Catherine Long: My name is Catherine Long and I’m chair of the history Department at Wheaton College. On behalf of the Alumni Association, I’d like to welcome you to this alumni symposium and thank you for your patience with the seating. We historians are not used to overflow crowds, so it was wonderful to see you all here and we’re glad to have you. I want to extend a special welcome to alumni who are returning for reunions this weekend. There are graduates on campus from the class of 1938 celebrating their 70th reunion down through members of the class of 1978, celebrating their 30th. Welcome back to Wheaton. To those of you from each of these reunion classes, we’re glad to have you here. Welcome as well to this year’s graduates and to your families and friends.
Our panelists this morning are members of the class of 1968, and just out of curiosity, how many other members of the class of 1968 managed to make it in here if you want to raise. Okay, so they have to be honest. I guess the classmates are here listening. Thank you. Good to have you.
Nathan Hatch, Mark Noll, and John Piper all are authors of widely read and thought-provoking books, and each is an astute observer of the evangelical church. Each has been a student of history and all three have demonstrated the way that an understanding of the past can shape how we think and act in the present. All three were friends at Wheaton. They’ve gotten together here at their college reunion and they’ve graciously agreed to let us listen in on their conversation. During their years on campus, all of them voiced their opinions at one time or another in the editorial pages of The Record, Wheaton’s student newspaper. Noll and Piper wrote for the record with youthful abandon. While Hatch, maybe guessing the president’s role he would fill one day, was more circumspect.
You have background paragraphs on all three in your handouts, so my introductions will focus on the place of each at Wheaton College when he graduated 40 years ago. Dr. Nathan Hatch was a history major who transferred to Wheaton from Columbia Bible College. While at Wheaton, Hatch participated in debate in intramurals and was the off-campus coordinator for the Christian Service Council, and he’s in the middle for those of you who don’t know Dr. Hatch. He also found time, as I said, to write letters to the editor of the record.
In one, during his senior year, Hatch analyzed the impact of author and speaker Keith Miller, during the student leadership workshop. He commended Miller for his description of the honesty and freedom which should characterize a community of believers. At the same time, Hatch expressed serious reservations about Miller’s prescription for church renewal, characterizing it as more humanist than Christ-centered.
In another letter, Hatch defended the importance of doctrine in the life of Martin Luther, sparking a lively debate in subsequent issues of the paper on the relationship between doctrine and religious experience. As a young man in a class that lived in the shadow of the Vietnam War, Hatch also signed on to the committee to make ROTC voluntary at Wheaton College. Today, Nathan Hatchvserves as president of Wake Forest University and then on your left, my right, Mark Noll majored in literature at Wheaton. He also played basketball, served as a dorm RA, and was involved in student government.
Already a prolific writer, Noll served on the editorial board of the record and wrote frequent essays for the paper, with only a slight decline in his editorial output during basketball season. His senior year, Noll’s editorials analyzed the Kerner report on race relations, affirmed student involvement in the 1968 presidential primary campaigns, and supported Lyndon Johnson’s decision not to seek reelection.
This is what happens when you leave a trail in the campus paper. A few of Noll’s editorials celebrated the joys of everyday life, such as the arrival of baseball season. “It was a rough winter,” Noll wrote, “with the loss of the pueblo, the retreat of George Romney, and several insipid chapel speakers,” but he assured readers baseball was coming. On a more somber note, Noll’s final editorial in The Record urged students to take seriously the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and of Wheaton math professor Angeline Brandt. Death offered students an opportunity to reflect on the ideals and impassioned commitments of both their lives. Today, Mark Noll is Francis A. McAnaney professor of history at the University of Notre Dame.
Dr. John Piper on my far left, your right, also graduated from Wheaton with a degree in literature and with Noll was a member of The Record editorial board. Perhaps foreshadowing his future vocation, Piper wrote about the tension Wheaton students faced between their new identity in Christ and the pull of the fallen old man. He pointed to students’ tendencies to get involved in Christian service activities only because they felt guilty if they didn’t do so. Piper also affirmed what today we would call mentoring, urging students to learn from relationships with their teachers as much as from their textbooks.
In his lighter moments, Piper celebrated basketball games and snowball fights as the joys of a Wheaton winter. In December of his senior year, Piper wrote, “There was probably nothing healthier during a long, hard winter than periodic snowball fights.” Today, John Piper is pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
There are many events in 2008 that recall the tumultuous year of 1968 — a controversial war, hard fought presidential primary campaigns, protests surrounding the upcoming Olympic Games, to name a few. We have remembered the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and soon will commemorate the death of Robert Kennedy. It’s less likely that most of us have had the opportunity to reflect on the evangelical church during the past 40 years, the focus of this morning’s symposium. Each of our panelists will begin with an introductory comment on what he sees as the most significant shift or change in evangelicalism during this period, or any other comments he wishes to make. Then we’ll listen in on a conversation between the three as they respond to each other, and finally, the discussion will be opened to comments and questions from the floor. We’ll begin with Dr. Noll, but please first join me in welcoming back to Wheaton College, Nathan Hatch, Mark Noll, and John Piper.
Mark Noll: It’s a real treat to take part in this event, although, I’m not sure that historians are much good at looking back over their own histories, but we’ll make an effort. It certainly is a delight to see many classmates. You have changed. Of course I haven’t changed, but most of you are still recognizable and that’s an encouragement in itself. I would like to draw attention to four matters quite briefly, where it seems to me there have been significant changes in the evangelical world when compared to what we experienced at Wheaton College and what is present in the world today. Those four areas are in rough order in my view of ascending importance: politics, music, intellectual life, and Christianity in the world.
I remember as a Wheaton freshman, late October in 1964, I’m pretty sure, there was a Barry Goldwater rally at Wheaton College. It was in the football field in the West End. Everyone knew Goldwater was going to be trounced in the election, so things were subdued and there wasn’t really much of a crowd. It was a very small contingent of Lyndon Johnson supporters that were stuck off way, way in the stadium, but that drew the ire of some of those who’d come there to support Goldwater. What’s striking at the distance of 40 years is how un-mobilized the evangelical community was for a candidate like Goldwater and how unsystematic was evangelical opposition to what would soon be called the “right”, or the “Christian right”.
