Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Pluralism Seminar

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Pluralism Seminar

Article excerpt

On May 29, a group of graduate students and professors met at the First Things office to discuss the role of Christianity in a pluralistic society. The discussion focused on a paper by George Marsden. (We plan to publish a revised version in a future issue.) One topic was taken up with especial gusto: Why should the secular university welcome self-consciously Christian scholars committed to doing their academic work as Christians?

The group saw some obvious educational benefits. Students need to know about Christianity in order to be culturally literate; Christian professors with religious commitments help students understand religious motivations, an understanding we need to engage religious people throughout the world.

The discussion then turned to deeper ways in which a confessional Christian scholar can contribute to the vitality of academic culture. First, the vigorous intellectual development of a particular tradition is intrinsically valuable. Christianity has a long tradition of doing just that. Second, committed Christians doing intellectual work provide a metaphysical seriousness that our postmodern academic culture sorely needs. Third, including committed Christians in the university creates the possibility for civil discussion of divisive issues, making the culture wars less dire. …

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