In the summer of 2010, my family (wife and four kids) and I went on a journey in search of Deep Christianity. We spent eleven months–six in Oxford England and five in Europe—focusing on a dozen of my heroes of the faith; the men and women who because of the gospel in their life made an extraordinary impact on the world around them.
Sociologist Christian Smith says that the reason most kids don’t remain in the faith when they get to college is that their understanding of the Christian faith is so shallow that it can’t withstand the onslaught of the secular worldview of the university. He claims, based on most extensive surveys of young adults, that most kids possess a “feel good, do good” faith called Therapeutic Moral Deism that no longer resembles historic, orthodox faith. Our goal was to take our kids on this journey to get them rooted, with God’s help, in Deep Christianity, which would not only help them to withstand the secularism of the university worldview but would also give them the opportunity to experience the depth, the beauty, and the wonder of Christianity.
Living in Oxford we focused our journey on what it means to come to saving faith, what the Christian life looks like, and how it gives us meaning and purpose. We studied the lives and writings of C.S. Lewis, Thomas Cranmer, Sheldon Vanauken, and William Wilberforce, making sure to visit the significant historical places connected to each of them.
In February 2011, we left England and headed for Europe. We traveled to seven different countries in search of more heroes whose gospel-driven faith took them through suffering, political tyranny and concentration camps. We traveled to Holland to see the Corrie Ten Boom “Hiding Place,” to Germany to walk in the steps of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and to the mountains of south central France to relive the rescue of five thousand Jewish children by a unique Christian community. Our last month we took them to Italy to demonstrate how a vision for the City of God, inspired by St. Augustine, has generated some of the most inspiring architecture and cities in the world.
In the end, although it was hard to come home, we were thrilled to relocate to Fort Lauderdale and become part of the Knox Seminary faculty. But we have not forgotten our journey. As a family, our commitment to deep Christianity continues today and we often hearken back to the wonderful memories and experiences of our year abroad, knowing that it will impact our whole family for years to come. As my current students at Knox will attest, this pilgrimage influences the themes and topics that I bring into the classroom, hoping to inspire them to experience, live out, and share a gospel-driven faith.