In the last 40 years, we’ve had evangelical mobilization, politically. In the last few years we’ve had the beginnings of an evangelical diffusion, politically. Both of those are new. Both of those, I think, reflected some very positive steps forward by the evangelicals of our country with some very problematic steps. There is a kind of political maturity now, or at least political experience that simply didn’t exist then.
Second, in 1968, Wheaton College had two artist series and one hymn book for singing hymns in chapel. Since then, there has been — as everyone knows who has attended church, even sporadically — a revolution in church music. This revolution is important because of how music touches the affections. Last night we heard some very interesting things from class of 1968 members about new research in how the brain works, and as I understand it, the research shows that where the emotions are connected to learning, the learning goes much, much deeper than just the words.
Certainly, the beginnings of the evangelical movement that we’re all heirs of was a movement of musical innovation as well as of preaching and doctrinal innovation. We know Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield and John and Charles Wesley for their preaching, but Edwards was also important because he introduced the hymns of Isaac Watts to his congregation in North Hampton. George Whitfield was a completely challenged person in organization, but he had a hymn book and the hymn book of new hymns constituted the bonds of his movement. For all the good that John Wesley did in the world, it was the legacy of Charles Wesley, the hymn writer, that has gone deepest and broadest in the evangelical movement. This is now not a Christian author, but in The Republic Plato said something like, “When the mode of the music changes, the foundations of the city shake.” On those terms. The city walls of evangelicalism are shaking. In fact, there is a lot of rattling and rolling going on.
Third, consider the intellectual life. In 1968, Wheaton faculty like Richie Cam, Arthur Holmes, Beatrice Batson, and many more, were making a profound difference in the lives of Wheaton College students. What had not yet taken place was the coming together of a Christian scholarly tradition driven by evangelicals in the world. That has begun to change. It’s not as though there is a Christian scholarly tradition now driven by evangelicals. It’s dominant. It’s even in some cases prominent, but it is there. And I think much of the responsibility for that new situation can be attributed to the people who are sharing the platform with me. John Piper has modeled how a pastor committed to the spiritual disciplines and spiritual nurturing of a congregation can still be intellectually engaged, historically engaged, and engaged in probing Christian ideas and their depth as well as articulating them for their reach.
Nathan Hatch, hiding out at a Catholic institution, directed with assistance from the Pew charitable trusts, which, in my view, is the single most important set of programs ever designed to bring evangelicals into the broader pathways of American thought. This program that went on for 10 or 15 years had many, many positive effects. The difference today is that there is a public evangelical voice in academic life that did not exist in 1968.
Fourth and last, in 1968, there was at most one legally open church in the People’s Republic of China. This past week, the Communist People’s Republic of China paid more professors to teach Christianity than professors teaching Christianity in the universities of the United States. Last Sunday, it’s possible, though no one knows for sure, that more Christian believers were in church in the Communist People’s Republic of China than in the United States of America.
The transformations of world Christianity in the last 40 years have been dramatic. Last night in, again, a small group of 1968 graduates and class members, almost every one had some kind of a new experience with Christian believers in places in the world where 100 years ago there were no Christian believers, and 40 years ago there were only disorganized beginnings of Christian communions. Wheaton has had a proud missionary history and continues to be very active in sending people to other parts of the Christian world, but we now live in a world where the Christian gospel is going everywhere from everywhere. No longer is the Christian West the center for Christian demography; no longer is the Christian West, the cutting edge of Christian outreach and Christian depth in the world. This has been a dramatic transformation, and it’s happened since we were students.
Nathan Hatch: What a delight it is to be here today and see so many friends and colleagues and to be here with Mark and Maggie, and John and Noël, and I would just like to say both of those couples have been models of what it is to serve God with heart, mind, soul, and with all their strength, and it’s with great privilege to have them as friends. I also want to thank Wheaton College for all that it did for us in nurturing us intellectually, personally, and spiritually. I would like to pay a tribute to the faculty, staff, and administrators of Wheaton College for, many of them, their lifelong commitment to nurturing young people such as ourselves, and also to those of you who are colleagues. At a place like Wheaton, a lot of education takes place late at night in debating ideas, in living life together, so I look back so fondly of what I learned from many of you in this room.
The spring of 1968, as we see in some historical perspective now, was a time when venerable traditions came pretty radically under assault. Strikes and disturbances were convulsing universities, pretty much shutting down universities in France. Columbia University was shut down that spring. The assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, actually during the weekend of our graduation, triggered a huge urban revolt.
In fact, I recall, I think, it was a May afternoon in 1968, Julie and I were supposed to go to a Wheaton banquet, I think it was called a Washington Banquet in downtown Chicago, and her father who worked for General Electric called me mid-afternoon and said, “Do not go to Chicago tonight. Chicago is going to blow up.” It was a couple weeks after the King assassination, and sure enough it did. The banquet was called off and it was the first wave of those riots.
I had lived in the summer of 1967 at the Clyburn Gospel Chapel adjacent to the Green Cabrini homes. There were 10 Wheaton students who lived there. And that summer I can’t remember being afraid. We were in and out of those homes every day, and I remember someone saying after 1968, at least for a period of years, a group of white Wheaton students would never be able to have lived in those contexts given the kind of racial polarizations that took place. In 1968, we experienced the first of a shock wave of cultural revolt that went through American culture having to do with the war, civil rights, and free speech. As Bob Dylan said, “The times, they were a-changing,” and the culture was in pretty deep ferment.
Now, it is true that Wheaton was hardly at the center of the Woodstock generation, but nevertheless, it was a time of fundamental questioning even at a place like Wheaton. If the rest of the culture caught bronchitis, we may have only had a common cold. But who could forget Doug Erlinson’s hilarious and very irreverent speeches at the mock political debates. I recall the senior chapel in the spring of 1968, a tradition where people would give their testimonies of what they had learned and what they hoped to do. My memories are that there were more questions and doubts that day than there were any kind of sunny disquisitions about Christian life being sweeter as the days go by. Our class was asking fundamental questions, and for some it probably went too far, but in some ways it could also be helpful to question the old wineskins.
I think the spirit of that kind of probing affected each of us on this panel. I don’t think any of us were overtly rebellious when we were at Wheaton, but none of us left fully convinced that the kind of evangelicalism in which we had grown up in that shape was that to which we would completely commit our life. By different paths, and I think in different timing, each of us came to see our faith renewed and empowered by discovering strains of evangelical orthodoxy from earlier times. I just want to make that note. My senior thesis, which I concluded this month 40 years ago, compared the sermons of Whitfield and Wesley, and that had a very powerful influence upon me, as did reading Martin Luther that year. I found real sustenance spiritually and intellectually in that earlier time.
