Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship

Article excerpt

The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship. By George Marsden. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. 142 pp. $22.00 (cloth).

Although George Marsden addresses himself primarily to other academics, The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship deserves careful attention from any serious intellectual. Marsden contends that the post-structuralist critique of naive objectivist materialism has undercut the Victorian opposition of religion and science, thereby (even if inadvertently) generating the possibility of scholarship based upon Christian presuppositions-just as we presently have scholarship based on Marxist or feminist or other ideological presuppositions. "In the name of multiculturalism," he complains, "we have silenced some of our major subcultures" (p. 32), despite the fact that religious beliefs "typically involve affirmations about reality and values that are far more specific and far ranging than beliefs inherent to gender, race, ethnicity, or class" (p. 5)-all of which, of course, provoke and sustain entire colonies in the academic world. He acknowledges that such Christian scholarship will be possible much more commonly in the traditional humanities than in mathematics or the hard sciences.

Chapter by chapter, his argument unfolds in a deceptively reasonable and mild-mannered fashion, as he elicits and then answers a variety of objections to his program. He continually insists that the new Christian scholars will remain good citizens of academe and abide politely by what he calls "the rules of the academic game." Within his velvet manners, however, sharp edges glint from time to time. He argues, for instance-and wisely so-that Christian scholarship in the humanities, especially in cultural studies, ought strongly to challenge "the relativistic postmodern anti-realist naturalism" (p. …

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