Vocational Calling: Inspiration from Seales’ Research on Restoring Ancient Biblical Scrolls

Christians in the Reformed circle like talking about our vocations and its relation to redeeming the culture. In Timothy Keller’s Every Good Endeavor, he outlined the redemptive history of the Bible, and how we respond to His calling through our vocations. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it.

I am grateful to attend a talk organized jointly by Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) and Capital Fellows at McLean Presbyterian Church on Oct 29, 2015. The speaker was Dr. Brent Seales, Professor and Chair of Department of Computer Science, University of Kentucky. His work is on computer vision and image recovery. With his expertise, he and his colleagues managed to recover the text from the scrolls in Ein Gedi that had been deemed beyond recoverable. When I asked him how, in addition to his research, he dealt with writing grants and publish, he said “balance,” and insisted as it is the calling. He mentioned he failed the NSF grants for this research three times before he applied successfully.

Recovered text from a burnt scrolls in Ein Gedi (taken from PastHorizon)
Recovered text from a burnt scrolls in Ein Gedi (taken from PastHorizon)

From the normative perspective, with a clear calling, we work diligently, with humility, to strive for excellence for the glory of God. It is what we are called to. We have more than enough theology regarding the redemption in the biblical theology (BT).

From the situational perspective, our society, the academia in Seales’ case, is hostile to Christians. Some of our work are not appreciated although we think they are groundbreaking from the Christians’ perspective. But facing this, we have a stronger reason to strive for excellence.

From the existential perspective, one’s aptitude and passion are the deciding factors on how to choose a vocation. We are equipped by God with different gifts and talents for building up His church and His disciples. For Seales’ case, it is his technological and managerial skills. Mine is my scholarly passion and quantitative ability.

There are a lot of great examples of work and faith. Jimmy Lin, Founder of Rare Genomics Institute (RGI) and Director of Cancer Genomics in NCI, has been working on bioinformatics and cancer genomics for the cure of rare diseases. He is a faithful Christian.

  • Timothy Keller, “Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work”, Riverhead Books (2014). [Amazon]
  • Whitney Harder, “Seales’ Research Team Reveals Biblical Text From Damaged Scroll”, University of Kentucky News (July 20, 2015). [link]
  • “Parts of burnt Ein Gedi scroll deciphered”, PastHorizons (July 20, 2015). [link]
  • J. M. Frame, “The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God: A Theology of Lordship”, P & R Publishing (1987). [Amazon]
  • J. M. Frame, “A Primer of Perspectivalism” (2012). [Link]
  • Homepage of Professor Brent Seales.
  • Jimmy Lin, Founder of Rare Genomics Institute (RGI). (His Ted talk: youtube)

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