Radical Christian Scholarship and Education
Western culture has been moving away from Christianity for over two centuries, and secularism now dominates its way of life and thinking. This has led to an intellectual crisis for the Christian community and resulted in two opposite reactions: withdrawal and accommodation in varying degrees.
“a renewal of Christian scholarship and education of divine proportions”
There is, therefore, a need in our day for a renewal of Christian scholarship and education of divine proportions, beginning with a major retrieval of distinctly Christian resources and their deep reappropriation. The most important of these is the Bible, which provides the 1st principles of Christian, and a way of seeing reality and a set of practices for living accordingly. We believe this requires radically reconsidering the relation between the Bible and all the intellectual disciplines, so that it plays a constitutive, as well as an informative, role in every discipline, not just regarding worldview assumptions, but insofar as the Bible’s teachings bear on the content and practice of each discipline. Such a retrieval, however, entails a discerning hermeneutical appreciation of the form of Scripture as it actually is and a skepticism towards using the Bible in ways foreign to God’s communicative intentions.
This endeavor, consequently, challenges the modern fragmentation of the disciplines that resulted in an alien separation of the study of Scripture from all disciplines except biblical studies and theology, leading a post hoc need for the “integration of faith and learning,” after the disciplines had already been constituted according to secular assumptions and practices, and so too late to make much of a difference. By contrast, the Christian community has to learn again how to allow Scripture to shine its light everywhere, particularly where those disciplines are legitimately shaped by worldview assumptions and liturgical practices, while utilizing legitimate advances in human thought and life in the modern era.
“the Christian community has to learn again how to allow Scripture to shine its light everywhere”
This project will require that all Christian scholars, regardless of their disciplinary specialization, become more familiar with Scripture, along with relevant aspects of Christian theology, philosophy, and spirituality, in addition to their primary discipline. Such a retrieval will, therefore, also entail working closely with Scripture specialists, theologians, philosophers, and spiritual directors within all the disciplines, together tracing out how the knowledge and love of God and the love of neighbor are related to all human knowledge, wisdom, and practice.
The fundamental division in human knowledge and wisdom is not that between faith and reason or theology and the other disciplines or the word of God in Scripture and the word of God in creation, for each of these distinctions is grounded in an underlying unity that flows from the mind and heart of the one true God. Rather, the fundamental division in human knowledge and wisdom cuts through the human mind and heart and manifests itself in the differences there are between the City of God and the City of Humanity.
At the same time, we believe the Christian academic and educational community necessarily has a two-fold calling: first, to develop its own faithful articulation of Christian versions of each academic discipline, insofar as the Christian faith makes a difference—of relevance primarily to the Christian community—and second, to a principled pluralist culture-building activity that involves ongoing dialogue and participation with non-Christians in each of the disciplines, collaborating to whatever degree is possible.
We are calling this project Radical Christian Scholarship because it goes to the root (radix) of each discipline and also Transdisciplinary Christian Scholarship, because it requires the transformation of all the disciplines in accordance with Christian worldview assumptions and liturgical practices.
Please join us for a conference on this project at Houston Baptist University on February 22-24, 2017, where we will hear from such Christian thinkers as Kevin Vanhoozer, Esther Meek, Craig Bartholomew, Mary Poplin, C. Stephen Evans, Dru Johnson, Jonathan Pennington, Leland Ryken, John Peckham, Bruce Ashford, Jim Spiegel, Todd Ream, Eric Johnson, and many others.