Integration of Faith and Scholarship is not “a Given,” Even in Christian Colleges
We know we need God to somehow be involved in what we do in our schools. Can Christian schools depend on standard secular methods to achieve spiritual goals?
A slavish imitation of a standard academic model tends to leave Jesus out of the classroom. Even classes on spiritual topics can have more of an impact on academics than on spirituality.
Is this what students expect of us? What can professors do beyond preaching in chapel or having a devotional before class?
If a college broadens its curriculum beyond theological studies, then “what makes this college “Christian”? some may ask.
A common answer is, “All of our instructors integrate their faith and their scholarship.” Really? Ask how they do it. Do you hear crickets?
The problem is that as the curriculum broadens, a larger percentage of the faculty is not theologically equipped to integrate their faith and their scholarship. They just have not grappled with these issues. More and more of them have done their higher education in secular institutions. They learned their field through a secular worldview.
A Practical Tool for Integration of Faith and Scholarship
With a new Bible, a yellow highlighter, and some accountability, a professor can begin to be equipped to integrate faith and scholarship.
When installing a new instructor, have the president hand that instructor a new bible and highlighter. Do it publicly; If you have chapel, make the presentation in chapel. Tell the faculty member the following:
I commission you, before this community of faith, to find every verse in this Bible that relates to your area of teaching. After you have marked the entire Bible, organize what you have found. Group passages together. Give labels to these groups of verses. This will serve as a reference book for a theological understanding of your field of scholarship. Continue to study those verses. Read about them in commentaries and other hermeneutical tools.
By using these verses in course lectures, the Bible will be commenting on, evaluating, or adding to the theories and practices of your academic field. Even have students explain how certain verses relate to what they are studying. I commission you to become an expert on what the Bible teaches about your area of scholarship.
Keep momentum with this long-term project. During each faculty meeting, have a different professor show something he or she has found. Check the progress on the project by asking instructors to bring their highlighted Bibles to their annual evaluations by the academic dean. Ask to see samples of how they are using these verses to add to the concepts in their classes.
The Bible/Highlighter Project is a worthy answer to the question of how a school’s faculty members integrate their faith with their scholarship. In fact, I would brag about this project in my school’s PR literature, at a fundraising dinner, and at student recruiting events. “Our school excels at the integration of faith and scholarship…”
David Agron is the president of Agron & Associates, Inc., an accreditation consulting firm which since 1999, has specialized in helping Christian colleges achieve initial accreditation. – www.accreditation101.com / (626) 617-0527