Ideas Have Legs

I have to confess, I am a Star Trek Fan.
Take the part where Jean Luc Picard speaks to 21 century humans who have been awaken after 300 years in cryogenic state and calmly explains we have nor need of material ambitions, money, wars or aggressive competition. We put that part of our human history well truly behind us. Now we focus on cooperating and discovery of the universe. The future is so much better than the past.

This is such a powerful idea.  Today, people are aghast and angry that perhaps the next generation (or even in the next 5 years) we may be more poor or be worse off;  for surely our destiny is onwards and upwards. But where did this idea begin?

In the ancient world the idea of progress was unheard of.  The ‘future’ was much the same as the present (or in the Hindu world it was cyclical).  The’ middle’ is often called the dark ages because many thought society had regressed from the Golden age of Ancient Big civilizations, such as the Greek and Roman empires.

Yet through small beginnings this idea was nurtured of progress particularly through commitment to invention, a movement to a better world and life into the future could be achieved.

Francis Bacon judged that, “owing mainly to an undue reverence for the past (as well as to an excessive absorption in cultural vanities and frivolities), the intellectual life of Europe had reached a kind of impasse or standstill”. Yet he believed there was a way beyond this stagnation if persons of learning, armed with new methods and insights, would simply open their eyes and minds to the world around them. This at any rate was the basic argument of his seminal 1605 treatise The Proficience and Advancement of Learning, arguably the first important philosophical work to be published in English.

This idea was scoffed at first. It stood against the wisdom of the day, but it began to grow legs, walk and then run through history –  growing, adapting and changing us to the modern world of today.

As a side track, are ideas ever really completely new? Some may argue Bacon may have been influenced by writing some 1100 years earlier when Augustine put forward a view of History that it is moving forward from its Beginning Creation to the New Jerusalem

But why am I babbling on about ideas?

Part of me some weeks ago felt a little bit trapped thinking about my work over the years of working mainly with Ideas. I was not really getting out there practically helping and serving those in need. Maybe what I’m working on is a waste of time. BUT then I remembered an old friend’s devotion entitled Ideas Have Legs. They run through History shaping our lives.

Being part of a Christian Higher Education, we work with ideas. We read them and analyze them and apply them. We also generate them.

A Fellow traveller, Professor David Smith, noticed because of His Christian worldview that most of the text books teaching foreign languages were framed by the big idea of consumerism. He asked the question, what if we made THE BIG IDEA OF HOSPITALITY the central idea of our foreign language program? What would it look like?

His approach is transforming one.

We need to conceptualize the present practices and ideas behind them in the light of the Gospel, let it show us the distortions and gaps, and then reconceptualise around a kingdom vision/dream… and ask WHAT IF?

This talk was given at an Eastern College Gathering on Wednesday, 16-Aug-2017

By Andrew Schmidt
Bachelor of Education Course Director

Principal Cheryl McCallum Resigns

Sweet Sorrow

“Parting is such sweet sorrow” wrote Shakespeare and he obviously understood some of the conflicting emotions we feel when a season of our life is coming to an end and a parting is taking place from what we hold dear. Tabor/Eastern has been part of my life for so long it is hard for me to comprehend that in a few months I will no longer be part of the learning community that has meant so much to me.

I will miss the students, the staff, the camaraderie, the challenges, the triumphs, the joy, the laughter, the discovery of learning, the classroom and the teaching. I will sorrow to not be there when the new students arrive, to greet the continuing students and to celebrate at graduation with those who have completed their awards. To be honest, the only thing I will not miss is the marking. 😉

As someone who always likes to know what lies ahead and to plan accordingly, I am always disconcerted when God does not act in harmony with my need for control. So, it is unsettling to not know where I will be in 2018 and what I will be doing. I think God delights in always bringing me back to a position of faith and vulnerability to remind me that He is the one who holds my future in His hands.

My prayer will always be for the growth and flourishing of Eastern College. I am satisfied with the contribution I have made to the college and I believe its best years are still to come.
I leave knowing this is the right timing but nonetheless it will be a parting of “sweet sorrow”.

Dr Cheryl McCallum
Principal of Eastern College Australia

Compassionate, Visionary, Hopeful, Joyful

Semester 1 at Eastern saw 57 Master of Transformational Development (MTD) students immersed in studying the implications of climate change for some of the most vulnerable people in the world. It is one thing to be deeply confronted by the disturbing scientific realities of climate change through our reading, but many of Eastern’s MTD students are directly involved with communities already suffering as a result of climate change.

