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2022 Academic Network

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    Academic Network
Equipping Christian leaders in Europe to bring glory to Christ in the university or seminary where they serve

As Christian academics we often experience isolation. Being evangelicals within a secular university or liberal seminary setting isolates us from our peers, while at church, underlying anti-intellectualism may isolate us from our brothers and sisters in Christ. We may experience isolation because of the solitary nature of research, writing, and lecture preparation, or because of our own introverted and reclusive personalities.

At the same time, because of the far-reaching influence of the classroom and higher education in shaping leaders and the next generation, every Christian scholar possesses an outsized potential for multi-generational impact. Our calling is to bring glory to Christ in the university or the seminary where we serve. This is why, as followers of Christ in the academy, we must be intentional about connecting with other like-minded colleagues.

The primary purpose of the ELF Academic Network is to gather together Christian scholars throughout Europe for equipping, united, resourcing, prayer, and accountability. At the 2022 Network, you will be blessed by outstanding presenters. Each one is a recognized scholar who, in their own academic work, is living and modeling what they teach. You will have opportunities to ask questions, discuss issues with your colleagues, and reflect on how these principles should change the way you think, live, and teach.

Prior preparation will be set for all applicants.

Applicants should be teaching or leading in a university, seminary, bible institute, or other post-secondary educational institution or graduate students who hope to serve Christ in the academy.  This Network will help academicians from a wide spectrum of disciplines to think about their discipline from a Christian worldview, attain excellence in teaching and research, share Christ with others, and maintain spiritual fervor.

Network Leadership

David McIlroy is a practising barrister based in London in the UK. He serves on the editorial board of Law & Justice, teaches the Mission of Justice and the Theology of Law course at Spurgeon’s College, and is a Visiting Professor at the University of Notre Dame (USA) in England. He is convinced that justice matters enormously to God and He wants Christians to work hard to see justice done more and more in situations around the world. Through his books (A Biblical View of Law and Justice, A Trinitarian Theology of Law, The End of Law) and many articles, David seeks to deepen people’s reflections on justice and to inspire others to take up the challenge of acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God (Micah 6:8).

Network Speakers

Paul Coulter lives in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, with his Chinese Malaysian wife, Gar-Ling, and their two teenage children. He is Head of Ministry Operations with Living Leadership (www.livingleadership.org), an organisation that helps leaders and their families across the UK and Ireland to live joyfully in Christ and serve Him faithfully through training, mentoring and pastoral support. He is also Executive Director of the Centre for Christianity in Society (www.christianityinsociety.org), which seeks to connect Christ with contemporary culture through evangelistic speaking and training in ethical issues and apologetics. Paul is the author of two books - Clarion Call: Finding Joy in Christ with John the Baptist and Serving Two Masters? Probing the Tensions Between Science and Faith in the Art of Healthcare - several book chapters and multiple articles, including several on BeThinking.org. He speaks and writes regularly on leadership, pastoral care, the Christian mind and contemporary culture. In his spare time, he loves to walk in hills and forests, cycle on flat roads, and read about history.

Per Ewert is the director of The Clapham Institute, Sweden’s leading Christian think tank and research institute. This summer, he will defend his PhD thesis about the political process which shaped Sweden into what is arguably the most secular and individualistic nation in the world. Per is the author of several books on apologetics, relations, and the role of faith in society. He also writes weekly editorials in one of Sweden's Christian dailies. He lives with wife and four children in southern Sweden.

Alexander Fink is Director of the Institute for Faith and Science (Institut für Glaube und Wissenschaft) in Marburg, Germany (www.iguw.de). He studied physics at the universities of Bayreuth and St. Andrews (UK) and received his PhD at the Institute for Biophysics at the University of Regensburg. After having worked as an industrial product manager, he became director of SMD graduates' ministry (Akademiker-SMD, the German branch of IFES) until 2014. His passion is the dialogue of science, faith, and worldviews, and has given apologetic lectures in Germany and other European countries. Since 2008 he has been a member of the ELF Steering Committee and has co-led the Scientists Network. He is editor of the "Begründet-glauben-Podcast" (www.begruendet-glauben.org) and has produced two documentary movies "Fascinating universe" and "More than my brain" which have been recommended by a German federal media centre for use in public schools. Together with his wife, Alexander enjoys raising his two children, leading a house group in his local church in which he regularly leads services and preaches. He also is the coach of a youth soccer team.

Wayne Grudem is Distinguished Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary in Arizona. He is a graduate of Harvard (BA), Westminster Seminary-Philadelphia (MDiv, DD), and the University of Cambridge (PhD). He has served as the president of the Evangelical Theological Society (1999), as a member of the Translation Oversight Committee for the English Standard Version of the Bible, and was the General Editor for the ESV Study Bible (2008). He has written more than 25 books, including Systematic Theology (2nd edition, 2020), Christian Ethics (2018), The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today, Business for the Glory of God, Politics According to the Bible, and (with Barry Asmus) The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution. He also co-edited (with John Piper) Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Over 300 of his articles and lectures are available at www.WayneGrudem.com.

Dirk Jongkind is a Dutch biblical scholar who finished his Ph.D. at Cambridge University. His main scholarly interest is in the Greek text of the Bible and the Graeco-Roman backdrop of Acts and the letters. Currently, he is the Research Fellow in New Testament Text and Language at Tyndale House, Deputy Senior Tutor at St Edmund's College, Cambridge, and affiliated lecturer at Cambridge University. He has done much work on Greek manuscripts and other remains from the ancient world.