I think similar things happened to Mark after leaving Wheaton through the influence of Martin Luther and others in the Reformed tradition, and certainly, with John after he went to Fuller Seminary and was tutored by Dan Fuller and encountered the works of Jonathan Edwards, which has as you know, become a very powerful and wonderful influence in his vision.
If we were to ask the question, how have evangelical churches changed, one of my answers would be that evangelicals have reached to the past and recovered other kinds of strength in the wisdom of the church. I think this has taken a wide variety of forms, but there has been a whole turn to re-examined worship. I think of someone like Bob Weber who actually came to teach here in the fall of 1968, and his whole focus was on trying to recover worship of the early church. The whole thing of spirituality, spiritual disciplines, Richard Foster, all of that I think has happened since 1968. Let me just briefly mention several other trends that I see beyond recovering the wisdom of the ages.
If there’s a second one, I would say evangelicals have known a profound adaptation to the norms of popular culture. I think some of it came out of the questioning of the 1960s and 1970s. Mark has mentioned one area, that is, music and singing. I mean starting with the Jesus People or Chuck Smith’s Calvary Chapel, and since the old hymns just didn’t seem to cut it, that whole musical revolution has gone on.
A similar thing is the growth of community and small groups. The whole thing of building the church as small groups as the body of Christ was post-1968, and it had to do with the kind of cultural ferment where people were looking at more authentic relationships, and Christians in that context said that the church should be the body of Christ. You started having whole churches based on norms of small groups and that kind of interpersonal intimacy and accountability.
A third trend is that I think in 1968 you could say evangelicals and fundamentalists were more embattled outposts, and today, following what Mark has said, there is an evangelical movement — I don’t know if you call it an empire? — that is a flourishing part of American culture. Part of that in our time has been the rise of evangelicals and the rise of Roman Catholics and the decline of the mainline. I see that at Wake Forest University. Our most active campus groups are evangelical and Catholic. We have the mainline groups, but not nearly in the numbers or the vitality of the others.
All you have to do is pick up Christianity Today and look at the advertising. I mean, the evangelical movement takes form in every conceivable entrepreneurial way, whether it’s television or radio or publishing or bookstores or magazines. I mean, it’s a wonderful array.
But my fourth point is that the shape of this is not particularly ecclesiastical, it’s more of a movement. It’s more like a marketplace of spontaneous organizations designed to meet specific needs, and that makes it wonderfully dynamic. It’s probably more like the early church in that sense, but it is not within the bounds of denominations. It still follows, I think, powerful individuals and movements which make the movement strong, but I think it makes denominations pretty weak.
My final point is more conjectural. I do think evangelicals today are probably less coherent and more in danger of being fragmented. I’ll just say briefly, in our day there were evangelical leaders like Billy Graham, John Stot, Carl Henry, Francis Schaeffer, JI Packer, Bill Bright, and Ken Conser. But today, I use an analogy of what’s happened to popular music. It has tended to be more and more fragmented. I think this movement is powerful and large, but I think it moves in many different currents and they’re not the towering figures and movements that help give shape to it. Thank you.
John Piper: The question that we were asked to address that I’ll pick up on most directly is, what do you see as the most significant change or shift in evangelicalism? Now that’s really a tough question — the most significant. The way my mind works is that God is the most significant reality in the universe, and the Bible is the only authoritative access to him. There is another book that Mark has reminded us of, but it’s not an authoritative one for knowing him — namely, the book of nature. So I can’t think of anything more significant in any period of time, whether it’s the last 40 years or any other, as to what becomes of the Bible and what becomes of the way we think and feel about God.
When I pose the question that way, I find myself very much at home with the analyses in the nineties of David Wells and Os Guinness. I’m going to quote them and let them speak for me. Here’s Os Guinness in 1994. I’m not sure whether last Thursday’s event signals a change or not. Os just published an evangelical manifesto. You can read it at theevangelicalmanifesto.com. He says:
In one generation, the evangelical movement has experienced a seat change. It has moved from being in large part confessionally defined, to being a fraternity of institutions, to being virtually a coalition of causes to being a movement in plain disarray. Worst of all, there is neither an agreed defining character of evangelicalism, around which Reformation regrouping can occur, nor any evident leadership willing to or able to assert it.
Now, I wonder if he might be trying to do that right now, but at that point he said there isn’t any. He continues:
The truth is for those who think the present state of American evangelicalism is appalling, as a spiritually and theologically defined community of faith, evangelicalism is weak or next to non-existent. As a subculture it is stronger, but often embarrassing and downright offensive.
Now, before I read Wells, I think it would be helpful. I’m trying to think what the timing of this is. I have a list of 12 things here because these guys are so negative and they paint with such a broad brush that I feared as I wrote them down, thinking, “Oh, that’s really going to sound a little more negative than I’m thinking.” So I made a list of 12 developments in the last 40 years that I like, even though every one of them are negative and positive. That’s the main thing I learned from historians is that everything is nuanced, everything is qualified, and everything is maybe or maybe not. These are positives and it might launch us into some discussion and then I’ll go back to the negative part.
- Number one: the Jesus People movement, the third wave, and the awakening to spiritual gifts (positive).
- Number two: the defense of the Bible in the International Council for biblical inerrancy in the Chicago statement on inerrancy (positive).
- Number three: the emergence of strong biblical scholarship monographs, commentary series, PhD programs, and seminaries that didn’t exist (positive).
- Number four: the awakening of passion for Jonathan Edwards and the Puritans and other serious reading of Christian classics.
- Number five: the renewal of worship exuberance with God-exalting lyrics and exalting energetic music (positive).
- Number six: the transformation of the pro-life movement from acerbic and merely oppositional to holistic and all-caring across the country (positive).
- Number seven: missions transformed by the understanding of people groups so that there’s not a mission agency hardly in America that thinks in terms of mission fields anymore. It’s always peoples now owing largely to Ralph Winter in the US Center for World Mission (positive).
- Number eight: aggressive missions to the 10/40 window and the awakening of missions to Muslims in particular (positive).
- Number nine: the collapse of the Soviet wall and the growth of the church in places like the most unchurched place on the planet, Albania (positive).
