Faith, Learning, and the
Teaching of History
Shirley A. Mullen
I COME to this essay on faith, learning, and the teaching of history as a seeker. What I will share is a brief narrative of how I came to this place, several affirmations that characterize my current thinking on the relationship between Christian faith and the academic discipline of history, and several specific ways that I have sought to facilitate the integration of faith and learning in my own classes.
I grew up in the Holiness tradition—a tradition that is known more for emphasizing clean living and personal piety than theology, doctrine, or the life of the mind. It is a tradition that might well, and often does, lead to a fairly dichotomized vision of faith and learning—a view that sees one's Christianity and one's discipline operating in quite different spheres each with its own presuppositions and ways of proceeding. My background, however, was not the stereotypical Holiness background. For I grew up in a family that cared a great deal for intellectual rigor and even more so for intellectual honesty. When I encountered my first crisis of faith in high school, my father encouraged me to ask the tough questions, to read, and to study church history. My father was a keen John Wesley enthusiast and taught me early that there was much more to Wesley than a warm heart. Wesley was an avid reader in a wide range of disciplines and an eager student of the latest scientific discoveries of his day. Just