Scholarship and Christian Faith: Enlarging the Conversation

Scholarship and Christian Faith: Enlarging the Conversation

Scholarship and Christian Faith: Enlarging the Conversation

Scholarship and Christian Faith: Enlarging the Conversation


This book enters a lively discussion about religious faith and higher education in America that has been going on for a decade or more. During this time many scholars have joined the debate about how best to understand the role of faith in the academy at large and in the special arena of church-related Christian higher education. The notion of faith-informed scholarship has, of course, figured prominently in this conversation. But, argue Douglas and Rhonda Jacobsen, the idea of Christian scholarship itself has been remarkably under-discussed. Most of the literature has assumed a definition of Christian scholarship that is Reformed and evangelical in orientation: a model associated with the phrase "the integration of faith and learning." The authors offer a new definition and analysis of Christian scholarship that respects the insights of different Christian traditions (e.g., Catholic, Lutheran, Anabaptist, Wesleyan, Pentecostal) and that applies to the arts and to professional studies as much as it does to the humanities and the natural and social sciences. The book itself is organized as a conversation. Five chapters by the Jacobsens alternate with four contributed essays that sharpen, illustrate, or complicate the material in the preceding chapters. The goal is both to map the complex terrain of Christian scholarship as it actually exists and to help foster better connections between Christian scholars of differing persuasions and between Christians and the academy as a whole.


Right off, many readers will find themselves a bit disoriented as they read this book. Contrary to expectation, the coauthors and essayists are not engaged in whining about what went wrong with Christian scholarship.

Up to now, much if not most of the literature on their subject has been marked by complaints and whimpers:

In a golden age theology was queen of sciences and now it is not.

Once higher education in the Western world was Christian and now it is not.

In the good old days scholars in other disciplines honored Christian learning and today most ignore or disdain it.

We Christian scholars have much to say but we cannot get a hearing because of the low priority given religious inquiry and teaching in colleges and universities—including those associated with the church.

And on. And on.

Now, each of these complaints, which sound peevish to those not in “the conversation” but resound consolingly among us happy few in “the community” of Christian scholarship, reflects realities and calls for reaction, response, and responsible setting of new priorities. They should prompt criticism, of which Christian scholars may not receive enough. There is plenty of criticism on these pages, but very little whining.

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