Christian Higher Education: Faith, Teaching, and Learning in the Evangelical Tradition

Christian Higher Education: Faith, Teaching, and Learning in the Evangelical Tradition


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Twenty-nine experts from a wide variety of fields and institutions have come together to offer a renewed vision for the value of a distinctly Christian approach to higher education.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781433556531
Publisher: Crossway
Publication date: 11/30/2018
Pages: 576
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.69(d)

About the Author

David S. Dockery (PhD, University of Texas) is thechancellor of Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois, following five years as president. He is a much-sought-after speaker and lecturer, a consulting editor for Christianity Today, and the author or editor of more than thirty books. Dockery and his wife, Lanese, have three sons andseven grandchildren.

Christopher W. Morgan (PhD, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary) is a professor of theology and the dean of the School of Christian Ministries at California Baptist University. He is the author oreditor ofover twenty books, including several volumes in the Theology in Community series.

Gene C. Fant Jr. (PhD, University of Southern Mississippi) serves as the provost and professor of English at Palm Beach Atlantic University and previously served as the executive vice president for academic administration at Union University. He also serves as a board member and curriculum developer at the Impact 360 Institute, a leading worldview and leadership development program, and has been an evangelical influencer fellow at the Acton Institute. He and his wife, Lisa, have two children.

Greg Forster (PhD, Yale University) serves as the director of the Oikonomia Network at the Center for Transformational Churches at Trinity International University. He is a senior fellow at the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the editor of the blog Hang Together, and a frequent conference speaker.

John D. Woodbridge (PhD, Universite de Toulouse, France) is research professor of church history and the history of Christian thought at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Woodbridge has taught history at the University of Toulouse, Northwestern University, and Hautes Etudes, Sorbonne. He and his wife, Susan, reside in Lake Forest, Illinois, and they have three children.

Read an Excerpt


Christian Higher Education

An Introduction

David S. Dockery?

Challenge and change characterize the world of Christian higher education in the early decades of the twenty-firstcentury. Faculty and staff live with a new global awareness; students have never known a world without advancing technology, terrorism, and intercultural appreciation. A look around the globe points to a shift among the nations that will influence the world for decades to come. Anyone interested in the future of Christian higher education will want to keep an eye on cultural and global trends, for our work never takes place in a vacuum, and this observation does not begin to address the changes in higher education itself in terms of focus, funding, philosophy, methodology, and delivery systems.

This volume on Christian higher education seeks to focus on matters of faith, teaching, and learning in the evangelical tradition as they pertain to today and the future. Christian higher education involves a distinctive way of thinking about teaching, learning, scholarship, subject matter, student life, administration, and governance that is grounded in the orthodox Christian faith. Our vision for Christian higher education is not just about an inward, subjective, and pious Christianity, as important as that is. Christian educators recognize that the Christian faith is more than a moral faith of warmhearted devotional practices, for the Christian faith influences not only how we act but also what we believe, how we think, how we teach, how we learn, how we write, how we lead, how we govern, and how we treat one another. While this chapter serves as an introduction to the meaning and history of Christian higher education, the remaining chapters enable us to better understand how our theological commitments influence our approach to teaching, learning, scholarship, and Christian practice.

It is our hope that a more full-orbed understanding of a theologically shaped vision for Christian higher education will help us to engage the culture and to prepare a generation of leaders who can effectively serve both church and society. Our approach begins with an understanding of the selfrevealing-God who has created humans in his image. We believe that students created in the image of God are designed to discover truth and that the exploration of truth is possible because the universe, as created by the Trinitarian God, is intelligible.

These beliefs are held together by our understanding that the unity of knowledge is grounded in Jesus Christ, in whom all things hold together (Col. 1:17). The Christian faith then provides the lens to see the world, recognizing that faith seeks to understand every dimension of life under the lordship of Jesus Christ. We now turn our attention to a brief survey of a Christian approach to education through the years, a model that today we would refer to as Christian higher education, looking to the past to find guidance for today and tomorrow.