Several of our students live and work in Kenya and Zimbabwe and, as is true in many parts of sub-Sahara Africa, the farmers in their churches have endured months and months of no or little rain. Crops wither in the fields, and with them family incomes also dry up and food security is threatened. The increasing unreliability of rains, one of the symptoms of climate change, is impacting on our MTD students’ communities in Egypt, Pakistan, Nepal, India and Bangladesh.

Imagine the impact of soaring temperatures on the inhabitants of large urban slum communities where our MTD students are working: Delhi, Jakarta, Nairobi, Dhaka, and Lahore. One inevitable consequence of climate change in those communities will be the dramatic increase in outbreaks of the diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, malaria, dengue, and encephalitis.

How do we engage meaningfully with a threat as deeply disturbing as climate change? What does Christian hope look like when confronted by a global ecological crisis that threatens human existence as we know it?

In a public lecture at Eastern on May 2, in which he examined many of the challenges confronting the global community at this time, Evert-Jan Ouweneel, a Dutch philosopher and World Vision senior advisor, offered seven ways to resist the pressure to cave-in to despair and grief, and be energised by hope:

  1. Stay calm. “God is in control – He’s got the whole world in his hands.”
  2. Stay compassionate. Our first priority should be the “well-being of those who are hit first or hit the most.”
  3. Stay hopeful. Evert-Jan reminded us of Martin Luther’s assertion: “If the world ends tomorrow I will still plant an apple seed today.”
  4. Stay visionary. Always remember the Bible’s global vision and God’s promise of a glorious future for the entire creation.
  5. Stay stubborn. “Let’s stick to hope in the midst of pessimism and cynicism.”
  6. Stay human. “In this time of re-tribalism, with people withdrawing into their own bastions of likeminded people, Christians can be the bridge-builders of society.”
  7. Stay joyful. “If we can’t count our blessings as children who say ‘Abba Father’ to God, who can.”

Someone who epitomises what this looks like to me is Sharon Edison. Sharon is in her final semester of MTD studies, and four years ago set up a small development organisation called Sahayak (meaning helper) to respond to the needs of highly vulnerable women and children living in a slum on the southern edge of the sprawling Indian capital Delhi. The challenges confronting this community are huge. Just last Tuesday (July 11) I received a WhatsApp message from Sharon telling me of a cholera outbreak that had taken the life of a 5-year-old girl called Reema, and another four of Sharon’s young charges had been hospitalised. Despite such terrible setbacks Sharon and her team remain determinedly positive and committed to making a sustainable difference. In her July newsletter she writes:

“Creation Care is all about stewardship. It all belongs to God… The first command God gave to man was to take care of the Earth, which includes managing and protecting the environment. We believe that what we can do, we must do! We have been discovering nature’s solution to climate change related health issues for the benefit of our kids at Sahayak. Wherever we found land we planted Aloe Vera and it’s a joy to see Aloe Vera plants that we planted some time back growing. This plant has antiviral and anti-bacterial properties as well as being a healing herb for skin, rich in vitamin A, B, C & E. Aloe Vera is a commercial miracle plant in one of a medicinal group of plants…. Our aim is to sustain this initiative for the benefit of our kids and their families in the community. At present, we are farming about 90 plants since we last counted. We have been approached by neighbours, shopkeepers and gardeners for sale of these plants. We have incorporated Aloe Vera gel in recycled bottles and given to all our kids at the centre to heal their heat boils and bug bites.

We also are planning to add the gel of aloe in fruit juices as it’s good for health. May we find it in our hearts to care for one another and our earthly home and leave it greener and cleaner for our children and their children.”

Compassionate, visionary, hopeful, joyful – all who have studied with Sharon in the MTD know that she is all these things! Please pray for her and her 50+ colleagues in the MTD, that God will sustain them with hope and joy as they walk alongside the poor in their communities, and work with them for a better future.

Steve Bradbury
Lecturer in Transformational Development

Book Review

Excerpt from Dr Jon Newton’s book review for the Spiritus academic journal:

Spirit Freedom and Power: Changes in Pentecostal Spirituality by Dr Angelo Cettolin.

