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Dr. Steven Garber, Executive Director, The Washington Institute


February 4, 2012 at 11:00 AM EST


411 Willard Straight Hall

The annual Institute of Biblical Studies, sponsored by Chesterton House, Bethel Grove Bible Church, and New Life Presbyterian Church, is designed to teach from the Scriptures, challenging participants to deepen their knowledge and understanding of God’s Word. Past speakers have included Dr. D.A. Carson, Dr. Walter Kaiser, Dr. Roger Nicole, and Dr. Richard Pratt.

This year’s guest is Dr. Steven Garber, who will be speaking on the theme of Vocation and the Common Good. The first lecture will be delivered Friday evening, 7:30pm, on the Cornell University campus, and is free and open to the public. The conference will continue on Saturday and conclude with a Sunday morning sermon.

“Knowledge is power!” was the promise of the Enlightenment. Yes, in a thousand ways, and the great universities of the modern world have birthed that reality And yet, even as it was coming into being there were those who saw knowledge differently. The poet Byron lamented that “those who know the most mourn the deepest.” More recently the Librarian of Congress has wondered if our unprecedented access to information has made us wiser as a people. Why is knowing the world so full of promise and peril at the very same time? What is it about knowing people and places that more often than not leads to cynicism or stoicism? Different responses as they are, both are ways to protect ourselves from the implications of what we know, both allow us to say, “Yes, I know but….” Is it possible to honestly know the world, and to still love it? Only if our vision of vocation—of what we do and why we do it –is rooted in the reality of common grace for the common good.


9:00am – Lecture 2: Seek the Flourishing of the City

Known both for the clarity of his critique and for the weight of his lament, the prophet Jeremiah called the exiled people of God to “seek the flourishing of the city,” viz. Babylon. And people like Daniel took that vocation seriously, mastering the learning of that culture and serving its rulers over the course of his life. How do we make sense of a life like that in the globalizing political economy of the 21st-century? And what might a more modern voice like Wendell Berry teach us about our relationships and responsibilities to the worlds that are ours?


10:45am – Lecture 3: Storied Lives, Storied Living

After reading Bible a Hindu scholar wondered, “How can this book be just one more book of religion? Its views of history and the human condition are completely unique.” What did he mean? What is the story that Scripture tells about life for everyone, everywhere? Is it true? And what difference does it make? The words cult, cultivate, and culture define each other, and define our lives—for blessing and for curse.


1:30pm – Lecture 4: Words Have to Become Flesh

The Incarnation is the central doctrine of the Christian faith. But it is more than that too, viz. a pedagogical reality. We do not learn anything that matters without seeing “over-the-shoulder and through-the-heart” of people who can show us how ideas have legs, how worldviews can become ways of life. From farming to philosophy, from brick-laying to business, words have to become flesh for us to understand them. The gospel of John offers a compelling vision of this kind of learning and life.



Steven Garber has a classroom among many people in many places. As the Director of the Washington Institute, the heart of his own calling is that people understand the integral character of faith, vocation, and culture. Author of The Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief and Behavior (Second Ed., 2007), he writes frequently for Comment and Critique, and in addition was a contributor to the volumes Faith Goes to Work: Reflections From the Marketplace, and Get Up Off Your Knees: Preaching the U2 Catalogue, as well as to the Mars Hill Audio journal, “Tacit Knowing, Truthful Knowing: The Life and Work of Michael Polanyi.” For many years he taught on Capitol Hill in the American Studies Program, and then became the Scholar-in-Residence for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He serves as a board member for Ransom Fellowship, the Blood:Water Mission, A Rocha, the Telos Project, and the Wedgwood Circle, and serves as a consultant to the Murdock Trust, the Demdaco Corporation and the Mars Corporation. A native of the great valleys of Colorado and California, he is married to Meg and is the father of five children whose own callings have them scattered around the world.

Chesterton House Painting