Archive for the ‘Calling’ category

Signing Off: Greg Jones Bids Farewell

July 8, 2013

Friends and Colleagues:

After three years of service as the grad rep for the Conference on Faith and History, today marks my final work in the position.  I’m passing the torch to Mary Sanders, an Oklahoma State University PhD student and enthusiastic member of the CFH.  I’m certain Mary will do a great job for us.

Just by way of update, I am still finishing my doctoral work at Kent State University.  This fall I’ll be teaching via a temporary appointment at Geneva College, my alma mater.  I’ve been working as a part time instructor there for a few years and love it.  God is very good in His provision.

I thought I’d finish off my work at the CFH with a few personal reflections.  It is not an easy position to be both a Christian and a scholar.  I’ve learned that I need to spend a lot of time focusing more on Christ and less on my career.  Here are a few points of perspective for your consideration.

First, I learned that God provides.  I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a college professor.  In fact, I started talking about it in middle school.  My parents smartly reminded me that I might consider actually attending college before I thought about teaching it.  God opened the doors for my MA and PhD programs in ways that are hard to describe. When I faced the ending of my adjunct work at Kent State, God provided the opportunity at Geneva. I’ve learned a lot lately about the foolishness of cutting pieces of scripture out of context to suit our own needs, but I have to say the “seek ye first” passage [Matt. 6:33] seems true in any context.  Seek first God’s wisdom and righteousness, before personal career, and He will bless your work (albeit not always how you envisioned).

Second, I learned that no matter the work, my family matters most.  Without getting too autobiographical, I’d just like to say that time spent with family is never lost time.  For those of us with small children bouncing around our rooms, it may be difficult to focus on that book review or last minute edit, but time spent with family is never lost.  Don’t use family as a crutch to miss out on responsibilities, but remember that family is the root of life.  When you put them in the acknowledgements of your book one day, you want to mean what you say about their support.  Don’t cut yourself off from that which brings real blessing.

Third, I learned that nothing is promised.  Not a day is promised to us.  We have to live for the moment not in a hedonistic sense, but to do our best.  I may never teach another class.  The higher education bubble may burst any day, closing our access to ever teaching or researching again.  So enjoy today.  Read what you must, but also read what drives  you.  Tomorrow is not promised so work and play as hard as you can today.  When I hear colleagues whining and complaining about how much work they have to do, I can’t help but feel for them.  This “job” is such a blessing to me.  Do I always love grading?  Of course not.  Do I always love meetings?  No way.  But do I count it a blessing to work in the conditions I do with people that I love, reading and discussing the things that matter most?  Of course.

Wherever you are in your program, or even if you’re a non-academic that surfed your way to this entry, keep working.  Keep your hand to the plow.  Keep your nose to the stone.  Work, love, play, and embrace the world that we have.  God is good and His bounty is not complete.  Seek Him.  Listen to His guidance in career, in research, in writing, and in teaching.  Faith is more than a nice set of moral standards for conducting our lives.  Faith is the lived evidence of a Living God.  Testify with your life, with your work, and with all that you are.

Thank you, again, to the CFH for inviting me to this position.  Thank  you to my fellow graduate students who have shared in CFH panel discussions or corresponded with me.  Thank you to the grad students who will carry on after me.  It is my prayer that the organization continues to grow, beaming the Light of Christ in the midst of an ever-darkening Academy.  Let us be a beacon of hope for the Kingdom of God.

Godspeed,
Greg Jones

From President Hankins – A Message to Grad Students

September 24, 2012

CFH Grad Students,

A new academic year is upon us. For some of you it is your first in grad school. For others, you’ve been at it for many years now, perhaps nearing completion of your Ph.D.

Both prospects and everything in between can be exhilarating and terrifying.

When I was in grad school, the job market was about like it is now, perhaps worse. At times I was tempted to doubt whether I should be preparing for a profession with such a dismal record of career placement. In order to keep moving forward, I often thought of my situation like this:

Question: What do I want to do with my life?