Christian Education through the Years

Beginning in the second century, important learning centers arose in Alexandria and Antioch as well as in Constantinople. These centers focused on catechetical and apologetic instruction for Christian converts. Alexandria's approach helps us to understand the shape of education in the early church as exemplified in one of the first great Christian scholars, Clement of Alexandria (ca. 150–ca. 215).

Clement of Alexandria: The Teacher

Clement became the leader of the school of Alexandria in 190, a position he held until after the turn of the century, when persecution forced him out of Egypt into Cappadocia. His principal literary works produced during this time were a trilogy: Exhortations, Tutor, and Miscellanies. The three works follow a pattern in which, according to Clement, the divine Logos first of all converts us (which is the focus of the Tutor) and finally instructs us (which is the focus of his rather unsystematic work titled Miscellanies).

For the most part, Clement's reflections are philosophical, ethical, and even political. His works are grounded in the divine Logos, the Word of God who was incarnate in Jesus Christ. Just as Clement looked to the past in drawing fromMoses, Israel's great leader, from Plato, the great philosopher, and from Philo, the Jewish philosopher who preceded him in Alexandria, so we today can look to Clement as a source and guide for the challenges of our day. Clement, without compromising the need to analyze and refute aspects of the pagan culture around him, became a master of the philosophical currents of his day. Clement, who reflected significant insight into Plato and Aristotle, developed an ambitious and complex philosophical model that mapped out all the sciences and their specialties under the broad headings of the theoretical, physical, and natural sciences.

Clement serves as an instructive guide for us in our context because of his wide range of learning, his love for philosophy and literature, his cultivation of an intellectually serious Christian faith, and his engagement and interaction with trends and issues of his day. Clement's overarching concern was to develop a view of the world and of life from the vantage point of wisdom in which he understood and interacted with the various strands of contemporary thought and culture. Clement's impact, as a pioneer of serious Christian thinking, cannot be underestimated. Even though his writing was at times unsystematic, he nevertheless presented a coherent and consistent explication of the importance of Christian thinking and ethics for the challenges of his day.

Clement's work also delved into wide-ranging issues such as economics, business, the management of wealth, concern for the poor, and a variety of social issues. Prior to the time of the Renaissance, he could be characterized as a renaissance person, a singular source for liberal arts thinking. Ultimately, however, Clement was a teacher, taking seriously his calling as an educator. His favorite designation was "tutor" (paidagogos), also the title of his middle work.

His appreciation for art and music provided an opportunity for him to interact with the arts of the third century. Clement's writings pointed to Christ as most noble minstrel while observing that men and women are the harp and lyre. Clement's work contrasted the beauty of Christianity with the hopelessness of pagan poetry and philosophy. Ultimately, Clement pointed to the source of all life in God by maintaining that men and women are born for God. Full or ultimate truth, Clement claimed, is found in Christ alone. Clement prepared the way for the educational advancements in the thought of Augustine.

Augustine and Aquinas

Augustine, the father of the Christian intellectual tradition, located the source of knowledge within the person, based on his understanding that truth was a gift of God's grace granted through faith. This knowledge, or potential knowledge, is developed by education that actively works in and through reason, memory, and will. Education takes place by engaging the Christian tradition, the wisdom of the ages that enabled the development of the liberal arts tradition. Augustine encouraged personal discovery and active engagement of students in the disciplines of study. For Augustine, the love of learning reflects our desire for God, and the love of wisdom exemplifies loving God with our minds in fulfillment of the Great Commandment (Matt. 22:37–39).

Eight centuries later, Thomas Aquinas emphasized sense experience as the primary source of knowledge. While Augustine's approach to education was influenced by Plato, Aquinas was partial to Aristotle. For Aquinas, reason reflects on the data of the senses, for nothing is ever in the mind that is not first in the senses. Reason enables understanding and discernment, informing the will and giving guidance for life. Aquinas favored a teacher-centered, didactic approach to education.

