Connections Review #3, Winter 2012

Connections Review 

The Semi-Annual ACI Courier

For Academic Connections, International :

Issue # 3, Winter 2012

In this Review:

Features inside this issue include a short essay (installment #2) on the value of being in a Christian community on the campus where you serve, further references and links to books, and articles and presentations of relevance to Christians in academe and more.  For example, some of those references will include links to faith and science issues, legal issues and conference notices.  

Remember our policy: including of a link or reference DOES NOT constitute an endorsement.  They are meant to be food for critical thought informed by the scriptures.

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Christian Communities in Academe?

Everybody is busy these days, what else is new?  Many Christian faculty are so busy or at least think they are so busy they don’t make time to meet with their Christian colleagues on campus.  Besides, they may think, I go to church and my spiritual needs are met there.  Why should I go out of my way to be involved in a Christian faculty community on my campus?

Good question.

Last time I argued that Christian faculty who serve on secular campuses live in at least two communities on campus, one with all their secular colleagues and typically a smaller one with their Christian colleagues.   And I further argued that it is possible to be more influenced by the former than by the latter.  That was important because not only is one “bigger” than the other, but because we also spend proportionally less time with the latter and it is therefore more likely you are more influenced by the former.  That’s a possibly serious problem if you take your vocation seriously as a call from God and if you take yourself seriously.  (You can read what else was said about that by going to the bottom of this page and clicking on the “previous” link.)

This time I’d like to switch gears a little.  There are other good (and related) reasons to take the time and effort it takes to be involved in a Christian community of scholars on campus.  Briefly, here’s what I want to say.  Academic life generally is agonistic.  It’s competitive, demanding and involves polemical exchanges; it appears that it will remain that way for the foreseeable future.  And if you teach and do research on a secular campus you are required to fulfill your contract to teach the material in your course and do your research in a way that reflects the sensibilities and methodologies of your colleagues.   That takes time and energy.

But I want to suggest you have another obligation to the Christian community and to yourself and that is for you, somewhere along the line in your academic journey, to think about your discipline and work from the point of view of that community.  That is easier said than done if only because you have more work to do than your secular colleagues.  You have other fish to fry and ordinarily you have to do that on your own time.  

However, this is where your written work can pay great dividends for the Christian community who sorely need to hear from Christian scholars on issues that pertain to their disciplines and the Christian faith.  Who else can do this work?  And I cannot help but believe that being involved in a Christian community on your campus would be a source of help and succor for such a task.

Next time I want to talk about an 800 pound gorilla in the room that forms a significant barrier to that sort of involvement and why I think it is important to navigate around it.

In Case You Missed It, By Category:

Articles and links do not entail or imply endorsement; they are food for thought, discussion and further research.  That is, we are not agreeing with everything an article or book has to say or an author ever thought in their entire life.  Look for the links embedded in the references below.

Science and Faith:

Dr. Alvin Plantinga’s important new book on science and Christian faith: Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism.  University of Oxford Press, 2011.  (A technical book that is easily misunderstood if one does not understand Plantinga’s approach to epistemology.)

The book itself on Amazon:

New York Times article on Plantinga and the book by Jennifer Schueller:

Michael Ruse (self described atheist) on Scientism

“Scientism” article:

“Scientism Continued” article:

Legal Issues:

Recent Supreme Court ruling on the “ministerial exception”: 


See also Academic Connection’s Court Watch for other decisions:

Life of the Mind

Review Essay on The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age by Randall J. Stephens & Karl W. Giberson. Harvard University Press, 2011. 384pp. entitled, “The Marginalization of Evangelical Scholarship (Among Evangelicals)” :

This site page contains a number of mp3 recordings...scroll down to Dr. Mark Noll, Mar 7, 2009, and check out his talk on “Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind.”:

Talking points on Dallas Willard’s presentation on the “Redemption of Reason”:

General Interest:

Chapel at Cambridge University flourishes:

Graduate Student Union at Oxford University:

An interesting European website on Christian art:

“Religion and the Bad News Bearers”:

Spiritual Formation:

Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care (Biola) on the writings of Dr. Dallas Willard:

Announcements and Conferences:

“The Problem of God”, a symposium at Purdue University (held in a local church) sponsored by many local Christian organizations.  This maybe something you would be interested in attending if you are close, but it also is an example of Christian faculty involvement (see about their luncheon and seminar in the brochure):

Regional Society of Christian Philosophers Conferences:

I’m indebted to several people including Howard Van Cleave (InterVarsity), Nathan McNally (Academic Connections) and John Mulholland (Charles Malik Society for Redeeming Reason) for suggestions and links to some of these articles and sites.

Best regards,

James Cook


For Academic Connections


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