Message from the President

Keeping our focus

The fall 2009 issue of the George Fox Journal received more responses than any issue in recent memory. Both the cover image and the story on creation care sparked compliments and concern. While some felt the magazine addressed a timely issue with creativity, others thought we were being sensational and misplacing our priorities. I want to address these concerns.

First, the cover image was an adaptation of a 1526 painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder, a friend of Martin Luther. Several of you told us you felt uncomfortable putting the semi-covered images of Adam and Eve on your coffee tables. We certainly support the value of modesty and condemn the sexual objectification of women or men. Our artist added more coverage to the bodies than was in the original after showing a first draft of the cover to alumni living at the nearby Friendsview Retirement Community. The artwork was intended as a thought-provoking illustration of the story inside.

That brings me to the issue of creation care. Some of you asked if we were abandoning our concern for the salvation of souls in our efforts to be "green." The answer is clearly no. We affirm Jesus’ statement to the disciples repeated in Luke 24:47 - "There is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me." Although George Fox is staffed by fallible individuals, we strive to make Christ the center of our work and lives. We continue to believe that the good news of God’s sacrifice and love is to be shared and lived out. Just as our student artists and professors are making efforts to relieve suffering in Haiti through the Empty Bowls fundraiser, being stewards of God’s creation is another way we express our love of God and our neighbor. Indeed, some of the most significant authors of the 20th century who were also Christians, C. S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, T. S. Eliot, believed that our modern industrial society encouraged a disregard for the natural environment and the beauty of God’s creation. I believe that being committed to Christ and also concerned about the way our society treats the environment are not mutually exclusive.

Jason Zahariades suggests that the community of Christ "is about becoming by grace what Christ is by nature ... wherever the community members live their daily lives, they are learning how to easily, naturally, and routinely embody, demonstrate and announce God’s life and reign for the sake of the world around them." At George Fox University, we are primarily concerned that we help students learn what it means to be Christ to their culture. We do so with a strong commitment to the revealed Word of God and carefully listening to the Spirit. We pray that you remain partners with us in this effort.

Yours in Christ,

Robin Baker