During the medieval period, Christian education flourished in the monastery. The monastic educational model emphasized a life of study, prayer, meditation, and work. The curriculum was largely built around the study of Holy Scripture, particularly the Psalms, and the rule of faith as articulated in the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed. Reading, writing, grammar, and music were also included, forming the trajectory for the trivium (grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric) and the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy). The trivium and quadrivium, the core of the liberal arts curriculum, were significant for shaping the cathedral school and the medieval university. Philosophy, physics, ethics, and ultimately theology, the queen of the sciences, completed the expectations for students in the medieval universities.

From Pre-Reformation to Post-Reformation

The contribution of Desiderius Erasmus to education can be characterized as the work of an innovative pioneer moving beyond tradition and supplying impetus for Reformation andpost-Reformation studies. His brilliance paved the way for the direction of Christian education for the decades that followed. A prince among the Renaissance humanists, Erasmus was at the same time a conceptual and reforming theologian. A scholarly biblical critic and pious moralist, Erasmus offered multiple contributions to education worthy of appreciation. He was the premier Renaissance scholar of his day, with an emphasis on the original sources and the study of ancient texts.

Erasmus made an important break with the medieval scholastic approach to theology and the study of Scripture but not in a reactionary manner. The break came about through a combination of Christian commitment, Renaissance scholarship, and the implementation of John Colet's educational model. The genius and ability of Erasmus as biblical scholar and moral theologian served as a model for Martin Luther, Philipp Melanchthon, John Calvin, and other Reformers.

Luther and Melanchthon shaped education in Germany in the sixteenth century with their emphasis on the priesthood of all believers, which not only encouraged Bible reading for all but also stressed literacy and education for all. Melanchthon, more than Luther, shaped educational theory as a leader at Wittenberg University. As the curriculum organizer and systematizer of theology, Melanchthon was known as the Praeceptor Germaniae ("Teacher of Germany"). His work brought about significant changes in the German educational system.

Post-Reformation educational models led to the rise of the modern university at the University of Halle (1694). Halle began as an educational center focused on serious study coupled with warmhearted piety, in reaction to the rationalistic scholasticism that characterized some aspects of the postReformation period. Soon, however, the educational agenda was dominated by Enlightenment priorities. Higher education for the past three hundred years has lived with the tensions of post-Enlightenment philosophies such as rationalism, empiricism, existentialism, phenomenology, Marxism, and recent radical feminist epistemologies. For these reasons, among others, Christian higher education needs to reclaim and advance the Christian intellectual tradition. The University of Halle provided the first example, of many that followed, where piety alone was unable in and of itself to sustain the essence of Christian higher education and the great tradition of Christian thinking.

Building on the Best of the Christian Tradition

As we have seen from our brief survey, our efforts to advance authentic Christian higher education are greatly shaped by those who have gone before us. These influences and influencers have not only shaped us but also reflect who we are. We recognize significant variety in our heritage, but we must not think that there is unlimited variety without boundaries or without a core. As Nathan Finn expounds so clearly in his chapter in this volume, we need to recognize that there is a core and there is a center to which we must hold. Coupled with the contributions found in the chapter by John Woodbridge, Finn's insights lead us to acknowledge that there are nonnegotiables to our faith. Building on these recognitions, it is important for us to clarify our confessional commitments and to reappropriate the best of our evangelical heritage, and this requires us to know something about that heritage, which Brad Gundlach has so capably introduced in this volume.

The richness of the Christian tradition can provide guidance for the complex challenges facing Christian higher education at this time. We believe not only that an appeal to tradition is timely but also that it meets an important need because the secular culture in which we find ourselves is at best indifferent to the Christian faith and because the Christian world — at least in its more popular forms — tends to be confused about beliefs, heritage, and the tradition associated with the Christian faith.