” Why do I recommend this book? First, because Australia Pentecostalism has its own unique story and flavor rather different to that in North America, Europe or the “Majority World.” This distinctive Australian Pentecostalism is now being exported all over the world so it is wise for interested people to read about it from the viewpoint of an “insider.”

Second, Cettolin’s book draws on credible (international and Australian) sources to discuss the issues of twenty-first century Pentecostalism with a historical and contemporary perspective; this book could serve as a handy introduction to Pentecostalism in general.

And third, this book really talks to the people on the ground in good empirical research. It’s a model of grounded, honest, empirical research in the service of a Pentecostal goal.”

BUY NOW: http://amzn.to/2dOvjLt

Dr Angelo Cettolin is the Dean of Faculty and Senior Lecturer in Ministry at Eastern College Australia.

Student Life: Christopher MacLeod

“I began studying at Eastern out of a desire to freely explore theology, the Bible and all things Christian. This has been fundamental for my spiritual formation, as the college has been an environment that has empowered me to deeply consider and analyse theology, and by doing so, helped me to communicate the God-given passions of my heart to Christians around me.

As an educational facility, Eastern has equipped me to lead, teach and preach to great effect. I have been exposed to a variety of theological perspectives and learnt to respectfully and compassionately co-exist, challenge, and be challenged, by these perspectives.

As a place of spiritual formation, Eastern has fostered a humble culture that is brilliantly reflective. Students are always encouraged to turn their penetrative analysis inward, in order to ensure that rhetoric and action remain unified. The culture at Eastern reminds its students that theological exercise should be, at its core, simply an exercise in loving God.

As I write that previous statement, I remember lecturers who had such an awareness of their intimacy with Christ that even the most boring lecture was made compelling and alive as they couldn’t help but express their love for God with relevance and poignancy to the subject!

In the future, I hope to perpetuate this ethos, by loving Jesus and teaching others to do the same. The academic and spiritual culture at Eastern has enflamed my passion for God, and I hope to someday do the same for future students by becoming a lecturer (among other pursuits) myself!”


Christopher MacLeod has completed undergraduate studies at Eastern in the Bachelor of Theology and is currently studying a Masters in Practical Theology at Eastern College Australia. He is also a church planter in the northern suburbs of Melbourne and a passionate advocate for the oneness and unity of Jesus’ Church.

Discover our School of Theology: http://bit.ly/2980VfG

Art Wouters Farewell

After over a decade teaching in the counselling field at Eastern (and Tabor Vic) our beloved ex-South African colleague Dr Art Wouters has taken on another position in postgraduate counselling at nearby Stirling College. At Eastern we are always pleased to see our faculty move onto the next phase of their development and specialisation. While we are sad to see a colleague move on we are blessed that Art is on the same campus this year and will still be involved in future adjunct teaching from time to time for Eastern. You will know the Dr is in the house when you see his Harley motor bike sitting at front!

Eastern will continue to deliver quality Counselling studies both at undergraduate and now at postgraduate level with our new Masters in Community Counselling directed by Dr Julie Morsillo. We are also currently looking for a replacement lecturer for our undergraduate teaching position.

We thank Art for his significant contribution to developing Eastern’s counselling specialisations and we wish Art well and God’s blessings in his new endeavour. We look forward to hearing about his progress in the future.

Rev Dr Angelo Cettolin
Dean of Faculty and Senior Lecturer in Theology & Ministry

Student Life: Malathy Fuller

“First of all, I have to mention the kind of person I am today compared to 2 years ago, when I landed in Australia. I was apprehensive about how I would be accepted into a society where my looks, culture and general attitude differs massively.

It is with a lot of trepidation that I joined Eastern College, just a couple of months of migrating to Australia from Singapore. The approachable, warm, understanding and helpful lecturers stood up as a role model for my fellow students to replicate the same behavior. It was always an atmosphere of congeniality and intellectualism combined with humour and caring.

Though I come from a different religion, I was educated about Christianity, world views and spirituality without being forced to practice, which was a pleasant and welcoming surprise for me. Studying in Eastern has opened a wide window of knowledge, confidence and a realistic plan about my future.

I am glad and thankful to God for having made me choose Eastern College, amongst the dozen universities that I enquired prior admission. Because, with bigger universities, the individual attention, help and flexibility to students would have been absent.”

Malathy Fuller
Graduate Diploma in Education (Primary)

Discover our School of Education: http://bit.ly/2iNNiWL

Field Trip to Headspace!

