InterVarsity Alum: Dr. Lendol Calder on “Uncoverage” is an apt video for us as we begin a new term, asking ourselves how we dialog (dare I even say provide a framework for studies in a particular discipline) and learn from (or even teach as) “the experts”. Yes, I think this perspective is applicable beyond the field of history 🙂 Stay tuned . . .
Note: Earlier in the year I posted another short video of Dr. Lendol Calder (Breaking the Power of Money) and a related piece on Emerging Culture – God’s Work in History.
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!
This is so, so great. I’ve shared this with a few history profs, and tweeted it, hoping anyone who is interested in the project of “thinking Christianly” about an academic area would check it out. Yes! Thanks.
What does it mean to think “Christianly” can you elaborate on that? I would like to understand where you are coming from. Thanks
Well, thanks for asking. I can’t speak for those who run this site, but here’s what I meant. It is a phrase, or so I think, that is central to the task of the emerging scholars network, which equips young scholars to do their academic work in light of Biblical truths, relating faith and learning in integrated ways, and taking seriously the Biblical verses about “loving God with all our minds” and “having the mind of Christ” and (a la Romans 12:1-2) developing a “renewed mind” that shows an alternative way of living in the world. We are told to “take every theory captive” for Christ and to “not be taken captive” by ideologies that aren’t consistent with a Christian worldview. Most would agree that through God’s common grace, there are all kinds of non-Christian scholars who have done good and important work, so certainly while we study and learn through a Christian lens, trying to discern insightful ways of formulating theories that are guided by the Biblical vision, and offered for the betterment of the world (and to the final glory of God who is pleased when we serve the common good) this doesn’t mean only reading “Christian” books or always being on the “attack mode” against pagan scholars. Not at all. Like in any endeavor, the good and the bad, the wise and the foolish, are intermingled, and a Christian scholar will need discernment to be faithful in doing her scholarship in these ways, “in but not of” the academy, to paraphrase the end of John.
This is examined well in the last few chapters of the book by Brian Walsh & Richard Middleton, “The Transforming Vision” (IVP) and is discussed wonderfully in the brief book, also by IVP, by Greg Jao called “Your Minds Mission.” (I’m honored to have a blurb on the back of that, a very fine and easy to read work.) So good!
A short but profound discussion of this is seen in the excellent volume “The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship” by George Marsden (Oxford University Press) which every Christian professor should own.
For serious thinkers, in my view “The Myth of Religious Neutrality” by Roy Clouser (University of Notre Dame Press) on the ways religious-like underlying theories shape various disciplines is a absolutely must-read and a major contribution to the formulation of these things.
No scholarship is philosophically neutral, of course, every theory is “coming from” somewhere, framed by presuppositions or narratives of meaning. So it isn’t like Christians are the only ones trying to name and create uniquely consistent theory, guided by their deepest convictions about the nature of things. It really is what all professors do: profess what they think to be true about their field. Christians should, with whimsy and grace, want to be sure that we profess our theories and do our scholarship in ways that honors the Biblical command to do “all things” in Christ. Such a view some call “radical” drawing on the root word “radix” which means to get at the root of things.
I love (love, love) the upbeat, basic book for college students on doing this outrageous task called “Learning for the Love of God: A Guide for Students” by Derek Melleby & Donald Opitz (Brazos.) (An earlier edition was called, playing off the Marsden book,”The Outgageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness” but too many were confused by this idea that we re called to “academic faithfulness” so they changed the title.) It is informed by the best scholarship, and it is an essential tool for those who work with young scholars.
Perhaps more eloquent and classy is Cornelias Plantingas “Engagaing God’s World” (Eerdmans) which is, again, very inspiring and delight to read.
There are others who have written wisely about this, from various traditions, too — Anabaptists, Catholics and others — and this ongoing conversation is important and exciting. These have shaped what I mean, at least, by that phrase, and think these are fairly foundational resources for anyone involved in this conversation.
Here are two rambling pieces I wrote a bit ago, inviting people to read widely in their question to think well, for God’s glory.
Here, as a way into what we mean by thinking faithfully about political theory, and a list of books that do that well, I first offer a rumination on the Christian mind, lamenting the lack of Biblically-grounded thinking, in the mode, perhaps of the classic “Scandel of the Evangelical Mind” by Mark Noll — though not that sophisticeted, of course. I think the first few paragraphs say it pretty well. I hope this helps answer your great question.
Tom Grosh IV says
Amen! Thank-you Byron! What a joy to have you part of the conversation.
Dear Sergey, Please forgive me for the delay in my response. In addition to what Byron has shared, I encourage you to mine through this site, starting with the growing interview section (https://blog.emergingscholars.org/category/interview/). BTW, this includes an interview of Derek Melleby, https://blog.emergingscholars.org/2010/03/derek-melleby-academic-faithfulness/.
“The Marks of a Christian Scholar” (Mark Eckel) (https://blog.emergingscholars.org/category/vocation-and-calling/the-marks-of-a-christian-scholar/) and a discussion of “The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship” https://blog.emergingscholars.org/category/resources-2/book-reviews/outrageous-idea-of-christian-scholarship-book-reviews/) tie into what Byron has shared.
I think that you’ll find a consideration of “When God Talks Back” (https://blog.emergingscholars.org/category/resources-2/book-reviews/when-god-talks-back/) and “Bearing the Image of God (https://blog.emergingscholars.org/category/christian-thought-and-practice/devotional/bearing-the-image-of-god/) worthwhile. As for our previous conversations regarding science and faith there is much to be found in https://blog.emergingscholars.org/category/resources-2/science-and-faith-resources-2/.
Note: My piece on “Loving God in the flesh in the real world” is on ESN’s main site (http://esn.intervarsity.org/resource/loving-god-flesh-real-world) with several other pieces on calling/vocation which may be of interest to you (http://esn.intervarsity.org/resource/calling-vocation).
This proff is very encouraging. I feel when I read I have to read everything but lose sight of the characters and how to emotionally relate to the characters in history. Very eye opening.