The world in which we live, with its emphasis on diversity and plurality, may well be a creative setting for us to see what Thomas Oden refers to as a "paleo-orthodoxy" for the twenty-first century. Here we ground our unity not only in the biblical confession that "Jesus is Lord" but also in the great confessional tradition flowing from the early church councils. The so-called postmodern world could indeed become a rich context for recovering a classical view of the Christian tradition. The current educational emphasis on the interrelationship of all things allows us to speak intelligently of the Christian message historically and globally. Such historical confessions, though neither infallible nor completely sufficient for all contemporary challenges, can provide wisdom and guidance when seeking to balance the mandates for right Christian thinking, right Christian believing, and right Christian living.

At the heart of this calling is the need to prepare a generation of Christians to think Christianly, to engage the academy and the culture, to serve society, and to renew the connection with the church and its mission. To do so, the breadth and the depth of the Christian tradition will need to be reclaimed, renewed, revitalized, and revived for the good of Christian higher education.

Confessional Foundations

Reconnecting with the great confessional tradition of the church will help us to avoid fundamentalist reductionism on the one hand and liberal revisionism on the other. Fundamentalist reductionism fails to understand that there are priorities or differences in the Christian faith. Fundamentalism often fails to distinguish between saying no to an inadequate confession of the deity of Christ and saying no to the wrong kind of movie. It fails to prioritize doctrines in a way consistent with the emphases of Scripture. Liberal revisionism, on the other hand, in its attempt to translate the Christian faith to connect with the culture, has often wound up revising the Christian faith instead of translating it. To borrow words from the apostle Paul, we are then left with "no gospel at all" (Gal. 1:7 NIV). So we learn from the apostle Paul, who was willing to address opponents coming from different directions in Galatia and Colossae, calling the churches back to the truth of the Christian faith.

As we reflect further on these important matters, let us take a brief look at the key commitments found in the Creed of Nicaea, a confessional statement shared by all Christian traditions. The Creed of Nicaea (325) was drafted to refute the claim that Jesus was the highest creation of God and thus different in essence from the Father. What we often refer to today as the Nicene Creed was most likely approved not at Nicaea in 325 but at Constantinople in 381. While articulating the importance of the unity of the Holy Trinity, it insisted that Christ was begotten from the Father before all time, declaring that Christ is of the same essence as the Father.

When we contend today that Christian higher education must be distinctively Christ-centered education, we are in effect confessing that Jesus Christ, who was eternally the second person of the Trinity, sharing all the divine attributes, became fully human. Thus, to think of Christ-centeredness only in terms of personal piety or activism resulting from following some aspects of the teachings of Jesus, while important, will be inadequate.

A healthy future for Christian higher education must return to the past with the full affirmation that when we point to Jesus, we see the whole man Jesus and say that he is God. This is the great mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh (1 Tim.3:16). It is necessary that Christ should be both God and man. Only as a man could he be the Redeemer for humanity; only as a sinless man could he fittingly die for others; only as God could his life, ministry, and redeeming death have infinite value and satisfy the demands of God so as to deliver others from death.


Excerpted from "Christian Higher Education"
by .
Copyright © 2018 David S. Dockery and Christopher W. Morgan.
Excerpted by permission of Good News Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Preface 13

Part 1 The Theological Shape Of Christian Higher Education In The Evangelical Tradition

1 Christian Higher Education 17

An Introduction David S. Dockery

2 Knowing and Loving God 39

Toward A Theology Of Christian Higher Education Nathan A. Finn 39

3 The Authority of Holy Scripture 59

Commitments For Christian Higher Education In The Evangelical Tradition John D. Woodbridge

