I would like to clarify some issues regarding a lecture and panel discussion that Redeemer University College was to host this winter (“Abortion, condom advocate to speak at evangelical college,” November 2009).
Let me begin with the topic on which Mr. Lewis has been invited to speak. First, Mr. Lewis will be speaking on global health generally, not on abortion, nor even primarily about HIV/AIDS. His focus will be on a wide range of topics, including communicable diseases in general, malaria, the issue of cost of pharmaceuticals in the global south, the need for health care workers and the challenge of poverty as an obstacle to addressing health needs. We want him to speak, as he has done several times for World Vision, for example, to challenge us, as Christians, to reach out in compassion for those in impoverished nations who need health care.
We are aware that Mr. Lewis is not a Christian and that, in fundamental respects, his framework for analyzing the problems, as well as his prescription for addressing them, are contrary to a Christian approach. We want to give our audience a forum in which they begin to see that, although a passionate secular social democrat and traditional Christians may share compassion for those who are ill, we do it in different ways. For this reason, we will have a panel of Christians with medical and international development expertise who will respond to Mr. Lewis’s address. Two of the panellists are Christian Africans with experiences in dealing with HIV/AIDS.
Our Christian goal brings me to my great disappointment with your article. The Interim and Redeemer University College have the same mission, to reflect the Gospel of Life; you in defending the lives of the most vulnerable – the unborn, the aged, and the handicapped – and Redeemer University College to educate in the name of the truth, Jesus Christ, whose birth we are getting ready to celebrate. It happens that my wife and I have been reading The Interim for 20 years. For that reason, if for no other, you owe it to this Christian university to get your facts straight. I invite you to visit for yourself our website, or better yet, to interview me in order to write a more balanced story. You may still believe, after we have talked, that our strategy of engaging Stephen Lewis is mistaken, but I trust that you will then see more clearly that we are as committed as you are to defending the vulnerable and of serving our Lord.
Jacob P. Ellens
Vice-president of Redeemer University College\
Editor’s Note: This letter was received before Stephen Lewis’s presentation at Redeemer. The point of our article was to report that a Christian university was giving a platform to an individual with a long history of abortion advocacy and whose worldview is at odds with a Christian worldview. We also note there was nothing in the promotional literature we saw before reporting the story about a panel discussion.