Rich McGee is Director of International Expansion for Christian Leadership Ministries. His responsibility is to help mobilize Christian professors on the CLM network for world evangelism, connecting them with a variety of international ministry opportunities. He directed CLM's ministry at Southern Methodist University from 1982 until 1989. Rich earned a Th.M. in Old Testament from Dallas Theological Seminary in 1981. He is a member of the American Scientific Affiliation. Rich and his wife have three children, and live in Garland, TX.
"Let us unite the two so long divided, knowledge and vital piety." John Wesley
Inscribed in bronze on the marble floor of an academic building at a major university, Wesley's words are walked over daily by students and professors coming to and from their classes. Intended as a foundation and stepping stone to wisdom, too often in the modern university the vital relationship of faith to learning is ignored at best, and trampled upon at worst.
Believers in Jesus Christ are salt and light to their world. As a professor, what does this mean to your academic work? What difference does, or should, your faith make to your discipline?
This edition of The Real Issue is about this question of academic integration: putting your Christian faith and your academic field together. We in Christian Leadership Ministries have emphasized over the years that Christian academics have two "fronts" in their witness for Christ, the personal and the intellectual. Though this edition focuses on the intellectual front, we are assuming that your personal front is in good shape: your love for God and others, your integrity and character, and your active and verbal personal witness to your students and colleagues at the university.
That said, many professors could also profit from evaluating how they are doing on the intellectual front. How has God made you to be His servant in your academic field? Two helpful books in this area are presented in the articles we have enclosed, George Marsden's The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship, and Charles Malik's A Christian Critique of the University. We hope you will run, not walk, to obtain and read these two books. Both would also be excellent to discuss and apply in Christian faculty meetings at your campus.
Dr. Marsden is one of the leading participants in the debate concerning religion and public life. He argues that the academy has marginalized religious faith to the extent that many Christian professors feel compelled to quietness. He gives positive examples of scholars whose research gives glory to God and is respected academically. Marsden offers practical advice about how Christian professors can connect with and encourage each other.
Dr. Charles Malik's book, now in print again, provided much of the early vision and inspiration for Christian Leadership Ministries in its formative years. We are honored to have exclusive permission to reprint the first three chapters of this prophetic book. We have not altered Malik's mention of the Soviet Union and his non-gender inclusive language; nations and conventions have changed, but Dr. Malik's penetrating question is still timeless: "What does Jesus Christ think of the university?" The answers and proposals he makes in the subsequent chapters of the book are more relevant and urgent now than ever.
For Dr. Marsden's article and the excellent article by Dr. Greg Ganssle, we are indebted to Jim Cook, West regional director for Christian Leadership. Jim directed the "Christian Scholarship" conference which was held in 1997, cosponsored by the Theology Forum of the Philosophy Department of the University of Colorado. Other helpful papers on academic integration from this conference are available at www.leaderu.com/aip.
Let us unite the two so long divided. As Christian scholars consistently and faithfully implement Wesley's admonition, with the guidance of the enclosed articles, his words will be the cornerstone, not the doormat, of the 21st century university.