Leaders are readers… and lifelong learners.
If you’ve been around this weekly conversation for awhile, no part of that first line is foreign to you; it’s at the core of this Monday missive. Only the arrogant end their continuing intake of wisdom from reliable sources: the leader who has a future is the woman or man who makes finding and downloading great insight an ongoing habit of life.
I’ve always been intrigued by an enterprise that advertises frequently in the Wall Street Journal. TheGreatCourses.com is a perfect-for-the-times service. Founded 25 years ago by Tom Rollins – at that time, a law student at Harvard who needed help to prep for a vital exam – to help busy people gain valuable sophistication, their concept was simple: find the top 1% of college professors who could communicate their subjects well, and make the service available outside the conventional classroom
Over a quarter century, over 19 million courses have been audited by their customers. Their half-page ad in the WSJ Weekend Edition caught my eye with this week’s featured course: How Jesus Became God.
Taught by Bart D. Ehrman, the 24 lectures come from Ehrman’s 2014 book, sporting the same title. Ehrman is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His own story is important to note: converted to faith as a teenager, Ehrman attended Moody Bible Institute, finished his undergraduate studies at Wheaton College, and pursued his PhD at Princeton Theological Seminary. Paralleling his academic journey, he describes his movement from “born again” to “liberal” to – finally – “agnostic atheist.” From that personal belief foundation, Ehrman has served Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at UNC, and his numerous books – both popular and academic textbooks – spring from his rejection of the divine inspiration of the Scriptures and of the deity of Jesus.
I’ve decided against The Great Courses from Ehrman; I found a synopsis of the subject written by an eyewitness in the 1st Century that has been read by a far broader audience than Ehrman will ever reach. Here’s Paul’s take: not on “How Jesus Became God,” but, “How God Became Jesus:”
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11)
If you’re looking for a good book to pursue in the next couple of weeks – while you’re decoding the outcome of Rams vs Patriots in the Big One – you might want to get your hands on a new one by Dan Buttafuoco, a practicing attorney who has taken on the task of putting the Christian faith on trial, analyzing the evidence for the New Testament’s reliability and the claims that it makes about the Lord Jesus. The title is a virtual summation: Consider the Evidence: A Trial Lawyer Examines Eyewitness Testimony in Defense of the Reliability of the New Testament. The review in TownHall makes the case; it would be worth the time and money…
The assaults on what we believe have always been present, but their intensity is building and their mainstream validation is elevating them. Leaders are readers… but it’s important to be very discriminating about who you’re reading and where they’re leading.