Posted by: gcarkner | August 16, 2017

Welcome to Graduate Christian Union (GCU)

 Welcome to UBC Fall Term 2017

We exist to help you reach your full potential as a graduate student and to discover your fullest self within a supportive community. You can help us build a creative network among postgraduate students at UBC. We respond to those pursuing the deeper life, those who want to grow in personal character as well as academically.  Come join us at our regular Thursday evening study or Gallery 2.0. Share your passion and your curiosity to grow in new ways this academic year. GCU and its affiliated partners work hard to help you build a good overall learning curve and a healthy self-worth. There are many people who believe in you and your future.

Make sure you check the Regent College Bookstore (University Blvd. @ Wesbrook Mall) for intellectual treasures beyond your imagination!


Welcome to Graduate Christian Union

We Provide Opportunities to Expand Your Horizons

GCU begins its  program in September with a Dinner Reception on Wednesday, September 13 at 6:00 pm at the home of Professor Ed and Anne Jull, 1828 Western Parkway, at UBC. We enjoyed meeting so many good people at the GSS Clubs Fair on Friday, September 1, 3-5 pm. Graduate Student Centre. We sponsor discussion groups, retreats, films, speakers and fun outdoor hikes in the local mountains. We like international food and fun. GCU is a little bit like the UN with friends from around the globe. Write to to RSVP for the dinner reception, or if you want to be regularly informed about our activities and resources to enhance your experience at UBC. All of us are on a journey both academically and spiritually. We hope that GCU can add fun, wisdom and colour to that adventure. You have so much to offer to UBC and to other students, things from the heart of your passion. The group loves to explore important questions that lead to curious investigation and new discovery. We have just released a book last fall written by our staff support worker Gordon Carkner which gives the spirit of GCU and the forums GFCF. We think you will benefit from it as a personal resource for inspiration. The book is called The Great Escape from Nihilism: rediscovering our passion in late modernity. Available at the UBC Bookstore in philosophy and in the UBC library.

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Joined by his wife Ute,, and a brilliant, earnest group of UBC faculty, Gordon loves to hear stories from around the world and he enjoys the art of engaging Christian faith with culture and with science. GCU is all about dialogue, discussion, support and mutual stimulation, building ideas into positive action for the common good. We work hard to help you navigate UBC with class and to reach your goals.

Overview Graduate Christian Union Fall 2017

GCU Study Group Begins Thursday, September 21, 7:00 pm @ 277 West 16th Ave. (2 blocks east of Cambie Street on the north side) The Full Implications of the Incarnation.  Take the #33 or #99 B-Line Bus to Cambie. Easy going discussion/discovery style. We are open to any and all of your questions, musings and stories.

Gallery 2.0 Dialogues–start Friday noon September 29 with Dr. Tim Huh from Sauder School of Business. Find the GCU sign on the table and friendly interlocutors.

Dr. Craig Mitton, School of Population and Public Health, October 20

Canadian Thanksgiving Dinner Celebration: Thursday evening, October 5 @ 6 pm

RSVP by Tuesday midnight.


GFCF Scholarly Lecture Series: First one with UK Public Intellectual Baron Jonathan Sacks, Wednesday, October 25 @ 4:00 pm in Chemistry D200. The Dignity of Difference: Positive Moral Contribution of Religion in a Globalized World. 

GCU is here to help you enhance your UBC grad experience

  • Building a Christian Voice within in Academia: faith and reason in collaboration.
  • Discover Great Resources to support your thinking, research and broaden your horizons: theological, philosophical, historical, justice, etc.
  • Hospitality, meals, celebrations, friendship, collaboration.
  • Scripture Study Plus on theme of the Full Implications of the Incarnation (Thursdays at 7:00 pm). Starts with tea and dessert at 277 West 16th We add in TED talks, documentary clips, music, your creative input and questions.
  • Support, problem-solving and mentorship from UBC faculty members.
  • GCU Blog ( reaching students in 92 countries. Join UBC faculty, students, international writers, and GCU staff: spark a conversation and promote creative writing.
  • New 2016 Book for the GCU/GFCF Vision: The Great Escape from Nihilism: rediscovering our passion in late modernity by Gordon E. Carkner, Ph.D. It gives you some history of our dialogue and debates over the years.
  • Apologetics Training/Resources: Learn about constructive dialogue with a friend.
  • Prayer and Spiritual Support: Prayer meeting on Wednesday mornings on campus. Contact Ute Carkner Cell: 778.840.3549
  • Join our Listserv for GCU weekly updates: Gord Carkner, GCU Staff

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Key Words to Capture the GCU Narrative Curiosity, Community, Digging Deeper into Faith and Reason, Integration, Science-Religion Dialogue, Identity Capital, Big Questions, Meta-Biology, Meaning and Calling, Adding Value to Education, Moral Depth and Integrity, Culture Making, Justice and the Common Good, Creative Imagination, Good Scholarship, Innovation, Christo-centric Inspiration, Incarnational Humanism, Adventure and Fun, Celebrating Creation, Re-thinking the Secular, Social Relevance, the Virtuous Community.

GCU is interdisciplinary and international, it creates a lively conversation as people bring their wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise to the table. They also bring their heart, humour and their joy to community. Let’s get to know each other and explore new horizons together during this important formation journey of postgraduate education. Looking forward to hearing your story and your aspirations for grad school. If you are exploring the Christian faith for the very first time, you are welcome to join our dialogue.


