Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us at iAt!
As we finish off 2021, thank you readers. We are grateful for the consistent readership around the world. Here is a list of the top dozen most read articles on iAt in 2021. We look forward to 2022 as we continue to engage our culture through essays, book reviews, and podcast conversations. We want to hear from you! What were your favorite articles from this past year? And, what topics would you like iAt to explore this coming year? Comment with your thoughts and ideas.
1. The RCA: Where we Find Ourselves by Caleb Schut
Caleb Schut, an RCA pastor, reflects on the results of the recent General Synod in the Reformed Church of America (RCA). He writes, “There were weighty differences among us. But we also found ourselves together in prayer. We found ourselves praying together for the future of the church. And where we find ourselves is usually where we are called.”
2. Reasonable Doubt? by Jeff Ploegstra
“Dr. Danny Faulkner, in his article “Reflections on the Flat Earth Conspiracy,” argues that once you doubt something really fundamental, something that you may have taken for granted your entire life, it becomes very easy to find yourself doubting all kinds of things. Interesting. Why was it so hard for people to take COVID-19 seriously from the beginning? Has someone undermined our faith in science?” Jeff Ploegstra, Dordt biology professor, explores how “it is important to engage in critical thinking and dialogue when it is done carefully and lovingly.”
3. Walking the Talk in a Vaccine Study by Carl Fictorie
“As a professor—one who professes—I wanted to walk my talk. I teach my students that science is a reliable tool for obtaining genuine knowledge of how creation works, enabling humanity to care for creation, to use it to provide for our needs, and to make useful, interesting, and beautiful things. Even though I don’t have expertise in the science of vaccines that is any better than the average person, the opportunity to participate in a vaccine trial seemed an excellent opportunity to demonstrate my confidence in science in general,” states Carl Fictorie, a Dordt professor.
4. When Cultural Scripts and Christian Identity Clash by Aaron Baart
“Despite our Judeo-Christian roots, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to be a serious follower of Jesus in the West today. The dominant culture in most Western countries has shifted over the past century, causing Christians to find themselves more and more in the margins of society, rather than enjoying the majority position which Christianity has held for so much of Western history. This transition has caused visible frustration for many Christians, tempting them to adopt a posture that is more and more combative with culture. Often Christians today talk about culture as if it is the antithesis to Christianity. This results in an us-versus-them rhetoric that is seriously inhibiting Christianity’s witness in the Western world.” writes Aaron Baart, Dordt campus Chief of Staff and Dean of Chapel.
“Often Christians today talk about culture as if it is the antithesis to Christianity. This results in an us-versus-them rhetoric that is seriously inhibiting Christianity’s witness in the Western world.”Aaron Baart
5. God at Babel by Rose Postma
“I believe all these things about words and creation and how we use language to push back against the effects of the Fall, but lately, it feels more like we are living at the Tower of Babel. While the people at Babel could point to an exact morning when everything shifted, when they stopped being able to communicate with their neighbor, when words seemed to stop working, I’m not exactly sure when it happened for me. But I know that by the time the pandemic started raging across the country in the Spring of 2020, the barriers to communication at Babel had taken root in my own life. ” Rose Postma narrates our need to care for words.
6. Character, Charisma, Hope, and Healing: Reflections on the Rise and Fall of Mars Hill (a podcast) by Gayle Doornbos
“As I finished listening to “Who Killed Mars Hill?”, the first episode of the podcast series The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill produced by Christianity Today and hosted by Mike Cosper, I sat in stunned silence trying to process and metabolize all the lessons and questions raised by the episode. I, like many, am familiar with the Mars Hill story—its impressive rise to a church of more than 15,000 in the notoriously secular city of Seattle under Mark Driscoll and its meteoric fall in 2014. I lived in Seattle during the church’s heyday. I was also a college student when the evangelical ecclesial landscape in the United States was shaped by complex movements like the emergent church and the young, restless, and Reformed.”
Reprinted with permission from Center for Pastor Theologians (CPT); the original can be found here.
7-8. The Weight of Words by Rachel Hibma (Part 1 and 2)
Poetry. Beauty. Teaching. Rachel Hibma writes, “In order to feel deeply about the world around me, I have to pay attention.” If you are a person who longs to “pay attention” to the things around you a little more clearly, Rachel Hibma’s two-part essay is a beautiful place to begin.
“In order to feel deeply about the world around me, I have to pay attention.”Rachel Hibma
9. Do you Want to Have a Catch? by Rylan Brue
“What do we want when “we wish we could just get it back”? I think most of us understand intuitively what Costner is saying while being unable to name what it is exactly. All we know is that we want it back. We have lost something. We have made mistakes. Time has carried us downstream, and we stare behind us, unsure how to get back where we started. There is something disjointed with the world. Or is it us? Is it a relationship? Is it the past?” Rylan Brue, Dordt student studying theology and philosophy, intertwines nostalgia, communication, and A. Kuyper in this poignant essay.
“We all have imagined selves and imagined futures we have to let go of,” Caleb Schut, an RCA pastor, explains. Enjoy his reflection on the challenges and beauty of trusting in a God who holds “us through the waves.”
11. She is to Remain Silent by Joya Schreurs
“Women are not only prevented from exercising the full range of their spiritual gifts, but grapple with the message this sends about their worth as church members and simply as humans.” Read the rest of Joya Schreurs’, a Dordt student, article to delve deeper into one young woman’s story of her church experiences.
Reprinted with permission from The Reformed Journal; the original can be found here.
12. I Am a Part by Josie De Jong
“When Professor De Smith asked for evening volunteer “sack packers” from the students in his English classes, I jumped at the offer. It was one of those things—things I probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to do otherwise, a thing that required “capital ‘A’” Action. And maybe action was an understatement.” Josie, a Dordt student, reflects on saying ‘yes’ to opportunities. Where are you being asked to ‘be a part’?
We hope you are challenged by these topics and continue to embrace a posture of grace and love at the intersection of faith and culture as we enter into a new year. Cheers to you and yours from the in All things staff at the Andreas Center at Dordt University.
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