How to Remain a Truly Christian University

By Kenneth Berding Jun. 6, 2017 9:00 a.m. Christian Education, Culture, Ethics, Ministry and Leadership, Historical Theology

I just finished reading Owen Strachan’s book, Awakening the Evangelical Mind: An Intellectual History of the Neo-Evangelical Movement. He has some good words for how to keep evangelical universities, well … evangelical. These three paragraphs are worth the three minutes it will take you to read them:

The evangelical colleges and universities that are best positioned to take on such a mission are those that are confessional. They are grounded in a rich biblical-theological vision of the Christian life and witness, and most directly are anchored in a statement of faith that standardizes and norms teaching and scholarship. This is not to say that every department comprehensively formulates a distinctively scriptural form of its discipline—Christian dentistry, for example, as a unique calling in contradistinction to secular dentistry. It is to say that every department, every program, from top to bottom, views itself as powered by the biblical metanarrative. From roots to branches, every faculty member and administrator savors the reality of Christ crucified and risen. It is from this concept that models of vocation, classroom instruction, and institutional life spring.

This does not mean, of course, that every professor is a theologian—far from it. It does mean that among faculty members, individual commitment to Christ is essential. Christian scholars who teach with excellence and publish with top presses must nonetheless be more a Christian than they are a scholar. They must take care that they are more concerned to honor their God as a botanist or a historian or a biologist or an engineer or a journalist than they are to be famous, accomplished, and renowned in their field.

Some scholars may feel some resistance to such a seemingly humble profile. The broader academy, after all, rewards those who operate according to its dictates, damp down their convictions, and embrace secularist paradigms. Christian scholars will feel profound tension at times. The world and its promises will seem so desirous, and the kingdom of God will feel so small by comparison. But whether professors are located in non-Christian or Christian environments, they must take care to be Christians first, tethered to the Word of God without reservation, affirming the Bible as good.”

Excerpted from Owen Strachan, Awakening the Evangelical Mind: An Intellectual History of the Neo-Evangelical Movement (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015), 177-178.

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