"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Friday, May 27, 2005

Christianity Today Still on the Baylor Beat

Michael S. Hamilton has done a nice job of reframing the controversy at Baylor and discussing where the combination of Christian character and the university might be going.

It's good to see Christianity Today is still pursuing the Baylor story. Check it out here.


John Huisman said...

Your posts about Baylor make me want to say:

1.) If Christian scholars, or rather, scholars who are Christian, continue to pretend with their secular colleagues that theoretical thought is autonomous with respect to ultimate religious perspectives, then Christian colleges will never be fully Christian because there will be no essential need for the Christian faith.
2.) If reason is thought of as autonomous, then the Christian faith will never be successfully integrated to learning because it will have been reduced to an extraneous element of bias.
3.) And if autonomy is upheld, the Christian faith will be made vulnerable to the dictates of a rationality thought to be autonomous, but in reality informed by a hostile religious perspective.

My impression of Baylor is that of devout people trying to reform the college along Christian lines, but unable to get over the hump (partly) because they (apparently) still share with their adversaries a commitment to autonomy. They want a Christian college, but they also want intellectual "respectability." That is, they want respect from an academic establishment not wont to give it apart from theoretical work understood as independent of religion.

Please tell me I am wrong.

Anonymous said...

What if somebody believes that theoretical thought is autonomous with respect to ultimate religious perspectives, and also believes themselves to be fully Christian? Are they wrong in their belief that they are fully Christian? If you feel this way, well, who are you to to make that judgement?

It reminds me of the claim, made by some, that Catholics are not Christians. Well, they sure think they are.

John Huisman said...

My claim is not that the would-be reformers at Baylor are not Christian, but that they seem reluctant to allow their faith to inform their theoretical work (or admit that their faith has informed their theoretical work). If this is correct (and my hope is that I am wrong about this), then it seems pretty obvious that the college can't be "fully Christian." If the Christian faith is thought to have no integral or essential connection to learning---the main function of a college---how can it be referred to as a "Christian" college in any meaningful sense?

Ed Darrell said...

If making a college "Christian" means gutting research standards to allow crank ideas, Christians and Christianity would be better off to pursue "secularization."

Sloan ran into difficulty when he eased the standards for science research to allow an endowed polemic group to claim a university home for "intelligent design." If there is no great counter example for what making a university Christian might mean, and I don't know of any, the example of Baylor indicates the dangers of pushing religiously based ideas against reality.