Robertson School of Government Newsletter – February 2020

Robertson School of Government Newsletter – February 2020

Feature Article

REGENT UNIVERSITY ANNOUNCES NEW HONORS COLLEGE IN VIRGINIA BEACH

During its annual Scholar’s Weekend event, Regent University announced the launch of a standalone Honors College on Regent’s campus in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The Honors College will attract students with the highest GPAs and academic accomplishments, and provide advanced honors curriculum and mentorship opportunities. The college is recruiting now for its first class, to begin in August 2020.

“We believe that this college will quickly become one of national distinction in undergraduate honors education in the United States,” said Regent Founder, Chancellor and CEO, Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson. “The Regent University Honors College will be the college of choice for students seeking a rigorous Christian education.”

The Honors College will offer sophisticated honors curricula based on its unique educational L.I.F.E. model: great Learning, Instruction, Faculty, and Expectations. The L.I.F.E. approach to honors education at Regent will be offered by some of the best faculty in the country who serve at the university.

“The university has a premier team of faculty offering leading curricula and a state-of-the-art plan to ensure that students receive the finest instruction within a challenging environment,” said Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Gerson Moreno-Riano. “Simply said, the focus of the Honors College is to discover greatness – the greatness of God, the greatness of His ways and His acts, and the greatness that He allows us to accomplish through Him. We believe it will absolutely transform students to be great leaders to make the world a better place.”

For more than four decades, Regent University has trained Christian leaders to change the world, equipping men and women to do great things in a world that often accepts mediocrity as its highest standard. Less than five years ago, the university initiated a robust Honors Program. The Honors College will continue in this tradition of greatness by providing advanced opportunities for motivated students to gain a unique intellectual, spiritual and social experience. Alumni from the Honors Program are already competitive in industry-leading companies and organizations. Many have also continued their studies at top graduate and professional schools. The Honors College will yield exponential influence by opening doors for hundreds more students and providing additional leading-edge tools that challenge and equip them to change the world.

According to Dr. Josh McMullen, interim dean of Regent’s College of Arts & Sciences, Honors College students can expect challenging, meaningful opportunities to grow in faith and godly character; learn to appreciate and defend the great principles of liberty, justice, self-government, and economic freedom; defend the True, the Good and the Beautiful; and make significant contributions by addressing real-world problems.

“The world needs dedicated Christians with disciplined minds, exceptional spirits and battle-tested hearts to challenge the culture and to lead and serve others to the glory of God,” McMullen said. “With a great curriculum, instruction, faculty, and setting great expectations, Regent’s Honors College seeks to change the way students view the world – and prepare them to meet it with greatness.”

The Honors College welcomes applicants for its inaugural class. Learn more at regent.edu/honors.


Dean’s Corner

Dear Friends,

In the midst of economic downturns, due to everything from Coronavirus to disagreements between Russia and OPEC over oil production levels, and while anticipating even more primary election returns as the Democrats line up behind just a couple of candidates for President, we in the Robertson School of Government are excitedly moving forward.

Our campaign management and strategies concentration is adding additional expertise as we bring both experienced guest lecturers and new faculty members aboard to develop that concentration. More than ever, we see that campaigns and winning elections really do matter.

In addition, RSG has been given the green light to develop a new MA degree in International Development. The degree will involve collaboration with organizations like Operation Blessing.  Work is progressing on that. We have other initiatives in the works with the Center for Christian Thought and Action at Regent that will further expand our reach and impact. More video blogs from RSG are posted on their site and on YouTube. Links to some are in this newsletter.

In addition, as Dean I had the tremendous opportunity to join Israel Collective and Christians United for Israel (CUFI) on a trip to Israel in February. The perspective I gained from presentations by former government officials, professors and medical researchers in their universities and hospitals, and average ordinary people navigating life amidst rocket attacks and anti-Semitism was amazing. Israel is a fabulous place on so many levels. Thanks to CUFI for making that trip possible.

While I was doing that, a former Israeli Ambassador visited campus and gave a presentation to those left behind. In addition, we had a watch party for the Iowa Caucuses – not much to watch that night on returns, as you’ll remember – and Scholar-at-Large and former Dean Eric Patterson had opportunities to continue his fight for humane treatment of religious minorities through presentations and radio interviews. Those stories are below.

I continue to count it a privilege to be the Interim Dean of this great School. Thanks for following what we do.