Answer: Read, think, write, and teach.

Question: What am I doing currently in my grad work?

Answer: Reading, thinking, writing, and teaching.

I concluded that the right door had already opened, and I had been successfully placed in the career to which I felt called. I decided that as long as that door stayed open, I would continue in this vocation. Thirty years later, I’m still doing those things.

As much as is possible, concentrate on your calling in the situation you find yourself in at the moment. As an act of faith, believe that the papers you write, the lectures you give, and the discussions you lead, all contribute to the scholarly enterprise and ultimately to the kingdom. Pursue your calling as long as the door of Christian scholarship and vocation remains open, and leave the future in God’s hands.

See you at Gordon for the biennial Conference on Faith and History meeting.

Barry Hankins

President, Conference on Faith and History

Christianity and History: An Easter Reflection by Chad Lower

April 18, 2011

The following is a reflection on the work of the Christian historian during this special season.

Written by Chad Lower, PhD candidate, Kent State University

Christianity is a historical religion.  As Ben Witherington has stated, “The Christian faith is not mere faith in faith – ours or someone else’s – but rather a belief about the significance of certain historical events.”  Therefore, Easter is the most important day in the church calendar, but also one of a special meaning to Christian historians.  Christmas is an important holiday on the Christian calendar, but it is not a historical holiday in that we cannot deduce with any certainty exactly when Jesus was born.  Easter, by contrast, is always tied to Passover.  It is grounded upon historical events.  Jesus was a good teacher, but his teachings are not the source of the Christian faith.  The physical death and bodily resurrection of Jesus is the sun upon which the rest of the faith orbits.  Consequently, the history surrounding these events is tremendously important.  Historians and archeologists continue to shed new light on the social, political, and physical landscape ofJerusalemduring the time of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.  Easter gives the Christian historian the opportunity to relate his or her discipline to the central tenet of the faith in a unique way.

The Bible is history.  It is the history of God’s relationship with humanity.  If we ever doubt our profession, or question whether or not history matters, let us remember that our very faith is history.  Easter is the most shining example of the significance of history.

What are you learning?

March 10, 2011

Allow this post to be an open invitation for submissions from CFH grad members to post thoughts/reflections/ideas that you’re learning.

Sure it’s a busy time of the semester… sure you have a million things to do… but really, how much time would it take to write up 250-500 words on something that’s tugging at your heart?

If there’s anything I’m learning from *Confessing History* it’s that I need to spend more time reflecting on my own learning. Let’s hear what you are observing.

Submit ideas or entries to grjones83@gmail.com care of the graduate student representative, Greg Jones.

DISCUSSION: Why are you in the CFH?

March 4, 2011

Here’s a simple question: Why are you in the Conference on Faith and History?

I promised a series of questions to get us thinking a bit more deeply about calling, faith, and vocation.  This is, admittedly, not the deepest of topics, but it might get the ball rolling.

If anyone has any blog content ready for posting, please contact me at grjones83@gmail.com.  Blog content may include book reviews, personal reflections, reaction papers, anecdotes, and other writing mildly connected to the purpose of the CFH, which is the integration of faith and the work of historians.

Featured Book Series: *Confessing History* Fea, Green, and Miller

February 1, 2011

Readers of the CFH Grad Blog will be interested to know about the recent release of *Confessing History: Explorations in Christian Faith and the Historian’s Vocation* by three CFH former board members, John Fea (Messiah College), Jay Green (Covenant College), and Eric Miller (Geneva College).

Confessing History: Explorations in Christian Faith and the Historian's Vocation

The book is a collection of essays by several CFH members, addressing the issues at the heart of our organization.  According to the book’s preface, “Written from several different theological and professional points of view, the essays contained in this book constitute a free-ranging conversation about the vocation of the historian and its place in both the personal lives of Christian disciples and Christ’s Kingdom at large.” (p. xi)

The book has a direct link to the mission and purpose of the CFH, to help Christians who are historians pursue their calling.