- Number 10: the rise of the church in the global south, which Mark highlighted (positive).
- Number 11: the pervasive presence of evangelical voices on the web. It’s just amazing what’s out there in that crazy world (positive).
- Number 12: more recently, the spontaneous and independent outcropping of strong, doctrinally-driven, usually Reformed ministries and churches and conferences that gather mainly for robust doctrinally-driven preaching — Passion, Ligonier, Shepherds Conference, Acts 29, Together for the Gospel, New Attitude, Alistair Begg’s Conference, Desiring God conferences, Reformed Blacks of America, Nine Marks Ministry, Southern Baptist Seminary, Founders Movement, Jonathan Edwards Institute, and on and on (positive).
There are these amazing outcroppings of dependent, largely Reformed, but mainly doctrinally-driven things. Those are the things that make me say, “Amen, thank you Lord. You have not departed.”
Here’s Wells. His fourth book just came out last week called The Courage to Be Protestant. He says the same thing in every one of these books. I was most helped by No Place for Truth from 1991. This one comes from Losing Our Virtue, in 1998. He says:
Twenty-five years ago, I am quite certain I could have cheerfully used the word theology without having to reach for the smelling salts. It was a time when evangelical beliefs were more certain than they are now. Theology was a more honorable word and there was a sense of mission that was infectious. That was the day when the trees that stood tall in this world were usually made so by their theological conviction and not simply by their money or the size of their church or the expansiveness of their organization.
To be sure, there has been growth, but along with this astounding growth — indeed, we might say conquest — there has nevertheless come a hollowing out of evangelical conviction, a loss of the biblical word in its authoritative function, and an erosion of character to the point that today, no discernible ethical differences are evident in the behavior when those claiming to have been reborn and secularists are compared.
That’s what Ron Sider wrote in his piggyback on Mark’s title, Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience. Here’s my summary and my take on what they’re saying. That would mean that the most significant change is the hollowing out of the confessional trunk of the evangelical tree while the branches and leaves are still quite flourishing.
One aspect would be a hollowing out of God’s weightiness. We 1960s people would say they still need JB Phillips — Your God Is Too Small.
Second, there is a hollowing out of the confidence in the Bible as supremely relevant and powerful and worthy of our greatest efforts to understand and expound. Many people, it seems to me, including pastors, seem to be animated not by what they see in the Bible, but by what they see somewhere else, and then they hook it with the Bible.
Third, there is a hollowing out of seriousness with which to pursue truth and doctrine. Here’s an illustration of that last point from 1968 to today. This comes straight from David Wells’ Above All Earthly Powers. I found it very helpful. This may be an overstatement.
I was a Southern Baptist kid. When I came here, I felt like I had just exploded upon hearing things I hadn’t before. Hymns. I never heard of any of the hymns that were sung in this chapel when I came here, and I didn’t know Presbyterians could be Christians. My world was just so excitingly expanding intellectually. I couldn’t imagine why people didn’t like this place. I loved it, and I still love it. It just was life to me, and so I just felt serious. I mean, maybe we threw snowballs. I don’t remember. I just remember discussions. How many attended the play Waiting for Godot? Okay, here’s the quote:
Postmoderns are remarkably nonchalant about the meaninglessness that they experience in life. Reading the works of an earlier generation of writers — existentialist authors like Jean Paul Sarte and Albert Kamu — one almost developed a sense of vertigo, the kind of apprehension that one gets when standing too near the edge of a terrifying precipice so bleak and empty and life-threatening was their vision.
That was true. It was terrifying that that might be true. He continues:
That sense, however, has now completely gone.
That’s an overstatement. These guys always paint with a big brush, but it’s pretty gone. He continues:
Postmoderns live on the surface, not in the depths, and theirs is a despair to be tossed off lightly and which might even be alleviated by nothing more than a sitcom.
That’s the difference I feel today. Of those three hollowing out aspects — the hollowing out of God, the hollowing out of Bible, and the hollowing out of seriousness. That’s an illustration of what I mean by the hollowing out of seriousness. That’s my 10 minutes. Let me take two more. I’m going to cheat.
All of that goes hand-in-glove — and I’m flummoxed when it comes to causality in these things — with what I would call the emergence of the ubiquity of entertainment. We had TV and we had radio and we had our boomboxes or stereos, now in your pocket at any time you can have any movie you want, any music you want, there is no moment when you may not relieve yourself of the temptation of seriousness with a quick dip into any movie you want to download onto your iPod.
This is the absolute ubiquity of relief from seriousness into entertainment. The implications of that is a mindset that is then persuaded by what? By the market, by the image. And the effect of that on church then, if you want to impact people, ties into that. That just takes us down the critique that David Wells has gone on about. His new paradigm is, “Classical evangelicalism is marked by doctrinal seriousness, as opposed to marketers and emergents.” But that’s my take. I think the most serious change has been the confessional, doctrinal, theological hollowing out of the trunk of the tree, increasingly.
Catherine Long: Why don’t we just take a moment to let you comment on each others’ comments as you wish.
Nathan Hatch: John, I have a question about that hollowing out. Do you think at the time you were a college student, it was as durable and strong at that time in popular evangelical life?
John Piper: As durable as?
Nathan Hatch: The role of Jonathan Edwards in popular evangelical life was an exception rather than the rule. I guess my question is, is evangelicalism different in kind today? It’s become more expansive, more entertainment oriented, but was there that confessional trunk that was much stronger than now?
John Piper: It was stronger, I think. This sequence that Os says, I wasn’t sure of the timeframe, but here it is again:
In one generation, the evangelical movement has experienced the seat change. It has moved from being in large part a confessionally defined to a fraternity institutions (now that’s where I would pick us up in 1968), to a coalition of causes (moving into the 1970s and 1980s), to move into disarray.
Jonathan Edwards and the Puritan era had the trunk most clearly defined probably. By the time we came along it was a lot stronger. I think we still looked at a Henry and a Stot and a Schaeffer as having a core that just didn’t feel like there were as many voices competing for as many things. You couldn’t imagine open theism. You couldn’t imagine the denial of the penal substitution. Today the claims to be evangelical are made by the most remarkably diverse groups of people doctrinally.
Nathan Hatch: Good.