Sincerely,
Stephen D. Perry, Ph.D.
Interim Dean and Professor


More from the RSG Social Media


Recent Events

FORMER ISRAELI AMBASSADOR, IDO AHARONI, SPEAKS TO FSA ATTENDEES AND RSG STUDENTS ON THE FUTURE OF ISRAEL AND THE MIDDLE EAST

 

RSG hosted former Israeli Ambassador Ido Aharoni for a discussion of Israeli foreign policy on February 19, 2020. The Ambassador, who previously served as Consul-General of Israel’s largest U.S. consulate, discussed differences between foreign policy institutions and imperatives between Israel and the United States, and answered student questions about Israeli politics.

Ido Aharoni serves as Global Distinguished Professor for International Relations at New York University’s Faculty of Arts and Science. Ambassador Aharoni is a 25-year veteran of Israel’s Foreign Service. He is a public diplomacy specialist, founder of the Brand Israel program and a well-known nation branding practitioner.

 

 

 


IOWA CAUCUSES WATCH PARTY EVENT DISCUSSING THE CAUCUS PROCESS, PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNS, AND POLLING

 

On February 3, RSG, the College of Arts and Sciences Government Department, and the Graduate and Undergraduate Student Governments co-hosted an Iowa caucus watch party on campus. Dr. A.J. Nolte from RSG and Dr. Nick Higgins led the event, providing predictions and analysis as we waited for events. You can find a LIVE recorded podcast of the event here, and a video of Dr. Nolte’s morning after reaction to the results here.

 

 

 


Faculty Highlight

RELEVANT RADIO INTERVIEW ON RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION IN NIGERIA

Robertson School of Government, Scholar at Large, Dr. Eric Patterson gave a radio interview on religious persecution in Nigeria to Relevant Radio (Dr. Patterson’s portion of the interview can be found between time stamp 30:00 and 36:40.)  Dr. Patterson has maintained a keen interest in Nigeria since visiting the country in 2007 while working for the U.S. Department of State.  When asked about Nigeria, Dr. Patterson says, “The people were welcoming, and it is a vast, interesting, magnificent place.  It is sad to think about how much of its wealth (e.g. oil) is lost, stolen, or squandered.  It is a place that could easily care for its own and be prosperous.”

In his radio interview, Dr. Patterson was asked about the religious dynamics of insecurity, persecution, and terrorism in Nigeria.  He made several observations.

First, Nigeria is a country of 200 million people: it dwarfs its neighbors and its neighborhood. If it fails or falls into another civil war, it will be a regional disaster with global implications.

Second, the religious and ethno-religious violence is multi-dimensional. For example, Boko Haram has killed over 27 thousand people in the past ten years, the majority of which are Muslims, not Christians.  They desecrate churches and traditional mosques and religious figures. Boko Haram and other violent Islamists are polarizing the Sunni-majority north, enticing many young males to violence and spreading Sunni-on-Shia violence against the Shia minority (Shia make up about 25% of Muslims).

For over 30 years there has been a clash in the Middle Belt along socio-economic and ethno-religious fault lines: pastoralists vs. agriculturalists and townspeople.  The former is largely Muslim, and the latter include many Christians.  Amazingly, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom documents something like 160 thousand people having been displaced in the past few years in this ongoing conflict.

Sadly, Christians are targeted, such as the seminarian killed this recently, or pastors, priests, and humanitarian workers.  It is notable that professional clergy are often targeted by Muslims, but far less by Christians.  In other words, violent Islamists and other Muslims are far more likely to target a pastor or church than Christian extremists to target a mosque or imam.

Dr. Patterson concluded that Christians must pray for their fellow Christians in Nigeria: pray for courageous responses by the Government of Nigeria, pray for the protection of Christians, and pray for peace in the region for all citizens.


ERIC PATTERSON ADDRESSES MILITARY PRAYER BREAKFAST

RSG Scholar at Large and former dean, Dr. Eric Patterson, provided the keynote speech for Joint Base Langley-Eustis’ annual prayer breakfast on February 11, 2020 to over two hundred soldiers and airmen.

The military base is located near Virginia’s colonial era capital, Williamsburg, and many sites of the American War for Independence, including Yorktown, where British General Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington.  Patterson reminded the audience of the great contributions that Virginians made to the cause of religious freedom.  Patrick Henry defended the religious freedom of Baptists and Presbyterians in the courts.  Thomas Jefferson wrote the Virginia Statutes on Religious Freedom.  James Madison, Father of the Constitution, emphasized individual religious freedom and accompanying limits on federal government establishment of religion.  George Washington exhorted all Americans that “religion and morality are indispensable supports” to “political prosperity.”

