help books alone. Another $60 billion is spent in our nation by individuals trying to lose weight by means of gym memberships, weight-loss curriculums, and diet food products.

Unfortunately, after all the goal setting is said and done, only about 9% of Americans self-described as “successful” with the follow through. You know those gyms that everyone joined on January 1st? Well, 67% of those that purchased memberships never actually made use of them. Americans made promises, but few of them were actually kept. …

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