Mark Noll: I’m really very uncomfortable as a historian having to ask questions that might actually look on the brighter side of things. I think if I can do this, I can ask one question and get Nathan and John to respond. How do we get in this world — where John, I think, has described accurately with all sorts of problems for the evangelical movement — the flourishing of interest in Jonathan Edwards? When I was a student at Wheaton College, I’m not sure I had heard of Jonathan Edwards. We had read Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God in high school and then went on to shoot some baskets.
I, of course, was still shooting baskets in college. A lot went over my head. But I don’t think we had any Jonathan Edwards in college. Students today who read the terrific anthology that was put together by evangelicals, non-evangelicals, and non-Christians, have accessible books. Scholars who want to go further have tremendous resources. How do we get there? How do we get to the trenchant theologically-informed critiques of theological weakness from Os Guinness and David Wells that are much sharper? I think they’re much more precise than the very helpful, though also very blunt, analyses of Francis Schaeffer.
I don’t think we have Wells and Guinness without Schaeffer, but in terms of quality, Wells and Guinness are just way beyond where Francis Schaeffer was. That’s the question to John, and the question to Nathan has to do with what lies behind this and what are the mechanics of a publishing career of someone like David Wells? I actually happen to know that the series of books started out with funding that Nathan and two other people conceived on a napkin in a resort in a half an hour in Connecticut. David would not have written the first book, No Place for Truth, had he not received a two-year leave of absence funded by a fundraiser who had money and didn’t know what to do with it, he told them.
Now, if David is correct, what’s the process that enables mobilization in a new and better way so that he can be correct? I’m doing the historian thing and just confusing things. I want John to talk about positives and negatives together. I want him to be a Chalcedonian analyst of culture that can bring together irreconcilables, and then I want Nathan to say practically how a movement that is great on its fervor actually begins to do things practically to enable monuments, like David Wells said of books, that actually do emerge.
John Piper: It sounds like there’s a real agenda behind that question. Let me say what I think you want me to say. I was on the phone with David Wells on Wednesday with a bunch of other folks who are part of The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and I’m trying to think what he would want me to say. Clearly, one of the implications that Mark is asking is that the seriousness and the nuance and the care and the insight of those critiques by Os Guiness and David Wells, are owing to a certain kind of intellectual life. They’re both educated outside this country, for one thing, in South Africa and Britain.
Mark Noll: Yes, and David Wells was educated in Britain too actually.
John Piper: David grew up in South Africa. There’s a discipline there that might be unique or different. The kind of patience that it takes to write these books is significant. I mean, I read them and I say, “Good night.” There is a whole mentality that goes into quiet, still, secluded, hard work at the intellectual level with which evangelicals are typically impatient. I am. That’s why I’m a pastor. I don’t have the patience to do what these guys do, and we’re all wired differently. The emergence of something in our culture that created a situation where that could happen, a respect for that and honoring of that, is a part of the explanation for how it could emerge.
Now, the second thing is that David is robustly confessional. He’s not into intellectual life as an end in itself. He cares about the content of the Bible, not just how you study the Bible and whether there are PhD programs that offer it, or whether we can be serious about it. There is a strong, powerful confessional commitment. I’m going to stir this in, as these two things have to be woven together. What enables books like that to emerge, those in particular, are a confluence of a certain kind of intellectual atmosphere and life and tone, along with a remarkably robust, unshakeable, well-thought-out understanding of the nature of God and the Holy Spirit and Christ and the cross and the life of faith that is totally saturated with the Bible and biblically informed.
You might read the books and say, “This guy never talks about the Bible,” but it’s so rooted there. And if you talk to David today, you know his burden is that if you lose truth, you lose Scripture; if you lose Scripture, you lose God; and if you lose God, you lose everything.
Those would be two things that come to mind, Mark. What made those possible is a certain kind of emergence of a respect for the intellectual life, and there is a certain remarkably robust — more robust, I think, than is typical today — confessional allegiance to God with contours. It is not just a smushy God, not the emergent God, but a God with contours that has sides. This is not him and this is him, that kind of conception. I don’t think he would’ve been truth-driven like he is to cry for the church had that not been in place.
Nathan Hatch: Let me respond for a minute. I do think, sort of like CS Lewis said about humankind, nothing too good or too bad can be said about it. One might say that about evangelical life because on the one hand, while the pervasive entertainment culture is everywhere, I also know that our most active student group at Wake Forest, who has 200 students a week meet for serious teaching on Tuesday night, and they walk around listening to John Piper sermons on their iPods. So there is in a sense the modern forms of these things can be good.
John Piper: Are you saying that’s entertaining?
Nathan Hatch: I’m saying it’s something about iPods. I think they’re being serious.
John Piper: I’m glad.
Nathan Hatch: I’m just saying the possibility of networks in our culture is great. America does well at exporting religion and pornography. I mean, it has both possibilities. I think what you’ve done and others like David at bringing together networks of people with these concerns is marvelous. I think similar things have happened, like what has happened in the whole area of God-honoring worship. You see what someone like John Whitley has done at Calvin. He’s teaching people using contemporary music, but he is structuring worship services that are God-honoring. Those are wonderful networks.
I think even in terms of Mark’s question, how do you in the future sponsor the kind of solitude and dedication that it takes for David Wells to write books? I think it’s not going to happen from a single institution. The Pew Charitable Trust sponsored it for a while, but they’ve moved on to other things. I think the only answer is to develop networks of people who see that as a goal and bring resources to bear to try to get it done. I do think that the opportunity of our culture today is building those networks.
John Piper: What’s your answer, Mark?
Mark Noll: Well, I do think it’s the best of times and it’s the worst of times. I don’t think that anyone in the generation of the worthies that you specified, with the exception maybe of John Stot, has written as insightful of a theologically-rooted confessional sociology as David Wells has done. People today who are studying at Wheaton College have better evangelical resources than we had. My own sense is that — and Catherine Long has actually done some outstanding research on the 1950s coming into the 1960s — there was amongst evangelicals a kind of seizure when it came to articulating the gospel in the world because of the traumas of internal church debates in the early 20th century, and then I think traumas in the efforts to present the gospel overseas was an embattled fortress-like mentality, which was a serious problem for thinking clearly.
