Mid-Year Conference 2012–Wednesday

Day number 3 tends to be the day where energy levels start dropping, and everything feels like more of a challenge, firstly because more elements of the topic are being tied in, and secondly because being tired means processing facts a little slower. As with every other year, there is this pattern of sleeping later and later, which results in waking up later and later; but of course today we were still able to wake up in time for breakfast. I am very grateful for having an ensuite to sleep in; the heater is a very welcome blessing – I don’t think nights are getting colder but it can still make sleeping uncomfortable without a heater. I chuckle a bit at the attempts of the MTSers (and our grade) to try and get the younger years to sleep early. I suppose 11pm, and again at 12am, are just too unrealistic of a time to expect the younger years to obediently retire to their rooms, let alone to get them to sleep. I suppose this affects us because we’re tempted to stay up, and most of the time need to watch them and tell them to go to sleep.

We kept pushing on with Bible Study as per usual. I don’t think there’s much to say about this because we’ll only reach a major conclusion on the last day; everything in between is just us steadily wrestling and working out what the passage is trying to say. I suppose we should be devoting ourselves more to prayer since it is the Holy Spirit that will allow us to understand the passage, rather trying to rely on our own wisdom.

 

Today’s faculty seminar was run by Brandon and Andy, and was again split into guys and girls. Today we dealt with the validity of Scripture and more specifically the testimonies about Jesus; which ones hold enough ground to convince us that Jesus is indeed the Son of God. From John 5:30-47 we looked at the testimonies of Jesus, John the Baptist, Jesus’ works, and God himself (and implicitly the Bible) all of which talk about Jesus. Of course these are all from the perspective of Jesus and what he thought of the validity of each of these sources. Just to skip all the research and all that, the conclusion of the seminar was that Jesus is who He claims to be because the Bible says so, and this creates a circular argument of the Bible saying that itself is true (since Jesus’ words for us today are in the Bible). Some people won’t appreciate having a circular argument to say that the Bible is true, because it seems impossible to start the argument (that something is true because it says it is). But frankly for me I would prefer no other option because if it wasn’t a circular argument, and the validity of the Bible actually rested on some external source, then all authority and power over the Bible would rest on this external source. But how can you argue that this external source is valid? You would make a similar argument saying that the external source is reliable because of a third source that says it is, which again defeats the argument. Circular argument seems to be a better alternative.

 

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In the afternoon there was a short session for those of us who were about to graduate from uni; it was basically to thank us for our support of the CBS ministry over the year and also to encourage us to keep thinking of CBS as we head into the workforce. It wasn’t anything special to attend, although for all these years we had always wondered what went on in the unileavers thing. Our curiosities were satisfied this year finally, but it wasn’t that big of a deal.

 

The seminar I had afterwards actually linked well to what we had just heard the hour before. In thinking about work, we were reminded of the dangers and challenges of growing as a Christian within the workforce, or being in a work context. We truly need to be grateful for the freedom we had and have from high school and university life to be able to grow as Christians without too many distractions (which really are only ones that we choose to bring upon ourselves). But in the workplace we need to commit five full days a week to work, and that really does leave us with less time in the rest of the week. So we need to be thinking about how we live and grow as Christians, and how we fit work around God, not the other way round. Fortunately there are things in the work context that help workers grow as Christians. City Bible Forum is an organisation that helps run lunch and dinner groups for Christians to keep meeting up during and after work hours to encourage each other. There are also events to reach out to non-Christians as well; so we fortunately aren’t without any support in the workplace, which personally gives me more confidence in how I can live as a Christian in the workplace. There will be other struggles such as the nature of the work we’re doing (whether it’s something immoral and unethical or not, eg: working a tobacco company would be considered bad, in that you’re creating “death” – just as a loose example). As a result we need to think and prepare carefully how we will approach work as Christians, and we may continue to grow and serve others during our years of fulltime work.

 

The Wednesday night talk was a challenging one about the authority of Scripture and how we can trust it to be true because of the authority of Scripture. And this is a really hard concept to understand, and even harder to pass on (particularly to non-Christians). If we want to “prove” or show that the Bible is true and trustworthy, we would want to come up with some standard by which to measure its validity and truthfulness. The question to ask then is: which standard should be used? That is, which authority should I use to work out whether the Bible is true or not. Some of us should probably have heard of the “Quadrilateral of Authority” (which has now been turned into the “Tetrahedron of Authority”), where when it comes to making decisions and working out what is right and wrong, and what to listen to, we generally think of:

  1. Scripture (the Bible)
  2. Tradition/Institution
  3. Experience & Feeling (expanded in Thursday’s talk)
  4. Logic & Reasoning

And sadly, if we want scientific or historical “proof” that the Bible is true, then we are actually saying that these things, science and history, have more authority than God (because they get the last say), and that is already a direct rejection of God, to say that we’d trust science and history more than God. So from this, it does make sense to trust in God to explain that the Bible is true, but this does turn into a circular argument where the Bible (God’s word) says that the Bible is true. It’s not something that’s easy to understand, but I prefer this way of thinking over any alternative because we can trust God to be 100% true, or at least more reliable than any other source/authority.

 

There was one challenging point in saying that people won’t trust the Bible and won’t get the Bible because they want to prove it to be true on grounds other than God; that is, they have already implicitly rejected God, and so they won’t get the Bible. And again that seems to create a circular argument whereby people won’t submit to God because they don’t submit to God. And that is challenging; to be able to trust in God, you need to be willing to take that first step, accept God’s authority and Lordship, and from there to search the rest of the Bible to see that indeed God is King of all and that He loves us in Jesus, etc. It does make me reflect hard on some of my non-Christian friends I’ve been trying to reach out to, but I think I’ll reflect on that more in the summary post.

 

After the night talk, the third years in our faculty had organised a late night hot pot, which is something the older grades use to do in the past; but this year, it was a pretty large scale thing. We were in a room with half the people watching a recording of State of Origin, and the other half eating food, making it look like a Chinese restaurant. It was quite a lively setting, quite funny as well. The organisers had a lot of food, but far from enough time to cook all of it (in fact the leftovers have been shifted to our grade for our own personal hot pot – free food!). Since this was a long post I’ll close with some photos and leave it at that.

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