The Unlikely Conversion of a Radical Scholar



Over the course of the next several days, I have the privilege of working with Mary Poplin, Professor of Education, Claremont Graduate University, as she speaks for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at a number of locations:  Pittsburgh, PA (2/25-26), South Central PA (2/27-3/1), and Baltimore (3/2).  In preparation for this project, which involves numerous partners, I took time to prayerfully consider, dig into, and reflect upon:

In response to this material and in order to introduce Mary well, I asked her, “Why do you do what you do?”  Below is Mary’s response:

My K-12 educational research work is focused on how to improve the education of poor urban students in the schools. I believe that the low test scores in urban poor schools are to some degree the result of poor teaching that has been unchallenged. My most recent work has been to understand highly effective teachers who work and succeed in these environments. Who they are and what do they do that is so successful?**

My work on the topic of Christianity and the University challenges the domination of secularism and its claim to that it is more objective, neutral, safe, democratic and useful than the Christian worldview. I do the work I do because I see many Christian young people entering universities where the Christian worldview is challenged largely by people who know very little about it. I also did this for many years. I believe I have some insights in how these worldviews of naturalism, secular humanism and pantheism share some principles with the Christian worldview, hold other principles that contradict Christian principles, and omit some Christian principles. I believe that it is fairly easy to help bright young people understand the differences. It is one of my callings.

Pray for safe travel, good health, and clear articulation of the call of God.  As you can imagine, I’m really looking forward to hearing Mary present and interact with those who come to hear her story.  And if you’re local to one of these presentations, please join us.  I’ll provide links to audio/video of various presentations when they are available.

*the Well, a virtual gathering place for graduate and professional women to receive wisdom, care, challenge, and inspiration as they seek to follow Christ in the academic world and beyond.

**For more check out:  1.  “Voices from the Inside: A Report on Schooling from Inside the Classroom” (1992), a report that has sold 70,000 copies. 2.  “She’s Strict for a Good Reason: Highly Effective Teachers in Low-Performing Urban Schools” (2011,

PS. For those missing the Steve Garber series, I will pick it up in the future.

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Tom Grosh IV

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 South Central PA Area Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). The Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine is 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!

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