I’m old enough to remember this, and some of you are even a little bit more advanced in years to remember. When we heard about China being lost — a language that certainly through the 1950s into the 1960s, even maybe into the 1970s, was prevalent — our evangelical thinking could not conceive of the progress of the gospel taking place in some ways outside of the frameworks that we had constructed. I think that was a real problem at Wheaton College in the 1960s. Things like China and Africa and Latin America are in flux, and no one can predict 40 years on. But retrospectively it’s clear, it seems to me, that the very best thing for the progress of Christianity in China was to get rid of the American evangelicals in the 1950s.
John Piper: After they’d been there for 150 years?
Mark Noll: Now, did that earlier mission contribute? I think it contributed something essential, but the mindset, the patterns of thought, the imagination of American evangelicals in the fifties and sixties was, I think, really quite constricted and needed to be opened up. Whether it was opened up through people that were friendly or unfriendly, it just needed to be opened up. I think that the evangelical world is in many ways much healthier today than it was in the 1960s. I actually do agree with David — at least on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays — that it’s much worse.
Catherine Long: Any final comments?
Nathan Hatch: Let me make one other point as to why I do think students today have a hard time being serious and thinking about the big questions — that is, the achievement-oriented culture in which we live. Students, few of them, are dropping out or concerned about ultimate things. They are concerned about achievement, what David Brooks calls the giant achieve-a-tron. In fact, it dramatically affects parenting and the pressure on parents to get their kindergartners in the right school. There’s been a decline of general summer camps because people want to use this summer to go learn French or play the violin better or to learn Chinese or whatever. This sense that life is simply what you achieve is sort of the dominant idol of our culture. If that’s the case, then even going to college is not so much a time to sit and reflect and read literature and philosophy and theology and think about the big issues; rather, it’s sort of one more thing you do in order to advance.
John Piper: I wonder if there’s not a socioeconomic layer for whom that’s true, and then another massive layer who just want to play video games thank you very much. I mean, that does not sound like a lot of 20 somethings that I deal with. They’re not spending all their time trying to advance in some career. They’re playing. They’re throwing frisbees. It’s not that simple. If you have driven parents, you’re probably going to be a driven student. But a lot of people didn’t have driven parents. There are people lining up at the microphone. That looks auspicious.
Catherine Long: We are going to open it up to audience participation. We have two microphones here. Don’t let the lines stretch out the doors. We’ll alternate the microphones. I’d like you to identify yourselves, and if you’re asking a question or making a comment, please do make it as brief as possible so that we can allow as many people to participate in the conversation as would like to. Also, of course, that it would be that they would be questions or comments that relate to the conversation that we’re having. It’s not just a kind of a soapbox time. We’ll go ahead and if you’d like to identify yourself and begin?
Philip Payne: My class is the class of 1969. My field is New Testament studies, and I agree with what John Piper has said. There has been, in my opinion, a hollowing of the trunk of theology and it concerns me, but I think part of the fault is due to some of us in that we have misrepresented the truth of the Bible in a way that has led to a rejection of the Bible as truth. I have two examples. One is that in the 19th century there was a defense of slavery by the church using the Bible, which led to a dismissive view of the Bible in that era. The second is that there has been, in the 20th century and the 21st century, a defense of the subordination of women leading to hatred of Paul by the feminist movement. Sadly, much of the exegetical defense of that position has been based on lies and misrepresentation of the data.
There’s an article that just came out in New Testament studies that I authored, in which I have pointed out a couple of scholars who have, from the evangelical movement, misstated the data in order to convince people. Sometimes because we haven’t had the intellectual rigor and the commitment to truth, scholars have been willing to say, the end justifies the means. They think, “I can twist the data in order to make it say what I think it means.” I think it’s as we come to a commitment to understanding and executing God’s word truly, we will be able to undermine some of these traps which have caused people to hate the Bible and instead to open up a greater willingness to listen to God’s word and let that shape it.
Mark Noll: John will think over the heavy answer. My answer is that we’re from the 1960s, so we know all about Walt Kelly. We have met the enemy and they are us, but there’s nothing new about this. Evangelical people are people who believe that it’s God who is perfect and not his servants, and criticism, debate, and argument about what the Bible really teaches is just part of the process, and getting some things right and getting some things wrong is going to keep happening as it has happened. These are good issues to talk about, but I think any single source explanation for the positive or the negative requires hanging out with we ambiguous historians.
Catherine Long: Okay, we’ll go on over here. Again, as much as possible, please try to focus your question or comments just again so we can get a lot of people through. Please go ahead.
Dennis Gareaux: I’m from the class of 1968. Last summer, we replaced a wooden walkway with a flagstone walk and the folks who installed it put vertical metal bands on either side, and I asked them why. They said it keeps the sand and the crusher fine stones from washing out between the flagstones, and that will keep the flagstone from moving. If there is an evangelical critique of Catholicism, it’s the Pope. But the other side of that coin may be that the criticism of evangelicalism is that everybody’s a pope. It’s the issue of private judgment where we all go home and we all make our own final decisions and we all stand in independent judgment and, essentially, the sand washes out and hollows out the trunk of the tree, if you will. My question is the DNA of the Reformation — which in part must include the idea of rebellion, scism, independence, division — irremediable? Or can that be reconciled in some way that will keep the tree from being hollowed out?
Catherine Long: Someone want to take a crack at that?
John Piper: It’s irremediable that there always be a “no” spoken over against error. That will always be the case, and I don’t see any hope given in the New Testament that we will ever get to a point where Paul doesn’t say it is necessary that there are divisions among you that the genuine may be manifest (1 Corinthians 11:19). I think in one sense that’s an irremediable situation. I don’t think the Pope is the answer. I think that is a human answer and a wrong one. If there is an answer that would be partially containing to the sand dribbling out, it’s going to be the work of the Holy Spirit establishing solid, faithful churches. This Book will assert itself, again, as the Pope. The Bible is the paper Pope of the Protestant movement, with the assumption that the Holy Spirit, and us informed by history, will be humbled under the Bible and it will do its work. That’s what we pray toward. I have no human strategies and no human means by which we can force this thing in. I’m not an optimist in the short run when it comes to eschatology, but I am in the long run.
Catherine Long: Next question.
John Armstrong: I’m from the class of 1971. I came to Wheaton in 1969 as a transfer student from a state university. In 1968, I was in the riots and I know where I was when Martin Luther King was shot down and Bobby Kennedy was shot down, and what happened on my state campus. To my surprise, when I got to Wheaton, it wasn’t what I hoped it would be. I was hoping for it to be some step closer to heaven than where I was. It was anything but for those of you who were here in the 1960s. But really I have two questions.
