blessing and privilege it was to attend the European Leadership Forum (ELF) this
May! The conference reminded me of Rivendell. The hotel in Wisła, Poland nestles in a
stunningly beautiful wooded gorge, and the well-conceived program offered
spiritual refreshment for laborers in the vineyard. Over 700 participants from 40 countries met
for a wonderful week centered on networking, teaching, mentoring and—most important—mutual
encouragement and friendship.
Every morning we all gathered together for
worship and John Lennox’s inspiring meditation on the faith of Abraham.
Then we broke off into our networks, dedicated
to Apologetics, Bible Teaching, Evangelism, Church Planting, Law, Marriage and
Family, Media Relations, Philosophy, Politics, Science, Theology, and more. David Horner and I gave papers for the
Philosophers' Network (David defended eudaimonism in Christian ethics, and I defended
the soul against materialist critiques).
The Philosophers' Network included participants from Austria, Germany, the
Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
I was honored to meet Peter S. Williams, one
of the most effective Christian apologists in Europe. Here and throughout the conference
it was such a joy to see scholars, teachers and ministers so passionate for the
faith and dedicated to serving Christ in the church and the world.
had many poignant moments for me. The
bookends were a sobering reminder of the horrors of godlessness and an
inspiring speech on leading with truth, hope and courage.
Some of us
took the pre-conference guided tour of the concentration camps, Auschwitz I and
II, something I had long wanted (and dreaded) to do. If philosophical arguments do not convince
someone of the existence of the soul, this will do it. In Auschwitz human beings were treated like
vermin, and this horrifies us not just because of the appalling cruelty, but because
the image of God was desecrated. The
soul recoils from a hell on Earth where over a million people were starved,
experimented on, tortured, hanged, shot, gassed and incinerated as if they were
nonpersons. The mountains of suitcases,
shoes, spectacles and human hair stand as a grim monument to man’s inhumanity
day, our hearts were broken again—by goodness.
We watched a section of the movie, Weapons
of the Spirit, a documentary directed by Pierre Sauvage. The movie shows how the 5,000 people of Le
Chambon-sur-Lignon in France, offered refuge to 5,000 Jews. Proud descendants of the Huguenots, the first
French protestants who had endured terrible persecution for their faith, these
villagers did whatever they could to keep their wards alive until the end of
the war. They knew what it meant to
love their neighbors as fellow image-bearers, and with no real plan but a
consensus of conviction, they lived out their faith.
ended with a resounding speech by Peter Akinola, former African Primate of the
Church of Nigeria. He applied the story
of David and Goliath to the present trials of the Christian church. “Who will stand in the gap?” he asked. Of
course we knew the answer. We must have
faith that God will continue to do what He has always done: when the world
sends forth its Goliaths, God raises up Davids, and if God has equipped us with
the gifts of leadership, we are
called to David’s work. When the
medieval church became corrupt, God raised up the Reformers. When some in the Anglican Communion embraced
revisionist interpretations of scripture, Akinola himself was called to stand
for God’s Word. Even as Europe and the
United States flounder in secularism, God is raising a cloud of faithful witnesses
to revive the church. The participants
of ELF were eloquent testimony to that, and Akinola exhorted and encouraged us all
to go back to our various ministries, confident that God was calling us to
stand in the gap, to be the instruments of His renewing work.
help, the ELF is doing wonders for Christ’s church on Earth. To see so many talented, dedicated leaders,
focusing their intellect, will, compassion and commitment on building God’s
kingdom, was both heartening and inspiring.
I hope and pray that the ELF continues to grow in numbers and influence,
and urge members of the EPS to be active in supporting the ELF’s important
Labels: angus menuge, christian philosophy, david horner, eudaimonism, european leadership forum, Peter S. Williams, resources, soul