Patterson went on to note:
“These founders were articulating what we at RFI call free exercise equality: the equal right of all citizens to freely exercise their religion with the least amount of government intervention possible.  It is a robust right to be recognized by government, not given by government, because it is inherent part of personhood to seek answers—religious answers—to fundamental questions about the meaning of life, right and wrong, and eternity.  Free exercise equality recognizes the many ways that citizens practice their faith beyond private prayer and worship, to include meeting together (which implies renting or owning private property), directing their funds to religious and charitable activities, raising one’s children in the faith (to include parochial education), reading, publishing, and sharing materials, studying other faiths and sharing about one’s own faith, and the like. One can see how this first freedom is intimately wrapped up in other key freedoms such as speech, conscience, assembly, the press, and private property.”

Patterson gave three examples of prayer: prayer as thanksgiving, prayer as an opening for divinely directed activity, and the importance of love for one’s neighbors.

George Washington won the Battle of Dorchester Heights without a shot.  A combination of his strategic positioning of troops on high ground above British forces and a violent storm that forced the redcoats to abandon Boston Harbor contributed to the victory.  Washington, realizing that dramatic weather had saved the day, testified in a letter to his brother that the storm was “providential.”  Instead of celebrating in camp, Washington led his officers down the hill and into Boston to participate in a service of thanksgiving at a local church.  The Father of Our Country was thankful to God and publicly modeled spiritual gratitude.

More than a year later, Washington led his ragged army into winter quarters at Valley Forge.  They were ill-nourished, ill-clad, and ill-prepared for a Pennsylvania winter.  The Continental Congress could not, or would not, obtain the necessary funds and resources to provision the garrison.  St. George’s Methodist Church, in Philadelphia, held an all-night prayer vigil on New Year’s Eve, 1777.    During that time of prayer, a wealthy businessman named Robert Morris felt convicted to care for the army.  Morris, a member of the Continental Congress and signer of the Declaration of Independence, left the church and went door to door among his wealthy neighbors, entreating them to join him in providing succor to the troops in nearby Valley Forge.  By the next day, Washington received word that help was on the way.  It was a time of prayer that provided the space for Morris to hear the appeal and commit to action.

After discussing Washington and Morris, Patterson turned attention to the current coronavirus epidemic and its epicenter in Wuhan, China.  A letter surfaced on January 23, 2020 from a pastor in Wuhan.  It is a powerful epistle reminiscent of the first century church, when apostles wrote letters during times of conflict and suffering.  Patterson read major portions of the letter, which can be found in its entirety below, emphasizing the call to pray for public servants in harm’s way and especially the call to be motivated by love for others in need:

We must pray for God’s mercy upon this city and bring peace upon this city through our prayers and testimony.

I believe this is the command of God calling those of us living in Wuhan. We are to seek peace for this city, seek peace for those who are afflicted with this illness, seek peace for the medical personnel struggling on the front lines, seek peace for every government official at every level, seek peace for all the people of Wuhan! And we can through online networks guide and comfort our friends and loved ones with the gospel, reminding them that our lives are not in our own hands, and to entrust their lives to God who is faithful and true.

The past few days I have received many inquiries from foreign pastors. They and the whole church are concerned for this city, even more for us; and confronting this epidemic, seek to serve the city with us.

Thus, I especially ask them to turn their eyes upon Jesus. And do not be concerned with my welfare, nor be agitated or fearful, but pray in the name of Jesus. Good hearted people are through their actions serving this city, especially the medical personnel who are risking their own lives. If they can take on such worldly responsibilities, how can we not more readily take on spiritual responsibilities!

The prayer breakfast included prayers for our national leadership, our service personnel and their families, and for world peace.  This event is one of thousands of community prayer breakfasts that occur in early February in tandem with the Washington, DC national prayer breakfast.

 


A Letter from a Wuhan Pastor

Brothers and sisters, peace be upon you:

During these past days the Wuhan pneumonia [virus] has been at the center of my thoughts and life. [I am] always watching the latest news, and always thinking about how our family and the church should face this.

As for family, I have gathered masks and foodstuffs and have ventured out of doors as little as possible. When venturing out in public I have worn a mask, but as for the rest, I have placed it in the Lord’s hands.

As for the church, the safety of the congregation, a faithful witness, the possibility that members could contract the illness, have all become a great area of struggle. It is readily apparent that we are facing a test of our faith.

The situation is so critical, yet [we are] trusting in the Lord’s promises, that his thoughts toward us are of peace, and not evil (Jeremiah. 29:11), and that he allows for a time of testing, not to destroy us, but to establish us. Therefore, Christians are not only to suffer with the people of this city, but we have a responsibility to pray for those in this city who are fearful, and to bring to them the peace of Christ.