One is that I cannot conceive of the 1960s at Wheaton and frankly, the 30 years after that until the last decade, of how I could have been, and many of us could have been involved with evangelical Roman Catholics, evangelical Orthodox, and Protestants of all sorts. That would not have happened in the 1960s. It was not happening. It didn’t happen for me, and I couldn’t have imagined even 15 years ago that I would be a part of that kind of thing. I was as some of you know in the panel, an original founding member of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, it was referred to, and I have to humbly say having been a part of that and a part of the writing and the process of that, I’ve done a lot of public repenting of things I wrote and said about evangelicalism. Therefore, I’m very grateful to Mark Noll for reminding me that I was trained at Wheaton as a historian and for reminding me that there’s a good and a bad and there really is good news and bad news, and I appreciate that emphasis. My question is really two.
My first is that a book has just come out and I’m wondering if any of you have read it yet? Christine Wickers wrote a book from Harper entitled The Fall of the Evangelical Nation: The Surprising Crisis Inside the Church. Christine Wicker grew up an evangelical and was a reporter for the Dallas Morning News. She gives eight reasons why she’s a critic, but a fair critic, I believe. Sadly, they didn’t get the right kind of endorsements. If you pick the book up, you’re going to see the endorsers and say, “I don’t want to read this book. They’re all left wingers,” but you ought to read the book because what it shows is that the inside of evangelicalism is not nearly as healthy as we think it is, which, John, you would agree with. It shows how megachurches are facing serious possible declines and what’s happening across the whole evangelical world, that our numbers are inflated, that our sense of our political power is way, way overinflated. It’s a very critical book and I think it ought to be read. I wonder if anyone’s read it.
The second question is this whole business of ecumenism combined with the emphasis of people like John Piper, for example, who have had a major role in restoring to the church the fact that our DNA is our mission. As a Reformed theologian, I hold the traditional three marks of the church, but I’ve added two more, and the fourth is the DNA of mission. Without mission, you don’t have a church. There’s been this rise of missional theology since 1968. In 1968, mission was thought of at Wheaton as going overseas and doing programs, being sent out. Now it’s thought of as, John, as you’ve said, as cultures, ethnicities, people groups, etc. How is that going to affect, in your view, the next few decades of the church in America with all the problems that you’ve cited this morning?
John Piper: I have not read the book. I have not heard of the book. Have you guys read it?
Nathan Hatch and Mark Noll: No.
John Piper: Amen to being missional. I’d have to think about adding it as a defining aspect of the church, though it sounds right. I mean, I can’t imagine church without mission. And the existence of the word missional was not there in 1968. That’s significant. That word is coined probably to capture some of the spirit of what you just said. I’m not sure I understand just how it relates to the people groups, but the broadening out of the understanding of mission is not a bad thing. It’s a good thing, provided we don’t wind up belittling genuine, real, cross-cultural, finish-the-Great-Commission missions. I mean, that’s what concerns me about “missional” churches. They start defining mission in terms of everything they do that is outward-oriented and they lose that aspect. You can talk from right there if you want to tell me I’m going in the wrong direction.
That’s my only qualification, I think, from what you said. I just don’t want the exuberance and the rightness of the broadening out of the missional idea of the church impacting everything to diminish the fact that there are maybe 3,000 people groups right now in which there are no indigenous churches that can carry on. They need cross-cultural missions of a more or less traditional sort. I just don’t want to lose that.
Mark Noll: I want to pick up on the ecumenism comment that John made and say again, I think this is a circumstance of our time that’s new with some very positive and some very negative implications. The negatives have to do with the thinning out of the concept of truth and the desire for conversation over commitment. The positives have to do with new insights into the nature of the Christian gospel. I’ve learned a lot from Orthodox and Catholics and Zionists and Apostolic church people that don’t even show up on the ecclesiastical maps. I’m a teacher at the University of Notre Dame because they wanted to keep going with the Protestant emphasis in their history department. This is not something we heard all the time in 1968.
Catherine Long: Okay, next question.
Beth Taffner-York: I’m from the class of 1958. I sat in Dr. Mixter’s evolution class because I had transferred in from University of South Carolina and had questions myself, and thought I could get them answered at Wheaton. Recently, maybe within the past eight or 10 years, I read the book The Creationists and I thought I had no idea what Dr. Mixter was going through at the time he was teaching our class because, evidently, especially young-earthers were on the board and he was open and had some academic freedom going, really questioning and taking seriously what scientific discoveries have found. I feel like in the past years that you all are covering, the evangelical world has just been swallowed up with this thinking that has given fodder to the media, especially to look down on the academic rigor of evangelicals.
I’m thankful for Dr. Mixter, but reading that book made me doubly thankful for his willingness to be open. But I was kind of expecting when science was mentioned, that you all would comment a little bit on that whole young earth-old earth change that has taken place because it began at least with Bernard Ram and Dr. Mixter, and I think it is opening up. It makes me sad that there are so many Christians, especially of the homeschool movement, that have swallowed the young earth lack of academic rigor and thus, given fodder to those who would love to criticize evangelicals. I wondered if you could comment on that.
Mark Noll: Yes. Someone who’s actually a decent friend of Ron Numbers, the author of The Creationist, and who’s tried to work on this and actually was involved with money, I think, secured by Nathan and others to do a conference here a few years ago on Evangelicals and Science. It’s obvious that’s a domain of many issues. I actually think today there are more orthodox Christians of different sorts who are doing good scientific work and pushing aside the ready-fire-aim approach to science that characterized evangelicals. I also think there are movements that, for good political reasons, not necessarily exegetical or scientific reasons, don’t want their children taught that the world is unconnected to an intelligent designer.
What am I saying? What academics always say. It’s a complicated situation and one where there are some real signs of hope. The Francis Collins book is not the last word, but when you have a really straightforward, strong statement by the head of whatever project he is of his sturdy conversion to Jesus Christ, combined with an explanation of what he does using an evolutionary paradigm in his work, I think this is a remarkably positive step forward of the sort that Russ Mixter may have been able to make in 1960 but was prevented from making. That’s a real positive gain, but the problems remain and are going to remain long after we’ve departed the scene.
