HCI News and Updates

April 10 - The Death of Humanity and the Case for Life with Dr. Richard Weikart

The long-held belief in the intrinsic value of human life is dying as the influence of our Christian cultural heritage is being eclipsed by the rising tide of secularism. In this presentation, Professor Richard Weikart will draw from his book, The Death of Humanity and the Case for Life (2016), to trace the rise of secular philosophies that have promoted the idea that humans are merely the chance outcome of impersonal forces, and thus have no intrinsic purpose or value . . . These ideas have infiltrated our popular culture and our legal, educational, and legislature systems to the point where they devalue individual human life and deny objective morality.

"Since our society is being taught that we are simply animals with no objective morality to restrain us, why should we be surprised when hatred and violence rear their ugly heads?" — Dr. Richard Weikart

"Biological determinism . . . demotes humanity to the level of animals who have no choice but to obey their instincts or even reduces us to machines that simply do what we are programmed to do. Biological determinism has thus contributed to the devaluing of human life that pervades our culture, especially in intellectual circles." — Dr. Richard Weikart

"Our intuition that human life has value, purpose and meaning is just one of many reasons I find Christianity superior to a wide variety of secular worldviews." — Dr. Richard Weikart

Join us for the FREE event on MONDAY, APRIL 10

7:10 p.m.

The Lakeway Church

2203 Lakeway Blvd.

Lakeway, TX 78734

Have questions? Contact Larry Linenschmidt at 512.680.7993 or larry.linenschmidt@hillcountryinstitute.org

Celebrating the Way of St. Patrick March 17-18

Mark your calendars now and start making plans to head to Fredericksburg March 17, 2017, for a special event, "Celebrating the Way of St. Patrick" in which we will look at Patrick's model of reaching beyond the church with courage and a culturally sensitive message. Shamrocks, green beer, great food, and a celebration of "Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me" - in our time. 

Patrick knew better. In a strange and beautiful turn of providence, he had spent six years among them as a captive, learned their language, and developed a heart for the Irish. Like Joseph sold into slavery to one day save Egypt and his brothers, so God sent Patrick into slavery to ready Ireland for a coming salvation.

God arrested him with severe mercy. He was kidnapped at age 16 by Irish raiders and taken back to Ireland, where he served as a slave for six years under a tribal chief, who was also a druid. While a slave in Ireland, God opened his eyes to the gospel of his childhood. It was as a captive that he came to understand the Irish Celtic people, and their language and culture, with a kind of intuitive profundity that is usually possible only, as in Patrick’s case, from the underside. When he eventually escaped from slavery, he was a changed man, now a Christian from the heart. He studied for the ministry, and led a parish in Britain for nearly 20 years.

He wanted to see the gospel penetrate deeply into the Irish culture and produce an indigenous movement. Having lived among the people and gained understanding of how they believed, what was important to them, how they lived, what their issues were, and what they cared about, he was able to show them he understood them and loved them and thus gained their trust. People knew he genuinely cared about them, so they listened to him. And they learned about the God who loves them. 

This event will be held at the beautiful home of Dan and Judith Heinze, La Hacienda Te Damos Gracias, just down the road from Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. 

Details and registration can be found here.

Austin Think Week April 2-7

Do truth and goodness really matter? And what about integrity in the workplace and beyond? Do these values matter in our culture any more? Join the conversation this April with AUSTIN THINK WEEK.

We are delighted to partner with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries to put on this series of lively lunchtime talks and engaging evening events to help provide clear opportunities to consider questions on topics such as suffering, the nature of truth, and whether science and faith are compatible.  Designed for those of all beliefs and none - and for those with intellectual objections and heartfelt concerns about the Christian worldview – this week aims to bring meaningful discussion and answers to some of the many questions that people are asking.

There are over 26 events, most of which are free of charge. With a very exciting lineup of world-class speakers and very cool venue selections, Austin Think Week will be a chance to dig in deep to critical yet often uncomfortable questions such as:

What is the place of tolerance?
Why would a loving God judge people?
What are the ways to God?
Sexuality. Where do we go from here?

And many others.

All event details and registrations (even with the free events, it helps to know how many-ish are coming) can be found at:


Common Descent Debate Video Now Available

If you were unable to attend the Common Descent debate at St. Edward's University on Friday, October 21, you can still watch the debate on video. Dr. Paul Nelson and Dr. Joel Velasco discussed the current status of Common Descent, the claim that all life on Earth evolved from a single organism. Velasco defended common descent; Nelson challenged it. The video is now available here.

A Day With C.S. Lewis

A Spiritual Journey into Fascinating Worlds. Most know of Lewis as the author of "The Chronicles of Narnia". This seminar, led by Dr. Dennis Fisher and Dr. Janet Fisher, will help you see why so many of his other books continue to grow in popularity while engaging hearts and minds around the world. Mark your calendars for November 19 and make plans to join us in Austin, TX. Get more information and purchase tickets here.

Pray for Our Neighbor Mexico

Hill Country Institute joins with First Presbyterian Church San Antonio and other churches to encourage believers to pray for the nation of Mexico.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015, has been set aside as a Day of Prayer for Mexico, a day of focused, coordinated prayer for this nation so dear to the heart of God.

A Prayer Service is scheduled for Tuesday, October 13, 2015, at First Presbyterian Church San Antonio from Noon to 1pm. If you would like to host a service at your own church, please contact us at 830-719-5812, and we will post the information on this page.

Please mark your calendar and plan to join in the prayers for Mexico that day.  Gather other believers from your church or community and pray together or pray as an individual wherever you are.  Contact us for suggestions on how to set up a focused day of prayer for Mexico at your church.

