Thursday, October 14, 2010

Veritas Forum's Timely Contribution to Thoughtful Discourse about Faith: Review of "A Place for Truth," edited by Dallas Willard

Since The Veritas Forum was born in 1992, I have watched with great interest its ever-expanding influence on university campuses across the United States and the world. The Forum grew out of the landmark book by Kelly Monroe Kullberg, "Finding God at Harvard." I read the book with fascination as it recounted the storied of Harvard students, faculty, staff and alumni who shared how they found themselves drawn to faith while within the gravitational field of Harvard University. While originally founded as a training ground for ministers to serve in the parishes of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Harvard University has wandered far from its original vision and religious roots. So, it was a breath of fresh air for me to read about and then to meet women and men whose faith flourished in what others have found to be a spiritual desert.

For almost twenty years, The Veritas Forum staff have worked with campus leaders to sponsor events that promote open, honest and civil dialogue between Christian intellectuals and those who do not share that same faith. "A Place for Truth," captures excerpts from some of the most impactful of the addresses and dialogues that have taken place during Veritas Forum events.

I found it encouraging and significant that the Foreword to the book was penned by Dr. Harry Lewis, former Dean of Harvard College. He states very eloquently the need for a book such as this:

"The essays in this book are based on talks about some of the big questions of life. The discussions took place in universities, not as part of the daily life of the academic family but instead at events sponsored by The Veritas Forum. It is awkward to take up sch questions within the academy itself, unless they can be reduced to matters of psychology or cultural study. And yet students ask questions when they are alone under starry skies or in the blaze of city lights, when they confront decisions affecting the lives of their loved ones, and when they are faced with pivotal decisions about their own lives. The discomforts attendant on this search for the truth are afflictions of the young for which college education offers little aid. I am not among those who regret the departure of God from the academy. I join the atheists in their skepticism about scientific proof of the existence of God or of any meaningful argument for God's existence that is not subject to scientific verification. Yet I regret the extent to which God took with him, when he left the classroom, questions of values and morals and purposes with which young people struggle today as they always have. As much as ever, a good education owes students guidance on examining their own lives." (pages 8-9)

And so it is that The Veritas Forum - in its events and its publications - seeks to fill the vacuum of reasonable discourse on issues of faith that was created when God was summarily expelled from much of the realm of academia - its campuses and classrooms. I found the tone of the essays and conversations offered in this book to be refreshing. These are respectful and civil conversations - not those of zealots screaming at one another across a vast chasm of divergent beliefs and contradictory cosmologies. Instead, respected and learned scholars such as Os Guiness, Richard John Neuhaus, Tim Keller, Francis Collins, Mary Polin, Ron Sider, et al. offer their carefully reasoned arguments for embracing faith or rejecting it. The subtitle of the book lets us know exactly what to expect to find between the covers: "Leading Thinkers Explore Life's Hardest Questions."

This is exactly the kind of book which I will stockpile on my book shelf and give to those I meet who are open to thinking deeply and critically about issues of faith. We owe Kelly Monroe Kullberg, Dallas Willard, Dan Cho and Sarah Park a debt of gratitude for gleaning from the best thinkers their thoughts on these critical issues such as Truth, Faith and Science, Atheism, Meaning and Humanity, Christian Worldview and Social Justice.

Whether you are someone in the early stages of wrestling with these issues or you are further along the road and still refining your thoughts and beliefs, you will find great value in this book.



To learn more about The Veritas Forum, I encourage you to visit their website:

The Veritas Forum

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