A couple of weeks ago Aaron’s Youth Work class visited Headspace in Narre Warren. They spoke with Anne and Mark about their experience working with young people facing mental health issues.


Headspace is an innovative youth mental health service that brings partner organisations together from across communities to work with young people and their families who are experiencing early onset and continuing mental health concerns.

God and Personal Vocation

A beautifully written and insightful excerpt from current Bachelor of Arts student from her recent capstone class Integration of Vocation and Faith.


The interrelationship between the call of God and my personal vocation:

“The call of God refashions the eyeglass through which I regard the function and utility of human work. Contemplating my personal vocation in light of the general call to participate in the body of Christ (1 Cor 1:27), to make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:19) and to love both God and my neighbour (Mt 22:37-39) reframes the implication and objective of my work. Indeed as a consequence of the interrelationship between faith and vocation my work is completed with the anticipation and gladness that the fruit of my employments belong to an intention greater than my own. The call of God reimagines human work as a means to worship God, edify the neighbour and participate in the re-creation of culture, therefore my faith offers context to my work as a service performed on behalf of my neighbour and as an image-bearer of the dignity and creativity of Christ. Furthermore, the call to establish the Kingdom of God heartens me to complete my vocation in the expectation of heaven; thus I endeavour to recondition the context in which I work with the meaningful hope of heaven. In whatever form I determine to implement my God-given abilities and God-given personality the call of God ensures that it is for God, for others and for the expansion of the Kingdom that I work and create.”

– Alissa Piner

A Fruitful Life

Recently, journalist Mark Colvin died. I, like many thousands of Australians had listened to him on PM for as long as I could remember, but I knew very little about him as a person. In the days following his death I read and listened to the stories told by his fellow ABC reporters and other friends of a man of outstanding intellect with immense breadth and journalistic expertise. But this was not the most prominent way in which he was remembered. Instead, almost every account highlighted Mark’s kindness, generosity, concern and care towards all those he encountered. While they admired his intellect, their lives had been profoundly touched by his acts of kindness and grace and it was this that would be an enduring legacy.

Mark Colvin was not a Christian (that I am aware) but his life challenges our current Christian conceptions of a fruitful/successful life. In examining my own concepts and in my interactions with other Christians I am aware that we have drifted from the biblical basis of assessing our lives. We have imbibed, as can be expected, a large dose of Western cultural thinking where success is equated with visible, tangible, laudable achievements that will result in a happy life.

Grown your church? – tick. Invited to speak at conferences? – tick. Paid your mortgage off? – tick. Raised your social media profile? – tick. Networked nationally and internationally? – tick. Constantly travelling? – tick. Proudly “too busy”? – tick. Available only via your PA? – tick. Written a best-seller telling others how to be like you? – tick. The list is endless.

There is nothing wrong with any of these achievements but, for the Christian, they are ultimately not the hallmarks of a fruitful or successful life. Jesus did not tell Peter that he would be a great apostle but rather that he would die as a witness to the gospel. Jesus did not promise he would reward those who were meeting the cultural criteria of success, rather he exhorted his followers to lead lives of courage, kindness and faithfulness. Jesus did not call all to prominence but he did call all to fruitfulness.

Too often I meet Christian leaders who are exhausted from trying to be seen as successful in the eyes of their Christian peers. They are unhappy, driven, over-busy, worried, disconnected, anxious and unhealthy. At the same time, they are telling others how to live a God-pleasing life, how to keep a work-life balance, how to be counter-cultural witnesses to their neighbours.

I read recently

“Surveys show that most young adults believe that obtaining wealth and fame are keys to a happy life. But a long-running study out of Harvard suggests that one of the most important predictors of whether you age well and live a long and happy life is not the amount of money you amass or notoriety you receive. A much more important barometer of long term health and well-being is the strength of your relationships with family, friends and spouses.[1] “

In 200 years no one will know my name except perhaps a descendant who is an amateur genealogist. No one will know or care if I was a “success” in eyes of my peers. There will be no statues or public holidays dedicated to me. But perhaps, like Mark Colvin, when I die there will be people ready to tell stories of my kindness, courage and faithfulness. It may only be my children and grandchildren telling those stories but that will be the marks of a fruitful life in service to my Jesus.

[1] ps://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/03/23/the-secrets-to-a-happy-life-from-a-harvard-study/?_r=1

Dr Cheryl McCallum
Principal of Eastern College Australia