OCTOBER 13, 2015

12:00pm       First Presbyterian Church   210-226-0215

  • Pray for Christian leaders in Mexico.
  • Pray for Mexico to flourish.
  • Pray for God-honoring relationships between Mexico and the U.S.
  • Pray for the Churches of Mexico.
Hill Country Institute Live: Exploring Christ & Culture recently hosted the leaders of AMO Mexico, Chris & Francelia Chavez McReynolds. You can hear their thoughts on the current situation in Mexico, why education, and in particular Christ-centered education, can restore the nation, the ministry of AMO, and much more in this two-part podcast

Day of Prayer for Teachers

It's hard to believe it's almost time for the new school year to begin. Seems like this summer has flown by. There is a certain group of people in our society who are getting ready to go back onto the front lines, giving and sacrificing to shape the future of our nation. Do you know someone who is a teacher? Do you think about how important it is to pray for them, not just at the beginning of the school year, but all year long. They are truly on the front lines, and they go out every single day to love, nurture and influence young lives. We're excited to announce a special series Hill Country Institute Live is doing this month in which we will share interviews with teachers who have seen the power of God's love change the course of young lives. The interviews will be broadcast on our radio show each Saturday in August (stations and schedule listed below), available for streaming in our resource library, and downloadable as podcasts on iTunes and any podcast app.

Also, in partnership with First Presbyterian Church of San Antonio, we are encouraging churches, individuals, families, and anyone who's interested to consider August 23 as a Day of Prayer for Teachers. We want to encourage focused prayer for teachers throughout the year, but this particular date is the Sunday before most schools begin their Fall semesters, so it's a perfect time to dedicate prayer for the teachers in our lives.

We have several resources for you to use including: sample prayers, scriptures related to teaching/education, quotes from well-known leaders/authors, and even a sample prayer service to follow. These are all available on our website HERE. Please feel free to download anything that is there and be sure to listen to the 4 stories of teachers who've experienced God's love and power in their teaching experience. You will be encouraged.

If you know of other resources that would be helpful, please click on Contact Us and send us a message.

Hill Country Institute Live Podcast New Episodes

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast, Hill Country Institute Live: Exploring Christ & Culture on iTunes. New episodes are added all the time with content related to issues of the day. Recently added episodes include Andy Crouch on human flourishing/injustice/idolatry, Os Guinness on religious freedom and current cultural trends, Greg Grooms on current attitudes about "truth", and the Cumberbatch family on race relations in Austin. Coming next week is an episode with Professor George Yancey from The University of North Texas on a Christian model for racial reconciliation. iTunes and hillcountryinstitute.org.

Recordings of Andy Crouch's Talk on Flourishing Now Available

Good news! Today we posted the video and audio recordings of Andy Crouch's talk, Flourishing: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Power. Presented at Ballet Austin on Sunday, June 14, this message is one that will stir your heart and make you think. What does it mean to flourish? What does an image bearer do? What gets in the way of flourishing? What is true leadership? What is idolatry? What is the way to flourishing for all people? 

FLOURISH - Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Power

What does human flourishing look like? Is it possible today? If so, how? How can power be used to help others flourish? 

We all know how power can be used to tear down others. Can it be used to build up? To bring life and freedom to others? If so, how? 

What hinders human flourishing? What are the idols that we set up in our own lives and in our societies that snatch away all that is good and beautiful? 

How does power lead to injustice and yet be used to defeat injustice?

Find out the answers to these questions and more in an Evening With Andy Crouch, Sunday, June 14, at Ballet Austin.

Join us for an evening of music, art, a presentation and discussion that will help you think about what it really means for humans to flourish, both as individuals as well as societies, and what the implications are for your own life. There will be opportunity for Q&A after Andy's presentation, so come ready for an exciting evening. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015  |  6:00pm

6:00pm Reception with Austin Guitarist, Paul Finley

6:40pm Seating

Ballet Austin; 501 W. 3rd St. 

Tickets:  $12.50 online (through 2pm day of the event)  /  $17.50 at the door


Andy Crouch is Executive Editor at Christianity Today. He is the author of Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling and Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power, as well as articles which have appeared in the Wall Street Journal and many other publications. He served as Executive Producer for the documentary films Where Faith and Culture Meet and Round Trip. Andy is a Senior Fellow of the International Justice Mission’s IJM Institute and a member of the Board of Advisors for the John Templeton Foundation.  A classically-trained musician who draws on pop, folk, rock, jazz, and gospel, he has led musical worship for congregations of 5 to 20,000. 

I am also practicing cello to wean myself from power and accomplishment, to place myself back in the posture of a learner, cultivator, and creator. To become a bit like a child. To detoxify from the too-ready recognition and privilege that accompany even the most modest forms of success, to become available again for something surprising and new. Just as children flourish by growing into adults, so adults flourish by cultivating childlikeness, avoiding the spiritual hardening of the arteries that comes with competence and experience.
― Andy Crouch, Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power     

The powerful have a hard time seeing their own power and its effects. We do not see when our exercise of power is cutting off life and possibility for others; we do not see the ways others are resisting or undermining our own power.
― Andy Crouch, Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power     

True greatness and true power is faithful all the way down, including humbly quick to admit limitedness, sin and brokenness, and to ask for forgiveness.
― Andy Crouch, Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power   

Culture-I think the best way to think of it is everything that human beings make of the world. That includes the arts—it includes movies, television and film. But it also includes buildings, and clothing and food. It’s all of human activity, trying to make something of the world—make stuff, but also makes sense of the world. It’s the human quest to make something of the world.
— Andy Crouch