Catherine Long: Okay. I think we’ll do a few more because we started a little late, but I’m not sure we can get everyone in. Go ahead, please.
Jared Lafi: Hi, I’m from the class of 2008, and I’ve been recently accepted to Southwestern Seminary, Baptist Theological Seminary, and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Piper, I know that you esteem Southern very much and I’m curious of the panel’s thoughts on the Southern Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention’s contributions to either the growth or decline of evangelicalism, and maybe what seminary I should go to?
Nathan Hatch: That would take a two-day conference.
John Piper: Well, he’s asking you guys because he thinks he knows where I am. Yeah, I look with great encouragement upon what I would call the recovery of the Southern Baptist Convention from very liberal power structures. That seems to me to be a positive thing. Now, where it will go and what will develop from it, I don’t know, but I regard that as a fundamentally, confessionally good thing. That’s my orientation. If confessional truth is not preserved, all the methodological enhancements of our intellectual life will serve error, and that hurts the world. Where confessional truth is preserved and rescued from the hands of those who are throwing it away, a good thing has happened. Now, other things need to happen, but that’s a good thing. That’s the way I read the situation.
Mark Noll: I would like to just add, as a historian, I think actually one of the major changes from 1968 to 2008 is that there’s good dialogue and discussion between other evangelicals and Southern Baptists. Timothy George from Peace and Divinity School was on the Wheaton board for some time and that was a very positive coalition and some of the building of networks I think Nathan was talking about. I hope that kind of networking and communication can continue.
Don Filgreen: I’m from the class of 1963. As five years your senior, I struggle too with the changes in Christianity, but I see among young people a push from I think what they call the emergent church to go back to old traditions — the ancient, the candles, the confessionals, etc. Is this likely to strengthen or weaken our view of God and Scripture and of the seriousness of Christianity? Anyone.
Nathan Hatch: Well, as CS Lewis said, I do think the sea breeze of the centuries is always important, and in the long term has served to revitalize the church in many times and places from the Reformation on to the Puritans, to the evangelical awakenings of the 18th century and even in our own day. I think for young people to go back, it’s not always positive, but I think it can be so.
John Piper: I think CS Lewis would roll over in his grave if that quote were used to justify the shenanigans of the emergent church. I am not optimistic that the leadership of Tony Jones and Doug Paget and others is taking us in a direction — to use your words, that it will strengthen our view of God, strengthen our grasp on the Bible. I think they go in exactly the opposite direction on that. In principle, that’s absolutely right. I love the quote. Every third book you read should be outside your own century. Absolutely. I was taught chronological snobbery is a bad thing at this institution. All those things are in my present DNA.
The past is where I go to feed as a sheep on Monday morning. I don’t go to my century or the last one, I go back three. It’s the only place I can find Bible-saturated, dense, God-centered food from my soul. Amen to going back. That’s not what’s going on in the emergent church, by and large. It’s a very diverse movement, so I’m painting with a broad brush there, but I’m not optimistic about that movement as it’s presently being experienced.
Catherine Long: We’re running out of time. We’ve gone over. Let’s just have one quick question or comment from each side and then we’ll conclude.
George Waring: I’m five years your predecessor from the class of 1963. I really liked hearing about the achieve-a-tron. I’m quite aware of the ubiquity of entertainment. My question is simple. Could you relate things like that to what we hear of the generations coming through? Gen X, gen Y, and the millennial generation? What’s happening there and how might it impact our evangelical life?
John Piper: Well, just briefly you guys think and then finish it off with something really great. I don’t read any of those books because as soon as I get them read, they’re passé. The identification of generations as a type seems to me hopeless. I’ve not gotten help by trying to type a generation because as soon as I get them typed, I find 100 exceptions. Then the articles start to be written about the exceptions. My perception among the 20 somethings and 30 somethings today is that they are all over the map on every question, especially the ones that I said — God, Bible, truth, doctrine. I’m most encouraged by the fact that whether it’s millennium, generation Y, generation X, there is a remarkable awakening and resurgence toward wanting serious dealing with truth. I just want to be a part of that. Where it will go and how broad it will be, I don’t know. But I can’t type any of those groups as being this or that. They’re too diverse.
Nathan Hatch: I have a similar reaction. What I do see in contemporary students is that they’re whipsawed between competing ideals of service and achievement of search after truth and exhibitionism, of being serious sometimes and being caught up in an entertainment culture. These things sort of all exist together, and how to help them sort it out I think is a great challenge.
Krista Brinkley-McDonald: This is hopefully very brief. My name is Krista Brinkley-McDonald, and I graduated in 2001 and I also graduated from Wake Forest with an MBA in 2006. I really enjoyed hearing the change since 1968. I’m curious as a follow-up to that question. If you could tell us what is the one thing that you think our generation needs to understand and act upon in order to strengthen our evangelical heritage moving forward?
John Piper: You need to understand God, the Bible, and truth. In reverse order, I think what that means is to resist the forces of the present culture to minimize the preciousness of the capacity of knowing. It’s really precious to be able to know, really precious. You’ll know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32). Once you’ve resisted those, then make this the main place where you exercise this glorious gift of knowing. Know the Bible, everything else is maybe. The Bible is not maybe. What you’ll find when you know this is him, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Father. Know them. That’s what I have wanted to say to any generation that I had a chance to talk to.
Mark Noll: I think on the specific question of how the evangelical heritage can be alive and what’s most significant about that, I would say this. I think that evangelicals were brought into the world in the modern form in the 18th century to pull the gospel message of Christ into greater prominence. Evangelicals, actually, I think always need the ballast of Trinitarian thinking, but the great contribution of evangelicals to the world has been a focus on the saving work of Jesus Christ, the person and work of Christ. This is one of the things that makes hymnody so important to me because the great evangelical hymns of the 18th century, the great gospel songs that we still sing of the 19th century, are hymns about the person and work of Christ.
I would hope that as forms change, as tastes change, as music changes, that the heritage of evangelicals concentrating on who Christ is and what Christ has done for us can continue. Sometimes it will be by retrieving aspects of what’s past, and sometimes it will be by rethinking the contemporary situations in order to present Christ clearly. I think with John always returning to the story of grace as exhibited in Scripture whose center is the word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory. That’s the hope of the future as it has been the hope of the past.
Catherine Long: Well, this should stimulate some lunchtime discussions. I hope it will carry on. Please join me in thanking our panelists once again.