ESN Book Club: The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship

The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship

The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship, by George Marsden

In June, we hosted our first ESN Book Club, an experiment in online book discussion and community based around John Stott’s classic, Your Mind Matters. In October, we’re going to host our 2nd ESN Book Club, this time discussing another classic, George Marsden’s The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship.

In 1996, George Marsden published The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief, which traces the history of American universities from their origins as explicitly Christian institutions to their current secular condition. Marsden ended Soul with a brief “Concluding Unscientific Postscript” to put forth his concern that universities had “overcorrected” in their path toward secularism, and that religious perspectives ought to be given a greater place in the university culture. This postscript generated enough critics, questions, and conversations that Marsden felt the need to write an entire (though short) book about “the outrageous idea of Christian scholarship.” In less than 140 pages, Marsden defends the place of Christian scholarship in the secular academy and proposes a way forward for communities of Christian academics. As you might imagine, The Outrageous Idea is one of the foundational texts for the Emerging Scholars Network.

We’ll be starting to read the book together in October. I hope that you’ll join us. The book is available from Amazon in both new and used condition, and you can also find used copies on The first 17 pages are available for your preview at Google Books. It’s likely that a Christian faculty member or InterVarsity staff on your campus has a copy, too, that they might let you borrow. And, if you’d like to host a face-to-face book club coinciding with our online discussion, click here to download a discussion guide for the book from the main ESN website.

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Micheal Hickerson

The former Associate Director for the Emerging Scholars Network, Micheal lives in Cincinnati with his wife and three children and works as a web manager for a national storage and organization company. He writes about work, vocation, and finding meaning in what you do at No Small Actors.

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  • W. Brian Lane commented on September 7, 2009 Reply

    Great book! Looking forward to it!

    Andrew commented on September 7, 2009 Reply

    Good choice. I read this book last summer, and found it both a very realistic overview at what’s going on in terms of Christian thinking in universities, and a helpful proposal of how things could be better.

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