BCS Prayer Partner Letter
| "For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecution, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor. 12: 9-10).
Julian the Apostate and Friedrich Nietzsche each fought Christ to the death. Julian, the last pagan emperor of Rome, tried to restore the old gods and purge his empire of the Christian faith. His three-year reign ended when a Persian spear punctured his stomach on the battlefield. A Christian historian claimed these to be Julian's dying words: "Thou hast won, O Galilean!" Whether or not this is true, Jovian, a Christian general, succeeded the Apostate. The paganism of imperial Rome expired with Julian; a millennium and a half of Christendom lay ahead.
Nietzsche, the 19th Century German philosopher, lived in the twilight of Christendom. He too, though, looked back to the pagan past as his source of hope. In the world of the Greeks and Romans, he believed, men were free. Christianity had infected European culture with a morality of self-denial that kept strong men shackled. The West needed to be purged of its Christian conscience in order for men to be free again. Insane for the final years of his life, Nietzsche died believing he was Jesus Christ.
This year the sophomores at BCS have studied these two men, pagan bookends of Western Christendom, and the fifteen hundred years of Christian culture that lies between them. On one level, distinguishing the victories from defeats in the long war between the church and paganism is difficult. Julian lost his fight to save the old world of Rome, but the Christian emperors and kings who followed him could be as brutal as their pagan predecessors. Nietzsche died an invalid, but his writings live on and have powerfully influenced our culture. The Gospel, though, gives us a different way of interpreting victory and defeat.
The Corinthians saw Paul's sufferings as evidence against his claims of apostleship; if the favor of God rested on him, his life would look more victorious. In response, he explained to them the nature of weakness and power. It is in Paul's weaknesses and seeming defeats that God's power is revealed. In 2 Corinthians 13:4 he tells them, "For [Christ] was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God." The weakness of Christ for our sake on the cross and the power of his resurrection are the lenses through which we interpret victory and defeat in history and in the present. In our weaknesses or in apparent setbacks to the cause of Christ, may we not fear defeat but instead with eagerness await the grace our Lord is about to give and the power he is preparing to display.
Instructor of Composition and Christian Worldview
Bethlehem College and Seminary
As the Lord brings Bethlehem College and Seminary to your mind, please continue to pray with us. Please this email to others who you believe may wish to join our prayer partner email list. We will not send emails to anyone without their permission.
- For our graduating sophomores, the first class to complete the Christian Worldview Integrated Curriculum, that they would be shrewd and faithful interpreters of the Word of God, history, and the times in which they live.
- For all of our students as they complete their studies for the year. Finals are next week.
- For our faculty and staff, as we finish this academic and fiscal year and begin planning for next Fall. Each year brings a need for curricular updates, a new budget, and a multitude of other needs. Pray that Summer would be a time of both rest and productivity.