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The UBC Graduate and Faculty Christian Forum (GFCF) was founded in 1988 by an interdisciplinary group of university faculty members and graduate students seeking to develop a scholarly engagement with the senior members of the university community. It is now in its twenty-ninth year of active participation in critical university discourse. The inaugural speaker was Sir John Polkinghorne of Cambridge University, a leading thinker on science and religion. GFCF provides a lively ongoing discussion at the interface between faith and scholarship. Top scholars visit UBC from around the globe to discuss pertinent issues and stretch the boundaries of thought. We also draw on scholars from local institutions including UBC, SFU, Regent College & Trinity Western University. The forum explores the possibility of thinking outside the constrictions of philosophical naturalism and scientific materialism, while respecting highly all the insight that science offers for human flourishing. The forum offers a critical engagement with early and late modernity.
Similar to the Oxford University Socratic Club in the days of C.S. Lewis, or the contemporary Veritas Forum, Pascal Lectures or Gifford Lectures: Examining Critical Questions (the Big Questions); Re-thinking the Nature of the Secular; Pushing for Deeper Insight; Fresh Framing of the Issues; Promoting Academic Virtues; Recovering the Character Formation of Students as a University Calling; Taking Seriously the History of the University and its Classical and Christian Heritage; Exploring the Interface of Science, the Humanities and Religious Studies; Examining Ideology and Mythological Culture Drivers; Mapping the Future of the University. Great Books, Excellent Scholarship, Bracing Questions, Top Global Academic Leaders, Shaping the Human Narrative. This is our quest.
Nothing worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr
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Rabbi Jonathan Sacks helps articulate the raison d’ être of GFCF
GFCF carries three objectives:
a) Organize regular meetings between September and March on the UBC campus that provide a forum for discussing points of engagement between Christian faith and scholarship across the range of disciplines.
b) Provide opportunity for graduate students and faculty to meet for diaalogue and sharing of insights on the connections between Christian faith and particular innovative ventures in modern scholarship, stewardship and cultural development. Literature is made available to follow up such discussion or as a prelude to the event.
c) Introduce senior members of the university to the claims of Christianity and show the faith’s reasonableness and relevance under intellectual scrutiny, i.e. to open dialogue and explore good questions with those unconvinced of Christian scholarship’s merits, or those unfamiliar with the rich heritage of Christian thought.
We think that scholarship and faith are not only compatible, but mutually enriching; the reasons of faith and reasons of science and philosophy complement each other greatly. We reject the notion that they exist in separate realms. Each is concerned with robust investigation and the search for answers and insight into the world as we experience it. Science often provokes questions it cannot answer by itself, but a reasoned faith examines the evidences for important answers to the Big Life Questions. Though such answers may be inaccessible to science, they need not be incompatible with the scientific spirit and can be fully open to the best of scientific investigation within its limits. The Arts, Social Sciences and the Humanities also probe into important human questions that they cannot always fully answer without considering how faith and religion have shaped culture and the course of history, and offer hope for future cultural and identity development, and a move towards wholeness.
The Forum provides accomplished scholars and scientists with an opportunity to share their latest research. It can be said that the GFCF tries to correct some of the extreme viewpoints and reductionisms in today’s scholarship through appeal to ancient wisdom and the reflective knowledge of God and human religious experience. Thus, it is particularly encouraging to the emergent scholars in the UBC postgraduate community. Faculty members offer to encourage and shape these students at the forums and beyond in smaller groups and private discussion. The Graduate Christian Union is such a forum, as well as gatherings at the UBC Golf Course Bistro.
GFCF is an interdenominational group with a high view of Christian Scripture, and aims to present a broad Christian apologetic to the university public, and to invite the curious to search further into the things of God and to ask tough questions. Visiting scholars come from such institutions as Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Duke, Oxford and Cambridge. They have included such notable contributors as Jeremy Begbie, Alvin Plantinga, David Lyle Jeffrey, Nicholas Wolterstorff, David Lyon, Francis Collins, Owen Gingerich and Denis Alexander. While proceeding from an orthodox Christian theological perspective, the GFCF inclusively welcomes interaction from other university viewpoints in its meetings through both a regular question period after the presentation and a reception afterwards for the speaker to get to know people more intimately.
Our resource people will offer quality scholarly presentations in order to engage the university at a high level of integrity and creativity:
- To deepen understanding of Christian scholarship in its offering to the world of education and research.
- To participate in genuine, thoughtful, revealing dialogue between neighbours in the university community.
- To compare the best insights of biblical and secular scholarship on the realities of the human condition.
- To encourage integrated obedience to the two great commandments of Jesus: love of God and neighbour, and to present the vision of Christian faith in a manner that is clear and compelling.
The lectures are free and open to all in the UBC community, while being targeted to faculty and graduate students. People from the broader Vancouver community also attend.
GFCF Links to Christian Academic Resources & Discussions
Veritas Forum http://www.veritas.org/ university lectures, debates, etc. (Christian base) See the exciting Kelly Monroe books Finding God at Harvard and Finding God After Harvard
Faraday Institute on Science & Religion: http://www.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/faraday/Multimedia.php Brilliant variety of lectures available for download; they also have summer one week courses.
Test of Faith Video Series (produced by Faraday)—order DVD from Wipf & Stock Publishers. Good resource for campus or church context.
Test of Faith Blog Site: http://www.testoffaith.com/events/us-tour.aspx
American Scientific Affiliation (ASA)—God and Nature: http://www.asa3.org/godandnature
Canadian Science & Christian Affiliation (CSCA) ( local contact: Dr. Arnold Sikkema TWU Physics) http://www.csca.ca/
Christians in Science (UK) http://www.cis.org.uk/ (affiliate of CSCA & ASA)
Biologos Dialogue on Science & Faith (Origins) http://biologos.org/
Center for Christian Study, University of Virginia http://www.studycenter.net/
Kuyper Study Centre University of Western Ontario http://www.kuypercentre.ca
Cardus Centre/ Convivium Magazine http://www.cardus.ca/convivium/print_issues/3364/ (Public Policy)
IVCF USA Emerging Scholars Blog: http://blog.emergingscholars.org/
Regent Bookstore Audio http://www.regentaudio.com/ You can download free talks or buy some. Regent Bookstore is simply the best Christian bookstore in Canada and Bill Reimer its manager is very knowledgable and current. The store is set up in sections, so you will probably get to know your section well.
Regent College Library: with a UBC library card, you can take books out of Regent Library free, again one of the finest resources of its kind in Canada. Just talk to the librarian. There are also CD courses in the library which you can listen to for free. Imagine that!
Special Regent Lectures: Laing Lecture Series, various other free evening and daytime lectures, Tuesday Chapel Services (11:00 a.m.) http://www.regent-college.edu/
Visual Arts: ArtWay Meditations www.artway.eu Marleen Hengelaar” <email@example.com> to receive these periodic reflections on your email.
Christians in the Visual Arts: http://civa.org/ Local consultants are Laurel Gasque & Dal Schindel at Regent College.
Christian Drama: Pacific Theatre Vancovuer for regular shows http://pacifictheatre.org/