June 30, 1999

Educators urged to engage
culture and transform it

___By Julie Carlson
___Baylor University
___WACO--The "Christian scholar-teacher" lies at the heart of all Christian educational institutions, members of the Association of Southern Baptist Colleges and Schools were told during their June 6-8 annual meeting at Baylor University.
___Christian universities, colleges and schools must ensure that a core group of their faculty are committed Christians who are excited about their institution's mission, said keynote speaker Stephen Evans, dean of research and scholarship and professor of philosophy at Calvin College.
___For these faculty to be Christian scholars, he said, they first must embrace a "transformative Christian vision"--a desire to participate as Christians in common cultural endeavors, such as the arts, education, business and government with the knowledge their participation will shape and enliven these endeavors.
___Too often, Christians believe they can take part in these areas but their faith will not affect their participation, he said. Or conversely, they believe they must withdraw completely from contact with people outside their faith.
___The Christian scholar also must realize that the task of teaching is part of an individual's Christian vocation, and the Christian faith can make an intellectual difference in one's life.
___"Seeking to be faithful to his or her authentic Christian commitment, the Christian professor is called to be a double missionary, representing the life of the mind within the church, and the life of the church to the intellectual world," Evans said.
___Christian scholars must examine the Bible, which he called a "grand drama," to understand how their research will be affected.
___"All followers of Christ must seek to understand this story and its meaning for their lives and for the community of which they are a part. The story needs to become the frame or context in terms of which we investigate our world," Evans said.
___"Christian scholarship does not have to be or even appear to be uniquely or distinctively Christian," he suggested. "Some Christians are called to engage in what I call purely vocational Christian scholarship. However, in every field there are some questions, and in some fields many questions, where Christian faith might make a real difference, either implicitly or explicitly, to the scholarly work being done."
___The challenge for Christian scholars in a postmodern era is to realize that while skepticism looms as a continual threat, there is certainty, Evans said. "There is truth; truth is God's view of things."
___All Christians, whether scholars or not, must realize they always will stand in tension with what the Bible calls the world, Evans said.
___"We are content to be one voice in a larger conversation ... because we have confidence in the power of God's Spirit. However, we have an obligation to hear as well as speak, and God can speak through the voices of all his created children."


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