Posted On January 14, 2015

Academicians have a commitment to the truth. After all, the point of being a member of the “academy” is having opinions and research validated through the work of similarly qualified and committed researchers and thinkers. The presumption is that the corporate conclusions of competitive and in some ways independent thinkers have a sort of objective authority an individual or a self-contained conclave of thinkers is unlikely to obtain.

Christians have a commitment to orthodoxy. After all, the point of being a Christian (evangelical, at least) is holding the faith “once delivered to the saints.” To hold a faith not endorsed by scripture as evidenced in its interpretation at the hands of believers similarly committed to scripture’s authority is to fall short of orthodoxy and prey to either heterodoxy or cult-vulnerability, or both.

So when a Christian academic runs into a conflict between his commitment to academic truth and his commitment to scriptural orthodoxy, which master does he serve?

Objectivity in academics

Non-Christian academics sometimes view Christians as incapable of maintaining the objectivity required for academic work. After all, if a professor in a conservative Christian school discovers reason to doubt the authenticity of a New Testament text, for example, is he really going to give up his income by reporting his findings, all for the sake of intellectual integrity? A negative answer to that question implies, in the mind of the one making the argument, that “Christian Academic” is an oxymoron.

But there are three things wrong about that line of reasoning—wrong indeed generally about there being a unique problem for scholars with creedal or confessional commitments.

First, the argument as posed above could be, and at least as far as anecdotal evidence supports, is, dependent on an errant presumption about the motive of a Christian academic who finds some reason to question the creed to which he is committed. The cynic presumes his reluctance to publish would come from the desire for job security (as an example). But job security may not be the cause of his reluctance at all. He could, for instance, hold back on his research because he actually values the faith he holds, and he is reluctant both to accept what undermines his own faith and potentially to undermine the faith of others.

Secular academicians may think the latter motive (creedal conservation) is as egregiously violent to the spirit of true scholarship as the former (job security). But they would be wrong, for no less than reasons in both of the last two points in this response.

Continue Reading

Related Posts

Pastor, Are You Prepared to Shepherd Your Flock through Dementia?

Pastor, Are You Prepared to Shepherd Your Flock through Dementia?

A Common Challenge The tragedy of dementia is common and will become more so in the future. It is estimated that over 30% of the average church congregation will die with some form of dementia. That represents an enormous challenge in pastoral ministry. I would...

Impacting change in Delhi

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Praesent ac nibh vestibulum, laoreet ipsum quis, vestibulum nisi. Curabitur non mi et turpis pharetra vulputate.

Pride Goes Before a Fall

Pride Goes Before a Fall

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Prov. 16:18) The word “pride” has been bantered around quite a bit of late, specifically in relation to the recent SCOTUS decision on gay marriage. Social media has been awash with “support pride”...

The Sovereignty of God in the Midst of the Chaos of Our World

The Sovereignty of God in the Midst of the Chaos of Our World

Whether it’s on social media, the radio, or on TV, events like police officers being shot, Black Lives Matter, and terrorist attacks seemingly dominate our daily news. Every person is created by God in His image and likeness and worthy of dignity and respect. As...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share1
Reddit
Email
Buffer
Tweet