On Monday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m., Joshua DuBois — former head of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and spiritual advisor to President Obama — spoke at the 18th annual Paul B. Henry Lecture in the Covenant Fine Arts Center Recital Hall.
Michael Le Roy, president of Calvin College, began the evening with a brief statement about Calvin’s mission and the intention of the annual lecture.
“The purpose of DuBois’ being here tonight,” Le Roy said, “is to answer the question of what it’s like to be a Christ-centered community.”
An audience Q&A followed the lecture, during which time DuBois answered questions about faith and his time in the White House.
Prior to the lecture, den Dulk introduced DuBois and the annual event.
“This lecture is a way to remember Paul Henry,” den Dulk said, “who had a clear eye and a heart for justice.”
DuBois named the theme of his speech “Approaching the Ledge: why we must risk our faith in order to save it.”
“Too many people are seeking God’s interference for such different things,” said DuBois. “If there’s a gnawing problem from my time in the White House, it’s that far too many people of faith have strived to make God so small. There’s nothing wrong with the small requests, but they’re objectively self-centered.”
DuBois shared stories of three people who had nothing to rely on aside from their faith: Elijah at Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18), Martin Luther King Jr. and DuBois’ mother. He used these three stories to illustrate the importance of the Christian faith in an individual’s life.
“In this increasingly hurting society,” DuBois continued, “people don’t just need social justice; they need an intimate relationship with God. What if we made a habit of walking right up to the ledge, putting our lives on the line and demanding that God reveal himself to us?”
“What if we did that with issues like racism or gay marriage? What if we did that with whatever it is in our lives that need a major intervention? What if we committed ourselves to bridging the ideas that divide us?”
Midway through his speech, DuBois brought up that there may be a point where one might feel content with the way things are.
“If you don’t need to stand on the ledge for anything,” DuBois said, “then stand alongside someone who does.”
DuBois concluded by addressing the problem of doubting God.
“You might ask ‘What if God doesn’t show up?’ That’s when we look to Jesus Christ and realize that we may have to suffer a little for God to show up and reveal his glory.”