4 The Study of Holy Scripture and the Work of Christian Higher Education George H. Guthrie 81

5 Made in the Image of God 101

Implications For Teaching And Learning John F. Kilner

6 Foundations of Christian Higher Education 121

Learning From Church History Bradley J. Gundlach

Part 2 Faith, Teaching, And Learning In The Evangelical Tradition

7 The Christian Worldview for Faith, Teaching, and Learning in the Evangelical Tradition Christopher W. Morgan 141

8 Faith and Teaching Donald C. Guthrie 149

9 Faith and Learning Laurie R. Matthias 169

10 The Importance of Research for Teaching and Learning David W. Pao Chrystal L. Ho Pao 187

11 Teaching and Learning in the Humanities Gene C. Fant Jr. 205

12 Teaching and Learning in the Sciences Glenn A. Marsch 225

13 Teaching and Learning in Mathematics Paul R. Bialek 245

14 Teaching and Learning in the Social Sciences Eric L. Johnson Russell D. Kosits 267

15 Teaching and Learning in Philosophy Chris L. Firestone 287

16 Teaching and Learning in Music and the Arts Don P. Hedges 307

17 Teaching and Learning in Education Karen A. Wrobbel 325

18 Teaching and Learning in Adult and Professional Programs Timothy L. Smith 343

Part 3 Faith, Teaching, And Learning Applications and Implications for the Campus, the Church, the Marketplace, and the World

19 Faith, Learning, and Catechesis S. Steve Kang 365

20 Faith, Learning, Worship, and Service Taylor B. Worley 385

21 Faith, Learning, and Living Felix Theonugraha 409

22 Teaching, Learning, and Leadership Katherine M. Jeffery 427

23 Faith, Learning, and the World Greg Forster 445

24 Faith, Ethics, and Culture Micah J. Watson 467

25 Faith, Teaching, and Learning in Service to the Church Thomas H. L. Cornman 485

26 The Importance of Intercultural and International Approaches in Christian Higher Education Peter T. Cha 505

27 Missions, the Global Church, and Christian Higher Education Bruce Riley Ashford 525

Contributors 545

General Index 551

Scripture Index 571

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Christian Higher Education, skillfully edited by David Dockery and Chris Morgan, is a work both magisterial and invitational, welcoming the reader into a deeper understanding of the history, need, nature, and purposes of Christian higher education and the implications for the student and broader society. It will serve as a great encouragement and guide for all those interested in the holistic formation of a new generation.”
Cherie Harder, President, The Trinity Forum

“In passion, vision, and lifelong commitment to bring theologically sound, biblically faithful, and culturally relevant thinking to bear on Christian education, David Dockery has few peers. In this volume, Dockery, Chris Morgan, and colleagues sound a clarion call to those who serve in Christian higher education by inviting them afresh to understand and fulfill their mission as the theologically informed, Christ-centered, worldview-transforming academic arm of the church.”
J. Randall O'Brien, President, Carson-Newman University

“This wonderful collection of essays, edited by David Dockery and Chris Morgan, is a superb exploration of both the theological roots and implications of Christian higher education within the evangelical tradition. Unusual in breadth and scope, it provides helpful insight for the new adventurer as well as the serious and seasoned scholar. A gift indeed at such a time as this!”
Stan D. Gaede, President, Christian College Consortium; Scholar in Residence, Gordon College

“Higher education across the world is at a tipping point. After years of celebrated glory and praise, institutions of higher education have been besieged over the past ten years or more by unrelenting criticisms ranging from the cost of attendance to the cost of operation. Paramount among these criticisms and striking at the very heart and soul of higher education is the question of its purpose and utility. Nowhere are these disparagements more unsettling than to those of us in Christian higher education. What is needed is a fresh understanding of the purpose of higher education and the role and place of Christian higher education. In this book, David Dockery and Christopher Morgan have gathered a remarkable cadre of evangelical scholars to reflect on the issues posed by the current turmoil. Is the Christian university to be differentiated from secular universities merely on the basis of the ‘personal piety’ of the faculty and students? Or is it on the activism spawned by nuanced theological speculations? This work presents a unified and renewed understanding of the Christian university based on a grounded reading of church history and evangelical thought. There is much here for the reader to ponder.”
J. Michael Hardin , Provost, Samford University

