Christian Faith and Scholarship
There was a time when Christian educators thought of Christian higher education simply in terms of a structured moral climate that encouraged good, moral behavior. But Christian perspectives seldom had much to do with either scholarship or classroom teaching.
That model, however, is rapidly changing. More and more, Christian educators are asking how Christian perspectives might inform both their written and creative scholarship and their classroom teaching.
Professor Paul Griffith of the University of Chicago perhaps put it best when he offered this judgment: "One is a Christian scholar if one understands one's work to be based upon and framed by and always in the service of one's identity as a Christian." This is the vision the Center for Faith and Learning seeks to nurture.
Clearly, the classroom rostrum is not a pulpit. At the same time, responsible Christian scholars throughout the country seek to connect their Christian convictions with their teaching and their scholarship in ways that respect the integrity of the academic enterprise, the integrity of their disciplines, the integrity of their students, and the integrity of the Christian faith.
There are many points at which Christian faith and scholarship might dovetail and connect, but three seem obvious. First, the Christian faith offers a rich intellectual heritage that spans twenty centuries of Christian thought. A Christian scholar might well ask, therefore, how aspects of that heritage might enrich his or her scholarship.
Second, a Christian scholar might ask what presuppositions guide his or her scholarship and whether they are consistent with his or her Christian commitments.
And third, a Christian scholar might ask about the ethical and moral implications of what he or she writes and teaches, especially in light of the Christian faith to which he or she is committed.
Many Pepperdine faculty - whether at Seaver College, the School of Law, the Graziadio School of Business and Management, the Graduate School of Education and Psychology, or the School of Public Policy - already ask these kinds of questions and seek to make these kinds of connections. Accordingly, the Center seeks to provide support for the many Pepperdine faculty who already care about these kinds of issues. At the same time, the Center holds out a vision of Christian scholarship that other faculty may find suggestive and perhaps even compelling.
We have used the following books in seminars and book discussion groups in exploring the connections between Chrisitan faith and scholarship:
- Robert Benne, Quality with Soul: How Six Premier Colleges and Universities Keep Faith with their Religious Traditions, Eerdmans, 2001
- Richard T. Hughes, The Vocation of the Christian Scholar: How Christian Faith Can Sustain the Life of the Mind, Eerdmans, 2005
- Douglas and Rhonda Hustedt Jacobsen, Scholarship and Christian Faith: Enlarging the Conversation, Oxford University Press, 2004
- Mark A. Noll, Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind, Eerdmans, 2011
- Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life, Jossey-Bass, 1998
- Jeff Van Duzer, Why Business Matters to God (And What Still Needs to Be Fixed), Inter-varsity Press, 2010
- Richard T. Hughes and Thomas Olbricht, Scholarship, Pepperdine University, and the Legacy of Churches of Christ