Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Visit to Rivendell Sanctuary

Last week (Feb.8-10) I gave a series of 9 lectures on a Biblical view of mathematics, plus a public lecture ("Did Science kill God?"), at Rivendell Sanctuary in Bloomington, Minnesoto, USA.

Rivendell Sanctuary is a new institution that began in January, 2011. It offers an 18-month Associate of Arts degree program "focused on preparing high school graduates to excel academically, spiritually, morally, and socially in college and citizenship."  Students then complete their last two years of university elsewhere. It takes cohorts of about 30 students at a time, led by 4 faculty, through a sequence of modules. The Statement of Faith is centered on the authoritative, inerrant Word of God. The notion of a Biblical worldview is stressed and developed throughout the program. All students--and faculty--live on campus and spend much of their time together, thereby enabling the faculty to be effective mentors.

As shown in the diagram below, the first three modules address critical thinking, theology and philosophy. Next come mathematics, physics and biology. Then psychology, sociology, etc. Each module takes about 6 weeks. During the last week of each module a Christian expert in the discipline is invited to give a series of lectures concerning a Christian approach to the discipline. Past visiting professors included well-known scholars such as J.P. Moreland, Michael Behe and William Craig.

(click on the diagram to enlarge it).
I was invited to cap off the module on mathematics.
My time at Rivendell was very pleasant. I much enjoyed the interaction with the students, who asked some very penetrating questions.
I also appreciated meeting Rick and Nancy Pearcey, the two faculty who were in charge of this cohort of students. Rick Pearcey is the editor and publisher of  The Pearcey Report; Nancy has written a number of excellent books, including The Soul of Science, Total Truth and Saving Leonardo.
I think that Rivendell Sanctuary's approach to higher Christian education has much merit. The sound Biblical basis, the emphasis on holistic worldview thinking, the modular approach, the faculty mentoring, etc. must surely be very conducive in producing students well-prepared to develop into first-rate Christian scholars.


Dean Davis said...


From what I recall, Pearcy and Colson have embraced the Big Bang and cosmic evolution. How do they hand creation at Rivendell?


john byl said...

It did not seem to me that Nancy Pearcey has embraced either Big Bang cosmology or cosmic evolution.

Some of the guest speakers—William Craig, Michael Behe—have been open to these, albeit from an intelligent design perspective. But other guest speakers have been more sympathetic to young earth creationism.

As far as I know, Rivendell has taken no specific position of creation. Its Statement of Faith affirms:

Scripture: We believe the Bible is the authoritative and inspired Word of God without historical, moral or spiritual error. It is the blueprint for reality and should be recognized as the final authority in every aspect of life.

Creation: We believe that the physical universe is the creation of God. It reveals His existence, glory, wisdom, character and power. We believe that God’s work in creation and God’s Word in the Bible will never contradict one another.

The last sentence is perhaps ambiguous: some might take it to mean that the Bible should be read in light of science, rather than vice versa.