“In Christian Higher Education, David Dockery and Chris Morgan present essential qualities for Christian institutions. This book will become required reading for boards of trustees, cabinets, academic departments, and faculty retreats. The volume is laid out with a clear recap of why maintaining a biblical foundation is crucial for any Christ-centered academic institution. In establishing a strong desire to create an environment where biblical teachings flow through the rest of the college atmosphere apart from classes and chapel, institutions shape well-rounded and holistic education. Next, the contributors detail the particular beauty of the humanities, arts, and STEM fields. They conclude with a thorough and convincing description of why it is necessary to be adaptable today in the fast-changing landscape of higher education without losing the fundamentals. No book of this type would be complete without an inspiring chapter on the importance of diversity and inclusion as a kingdom imperative. The book ends noting that spiritual formation—a primary focus for any Christian institution—can be a form of discipleship and that leadership development is inseparable from discipleship. I could not agree more wholeheartedly.”
Shirley V. Hoogstra, President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities

“In this important new work, David Dockery and Chris Morgan lay out a powerful vision for Christian higher education. As one who has recently cast my lot into this world, I was encouraged and challenged to learn from this helpful array of voices. Few realize all that is involved in higher education, and walking through the historical, biblical, and theological implications is both instructive and inspirational. I highly recommend this volume for higher ed starters (like me) and long-term veterans seeking to be faithful in the work of Christian higher education.”
Ed Stetzer,Billy Graham Distinguished Chair ofChurch, Mission, and Evangelism, Wheaton College

“With an array of insightful thinkers and penetrating essays, Christian Higher Education draws together some of the best minds at the vanguard of faith and higher education. I highly commend this readable book to anyone who cares about the life of the mind and the life of faith. It represents a timely and much-needed voice in these challenging days.”
D. Michael Lindsay, President, Gordon College

“In Christian Higher Education, David Dockery and Chris Morgan seek to restate for the postmodern and multicultural world of the twenty-first century the classic theological and historical foundations of the enterprise of Christian higher education. Drawing on the disciplinary expertise and practical experience of over twenty fellow scholars and teachers, this collection of essays explores the implications of the Scriptures, the creeds, and the church’s mission for the vocation of the evangelical teacher-scholar in the classroom, as well as within the academy, the church, and the world. Given the study questions and suggested readings at the end of each chapter, the balance of the theoretical background and practical application, and those core elements that apply to all evangelicals regardless of culture, gender, class, or ethnicity, this volume provides a valuable introduction for a class of new faculty or board members entering the world of evangelical higher education.”
Shirley A. Mullen, President, Houghton College

“I am pleased to recommend David Dockery and Christopher Morgan’s excellent Christian Higher Education. This comprehensive collection of essays on evangelical education across the disciplines deserves a place on every Christian educator’s bookshelf.”
Thomas S. Kidd, Distinguished Professor of History, Baylor University

“In Christian higher education, we err if we seek to find our path forward without reference to the rich church tradition and the evangelical legacy. It is also a truism that the work of Christian higher education demands unrelenting attention. We all know that there are many ‘Christian higher ed corpses,’ schools that were originally Christian but then slipped away. These stand to warn us against complacency lest we too lose our institutions to the romantic ideas prevalent in our contemporary, post-Christian culture. I thank David Dockery and Chris Morgan for this book that urges us to form Christian minds and lives in such a way that our students will think, live, and serve Christianly throughout their lives. The various writers have dealt with this quintessential subject with great dexterity and exemplary scholarship. I salute the contributors and commend this book heartily to all involved in the work of Christian higher education.”
John Senyonyi, Vice Chancellor, Uganda Christian University

“Drawing on some of the best minds within the community of Christian higher education, David Dockery and Chris Morgan have assembled a volume that will be of tremendous help to faculty, administrators, trustees, and those who simply want to develop a broader, deeper understanding of our sector of university life. I’m inspired, challenged, and grateful for the scholarship reflected by the contributors to this work.”
Andrew Westmoreland, President, Samford University

“This volume of thoughtful essays should not just be read by Christian educators, but also by pastors and church leaders who want to understand why Christian education is so vitally important, how cultural pressures can cause mission drift, and what needs to be done to ensure that Christian education thrives for future generations.”
Rick Warren,Pastor, Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, California

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