Join us on a nature hike!

The Full Implications of the Incarnation  Our theme this term is an intriguing investigation into the biblical narrative about incarnation, probably the most important distinction in the Christian faith. We will drill down into a variety of passages, Old and New Testament, to discern the big picture. I have been researching this issue over the summer, but even for a much longer time, took a course on the subject from a very bright Chicago professor, Daniel Treier of Wheaton College. My thinking has been enriched and expanded as well as empowered. I have also been writing about the contrast between Gnostic religion versus the incarnation. All this was striking and quite informative, and it put al lot of things into perspective. The full implications are staggering and far reaching for many disciplines, not just theology. So I invite you to join GCU in this vital dialogue and help towards the writing of a book on the subject. There indeed are exciting possibilities for the road ahead in 2017-18. Here’s a key quote from Dr. Jens Zimmermann, a strong advocate of incarnational thinking and living:

Christ the creative wisdom of God, and God’s active Word in creation, is enfleshed in the temporal-historical dimension of our world as the concrete Jewish Messiah, Jesus the Christ…. This is the Word through whom all things were made, and the Word hid in the eternal bosom of God, the Word who spoke through the prophets, the Word whose mighty acts defined the history of Israel. In Jesus the Christ, this Word has become flesh, and the eternal has become temporal, but without ceasing to be eternal…. In Christ temporality and eternity are conjoined…. In the incarnation, creation, the world, time and history have been taken up into the God-man, who is the center of reality…. Faith and reason are inseparable because their unity is in Christ. (J. Zimmermann, Incarnation Humanism, 2012, 264-5)

One more scholar, University of Virginia noted sociologist James Davison Hunter, clarifies how it impacts our lives:

If, indeed, there is a hope or an imaginable prospect for human flourishing in the contemporary world, it begins when the Word of shalom becomes flesh in us and is enacted through us toward those with whom we live, in the tasks we are given, and in the spheres of influence in which we operate. When the Word of all flourishing—defined by the love of Christ—becomes flesh in us, in our relations with others, within the tasks we are given, and within our spheres of influence—absence gives way to presence, and the word we speak to each other and to the world becomes authentic and trustworthy. (J.D. Hunter, To Change the World 2010, 252)

We have discovered in the incarnation a new transcendent-immanent horizon of vast and deep meaning as servants of the Word made flesh. This opens reality to us in fresh and amazing ways to a new fullness.

All the fragments of reality, all the words, are drawn to him as metal shavings are to a magnet. He is the primordial Word before all words—the Urwort—who as sharing in the divine essence is also an Überwort [super-word], the alpha and omega…. In the flesh he speaks words, fragments themselves which are cast out like a net to gather the original fragments, turned away from their telos by misused human freedom, leading them not to destruction, but to fullness. But it is a new fullness, one that will pass through the ultimate purification of the Word’s entering the dead silence which knows none of the creative tension of word-silence, that mutedness which is death. All of the words of His life, all that he would express of the One Who sent him, are gathered into that inchoate cry from that fixed point at which life’s speech collapses into silence…. Yet the Father raises this now formless Word to transformed life, sending the Spirit through this silent Word to begin to transform this silent Word back into the words that will transform all creation…. And so the Christian life begins after all the words of creation have been gathered up into the one Word Jesus Christ. (R. Gawronski, 2015, 188)

Looking forward to a great year of discovery and growth,

~Dr. Gordon E. Carkner, GCU Staff


Quotes from UBC Professors

Long hours in the laboratory, thesis proposals, the weight of comprehensive exams means that a grad student needs a support infrastructure. I can’t speak highly enough about getting involved with a group on campus like GCU, and also finding a good church home base. Also as you are walking into your office or biking into campus, try praying for your profs, fellow students, or admin staff; this can help stimulate surprisingly fruitful conversations. And don’t forget that you are here to serve undergrads with grace. Feel free to track me down for coffee; I love ideas exchange.

~Dr. Craig Mitton, PhD

Associate Professor

School of Population and Public Health

As a graduate student several decades ago I found the Grad Christian Union community at my university uplifting spiritually and socially. In an often chilly secular environment, it was a great venue to meet other grads outside my own field and cultural background and develop friendships and join in events with those who shared the same core values. I am still in contact with several of these friends 30 years later. With some other faculty and graduate students, I helped to launch the Graduate & Faculty Christian Forum a number of years ago. Gord has been a solid advisor to this group as well 

~Dr. David Ley

Professor Department of Geography

University of British Columbia

There is no more important bellwether for our society and our culture than the university — and yet Christians within academia often travel incognito, which isn’t good for them, isn’t good for the university, and isn’t good for other Christians, who often feel alone when really they’re not. A ministry to grad students and thus provides a vital venue where Christians can connect, show their colours, and stimulate each other to play the full role they’re called to play as fully alive and “out” followers of Christ. Decide to be a public Christian at UBC.

~Dr. Dennis Danielson

Professor of English

University of British Columbia

Graduate research is often like looking for a lightswitch in a totally dark room. It can be frustrating at times. It certainly was for me! It was invaluable for me to have close connection with other Christians whom I could share that load with, and who were praying for me.

~Dr. Bé Wassink

Instructor, Materials Engineering

University of British Columbia

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