David McIlroy is a practising barrister based in London in the UK. He serves on the editorial board of Law & Justice, teaches the Mission of Justice and the Theology of Law course at Spurgeon’s College, and is a Visiting Professor at the University of Notre Dame (USA) in England. He is convinced that justice matters enormously to God and He wants Christians to work hard to see justice done more and more in situations around the world. Through his books (A Biblical View of Law and Justice, A Trinitarian Theology of Law, The End of Law) and many articles, David seeks to deepen people’s reflections on justice and to inspire others to take up the challenge of acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God (Micah 6:8).

Greg earned his MA from Trinity School of Divinity before continuing on to finish his PhD at Northwestern University. The intersection of theology, history, philosophy and sociology is Greg’s primary focus both in teaching and writing. He has taught graduate-level courses on apologetics, theology, history, leadership, the New Testament, ethics, and Christian Thought at American, European, and Asian institutions of higher learning. His book, Willow Creek Seeker Services, has been published in four languages. Currently, Greg serves as the President of the Forum of Christian Leaders and as the Director of the European Leadership Forum. He, his wife, Lori, and their three children reside in Naperville, IL.

Sheridan Voysey is a writer, speaker and broadcaster on faith and spirituality. He is the author of eight books, including Reflect with Sheridan (Lion Hudson, 2020), The Making of Us: Who We Can Become When life Doesn’t Go as Planned (Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins, 2019), Resurrection Year: Turning Broken Dreams into New Beginnings (shortlisted for the 2014 ECPA Book of the Year Award), Resilient: Your Invitation to a Jesus-Shaped Life, and Unseen Footprints: Encountering the Divine Along the Journey of Life (winner of the 2006 Australian Christian Book of the Year). He writes for Our Daily Bread, a devotional read by 90 million people daily. Sheridan is a regular presenter of Pause for Thought on BBC Radio 2’s Zoe Ball Breakfast Show (heard by 9 million people daily), and has conducted over 2000 radio interviews in his 25-year broadcast career. He speaks at conferences and events around the world, and has been featured on numerous TV and radio programs including BBC Breakfast, BBC News, Channel 5 News, Day of Discovery, 100 Huntley Street, CBC’s Tapestry, plus publications like The Times, Telegraph, and Christianity Today.

Network Programme

Sunday, 22 May

We live in a culture in which forgiveness is increasingly out of fashion. In contrast, we hear voices that drip with self-righteous indignation. How can we as Christians understand and respond to this current cultural moment? This session looks at the need for truth, judgment and forgiveness in the Church, in law, and in society.

The pace of change in social attitudes and legal frameworks in the West concerning gender identity and sexuality has been breath-taking. Combined with cancel culture and a sense that it is now unacceptable even to question the prevailing narratives, it seems that freedom of speech is under threat, especially in academic institutions. This session will seek to understand fairly the ideas behind this massive cultural shift, to develop a positive, Christ-centred, biblical vision of gender and sexuality, and to suggest principles for speaking and acting with grace and truth around these issues in the academic setting.

Monday, 23 May

The research is startling: friendship has been proven to boost our health, decrease anxiety and depression, increase our lifespan, and be a buffer against addictions, prejudice and extremism. And yet rates of it are declining in the West. Why? In this session, drawing insights from the new Friendship Lab project, we will unpack some of the reasons friendship gets side-lined in both culture and the church, explore the barriers academic life brings to friendship formation, and how we can prioritise it in our lives.

The human brain is one of the most complex objects in the known universe, and its incredible performance impacts every area of our lives. The question may arise: Am I nothing but my brain; am I more than my brain? Certainly, there are links between brain function and our personality. But does that show that we are purely material beings? Is consciousness only a function of the brain? Has neuroscience refuted the notion of free will and personal responsibility? Are religious faith and our concept of God just products of neuron function? What does the Bible teach about our brain and our soul? In this session, we will wrestle with these issues. These questions are not only scientifically interesting but have a deep impact on understanding our own identity as human beings.

Tuesday, 24 May

How did secular individualism gain such a strong influence in the West? What are the roots of this philosophy? This session will address these questions and suggest ways we as Christians in academia can communicate a Christian worldview as a better and more sustainable alternative for both individuals and society.

Evangelicals who undertake PhD studies at leading universities are given a "fatherly push" into deep water where they are left alone to sink or swim. Sadly, many struggle to stay afloat as they experience intense sociological pressure to give up or compromise their basic convictions. How does this happen? This session will examine the sociological pressures of unbelief that pressure naïve Evangelicals to give up or compromise their Christian commitment and beliefs.

Wednesday, 25 May

Wayne Grudem is a well-known Evangelical scholar and leader in the United States. He is the author of over 20 books, including his best-selling Systematic Theology. His experience in both the publishing and academic worlds provides him with unique perspectives on how academics and theologians engage in their work and with those around them. This interview will delve into those experiences and perspectives and reflect on decades of studying God’s Word and teaching others to do the same. This is a joint session of the Academic and Theologians Networks.

In the final session of the Network, participants will reflect on the insights and outcomes of the week, identify take-aways, and spend time together in prayer.