First, we are to seek the peace of Christ to reign in their hearts (Hebrews 3:15). Christ has already given us his peace, but his peace is not to remove us from disaster and death, but rather to have peace in the midst of disaster and death, because Christ has already overcome these things (John 14:27, 16:33). Otherwise we have not believed in the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15), and, with the world, would be terrified of pestilence, and lose hope in the face of death.

Why do only Christians have this peace? Because of sin, humans deserve the trials and tribulations that come upon them, Jehovah says: the wicked have no peace (Isaiah 48:22). We were all sinners, but Christ, because of faith, took our penalty and gave us his peace. Therefore, Paul says, who can bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. (Romans 8:33). Christians may with the world face the same tribulations, but such tribulations are no longer punishment, but a new opportunity to grow nearer to the Almighty, to purify our souls, and an opportunity to proclaim the gospel.

In other words, when disaster strikes us, it is but a form of God’s love. And, as Paul firmly believed, “who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger or sword? . . .  in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loves us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Roman. 8:35-39).

Spoken for today, Wuhan’s pestilence cannot separate us from the love of Christ; this love is in our Lord Jesus Christ. These words are so comforting for us, we have already become one body with Christ. We have a part in his sufferings, and we have a part in his glory, all of Christ’s is ours, and our all is Christ’s. Therefore, Christ is with us as we face the pestilence in this city; the pestilence cannot harm us. If we die in the pestilence, it is an opportunity to witness to Christ, and even more to enter into his glory.

Thus, my brothers and sisters, I encourage you to be strong in Christ’s love. If we more deeply experience death in this pestilence, understanding the gospel, we may more deeply experience Christ’s love, and grow ever nearer to God. Our Lord Jesus through faith experienced an incomparable suffering of death, yet God raised him from the dead, and sat him at his right hand.  (Acts 2:32-36)

If in reading these truths you still have no peace, I encourage you to diligently read the above cited scripture and call on the Lord to give you insight until the peace of Christ reigns in your heart. You must know, that this is not just an observable disaster, but even more it is a spiritual struggle. You should first wage a battle for your heart, and secondarily battle for the soul of this city.

We earnestly hope that you would know that not a sparrow falls without the will of the Father (Matthew 10:29). With so many souls facing pestilence, can it be outside God’s will? All that we are experiencing, is it not like Abraham facing Sodom, and Jonah facing Nineveh?

If God, because of a righteous man withheld judgment on Sodom, or because of 120,000 who didn’t know their left hand from their right, withheld destruction, what of the city of Wuhan in which we live?  We are clearly the righteous in this city, far more than a single righteous person there are thousands and thousands of us. Yet, may we like Lot be grieved over all those in this city (1 Peter 2:7), and like Abraham who earnestly prayed for Sodom (Genesis 18:23-33). You see, Jonah with difficulty proclaimed the gospel to Nineveh, and Nineveh repented and was saved. We are this city’s Abraham and Jonah. We must pray for God’s mercy upon this city, and bring peace upon this city through our prayers and testimony.

I believe this is the command of God calling those of us living in Wuhan. We are to seek peace for this city, seek peace for those who are afflicted with this illness, seek peace for the medical personnel struggling on the front lines, seek peace for every government official at every level, seek peace for all the people of Wuhan! And we can through online networks guide and comfort our friends and loved ones with the gospel, reminding them that our lives are not in our own hands, and to entrust their lives to God who is faithful and true.

The past few days I have received many inquiries from foreign pastors. They and the whole church are concerned for this city, even more for us; and confronting this epidemic, seek to serve the city with us.

Thus, I especially ask them to turn their eyes upon Jesus. And do not be concerned with my welfare, nor be agitated or fearful, but pray in the name of Jesus. Good hearted people are through their actions serving this city, especially the medical personnel who are risking their own lives. If they can take on such worldly responsibilities, how can we not more readily take on spiritual responsibilities!

If you do not feel a responsibility to pray, ask the Lord for a loving soul, an earnestly prayerful heart; if you are not crying, ask the Lord for tears. Because we surely know that only through the hope of the Lord’s mercy will this city be saved.

A Wuhan Pastor
January 23, 2020

This letter was passed on to us for distribution by a friend of ChinaSource. Join us in praying for all those affected by this crisis, especially for our brothers and sisters in and around Wuhan. 

Editor’s note: A change in title and formatting was made to this article on January 30, 2020.