The Vocation of the Christian Scholar: How Christian Faith Can Sustain the Life of the Mind

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9780802829153: The Vocation of the Christian Scholar: How Christian Faith Can Sustain the Life of the Mind
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Can Christian faith sustain the life of the mind? To many academics this question seems absurd. In their judgment, religion is fundamentally dogmatic while the life of the mind requires openness, creativity, and imagination. This stereotypical assumption about the nature of religion in general, and Christianity in particular, has contributed significantly over the past century to the divorce between faith and learning at countless colleges and universities in the United States. But is this assessment of the intellectual nature of faith justified, or the academic rift it has opened?

In this powerful -- yet very personal -- reflection on faith and scholarship, Richard T. Hughes counters the widespread perception of Christians as steeped in narrowness and dogmatism and provides a compelling argument that faith, properly pursued, in fact nourishes the openness and curiosity that make a life of the mind possible. Neither an assessment of church-related higher education today nor a lamentation over the process of secularization, this book is instead a badly needed aid for academics in both private and public institutions who want to connect Christian faith with scholarship and teaching in meaningful and effective ways.

Defining the "life of the mind" in terms of disciplined search for truth, conversation with diverse viewpoints, critical analysis, and intellectual creativity, Hughes shows that such life, far from being impeded by Christian faith, can actually be enhanced by it -- but only if Christians learn to think theologically and break through the particularities of their traditions.

Hughes first examines the way that the Deism of the Founding Fathers defines the values of themodern academy in the United States, and he asks how the Christian tradition might interact with these values in meaningful ways. He then looks at four different Christian traditions -- Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, and Mennonite -- and the different ways they sustain the life of the mind. When he turns to teaching, Hughes uses his own classroom work as an illustration of how a commitment to some of the great themes of Christian theology can undergird both the form and the content of the teaching task. Finally, in an especially poignant chapter, Hughes explores how good teaching and scholarship can be rooted in human suffering and tragedy.

After a spate of books and articles that merely mourn the decline of Christian intellectual life, here -- at last -- is a volume that offers a constructive assessment of how Christian faith might, indeed, sustain the life of the mind.

Klappentext:

Richard T. Hughes's highly praised book on the relationship between Christian faith and secular learning -- originally titled "How Christian Faith Can Sustain the Life of the Mind" -- is now available in this revised and expanded edition, which speaks more directly to the subject of vocation. In a substantial new preface Hughes recounts his own vocational journey, telling how he drew on Christian theology to discover his talents and how best to use them. Another new chapter explores the vocation of Christian colleges and universities, including the purposes and goals of church-related education.

Drawing from the Catholic, Reformed, Lutheran, and Anabaptist traditions, Hughes shows how the Christian scholar can embrace paradox rather than dogmatism. His reflections provide a compelling argument that faith, properly pursued, nourishes the openness and curiosity that make a life of the mind possible.

Praise for the original edition:

"In this beautifully written, sermonic essay Richard Hughes defines the virtues needed for sound scholarship and good teaching. . . . As Hughes powerfully and persuasively argues, the Christian scholar has ample Christian warrant to be humble in the face of diversity, open to the challenge of competing perspectives, and fully engaged in the cooperative, rigorous, and imaginative search for truth."
-- The Christian Century

"Following the examples of George Marsden and Mark Noll, Hughes encourages Christians not to forsake their calling as scholars nor to be discouraged by the enormity of their task, but to keep on integrating faith and contemporary culture."
-- Reformed Review

"In this book Richard Hughes mentors all of us who want to beboth Christians and scholars. But even for those who do not teach and would not wear the name 'scholar, ' this book is a valuable model of what it means to serve God humbly in one's chosen vocation."
-- New Wineskins

"Everybody who is concerned with Christian education should read this little book."
-- Journal of Education and Christian Belief

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