Are there positive contributions to be offered by a theological context?
George Marsden responds with a hearty yes. Why? Because he believes (or should I say thinks, understands, or perceives):
Scholars do not operate in a vacuum, but rather within the frameworks of their communities, traditions, commitments, and beliefs. Their scholarship, even when specialized, develops within a larger picture of reality. So we must ask: What is in that larger picture? Is there a place for God? If so does God’s presence make any difference to the rest of the picture? … (p.83).
Marsden warns the Christian scholar not “to reduce our subjects to just their theological dimensions. (By theology here I do not mean primarily the discipline of theology, but rather any serious thought about God and God’s revelation according to a particular religious tradition)” (p.83). According to Marsden, when Christians take “theological principles” as “just one point of reference,”
[they] can do the bulk of their academic work according to the standards and perspectives of their discipline, just as long as they are willing to keep in the mind the context of theological concerns and be open to reflecting on their implications for larger questions (p.83).
Marsden devotes the rest of the chapter to developing how “some of the most common Christian points of doctrine” speak into the assumptions and conclusions of academic disciplines:
- The Incarnation
- The Holy Spirit and the Spiritual Dimensions of Reality
- The Human Condition
Any thoughts on how these doctrines speak into the academic world? Any other Christian doctrines which you would desire to highlight?
Stay tuned for more on how Marsden fleshes out the application of these doctrines. …
About the author:
Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the Northeast Regional Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). For a number of years, the Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine was the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!